07.16.3013: Baggage
Summary: Michael and Nimara begin to deal with their pasts.
Date: 16 July 2013
Related: None
Michael Nimara 

The Landing
Several different locales. See poses.
16 July 3013

Stella has been allowed to leave the Ring for this night alone, the night the family has made a tradition of. She travels via the Ways to her home in Landing, and her reunion with her husband is tears, laughter, hugs, kisses, and soft expressions of both joy and longing or loneliness. Stella is a beauty of a woman, tall and long legged with high cheek bones. Hair is a dark blonde like Michael's however, it has all been shaved off and she wears her baldness proudly. Anyone who thinks to mess with Stella Athyros be damned, she is very much the momma bear type of woman, and she has the skills to put whoop-ass up as backing to her threats. Her brilliant gray blue eyes clearly indicate where her son got his, and their lights flicker just like his do. So, he takes after her in that sense too.

Achaeus Athyros is also a decently tall man, however not as tall as his wife is. His hair is also shaved off, to show his support of his wife. He's a care worn man, though neither he and Stella are really that old. The stresses of a pressing job and a wife's illness have taken their toll on his face. Long and drawn in with a gaunt appearance, his own eyes are just blue. Pure and solid royal blue irises give off nothing but that caring warmth that Michael's can. So he has a bit of his father in him too. At the moment, his arms are wrapped so tightly around his wife that he doesn't seem to pay any attention to the fact that his son is also standing there ready to hug his mother.

Michael has been home for a while now, having stopped in Obsidia to pick up clothes for the evening. When he got here, he shaved and showered, then fixed a meal of his father who hadn't yet eaten that day. Michael is wearing something he hasn't worn in ages. His old squire's outfit. It consists of a dusky purple tunic, embroidered with gold eagles here and there. A straight purple-black set of trousers, black tall boots into which the trousers are tucked, and a vest of purple-black with gold threading and a single bright gold eagle crafted over the left breast.

The family home is medium in size, not far from the Citadel, but also not close to it. It is sporadically furnished, tending more towards counter space and actual open space than sitting arrangements. The dining table is set for five however, and the food is on warming pads. The Athyros, having finished their heartfelt reunion, wait for Michael's guest to arrive.

Nimara was disabled, not sick. There was a difference; a missing limb was nothing like a degenerative disease. She knew how hard her accident had been on her family alone; her countless surgeries to first remove the dead limb and then more surgeries to create the locking adapter and access point before even the arm was designed. But she was never dying from that accident. Stella Athyros, her boyfriend's mother, was arguably dying. Michael hadn't spoken of her much; she knew the facts, but his mother's disease never seemed to filter into the rest of him.

Nimara had fretted, as she was wont to do, about meeting with them. This was normal; meeting the parents was expected, though she wondered if it was all too early. She wore more professional clothes; like Michael, she donned a long tunic, hers of black and gold edging, with her hair high in a pony tail. Loose pants covered her legs, made of a wispy silk, and her feet were covered in small cloth shoes. She knocked on the door tentatively. This kind of meeting was out of her wheelhouse, but if she could handle a room full of stuffy, overfed senators, she was convinced she could handle this.

Michael answers the door, and smiles at Nimara. "Hey you, glad you came. Come in, come in." he's usher her into a small entryway, and stop her for a moment. "Oh, so a heads up, my mother's hair has been shaved off, and my father has done the same to show his support. They frowned at me when I suggested I was going to do the same, so don't mention it." he knows she'll get through this evening just fine, at least part will go smoothly.
Ushering Nimara through to the main room of the small home, Michael motions first to his mother, then to his father. "This is my mother, Stella, and my father Achaeus. Mom, dad, this is Nimara Demoore."

"Very nice to meet you Nimara, Michael has told a little about you… mostly that you and he are together. He hasn't shut up about it since you apparently said yes to him." Stella's tone is very reminicent of Michael's teasing one, for the later portion. She stands up and moves to offer her hand to Nimara.

Achaeus also stands and moves to his wife's side, "Yes a pleasure to meet you. And don't listen to my wife, Michael is a perfect gentlemen, I saw to that." he waits until after Nimara shakes Stella's hand to offer his own.

The warning was well-founded. Nimara's eyes may have widened to see the voluntary baldness of his father and then the hairlessness of his mother. It wasn't uncommon for cancer patients to give up on their hair, or so she had read, and so when he ushered her, Nimara moved gently. Long sleeves of her tunic hid most of her false appendage, though metal fingers laced with their organic counterparts. "Mr. and Mrs. Athyros," she says in greeting, her head inclining. "Thank you for having me… and your son is one to boast, I will agree, but, as you say," she said, looking to his father, "you raised a fine gentleman." She reaches with her right hand for his, leaving the metal one at her side.

Michael rolls his eyes at his mother, and then thumbs up at his father. He smiles a playful smile though, and shoos all of them to sit. "I dragged the furniture up here, might as well us it." he gives lightly, after his parents have indeed taken seats, Michael also sits. There are two couches here, his parents occupy one and Michael is in the other, the two creating a sort of V shape with a short right triangular table between them.
"Yes, he did boast all about his fights that nearly killed him. But, you are the first woman he's ever really talked about. Certainly the first to bring to meet us, and to have picked such an evening too." Stella smiles at Nimara, "Tell me dear, what is it that you do for a living?" Achaeus actually gets up to get them all something to drink. Returning with water and iced tea that he sets onto the short table with a motion that all help themselves as they feel wont to.

Nimara is a graceful woman and she puts all those graces to practice. She takes a seat somewhere in between, where she can sit close to Michael, but still direct her attention his parents. "The first, really?" Nimara asks, but the tone is more conversational. She smiles, her eyes casting an appreciative glance. To his mother's question, she turns to look back to her. "I'm a senator. I represent the people of House Cindravale, Mrs. Athyros."

Michael sighs softly at his mother conversational chiding of him, "Yes, the first… I haven't had a girlfriend before. Aside from Roan, but my parents knew her before I did technically." he takes a glass of iced tea, and offers softly to pour on for Nimara if she'd like.

Stella smiles softly at Nimara, and then flicks a playful warning at Michael as if to say, Let the women folk chat boy. "As he just said, yes you are the first woman he's brought home to meet the folks as they say." he pauses, taking a sip of water from a glass Achaeus had forced into her hands. "House Cindravale, and a senator… that's very admirable for someone so young as you." Stella tilts her head, "Michael mentioned how you two met, and that's rather sweet a story, so I want to hear it from you. How did you meet?" Again, Achaeus picks up on the silent cue given his son to let the women talk and he just pours himself a glass of iced tea, sipping at it lightly like Michael does.

Nimara takes the glass of tea in her left hand from Michael, her metal hand clinking against it without a thought from her. She holds it in the mechanical vice grip she's used to, fingers occasionally flexing to adjust the grip so she doesn't shatter the glass. She doesn't drink from it. When she speaks to Stella, it's hard for her to smile; if anything, she exhibits a face of a witness on trial. "We bumped into each other quite literally," she says. She looks to Michael then, her brows furrowing. "I can't remember what you were shopping for, but I was looking for a hair pin." She looks back to Stella. "He helped me pick one out and then asked me to lunch. Your son is very…" She smiles, to herself, "unafraid to speak his mind and ask for what he wants. I was taken aback when he asked for a second date. Dating isn't something I do much at all. A social life is challenging with my field of work."

Stella watches Nimara, her expression soft as is her smile, "Interesting… he's never been like that before. He's alway been the quiet one who just watched the pretty girls pick the muscled jerks, then he'd be their friend so they could vent all their frustrations about their boyfriend. He'd share his poetry with them, and then they'd usually just end up with a different guy. I am glad to hear that Michael was confident and asked for that second date, for the first one even." She flashes a smile at Michael, the all clear signal.

Michael takes a drink of tea, and smiles at his mother, "You make me sound so wimpy and helpless mother." he turns to Nimara, "It wasn't fully like that, usually I helped counsel them on why their relationships weren't working out from an outsider's perspective." he chuckles, "For some unknown logic that means go try to fix him." he now shrugs.

Achaeus picks up on the all clear and is instantly at Nimara's left side, his eyes large and tracing each small line in her mechanical hand. "Michael didn't say you have a cybernetic… that's a seriously old model too. May I take a look?" he asks softly, almost unable to wait for permission from her.

Nimara's smile breaks finally at Stella's comments, even if none of them were for her. A soft, embarrassed laugh sits behind it and she gives Michael a look of subtle surprise. "I think it's because he found me funny. You know, humorous, not funny looking." She lifted to drink the tea, her nerves slowly unwinding, but she only gets halfway there when his father comments on her hand. She slowly lowers the glass, her eyes watching him for a moment. Discomfort washes over her expression, but she places the glass to the floor next to her. As he asks, she rolls up her loose sleeves to the bicep. The lumps in the garment show that the cybernetic travels higher. "It's about eleven years old now," she says, showing her arm, with all its metal and panels, to him. "I lost my arm in a riding accident when I was a teenager."

Michael chuckles softly, "I asked, because of that adorable child like playfulness you keep hidden, just for me it felt, so I asked. Then I found more than I thought possible." his smile is bright and full. He chuckles softly at his father's actions and words.

Stella, however, sets her jaw and frowns at her husband. "Achaeus, you plant your butt next to me or I'm taking my mace to one of your little helpers." her momma bear side showing for a split second. Achaeus, of course, oggles the tech before pouting slightly at his wife and sitting down next to her. "Yes, I remember when that model came out… used to fix a few here an there even when the docs would send them out for such things. Have you seen some of the newer ones out now? They finally cracked the sensations codes, tactile senses almost a full mimic of norm."

Nimara hadn't the chance to smile to Michael. Clearly, the woman felt like an attraction, a person on display. Already Michael had learned she didn't like to talk about her artificial arm, much less have it investigated. When Stella comes to her rescue, she reaches down for her glass of tea again, holding it in her right hand and allowing her sleeve to cover up most of her left arm. "My doctor told me about that the other day," she says to Stella. "I haven't decided. This one works just fine."

Stella plays ship captain for the conversation from then on, keeping it away from subjects that seem to cause Nimara discomfort. About an hour after her arrival, all of them move to the table with five settings. Obviously there are only four of them, so when the question comes, Stella explains that placement is Roan's. They have one night every year, that they remember their loved one and this happens to be that night. The meal is wonderful, a type of very thick stew with bacon, sausage, heart beef, potatoes and much more. Accompanied by a light and tasty cracker like flat bread.

The meal ended, the Athyros move towards the door taking coats with them. Michael then pulls Nimara off tot he side to explain to her what's going on. "We're going to visit Roan's ashes at the cemetary. I know, not really the greatest meet the family dinner date idea… but I wanted you to be there. There's something I haven't done in six years, and I'll need the support of the woman I am falling in love with, when I say good bye to the woman I loved." with that, he offers his arm to escort her out of the home and onto the street. They begin to walk towards the cemetary.

When they arrive at the cemetary, Stella leads them all through the path to a marble wall about one and half feet wide. A plague in the middle reads: In loving memory of Sir Roan Orthala Corbin. Underneath is a short beautiful poem with just the initial M after it.

Nimara ate, but kept quiet most of the conversation. She was absorbing; there was much to be learned from a person from there parents and Michael's were… supportive and overwhelmingly normal. Occasionally, she was caught looking at his father, but with confusion. He didn't act like her father. In fact, Nimara had never really mentioned anything at all about her parents, and definitely nothing about introducing Michael to them.

When dinner was ended and Michael explained, her eyes widened to him. But she didn't question it, and neither did she smile. She took her nearest hand to his, metal or not, and put it inside his own. She squeezed once and then nodded to him.

At the cemetary, Nimara walked beside him, keeping to her silence almost protectively. She showed no signs of envy, self-consciousness or discomfort. Moreso, she seemed to recognize the truth: Michael had loved her, and she had been beloved of the Athyros family, and she died. There was no telling if Nimara had ever faced that kind of loss, but she reached inside a pocket. Within it, she pulled out a gem. It was encased inside what looked like a metal vine. The jewel was akin to sapphire, but not quite as a dark blue. She held it in her hand and then looked to Michael. Quietly, she said to the family, "May I?"

Stella still retains her position in the family as the voice of the family, "Of course you may, if Michael has asked you here, then you may consider yourself part of the family while with us." Stella's smile is soft and contemplative. She turns to the plague, and puts two fingers to her lips then touches the name. "You're never forgotten my dearest friend, you were almost a sister to me… even if it would seem creepy for my son to love and date his aunt." even in her grief, her strength and control finds footing enough to allow for humor. Achaeus smiles at Nimara, then turns to the stone. "My friend, you were a vibrant addition to life in general and such a radiant part of our family. You are missed, and always remembered."

Michael watches his parents give their love towards what was once Roan… there are two sides to his heart right now. In one hand, Roan isn't gone… she's just on an extended patrol that he hasn't been allowed to go on, on the other she is gone and she left him behind. Only the fact that Nimara is standing there next to him, holding his hand, is he able to let those feelings go… she's gone but not forgotten, he finally understands his parents words and tears begin to slide down his cheeks. He remains silent though.

Things may be different in the Vale. Perhaps there, there rituals were different towards the dead. Maybe it was the Demoores themselves that taught Nimara the words, or perhaps they were those that she had kept hidden for this very time. She looked back at Michael, allowing his tears and she offered no smile of comfort. No, she would allow his grief and let each tear ache away at the pain he held. She didn't understand Roan. She was twice his age, friends with his parents, and yet loved him like she was on her way to.
The heavy-lidded look, however, did not need to understand Roan. She taught Michael, gave him lessons so he may be prepared, and perhaps taught him better than she ever could. For that, there was a gratefulness to Nimara. She stepped closer to the plaque and took the gem within her metal hand. She held it up. "By the Six," she says, holding the gem so that the light might refract within it, "with life, with death, we follow you. May you keep this soul within your chambers. May she protect you, your ways, and live in the hearts of those who loved her. Blessed be her gifts and may she take this stone, for when she aches for those she awaits, she may find a beacon of passage." She stands then, still murmuring, as if she were alone. "May she hold it and guide those to her when our patrols in Haven end and a guide we must find to peace."

There, she lowers the stone, placing it not on the plaque, but the grass before it, letting it settle into the earth. She spreads her hands before it, metal and fleshy fingers spread, and her eyes close briefly, before she stands.

Michael whispers softly, soft it would be tough to hear from the stone as close as it is. "Good bye Roan… I won't ever forget you." he pauses, choking slightly on the need to cry, when he swallows his voice carries a little more, "I am so sorry, I promised to protect you and I failed you Roan… and you, you apologized to me." he chokes again, his tears falling faster and more often, he puts a hand to the stone, his mother putting her arm around Achaeus and whispering softly how unlike Michael that is, he's never touched the stone before. "Me… and after how much I put you through with us…. with how little I did for us, I'm so sorry Roan… I miss you so much, what I would give to tell you." he stops, choking once more. He doesn't continue, but instead slumps against the stone one hand reaching out for Nimara, any part of her that he can grab.

His words catch her, her lips parting as if his grief strangled her guts and wrenched her stomach. What could she possibly say then? What words of comfort could she possibly offer? She hadn't been prepared to visit a grave. She wasn't ready. … Instinct, then, took over. She wrapped her arm around his shoulder, crouched next to him. Ignoring his parents, she leaned over to whisper to him. "She can hear you," is all she says. If he looks to her, the grief is shared, despite if she never knew the woman (and ought to envy her in some regard). Her metal hand touches the edge of his chin. "And she is at peace." Her eyes lower a moment, looking to the plaque. "I didn't know her," she says, "but I imagine no one would wish this sort of guilt on you, especially her." Her eyes look back to him. "I promise you. She hears you."

Stella is mother enough to notice when her son and his newly beloved need their time alone. She takes her husbands arm and whisper to him. The two of them make their leave, strolling easily along the paths. Michael does look up at Nimara, a small sense of guilt in him for putting this on her so soon into their relationship… but he needed her to be here and she says just the right things for him. He takes a deep breath, exhales and tries to calm himself down. "I denied her… for a few years I denied her anything intimate. Even kisses. I wasn't comfortable with it, not because of the age difference, but just that genre of activity." he pauses to take another breath, still trying to calm himself. "The night before… I had promised her the bonfires that year would be our first time, I was turning eighteen in two weeks with my ceremony planned for after the bonfires where we'd ask for the blessings of the knight and maiden." he looks up at the plague, "I was just down stairs… waiting for her, if I had known, if I had just stayed up there like I normally did…" he breaks off again, burrying his face into Nimara's shoulder, mumbling into her "Thank you for being here… I couldn't face this without you."

It was a lot to take in. A week-long relationship was getting the weight of one months or a year old and none of this was like her. Nimara was so socially reclusive that this wasn't something she did, but she had learned that she cared for him, as she had almost instantly, and it was she that he chose to lean on. When he leaned into her after speaking, she held him, hands carefully around his upper back. They remained frozen and she found courage to speak what truths she knew. "There was no way you could have known," she says, "and you were doing what you felt was right. If you had forced anything, you would've been lying to her and everything about that moment would have been empty. You should never let things be empty. You did the right thing and it wasn't your fault. You… you have to forgive yourself. For her, and yourself."
She was glad he kept his head buried. Nimara had mastered masking her voice when tears were streaking rivers down her face.

Michael remains face burried into her, but he nods slightly against her shoulder. He takes a deep breath, silently guilty for such a weighted first week of romance… but she was here, with him and for all that it was practically too early for this sort of thing, it only give Michael more reason to care for her. His heart has a road to recovery, but so long as she remains beside him that journey won't take quite as long. He takes one more breath and leans back, now looking at her and tilts his head slightly. There will be more tears later, but for tonight he said his peace, and her words have helped him to pull it together for now. "Will you tell me?" he asks her softly, offering to also be there for her should she want him to be.

Her tears now witnesses, Nimara lets them fall. She's a prideful woman and often too strong for her own good. She smiles to him, gently through the saltiness, and she says, "This? Allergies." But the lie is blatant, playfully put, and then she shakes her head. She reaches down, placing her metal hand over his chest. "Death is painful, no matter if you knew them or not. Crying is not weak." Her eyes catch his, stern as she watches him. "But a sign of acceptance of pain and I can feel yours. Let me anchor you." Slowly, she keeps her one arm around him and begins to attempt to stand him up.

Michael accepts her help in standing up. He looks into her eyes now, the clear cut pain in his is given an eerie glow by that light from their night of confession. "Nimara… I know this is all so incredibly sudden and far too damn early in our relationship. So it means a lot to me, that you've remained… but I understand if this it too much for you." that dot of fear also settling in his eyes giving them the strangest macabre beauty of pain, love, and fear like the rising sun through a wrought iron fence. His gaze searching her eyes, he's almost too afraid to hope even with the trust he has in her.

There standing, Nimara reaches to wipe her face with her right hand. His words, while kind, earn him a look. Her eyelids are swollen, her lips a little the same, but she stares at him a moment. "Michael Athyros," she says, as stern as a mother would say, "shut up." She smiles then, her hand finding his. "If I am anything is strong and I've selfishly held that for years. I don't mind sharing it with you."

Michael squeezes her hand gently, "Thank you, how could I ever had been so lucky?" he looks at their joined hands, "This will take me time to deal with… it's been six years now, and I haven't ever come here or cried like that. It will happen again. I just want you to know, that even though I miss Roan dearly I wouldn't trade you for her." His parents, probably having not actually gone far and remained close enough to hear with one of his father's little tech helper's aid, suddenly come down the path from behind a large tree. When they get to Nimara and Michael Stella smiles, having noted they are holding hands.

"You don't have to explain yourself," Nimara says as they walk down the path. Hand in hand, Nimara's face returns to its normal paleness, her eyes watching him as they move. "I am not her, and I understand that." Once they reach Stella, she looks to her and smiles. "Thank you for having me," she says to her. "I understand it may have been awkward, inviting a stranger to something like this."

"Well, a little strange but mostly because Michael asked us if he could bring his girlfriend." Stella tilts her head slightly, "I was glad to have you Nimara, and I hope to see you again soon." Achaeus shakes his head, "Not awkward at all, you are most welcome to our home. I would be happy to advice you on a potential new cybernetic if you would like me to."

Michael smiles softly to Nimara, falling ever more in love with her as she speaks and walks with him.

There are a lot of people talking about her arm. First Dr. Bradfield, now his father. She looks over to Michael briefly, though she seems to expect no answers from him. She looks back to Achaeus. "I will be honest with you, Mr. Athyros. I'm… not comfortable talking about it. Not yet. Though I do appreciate your efforts." It's the senator leaking out of her.

Michael respongs to Nimara's look at him, with a squeeze of her hand, and peck to her cheek. He looks to his parents, "Mom, dad, I think I should walk Nimara home… then I need to return to Obsidia. Please be safe, and I will see you both another time." he smiles at them both, leaving Nimara's side for only a moment to hug them both.
Stell smiles at her son, and then chuckles softly towards Nimara. "Yes, now you two go be crazy kids and have a good night." with that, she tugs on Achaeus and they slip out of sight around a corner.

Nimara stands back as he hugs his parents. Fully grown, his relationship to them is still solid. His father kind, quiet and caring and his mother clearly running the roost, strong as bricks and mortar, even when she's sick. They cared for her within minutes. When Michael returns to her, she looks down at her metallic palm. No. She's not ready to deal with that mountain yet. She raises her right hand to his parents, waving and saying, "I hope to see you soon."

Michael watches his parents leave with a soft smile. "They have been with me my entire life… they were twenty two when they had me, both of them the same age. Academ sweet hearts for about one month, they broke up eight times throughout school… then had me just after getting married, actually I am a result of the honeymoon." a soft smirk now, as he looks at her, "Well, they certainly like you, and I know mother 'approves' he makes them air quotes, "So then, am I walking you home? Or would you like to visit the Hanging Gardens in Obsidia with me at night time? It was a clear sky when I left."

"They were kind," Nimara says, walking with him in their familiar hand and hand. It's becoming less common that she doesn't hold his hand now when they walk. Her mind is distant, lost on something. Occasionally, she looks down at the outdated limb. In the back of her mind, a mirror reflection of her, without the limb, the hideous stub of a shoulder staring back at her. Nightmares occasionally follow and steps go by before she's aware she took them. Finally, she says, "The gardens would be nice."

Michael nods slightly and looks over at her for a moment, still leading them to the Ways, before guiding them to the gardens of Obsidia after a short step through an arch of radiant blue. He follows one of her glances at then stops her for a moment. "What's wrong? You keep looking at your arm. Was it something my father said? he's just a tech lover, anything remotely technology he wants to study and talk about."

When he stops, so does Nimara. Slowly, she rolls up her sleeve, and her fingers tremble as she does so. Emotion becomes too raw, too real and even more overwhelming than it had at the grave site. The stubborn will in her settles her hand as she looks to the limb. "I see a cybersurgeon every six months for maintainance," she says, "and he wants me to get a new one. One that'll let me feel things. He also wants me to see this therapist to talk about the accident."

Oh, so his father struck a real chord then… Michael closes his eyes for just a moment and then looks at her with both a mix of concern and encouragement. "You said you aren't ready to discuss that yet… but I am here to listen if you want to tell me. You also don't have to feel like you need to tell me, but I am here for you."

"No," Nimara says softly, looking to him. She then begins to walk forward, only long enough so she can find a bench somewhere to sit. The strength can only go so long and the upfront feelings that she usually buries weighs her shoulders into slumping. "No, I just didn't want to talk about it with them." Even so, she doesn't look at him. Holding her left arm in her lap, she continues. "The other morning, it wouldn't work. It's like sleeping on your arm and waking up, all numb. Except it stayed that way for two hours." She looks over at him and there is moisture around her eyes. "He says I need a lot of maintainence on it, which means being hospitalized while he works on it, or…" She draws a breath that shakes her chest. She rolls up her sleeve to reveal the access point, where it connects to her flesh. "Going without it."

Michael tilts his head slightly so he can fully see the shoulder portion, his face doesn't take on disgust nor does he recoil. Instead he actually reaches out a hand to her shoulder, "I understand." he says in reguards to his parents. His eyes go to hers, "That sounds frightening, the it not working part… as for the latter part of that, I've heard my father chat about some of the ones recently out. Personally, I would want to see you in something that allows you be able to defend yourself."

Nimara's eyes turn to him then, with no tears falling, but the frightened emotion there enough. "The new ones let you feel things," she says, as if it's a normal defense. "This one doesn't allow me to feel pain. Those will let me feel it again, and I don't want to feel that pain again."

Michael slides both his arms around her now. "You are hiding from that pain, as much as I was hiding from the pain I felt at the cemetary. What happened to your arm, wasn't your fault… chosing a cybernettic obviously hasn't held you back physically or career wise. The only place it may have caused pain, is in your love life… and you don't need to worry about that now. I am not bothered by it, I actually think it's cool. You aren't going to feel that pain again.. but the newer arm would mean you could feel when I kiss your hand, or when my fingers lace with yours. Think about all the good things you will be able to feel."

It wasn't clear what caused her tears to suddenly run, to hear the moist burst of a quick, choked sob. Was it his arms or his words? Was it the thought of feeling his hands in hers? Or the way he may kiss her palm? She takes her right hand, to cover her swelling mouth and she quickly wipes her hand under her eyes. "I'm so stupid," she says, "crying over nothing." She looks up, catching the moonlight in her eyes in an attempt to calm her, to dry up the emotion. She looks back at him, and the tears just come forth again. "D-do you think I should?"

Michael leans in and kisses her cheeks, his lips soaking up the tears in his way of showing his care for her. He smiles at her, "I think you need to consider it, I can't make the choice for you, but selfishly I want your to feel my hand in yours… my lips on your palm, the warmth of my cheek… all of that." he pauses, "You aren't stupid, Nimara, I understand this fear of something so incredibly new and the what if it fails… how do you think I was when I first met Lady Sir johana? I didn't cry infront of her, because training kicked in… but when I got home that night I cryied."

Nimara's eyes close at the soft touch of his lips, feeling the saltiness of her tears. The fear is quiet, but everpresent. There is also frustration with a sprinkling of anger. She looks back to him then, no smile and concern written all over her expression. "If I get the replacement, will you come with me? When they install it?"

Michael smiles at her, "Of course I would be there. If you decided to get his one repaired instead, I would sit in the hospital with you even. Nimara, you don't need to ask me these questions… you should their answer already." his smiles softens, "I an in love with you, I would walk the ends of the system with you… I think you should get the upgrade, if nothing else than because it would alleviate some the worry about the one you have now."

He took out the word 'falling.' Falling meant love was coming, was not yet here, and this time he left it out. She watched him, her sick attention to detail always occurring when she least expected it. "You love me," she said. And she knew that he did, by the way he held her, encouraged her and so easily supported these deeply personal things that her closest friend barely knew about. She looks forward again, her eyes going glassy a moment. A hand goes to her stomach, perhaps to understand the emotion that churns there. It had been an emotional day.

Michael nods slightly, "Yes, falling is an accurate word because my love for you is growing day by day, each moment we share together…" he looks at her, "However, the truth lies in the word that follows, love. Nimara, you don't have to say it. Remember what we discussed at that coffee shop? I am fine if we're still at different emotional paces… but you've been here for me, you've been amazing, and in all that we've shared in just a week… you are the one person who's words and actions have broken down that wall around that place in my heart."

For a painfully long moment, Nimara was silent. Her left arm, limp in her lap, never moved and she stared forward. She was thinking again. Thinking, lately, had gotten her nowhere. It had clogged up the pipes, created hesitations while her overwhelming emotions were the ones that moved things forward. It had her grieving for his former lover. It had her sitting in coffee houses, talking about her feelings. It had her mouth open, saying the words that her heart knew were true, despite if every bone in her body was afraid of them.

"I love you, too," she said. And provided no other explanation than that.

Her words catch his breath, and eyes close then open slowly. In all of six years, he hasn't felt this way toward someone, and hasn't heard those words spoken to him with that meaning… he could shatter apart right now. Not from sadness but from a combination of relief and joy. He leans into her, no miraculous kiss planned on his part, just a comfortable lean into her with his arm slipping out her. "When tomorrow comes, forgive me if you my voice shouting from the Shard's highest arch… all the way in your office." he says quietly.

And even more relieving was his quietness. He didn't smash her face with a kiss and she didn't want him to. It was as if he let the words linger in the area to be absorbed into his skin. Come morning, she would either be overjoyed by her bravery or terrified by the next moment she was supposed to have. But he held her, let her enjoy the quiet, to absorb the moments and then she turned to him, watching him with all that affection in her eyes. "Don't do that," she says. "How will you sing to me if you lose your voice?"

Michael smiles to her, "Alright, I'll resist the urge and take out the need to tell every person I meet even if I don't know them, on some poor unsuspecting training simm." His head rests lightly on her shoulder, one hand taking hers and lacing their fingers together, the other around her shoulder keeping them close. His thumb on his entwined hand begins to glide across her own thumb's joint.

"You know the problem with this love thing is that I'm so happy anymore that I'm not arguing in the senate as much. You are truly horrible for my lobbyists," Nimara says, her humor finally returning. Her head tilts, her nose nudging him until she can plant a soft, warm kiss to his mouth and it created such a such of fluttering emotion in her stomach that her cheeks flushed. "Could we kiss here, until dawn?" And whether or not he agreed, that's where she'd stay, wrapped up in him, her body withered and exhausted by all that transpired and still, no matter what happened, she found herself in his arms, content, safe and now, loved.

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