10.04.3013: Climbing Anger
Summary: Devon and Victor get mad at one another. Surprise, surprise.
Date: 19 September, 2013
Related: None Specifically
Victor Devon 

The Black Wastes, The Crescent
South and west of Volkan, the Black Wastes trail away into broken, rocky terrain dusted in dark grey ash from the volcanic peaks that rim the plain. It is not quite trackless, cut and crossed as it is by dry river beds that turn into sluiceways when rain finally comes to the Wastes. Rocky hills rise from the shattered blight of waist-high micro-canyons and the occasional deeper crevasse, giving some definition to the land, but they are few and far between.

All in all, it is not an attractive landscape, or one that tends toward the useful, although occasional mining camps are gathered around Waygates, providing a means to gather some resources from the Wastes and to patrol them from ready-made encampments as well.

4 October 3013

Stupid horses. The campsite was packed up, and a short ride — even at Victor’s slow riding speed — takes the pair to the foot of a ragged cliff. Rings have been punched into the rock at the top, and after Victor awkwardly dismounts from the gelding he had been perched equally-awkwardly atop, he walks over to the foot of the cliff, tapping a brief code into a control panel there. There’s a soft sort of buzz from above, and a synthetic cord slowly uncoils from the clifftop, falling to dangle on the ground with a half-dozen feet to spare. “Voila. Safe climbin’ in the wild. Or less safe if ya don’t bother with the rope.” His broad shoulders rise and fall in a shrug, and he starts to angle slowly and warily back toward his horse to gather some of the gear from its saddlebags.

Devon — while certainly not the best rider — has managed to at least look confident on the back of her white mare. She has also been nice enough not to mock, criticize, or covertly laugh at her husband-to-be while he miserably leads the way up to the cliff. When he dismounts, she does as well with a touch of grace. She watches him, hand on hip, as he operates the control panel, and then she laughs. "Introducing me slowly to this idea of climbing, are you?" She asks, her pale eyes dancing with amusement. She turns toward her mare now, working loose her own gear.

Victor scowls at the gelding as he carefully steps around its bite radius, then digs into the saddlebags to dig out a climbing harness and the proper clips. “You just got out of the hospital.” Shrugging out of his already-unlaced doublet, he tosses the clothing over the back of his saddle, then shoulders the harness to lead his borrowed horse around to tie its reins off at a low bar off to one side. Backstepping away from the horse, he finally turns back to Devon, “Figured you didn’t want to hobble down the aisle on crutches.”

Devon laughs. "Oh, was that your attempt to gracefully sigue into discussions of the wedding?" She pauses in repacking her rucksack, glancing his way. "You realize the benefit of doubling with Reena is that I don't have to plan for most of it." She slings on the pack, adjusting its sideways fall across her back. She ties up her mare alongside his gelding before she looks up the length of cliff. She sizes it up, and then pulls her sun goggles down over her eyes.

Victor laughs from deep in his chest, “Like you never thought about that. And no, it wasn’t. Just tryin’ to be considerate,” which would have been really nice if he hadn’t followed that up with, “and shit.” He pulls his own smoked-glass goggles from his gear, pulling them onto his head but leaving them balanced on his brow for the moment. “But we probably should talk about it.” With efficient motions, he steps into the loops of his climbing harness, tightening them down and then snugging it tight around his waist. Beckoning his wife-to-be over, he then looks her own harness over, “You haven’t climbed much, have you?”

"No," Devon says with a smirk as he makes sure her harness is proper. She considers her betrothed through those sunshine-colored goggles — the same warm color of her yellow-dyed locks. She cants her head a touch, and there is a moment of shy admiration there, almost juvenile in nature… like the beginning of a teenage crush. She clears her throat then, dropping her gaze to her belt, giving it a bit of a tug. "So, the wedding… Reena has her bachelorette party tomorrow." She shrugs a bit. "I'll be there." Which also suggests she didn't think about or intended to have her own party. Second marriages maybe don't require that kind of tradition.

Victor leans in close to tug on a few of the straps about her hips, ensuring that they’re tight and won’t slip. He looks up from his attention, tilting his head slightly and letting a little smirk build at one corner of his lips at the look that spurs on the throat-clearing. His heavy hands drop away from her harness so that she can tug on it too, and then he gathers up the dangling rope to feed it through the catch on the harness, “Just remember not to drink anything off anyone’s body. Nothing good ever comes of that.” Apparently, he’s not too worried about whatever boytoys might be around to shake their thangs just out of reach of the noble ladies before their wedding.

Devon laughs. "We're going to a spa on the Isle of Terran," she remarks, her tone easily dry. She shakes her head, simultaneously fussing with a bit of those buglight yellow locks. Then she steps up next to him, mimicking his motions to fasten herself into the harness with the rope. She frowns a bit, her brow furrowed thoughtfully. "I'm sorry that we couldn't have the affair in Volkan. There is a certain softness about Mare Maris that doesn't appeal to me… it feels… dreamlike. Every time I'm there… I keep waiting to wake up."

Victor arches his brows at the dry tone, “So you’re not interested in being pampered? I’ll have to keep that in mind.” He checks the lock on the catch of her harness, then nods, stepping off to the side of the rope’s path up the relatively short cliff. Since he’s not clipped in, apparently he’s going to be climbing freehand. As he ponders her commentary about her birthplace, he reaches up, pulling down his goggles so that he doesn’t have to squint against the glare off the rocks. “And that’s why your brother’s pissed.” Perhaps surprisingly insightful for the big meathead. Gathering a bit of chalk onto his hands from a bag at his harness, he steps up to the cliff, feeling around for good solid hand-holds, “You grew up a Grantham, and he thinks you’ll never be a Volen again.”

"It isn't that I'm not interested," Devon carefully replies as she starts to seek the first of her handholds, glancing down to find the corresponding footholds. Then she starts to ease herself up, looking up toward the blue, sunlit skies above. "It is more that… I don't know…" She hesitates. "I feel like I'm just along for the ride." She sighs, shaking her head. "This is Reena's special day…" Then she heaves herself upward, reaching above her head to find another handhold. She knows enough to maintain three-points, never having more than one hand or foot loose from the wall. It takes her two upward steps before she replies to the bit about Kadmus. "The thing is, Vic… I don't even know what I am. Flint…" She sighs at her uncle's name. "He thinks I'm pretending to be a woman of Khournas and forgetting I'm a woman of Grantham… but then Kadmus thinks I'm forgetting I'm a woman of Volen." Identity crisis, anyone?

Victor nods at the first point, pushing himself up the cliff one wall at a time. Without the benefit of the rope, he’s being very careful to find good hand- and foot-holds before moving on. This also has the benefit of keeping him about even with her in pace. “Good thing and a bad. Means we can focus on work, not have to worry too much about the wedding. Also means we’re along for the ride.” There’s a long pause as they ascend the cliff slowly, carefully, “We’ll get our moments.” And then there’s the whole identity issue, and he grunts, stalling for a moment before a patch of relatively smooth rock. “You’re you. Who the fuck cares if you act like a Khournas or a Grantham or a Volen?” Says the man who got her a leather jacket because she was ‘Khourni enough.’

"I hope so," Devon says as she pulls herself up through another pair of footholds and handholds. She shakes her head a bit as she pauses, working her fingers through the crevice. "We will get our moments," she finally agrees with a bit more strength in her voice. Then she pulls herself up another vertical step. She glances over toward him even as she kicks her foot lightly where it gains ground. "Flint is under the impression that losing my Grantham name and moving out of Ignis will be my undoing." Then she grimaces as she realizes she is being unfair. "He doesn't want me to lose myself."

Victor studies that difficult patch from behind the dark glass of his goggles, as if pondering smashing through it or some other stereotypically Khourni response. Instead, he begins to work his way out to the right, further away from Devon, toward a narrow chimney where he can climb more easily. He doesn’t respond right away, grunting softly as he presses his arms out against the sides of the chimney and works his way upward. Once he has a solid handhold again, he rumbles, “Sounds like he’s tryin’ to put you in a fuckin’ box, Dee. You ain’t just a Grantham, you ain’t just a Volen, and you ain’t just gonna be a Khourni. Just like I ain’t just a Khourni. You’re you. I’m me.” The muscles of his back and shoulders ripple beneath his shirt as he pulls himself up over a protruding ledge and he gets solid footing for a moment, “You ask me, I’d say he doesn’t want to lose you.”

The Ash Witch is quiet, studying her hands as her fingers work through the rock. Then she frowns, her brow furrowing densely. "Maybe," she says softly, though it is easy to see that there is a tense discomfort that settles around her shoulders. "To be fair, the expectation was that I would marry and live the rest of my days with Zayne… and then I told him I was going to join the Chantry and serve the people of Ignis through the Six… and then he heard I was marrying you." She shakes her head. "I don't know." She shakes her head as she reaches up to pull herself up another step. "He loves Anabethe anyway."

Victor nods along easily enough at the soft response, working his way slowly back above the patch of smooth cliff-face. He opens his mouth to respond to the words, and then she speaks the last words, and his hand slips right off its grip, the sudden shift in his weight carrying one foot off into space with it. He dangles for a long moment, grunting in sudden effort, and then his right arm flexes hard, pulling him close against the rock face, and he grabs hold of another anchor point with his left hand. “Knight on a fuckin’ crutch. Seriously? I didn’t even know Bethe knew any Granthams but you.” His left foot finds a brace-point, and he’s steady again. “Isn’t he like… forty? And not interested in fuck-all but hitting things? You know, like me. And Bethe.” A snort of amusement rips from his nose, “Crone what a shitty match.”

“Easy there,” Devon says with a quirk of a smirk at the corner of her mouth. Then she shakes her head, though she pauses. “This remains between us, Victor Khournas… swear upon our firstborn child that this does not leave this cliff.” Then she breathes out a sigh, feeling the weight in her shoulders before she hauls herself up another step on the cliff. “He knows Jevon won’t arrange the match, just as he knows Marah won’t sign off on it. Even if it would be a good match for Grantham to marry the heir of House Khournas, she’s more likely to offer Beden.” Then she hesitates a bit, and she pulls herself up another step.

Victor snorts at the smirking words, looking over at Devon with a frown at the demand, “I won’t tell anyone.” The words come out of his mouth like rotten meat, though, and he grumbles, “Bethe needs someone to smack her on her head if she’s thinkin’ about it.” He blows out a breath, “Well fuck. I’d say everyone should just get a fuckin’ political match, but somehow I don’t think they don’t all turn out as… lively… as ours.”

Devon returns the frown, though the expression does soften a bit at the rotten reply. "Thank you, Vic…" Then she grasps onto the next handhold, pulling herself upward a bit more. "We don't need to get involved… Jevon or Micaya will handle it." Then she takes a pause, releasing her hands so she can flex and rub her fingers while the rope holds her in secure suspension. "Lively," Devon repeats with a snort. "At least we've been able to go a couple days now without trying to kill each other."

Victor grabs a rocky protrusion, testing it and grimacing a little as it crumbles. Leaning aside, he lets the little chunks of rock tumble down to the base of the cliff, finding another handhold readily enough. Once he’s set, he looks over to watch her hanging, “It’s gonna be hard. Not sayin’ anything. That’s not how our family works.” Snorting with dry amusement, he nods back in the general direction of the Blackspyre, “You saw how Bethe broke news to me. Our family, we don’t pussyfoot around with each other.” And that’s getting close to another attempt to kill one another, so he shakes his head, hanging close to the cliff for a long moment.

"It isn't pussyfooting," Devon objects. "Do you intend to share everything about our marriage with the rest of the family?" There is a slight barb to that question, her pale eyes reflecting a touch of disapproval within their panes. "I don't want to have to keep secrets from you because I'm afraid you will just blurt it out with everyone else in the House." She reconnects with the cliff, gripping her handholds and footholds securely.

Victor rolls his eyes, even as the warning bells are going off inside his head, “We know how to keep secrets, Dee.” Looking away from the golden-haired (for today) woman, he shifts his goggled gaze back to the cliff before him, resuming his ascent. “But if there’s somethin’ that I think Bethe should know, I’d rather just fuckin’ tell her.” His movements are sharp now, perhaps even abrupt as he pushes himself up the cliff. “I’m not talking about bellowing things down the fucking hallways. I’m talking about talkin’ to Bethe. Or the boss-man. Or Reena.” There’s a long pause, and then he grunts, “Or Nitrim. There’s something you think family should know, you tell ‘em.”

That seems to settle Devon into a silent, simmering furor. She starts to pull herself upward again, grasping for the naturally eroded handholds and kicking her foot into the rock to create new footholds. She doesn't say anything for another pair of steps before she glances his way. "Fine, tell Anabethe." And then she draws herself up another step. She doesn't say anything else for now, focusing on climbing, focusing on her hands and feet, and letting her thoughts turn inward.

Victor really shouldn’t snap back, but he does, growling, “I said I wouldn’t.” His shoulders ripple again as he pulls himself up onto another shallow ledge, getting his feet under him and then working his way around an outcropping above, “I’m just sayin’, that I don’t like keeping things from family.” He gets his hand into a crevice, giving him a secure hold so he can look over and snap, “Maybe you haven’t forgotten your Grantham roots. Or maybe that’s the Volen. Keepin’ secrets from your own fuckin’ family.” Low blow.

The words are like a slap, and she actually recoils. Her pale eyes, though those golden goggles, stare at him for a long moment, and her expression becomes flat. It is not so easy to storm away when you're dangling on a rope on a cliff. She turns her gaze away, focusing on the rock in front of her. "I'm done," she says firmly. She looks up to see how far away the top of the cliff looms, and she just wants to be pulling herself over the edge and put some distance between her and her betrothed.

Victor stops then, anger and frustration that’s been unnecessary between them for so long boiling up and over again — even if it’s mostly directed inward at the moment. His knuckles go white on their hold, and he shifts his feet on that little ledge, then he gravels out, “Lean back against the harness, squeeze the grip on the clip a little, and walk backwards down the cliff.” Rappelling 101 from angry bald dude. At least he’s not angry enough — at her — to give her bad instructions.

"Fine," Devon snaps at the instructions. "Enjoy your climb." And she releases the handholds, pushing off a bit against the wall to adjust her feet. She leans back, compresses the clip, and starts to rappel downward with a few downward steps. She doesn't look back at him, focusing on her retreat back to the bottom of the cliff. Debris rain down from the harsh kick of her feet into the stone.

Victor watches her descend, and once she touches bottom safely, he looks back to the rock wall in front of him, getting a better grip on the crevice so that he can slap the palm of his other hand against a relatively flat section of rock without dislodging him. “Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck.” The words are growled, low and harsh under his breath. Letting out a long hiss of breath, he settles back into scaling the cliff, pushing it perhaps a little too hard and fast. It’s enough to get his breath puffing from his lungs by the time he reaches the top, rolls atop the cliff, and looks down to see what the Volen-Grantham-not-quite-Khournas-yet has been doing in the intervening few minutes.

Once her feet alight on the ground, it takes her a few moments to consider what to do next. She closes her eyes, fingers working on loosening the rope from her harness. Her eyes roll shut as those thoughts continue to toil and boil within her mind. Devon glances up toward the top of the cliff just as Victor rolls over the edge and disappears. She takes a look around, getting her bearings once more. The pair of horses are staring at her, both blinking several times in her direction with a kind of knowing intelligence — particularly with the destrier who flares his nostrils. "Shut up," she says to the horse. She gathers up her gear, stepping toward the mare to start loading up her saddle.

Watching Devon pack up her gear, Victor’s eyebrows raise slightly. He shakes his head, however, not moving immediately from where he’s splayed out across the top of the cliff. “Mother and fucking Father. When am I going to learn to just shut the fuck up?” Even his own grumble stills there, before he can even mutter anything less than complimentary about the other participant in the spat. After another few minutes, probably about the time Devon is finishing with her packing, Victor rolls up to his feet, moving over to the top of the line and clipping in. Instead of the nice, slow descent, however, he backs over the edge and then pushes off hard, bounding down the cliff-face in a series of long hops that cause the rope to zzzzzzzzz through his harness.

The sharp sound of his descent draws her eyes upward just as she finishes tightening down her saddlebags. She tightens up her shoulders, drawing her poise up and tall in preparation. She doesn't cross her arms, but she does plant her fists on her hips. It isn't until he touches the ground does her hands drop, and she turns back toward her white mare, fussing with the saddle and reins.

Victor hits the ground easily, pulling himself vertical again on the rope and then unclipping. He steps over to hit the button to retract the line, then gets to work undoing his harness. Once he’s stepped out of it, he strides back over to where the gelding is tied up, carefully on the other side of the horse from Devon’s mount and the woman herself. He scowls at the horse as if daring it to try to bite him, shoving the harness back into his saddlebacks and grabbing his jerkin, pulling it on over the pale expanse of his off-white shirt. The chalk on his hands leaves finger- and hand-prints of white across the black jerkin, but he doesn’t seem to either notice or care, untying the reins and shoving one foot into a stirrup. Of course, that’s exactly the time when his borrowed horse decides to turn and meander away from the hitching point, causing him to hop one-legged after it, snarling, “You fucking glue-pot. Stop gods-damned moving.”

"Oh, by the Six," Devon scowls. She steps up toward Victor's horse, maintaining a strong and confident presence as she grabs for the horse's reins to stop the destrier from moving around. "Your absolute inability to handle this horse is infuriating," she says sharply, though there is a distinct possibily she's allowing her anger to seep through. She presses her hand into the horse's shoulder to try to steady the creature. She looks over toward him beneath the enormous horse's tall neck, her jaw set and expression stony.

Victor almost has the horse stopped already, but Devon certainly finishes the job, the horse rolling its eyes between them at the sheer amount of ‘angry’ jerking it around. The Khourni hauls himself into the saddle like a bag of oats, jabbing his other foot into the far stirrup, “I wouldn’t have to deal the the motherfucker if you hadn’t insisted on going fucking riding.” The snarl overruns his actual anger, and he scrubs his blunt fingernails back over his scalp, leaving momentary white lines in the wake of his hands. “Shit. What the fuck is wrong with us?” At least there’s an ‘us’ there, instead of a ‘you.’

As Victor swings into his saddle, Devon takes a large step backwards. She turns toward her own horse, though she doesn't immediately swing into her own saddle. Her knuckles brush up against the soft, darker nose of the white horse before her shoulders slump. His words hang over her for a long moment before she shrugs. "We are fine as long as we aren't talking about each other… at least that's an improvement." She finally slips a foot into her stirrup and swings astride the mare. She sinks low in her seat, and gently, she starts to guide her horse forward and off to the side in a slow and lethargic walk.

Once Victor is steady in the saddle — or at least as steady as he ever is — he slips the axe from the loop in his saddle and into the loop at his belt, gathering up the reins. “Which doesn’t really help anything. You gotta know I’m not tryin’ to insult you or hurt you.” There’s a pause there as he chews the gristle of his conscience, and then forces himself to admit, “Except when I get pissed off at you. Then I turn into a piece of shit.” Acknowledging the problem’s the first step, right?

The white mare keeps that smooth, slow pace which doesn't require Devon to maintain a proper posture in her saddle. "Yeah, you do," she says after a moment. Then she shrugs her shoulders. "So, what am I suppose to do? Ignore anything you say when you get pissed… or are you trying to tell me something?" She doesn't look at him, keeping her head bowed a bit as the mare carries her confidently across the terrain. "Will your loyalty to your family always trump any loyalty you have to me?"

Victor presses his lips together at the words that accompany the shrug, staying in his saddle without any particular grace. “I was tryin’ to say that you shouldn’t take what I say as an insult. That’s how these fights start.” There’s no pause as he realizes what he’s just said and powers on, “One of us takes somethin’ the other one say wrong, and then the other one snaps back. Fuck the snapping back, that’s just gonna happen. It’s taking the first bit as an insult that fucks us up.” Without the assistance of his armor’s AI, he keeps his attention up and out even as he talks, despite the glances he sneaks over at his wife to be. He doesn’t answer her question right away, letting it sit for a long moment, then shrugs his broad shoulders, “Dee… you’re gonna be family.”

Devon is silent in the wake of those words, chewing on them carefully. She glances over toward him now behind those golden-tinted goggles. "How was I suppose to take the idea that my husband can't be my confidant? That I have to decide if what I want to tell you might be something you think you need to share with someone else?" She drops her gaze once more. She gnaws a bit on her next reply, though then she decides to fold her lips. "I'm going to be family," she finally says, "but I'm going to be your wife."

Victor studies a patch of quick-growing greenery atop the crest of one of the jagged hills of the Wastes for a long moment, his eyes narrowing slightly. After a moment, he relaxes a little, seems to remember that he’s sitting atop a horse, and grimaces, his shoulders tightening once more. But he’s not staring out at the clump of grass anymore. “That’s what you’re mad about?” He reaches up to push his goggles up onto his brows, settling his dark eyes on the pale woman riding alongside-ish. “Fucking Six A-fucking-bove, Dee,” there’s more exasperation than anger in the curse, “I told you I’d keep it quiet. You ask me to keep something quiet, I will. It’s not like I go blabbing every last little thing I know all around the damned ‘Spyre.”

"You said you would keep it quiet, but then immediately followed that by griping about how you should tell Anabethe, and how your fucking family does it, that they don't pussyfoot around, and then decided your best follow-up to me telling you I was feeling lost and confused by my own family bonds was to throw it back in my face and accuse my family of being lesser to yours," Devon rattles off in terse, fast anger. She tightens her fingers around the reins, and her shoulders tighten a bit more as that dark cloud continues to build over her head. "So, yeah… that's what I'm fucking mad about."

Victor shakes his head slightly, “See, that part I get. I was being an asshole when I took that shot about your families. I was pissed that you were tryin’ to get me to hide stuff from my family, stuff that affects them.” Shaking his head harder, he shakes off that train of thought. “But I was tellin’ you that I’d do what you asked, and then tellin’ you how we usually handle things in the family.” Looking down for a moment, he goes back to scanning the folds and tears in the ground around them, “I don’t like whispering behind someone’s back, keeping secrets that they should know. But you ask me to keep something quiet, I’ll do it.”

Devon broods under that fully formed cloud now, and his words just seem to inspire a touch of thunder in her voice, “So now I’m a gossip-monger? Next you’ll be comparing me to the Valen you love so much.” That last sentence is said in a soft hiss under her breath. She drops her shoulders again, looking ahead between the white ears of her mare. “I wasn’t asking you to keep a secret, or to whisper behind anyone’s back… I said something to you, and I regretted sharing information I was told in confidence with you, so I asked you not to say anything.” Her voice is tight, speaking through her teeth.

Victor punches a fist into his thigh, causing his horse to sidestep warily, “Gods damn it.” As unsettled as he may be by the unexpected movement from his mount, the curse does not seem to be directed at the four-legged gluepot. “Devon Molliela Grantham. Will you fucking listen to what I’m saying, and not whatever fucking insult you think I’m saying?” His voice, usually so low and rumbly when not in battle, is slowly gaining volume. “Is this how this marriage is going to go? I’ve never hid a fucking thing from you, and you’re just going to decide there are things I shouldn’t know? That you’ll regret telling me?”

The use of her full name turns her gaze toward him, eyes wide behind those golden goggles. She blinks several times at his insistence of her listening to him, but there is not a sudden expression of guilt nor understanding in the wake of his words. “I’m listening!” She says, though his questions cause an even angrier reply of, “I don’t know!” Devon’s own voice tries to match his rising volume. “I told you about Flint’s feelings for Anabethe despite my promise that I wouldn’t share that information, and then I asked you to also not share the information, and… well here we fucking are. You telling me how you hate secrets and gossiping, and how while you’ll agree to not tell anyone, you think Anabethe should know that, and then I feel like I’m forcing you to do something you don’t want to do. So, I certainly do regret telling you because now we’re shouting at each other in the middle of fucking nowhere!” Her voice rises to a sharp volume before she collapses into frustrated silence.

Victor throws back his head and roars with frustration, just getting the anger… out. Several long, slow breaths steady him in the wake of the wordless shout. His horse has its ears flattened down, and if he were a better rider he might notice that its steps are skittish. Instead, he’s more worried about regaining some semblance of calm. When he does speak again, his voice is tight and low, but at least it’s better than shouting. “Dee. Listen. To. The. Words. I’m saying. I never said shit about gossip. I never called you a gossip. I said I wouldn’t tell Bethe shit. I’m not trying to fucking guilt trip you about anything. I’m telling you how I feel so that we can understand each other better.” The words are emphasized not with volume, just with stress in his voice.

The white mare beneath Devon veers away a bit at the roars of frustration, dancing nervously in her strides as she slows to a stop. Her own ears are twitched back, her nostrils flaring nervously. It takes a nudge of Devon’s heels to encourage the mount forward once more, though this does give her a moment to hear her betrothed’s words. She ducks her chin, reaching up to rub at the side of her cheek as she breathes out a slow exhale. “You didn’t…” Then she tightens her own shoulders, her own nostrils flaring under a deep exhale. “Alright. You were trying to tell me how you feel so we can understand each other better,” she reiterates flatly. “I’m sorry I didn’t hear you.”

Devon’s response lets Victor bleed some of his own frustration out. He runs his hand back over his shorn scalp, blowing out a breath. “And I’m sorry I snapped back at you.” Pulling his hand down over his face, he looks over at Devon, a bit of wary tension still in his frame. “I get that sometimes ya need to keep a secret.” The ‘you’ doesn’t appear pointed at Devon, “It’s not like I don’t get that. I just don’t like doing it. Especially with family, and especially when it’s something that affects them.” The words are spoken carefully, in a slow, disjointed rumble like a crawler picking its way along a rocky precipice, “Does that at least make sense? Even if you don’t agree with it?”

Devon looks on the brink of picking up this argument again, but she refrains as her noble graces get the better of her. “Yes,” she says in a thick voice when he prompts for her response, “I agree.” Then she twists her hands up tighter in the reins, and her fingers flex several times to keep a bit of blood flowing through the digits. She bows her head a bit, letting another lapse of silence to settle over them as they continue back through the Wastes toward the distant lights of Volkan.

Victor shakes his head immediately upon her response, “I’m not lookin’ to shut you up, Dee. We might be gettin’ married in a couple days, but there’s still a damned lot we gotta learn about each other.” He lets that lapse into silence, however, shifting in his saddle as the horse walks up and down the newly-green hills of the Black Wastes. Eventually, however, he grunts a short, dry laugh, “Guess it’s a good thing that bastard packed separate sleeping bags for us, ain’t it?”

Even if it wasn’t his intention, Devon does seem less inclined to continue a rather in-depth conversation with her betrothed. She nods gently to his words. “I suppose there is a lot still ahead of us,” she says quietly, looking back between the ears of her mare as the horse strides confidently alongside the destrier. Then she tucks a bit of buglight lock behind her ear before she rubs softly at the back of her neck. “I don’t know… suppose it depends on how the rest of the evening goes…”

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