08.30.3013: Cracks, Crying, Coffee
Summary: Something ends for Michael, in the worst possible way, and the weeks events crack his armor… breaking the squire down right before Lorelei's eyes.
Date: 30 August 2013
Related: Too many, not all posted, so for now… none
Michael Lorelei 

Arcology of Sundry
As the center of intercontinental and interplanetary travel, the Ways is perhaps the busiest region of Imperius Landing. No matter the hour, there is a constant hum of activity as people arrive in or depart from the largest city of Imperius. Loiters are best kept to the outside of the plaza to avoid getting swept up in the waves of foot and horse traffic that frequent the stone-covered ground. The broad circular plaza is broken by a ring of humped arches varying in size from ten to forty feet high. At any given time, about half of them glow with the light of an opened Way.

This plaza is also a crossroads for the four largest of the esplanades, guiding travelers in each of the four cardinal directions toward a variety of destinations. To the North is the militant black spire of the Citadel and grand Towers of Matthias which house the Royal Family and the Noble House embassies. Opposite, down the southern road, are the foundaries and the Smith's Tower. To the East is the Arcology of Academ, which houses both the grand libraries and the Imperium Cathedral. Lastly, to the West, is the poetically named Tower of Forgotten Nights which houses a variety of taverns and other sources of entertainment.

30 August 3013

There she goes, tears streaming her make-up down her face all the while working to keep that mask about her. The woman (to whom Michael had been talking to)'s identity can be guessed at. The sort-of squire is standing there, head hanging, as the crowd mills past him in their blurred endless streams of one after the others. He's a single, solitary creature… the only one in focus, as he chips to pieces on the pavement beneath him. The day is cool, a light wind blows, the sun shining… but in Michael's world, there is no wind, the light of the sky is blinding white such that it grays all colors save the ones he wears. Muted tones, of no house affiliation at all, regular people clothing too, not the usual military cut.
As his world continues to flake apart bit by solemn bit, Michael heaves out a sigh and tries to breathe. This was even harder than saying he was sorry for all this… it was probably the hardest thing in his life to take, and to do. It hadn't been pretty, they'd caught each other off guard running one into the other as they shopped at leisure. He was in shock, and quickly became angered that she'd just taken off time to be alone… and she was angered that he got angry. Their arguments play over and over in his head and the entire scene works before him again and again. Another crack in his stonework, bits of dust fall from him, a chip lands on the ground and crumbles… just like the rest of him is doing at snail's pace.

Lorelei 's walking, not quite paying attention, with almost a dreamy look in her eyes. a small smile is tugging at her lips, she can't quite keep it down. She's dressed in her pretty blue dress, and has the bracelet from House Iah on her wrists. eyes up, she's watching the building pass as she walks, only watching in her peripheral vision to make sure she's not running into anything. blinking she'll turn to look at Michael, as she almost passes him, "Michael? Are you ok?" There's worry in her voice.

The voice sounds so distant to Michael, as if in a dream he slowly replies… "it… it's over, between us." his head doesn't rise. He doesn't look at her, though she sounds familiar. Another piece of him hits the pavement, more cracks in the surface… more dust falls to settle on the walkway slabs. "A month… and only a week to show for all the love we'd said we have…" he lets out a sad slow sigh, before sinking to his knees… the support to them having crumbled away. The statue that is the squire is breaking apart as the realization seeps into his marble skin like water. He breaks into a kneeling position his features caste into a blank, surreal expression.

Lorelei blinks, and gasps slightly as she watches Michael pretty much fall apart in front of her, "Oh, Six!" She'll move to kneel next him, "Michael, what's wrong?" Her hands lay on his forearms, trying to get his attention. A small welt can be seen , if he's able to focus on her left forearm, most likely from a bow string.

"it's all… just over." Michael whispers softly, and his marble legs give out to the stresses of realization and he sinks into her. "just… over." soft spots of wetness begin to form on her shoulder and his head rests there. His brain is too grayed out to recognize who it is, what he's saying… he just mumbles over and over the same two words. "it's, over" interspersed with "all" and "she's gone".

Lorelei blinks again, but ail wrap her arms around him, "Oh, Michael….it's ok." she has no idea if it is or not, bit that's what is supposed to be said. "What happened?" She'll raise a hand and touch the top of his head, trying to be comforting. Her eyes go up, making she they're far enough away from anyone for him to do this.

The crowd streams right past them, in a field of ever shifting gray hues. The sky too bright to see, the wind standing still but the air made of frost. Michael's world, begins to rain… as his eyes overflow into Lorelei's shoulder. It's the first time, in many weeks, that's he's cried… and with all that's happened to him in just the past week, he's unable to contain it any longer. Now, no longer the statue, Michael's body heaves as he clings slightly to his Loree driftwood. The torrents of grief splattering each crest of the tidal emotions of shame, guilt, anger, abandonment, and self-doubt.

Lorelei holds onto him, not sure what else to do but hold him and let him cry. Occasionally a soft soothing noise comes from her, but that's about it.

As the sea storm of his inner world slowly cries itself out, Michael's breathing begins to deepen and slow into regular breaths. In the few minutes that he'd been crying into Loree's shoulder, he'd eventually worked himself into a light sleep. It's several more minutes before one of her comforting sounds wakes him, and he blinks. "Huh…?" he gently lifts his head, and looks into Lorelei's eyes. The rain and swells of the storm within him still rage in those nearly gray eyes of his, but he seems to see her now. "Lorelei…" he hugs her tightly, "I'm so sorry…" he says softly.

Lorelei looks down at Michael, making eye contact when he looks up. "Hey….it's ok." she'll return the hug, holding him tightly, he clearly needs this. "Don't apologize…it's alright."

"I'm sorry… for everything, Lorelei… all of it. Our entire screwed up history, for the past months was all my fault… and I've been so damn arrogant and pig headed to even tell you I'm sorry." Michael holds her close for just a moment, before letting go and pulling back abit. "The two she's in my life… are gone. Nimara and I are over now… and Johana just dumped me into Sir Kaedin's lap and said, 'He'll be taking over as your knight, see you later.' Then… all this stuff going on with Avalyn." his speech is sentence after sentense and topic ontop of topic.

Lorelei's very confused, to say the least. " Michael, calm down….I'm not upset. We're fine." She sigh softly, tilting her head, "Oh…I'm sorry. That's…" not sure which part to tackle first, "What happened with Nimara?" she'll not even ask about anything else, one topic at a time.

"We, she… ended things, I ended things… it wasn't pretty. We spent a week falling in love… and then. Over a month hardly seeing each other, hardly talking… I felt like an ass every night when I'd wake up at four in the morning at my computer desk realizing I'd fallen asleep while she was telling me about her day." Michael sighs softly, "then the fashion show happened, and things just hit south completely… now they are over."

Lorelei's brow furrows, leaning over to take Michael's hand, "I'm sorry that happened to you, Michael." She can't say she's surprised, after the rumors of the fashion show and then what Bey told her. A deep breath, "And with Sir Johana?" Loree's unsure if it's connected or not.

"She claims that wanting to start her family quickly keeps her from completing my squiring… when, really what it is… is that she's just given up on me. She's strung me along, saying how proud I make her… then the press goes to town for actions not my fault, and she uses it as an excuse to dump me off on another knight." Michael takes a breath, "It feels like she's not really wanted to squire me at all… that she just used me for some quick recognition as having a squire, then when I didn't do anything spectacular in the first couple days or weeks… she just lost interest." he sighs softly, "I'm moving back in with my parents for now, until I sort out where I'm going from here."

Lorelei frowns, "Wait…why are you not going to Sir Kaedin? Are you giving up?" a puff of her cheeks, "I don't know most of any of this, but I think you giving up just vindicates anything she said." she'll give his arm a soft squeeze, "Michael, you need to calm down. come on, let's go find a place to get a coffee. We'll figure it out…"

Michael nods slightly and stands up, "I'm not giving up on becoming a knight… I will become a knight. But, I need to speak with Sir Kaedin in private before I accept squiring to him. He's not returned my comms just yet so I think he's busy with knight things… and without a knight at the moment, I'm sort of stuck in Landing." He offers his arm to her… for all the tears and apologies, he's still her knight and that means an offered arm for his friend. "I've considered asking if Sir Ellinor is willing to test me, see if I'm ready… then offer my oath to house Sauveur like Roan did many years ago. My mother served them, my first knight served them… I feel as if perhaps I should serve them as well. I know that Sir Kaedin just wishes that I fight with him, he doesn't expect me to fight for his house."

Lorelei stands up as well, dusting off her skirt before taking the offered arm, "Good. For her to do this shows weakness in her character. Remember that." she'll nod, not exactly sure who any of that would work, "I think that would be nice. Complete the circle." She'll smile up at him, "Come on. I'll buy you a coffee."

As the two move into the Arcology, they come across a small cafe with several tables and chairs out for customers to sit and relax while sipping away at an assortment of drinks. Michael offers a chair to Lorelei, "Now… I need to tell you about Avalyn…" he says as he sinks into a chair. "I.. don't know what to say about her really." he pauses, "There's an obvious attraction between us… and, after last night, there's a growing emotional side to us as well." he puts his head into his hands, "I just don't understand it… I really don't. I mean," looking back up at Lorelei, "I still have feelings for you even, nothing I'd act upon now… but they are still there."

Lorelei sits down,smoothing out her dress as she sits. "I'm gonna take a wild stab, and guess she's the girl from the fashion show? Or is she the one that Bey saw you with?" she's frowning slightly, not trying to judge, but then he's admitting to still having what she's assuming are not friend feelings towards her, "I think , maybe , you need to find yourself first, before you dive into anything new, Michael." She keep her eyes on her hands as her cheeks turn slightly pink, "Refind yourself. Focus on what's happening with your squire hood."

"Same person." Michael says like it's not really important, "Avalyn forced a kiss on me at the fashion show, then walked away like I wasn't worth her time… when Bey was checking on Thunder, Avalyn showed up and pushed buttons. I repaid her with a light kiss and then setting her on her feet before turning away. She drew a sword on me… and even cut my arm, drawing blood." as if that's justification for it, nothing to say of what happened in the showers before their patrol… and then what happened during patrol. Those thoughts bring a shake to his head, "She's a catalyst for what's happened with Nimara, but Nimara and I were bound to end eventually… I'd already been harboring the thoughts for several days when I first met Avalyn." he pauses, and looks at Lorelei's blush, "What is it? You're not blushing because I just told you I still have feelings for you, are you?" he sighs softly, "You deserve better than me anyways, and besides… there's those others, the nobles, that you're trying to decide what to do with." another head shake, "As for refinding me, well. I know what I want, and who I am. I just feel abandoned by a person I grew to love and feel loved by… it's hard to swallow."

Lorelei outright frowns, "Michael, kisses shouldn't be used to shock someone. they're not weapons." Her eyes narrow, but it's a frustrated look, "She doesn't sound….rational. be careful. If she's willing to do that, when you're with someone….that doesn't imply hope for future moments." She'll puff out her cheeks, and shake her head, but she's never been good at lying, "Of course not, Michael. I have Ephraim." Biting her lip, she shakes her head again, "You say that, but you're not ok. I think you are so desperate to have someone, that you latch onto people, end up having feelings for them, before you can even know them. It's not….safe. You're just going to get hurt, until you slow down. You don't have to have someone."

"It's been her… defense. Being aggressive like that, taking what she wants all others be damned." Michael sighs softly, "She's like me… she's scared to love, scared to be alone but equally if not more afraid to be with someone and have it all fall apart…" like what just happened, essentially twice in a row for him. Then he tilts his head, "Ephraim? The Hollolas noble who'd gambled away his gift ship and promptly lost? What do you mean… you have him?"

Sighing, Loree steeples her fingers, the worry evident in her voice, "That's not healthy, Michael. If you're both…damaged, you'll not be able to survive, not truly. You just keep hurting each other. I'm not saying she's not worth it, just, you need to take your time, not jump into it because you're hurt. Wait a month. Just get to know her, no kissing or groping or stabbing each other with swords," Loree's not sure if sword stabbing is a weird type of flirting. Her cheeks go a bit brighter pink, "…Yes. He and I are dating…." She'll shrug, nervous, "It's just dating, that's all it can be." She doesn't sound like she believes that, but has rehearsed it enough.

"Dating huh?" Michael gets a slight smirk, "I'm glad to hear it Lorelei… you deserve it, after all you've put up with." then he hms softly, before the waitress comes to take their orders. He gives his before going silent for a few minutes… "I don't think waiting is an option, to be honest… I've kept her at bay all this time because I couldn't betray Nimara. But now, that's it's all over… there's no morality of mine stopping me from letting something happen between us. Emotions will occur in time… what I want and need right now isn't love or all that. If we have some fun, and eventually come to something more than what we are right now, then it'll happen."

Lorelei nods,all she'll say in Ephraim is, "He makes me happy." She'll order a small sugar something coffee and smile at the waitress. Listening to Michael speak, she'll press her lips together, "Kept her at bay? Are you listening to what you're saying Michael? That's not healthy….. you've already got this planned out, clearly. Just be careful. This isn't going to end well."

"Nothing is planned out, Lorelei… Avalyn made her physical desires for me known from day one. She never expected to meet a guy who's committed and honest. A guy who was willing to try and make things work while the relationship failed around him…" he sighs softly, then their orders come and Michael picks up his coffee to sip from it. "Look… there's going to be some physical… stuff, that'll happen. Often." he comments, "Emotions will work themselves on their own if they even occur between us… it isn't just sex, cause she wants something more than that, but sex will happen."

Lorelei raises an eyebrow, not believing Michael. But she'll not say anything, instead nodding and thanking the waitress for the drinks. Taking a sip of her coffee Loree closes her eyes a moment, letting the drink lay on her tongue . frowning, "Ok then?" Her cheeks stay flushed.

Michael shrugs slightly, "I know… I don't have a good track record with women. So, I just can't offer anything on this… you'll have to meet her for yourself to decide. Just uh… don't mention the whole me crying when you rejected me… she probably won't take that well." he ruefully chuckles, "She's rather protective of me… like she claimed me and all the world can fuck off if they can't play nice."

Lorelei's jaw tightens, "Michael…you're not really painting a very nice picture here. She sounds unbalanced." There's a touch of cold in her eyes, "Any person that treats someone like that …that's not a good thing. She should know, if you're really wanting to have something with her, about our past. She can come at me all she wants. I'm done playing nice with crazy people."

Michael shrugs, "You know though… she's decisive, head strong, and intelligent. She's got flaws… but so do I. So, we fight… we drive each other nuts, she drives others nuts…" Michael sighs and shakes his head, "I don't want you two to fight, I want you two to be able to get along. Even if she and I just remain friends… you're one of my best friends, and I want both of you to be able to be friends." he sips his coffee, "How are things otherwise?" he asks, and Lorelei will notice that he's slipping back into his mask, trying to steer the conversation away from things that hurt.

Sighing, lore's not gonna argue. he's got that look. It won't matter what she says, he's already acting smitten. "I'll be polite, but I'm not going to have her disrespect me." there's something a bit different in Loree, a bit of a spine. Another sigh, but she'll allow the subject change, "The stables are about the same. Lord Darious is trying to teach me archery…" she'll hold up her arm with the small welt, "I'm not very good, as I told him." She's not join got mention Tristan, instead, "Lord Ephraim took me out on a nice date, that was fun. We ate at the Blue Stallion."

"That's good to hear." Michael smiles even, clearly not dealing with the pain he'd just cried into her shoulder over a short while ago. "And things have settled with men trying to kiss you and what not? All those bothersome men are leaving you alone?"

Her brow furrowing, Loree's worried about Michael, but lets him keep the topic on her, "I don't know about settled , but I'm happy with Lord Ephraim. Lord Darious says he's ok with begin friends, but keeps talking about winning me over. And Lord Tristan…he's just…I don't know." her cheeks still pink. "I can't worry about that though, I have too many other things to worry about." she does look to the welt on her arm though.

Michael holds his cup in hand, but points his index finger, "If Darious becomes an issue for you… a bother. You tell me, and I'll set him straight." he sips then from his cup before setting it down, "I'm glad that you're happy with Ephraim." he frowns a little though, "I'm not happy that it can't be more than dating though. You've earned the right to your dreams… I wish there was something I could do to help you." he shrugs slightly, "And, I just don't want to seem like a blubbering fool in front of you, Lorelei. That's why I'm not letting myself discuss what hurts."

Lorelei shakes her head, "I think Darious won't do anything too drastic. And Sir Agnes has already put him in his place, along with my brothers. He's mostly insistent that he be part of my life, donating things to the stables…" There's a small beep that comes from Loree's pocket and she'll frown, she normal doesn't get texts, "Sorry…" She'll pull out her tablet and frown as she reads the message , "Oh…" She'll blink, and swallow, looking upset, "I ..uh…" She'll shake her head, "No..it's ok. Both Eph and I know it can't be anything more than dating." Again, her words are rather confident, but there's a small undertone of knowing she's going to get her heart ripped out. She'll force a smile, "You're not a blubbering idiot, Michael. Sometimes you're an idiot for not listening to me, but that's everyone who doesn't listen to me." She'll grin softly at him, teasing. She sobers up some, "You can talk about those things though, if you think it'll help."

Michael hms softly and shakes his head when she apologizes… but her reaction gets a slight frown, "What is it? Everything okay?" he asks, placing a hand to her forearm so long as she doesn't pull away.

Lorelei's frowning slightly, "I…don't know for sure. Chiron just send a rather short message about leaving for a week with Sir Agnes….what has me really worried is he said hopefully…" She'll sigh, biting her lower lip slightly, "I hate this. Not knowing."

"Hopefully what?" Michael asks, concerned now… he shakes his head, "Don't do that to yourself… don't worry about never seeing him again. Worry about what to make him for dinner when he gets back, cause he will get back. He's your older brother after all, he's not allowed to not come back." As a squire, who's bound to do this to someone at some point… Michael understands.

A shaky response "He said he'd hopefully only be a week. Whatever that means." she'll snort, but there's not real fire behind it, "I think Ma will have the food part covered." Loree sighs, wrapping both hands around her cooling coffee, "I know , I keep telling him that. that I'll develop some new awakened power to bring him back if he gets killed, just so I can murder him for it." Her hand twitches against the cup, "Ma's gotta be a mess. I should just hide in the stables the whole week."

Michael shakes his head, slightly, "As a squire now, Chiron will be gone even more than before. You saw how quickly I wasn't around for days when Johana picked up my squiring and really got me started… Chiron's a fresh squire. There are a lot of things he has to learn now, even if he was a Sergeant in the military." he squeezes her arm reassuringly, "You should be there for your Ma." then he somewhat chuckles, "Our folks should meet… my father could really offer your mother some good advice when it comes to dealing with this sort of worry and pain… and my mother could whip your father into shape easily enough… Chiron told me about the dinner." he says the last part softly, apologetically.

Lorelei just blinks, "What did he say?" Her voice is soft, and slightly mortified.

"Not much, he told me that Bey's lady knight came, as did some of your father's friends… and that it didn't turn out like you'd all hoped and planned. Something about Talynne insulting the ranch… or something like that." Michael shrugs slightly as he explains.

Lorelei sighs, "it was awful. She was so terrible rude. Sir Agnes apologized for her, it was that bad." Licking her lips, "I'm terrified for Bey."

"Bey needs to learn, and while it's a harsh way to learn… you and I are better for it, right? I mean, if we'd made something happen between us… and it fell apart, we would have at least learned something from it. I learned from Nimara that long distance relationships don't work for me, that a lack of commitment doesn't work for me, and that I need more than the promises of physical interraction." Michael shrugs, "As for Talynne, nothing can be done for that… she's said her bit and that's that. My grandfather used to tell me, everyone is entitled to their own opinions… no matter how wrong they might be."

"What scares me is that he's not going to learn….He actually threw a tantrum the next day, red faced and slammed the door…." Loree sighs, reaching a hand up to rub her forehead. "Talynne said more than her bit. I think what bothers me most is she thinks she's so high up, that she didn't even realize what she was saying was offensive. She acted like she was giving us a compliment, saying we did the best we could, with inferior land and horses."

"He's also months younger than you… and you did your own version of tantrum throwing when our whole thing went down… give the boy some credit for at least having an opinion." Michael sips his coffee, "No, for the lady knight… she's of the main line for a vassal… one that is known for their destriers and other horses. I don't defend her, but she may have simply seen it as an honor that she was even there." he sighs, "Some nobles are born and never grown up despite the aging."

Lorelei narrows her eyes, "You and I remember that day very differently, if you think I had a tantrum." Of course Michael's defending a lady knight. why is she not surprised? Loree just looks down, not going to argue with him about this. She's argued with Bey enough. Her coffee's gone cold, Loree considers using her powers to warm it up, but decides it's just not that important.

Michael sighs softly, "This, right here… this sort of acquiescence… is what I meant when I say you had your own version of a tantrum." he shakes his head, "I won't get into how I remember it… there's no point now for those wounds to be examined." he shrugs, "Anyways, I'm sorry she said such things. I think your horses are great, I'm so happy with Thunder… and now with Buddy added in, it makes for some really nice rides." he smiles.

Lorelei's eyebrow raises, "You think not arguing is equal to having a tantrum? You clearly are an only child." silence is what's saved her, on many occasions. A sigh, and then s scrunched forehead, "Who's Buddy?"

"Thunder's pet chipmunk." Michael replies with his own sense of 'ugh.' "I'm beginning to think you sold me a horse that was once a human, and genetically made into a horse cause he just does of his own when it doesn't involve riding. So I can steer him in the right direction… but when he's by himself he does he wants to do. He looks down at his empty coffee before looking over at Lorelei, "Would you like to go and see a holovid at the theater? My treat for us… a sort of impromptu celebration of all we've been through, and still remained friends."

Lorelei frowns, "Pet chipmunk?" she'll shake her head, a small smile appearing, "of course he does. All horses do, if they're good ones. Who wants a boring horse?" She'll glance down, nervously at her tablet, like there's suddenly going to be more info about Chiron magically appearing. "I….I guess we could." she'll begin to rise, throwing her half drank coffee out.

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