09.04.3013: It Is What It Is
Summary: Rook finally visits the Bath House, which is not what she thought it was. She tells Nitrim about Sarah, and deeper things are discussed. (Warning: Implied hanky panky).
Date: 02 September 2013
Related: Bloodlines
Ithaca Nitrim 

Bathhouse — Volkan, The Crescent
Built down low in the Blackspyre where it can easily access the geothermal heat that powers the entire city of Volkan, this bathhouse is set aside for the use of those sworn to House Khournas and their guests. The room is sheathed in large black tiles, warmed by the magma behind them. A large pool centers the room, surrounded by narrow lines of red and silver tile, while a handful of smaller tubs built for one to four people fill up the remaining space. Each of the tubs is heated blood-warm, leaving wisps of steam in the air. Towels sit alongside tubs of bath-salts on small tables near the separate men's and women's changing rooms.
04 September 3013

The bath houses of Khournas should be, by all rights, a dank, moldy smelling affair like the chlorine smell of public pools and waterworks on the Ring. However the steam and sulfur of the cavern lined with pools of varying size instead feels like a well-aired sauna more than anything. As the evening has progressed, dinner served, and the many bodies that usually dot the room have come and gone, Nitrim Khournas finds himself losing the towel from his hips to slip his unclad, tattooed form into one of the smaller pools near the back. With an ashtray and a bottle of dark, brown liquor set beside a glass, he swims to a natural break in the rocks to sit upon and tilts his head skyward. Thoroughly alone in his meditations, he lets out a relieved sigh s the stress starts to work its way out of his aching bones. With few breaks in life, even from himself, it's the best the man can do.

Rook was finally cleared to go to take a nice, hot bath. She padded down to the bath house and right into the changing room, not even looking at the baths before hand, expecting little private rooms or something. She steps out, wrapped in a towel, and slowblinks through the steaming air at the public pools and one unclothed Nitrim Khournas. "Um." That's her entire assessment of the situation.

Um. Um isn't a thing normally muttered through the room, but Nitrim recognizes the voice as he lowers his head to stare across the murky pools of water at Ithaca from a distance. Ah….a first-timer. Almost amused, there's a quiet smirk at the corner of Nitrim's lip as he raises an arm to beckon her over to where he is. "Gods, damned, Rook it's good to see you up and about. I'd offer to rush out and hug you but running, naked men aren't the best thing here." He laughs, motioning to the pool that he's sitting in. "Here's how it works. I'll look away and you leave the towel on the side, if you'd prefer, and then you just get in and relax. It's really as simple as that."

Rook glances around the room, and frowns. "Others?" she asks, meaning other people. Being undressed in front of Nitrim doesn't phase her, in front of half of Volkan? A little bit. She looks thin, pale, and fragile, but she's moving about under her own power which is a good thing. She makes her way to his pool, waiting for his clarification.

"I don't have any control over who walks in, but they're not likely to disturb our pool if that's what you're asking. Besides, I've got another towel and we can TK it if we need to create a screen for you to towel back up." Nitrim replies, his head canting to look past her hip towards the entryway. Seeing no one still, he turns to his case of cigarettes and lights one, giving her the time to undress and get into the pool. "I suggest you enter slowly, though. The first time is always a good experience."

Rook nods and she lets the towel slip down to the edge of the pool, before she descends, a little awkwardly, down the steps into the water. The warmth and the salts and minerals get a gasp of relief from her, as they immediately begin to sooth sore, aching muscles.

As Nitrim turns back, catching view of the side of her, he watches her the rest of the way as she enters into the pool. With one drag of the cigarette, he braces his arms on either side of him and stretches out, letting her choose where she sits, across from him, beside him, or otherwise. He hasn't had any red-eye since their last turn, and the color has returned to his face. "Amazing, isn't it? Aside from my window this is my other favorite place." He comments, offering the cigarette to her. "How are you feeling?"

Rook sits near him, where she can watch the entrance for anyone coming in. The cigarette is taken, her first since she was hospitalized, and she takes a small puff from it, before handing it back, coughing a little bit. Her lungs have been used to pure oxygen for a bit, it'll take a while to smoke easily again. "Alive," she replies. "Nice," she comments on the baths.

"Well, don't think about things too much, just take the time to enjoy it." Nitrim offers as he makes some room for her. One of his long, muscular legs stretches out until his toes poke free of the water and his arm stretches out its length along the stone, framing behind her shoulders. Partaking in the puff-puff-give, he takes another drag from the cigarette and blows the smoke skyward. "So all in all, how is Devon being to you and how are you enjoying the Blackspyre?"

"She's nice but," Rook grimaces a little, "Gave me weird news. Really weird." She glances over at him, half afraid to share the information and fully expecting him to flee her presence. "Hostile, Sarah? Related to her."

Nitrim blinks towards his toes. With as much conspiracy and trouble as the man gets himself into, hard news like this isn't something that sends him jumping. Instead, he takes another drag from the cigarette and offers it back to her. "I could see that. I told you, she doesn't mince words, she's very efficient." He turns his head to look at her as he brushes a sopping wet hand through his hair, sending rivulets of water down his jaw. "So how related are we talking? Genetics? She said they don't have children like we do, the poor bastards."

"Hostiles made clone of Sarah Owens," Rook explains. "22 times great grandma. Died on Fifth World, second system war. Only living descendent is me." She swallows and shakes her head at the offered cigarette before sinking down fully under the water a moment then rising again, smoothing her wet hair back. "DNA match. Some of them are us. Haven people. Want to talk to her."

"Fuck, that's…" Remarkable? Uncanny? A lot to deal with? "…unexpected." Nitrim finishes, keeping the cigarette for himself as he rests his shoulders back, getting comfortable. In a show of solidarity, he rests his hand on her opposite shoulder, his arm behind her, and squeezes gently. "All of the sudden you've got all of these changes and family coming out of the woodwork." He pauses, brows furrowing as he switches gears roughly. "I could get you in to see her. I've spoken with her once before. The Cantosans are angry, Rook. They're very angry and believe we abandoned them to hunger and this nightmare of survival. What do you want to say to her?"

"Don't know. Want to see her. Words will come when I see her." Rook settles into the curve of his arm and in a strange moment for her, rests her head on his shoulder. Everything around her is changing so rapidly, she feels like she's caught in a current she can't swim against. "Want to hear what she has to say. What she remembers."

"Can I share a secret with you?" Nitrim asks, though he doesn't pause much. He knows he can share secrets with her. She's been involved in many of his secrets thus far. With a sigh, he settles his hip against hers and gets comfortable. "There's part of me that doesn't blame them for this. Everything they've done has been out of vengeance for something we might actually have at one time deserved, but not a one of us is responsible for. Sins of the father, that sort of thing. I think they're looking for a new home."

"Understand that," Rook murmurs, but her brow furrows. "But why angry at us? What made them this? Did they make themselves machines? Did something make them machines? Did they make monsters rather than die? Then it's their fault, not ours." She shrugs, practical to the last.

"I don't have anything more than assumptions, really." Nitrim frowns, lowering his cheek to rest against the top of her head. The stubble at his jaw clings to a few strands of her long, wet hair, tugging at them as he speaks. "But you know how we are. Haven. We teach our children things and they don't question them. Maybe they've been taught something that they don't question. It wouldn't surprise me that they're just as led-the-fuck astray as some of ours are."

"Then talking to her important," Rook decides with a firm nod. "Understanding, important." Like he understands her. She's been able to grow and change because he gave her the gift of understanding her. If the Hostiles can be understood, maybe they can grow and change too. She looks about at the various salts and such on the side of the pool curiously, and she moves from his arm to sniff and poke at them in her usual inquisitive manner.

"Which is why when I speak to her I'm trying to communicate on some sort of human, empathetic level." Watching Rook pull away, he lowers his eyes to the tattoos on her back. Lost in thought, his eyes unfocus as he seems to stare. "I doubt she's a decision maker, she's probably just some soldier and Six know I've killed enough of her people on my own. It's going to be touch and go but I'm trying to earn some trust from the girl, as I suspect most everyone she speaks to is interrogating her for the war effort."

"Rook she —" Nitrim suddenly cuts off her reply. "When I met her, she has these blue eyes. She told me Release Me. The dream was prophetic. It happened to me."

"She is a number. Want to know why. Are there 158 copies? Or is she one of 158 clones of Fifth Worlders?" Rook is pondering that. "Want to know her feelings. Want to know her beliefs. I'm not like others. Don't believe in the Six. Religion. Faith. Want to know what they believe." She chooses something labeled cucumber melon and dumps it on the bath before returning to sit beside him. "Want to know if they love, hate, fear."

"She has hate. Hate doesn't exist without love." Nitrim replies to her, his voice taking on that clipped, simple tone that he sometimes slips into when he's around her. "It will probably take some time to wear her in, but the next time I go I'll take you with me. I'm infinitely curious as to what she'd do if she knew she had genetic relatives of hers here. Maybe she knows. Maybe she doesn't. Maybe she's been lied to, as well." A line of stress starts to form on Nitrim's temple as he stretches back out again, closing his eyes. "When will Devon clear you to go? I admit if I'd been around when that Cape Amran distress went out I'd just be getting back now. I'm glad I was here to learn this."

"Tomorrow, I think," Rook replies about her release. She notes the strain in his expression and reaches up a wet fingertip or two to his temple, pressing lightly, then releasing, to help ease any headache. She's had so many bad post-drug and drink mornings, she's learned a few techniques. "Glad you stayed. Read news. Bad."

"I survived getting a hover-cart thrown at me I think I would have been fine." Nitrim leans his head into Rook's hands, letting out a sigh as the pressure releases. He's had to mini-detox on his own, only a slight return trip, but still the headaches have returned. He hasn't had the medication she has had to keep them at bay. "I've made a promise to Lincoln that I won't let you back on the Red Eye. I want you to make me a promise that you won't let me back on it either, okay? No more. Done. Ever."

"Done. Promise. No more," Rook agrees. She then splooshes back under the water, sitting on the bottom of the pool for a good 30 seconds, as if trying to boil away all the ick of the sterile infirmary. Glub, glub, glub.

There's a brief moment of awkwardness that crosses over Nitrim's features as Rook slips under the water. He lowers his eyes to the murky pool, not quite knowing where she's going, but when he has to make legroom for her, a comical oh crosses over his face and he rests again. Letting her enter her coccoon-line state, he laughs above the water and rests his head back against the stone, eyes closing to adapt to the silence.

Rook emerges again in a flow of bubbles from releasing her breath. Her skin is reddened from the heat, which looks better than the pasty white she came in with. She splutters a little and her hair hangs in her eyes. She lifts it with one hand flat, like a curtain, and peers at him. "You ok?" she asks, realizing they'd been talking almost solely about her.

"I'll always be okay, given enough time. No one's asked me if I did the Red Eye yet, but I'm sure that's coming." Nitrim lifts his head lazily, resting his cheek on his shoulder as he watches her from her place in the center of the pool. Reaching out, he uses his fingernail to slip a lock of her hair away from her eyes, because surely it's got to be annoying. "I missed being home. I'll need to go back out again, I think, but I missed my room. I missed Dahlia. I missed my friends."

"Missed you too. Me. Dahlia," Rook says quietly. She lets him push her hair back. "Seem sad, inside," she murmurs, touching a fingertip to his chest, over his heart. "Don't like it." She frowns. "Angry, happy, scared, all fine. Sad not."

Looking down to the thin, unpainted nail pressing just to the left of the tattooed serpent's maw, and the slightly red indentation that the press of her finger makes, Nitrim laughs. His breath sends a ripple over the water that echoes out towards her, bounces, and sends little waves back towards him. Averting his gaze, he looks to the side and with one final drag he stubs the cigarette out. "I missed you too, Rook. Truth is, I'm not sad. I just want my life. I wish this fucking war had never started but if it hadn't we might never have become friends. It's a strange headspace."

"Think too much," Rook reminds him as she settles in beside him once more and stretches her legs out so her toes float and wriggle in the hot water. "Present more important than past. Future made from present. Live now, not then."

"You're going to be saying that for a long time, Rook." Nitrim laughs, turning his head to press his cheek to the back of her head as she cuddles in, sending the laugh down the back of her shoulders. "Remember, I took the shit so that I wouldn't think. Since I've been off of it I'm like a duck on the pond. Above the surface I'm calm, but down below my feet don't stop kicking."

"Need to get laid," Rook tells him with a snort. "Calm you down. Better than drugs." She would ask where his betrothed has been, but she seems intent on avoiding that subject with him.

"Victor said the same fucking thing." Another laugh comes from the lordling, who with mock-frustration taps the side of his head against hers. Freeing his head from behind hers, he casts his gaze out over the water to her toes, watching them wiggle. "So is this your way of telling me you've managed to get yourself laid in the infimary? How do you know it won't be worse without the Red Eye?"

"Haven't been laid since you. Just on meds, relaaaaaaxed," Rook quips back at him. She curls in against his side again with a sleepy yawn. "Don't know." She shrugs at the question, as if it doesn't mean much to her.

"We're in the same boat, then, I haven't since you either." It's like he should win an award or something. Given his earlier appetites he's probably due for some sort of record. "Unless we did that night." Awkward settles in as he drapes his arm over her shoulders once more, tucking her in against his body. He opens his mouth to speak, wanting to say something, but he hesitates. It isn't hard to figure out.

"Huh?" Rook asks as he mentions he hasn't had sex since her. "But…? Wife?" to be or something. "Don't think we did that night. Would know." She thinks she would know at least. But being as she was in withdrawl by the time she woke up, maybe not. She rests her head in the crook of his neck comfortably. "What?" she can sense the hesitation.

Wife. The word snaps across the back of Nitrim's head as his mouth clamps shut. His teeth bare over the top of her head as she settles against his neck and the air shifts around them, delving into unfamiliar territory. "No she…wants me to sleep in a separate bed." Nitrim admits, brows lowering at the thought of it as his pool-slicked arm settles in against her back. Another sigh crosses his lips, this one pressing over her ear. "If we had, I wouldn't have been angry. I would have been angry if you'd died that morning but…since you didn't, I wouldn't have been angry if we did."

Rook breathes lightly against the hollow of his throat as she listens to him, soaks in the hot water, and relishes the closeness. Touching has mostly been anathema to her, until he came along, and now her brother has actually gotten her to hold his hand. It's all new. "Idiot." Not him, his betrothed. "You gave up. For her. She gives nothing back. Bitch."

"It is what it is." Nitrim murmurs against her temple, though when someone says this it's never really a reservation, so much as a complaint. "She has her reasons, she's got her troubles. I don't know if they'd ever go away. I just don't know." Somewhere, someplace, a danger siren springs to life as Nitrim's fingers splay out across Rooks shoulder and draws her in closer to his throat. His hand splashes free of the water to brush up the side of her cheek, thumb pressing against her jaw.

Rook looks up at him. "It is what it is, because you let it be," she tells him, dark eyes sincere as they meet his. "Excuses. Just excuses." She leans into the press of his thumb.

"Excuses." Nitrim shakes his head, frowning just a little as the thoughts of his station, the way nobles, work, everything come to mind in a sudden flurry of truths. "I can only fight against so much, Rook. I can only keep the things I'm allowed." He lowers his eyes, matching his dark, mossy orbs to her nearly all-black eyes. His hand squeezes softly against her jaw as he rests his forehead against hers. "You and I will always be friends, no matter what, yes?"

"Always," Rook agrees in a quiet tone. "No matter what. Here for you." She gives him a tiny smile as their foreheads touch.

The whites of Nitrim's eyes seem to widen as he comes face to face with another decision. His eyes slowly close, opening once more as his breathing starts to grow deep with the tension that tugs at their connected foreheads. Fingers curl around the side of her neck, and for all his damnation he leans forward to press his lips to hers.

It wasn't expected, nor unexpected to Rook. It just is what it is. In his own words. She returns the kiss, gently, as on hand seeks his to entwine fingers together and just be.

Against her cheek, Nitrim's fingers lace in between hers and curl into a collective fist that gets buried between the two of them beneath that water. One kiss turns to two, and two turns to six in a slowly growing moment of intimacy and comfort that Nitrim hasn't had in months. For the first time since she got it, Nitrim's submerged hand presses against the new tattoo on her side and wraps his fingers around her ribs, pulling her towards him, wanting more.

Rook settles into his lap, but she pulls back from the kiss, breathless, and looks at him. "You sure?" she asks. He is the one taking a real risk here. She can disappear into the woodwork when she needs to.

The water trailing off of Rook's jaw slides off of her skin and down the side of Nitrim's face as his mouth gapes, desperate for air. He looks up to her face and nods quietly, breathing in the heat from the water as she balances in close on his lap. At least, beneath the surface he seems to be sure, but his nod to her is acknowledgement enough. Fingers clinging to hers, he reaches out to press a hand to her collarbone, tracing the skin as he urges her back down to him. "Yeah—" He mumurs up to her. "…are you?"

"Yes. Just…gentle," Rook requests. She isn't sure her body can handle their usual rough stuff in her current state. Her mouth returns to him, as the rest of her tries to make them into one creature in the water.

A new drake has arrived at the Blackspyre, this one coming in the form of a jagged shoulder tattoo of black scales and dark wings spread out across the back of a rising and falling spanse of open, visible skin. Soft, steam-pinked arms lined in black tattoos wrap around the back of the dragon to the sounds of hissing and low mewling through the hazing fog that rises from the many pools. The drake writhes, brushed by long strands of straight, brown-black hair as the sound of its presence, and the drake that it shares the moment with, echo through the stone walls of the bath house.

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