06.08.3013: To Thine Own Self Part One
Summary: After one complicated night together and nearly a week apart, Nitrim and Soleil face each other down about their troubled relationship that should not be.
Date: 08 June 2013
Related: None
Soleil Nitrim 

The Ring
A series of rooms, elevators, and corridors on the Ring…
June 08, 3013

The Ring has become a hub of activity as the Shadow of Intent prepares to leave. Noble and citizen alike have gathered in droves to see their loved ones off, leaving a sudden swell of tourism to match the somber goodbyes taking place in nearly every corner of the station. The walkways are more crowded, and some of the merchants have driven up the prices at the Bazaar. War is on the horizon.

Accompanied by a dark shadow that follows him at a distance, Nitrim Khournas quietly taps his fingertips against the rubber handgrip of the escalator as it takes him down to a new level to explore. He hasn't been shopping, at least he isn't carrying any bags. Instead, he trails a stream of cigarette smoke as he glances into an electronics boutique with broad, purple signs with absolute boredom on his features.

It might be the last place he'd have expected to run into her, but the knight, who forms an empty circle with a radius of the length between him and the girl in black, wears Sauveur colors, and makes her easier to spot. She's a smallish figure, though tall for a girl and taller still with the air of elegance that characterizes her posture, even as she leans over the railing and gazes into the crowds below. She wears a sweeping outer garment between coat and cloak, and her pale blonde hair glitters with blue stones that accent a moddish hair style. There she stands in the radial center of the half circle, the other half of it stretching into space in front of her. Her hands are adorned with black leather gloves and she seems to be dropping petals, from a velvet black rose with purple bioluminescent edges, onto the crowd below.

The petals float down to the walkway on Nitrim's level, landing on the brushed deck plating where they are left to be crushed underfoot. Perhaps a trick of the light, or the right time and place, but the young Khournas lord turns just in time to see one of the petals fluttering down and landing in the basket of an older citizen rushing her way towards a grocery store. He tilts his head up to see the dark cloak, and his eyes come to stop on that familiar shade of blonde hair and Saveur violet.

Nitrim continues on his path forward, but averts his eyes. People can sense when they're being watched. Instead, he weaves around the crowd in that lazy-yet-not-wanting-to-be-obstructed way that he always does until he reaches the next escalator. At the top he turns to intercept her and her knight on the upper walkway, weaving through the crowd in an attempt to find them.

They're not hard to find, for they haven't moved. The knight sees Nitrim first, and recognizes him. The recognition earns Nitrim a look of disapproval, which perhaps can't be completely unexpected. After all, he's almost as much babysitter as he is bodyguard, and that means he knows quite a lot about Soleil's associates— it's his job.

It is not, however, his job to keep people away just because he disapproves of them. Not when they outrank him like Nitrim. So a disapproving look is all he gives, and a failure to alert Soleil as to her acquaintance's proximity.

She still gazes outwards, lost in thought with a sort of glazed-eye look…

Making no attempt to quiet his footsteps, Nitrim approaches the two of them with a steely look in his eye. He sees the disapproval of her guard knight, and meets his eyes with a look of doesm't care. It's not his job to be beloved by the house knights of Saveur, save for the ones that count. As if to almost mock the knight, Nitrim's arms extend to show that his hands are empty, and that the sword on his hip is in plain view for the man to see. It's an asshole move that's accompanied by a rather like it or not, bub look that he gives the man.

The young lord of Khournas slides into place beside Soleil, elbows propped on the railing so that he can watch the path of the violet petals that she drifts down to the ants below. He can't see her face, as she's hooded, so instead he casts his gaze downward, where it remains as he parts his lips to speak.

"After today Victor, Asher, Johana, and most of them are off with the Intent." He says quietly to her, threading his fingers together until his many rings scraped. "It's a rather happy day for my house, at least for the ones that are serving the family birthright of rushing off to fight."

She's cool as a cucumber, right? Not quite. Something about her— not quite a start— suggests the sound of his voice breaks through a reverie. As Nitrim will have by now seen is often the case, she doesn't answer quickly, and there's a few moments of silence.

"We all have to do that for which we're best suited," she says after a moment. And after another moment, "You don't have anything to feel ashamed of."

She draws up a little, as if whatever had her leaning over the rail can't continue to swallow her mind whole just now. the rest of the rose— nothing but a thorny stem— dangles from the fingertips of one gloved hand. "I didn't have anyone to say goodbye to. I'm not sure why I came."

Nitrim reaches out over her forearm to brush one of his fingertips over the thorny edge of the stem in her hands. He tests its edge carefully, pressing the pad of his index finger against the tip until he feels it about to penetrate. His hand retreats to brush through his hair, and he resumes his lean over the railing. Like her, he's wrapped in a somber mood, but has added the element of a private viewing just for her of his exhaustion from having to play his role.

"And yet I am." He murmurs, shaking his head bitterly. "He's so proud of them for doing something his last son is not. It's a snake eating its tail, really." Doing all but invoking his father's name, his shoulders press forward in a shrug. "Did you come before or after I sent my message?"

Pause. "After." the pause is somehow significant even though it's but one of many. She holds the stem up, but doesn't see a drop of Nitrim's blood on it. She, too, touches the thorns.

"I haven't really been sure what to say. Maybe it doesn't seem like the case but I…don't do that sort of thing." Her vagueness is almost timid, and rather unlike her, and yet not entirely alien to one who has seen something of what's inside her head, beneath all the cool.

"You don't really have to say anything. Words don't change anything unless they're meant to change things." Nitrim replies, immediately locking into her sentiment. Yes, he has been deep within her mind, and the echoes of her emotional state within aren't so far lost that he is unfamiliar with her range of emotions. Though the manner in which she left his presence last has left many questions yet to be answered. "You said everything I needed to know before you left."

Speaking in code for the sake of the knight behind them, he rolls his head around to stretch his aching neck muscles. He stops the motion with his head facing the side of her hood, watching the flow of her platinum-blonde hair swaying in the recycled breeze.

"I'm not going to try to control you." He continues, speaking in low tones. "I'm not your father, your keeper, or your psychiatrist. I know you wouldn't want me to be any of those things anyway, and I'm not the kind of person who has the gall to tell others how to think or whether how they feel is valid. But…I didn't see anything you should be ashamed of, either."

Slowly, "There's a lot more." She shifts, and glances over her shoulder toward the knight, cautiously. As she does so, Nitrim can see her face, and she's once again made up. In fact, she's made up rather a lot, probably more akin to her old style of doing things than the classic, mainstream style of a proper Sauveur lady. Muted color hi-lights her eyes, pearlescent and gleaming. It's beautiful— yet it's a made-up girl that stands out, a beautiful mask rather than the natural beauty she possesses when there's nothing but Soleil to see.

Her voice drops very low. "I had a good reason to go see you, but you should know the truth. I was a cat and you were my mouse. I had no intention of that happening. And now I feel like I don't know what the fuck I am doing." She turns away again, and slips a hand under her hood to rub her temple with her fingertips. "I…had all these things I was going to say to you and I can't remember a single one now…"

A slow, quiet breath is drawn in through Nitrim's nostrils, which he sighs out as she turns away from him. Things are complicated, and the subject material revealed to him doesn't make it any less. She's admitted as much to him that she came with an agenda to the Blackspyre, and somewhere that agenda had fallen apart. His eyes dip to the edges of her cowl and he reaches to a pendant around his neck, rubbing it softly as he considers her confession. Tongue over teeth, his jaw shifts from side to side and he readjusts his footing, settling into a more comfortable stance.

"I guess it all depends on what you were trying to achieve by being the cat." He admits, eyes swaying back to the crowd below just in time to see a pair of children chasing each other towards a toy store. He doesn't smile. They're just fish in the tank to him. "If you were trying to get underneath my skin, it worked. You saw enough about me to know how to get my attention. You're patient enough to find the cracks, and neither of us are ashamed." He wets his lips, allowing his eyes to unfocus and passively turn the crowd into background noise. "You can't remember a single one, or has the situation changed and you're less willing to fuck with my head now?"

Her head bows a little. "All the stuff that I thought of /after/," she says in a voice meant only for him. Tone and volume, just for him. "What was I trying to achieve? I don't know. What am I ever trying to achieve. Prove none of you are really worth it, I guess. See what you'll do, how badly you want me and what you'll try. So, really, I guess I didn't fail- you just one-upped me and I learned what you're capable of. It was a lot more than what I expected." There's the faintest note of irony in her tone. The cat got caught in her own game.

She rocks on her heels a little, her hand gripping the rail. "So I have your attention, Nitrim. And you have mine. What do we do with each other? For a pair of days there I never wanted to see you again and yet thought about you every waking moment, like a fucking smitten schoolgirl." She waits a few beats. "I am not even sure what we did."

One boot after the other, Nitrim sways his stance just a little closer to Soleil until the rough fabric of his long coat brushes the fabric of her cloak at the shoulder. His head lulls, hanging from his shoulders to the point that his chin nearly dabs against the rail and his lower back juts out. A trait perhaps learned from her, now it's his turn to fill the void between them with a long, uncomfortable silence that never tells exactly when, or if, a reply is going to come.

"We did something neither of us thought was possible, or that neither of us thought another human being was possible of stabbing us in the throat with." He finally speaks, whispering to her. "It's…been a long time since I've been second questioning myself like I did after you left. Did I do something wrong; Did I break something sacred. I've always been such a self-decaying fuck about things. I don't know—" He shakes his head, swallowing. "I've thought about you, too. You left a piece of glass in me that's sharp and welcome. The question is, do you want to do something about this?" He looks back over to her, trying to catch her face through the edge of the hood. "Do you want more?"

Maybe in time the silences they engage in will mean much more than the words, but for now they give the words more weight for coming after them. She doesn't move away from him, and the contact, perhaps because of the psychological copulation they engaged in, is almost electric.

"What did you ask yourself?" she queries, and her tone is strange, almost gentle. And another question, "Which of us seduced which? Who's going to be to blame if we get caught."

It's only possible because of his coat and her cloak and the empty space directly in front of them, but her gloved hand finds his. "Sooner or later, you're not going to like what you see. Then what…"

The copper-jacketed rings on his fingers, all but the one that would one day bear his wedding ring, pinched against her fingers as he squeezed her hand. His fingers flexed and splayed out between hers and clenched back in softly in a purposeful, silently affectionate grip. If not for her cloak, any of the passing people with an eye for nobility and the gossip that surrounds them would see the two holding hands openly, but Nitrim didn't care, nor did he care what the knight behind them would say or do about it. The physical contact was necessary.

"You told me you didn't intend, but you weren't sorry. So I'm pretty sure that it was I that seduced you, at least at first, but what you were wearing—I don't know. I have this folder filled with everything I've done and there's so much red ink over the parts where I've muddied something or fucked it up. I guess some part of me figured that I'd finally gone too far and all of this was going to end up something I couldn't bring myself to regret, but something that I couldn't repair either." A pause. "I asked myself if I took something sacred from you; your anonymity. For a few days I was worried you couldn't live with that."

His hand squeezes hers again, brushing a thumb over her knuckles.

"Sooner or later there's going to come times where you hate me. That's the problem with giving a fuck. Some days it works, some days it doesn't. Some days you're going to be cruel and somedays I'll be my own worst enemy." He adds, thoughtful, yet grim. "But at least we know we have a way to show the other when we're sorry, even if we can't put it into words. It would give us a fighting chance, better than some stranger we're forced to tend to."

She cares about what the knight thinks, at least, just enough to glance back. But either he's seen enough to know what to report, or else he's decided to turn a blind eye to youthful indiscretions just this once. Soleil turns her attention back to Nitrim, choosing to live with whatever consequences come her way.

Her hand is bare in his. She removed her glove. "Maybe I wanted you to want me," she suggests, keeping her tone low. "Maybe I wanted you to try really, /really/ hard." Pause. "But I don't think you had to. I don't know. It's all a blur. I wouldn't even be sure what happened except you left a lot of marks." And soreness. There's a note of faint humor in her tone, as if she's a girl who can take violence of any kind in stride. Her fingers fan and then reclose between his. Holding hands— she's /holding hands/ with a man. A man her own age. How quaint!

"There are a lot of things you don't know. Things I don't know how to tell you but I have this feeling that sooner or later I will. Then we'll probably hate each other. Or fear each other. Not that fear bothers me. I'm already afraid of you. I like it, how fucked up is that?" With her free hand she rubs her temple again.

Nitrim's head raises to the ceiling and his lower jaw juts out, making a feral pair of teeth towards the ceiling. Afraid of him. If she only knew the half of it. His mouth widens into a half-growl; the kind of face an animal makes when trying to inform a potential predator that yes, it has teeth and yes it will use them. Though it's all frustration and shadows with Nitrim, just like the guarded look in his eyes complete with lowered brows that he drops down to their connected hands.

"I find it…inexcusably sexy that you're afraid of me. Just—try to understand that you're not the only one. Though you do understand, don't you?" He looks over. "The only difference is that you went internal and I became what I dreamed. I can do these things, and I don't care what the rest of society believes in terms of acceptance or how integrated we are and have these little duels at the tourneys. People have a right to be afraid when I have a reason to fear myself. My parents had a reason to fear me."

Fearlessly, he brings the back of her hand to his lips and places a soft kiss onto it, leaving an impression of his presence as he lowers their wrists back to the railing. "Fear is something central to who we are, you and I. There are things that I don't talk about either. Does that really change what we're doing right now?"

Another long, silent moment passes between the two of them before Nitrim clears his throat. His knuckles tighten.

"If the Princess were to request of my father for a Khourni mainline to be promised to her handmaiden, he wouldn't give Janelle one of the good ones." Nitrim whispers. "If she wants a foothold onto Volkan support, that's her only likely in."

(to be continued…)

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