It was a long day. The trek out to meet and deal with Kath and then getting him the rest of the wine. To say nothing of the emotional end of it. Memories stirred by the incense that filled the chamber. The news that the servant of the Old Ones had to impart. With the lower magic there, the magical workings Aliana needed to do and then Rifting them back home was… draining. While the blonde shifter would prefer to go to her own home, instead she opted to stay the night in Vesper. While another jump wouldn’t kill her, she’s Damned Tired.
So of course, she can’t sleep.
Aliana checked herself, Smoke and Aiden into the accomodations she prefers in Vesper. Mostly because of the height and the view, more than the amenities that they offer. Aiden didn’t really get asked if he wanted to stay, seems he’s just part of her (small) retinue now.
After a long bath, Aliana’s wrapped up in a robe and sitting on the window ledge with the shutters open, the night air flowing into the room.
Aiden had come away from the whole thing somewhat less drained than Aliana. His mental abilities were far less taxed on balance. He too had suffered from whatever was in that incense, stirring up old memories best left forgotten. One has to wonder what the purpose of that was, if indeed it had a purpose.
So he’s been mostly quiet, but then that’s not all that unusual. Aiden is often quiet. More indicitive of what’s going on in his head is the fact that his ‘lines’ had turned dull blood red and stayed that way most of the day. Fortunately, K’nert hasn’t been around (yet) to make things worse.
He hadn’t been asked about staying in Vesper, no, but he also hadn’t protested. The psychic is in softer clothes than he normally travels in. A shirt and pants. Socks too. All the muted greens and greys and blues he seems to prefer.
A glass full of clear liquid ‘clunks’ on the ledge near the blonde shifter. An identical one is in Aiden’s hand. He doesn’t say anything. Just peers out over the cityscape, watching the ley-lights bathe Vesper in orange and purple and blue.
Aliana Knight glances down at the glass and there’s a brief quirk of a smile. She lifts it and takes a slow swallow, her gaze on the city as well for a long, quiet moment. Finally she glances down to the floor at her side. “Sit.” She says in a soft murmur.
The window is large with the sill only a foot or so off the floor. Even sitting on the floor, Aiden’s likely to be of similar ‘height’ to Aliana. Her legs are stretched out along the wide sill, one leg crossed over the other and the robe tucked around her against the cool night air.
“So. What do you think?” It’s a rather open-ended question. Of the news? Of the deal? Of Kath? Hell, of the wolfen? Hard to say what she might mean.
Aiden does, lowering himself so that he can look at Aliana while they talk without craning his neck too much. It helps that the even with the window, they’re roughly ‘even’ though it still places him slightly lower than she. The psychic takes pull at his own glass and then sets it down beside him. When he looks up, his eyes briefly reflect the light, like Smoke’s might.
“I think it’s a nice view…” He starts, equally quietly. There’s a short pause before he gives her a real answer. “Rough day. I think Kath helped us a bit too easily for my liking.” Meaning Aiden thinks he’s got an angle or an agenda. The mintaur priest hadn’t really made too much of a deal. There’s no obligations left. But there’s a more than zero chance that they’ve not seen the last of him.
“What do you think?” Like the blonde, Aiden leaves the question open. He’d chosen to answer about the day but honestly there’s a lot for the both of them to think about.
“He gave us more than he was comitted to, which means he has plans to deal with us in the future or he’s looking to push us a particular direction with that information.” Aliana says, her gaze still fixed on the city beyond without really looking at it. Her glass is held in her lap while her other hand moves to slip through his hair much like she does Smoke’s when the wolf is close enough to touch. Of course, Aiden’s head is higher, so she needs to reach a bit.
“The view helps to remind me to look at the big picture, and not get swalloed up in the little things. To take a step back.” There’s more to it, but that’s one of the reasons why when she wants to thin, she finds a good vantage point.
“He’s admitted that he’s looking for something. Some//one//, really.” The blonde finally looks over at him, her fingers still teasing his hair. “He didn’t think much of you.” She says, more amused than anything else at that.
Aiden’s lines – which had only gone out in the last couple of hours – start again when Aliana touches him, this time pale blue. She’s not wrong. Kath had given more than he needed to and when dealing with people who make those sorts of bargains, thats alwaysa flag. What it’s a flag //for// isn’t clear in this case, or at least it isn’t clear to the psychic.
“Sometimes the little things take the most attention.” Of course little is relative. One man’s little is another man’s life ending crisis. Still, people go through all manner of things and the world just keeps turning. Perhaps most things are little in the grand scheme of things.
“Yeah, I noticed he didn’t. I should probably be relieved about that. That he didn’t think I was important.” A dry note creeps into Aiden’s voice. He probably should be relieved, but he has to wonder. If Slaine and Aliana rated on his scale as at least worthy of his attention… what was he measuring?
“A child born of darkness, he said. One who walked the razor’s edge, or something like that. I’m not much of one for riddles most of the time.”
“They usually only make sense in hindsight.” Aliana agrees of the riddle. “Likely he was given a vision, and so it’s like… several degrees removed. What his master, whose mind doesn’t work like his, wants to tell him, translated into images that Kath then gives words to. Like a copy of a copy of copy…” She shakes her head.
Aliana’s attention has been drawn away from the city though, her fingers sliding away from Aiden’s hair, trailing over his temple and along his jaw towards where the blue lines luminesce beneath his skin. Her gaze moves back upwards, meeting his eyes with an eerie directness. “Red for anger. Blue for…” Is she asking? Or making him say?
So Kath’s words are as good as meaningless to them, is what Aiden thinks. Or at least, they are right now. Too many layers of meaning for it to pass through. He’d like to put them from his mind but they, along with the memories the incense dredged up, have kept his mind running at full speed most of the day.
It’s telling that Aiden doesn’t even have to wonder what she means when she starts talking about colors. His eyes ‘flash’ a bit with reflected light again as he tilts his head slightly, not taking his gaze off hers.
“I don’t know.” He admits quietly. “I haven’t really wanted to ask K’nert. Red for worry or anger. Blue for…” One shoulder lifts in a slight shrug and that blue brightens a bit as Aliana’s touch gets closer to the lines themselves. “Calm? Peace? Contentment?”
Blue is much rarer on Aiden than red, that’s for certain. And rarer still, if either of them knew it, when Aliana isn’t present.
Aliana Knight’s touch doesn’t leave Aiden, fingertips brushing against his skin as though there’s nothing odd about doing so. Her eyes glint with some amusement though there’s still traces of that ice from earlier in the way she seems slightly detatched. “You don’t know? It’s your feelings.” She says, almost chidingly.
Some thought must cross her mind, her eyes narrowing slightly and he can almost see the gears turning in her eyes. “I wonder how many colors I could coax out of you, if they’re truly tied to your emotions.” Her words are a soft murmur, and if he were to move much further away, he wouldn’t be able to hear them. Her hand comes to rest on his shoulder, thumb sweeping over a thick knot of the glowing lines. “How many emotions do you have left, after all that’s happened…”
“The blue usually happens when I’m… calm. Not just when things aren’t happening but when things start to feel…” He trails off, watching Aliana think and feeling her thumb come to rest on that knot just off his collarbone. “… right, I suppose.”
How many emotions does Aiden have left? It’s a fair question to ask. He hasn’t shown many. Like Aliana he’s controlled, though in the way a soldier tends to be. What she’s seen of him has mostly been those things that can wear down or break that control. Things like weariness, anger and sorrow. Bad blood and bad memories. She’s been around him enough to know he can joke. Laugh. Smile, a little. Long enough to know that he’s got a dry sense of humor and gets sometimes wistful when talking about early memories. But it all seems muted. Broken, perhaps.
So how much does he really have left?
“Most of them, I should think…” Aiden says in response, but does he really know? As for how many colors she could coax out of him? Good question.
He doesn’t voice the question but it’s clear in his eyes: What is she thinking?
Curiosity. Cats don’t have a monopoly on it. And much like the way a feline’s curiosity seems to hold an edge more cruel than innocent, there’s something about the glint in Aliana’s eyes that might make Aiden wary.
“Truly? Or are thy just shadows… memories even, of emotions more remembered than experienced anymore. Do you remember being happy recently? Or just… being not sad?” Aliana’s mood has sobered a bit. She might be speaking from some experience there. The blonde tries to chase off that perhaps worrisome thought with more light teasing. “You feel ‘right’ when I indulge myself and pet you?” She lifts her glass to her lips to take another slow swallow, her touch finally slipping away from him to let her hand rest in her lap once more.
The question that Aiden hasn’t asked, hasn’t even occured to him to ask yet, is this: is it him that feels ‘right’? Or is the eyelarch – which has been in him for months now without maintenance – somehow responsible in part or whole.
That glint. That look. It makes the psychic shiver a bit. There’s something about it that recalls memories of his first captivity. It’s not the same, but it’s enough to jog his memory. The blue dulls, briefly, before Aiden pushes that memory aside.
“I… do.” It hadn’t occured to him either to think of it in those terms. But it feels nice. It’s nice, on a level Aliana perhaps knows, to have someone touch you and not fear their intentions. Though perhaps he should. “No one’s done that in a while.”
His eyes follow her hand for a moment before he looks back up. “Some things aren’t the same since the war.” And that ‘not the same’ feeling is only the keener since Atlantis. “But I’m still me. I still feel. Or at least… I think I still do.” For all that though, can he remember the last time he was truly happy? The closest he can come is when he saw her in Atlantis, and that was more relief. He was glad to see her though.
“You sound like you’ve asked that question before.” That’s quieter than the rest of his answers. More halting too, as if he’s not sure he should make that observation.
Seeing the color dim draws a frown from Aliana, and she reaches out again to brush her fingers against his cheek and back to scrape her nails against his scalp just behind his ear. She likes the bright flush of color, especially knowing its linked to how he’s feeling. “Something I did made you think of something unpleasant…” It’s a guess, but one that she figures is pretty accurate.
His admission that no one’s touched him in a while gets a solemn nod. “At least I’ve had Smoke.” It’s not a joke. While not human companionship, it’s gone a long way to helping keep her sane. “It’s odd, how you can both abhor and crave that contact at the same time. For a long time, I thought it was the Reaper’s influence that made me want it, because I remembered being afraid of it for so long.” It might be a bit of word salad, but sometimes that’s what you get when someone’s digging into the muck of their own past.
As to the question… “I’ve asked myself a lot of questions, and i’m often not so sure of the answer.” Aliana admits. “Anger, cruelty, those come easily. I see others happy, laughing… and I don’t remember how.”
“Just old memories.” Aiden murmurs. Something she’d done, yes, made him remember something unpleasant. Well, not something she’d done so much as the look in her eyes. When she speaks of herself though, that look doesn’t seem like the same thing at all.
“The Aiden Frost who knew how to do those things seems like another person who lived another life on some days.” It’s not losing the war, or even losing Tolkeen that broke the psychic warrior. It was losing everything that went along with it. The life he’d known, the friendships and connections he’d built. In some ways he isn’t the same person. In some ways the Aiden Frost from before the war died when it ended.
“Just because you forget something doesn’t mean it’s lost, though.” A small half smile graces his face. “I’d forgotten how nice this felt…” He reaches up and places his hand on Aliana’s knee. “And yet there it is.”
He wants to ask what made her so afraid of someone touching her. But he knows she’s been in her head as much as he has today and doesn’t want to pull out anything else traumatic. If she wants him to know, she’ll tell him. At least that’s what he figures.
“Old memories I brought to the surface.” Aliana tilts her head a bit, the question obvious but she doesn’t give it voice. When she’s paying attention, she tries not to give him anything that could be construed as a ‘direct order’. And she hates qualifing a statement with ‘please’.
When Aiden talks about that sense of loosing who he was, she says “Does that leave Vargyr, then? Or is that named attached to all the worst parts of who you were?” In the dim lighting, it’s clear to see that the brightness of her eyes isn’t all a trick of the light. They do have a subtle glow to them as they fix upon him with such intensity.
“There’s a reason I kept my name, instead of letting it die. Instead of just ‘starting fresh’ or ‘creating myself anew’.” Aliana says the terms with a small huff of amusement. “If I just let it all die… then what was the pain for? What of the cost paid?”
There’s a quiet amusement to her gaze now, as he lays his hand on her knee. “I don’t touch you more to keep myself from getting carried away. I don’t think you have quite the same problem. You’re mine. You’re allowed in my space.”
Aiden nods. Yes, old memories she brought to the surface. “I was remembering what it was like the first time I was taken.” He’s told her that story before. “Just… been close to my mind ever since that damn incense hit me.”
What’s in a name? There’s a question the psychic has considered before, if perhaps not quite in this fashion. “Vargr. A name I gave life to escape the notice of the Coalition and the Federation.” Aiden’s smile turns wry and perhaps a bit bitter. “A name with no face. No history before the war. No identity. Just a word.”
It may not be a necessary precaution anymore, but it’s become a habit. And it wears on him, being called by a name that he still doesn’t really think of as his own. Just a mask, or a shield. Just… no one.
He’d ask what she means by carried away but she’s given him fairly clear indications of what that could look like. It’s interesting that //that// doesn’t cause his lights to dim. And when she says he’s allowed in her space that half smile comes back. “I’m not given to excess, no.” Not usually. If she’d ever seen him fight something he truely hates, she might have a different opinion.
When he looks back up at her eyes there’s a faint hint of blue. Is it reflected from her own? From his lights? Or is it something else? Hard to say right now. Perhaps it’s not important.