The First Age

Full Version: Reacclimating (Kallisti House of Burlesque)
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((Sorry it took so long - postal worker and its the busy season))

Elyse stood by awkwardly as the two embraced and kissed. She gave a slight nod and quietly excused herself, leaving the two alone. She detected the a small scent of fear from Raffe as well, wondering why. Elyse made her way back to the main floor. She debated ordering another drink, but decided against it. If she was going to come back in the morning, she should be well rested. Instead, she settled her tab and then left.

She decided to walk home. She was armed and unworried about being attacked, but she wanted to think. She felt better than she had in a long time, and hoped for the best the next day. If she wasn't a dancer, at the very least she could be a bouncer there. As she arrived at Ricky's home, she smiled - the first real smile she had since she'd arrived in Moscow.
[[No worries. Carmen would want to interview Elyse in the same way as Anna, but I don't see any need to rp that out. If you go ahead with the try-out with the other girls, I may have Ori crash instead]]

He tasted salt, and was both surprised and alarmed by the frantic emotion. Nox’s tears had always pulled at something in him, and it felt like bleeding out to be unable to do anything about it. Raffe placed his hands either side of Nox’s face, and hoped they didn’t feel too stupidly hot from the fading fever. His thumbs wiped gently at the fallen trails. Nox’s arm strung about his waist, anchoring him close, and he was mindful not to tumble them both down the stairs. Fortunately relief strengthened him with enough calm to hold them both up. He rested his forehead close again, barely noticed as Elyse squeezed passed them on the stairs.

“People are safe,” he said. “There’s some displacement, but we’re used to it in the undercity you know? I couldn’t just sit about, so I asked a favour from someone. I know there would have been casualties in a task like that too, but it’s not your fault. I shouldn’t have put that on you. You didn’t fuck up.” He pulled back enough for them to meet eyes, and hazarded a half-grin, hoping to dispel Nox’s fears. You’re safe. You’re home. It was all that mattered. “I mean, unless you’re about to tell me you accidentally got the Ascendancy killed down there. Then we might have a small problem.”

But the smile only faded as, like a setting sun, he began to realise something was really wrong.
Nox closed his eyes and felt the sun fading from Raffe as he realized something else was the matter.  Nox chuckled softly at the joke, but it was hardly funny.  Nox pressed his forehead to Raffe's and struggled to talk through the tears.  "If that were the only thing that went wrong."  

He clenched his fist in Raffe's shirt and held on and the words spilled from his lips.  "I broke my promise. Everything was going great till the end.  I was holding together all the shit in my head."  Nox growled and leaned back and looked Raffe in his gorgeous eyes and sighed.  In a small voice barely a whisper, "Jay kissed me. I thought the horde was gone.  I tried said I shouldn't do this.  But he made a joke, a kiss and a hand and the horde woke up with the thought of fulfillment.  We fucked around" 

Nox took a deep breath to hold back the hot angry tears.  "I fucked this up.  I'm so fucking sorry. I'm not making excuses.  I'm ... rambling.  I'll shut up now."  Nox's eyes fell to the space between them.
Raffe drew quiet. Nox’s hand fisted into his shirt, like he was afraid he might disappear. He could feel his heart beating underneath, and it was speeding so fast he suddenly feared he might be sick.

The depth of his naivety hit him in a rush.

Despite all the warnings, every one of them from Nox’s own lips even, he’d never once considered that Nox’s word was something he’d break. Confusion clouded his brow as he began to internalise what was said. They hadn’t put a meaning to what they were, and Raffe wouldn’t have expected anything that wasn’t offered honestly. He’d understood how the horde churned Nox’s blood – fuck he’d encouraged him to take Jay along knowing something might happen. He preferred Nox safe. Trusted in what they had. That whatever happened, Nox would come back.

But the promise. The promise had meant something.

“Oh,” he said. It sounded like a fracture. Shock blanked his gaze.

He imagined it. Hard not too, even though he didn’t even know what Jay looked like. Heat burned his eyes at the betrayal, or maybe just at his own foolishness. He pinched the bridge of his nose. Maybe it was all he deserved. He slipped backwards on the steps, seeking space, and then he sank like a stone, head in his hands, silent.
Nox felt Raffe pull away and let him go. He’d fucked this up. He didn’t know what to do, didn’t know how to fix it. Relationships weren’t something he did. This was probably the longest he’d been with any one person, and definitely without having any major issues.

Nox stayed where Raffe left him half teetering on the edge of the stairs and the weight of his world breaking apart.

”I know I promised. I’m nothing without my word, Raffe. It was all I had to give you and I can’t even do that right.” Nox bit back the grief and tears and hoped he didn’t sound too pathetic in his words.

Nox pulled his wallet from his pocket and held it in front of him with the screenshot of his text to Jay. ”I told you about Jay so you knew what was what going in to that trip. I made you a promise that you didn’t ask for. I intended to keep it. Failing to do that, and knowing myself. I sent Jay this text a little bit ago. Blocked his number and as soon as Sage can get a chance to move my stuff to a new wallet with a new number I’ll trash this one. I can’t make any promises that mean anything so I won’t bother. Just tell me what I can do to start to fix this.”

He knew he was rambling. He did that. He didn’t know when to shut up and this was no different. ”I’m sorry I’m weak. I’m sorry I broke my promise. I’m sorry I hurt you. I can’t…” Nox didn’t know what to say. He leaned against the wall and slide down sitting as far as he could get from Raffe while not moving from the little landing. ”I’m so sorry.”
Raffe stayed motionless for a long time. His head was swimming. Amidst the hurt he battled an inevitability; that promises made to him were things meant to rot, that his trust was foolish and fragile, and given freely at his own risk. If he ended up hurt it was his own fault. The shock must have eased at some point, but he only felt numb afterwards. Eventually his head lifted from his hands, eyes raw, staring at nothing. He scrubbed his palms back over his hair. The curls were damp. His skin was clammy.

Nox had been talking, but the words all ran together. The sight of his tears gutted Raffe, even now. He never doubted the grief was real. It made him feel hollowed out.

After a moment he climbed the stairs and sat on the landing opposite. Not close. He didn’t trust the landscape of his own bruised heart. But he held his hand out for the wallet, so he could see the message.

“You both work for the Ascendancy, Nox. You giving that up too?” It wasn’t said in plea. The strain of his whisper was strangely empty, even to his own ears. He didn’t meet Nox’s eyes.

“I never had a blood family, just the ones I chose,” he said as he sat back. Nox knew all that; there were few secrets between them. He drew his knees up, read in silence. A few times, actually. But it didn’t dampen the sharpness of the pain every time he repeated his gaze over the line I can’t say no to you.

Raffe had never considered domesticity as something he wanted. Relationships in the past had taken myriad forms; when Raffe’s heart was involved, he was utterly open to what made others happy. Jealousy wasn’t in his nature. He’d surprised even himself with how thoroughly the future Nox had woven into possibility had enchanted him. It had felt like home.

What it felt like now he wasn’t sure.

He blinked, and scooted the wallet back along the floor. His arms returned to rest on his knees, like he made a cage of his body. His head tipped back against the wall, eyes closed.

“When my dad was acquitted of what he did, I thought he’d come get me. Take me home. Sounds stupid, but I hoped for it. He never did. But I did see him again, after the Custody washed their hands.” His voice scratched the words out quietly. “Turns out he had a whole other family, his real family, and me and my mum were the byproducts of betrayal. Told me his wife was mad when she found out about the affair, that she wouldn’t have accepted me into their home.”

He’d never admitted that to anyone. A packet of money and an apology delivered after thirteen abandoned years, and Raffe had been too stunned for a reaction. He’d papered over the damage, coped the way most bereft teenagers would, but if the past few days proved anything it was how close those wounds still lingered to the surface. Rejection was not an injury easily recovered from, and the bonds of brotherhood bolted stronger than the frailties of blood. Did Nox realise how it would cut?

“He did it to keep the peace with his wife. To keep her happy.” Raffe paused, shrugged and swallowed, gaze trailing to nowhere it could be captured. Tears burned, but nothing fell. His pain was palpable. “If it’s really what you need to do for yourself, I get it. But don’t do it for me. Don’t do it because you think it’ll mend things.”
Nox saw the look on Raffe’s face when he looked at him, and he wiped the tears from his voice and pulled himself together. He didn’t tell Raffe any of this to make him feel guilty. His emotions he’d feel later if necessary. He was tempted to pull himself into the darkness where the light of the gods waited tainted by the horde. There was nothing pure in his life he didn’t fuck up. Not a goddamned thing.

”If you asked me to I’d tell the Ascendancy to fuck off. I can work with Jay if I have to but what I do and what he does shouldn’t collide often if at all. But if it would be of use I’ll drop it. I don’t care one way or the other about what the Ascendancy has for me to do.” He sounded cold.

He dropped the emptiness he’d reached for without thinking. A place he’d saught as a kid when his father had turned his life upside down. Memories had plagued him the first time, the horde the second time, and each time Nox gave into them. He whispered, ”I’m weak.”

Aurora’s blood drained face looked back at him with his mother’s eyes pleading for help as he torn Aria’s grave in the cement of the red light district — not too far from here actually.

Nox left the wallet on the floor. ”I didn’t do it to fix anything. I did it because if I want to be the man I want to be I can’t have someone in my life who didn’t even take the time to ask me what promise I made. I did it because I don’t want the temptation in my life.”

Nox smashed his head into the wall behind him, the pain jolting through his brain and he took a deep breath. ”I’ve never deserved you. Never understood why even after all I’ve told you about the kind of person I am you made the leap with me. I love that you trusted me to go into the bowels of the earth with the one person who I was worried about. I should have ended it before the tunnels. But you had faith in me. Faith I don’t deserve.”

Nox shook his head. ”I’m not your father. I didn’t hide the truth, you could watch the video feed of the whole thing if you wanted. I’m not offering empty gestures Raffe. I want to be a man that deserves your love but I know I pushed a boundary that I isn’t fixable. I want to try, but…”

Nox leaned forward with a half smile he wanted to reach out and touch Raffe but that would probably a bad idea, but he put his hand on the landing next to Raffe’s leg. ”You will always deserve better than me.”
He wasn’t asking Nox to give anything up. On the contrary.

He felt a measure of relief at the reply. Raffe didn’t want to be the mechanism for someone else’s hurt, even someone he didn’t know. Burning the bonds of brotherhood made him feel soul-sick in a way he couldn’t quite describe, but he understood the need for a boundary, and it settled him back into silence to understand it was not a meaningless platitude. In the meantime he knew he wasn’t allowing himself to feel the brunt of his own pain, but deflection was a familiar compatriot; it was easier to think about others before himself. His own emotions had been weaponised against him plenty of times in his past. It wasn’t a choice to hide. It was a numbness of self-survival: one he couldn’t help.

When tears leaked hot at the corner of his eyes, he only brushed them aside. I’m okay marched through his head like a ragged pennant, but he already knew it for a bitter lie. He winced when Nox smashed his head back against the wall, but didn’t look across. Didn’t trust himself to.

Nox talked about weakness, but Raffe wasn’t strong either. He was aware of the hand placed on the floor between them like a question. He was aware too of his own frailties; knew that if Nox softened the distance between them, he would not protest the comfort. Only he wasn’t sure if it would be in forgiveness or goodbye he reciprocated, and he didn’t want to feel the burdening weight of either. Not when it all felt so raw.

He’d gone quiet again. Insular.

The last words cracked him open, though. He felt the shearing in his chest like a physical pain. If trust was the balm to Nox’s soul, right now it felt like razorblades to Raffe’s. It didn’t feel like something to be lauded; it felt like the height of foolishness. The anguish tightened hoarse in his throat. His hands shielded his face, fingers digging into his scalp. And he sobbed.

He forgave Nox. Didn’t blame him in the first place, or his friend. But he wasn’t so sure he could forgive himself.
Jesus fucking Christ! Raffe fell into tears at his words and Nox wasn’t sure what to do. His instinct to protect took over and he moved over closer to Raffe. His own tears and fears and guilt shed. He could cry later. Could deal with his own shit later.

”Raffe. I’m sorry. I’m not good at this.” He scooted over to Raffe, his missing arm between them, as he pressed his arm against Raffe’s. That was about all the contact that he could muster. Anything more and things could go into a bad place or the wrong place.

”I can keep talking. I can give you space. I can walk away. Though I will admit that last one will be the hardest fucking thing I’ve ever had to do in my life. Giving up the best thing in my life so he can have a better life without me. But Raffe I’d do it in a heart beat if it meant you’d be happy.”

Nox pressed his good hand to his forehead and sighed. ”I should take this as a fuck off. But I’m a bit selfish. I want to make this better,make us work. But if you tell me to fuck off I will.”
He cried for a long time, even as shame constricted his chest for it. It wasn’t something he was proud for Nox to witness, but he’d never been good at concealing emotion. Grief unfurled for what was lost. Whatever they were now, what they had been before was irretrievable. Even forgiveness couldn’t restore the innocence of Raffe’s trust. Eventually his fingers eased their desperate grip and his breathing began to calm. When the flood of it eased, he felt hollowed out.

He rested his head back against the wall, let his legs fall straight, hands left to fall limp in his lap. His throat burned, and he rubbed it idly. Nox’s proximity did not go unnoticed, but Raffe only rested quietly against his shoulder. His lips flickered a grim smile as the words sunk in, but the expression was short-lived. They’d come full circle.

“I don’t know where we go from here,” he admitted. His voice was a harsh whisper, raw from the crying. “I don’t blame you. I can’t blame you. You were nothing but honest with me, Nox. But I think I need time to get my head around it all.”
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