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Safe For Now
#21
Sterling looked up at Raffe, his voice made her smile and she nodded hugging the plant to her tighter, "I think it needs more water but she's alive." Nox and Raffe were holding hands again and she wondered what they shared. Or if it was just like her and Risha - best friends. But Sterling doubted it, another thing her parents might not like her cousin for. She walked next to Raffe holding on to the plant he'd given her. [color=#072bb]"What's so special about this plant?"[/color] She didn't look up at them as they walked.

"Raffe gave it to me as a get well present." Nox said softly, his voice sounded like he'd been crying and he wasn't even trying to hide it. Sterling supposed everyone had a breaking point. But he was still smiling, though it didn't reach his eyes. What had started out a good day - I finally met someone who could tell me about my parents.

"My parents are going to be so angry." She rambled on about all the things that had happened. it was mostly to fill the empty silence.
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#22
Sterling rambled on about what had happened to her that day from meeting him online to right then. She had only stopped when they stepped into the cafe and ordered some food to go. Nox wasn't particularly hungry, but there were two needs in his head, two things ha had to fuel. He could still feel their hunger. And he needed to ease it. They couldn't stay so Nox lead them to the counter. And hoped they would do a to go order. He tried not to think about it when he ordered a burger and three more bunless burgers. The girl at the counter had looked at him strangely, "Have to keep this figure somehow."

They couldn't stay but it would be nice to just sit down like normal people. But they didn't know when Sterling's parents would be at Kallisti they would probably be there as quickly as possible considering how Sterling had run away and was now in the Red Light District. Nox waited for the others to order before he turned his back to the counter and smiled at Raffe. He wanted to pull the man closer, he wanted to curl up and forget his life for a few more moments. Before he wanted to process any of this... he wanted to just go home. But Raffe was just as much home as Kallisti was.

The hungers inside were fighting and Nox had to feed one or the other. He had his choice but food was probably the better choice. At least the first one, the hunger inside didn't really differentiate from one or the other. It felt all the same. "I wish I could just disappear for a few days." For ever is what he really though, but it wasn't going to say that - there was things he still needed to do.

His arm was starting to ache and Nox absently rubbed the bandage and his hand fell from the place his arm had been. Phantom pain for an arm that didn't exist. But what was left hurt just as much. His stomach rolled as Nox focused on the pain instead of the hunger. The pain was better than whatever it was that was not him. He knew this was his and he'd own it. But he knew it would only get worse before it got better. And he hadn't stayed long enough for any pain killers to be prescribed - this was going to be hell.
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#23
“Good,” he laughed. He reached a finger to brush at one of the delicate leaves, and did not correct Nox’s answer, though it wasn’t exactly the truth. He’d bought it before he’d read the message that propelled him to the hospital’s reception desk, and for more sentimental reasons than a get-well-soon gift, but Sterling didn’t need to hear about that, and Raffe would spare his own blushes. He chatted with the kid freely as they walked, or interjected into her chattering anyway, with interest or question. Their experiences of care differed vastly, given Raffe had lived his entire childhood inside the poor end of the system, never having adoptive parents at all, but he suddenly understood the stubborn need with which she was curious about Nox. And he was glad enough to fill the silence with her.

They paused on route for food. Raffe didn’t exactly have the coin to spare; he’d barely been able to afford the plant, but he ordered a coffee anyway and paused beside Nox while Sterling decided what she wanted. The offered smile was somehow tired. Raffe wondered if Sterling’s parents would prove the bigger trial in Nox’s eyes, given the oddness of his normal life. And he supposed at least you could kill a monster.

“We should,” he said with half a smile, but concern pinched his brow. He was still sitting patiently on all those questions, and making little effort to hide it. He would wait, but he suddenly wondered if he’d even get the chance if Nox decided the safest thing to do was disappear on his own. It wasn’t what the wistfulness in his voice said he contemplated now; Raffe did not misunderstand that, and Kallisti was not without its own strange shadows. Perhaps he was just accustomed to the anticipation of loss. It wasn’t like Nox hadn’t warned him already. “It’s hurting you,” he murmured. A brief frown knit his brow for the obvious, and he said nothing more, but he thought Carmen would be able to source some sort of pain relief. Enough to take the edge off. Hell he had his own contacts for that sort of thing, if Nox wasn't too scrupulous with the legalities.
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#24
Sterling ordered just a cola. She didn't get them often and after all that had happened, she wasn't sure she could eat at all. How Nox was hungry she didn't know. There was more to the plant she was sure of it, the way Raffe cared about it. There was definitely more between them she thought to herself.

When Nox's food came they left. Walking through the Red Light District was an experience for Sterling. It wasn't everyday she got to see the forbidden spaces of the world. There were women looking for sex and there were drug boxes on every corner. It was even like it's name sake with all the red lights.

And these two looked right at home here. "Don't you guys live some place else?" Who would choose to live down here?
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#25
No one else got any food. And if he'd been like them he probably wouldn't but right now it was feed one hunger or hurt a person he cared about. And he wasn't about to hurt Raffe even unintentionally. Nox ate the bun covered burger as they walked.

Sterling asked them if they lived anywhere else and Nox just shrugged, "Its more comfortable in a place like this. No one except you to be something you are not." And that was truly why he liked Raffe so much, he never judges him. He gave Raffe a happy smile and whispered. "Where would you like to disappear to?" Nox asked playfully, mostly to change the subject but also it was a fun fantasy to entertain.

They would be at Kallisti soon, it wasn't very far now.

[[ go ahead and take us in. ]]
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#26
Sterling watched everything and everyone they passed. Raffe had never had boundaries in place to preserve his innocence growing up, and while he’d not spent his childhood in the red light district, the neighbourhood of the Guardian was worse in its own way. By the roundness of her eyes he suspected she called a far nicer part of the city home. Her parents were not likely to be impressed by any number of things they were presently about to be confronted with; this did not seem likely to number an exception.

“It’s not so bad really,” he said. He tried to see it with new eyes, but by now it was just home, with all the hopes and shadows of anywhere else he had ever lived.

“Spent my whole life in this city,” he observed lightly, and did not sound unhappy about it as much as simply contemplative. Nox’s smile prompted a grin of his own. The sun still shone on tragedy, and in much the same way Raffe was usually able to see past life’s inevitable difficulties. He was glad to chat idly; happy to just act normal, when things were anything but. “My mother was Dutch,” he said. “Be nice to see where she came from.” Which happened to be true, on both counts, but the way he laughed after and the mischievous look in his eye suggested it might not have been the same answer he’d have offered without young ears listening on.

They took the sidedoor rather than the grand steps of Kallisti's main entrance. In the daytime the building was impressive and severe, and utterly without marker. The club always felt hollow during the day, like everything slept in stasis while the sun was still in the sky. Some of the girls would probably be around by now, maybe even Carmen depending on her schedule. Raffe would have called out ahead of them, but the ugly wounds on his throat prevented his voice raising that loud. He realised then that he’d never finished that call to Juliana.
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