Angel Hunt and Streifen in AU
C H A P T E R O N E : P A R T 06
Jun: with the quiet and seemingly genuine words said, the white haired man can’t help the tinge of remorse that springs up from deep within. He’s so used to everything coming with a price that he’d assumed it was the same for the blonde, and now he thinks that perhaps he’s misjudged him a little, applying the morals and standards of his own race to one that’s beginning to sound different in many kinds of ways. His first instinct is to apologize, to say he’s sorry and that he didn’t mean to accuse him of trying to get something from him, but he quickly locks it down and suppresses the feeling, keeping his mouth shut and his words to himself.
Angels don’t apologize… they don’t say they are sorry and they don’t feel remorse. It’s something he has to remind himself of daily, a mantra he has to repeat despite his contrary feelings lest he give himself completely away.
[We aren’t the same…] Jun replies softly, his eyes still glued to the bento boxes and a moment later he finds he can’t help but to uncurl a hand from his coat, reaching out right after to touch the sleek lacquer and trace along the lid. [Your kind and mine… we’re not the same.] Angels are built to be soldiers, they are built for war, for fighting, to be single minded as a collective, to take orders and to follow those orders without question. They don’t need care, they don’t need affection, they don’t need any one looking out for the other, they simply need to do what they are told. From the time they open their eyes they are told of their higher purpose, and that higher purpose sets them above the rest… above feeling, above caring and above attachments of any kind.
Emotions are mundane, emotions are beneath them, emotions are for the weak…
Tracing down to the edges of the upper most box’s lid and on a split second of impulse, the white haired man pops it upwards to stare at the contents within. The smell of the food wafts instantly to his nose and his stomach clenches immediately in response. He can see the care in which each portion has been divided, the display looking better than anything he’s seen in any of the human places he’s bought his various foods from. It’s enticing, even more so when early dawn hued eyes are drawn to the desserts and the pink divider that keeps them separated from the rest and for a moment he wonders what harm if any could there be in tasting just one. He tries to reason that even if he were to be seen, they wouldn’t be able to fault him for trying just a little bit…
[My ‘issues’ with company… are not my own.] The Angel’s words are so quiet that they are almost lost on the wind and stopping mid bite, midnight eyes slowly slide upwards just as he’s clicking the lids to his boxes back down. [They are my orders.] Jun’s pink gaze slips downward to meet blue, [My kind, we don’t… break orders.] To break an order for most could result in a swift death, but for him it’s a sentence far worse. For him it means torture and pain, it means having his mind invaded over and over again, it means having his thoughts and the feelings that seem to be hardwired into his core ripped apart and fractured, it means having to endure being broken down so they can attempt to rewrite him yet again.
Suddenly and without warning, the white haired figure lifts the boxes and stands, the movement so easy that neither the leaves nor the branches shudder even in the slightest. Twisting his lean frame around, he steps from his perch and drops, one fluid hop after another shifting him downward from branch to branch until he reaches the last just above where the Selestarri sits. Stepping from the final ledge, Jun lands before the blonde in one light and graceful movement, his knees only bending a little to compensate for the impact once his booted feet hit the ground. Long snowy strands settle at his back as he turns around to face his companion, the stacked set of boxes held firmly in hand. Squatting fluidly down he sets them at Zephyr’s side and while the Dark’s black flecked midnight gaze is glued to his features, pink eyes refuse to immediately look up.
[Your race’s standards and mine are not the same… and for the assumption that you might want something from me, I apologize,] As he speaks, his pink gaze slowly rises and his tone is for once not cold, instead it’s soft and quiet and swimming somewhere deep inside of both his features and his words is a normality that the taller man has never seen or heard from him before [But you have to understand that the last time I allowed someone to care for me, I paid a steep price and I’m not willing to pay it again…] It’s a price he’s still paying for to this very day, one that he’s not sure he’ll survive again should he slip and they come to extract it from him once more …
Slipping long fingers from the box, he rises up and staring down at the taller man, the coldness returns. The break in his demeanor is once again locked down, his emotions, his very being pushed beneath the layers of a blank and somewhat stoic facade. “I can’t accept it” he states flatly and turning away from Zephyr, his hands slide into his pockets and without another word or a backwards glance given, he begins moving through the darkened park towards his parked car that sits beyond.
Zephyr: Still sitting with his back against the tree, he watches the Angel walk away until he disappears into the twilight. Once the white-clad figure is completely out of view, the blonde tilts his head upward and stares into the branches above with a sigh. He’s left feeling a bit sad overall by the other man’s explanations. Is his race so cold that to even allow another to care for you is somehow wrong? It’s not as if that’s something you have a say over anyway–you can’t control how other people feel about you, it’s just not possible. But apparently Jun was punished for it in a way he doesn’t wish to repeat, even at the risk of remaining isolated. Not all of what he said made sense, and the blonde will have to think on it all for a while.
But, he did prove one point by preparing this food and bringing it out here. There was a crack, just a momentary one where the Angel’s voice softened and Zeph could see beneath that cold exterior. He heard it in Jun’s voice and saw it in his eyes just for a split second, but it was there, that warmth underneath that he’s spied in the past and that drew his interest in the first place. It has never been directed at him before, and the Dark finds that he likes it very much.
Shifting the boxes on his lap to the ground, Zephyr stacks the two he’d made for Jun on top, lifting the lid of the second one on impulse. As midnight eyes scan the contents, a smile slips over the tall Selestarri’s lips. Jun may have claimed he didn’t accept the food, but one of the desserts and the pink divider has been taken. It’s a small victory, but he’ll take it.
Setting the lid back down, the strap is quickly added to secure all four levels and glowing white runes faintly light the air for the briefest of moments before the teleport begins. He’ll take the leftovers to Innic and get his best friend’s perspective on what he’s heard and seen this evening…
Lan: the hallway of the apartment building is dark and his steps are silent, bare feet treading plush carpet with his weight leaving only momentary marks that quickly spring back in his wake. The lanky Selestarri is dressed rather casually, a large, oversized loose knit sweater with a long boat neck nearly hangs from one built, narrow shoulder, the extra fabric draped over loose fitting pants that hang low on trim hips and held in place by a thin black leather belt with a shiny silver buckle –every article of clothing set on him in a way that barely touches the raw skin that lies underneath. Shaggy white strands while shorter because of his recent cut, are settled especially unruly around his face, the stark snowy locks and pale skin masked into the perception of flawlessness almost glowing in darkness that surrounds him as he walks.
Turning the corner, his hands remain in his pockets as he continues on towards his goal until he finds and stops at apartment 315.The apartment is quiet, no noise or indication of life happening beyond a heavy wooden door guarded by invisible runes and multi layered spells but he knows better as he can sense the one he came to see somewhere inside. Slipping a hand from his pants pocket, he slides his arm upwards and loosely balls his fist in anticipation to knock, but before he makes contact, his movement comes to a halt. Smiling softly, he pulls it away and uncurling his fingers, he slips his hand carefully back into his pocket, knowing full well that an indicator isn’t necessary considering the one inside can easily sense him as well.
[I know it’s a little late…] Lan reaches out, the soft smile on his lips easily heard through every quiet word he says. [But I do have a small debt to pay and I thought perhaps you’d like to join me for a meal? Not as friends mind you, so don’t misunderstand, I’d simply like to square the tables between us once again…]
Sashi: Glowing golden runes hang in a complex weave in the air beside the fireplace of the Dark’s spacious apartment. Seated at a desk with his back to the warm flames behind, he reaches up and adjusts a section of the weave, the magic twisting so slightly that only he would really notice, before scribbling a few notes on pad of paper. Smoke swirls from the cigarette set into an ashtray just to his right, cumulating in a familiar haze just above his head. Gold lightly streaks gray eyes as the telepath leans back in his wooden desk chair to study the weave once again, absently tapping the top of his pen against the pad.
He’d come home straight after the last class, avoiding his office and any of his other normal stops. As much as he’d rather not admit it, his dinner with Lan yesterday and his conversation with Zeph afterwards have left him somewhat unsettled. It’s not a feeling he appreciates in the slightest, and his natural instinct had been to retreat to the quiet of his apartment for an evening of microwaved burritos and lukewarm green tea. Working on new spells was an attempt to distract himself, but this current one has him stuck and the distraction is rapidly failing as his thoughts keep drifting back to yesterday.
It’s been a long time since anyone has offered, even under false pretenses, to be his friend. That the offer came from a Bright certainly caught him off guard, seeing as how the other faction of his race hates him as much, if not more, than his own. The last few watchers had made that plain enough, going so far as to call him filth and monster not only in their reports, but to his face as well. Harsh words had stopped meaning anything to him a long time ago, but for some reason those two always seem to prick a little deeper than the others, not that it ever shows on the outside. Instead he holds the pain inside, carrying it alone as he always has and always will. It’s simply the way it has to be because any display of weakness only encourages those who hate him or seek to manipulate him–another lesson learned the hard way long ago. His isolation is in part the preference of others and in part his own choice, he remains alone because it’s easier and because no one gets hurt. When there’s no friendships, attachments, or encumbrances, there’s no pain. Other than the need he has for others when the loneliness becomes unbearable, alone is where he stays and where he’ll continue to stay. Lan will figure it out eventually, just as all the others before him.
As if summoned by Sashi’s thoughts, his senses catch the Bright’s magical signature as it moves from Lan’s apartment on the opposite end of the hall and steadily begins to shift in his direction. The Warden follows it as it passes Zeph’s and Innic’s apartments, rapidly closing in on his own and a quiet sigh slips through full lips. He thought he’d been clear with the other man. They are not friends and they will never be friends. Yes, they share the same experience of isolation from their own factions, but that’s not enough to make him forget his previous harsh lessons. You have to be willing to open up to be a friend, and that’s something he won’t do, the price of the pain is too high, and he has enough scars, both physical and emotional, to prove it.
When the quiet telepathic words come through with the offer of a meal, Sashi frowns. [You’re mistaken,] he corrects the younger Selestarri, [there is no debt between us, and therefore nothing to repay…]
Lan: he smiles when Sashi rejects him, not at all surprised that his offer is being turned down. He’s known from the way the other man has avoided him since their last shared meal that he wasn’t going to find the Dark with an open door or have his presence welcomed, but after the talk with the older Selestarri’s brother and after having the few doubts he’d felt dispelled along with it, he had to come anyway and try yet again to extend a friendly hand.
And so here he is, standing outside of the Warden’s apartment in a dark hallway, most likely appearing to be a little more unusual than normal as he stares with a smile at the door, having a conversation no one but them would even know is happening for all who might happen to pass by.
[Ah, you’ll have to forgive me for being contrary then…] the lanky Bright answers and despite the fact that Sashi has clearly meant to turn him away, his bare feet remain planted firmly in their place. [But I recall differently. Not only did I impose upon you and your brother after opening ceremonies the week or so before last, you left our last meal rather abruptly and in turn, also left me with your leftovers. You had paid and while I attempted to leave your portion of the food behind, the hostess refused to allow me an exit without it in hand…] his smile warms even though there is no one to see it and his tone takes on a small and minute amount of amusement as he presses his argument further, [and so even if not meant on your part, it was given… leaving me, you see, with an unintentional debt that I am here to kindly return.]
Sashi: A quiet sigh escapes the Warden and he leans back in his chair, gold-tinted eyes briefly closing. When is Lan going to get it? Despite the Bright’s promise that eating the meal together is not an act of friendship, he knows very well what the other man is trying to do. He’s aware that Lan doesn’t know the reasons behind his strict ban on attachments and how he’s using it to keep them both from getting hurt. Contrary to his reputation, he doesn’t enjoy hurting those who aren’t deserving and while the Bright has tested his patience with his repeated “coincidental” meetings, he doesn’t wish him ill. The cold detachment he carries around him at all times will eventually push Lan away, it just seems to be taking longer than usual for the younger Selestarri to catch on.
Slowly rising to his feet, Sashi steps away from his desk, leaving the golden weave of magic hanging in the air as he moves toward the door. Tattooed hands absently smooth the slim fitting black pants and loose black and white tee that drape his slender frame, and fingers push a few unruly strands of pitch black into the messy ponytail that gathers long black hair at the back of his head, his long bangs held away from his face with a scattering of bobby pins. The door is unlocked with the flick of a rune and it swings open even as the Warden approaches.
Lan stands patiently in the hall, dressed in loose, casual clothing that only accentuates the slenderness of his build in a way Sashi can’t quite help but notice. As always, the Bright greets him with a smile despite the frown he gets in return. Long arms cross over the telepath’s chest as he comes to a stop just on the other side of the threshold. [Consider your debts absolved. You don’t owe me anything and if you wish to make it up to Zeph, then go see him…]
Lan: he’s only mildly surprised when the door swings open and Sashi steps partially past the threshold into the hall, happy to have coaxed the Warden out far enough to speak to him face to face after having endured a full day of avoidances. Though, he’s not at all surprised to find a deep frown returned for his smile, something of which that appears to have become a standard between them since their actual conversing began. He doesn’t mind it however and continues to offer the smile freely, and plans to do so no matter what is directed his way.
Eyes the color of a warm summer day pulls momentarily away from the Dark, drawn by curiosity to sweep over the visible parts of other man’s apartment that can be seen from where he stands. Somehow the darkened living area lit by the flickering of the fire within the fireplace and the ceiling high bookcase behind a large desk with the glowing golden lines of a spell hanging in the air above it suits to the one he beholds now perfectly, and even though it’s just a glimpse into the life Sashi lives beyond the formality of the school, it’s a glimpse he’s rather delighted to see.
[An absolution of a debt can only be attained when one offers something in return for the something given.] Lan presses gently as he meets the older Selestarri’s gaze once again and despite his casual demeanor, the faintest traces of a sly amusement flash through his summer yellow eyes. [This is no different for my faction than I’ve heard it is for yours so while I appreciate the sentiment and the offer to free me of my obligations, I will continue to be indebted to you until I am able to repay.] This is not entirely true and he knows it, but it’s truth enough for his words not to be a complete lie.
[Now while I do not mind owing debts to my friends and while I could normally overlook a small thing as the taking of leftovers that were not mine,] the lanky Bright continues with a slight nonchalant shrug given to the shorter man. [As you have pointed out we are not friends and so a debt between us, this remains. If you are uncomfortable with the idea of dining in my apartment…] the younger Selestarri’s gaze slides briefly away from storm cloud colored eyes and over to the apartment that lies beyond before moving back again, his smile warming just a little more. [I do not at all mind bringing the meal to you…]
Sashi: This conversation is not going the way it should be. His stonewalling of Lan’s invitation coupled with his intentional avoidance of the other man throughout the day should be a hint clear as day that he doesn’t want to see him. But no matter what he says, it only seems to further encourage the Bright and he’s not quite sure what to do about it. The white-haired Selestarri is being kind, something he so rarely receives from any of their people, and out of all the Bright watchers the Eyrie has sent, he’s the first that doesn’t look at him with scorn or disgust. Those two things are what keep the telepath from simply stepping back into his apartment and slamming the door.
Storm gray eyes lift to hold summer yellow, and he can all but feel the warmth of the smile directed at him. [Look,] Sashi begins, his tone cold and flat, [there is no debt between us, nothing to repay, no obligations that need to be met.] He really can’t make this any clearer for the other man. [I told you before that I don’t have friends, and that’s my choice because I can’t–] the Dark snaps the sentence off, the words hitting a little too close to sensitive spots. He’s not interested in taking on that pain again, the scars are too deep and he’s not willing to risk reopening them when things will only fall apart and he’ll get hurt all over again. He’s not made to have friendships or to keep others close, with the exception of his brother, and that fact has been beaten into him since he was small. He doesn’t expect Lan to understand, and he refuses to give the other man any kind of false hope.
[Because I can’t,] the Warden finishes, his voice softening just slightly. [I’m sure the meal is delicious, but… don’t waste your time on me, Lan. You want a friend? I’m sure there are others who would be more than willing and are more deserving.] Turning away, he steps back into his apartment, his hand settling on the door to push it closed, and Sashi’s storm-tinted gaze meets the Bright’s summer yellow once again. [I’m really not worth the trouble…]
Lan: It’s the momentary break in the older Selestarri’s demeanor that dims his smile just a little and inside, an old familiar feeling threatens to spring up to the surface. He locks it down with well practiced skill, the warmth returning to his expression about a hundred fold. Despite the cold exterior, the rejecting words and the blank flat stare directed at him, he knows something different is hidden somewhere deep inside of the one before him. He knows it because he’s seen this facade in the mirror too many times and heard it in his own voice once too often. He knows it because even though the Warden may disagree, the isolation that Sashi has felt has been a pain he also knows all too well.
[I’ve never said you were any trouble and I have yet to consider the time I’ve spent wasted…] Lan’s quiet words hold the Warden in place, gray eyes still locked with his yellow [nor did I say that I expected you to return the hand of friendship that I’ve extended.] He told the other man when he’d been asked that he hoped they might become friends, and he meant it, but he never told him that he expected it to be returned and that much is still true even now. [But it is here Sashi… my hand, and it will remain extended no matter what you do or say.] Since the first day he arrived for this assignment, he’s been pulled to this man and while he may have been unsure as to the reasons at first, it’s becoming clearer with every new day. He may be pushed away, he may be rejected, but he’s not one to simply give in when it comes to matters such as this and he hopes that in time, the telepath will come to understand at least that much about him in return.
[And,] the tall Bright continues, a small trace of playfulness springing up in his casual tone. [If I may be so bold, the meal -is- delicious. It’s also far too much for me to eat alone as I cooked it specifically in anticipation of repaying my debt, it would be almost a crime to waste it. Join me, please, not as friends but perhaps as colleagues…] his smile widens, [otherwise we’ll have looked rather suspicious to the other tenants here, the two of us staring at one another face to face without a word being said.] he chuckles.
Sashi: As if on cue, one of their neighbors turns the corner into the hallway, a teacher of economics, and she smiles at them both, although it is only returned by Lan. The short woman stops to chat and the Bright responds, but the telepath immediately tunes them out, his thoughts shifting to the quiet words the other man had just spoken. There wasn’t even the faintest hint of a lie in what Lan said, he was speaking what he considers the absolute truth and it leaves the Warden unsettled. No one has ever truthfully said that spending time with him wasn’t a waste except Zeph, and even then it took a very long time for him to believe his brother. Nor has anyone told him that they didn’t expect him to become their friend once the offer was made, but that the offer would remain no matter what. How does he respond to that? Lan has essentially stated a commitment to a relationship they don’t, and won’t ever have. Why? What does the Bright want from him? He’s said time and again that they won’t be friends, and only moments ago told him it wasn’t worth the attempts the younger Selestarri has been making over the last few days. Yet none of it seems to be sinking in with Lan and at the moment, he doesn’t know what to do…
“Enjoy your dinner,” the economics teacher chirps at him before continuing down the hall, dragging Sashi forcibly from his confused thoughts. Stormy gray eyes unleash a glare at Lan, who lightly shrugs and continues to smile.
Tattooed fingers tighten their grip on the door and the glare intensifies for a long minute before Sashi turns partially back to the apartment, dismissing the weave still hanging in the air near his desk with a sharp flick of his wrist. [She’s the biggest gossip in our department.] Another flick banks the fire, dimming the light in the apartment considerably. [By tomorrow’s first class, everyone will know we ate dinner together.] A heavy, oversized knit cardigan appears in the Warden’s hand as he continues, [But it might get that other teacher off my case for a while, and I could use a break from her excessive attention.] Someone else who apparently doesn’t understand the meaning of the word “no.” Sliding the garment over slim shoulders, the older Selestarri slips past Lan and shuts the door behind him. [So you’re getting your dinner, as colleagues, if you care to lead the way…]
Lan: he really can’t help the amusement that flashes through yellow eyes in response to the obvious irritation in the Warden’s tone when he finally reluctantly accepts his invitation, his smile brightening to counter a deadly glare given to him that could easily burn an entire city to ashes with its intensity alone. It was a hard won victory, getting Sashi to join him for dinner, and at the end he had to be just a little more underhanded about it than he’d have liked, but it’s a victory that will be well worth it in the end.
[Of course.] The lanky Bright replies with the smallest of nods that shift shaggy strands in the slightest and without so much as a pause to his movements, he turns and begins leading the way as he’s been asked. The entire walk down the darkened hallway is taken in silence, though he can practically feel the heat of the continued glare being given to him right through the back of his head and despite himself, he finds a certain amusement in that as well.
In little time and after one single turn into an isolated portion of dimly lit hall, the two men arrive at his apartment and pulling his hand from his pocket, he reaches out and lightly twists the knob, the weave of the constant wards that surround his home shifting along with his presence to allow a window for the two men to enter. The door swings open on silent hinges, the enticing smells of well cooked food wafting immediately out but he remains in place, his freed hand held out in courtesy as he smiles again at the older man.
[After you.] He states simply and for a moment, the telepath remains still, continuing to hold the warmth of his expression with a cold and irritated glare of his own. Lan doesn’t move however, nor does his arm drop, the white haired figure standing perfectly still in his place as if he were a statue, waiting for his guest to take the liberty that he offers him freely. Only a few moments pass before Sashi finally concedes, and pulling his eyes away, he turns and steps inside the spacious living area that lies beyond. His footfalls come to a halt just a few steps from the threshold, his gray gaze sweeping over the other man’s apartment for the very first time.
Dropping his arm back down as his guest continues to examine his surroundings, the younger Selestarri steps in after him and without turning, he reaches back and carefully closes the door. [Forgive the wards…] Lan says quietly as he moves towards the kitchen and reaching up into a cabinet, he slips the door open and pulls a shiny pristine metal kettle free. Turning around to the sink, he flicks the sleek handle on, the stream of water pouring quickly into the open spout. [Since you know about the ‘foreign magic’, you understand why they are necessary.] Pulling his eyes away from the apartment, the Dark’s gaze slides sideways to meet his own. [A little sloppy compared to what you are able to do, I’m sure, but it works well enough for me.] Lan smiles as he shuts the water off and pulling the kettle upwards, he steps to the side and sets it down on a waiting metal trivet resting on a well stocked, but pristine countertop, forgoing the stove altogether. Turning away again, he opens another cupboard and as he does so, the kettle behind him begins steaming, the water inside brought quickly to a rolling boil with only the smallest amount of thought lent.
[Feel free to sit…] the white haired man continues as he closes the cupboard with two mugs and a small sampling of different teas held in his hands. Stepping from the kitchen, he nods towards the dining table set at the kitchen’s side with another warm smile easily given. Sashi doesn’t move however, and with his feet firmly planted in place, his gray gaze shifts to the dining area to look it over instead. The raised light wood surface the other man moves towards is set beautifully, two place settings sitting across the short squared distance of simple white dinner plates resting on striped mats and topped by salad plates of olive green. At their sides is an array of matching silverware atop neatly folded yellow cloth napkins nearly identical in shade to the Bright’s summer colored eyes. Wine glasses sit near, as well as water and between them is an opened bottle of rich fragrant liquid, the deep amber glass resting in a white china well filled with large chunks of ice.
[Tea first, if you’d like it…] he says as he stops near the table’s side, and as he leans over to set the mugs down and arrange the packets of tea, the wide neck of his light sweater slips slightly from a toned shoulder in a way that draws the Dark’s eyes briefly to his lanky frame. [Or wine, whichever one you’d prefer…] he grins as he glances up through snowy strands just in time for a storm cloud colored gaze to slip away and meet him.
Sashi: Just beyond the doorway, the Warden stands completely still as he takes in the apartment that spreads out before him. The layout of all the apartments in the building is the same, but the variations each tenant makes is their own choice. Lan’s apartment follows a clean, modern decor style mixed with cozy hints in the floor cushions that sit in front of the fireplace. Books and paperwork are scattered throughout the main living area, stacked on the side and coffee tables and all around the area in front of the hearth. The mantle holds the room’s only real sense of decor, much as it does in his own apartment, and is scattered with the fire opals that are unique to the Eyrie and several other stones he can’t identify from this far away. Overarching all, however, are the wards Lan has put into place to protect not only the structure of the apartment, but every piece of furniture, every scrap of rug, and every item no matter how small. Also interesting is the coding of the wards–only one for general locking and protection, and the rest of the network keyed specifically to prevent and dampen solely against fire. Given what he’s sensed within the other man, he supposes multiple wards are necessary.
The shift in that same foreign fire drags his attention to the Bright as the kettle begins to steam, and he watches as Lan deftly moves about the kitchen as if he’s been doing so all his life. The magic, he has to admit, intrigues him. Pure elemental fire untainted by chemicals is a rare thing, and this fire is as pristine as if drawn from the core of the Earth itself. It’s also old, very old, and strong. The white-haired Selestarri accesses it without any visual movement or spoken word, as if he simply wills the fire and heat to act and it does so with thought alone. However Lan managed to get entangled with it, he has no idea, nor does he care, but it is interesting and something he’d like to study a little closer.
The invitation to sit pulls Sashi’s attention yet again, steering it toward the area of the great room clearly designated for dining, looking over the carefully laid-out table as the younger man settles the mugs and tea selection. The placements are simple, yet elegant, and much more than the very basic dishware he keeps in his own apartment. The color of the plates and napkins mirror the overall color scheme of the entire room, a mix of olive greens, whites, and yellows. The glassware and the flatware attempt to outdo one another with their sparkle, even from across the room. As it was in the kitchen, Lan seems to know his way easily around the table, quickly arranging the other pieces of each setting to make room for the mugs and laying out the teas so that each blend is visible for the Dark to choose.
But his vision rests for only a moment on the teas before gray eyes slide to the glimpse of a pale shoulder when the Bright’s loose sweater slips to the side, and he tracks over the slim muscle and the ridge of exposed collarbone to the long line of the other man’s neck. Despite all the nonsense about friendship and these recurring “debts” that seem to be in constant need of repayment, he will admit that Lan is attractive. The white hair and yellow eyes that seem to bother the other side of their race enough to push Lan into some form of isolation don’t faze him in the slightest… Slowly realizing where his thoughts are going, Sashi snaps his gaze upward to meet the Bright’s through shaggy white strands of hair and he finally takes a hesitant step toward the table.
[Tea first,] he agrees quietly, crossing the room to stand beside the table. Skimming the choices of fine, imported teas, he selects the genmaicha, which is one of his favorites, and steps aside as Lan prepares the cup. His tattooed hands wrap around the steaming mug when the Bright presents it to him and he slowly sinks into the chair as the other man disappears into the kitchen once again. The renewed study of the tableware is interrupted by his host’s return, bearing a beautiful wooden salad bowl from which he portions out a finely prepared mixture of greens, crumbled goat cheese, and strawberries, lightly dressed with a vinaigrette. A small basket of warmed, yeasty homemade rolls also appears with a stone crock containing fresh whipped butter.
Lan finally slides into the seat across, a smile spread across his face as he watches Sashi take his first bite of the salad. The pairing of rich goat cheese with sweet strawberries and the flavor of the vinaigrette is delicious and he gives the Bright a small nod to show that he likes it. The warmth of the smile intensifies and the younger Selestarri begins to eat as well, a silence falling between them as each man savors the salad course.
Setting his fork on the plate once he’s completed the salad, Sashi selects a roll from the basket, easily pulling a chunk away and neatly buttering it with the knife resting beside the crock. [Where did you learn to cook?] he asks quietly, breaking the easy and peaceful silence between them. [Do they teach this in addition to weaponry and magic on the Eyrie?]
Lan: There’s a sense of comfort in the silence he and the other man share, it’s something he notes, that has been there between them from the very first day they met. Whether Sashi would agree to that however, he isn’t entirely sure, but for his part at the very least, he’s enjoyed simply being in the other man’s presence even before he began acknowledging him back. When it’s finally broken by the telepath’s attempts at a kind of small talk, he is only momentarily taken off guard, finding himself both amused by the subject and happy that he’s being spoken to at all.
[Ah, well…] Lan smiles as he sets his fork down, yellow eyes glancing up. [They hardly taught me much of anything beyond the necessary if I’m to be perfectly honest.] While his words are light and as casual as his smile as he slowly pushes his lanky frame back in his chair and rises to his feet, there’s a faint hinting of a distant sadness swimming deep beneath the layers of his tone. [Cooking was something I learned on my own…] Gray eyes follow the tall Bright as he draws near, sliding upwards and his movements stilling as a long arm reaches over to lift his used plate away from the clean before stacking it atop the one he already holds. He smiles down before pulling away a moment later and gathering the half empty salad bowl, he moves back into the kitchen, speaking as he goes.
[I wasn’t allowed to eat with the others when I was young and as I began growing older, I found myself growing tired of the… shall we say, repetitive cuisine I was often given so I decided to find my own ways to prepare my food in order to alleviate the boredom of eating the same things over and over.] The isolation he endured after the accident and after his time of healing was absolute for a very good portion of his youth. He wasn’t allowed to eat with the other children, or speak to them, or to be seen near them or be seen himself, and the adults couldn’t even be bothered to extend him the same courtesies he’d had before it all happened. It was as if that with attaining the fire magic and with the change of color to his hair and his eyes he became a living ghost, no longer considered to hold the same worth he’d had when he’d been born.
[It was calming actually… perfecting recipes, creating new ones, etcetera and while it may have started as a necessity, somewhere along the way it became a hobby, as I had little else to do beyond my regular magic and weaponry studies but cook.] Chuckling, the lanky Selestarri sets the plates and bowl down on the counter before turning towards the oven and slipping it open, he leans slightly over to reach in. Straightening, he slides a long leg upward and using a bare foot, he pushes the door closed again, two deep welled soup carafes now held in hand. As he returns to the dining area, he sets each down in their settings, Sashi’s gaze pulling from him and down to the contents before him -his bowl filled to the brim with a rich smelling soup of seasoned broth mixed with caramelized onions and topped with a perfectly even cut slice of obviously homemade rustic bread. Lan returns to the kitchen just long enough to pull a small covered bowl from the counter’s surface before gathering the kettle up from the trivet as well.
[I am happy to know that what I make is enjoyable,] the white haired man smiles as he steps in close again, leaning over just far enough to refill the Dark’s cup and the water heating instantly before he’s even pulled fully away. The kettle is set down nearby, replaced by the covered bowl and removing the lid, he reveals the finely shredded mixture of cheeses that sit within. [It’s a little difficult to judge one’s own creations at times and I’ve had no one but myself to taste them until now.] Spooning a generous helping of the cheese over the Warden’s bread, he then moves away to repeat the action with his own. [Though whether cooking is a skill normally taught on the Eyrie, I wouldn’t actually know as I wasn’t allowed to study with the others either. It may very well be on the curriculum.] He smirks a little to himself as he sets the bowl down, and seating himself right after, the two mounds that top the bread begin melting until both bowls are covered with a thick lid of bubbling white cheese.
[I’ve gathered from the meals I’ve observed you partaking in, that cooking wasn’t a skill you were taught either?] Lan smiles warmly, waiting once again for the other man to have the first taste. [Or do you actually enjoy the processed entrees our human companions have created for themselves?]