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Angel Hunt and Streifen Roleplay
+ Alternate Universe 01 +
C H A P T E R O N E : P A R T 07
None of that protects him from the cold and Sashi can feel it seeping deep into his bones in spite of the heavy coat, scarf, and gloves that he wears. A shiver visibly moves through his lean frame and for about the hundredth time in the last minute or so he can feel midnight eyes glancing at him with concern. What he’d told Lan this morning about Zephyr’s protectiveness was true. The younger Dark has always done what he could even when told specifically not to get involved and the telepath knows that their relation by blood means a lot to the blonde even though kin bonds are not always as recognized amongst Selestarri as they are amongst humans. His brother is the only one who has ever cared about him and the only one who knows what kind of magic he carries and doesn’t look at him as though he’s a monster. It means more than he’s likely to ever tell the other teenager, but somehow he’s pretty sure that Zeph already knows it.
The waiting driver opens the door to the town car and as the two first years duck inside, storm tinted eyes catch sight of a dark-haired teen moving through the crowd of other students, his height instantly giving him away. Sashi’s gaze lingers for a moment on the person who had cared for him so gently the night before and he’s unable to pull away before chocolate glances in his direction and he’s given a soft smile from across the drive…
Lan: dressed casually and wearing a charcoal wool jacket that’s mainly for show, the tall Bright makes his way through the lingering crowd of students towards the town car waiting for him, stopping here and there when a fellow teen grabs his attentions or pulls him into idle conversation along the way. After a few minutes longer than it should have taken him, he’s nearly to his assigned vehicle when the feeling of being watched crawls across his awareness. He stops just a few steps from a door held open for him and shifts his gaze over to the source, finding the raven haired Dark standing a few cars away with his thundercloud colored eyes riveted.
A soft smile forms on full lips, one that’s come so effortlessly each and every time their eyes have met. The pair stands still, one gaze locked with the other across the distance that separates them for a few long moments as the area slowly begins to clear out, the students that bustle around them dwindling as cars and limousines fill and begin to pull out. His name is called by someone off to his right and before he pulls away to answer, he offers the other Selestarri the slightest of nods. But just as Sashi is coming back to himself when his masked gaze slips free, the quietest of words reach out towards the older teen and pull his attentions right back to the him, even as he’s ducking inside of his waiting car.
[Don’t forget your promise…] is all that’s said as the door is shut behind him, the words in no way demanding and each soft syllable only meant as a reminder to the conversation that had taken place earlier in the morning inside of his room. The engine is started soon after he disappears from view, the lanky teen obstructed behind tinted windows as the town car is pulling out and heading down the path towards the gated barrier beyond.
Zephyr: The streets are crowded with pedestrians in both traditional and contemporary clothing, the local festival in full swing as the two teenagers make their way down the sidewalk. Most of their classmates had flocked to the shops and cafes closest to the place that the town cars had let them off, but in the interest of avoiding anyone that they know, the first years had instead set their sights on the restaurant that Jun had said was his favorite. Sashi had elected to remain behind, his leg too injured to allow him to travel far and the groups of curious students bombarding him with question after question and clustering around wasn’t what they’d wanted to deal with either. The car ride over had already been a little awkward with his brother’s foul mood and any further time spent together had not seemed appealing to any of them. Promising to check in telepathically every once and a while, they’d left the older Selestarri to purchase his coffee.
Slight movement to the left draws midnight eyes as Jun lowers the hood and loosens his scarf, spiky white hair falling across a pink gaze still obscured by the tint of dark sunglasses. The blonde has to resist the urge to reach out and sweep the strands away, the very presence of the desire bringing the confusion he’d felt earlier in his classmate’s dorm surging back to the forefront of his thoughts. At home he never thinks twice about something small like that, especially with his friends, but here he’s learning that it’s all different and he needs to be careful with the casual gestures. Humans take them so literally, so seriously, and he doesn’t want to make his new friend uncomfortable if he can help it. Still… the urge remains and he finds that slipping his gaze away is also proving near impossible. He just likes looking at Jun for some reason. The other teen is graceful and fluid, his skin flawless and beautiful, his delicate features perfectly highlighted by high cheekbones and those eyes… How easily he could kind of just float off while looking into the depths.
Turning a corner into a narrow connecting street, the tall Selestarri only barely avoids colliding with a potted plant that hangs from a low shop awning. God, he needs to get his focus back and stop looking or whatever before Jun really thinks he’s crazy. “So,” Zeph starts, trying to get his thoughts and eyes back to where they belong while flashing his friend a smile. “This place we’re going for food, what does it specialize in again?”
Jun: They walk in silence through the bustling streets towards the restaurant he’d told the taller teenager about, Jun doing what he can ignore the fact that he can feel Zephyr’s eyes on him again. His pink gaze is pulled to his side anyway the moment the blonde’s near collision with a hanging potted plant sends him swerving, both teenager’s glancing back as if the plant had suddenly appeared to ambush them from nowhere before a smile is offered in response. It’s a smile that sends this trace amount of warmth streaking through his body, one that pulls a soft frown to his lips the instant he realizes it’s happening. He has a lot of friends, and a lot of them smile at him all the time but not one of those smiles cause any type of reaction in him whatsoever save maybe Taz’s smile alone… so what the hell does it mean to have that weird warmth shift inside of him when Zephyr smiles at him too? Why does he feel so off every time he finds blue eyes looking at him or each time he’s flashed that easy grin?
Unable to really figure it out and not wanting to try much either, the white haired teen’s hand slides away from his pocket and up to scratch absently at the back of his head. “Um, mostly kimchee and bulgogi-” he answers as they round a corner to find a line of new shops unfolding into view. “-BBQ” he continues when a faint look of questioning shifts through the blonde’s features. “They have a lot of other stuff too but I like all the varieties of kimchee mostly since you can’t really get any of it in school.”
Pulling his hand away from his hair, Jun points to a small restaurant resting in-between a flower shop and an electronics store, heading towards it soon after. Tapered fingers slide out to wrap around the glass door handle and he takes a step back while pulling the swinging door along with him, nodding shyly when Zephyr thanks him and steps through. It only takes a minute for the pair to be seated by a young, almond eyed waitress, the menus laid out before them before she hustles off to fetch them their drinks. Jun doesn’t bother to even look at his own menu as he knows it already by heart, simply reaching up instead while midnight eyes skim the contents to pull the sunglasses free of his face. Loosening the scarf that’s wrapped at his neck and pulling it free, he turns to drape it over the back of his wooden chair while his movements pull deep blue eyes up to watch. The fact that the blonde’s eyes are again riveted on him goes un-noticed this time around as he busies himself with pulling his hoodie off and getting comfortable on his side of the table.
The waitress returns with two sets of drinks to shift both teenager’s attentions to her as she sets cups of cornflower tea and ice cold water down, Jun thanking her quietly before she nods and moves away again. “So…” the white haired first starts as he reaches out for the stoneware cup at his front towards him, “Um…I was wondering… your brother, are you guys… like step?” pulling his tea to his lips, his voice drops a little as he realizes his question might seem a little too personal. “I’m not trying to pry and you don’t have to answer or anything if you don’t want… it’s just you two… kinda don’t match.”
Zephyr: Deep blue eyes lift of their own free will as the other teenager pulls off layers of clothing and neatly arranges them on the back of the chair. There’s that gracefulness he’s come to associate so closely with Jun, a fluid movement that seems so natural for the first year that it’s almost preternatural. So rare in what the Dark has seen and studied in humans and so lacking in the clumsiness that dominates just about every aspect of the race. Apparently it’s not just the pink eyes and white hair that set his new friend apart and make him so interesting... A slight frown slips over the blonde’s mouth at a flash of memory containing shrouded photographs, but he doesn’t have long to think on it before the waitress interrupts with cups of tea and water.
Ceramic scrapes across the tabletop as Jun pulls his cup of tea close, the slightly hesitant words bringing an almost instant smile to the Selestarri. It’s really kinda cute when he says things like that, the words seem to get out before the white-haired teen can even decide if his question is too familiar or not and the he has to backtrack to smooth over any feathers he may have ruffled. The Dark can’t help but smile at it since he’s never met anyone like his classmate before. His race doesn’t have these levels of formality between people of the same age and he normally wouldn’t have thought twice about asking anything at all. Even though he’s only been on this assignment for a few days, it’s shaping up to be a serious lesson on some of the intricacies that humans create around themselves…
Long fingers wrap around the stoneware cup as midnight eyes rise to meet pink, his classmate’s gaze staying locked for only a brief moment before slipping down to the steaming liquid. “You’re not prying, Jun,” Zephyr says softly. “I can’t really think of any question that you could ask that I wouldn’t want to answer. So don’t worry, okay?” The cornflower tea warms chilled insides as he takes a sip, one hand surrendering the heat as it slides up to push white gold strands from his line of vision. He hasn’t known the other teenager long, but somehow he doubts that his reassurance will do little to make Jun feel comfortable about asking anything. And again, he finds that kinda cute for some reason.
“Sashi and I are half brothers,” the Dark continues after a moment. “We have the same father.” All of which is the absolute truth, with no embellishments or cover stories needed. “We don’t… match, because we take after our mothers.” Okay, so that’s not exactly true, but it’s not like he can say that the Selestarri don’t pass down physical traits through genetics and the fact that he and his brother look absolutely nothing alike is very normal for their race. Magic is the only thing that can be inherited and even that is quite tricky to plan for since magic plays by its own rules during the creation process. So it’s a necessary white lie to keep from completely blowing their covers and having to explain how he’s from something that doesn’t exist to humans. Just a long lie in the line of millions that he’s told to people over the years, but for whatever reason, this one leaves a little bit of a bad taste in his mouth. Weird.
A second sip of the tea goes down easily before Zeph shrugs. “We have more personality traits in common than physical ones, so I guess if someone knew us both well enough it would be easier to spot.” The blonde flashes a soft smile at Jun. “But don’t worry; you’re not the first person to wonder how Sashi and I could possibly be related.” Dark blue eyes glance toward the kitchen just as the waitress steps out with a large tray for the table a few rows over from where the two teens sit. “Sorry about his mood in the car, by the way. It really wasn’t directed at you.” The slender woman passes out the dishes of food and then turns to head in their direction, an order pad slipping from her pocket as she walks. “My brother had a rough time growing up and it’s made him kinda… closed off… in a lot of ways…” Zephyr’s words trail as the waitress arrives and he drops his glance to skim over the menu, suddenly realizing that he has no idea what he wants…
Jun: it’s really kind of strange to have someone tell him so much about themselves when they’ve only just met. Personal information isn’t something you share with others until maybe you’ve known them for a while and even then, what can be said and what has to be withheld are two very different things. And while he did ask before he even had a chance to reign his curiosity back in, it’s a little weird to have Zephyr speak so freely about himself as if it’s all no big deal. He’s not sure exactly what to make of it in truth because he’s never had anyone talk to him like they were close and personal enough to divulge the things he currently is. Though… he has to say that not only does he find it a little refreshing because it makes him feel oddly connected on some level with the other teenager in ways he doesn’t feel even remotely close to with all his other friends, he also feels kinda happy that the blonde trusts him with the information at all.
The white haired teenager nods and shrugs when Sashi’s disposition is mentioned, a quiet reassurance given that he didn’t either take it personally or find it to be a big deal. Some people are just like that which is something he should know since his own shyness and inability to smile often gets misunderstood when it comes to others. It’s also earned him a small reputation of being a bit standoffish and to some, stuck up with a lot of their fellow students in that school, so he didn’t really care much during the car ride when it came to Zephyr’s brother because he figured the fourth year probably just had other stuff on his mind or most likely felt a little put out by escorting them to begin with.
The waitress soon interrupts his train of thoughts when she returns and he glances up at the blonde to find him skimming the menu and looking a little confused. “Um…” Jun starts, grabbing the Dark’s attentions quickly again. “I can… I mean, if you trust me…?” deep midnight eyes stare into pink for a few moments, long enough to make the white haired teen shift a little nervously in his seat before a grin forms on full lips and he nods his okay. “Bulgogi, table top for us both” he says quietly to the woman before he reaches down to slide his menu free and hand it to her so he can turn back to his tea. Zephyr’s menu is handed over as well and she turns towards the kitchen right after to leave them both, once again alone. “It’s basic barbecue.” Jun explains as tapered fingers slowly pull the stoneware to his mouth, his eyes staring into the cup itself and not at the one across the table from him. “They bring it out raw though and then we just cook it ourselves. There’s going to be a lot of kimchee too and it varies depending on the day, but it’s almost always really good.” With his lips still on the edge of his cup, Jun finally glances up. “I hope you’ll like it… I mean… it’s got to be kinda different than food from all the other places you’ve been right?”
Zephyr: The Dark leans back in his chair as the waitress departs with their order, a smile easily spreading across his mouth at the other teenager’s slight pauses. It’s like there’s this weird mix in Jun of shy and yet forward, formal and yet informal, curious, and yet reserved, kind of like he wants to ask questions and say things, but is held back by what’s deemed ‘proper.’ Weird, but certainly cute in a way that he finds so unlike anyone he’s met before. Granted, his interaction with humans have been kind of limited to immersion and training sessions which were heavily supervised by instructors, but those he’d come across before now had been… kinda boring and one-sided. His white-haired classmate is a definite change and the Selestarri finds his attention held in a way that very few others have managed to accomplish.
Reaching out, Zeph wraps one hand around the stoneware cup and lifts it to his lips, the hot tea marking a trail of warmth as he swallows. Dawn-tinged eyes have finally made their way back to midnight and it takes a long moment for the Dark to resurface from the deep pools and speak. “The bulgogi… sounds really good,” he says quietly, the words coming a little slow as he tries to shake himself out of their locked gaze. “It’ll definitely be different than the things I’ve had before, but I’m sure I’ll like it, so no worries. I’ve eaten all kinds of food from everywhere in the world, so this will be cool to try, too.” Despite his reassurances, the shorter teen still looks a little concerned and even a smile flashed in his direction doesn’t lift the look. “Seriously, I once accidentally ordered cow brains in France before I was fluent enough in the language to realize what I’d done, so nothing can be worse than that. Trust me.”
Unfortunately the story is true and the memory still makes him feel a bit queasy, but maybe it’s that sincerity that gradually pulls the worry from the face of his friend. Suddenly relieved for reasons he can’t even begin to understand, Zephyr takes another sip of the tea and pushes strands of white-gold from his line of sight. “This might sound stupid, but… I’m really glad that we’re friends. It feels like I’ve spent the last two days talking to every kid at our school, but you’re kinda the only one that I’m actually interested in having a conversation with.” An almost immediate shyness and unease slips over Jun like a shadow falling across the sun and the blonde silently curses himself for being stupid and forward again. Way to make things feel comfortable, there. God, he just doesn’t understand these lines of formality and what’s okay to say and what will create the reaction he just saw. He wants his classmate to be himself and at ease when they’re hanging out and yet this same thing seems to happen each time they talk. But... he just doesn’t know any other way to be…
“So,” Zeph says quietly, trying desperately to think of something to say that won’t completely ruin this whole thing anymore than he probably already has. “Do you like to cook? I mean, since you said this was something we make on the tabletop and all…”
Jun: he flusters almost immediately when the blonde tells him that he’s glad they’ve become friends, a reaction that’s completely beyond him in more ways than one. He has a lot of friends at school, Zephyr’s no different in that aspect since despite his standoffish nature and inability to talk much or even smile, the other kids still seem bent on hanging out or pulling him into whatever group they have going on. He doesn’t really understand it in truth and is still sort of convinced most of them only like him because he’s such good friends with Taz, who’s the outgoing, joking fun one of them both. But unlike the rest of his school friends, Zeph somehow makes him feel so… different.
Different in the way that his best friend makes him feel… a sort of off, uncomfortable, embarrassment whenever he’s looked at or something personal is said. He doesn’t get the feelings though, not with Zeph and not with Taz and he’s not sure he ever will. But even if he can’t understand what causes it, he’s painfully aware that it happens and he really kind of wishes he could make it stop because he’s sure he’s coming across a little lame. Especially since what he’d really like to say is that he’s glad too, that they are becoming friends without faltering in anyway like he’s sure will happen if he actually opens his mouth to try.
The white haired teen shifts a little uncomfortably for a moment, searching for a way to get the words to come out without making a total ass of himself until the subject is quickly changed, causing him to breathe a small sigh of relief for being spared further embarrassment for a failed attempt. Reaching out, tapered fingers wrap around the stoneware cup to pull it towards him as he shakes his head just a little. “Not… not really. I kind of suck at cooking actually.” ‘kind of suck’ being the understatement of the year. He’s always sort of chalked it up to being well off, but he and kitchens don’t mesh too well together and never have. “I dunno, I can handle it here because it’s basically cooking for dummies, but um… well my dad… he was always on about it being stuff girls did and I just never got the hang of it cause of that I think…” stopping his words, Jun frowns just a little while quickly glancing up. “Which… probably makes me sound really spoiled and pampered but it’s… well it’s not really that at all. My dad was just really traditional like that.” And while that’s true and all, he’s kind of surprised to find himself talking about his father to someone he’d only really just met. He hasn’t spoken about his parents to anyone his age but Taz and the fact that he did to Zephyr kind of surprises him. “What about you?”
Zephyr: The blonde eases back a little as the other first year trails on and off in response to the question about cooking, midnight eyes watching each action and gesture carefully, attempting to take in every aspect of the white-haired teen that he can. Maybe if he studies his friend then he’ll learn how not to embarrass him or make him feel uncomfortable whenever they have a conversation. More than likely, Jun would appreciate that. Perhaps then they can actually be in the same space without that pale skin turning scarlet. While he finds that cute and all, it’s obviously not so much fun for Jun, and so he needs to figure out how not to make it happen. It’s only been two days since he left Nova, but overall, he’s finding that these formality things are kinda annoying, even if culturally necessary for keeping his cover.
So it surprises him a little when his classmate speaks almost freely of his father for a moment, since the Selestarri thought for sure that family related things most likely fell into the ‘too personal’ category of topics. Not that he minds at all and maybe this kind of disclosure is a sign that Jun is feeling at least a little more at ease around him? Well, at least he hopes, even if he’s not sure why. There are a ton of kids at school who talk to him constantly, but as he said, the person sitting across from him is still the only person he’s actually been interested in seeing aside from Sashi. Zeph really has no idea why that is or what sets the other teenager apart from the rest of the students aside from his looks. There’s just… something… God, humans kind of make things really confusing at times.
Long fingers wrap around the small cup of tea on the placemat before him and the Dark smiles at the white-haired first year as the warmth of the liquid heats his palms. “My family? Not so traditional if you couldn’t tell already.” Or at least not in the meaning of the term that Jun would be familiar with. For his race, their family was quite typical in that no one associated too much until Sevyrikk completely snapped and changed everything… Midnight eyes slip down for a second to linger on his hands, crimson splashes of blood flickering in and out of sight between one blink and the next. The air in the blonde’s lungs stills for a moment, memories of that night fighting to surge into the forefront of his mind before Zephyr can fight them back. It’s over and he needs to remember that. It’s. Over.
Wrenching his gaze away, the blonde turns it back to meet deep pink, hands tightening in the slightest on the teacup in an effort to quell the shaking that wants to take control. “I lived with my Mom, traveling around Europe and Sashi lived with our father since his mother died a long time ago.” The cover story rattles off easily, the words falling into place without a hitch after all the times he’d been made to recite it before the elders for the past two weeks. “There are cultural traditions that we follow, Sashi and I, and our father, I guess... but even then we’ve never really dealt with the gender standards. People should be able to do whatever they want, whether it’s typical for a male or a female or not. At least, that’s how I’ve always seen it.” The cup is lifted to full lips and he takes a small sip before setting it down on the tabletop once again. “So I guess my really long answer to your question is that I don’t mind cooking and sometimes I even make stuff that’s pretty edible.”
Another grin is flashed at Jun and from the corner of his eye, Zeph spots the waitress stepping out of the kitchen with a tray. Sliding the cup to one side, he neatly unfolds the linen napkin in his lap and idly straightens the chopsticks on their tiny ceramic rest. “Your parents are really traditional then, huh? Are you cool with that or would you rather do your own thing?”
Jun: he listens intently to all that the other teenager says, finding himself kind of… fascinated for whatever reason that not only does Zephyr feel okay to be talking about his family life, but for his take on traditions and the like as well. Here, everything is so formal even with people you know and are supposed to be close to. You don’t step over lines and ask them about their home lives unless you are extremely familiar any more than you’d burden anyone with your own life or problems in return. He’s just been used to that being how it is, used to the lines, the standoffishness and the protocol. But with the blonde, those lines really don’t seem to be there and Jun finds himself wondering yet again if that’s just how it is for anyone foreign…
He blinks at the question asked and quickly looks down at the cup in his hand, suddenly wondering just how he can answer or even if he should. He’s never talked about his parents with anyone save Taz and even then there’s always a sort of block in what he’s actually said because it’s still such a touchy subject in general. Almost none of his friends or fellow students even know what’s happened to him, most of them assuming he’s there for the same reasons they are. None of them know that the school is now his only home, that during the holidays he doesn’t have a place to go back to like they do or family that he can call his own. He’s been unable to talk to anyone about his parents’ deaths, how much he misses them at times and how bad it hurts him to know that they are really and truly gone.
“I guess…” the white haired teen starts quietly while his pink gaze remains fixed on the liquid inside of his cup. “My dad was more about tradition than my mom…” way more about it from what he remembers. His father was always so stern and stiff, always telling him how as their only son it would be up to him to both take over the family name as well as take care of them when they got too old to do it for themselves. He barely ever remembers a time when he’d see his father smile and he’s always assumed that’s where his own issues in that regard came from. “My mom was more relaxed in a way… like she always told me I should just be who I want to be instead of who I’m expected to be.” Jun shrugs slightly. “I think… I liked her way of thinking better…” even if he does have a hard time actually just being himself to anyone he knows he’d rather be able to relax than feel like he has to be all uptight and stiff most of the time… The waitress interrupts his thoughts as she steps up with a tray full of small bowls, each one containing a different kind of vegetable or kimchee, and he sits back just a little while she sets them all out in-between the two teens. Thanking her quietly when they’ve each gotten a small plate as well, he looks up to find midnight eyes sweeping over the various dishes in curiosity and he nods towards them while reaching for the chopsticks at his side. “It’s all… appetizers I guess, they kinda vary depending on the season and most of it’s really good. I like…I like the spicy ones best.” He admits a little shyly with a brief glance up. “Do you… like spicy food?”
Zephyr: Long fingers wrap over the unwrapped chopsticks that sit beside his teacup, the utensils sliding easily into the correct position in his hand as midnight eyes take in the small dishes and their contents. His head is elsewhere, however, thoughts stuck on what Jun had said about his family. Actually, what had struck him so plainly is the way the other teenager spoke, like this is a conversation that he’s never had with another person? Which if that’s true, is kinda fucked up in a way. Do these humans go through their entire lives not talking about things? Do they just walk around these little set up barriers forever and keep everything inside? That sounds awful, like it could eat you alive if you never got to let anything out. Everyone he’s ever met before talks about their family, even the Selestarri, but especially the humans. All the other places he’s visited and met with humans his own age, even the some of the kids here at this school, have been all about talking about their parents, siblings, and anyone else related to him. It’s a big thing for humans, the blood relationship and the bonds it forms. Maybe it’s just that his white-haired classmate is really traditional, like he said his father is… was? Isn’t that how Jun had spoken of them, in the past tense? Dark blue eyes narrow in the slightest for a moment as he slips back through his memories to check if he really heard that or not. Does that mean the other teenager lives with a grandparent or aunt or uncle?
Somehow he gets the distinct impression that he should leave that subject alone, especially since it seems a little too personal and he’s not interested in alienating Jun any further than he already has with his lack of formality. Zeph pokes at the nearest dish with the end of his chopsticks, only remembering after a moment that he’d been asked a question. Distractedly he nods as the slender sticks pull a bit of the kimchee onto his plate with well-practiced skill. “Spicy food is good. I like wasabi and all, so this is probably similar, right?” Fire roars through his mouth as he takes a bite of the spiced vegetable and the blonde quickly reaches for his glass of water when his face flushes with the heat. “Shit… okay, so… maybe not… the same…” He gets out between gulps and he’s unable to quiet the laughter that springs up from deep inside. It’s been a long time since food has made him react like that and the way that Jun’s looking at him right now, one hand wrapped around chopsticks that are frozen in midair, only makes it all funnier, even if the other student doesn’t laugh along with him.
Finally managing to calm himself after a minute or so, the Dark reaches for a different dish to try, this time being careful to take only a small amount to try. “Sorry about that,” he apologizes quietly, midnight eyes sliding over to the other occupied tables in the small restaurant. “I hope I’m not embarrassing you too badly or anything, or else you won’t want to hang out with me in public again.” He flashes a smile at the first year before letting his gaze return to the small dishes arrayed between them. The blonde takes a little of each as silence falls between the two teenagers while they sample the food. Occasionally Zephyr reaches for the water glass, but his mouth is quickly adjusting to the spice of the food and the need to level out the heat becomes less necessary with the more he eats.
Thoughts shift easily back to what Jun had said about his parents and the hesitant way that the white-haired student had spoken about their traditions. It’s obviously important to his friend or he wouldn’t have mentioned it and the Selestarri wants him to know that it’s cool to talk about things with him, that he won’t judge or think that it’s all strange or whatever. “Hey,” Zeph says quietly, trying to keep his tone casual despite the seriousness that attempts to creep in. “Remember what you said about your mom telling you to be yourself?” Midnight eyes stay on the plate at his front, chopsticks idly working to combine two of the kimchee samples. “That would be cool with me, I mean, if you just want to be yourself when I’m around. I prefer it when people are real and honest like that and I don’t have any expectations of things, you know? I’m just a foreigner after all, right? So how would I know if something isn’t traditional or proper?” Zeph’s gaze finally lifts to find dawn-tinged pink, his smile soft and warm. “I’d rather see everyone just be themselves, it would make life a lot easier, I think…”
Jun: he only manages to hold the other teenager’s gaze for a moment after all of Zephyr’s words have been said before his eyes drop back down to the plates set out in between them. He nods a slight nod as he reaches forward to wrap the wooden chopsticks in his hand around a piece of radish kimchee, unable to do much else beyond pull the food to his lips as the meanings behind those words continue to stream throughout his head. He doesn’t know exactly how to feel about what the blonde has just said… well, actually he knows exactly how he feels but he doesn’t exactly know how he can say what he feels out loud.
All he’s ever really wanted was to be able to relax and be himself with people, but he can’t ever find it in him to actually do it. There’s always a barrier there, a protocol line of stiffness he can’t shake and a stopper from allowing him to feel even remotely okay in anyone’s presence. The only person he’s even come close to being himself with has been Taz, but even then there’s usually something just sort of… holding him back. Like there’s this wall he can’t break through, a thin piece of glass he’s trapped behind that’s about as strong as a thick plate of steel. He can’t talk, he can’t smile, he can barely even bring himself to meet anyone’s eyes with his own. It’s not as if his friends or fellow students haven’t gotten him to try either, because they have, it’s just he can’t comply and he’s never really understood what it is that sets him back as far as they are all concerned, he’s never really understood why he feels so set apart beyond the obvious with his ‘condition’ in the first place.
But on the flip side, he’s also never quite cared enough to want to try very hard either… it’s never just the fact that there’s a separation line between himself and everyone he knows, it’s also the fact that he hasn’t felt connected enough with anyone to want to break through the wall that keeps him standing on the outside. It’s easier to hide behind it, easier to stand still while the world moves around him and beyond his best friend, no one’s ever truly given him a reason to work on stepping into the crowd. So to have Zeph trying so hard to get him to relax without pushing to the point where his automatic reaction shuts him down completely makes him feel… comfortable. Comfortable in a way he’s never ever felt before with anything beyond Taz. And he can honestly say that the comfort, or at the very least, the shadow of the feeling of comfort makes him… kinda happy.
Which is something he hasn’t felt in a very long time.
Pulling the chopsticks back and lowering them to set them onto one of the nearest plates to him, the white haired teenager finally manages to glance up again and catch the blonde’s attention with the quietest of sounds. “Um…” Jun starts when midnight eyes lock with his all over again, the other first year’s movements halting almost immediately as he waits for him to continue. “I… think so too. So…” his early dawn hued gaze drops again despite his intentions to keep it constant, his voice dropping a little as well. “It’s okay… you know, to be yourself… around me.” Because even if Zephyr is foreign and even if they all do things differently than how he’s used to things being done here, he likes the idea of having another friend who’s okay with them both just being themselves. He may not be able to get past his own hang-ups and upbringing, but for whatever reason, with Zeph… he actually wants to try.
Zephyr: The autumn breeze is brisk as the two teenagers step onto the street, long fingers hurriedly zipping up coats and tightening scarves before they turn and begin walking past store fronts. The meal had been delicious and the cooking of the meat was as easy as Jun promised once a few of the details were figured out. They’d chatted about some of the kids in their classes and about the school in general and overall the Dark finds that he’s really enjoying the company of the white-haired student. There’s just something about his shyness and the way he says things and then has to backtrack in the name of formality that are not only kinda cute, but make the other first year… different. In a good way, a way that’s not like the other people he’s met here or maybe anywhere and he’s finding that he likes it. It’s also cool that Jun said he just wants them to be themselves around one another too, and thinking about it makes the tall Selestarri smile. He really can’t be any other way besides who he is in the first place, but maybe now that they said it was cool, he won’t have to worry so much about stomping all over tradition and formality.
Several of the shops that they pass are closed in honor of the festival, the lights dimmed and signs taped to the plate glass windows. The street is mostly deserted as well, with only a few people sharing the walkway; some dressed in traditional clothing and a few around their own age. The Dark smiles and nods at those who are nearby, mostly out of habit and not really paying much attention to the formal responses that are given back. Jun is much more subdued when they cross paths with others, usually just nodding slightly in acknowledgment of their presence and not meeting their gazes. Every so often Zeph’s midnight eyes slide sidelong to watch the other first year and he doesn’t even realize that he’s doing it until Jun almost catches him. It sounds really stupid, but he just kinda likes watching him move—graceful in a way that’s completely natural and with no hint of being forced or put on. Actually, knowing what little he does about the other teen, Jun would probably try to stop it if he realized that other people noticed. It doesn’t make his own looking and appreciating any less dumb, but he’s finding that he truly can’t help himself.
“So do you want to go to the festival or find one of those arcades you talked about or something?” Zeph flashes a smile at the shorter student as they shift the path of their walk to move around a set of empty café tables. “I’m up for whatever since I’ve never really been here before…” Dark blue eyes catch a smattering of French amongst the Korean signage on the storefronts they’re passing, his voice trailing off and his gaze sliding quickly down to see that the lights are on in the store below. “Oh, sweet!” Without a second thought, he latches onto Jun’s wrist and gently pulls him along behind as he makes a beeline for the store. A bell chimes as they enter the shop and the Selestarri comes to a halt before a counter of glass fronted cases, the contents within bearing neat, handwritten descriptions in both French and Korean. Inside are trays of delicate desserts ranging from hand dipped truffles to small fruit tarts and frosting-topped cupcakes. The entire store reminds him of the specialty places he’d seen during his trainings in Europe, although here and there he spots a few Korean elements as well. After a moment Zephyr realizes that in his excitement he’s still holding onto Jun’s wrist and he slowly lets go, careful not to acknowledge the crimson stain splashed across pale cheeks. “Sorry, it’s just… we had places like this at home,” he says quietly as the gray-haired shopkeeper moves in their direction. “Have you ever had a petite-four or an éclair? God, they’re so good. And,” his voice gets more excited and he points at one of the trays, “they even have éclairs filled with bean paste instead of traditional cream.” The Dark selects several different things in rapid French and the small, elderly man behind the counter places them on plates before turning to the tall coffee urn and filling two cups with the deep brown, steaming liquid. From behind thick glasses, the man turns his patient gaze to the white-haired student …