Angel Hunt and Streifen in Roleplay

+ Alternate Universe 02 +

The Faculty Years

C H A P T E R O N E : P A R T 10

Lan: he can’t help the warmth of the smile that spans his lips as he watches the Dark interact with the stranger’s dog, finding the sight so endearing that it takes quite a lot for him to remain in place instead of stepping forward to join them like he wants.

It’s as if Sashi doesn’t realize what’s happening to him while he’s with the animal, how his hardened expression relaxes and how innocent his face has become. There’s no walls between himself and the dog, no barriers, nothing to separate them from one another in the way he separates himself from everyone else. There’s such a raw beauty to the other man at this moment and it tugs at his heart deeply, a gift bestowed upon him that he doubts the telepath even knows he’s given.

[Oh, I’m actually a little surprised to be honest…] the tall Bright replies as he draws his cigarette back up to his mouth, taking another long drag. […that you don’t own one down here yourself,] he clarifies when the dark haired figure flashes him a guarded look and cupping the smoldering stick in between full lips after he blows the smoke out, he takes a step forward, his illusion masked fingers held out for the dog to smell. [Considering the unconditional love they give so freely…] the dog takes only a moment to sniff him before pushing its muzzle against his hand and smiling he gladly obliges, petting the animal back. [That kind of love is rare, but when it is given…] offering the dog a final scratch on his head, he pulls away and straightens, slipping the cigarette once again from his mouth. […I feel it shouldn’t be overlooked, don’t you agree?]

Sashi: Giving the dog one last good rub of its ears, the Dark nods to the owner and turns away, continuing down the sidewalk in the direction of the park. Lan falls in next to him, but no words are exchanged for several long minutes, smoke trailing after the two men in hazy curls. He doesn’t have a reply to the Bright’s question because he doesn’t really understand anything about love. Everything in his world has been hate from the time he was small, and the only thing he really knows about love is that it’s not for him in the same way that friendships and relationships aren’t for him. Zephyr is perhaps the only exception to that rule, he does love his brother, but that’s different and it’s not the kind of love to which he thinks Lan is referring. [Perhaps,] Sashi finally says, giving nothing else in response to a question he can’t truly answer.

The sidewalk curves along the wide, tree lined street, and they make their way past the final row of small businesses and restaurants before the grounds of the park open up before them. Passing the entrance sign, Lan chooses one of the winding, paved trails that will give them not only a view of the fall foliage, but of the various creeks and ponds within the park as well. Cigarettes burn out and another round is lit as the walk commences, the sunlight slanting through the trees overhead lighting the changing leaves like fire, a beautiful show of crimson, gold, and orange.

[I can’t own a dog…] The Warden finally breaks what had been a rather comfortable silence between them. [If I did and something happened… If someone mistreated or hurt something that I loved to get at me…] He wouldn’t be able to forgive himself, not when he understands the danger perfectly well. Gray eyes remain firmly fixed on the path ahead as the words slowly spill out. [Where I come from, such things are common, so it’s better that I don’t even present the opportunity.] Maybe someday when everything with the Seeker is over, if he lives, and once he’s exiled himself from the rest of his race, he can find a place and lock it down, safe from those who would seek to harm him and then he can have a pack of his own. There’s no better way he can think of to return the affection of the animals who accepted him when no one else would. [It’s better if I remain alone…]

Lan: With the other man’s statement, much of Sashi’s actions and the attempts to push him away suddenly make perfect sense. He’d already suspected that to be one of the reasons that drove him, but this just confirms it in his head. He understands it, more than he thinks the Dark realizes. He understands the fear of harm being brought to those you allow yourself to care for and how much easier it is to simply isolate yourself and save not only them the pain, but yourself as well.

He understands it perfectly.

[I don’t think…] the Bright begins quietly, his summer yellow gaze slipping away from the surrounding foliage and over to find storm cloud colored gray at his side, [that you are as alone as you think yourself to be.] the older Selestarri does have a few who care for him… his brother for one, who is protective enough to seek him out and establish an understanding in Sashi’s regard in a way he’s pretty sure no other Dark has done with a Bright. Then there is himself, who plans to keep his offer of friendship available despite the multiple rejections he’s received and the multitude he’s sure to receive in the future.

[But I do understand your reasons…] the white haired man continues as his half burnt cigarette is returned to his lips and his gaze slides back to the fiery colors of the leaves gracing the trees they pass beneath. [Where I come from, it doesn’t exactly work the same so I’ve never had to worry about another harming those around me in that manner… but I’ve certainly excelled in it all on my own…] Lan’s voice drops a little and despite the smile he readily gives, his gaze becomes momentarily haunted. [Even if they hadn’t kept me separate from the others, I would have done it myself… especially after-] an old memory suddenly to floods back at the mention and for a split second, a face he hasn’t seen for a very long time flashes through his mind’s eye –a blackened burning creature twisted and screaming in pain, unrecognizable in every way to all except himself. Yellow eyes snap shut in an attempt to keep it from fully surfacing, his words cut off in an instant while rising deep within him, the fire attempts to surge at his core. It takes the lanky Selestarri a second or two to calm his body and push the memory back down, and by the time he manages it and reopens his eyes, he finds that he’s stopped moving, the Warden halted only a few paces ahead of him as he stares back with an expression he can’t quite discern.

In his fingers, the cigarette has burned completely away and beneath his feet, the paved pathway has singed black and the realization of it brings his gaze downward and a trace of regret to spring up in his tone. [Forgive me…] he whispers and as if it hadn’t happened, he reaches back into his pocket and pulls the near empty box of cigarettes out to free another, his steps resumed shortly. […it isn’t always easy to keep under complete control and occasionally…] he trails as he slides the stick to his mouth, lighting the very tip. He offers another to the one before him as he draws near, and both Selestarri resume the earlier pace that had been momentarily disrupted. Despite the warmth that remains readily available to envelope the Warden however, the Bright has added a subtle but noticeable distance between them and it’s almost as if he’s worried about standing too close. [As I said… I understand it. But it isn’t always better, for some of us anyway, to remain alone…] for himself and for obvious reasons, he should remain alone for the rest of his days, but Sashi… Sashi whose face lights up and who becomes as bright as the sun when he’s with something he cares about, being alone isn’t something he feels the other man should stay.

Sashi: The flare of foreign fire magic hits his senses even before the Bright comes to an abrupt halt and yellow eyes snap shut. The telepathic words are snapped off mid-sentence, bringing his storm-tinted gaze up and his own defenses clicking into place with an ease obtained from long years of constant wariness around others. The burst swells for just a moment, the ground beneath Lan’s feet blackening rapidly and the air shifting from warm and pleasant to hot, and the Warden prepares a psionic strike as a precaution should the other Selestarri’s internal battle be lost. It proves unnecessary as the other man regains control, the fire slowly receding, and the entire flare-up lasting only a handful of heartbeats. It takes another few breaths until Lan has calmed himself, and by the time summer-gilded eyes reopen, the Dark has dropped his defenses once again.

The Bright gives his apology and they continue the walk, although Lan now walks on his left where he can’t clearly see him. The difficulty controlling the magic inside is something he understands all too well, the constant struggle of locking down a power that never rests and always wishes freedom from the barriers imposed upon it. He’s lost that struggle many times himself, especially when he was younger, and people have died when it overwhelmed him and lashed out. Over the years he’s grown strong enough to keep it under wraps and to understand when it needs to be let free in order to prevent an overload. It’s not foolproof, though, and there are still times where he finds himself in the same position the other man was just currently in, fighting a force that wants nothing more than to slip the restraints and destroy everything it possibly can.

With that understanding, he says nothing in response to the apology and continues to walk in silence for a while, the path leading them deeper into the forest. Crossing a footbridge, they pause to look out over the wide creek that runs beneath, its levels swelled from yesterday’s rain. Smoke clouds about their heads before thinning away to nothing, the last of the cigarettes smoked and disposed of as they remain still. The silence between them is easy, each of them content to watch the movement of the water and the occasional swooping fight of small birds from tree to tree.

The scenery is just as beautiful as he’d been promised, and staring out at it, Lan’s earlier words return to him. [You meant Zephyr,] Sashi says quietly, [the one who makes me not as alone as I may believe?] A slow sadness spreads within, tinged with the pain of guilt, and he lets it go, knowing he deserves every second of it. [What my brother has suffered because he chose to associate with me, because he wouldn’t back down when the others threatened him, has been extreme.] Broken and shattered bones, lacerations, bruises, hard words, taunts, punishments from the elders, bullying from their peers, and every other form of abuse has been thrown at the younger Dark, but none of it could budge Zeph from his side. Not even his own efforts to push the blonde away had been successful. [Unlike the rest of our kind, both Zeph and I take our shared blood seriously, and that’s why he’s always stayed with me. I know what sacrifices he’s made, how much he’s bled or been hurt because of me, don’t think for a minute that I don’t recognize it.] The Warden’s tone has turned cool and his storm-shrouded eyes remain on the scenery spread before them. Everything his brother has endured for his sake is carried just the same as his own scars, they cut just as deep and bleed just as much. Things had been better for the blonde once he’d grown old enough to back his protection of the telepath up both physically and magically, but Zeph has still suffered because of him, and it leaves a stain of guilt on Sashi’s heart. [He is the exception to my stance on attachments. The only exception…]

Lan: [I did not mean to imply that you were unaware of your brother’s love...] Lan offers gently, his hands slipping back to his latch casually onto his pockets [For that, I am sorry.] he supposes he can understand why Sashi would mistake his observation for blindness, and because of it, his flat retort to it is completely understandable as well, and something he quite possibly deserves to have received. He knows full well that the two siblings love one another and that each, not just the blonde are protective, but his reference was not exactly one made about Zephyr alone, despite it obviously having gone completely over the shorter man’s head.

[What I say isn’t to be taken very seriously anyway,] Lan smiles a lighthearted smile before he turns away from the pond and continues on. [I’ve spent so many years with only myself as a conservationist and when one has only themselves to speak to, they can forget the simple social graces that would normally keep their tongues in line from time to time.] He chuckles and when Sashi moves up behind him, he pauses just long enough to allow the Warden to fall back into their easy, comfortable stride. [I will be more careful with my words from now on…]

For the remainder of their walk, the two men say nothing else to one another, the comfort of silence shifting easily back in. But the entire way, Lan himself finds himself locked into his thoughts, finding himself a little saddened by what he had said and how it was interpreted. The mistake of his words has reminded him that he’s probably spoken far more freely with the Dark than he should again. And while it isn’t that he hasn’t spoken to Sashi before, in fact he’s spent since the first day he took the assignment speaking to him, it’s just that these last couple of weeks have been the first time the older Selestarri has spoken to him back and with that small, unintentional scolding, he’s been reminded that there are eggshells in which he should still walk. They are not friends, as Sashi often reminds him, and as such, he has no right to offer insight that was not asked for, even if it wasn’t meant as such. He doesn’t enjoy the thought of having caused the Warden harm, even in this small, innocent form and when he says he will be careful from now on, he means it in every possible way…

Zephyr: Black flecked midnight eyes scan the small dial of the meat thermometer, waiting for the final reading before sliding the glass pan containing a seasoned roast lined with potatoes and carrots back into the oven. Another ten minutes should finish the meat perfectly, right on schedule. The blonde reaches out to set the timer before turning to the sink to wipe the thermometer and set it on a cloth beside the stove. Scanning the counter, he mentally ticks off the other courses of the meal and each of their components. With everything in line, his gaze turns toward the table, and ensuring that all is in its place for dinner with his brother, the tall Selestarri makes his way towards the apartment door.

He pauses a moment as he passes the silver sunglasses still sitting on the island counter, debating whether or not to extend the dinner invitation to their owner. All through the late afternoon he’d been so happy to finally see the real person hiding beneath the cold facade the Angel keeps around him at all times, but the more he thought on it and replayed their conversation in his head, the more he’d heard the notes of sadness and resignation in the other man that he hadn’t noticed when they’d been speaking. There’s also something Jun fears, something that keeps him hidden away and keeps him from being anything except the fake person he displays on the outside. He’s not sure what it is that frightens his colleague so much, but hopefully the research that Innic’s collecting this weekend will fill in some of the gaps. In the meantime he’ll leave off of Jun for the night, let him recover from what the Angel had called “a lapse in judgment,” and return the sunglasses tomorrow.

Without bothering to put on shoes, the Dark opens the door to the hallway and steps out in his socks, so wrapped up in his thoughts about Jun and dinner that he nearly collides with Lan. He’d sensed the Bright’s return along with his brother’s just a few minutes ago, and indeed, the other man is moving from the direction of Sashi’s apartment. Hands latched casually in the front pockets of his pants, Lan flashes Zephyr a warm smile that’s immediately returned, but there’s something off, something almost… sad, in yellow eyes when they meet midnight blue. Without knowing the white-haired man well enough he can’t pinpoint what that sadness might be, but considering that the older Selestarri has just spent time with the Warden, he can hazard a guess that it has something to do with his brother. “Is he giving you a hard time?” Zeph asks quietly, speaking aloud to keep the telepath from overhearing their conversation. “I know he can be difficult…”

Lan: The tall Bright’s footfalls slow as the blonde steps out into the hall, noticing the other man to be distracted enough not to realize he’s immediately there and having it confirmed when the pair nearly collide despite his efforts to avoid it. He offers the Dark a warm smile and a nod and is readily given one in return, but when Zephyr inquires about Sashi, the smile fades just a little.

“No…” Lan replies quietly, “the difficulty in this has been entirely my own doing.” Sashi is being who he has been from the start. He’s pushing him away as he has from the beginning and doing nothing that he hasn’t already done before. He’s had the coldness directed at him since the assignment began and the walls have always been in place to block him out, yet despite it all he’s still felt comfort in being near the other man and that hasn’t changed no matter what was done, that is until their latest walk.

His words being taken wrong have unnerved him a little because the thought that he might have harmed the Warden by what he said is upsetting. How is he to keep himself from doing it again now, how is he to stop himself from accidentally hurting the older Selestarri another time by conversations that for him are meant as completely innocent and not to be harmful in any way?

“I think perhaps, that I have come to a small impasse as far as our conversations are concerned,” he admits with a small sigh, slipping a hand from his pocket and up to brush shaggy strands away from his eyes. “And quite honestly, I am unsure of how to rectify it...” If everything he now says has to be watched and guarded for fear of accidentally hurting Sashi again, how will he be able to speak to him at all?

Zephyr: The blonde’s heart begins to sink with each of Lan’s words, an empty hollow of disappointment filling up when the Bright confesses his problem with Sashi. Maybe he’d been wrong to go to the older Selestarri and involve him in problems that weren’t his to begin with. Maybe he leapt too fast at Lan’s kindness and tolerance for his brother and overestimated what the other man could handle. Maybe he’d just been too excited to find someone who shared even a fraction of the isolation Sashi has endured that he’d forgotten to take the Bright’s feelings into consideration.

It’s just… he can see how lonely his brother is and how much he needs someone even if the older Dark won’t admit it. All these years of watching him and Innic together, but having no friend of his own has wounded Sashi, not by anything he or his best friend has done, but because his brother has always believed he could never have such a person in his life. He’s always been told he has to be alone and with the rest of their faction enforcing those words at every step, Sashi has taken it to heart. Add to that a string of other Dark who would make overtures toward his brother, promising to be his friend and even going through the motions until their ulterior purposes were revealed, leaving Sashi feeling rejected and hurt. Enough of that kind of pain would lead anyone to raise their defenses and keep others as far away as possible. The Warden accepts him because they’re brothers, but that’s a very different thing than friendship, at least to Sashi.

So when Lan appeared and didn’t instantly recoil from the older Dark and instead has tried to spend time with him and offered the friendship that Zeph knows Sashi wishes for so desperately, he’d jumped on the chance. It doesn’t matter that they come from different factions, it doesn’t matter that technically, the Bright is here to report on them to his Assembly, it only matters that after all this time a possibility had presented itself. However, it seems like it might be too much for Lan after all...

Stepping back to his door, Zeph swings it open and gestures for the other Selestarri to enter, the colored wards locking into place as they cross the threshold and the door is closed behind them. “Soundproofing,” the blonde waves vaguely at the walls and ceiling with a sigh. “Look, I know Sashi can be trying, believe me, I know. He’s not great with conversations, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, especially if they involve talking at all about his feelings.” Any talk of that kind can shut the Warden down in about ten seconds flat. Sashi is sensitive, but he’s spent so many years holding everything in that he has no idea how to let any of it out. Instead he goes on the defensive and the walls come down, which he imagines can be a little unsettling for anyone not used to dealing with the telepath on a regular basis. “I’m sorry if he was hurtful and upset you.” Combing his fingers through his bangs, Zeph sighs again. “What did he say?”

Lan: The lanky Bright remains still in his place just past the threshold with his hands still latched casually into his pockets, his yellow gaze locked with midnight as the other man speaks. Zephyr’s concern for him is a little surprising but it along with his protectiveness of his brother warms his heart in every single way and even though the concern is currently a little misguided, it is appreciated more than he thinks the young Dark will ever know.

“I think perhaps that you misunderstand…” the Bright responds, offering the other man a warm and gentle smile. “It is not anything he has said to me, nor is it anything he’s done. Sashi is who he is. I expect nothing less from him and I definitely don’t expect anything more. His words to me are no different than they have been since the beginning… and just because he and I have been conversing a little more as of late, I do not expect those words to turn kind. I don’t expect him to accept the friendship I have offered, I don’t even expect him to offer me a smile.” He chuckles, “I expect him to be nothing other than who he presents himself to be if it’s what he so wishes and I would not presume him to change simply because of me.” He can hope for it, and he does, just as he can hope that at some point his friendship will be returned, but he will not expect it because he doesn’t believe he has a right to impose that expectation on someone who did not ask for it to begin with. “As I have told your brother, as I mentioned during our talk, my position in this will not change.” No matter what is said or done by Sashi, he will continue to stay where he is.

“My impasse…” Lan continues, the warmth of the smile on his lips fading a little. “Is that I fear I might have caused him harm without meaning to and I do not wish to do it again… I have spent a long time alone, Zephyr,” he admits sadly, “and I think that it has afforded me a rather loose tongue. My words… are normally chosen carefully, but when I am with him, there is a comfort to his presence that I cannot fully explain. Because of that comfort, I had momentarily forgotten that I cannot speak as freely as I would with one whom I call a friend and who sees me as one in return.” He sighs, slipping his hand away from his pocket and sliding them up to push through his hair “I’m afraid that I spoke too freely and said something that was taken not as it should have been. My words… were harmful when they were not meant to be… and it is this that I am unsure of how to fix.” Causing Sashi harm on any level is what’s upset him, because he truly didn’t mean it and now he again harbors doubt that he will be unable to stop himself from doing it again. If even his most innocent of words are taken incorrectly, he worries he will no longer be able to speak to the other man at all…

Zephyr: The sadness and disappointment that had seized his heart just a few minutes ago begin to drain away as Lan explains what sounds to him like a misunderstanding on both the Bright and his brother’s part. It doesn’t surprise him that the white-haired Selestarri could misinterpret Sashi’s reaction to something given that the older Dark is often cold and dismissive, just as it doesn’t surprise him that Sashi would take something said to him the wrong way. “I doubt there’s anything you would intentionally say that could truly hurt my brother,” the blonde assures the other man, sinking down onto one of the bar stools. “He’s had every hurtful word thrown at him at one time or another, and while there are still a few that upset him, I know you wouldn’t say such things to him.”

Lan is too kind to be out rightly rude or cruel, and it sounds from what he’s said that even the thought of saying something that could bother Sashi is upsetting to him. It warms his heart to know that someone like the Bright cares for his brother in the ways that Lan does. The other man doesn’t have any false expectations for the Warden, and instead it seems like he’s willing to let Sashi be himself, which is something so few have ever understood, let alone allowed.

“What you probably saw in his reaction was defensiveness,” Zeph explains with a warm smile. “Sashi can be unkind when those defenses go up, especially if whatever was said has to do with any of the very few things he cares about.” The older Dark will allow a lot of things to roll off his back, but there are a couple of things that will set him off, and when those topics come up, his brother has been known to get prickly first and then think on what was actually said second. The defensiveness is long ingrained and the blonde knows that it always hurts Sashi when he’s thought on things later and realized he’d misunderstood. He won’t always admit to it, but it hurts him all the same. “Please don’t take it personally, Lan. I know you weren’t really trying to cause him pain, and Sashi will figure that out, too.”

The Bright doesn’t look too reassured by the words, but hopefully he’ll come to realize that they’re true. “I’m sorry,” Zeph says quietly, slightly changing the subject, “that you’ve spent so much time alone.” He has some vague ideas as to why the rest of the other man’s faction may have held him apart, but he won’t press for any specifics. “I’ve seen firsthand how hard that can be on a person, so I’m happy that you’ve found someone to be comfortable with, someone you want to spend time around and speak freely with. It’s my hope that he understands your sincerity someday and lets you in.” Honestly, he wishes for it with all his heart because he knows the loneliness is slowly destroying Sashi, and there’s been nothing he can do but stand aside and watch while his heart breaks for his brother. “In the meantime, you have my thanks, and if you wish it, you can stay for dinner, too. I’ve made plenty of food…”

Lan: He does appreciate the Dark’s attempts to reassure him, and even though he can’t help but feel as if he’s overstepped a boundary and by doing so, has hurt Sashi in some regard, he supposes he should put trust in someone who knows the Warden better than any other, just as trust has been put in him. He must trust that Sashi will come to understand that he meant no harm by his observations, and hope that he will eventually come to understand what it is exactly he had said.

“Thank you for the invitation…” the Bright smiles, “I think… that it’s something I might enjoy very much…” he’s not accustomed to being offered company by any of their kind and within the space of a month, he’s found himself spending more time with the opposite faction than he ever has of his own. It’s almost ironic in a way and it only confirms how misguided he’s felt his own faction has been when it comes to their views about the Dark as a whole and for a single second, he can’t help but entertain the idea that he might very well have been born into the wrong side…

Slipper covered feet stride casually down the dimly lit stretch of hallway away from his own apartment and towards the blonde’s with a long slim package in hand, the clothing he’d worn earlier changed to a simple pair of light cargo style pants and a long sleeved oversized tee –more appropriate attire he feels for a casual dinner than the clothing he’d worn for a walk. It takes little time for him to arrive at Zephyr’s residence and before he can make even the motion to knock, the door opens, yellow eyes meeting midnight and a warm smile readily given as he lifts the wrapped bottle in his hand up.

[I felt it only fair to provide some refreshments in exchange for your generosity…] he indicates to the covered bottle in his hand before sliding it out for the other man to take.

Zephyr: Happily accepting the wine, he glances down to find that the bottle is a top of the line, very exclusive brand of an excellent vintage, and this particular blend will pair perfectly with the roast. [Thank you,] the blonde smiles at Lan and sets the gift on the counter. [Everything will be ready in just a few minutes. Well it will be if this one can get off his ass and pour this amazing wine you’ve brought.] Midnight eyes shift to Sashi, the older Dark perched on the far barstool, a curl of smoke lifting from the cigarette in his hand. The tall Selestarri laughs at the glare given to him, knowing there’s no real heat behind it, and he turns back to the stove to fuss with the gravy as his brother sets the smoldering stick in the ashtray. Sliding the open pack of cigarettes across the counter toward the Bright, he slips from the stool and moves toward the cabinet containing the wine glasses.

Surprisingly, Sashi hadn’t said much at all when Zeph had finally made it to his apartment and shared the news about Lan joining them for dinner. When asked if he was all right with it, a small shrug was the only reply, and while that might not mean anything with most people, with the Warden it says a lot. If his brother had really been against the idea, he’d have said so, but in this case his silence is a good thing. It’s still so early yet to know if things will work out between Sashi and Lan, but after two conversations with the white-haired Selestarri, he’s feeling hopeful. More than anything he wants to the see the telepath happy, he wants him to experience the things denied him all his life like friendships, relationships, a home where he can feel safe, acceptance… He’s well aware that the damage his brother carries is extensive and that Sashi will likely never laugh or smile or show any outward emotion like most people, but he truly believes that there will come a time when the darkness inside will lift for the Warden and the icy walls will recede, at least a little. If a friendship with Lan will start that process then he’ll back it completely, play the intermediary when necessary, and give both of them his full support.

Glancing over his shoulder, the blonde catches a glimpse of Lan watching Sashi as his brother’s back is turned to open the wine, and a smile breaks out over full lips. He genuinely likes the Bright, something he never thought he’d say about a member of a faction that keeps a stick up their ass at all times. The white-haired man is kind and patient, relaxed and easy-going and generally just calming to be around. Why the other Bright chose to isolate him--due to the fire magic, he’s assuming--is something he doesn’t understand at all, but the sadness from it has wounded Lan, and that’s quite plain once you’ve spoken with him enough. Everyone carries their own sorrow and their own sadness, but the overwhelming amounts that the other two men in this room carry is heartbreaking.

A pop signifies that Sashi’s opened the bottle and soon enough the older Dark is handing a glass to Lan and setting one on the counter before taking his own and returning to his cigarette. Zeph gives the gravy one last stir before pouring it into a small boat dish and turns to carve the meat. [So Lan,] he begins, [we know you can’t give away too many secrets of the Eyrie, but at least tell us this: do you draw straws to see who gets the shortest and has to come down here with us? We’ve often wondered how you all get assigned to a detail we doubt most of you want…]

Lan: the white haired man nods when the Dark hands him a glass of wine, accepting it graciously before taking a seat at the island counter and his eyes remaining for a moment longer on the Warden before he returns his attentions to Zephyr and answers.

[If you want to know about the Assembly’s methods when it comes to this particular assignment, you might be asking the wrong person. That information isn’t exactly something that’s shared, when it comes to myself anyway…] the lanky Bright chuckles, lifting the wine glass up to his lips and taking a small, yet savored sip. It isn’t to say that he couldn’t have found out if he’d wanted to, even secluded he has his own network and knows how to gather the information that isn’t readily made available to him. But he’s never cared for the politics of his people, and refuses to be burdened more than he has to with it even to this day.

[I can tell you that I was assigned here because I asked to be…] setting his glass down, he reaches forward and slips a cigarette from the box the Warden has left open for him before sliding it up to his mouth and the tip flairs bright a moment later before he inhales the smoke in, his summer yellow gaze finding black flecked midnight as he tilts his head just far enough back to blow the smoke out. [I had suspected the previous reports to be rather embellished by what I saw to be an obviously predisposed prejudice and thought that perhaps I might find the truth for myself...] Slipping the smoldering stick forward to tap the ash into the tray and fully aware gray eyes are on him, he smiles. He knew from the start that his suspicions about it had been right and even though he’s quite sure they don’t enjoy receiving his more open minded and neutral view of these two, and most likely toss his reports to the wind with the reasoning of him being just as much of an unstable element as Sashi and Zephyr themselves, he’ll continue to send every new report in with just as much honesty as he has from day one.

[They didn’t argue my application by the way. Most likely they were happy to have me fill in the current position as your ‘watcher’ in order to save other ‘less deserving of the burden’ from the trouble.] He’s also sure they approved his bid for it to be rid of him for a little while and to be perfectly honest, he was just as happy to leave for a little while himself. Pulling his gaze from Zephyr’s he glances sideways and finally meets Sashi’s eyes with his own, offering the older Selestarri a light and amused smile. [Trouble however, has been the last thing this assignment has been…] Despite the recent hiccups between himself and the telepath, it’s been anything but in fact and it’s for that reason that he’s stayed, even after the Assembly has attempted to recall him from time to time.

Zephyr: Slicing the last of the roasted beef, the blonde begins dishing out portions of a leek and turnip soup into three waiting bowls. [So, you volunteered to come down here and spend time with the two of us, who have been labeled frequently as ‘unstable,’ ‘dangerous,’ ‘unreasonable,’ and my personal favorite, ‘potentially damaging to the whole of Selestarri society.’] As if killing the Seeker would have unseated their very way of life. Assassination is the common way for new Seekers to rise to power, so it’s not as if they’d done something that’s completely unheard of. The issue is that they failed, and while that would have earned them a quick execution under normal circumstances, the sticking points are the serious amount of power the two of them pack and the fact that there are several sections of their faction that still support their cause. It’s caused a rift within the Dark, and that rift has ground everything to a halt while the Assembly attempts to figure out its next step, which could take years. That’s fine as far as he’s concerned because it gives him and Innic time to work out a new strategy that will ensure that bitch’s death.

Zeph flashes a smile in Lan’s direction as he moves onto the roasted vegetables, scooping them neatly onto three plates. [You’re either crazy, then, or you were ready for a vacation from the Eyrie.] From what the Bright had said, it seems like maybe a little of the last bit and a little of the Eyrie’s own desire to put Lan somewhere else for a while. He hasn’t pressed the older man for details on why his faction is so set on keeping him separate, but he’d researched Lan enough to have a few very solid ideas. [Your predecessors couldn’t wait to be relieved from their duties, practically running out of here when their designated time expired.] He laughs and the white-haired man chuckles as well, only Sashi remaining silent. [Oh, especially that one early on, Tavrick, he was visibly terrified of us. Our report meetings were hysterical, at least from our perspective.] Midnight eyes flick to the Warden as the blonde begins setting generous slices of the beef onto each plate. [You remember him, right? He couldn’t get his voice above a whisper, his hands would shake so badly that nothing he wrote was legible and that one time you stood up to leave the meeting early he very nearly soiled himself.] The younger Dark laughs again and shakes his head. [We’ve certainly had some fun with the other Bright before you came. You’ll have to forgive us.]

Spooning gravy over the meat, Zeph adds a touch of salt and pepper while taking a sidelong glance at his brother. Sashi is sitting quietly as usual, smoking and taking occasional sips from his glass. He looks relaxed, which is what he was hoping for when he invited Lan for dinner. Maybe if Sashi can get to know a little bit about the Bright in a setting like this, he’ll be more likely to find the time he spends with Lan alone more comfortable. It may help to soften those defenses just a little, and help the white-haired man with his attempts at befriending the older Dark. Or at least he can hope, and it doesn’t hurt to try given that he enjoys talking with Lan anyway.

Collecting the bowls of soup, Zeph whisks them over to the table, setting them on the waiting charger plates and gesturing for the other two Selestarri to take their places. The plates go into the oven to keep warm until they finish the soup, and by the time he’s collected his own glass of wine and the bottle, Lan and Sashi have snuffed out their cigarettes and taken their seats. Sinking into the dining chair, the younger Dark takes a moment to refill his brother and the Bright’s glasses, and raises his for a toast. Glancing at Lan, he gives the other man a warm smile. [As our guest, would you do the honors?]

[B A C K] + [M A I N] + [N E X T]

The Angel Hunt story has been written by Nezumi LacSeul and is (C) 2004 - Present. All Streifen characters belong to Evphaedrielle. Please don't use, steal or borrow any part of it or take in whole.