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Author Topic: Things You Can't Outrun  (Read 3407 times)

Rian

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Things You Can't Outrun
« on: January 15, 2015, 01:50:00 PM »
The shower was sudden and soft, a kind type of rain that kissed the ground gently and insistently. It was undoubtedly wet but it could have been much worse; it was light enough that Rian’s cloak and hood kept it out and she was nearly home, anyway (it was still strange to think of Ered Luin – or anywhere, really – as home, but the word tripped off her tongue instinctively now). She was content to listen to the whispers and trickles of water surrounding her as she made her way steadily up the road towards the gates. Couldn’t have been more than a mile or two away, and she had always liked rain.

 The letter that had given her an excuse to leave the underground city had been delivered without incident, a simple missive to a logger telling him to change the latest order for firewood. The day before had been taken to get most of the way there and then she had camped for the night, delivered this morning and would be back well before nightfall. She had taken to messages cautiously, keeping her burdens light and her range short but completing each delivery quickly and efficiently. It appeased her wanderlust fairly well, reminded her of the taste of the road and gave her a chance to breathe away from the picking eyes of the city. Sometimes she even went with Kvas, sharing the road until they had to split, and that was even better. That was the intention with the last leg of this journey – they’d both be returning at the same time if all had gone well, though the rain might have chased Kvas on inside the city’s secondary entrance. He was good at knowing when it was coming whereas usually she didn’t realise until the first drops hit her.

 Rian tipped her head back a little to see out from under her hood, checking the road ahead. Soon enough there was a junction with the main road in, and there were often people on it. Most would be rushing in now in an attempt to avoid the rain before it got any worse. If Kvas was waiting for her, that’s where he’d be.

 A sigh escaped her when sharp green eyes picked up nothing but water moving, branches stirring in the wind and shaking  glistening droplets from leaves just beginning to brown. Ah well, there would be another day. A very small, constantly ignored part of her was worried about how much she was starting to miss him when he was away, about the strange glow inside her when he wasn’t. About the incomprehensible, hard-to-describe draw that warred with the fact that she didn’t want to push him forcefully past his fear of being touched – she was fairly tactile but around Kvas it was magnified, her deft fingers reaching for his when they didn’t need to, giving light touches to shoulders or elbows, and when they ended up suddenly too close a few times in the forge she hadn’t actually minded. These things hadn’t always been there, they were new. And she was doing her outright best to starve them into nonexistence by never acknowledging their presence, even to herself. So far that hadn’t worked, but Rian was pretty determined. It had to work because she had no idea what else she could possibly do.

 Leather boots scuffed past another puddle and she looked up again, squinting. Just making sure that – ah, there was a shadow in under the trees. As she approached and could see more she recognised him, putting momentary fears that it was someone else to rest. Awakening momentary self-directed suspicion at the warmth that bloomed in her chest, matching the delight colouring her voice. “Kvasir!” She took the last little bit slightly faster, the quicker pace giving her in idea. He didn’t have his pony today, they’d both be on foot. Hmm. Better to reach him first, though. “Hope I didn’t keep you waiting too long.” Barely a note of apology even if she was a little touched he hadn’t just gone on, and her lips quirked a little more.


(#008A15)

Kvasir

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Things You Can't Outrun
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2015, 09:51:00 PM »
The soft patter of rain was oddly soothing, shielded as Kvasir was from the worst of downpour by hood and tree alike.  On occasion a merchant, hunter or traveller would trundle by on the muddy track and he would lift his gaze expectantly, feeling an odd flutter in his chest.  Rian?  Every time he was met with disappointment, he averted his gaze and worried his bottom lip with his teeth, confused by the feelings she stirred in him.  It was easier not to examine them too closely, to not ask why – after all these years – something akin to desire had finally chosen to stir in his heart.

Except Kvas could not resist dancing around the periphery of that question.

That he cared for Rian was no surprise – she was his friend – but thoughts of her invaded his head with increasing frequency.  If he had to guess, Kvasir would have said the change had occurred sometime after they took to the forge together, following their flurry of written exchanges.  Perhaps it was when he covered her hand with his, adjusting her grip on the hammer handle, murmuring barely audible instruction on the angling of her strikes.  Or maybe it was those stolen moments when he watched her work, admiring the sparks and fire reflected in her fierce green eyes, or how her lips set neatly together with concentration.  On occasion she even graced his dreams, as a smoky laugh and a swish of soft, flaxen hair.  That Rian’s tresses were soft, he knew for a fact, having brushed his fingertips carefully through them only weeks ago.  Such a memory ought not to be dwelt on, given its sorry circumstances, but still it insisted on nagging him.  

Leaning back on the trunk, Kvas bent a knee to rest a booted foot against the bark and breathed deep the clean smell of falling rain, wilfully changing the direction of his thoughts before they could set his face to burning.  From all accounts the occasional messenger was a good one.  Conscientious, trustworthy and quick – she might even put him out of business.  With that thought, he smiled vaguely to himself, grateful that he did not need to worry about his friend unduly.  Rian was capable, having travelled far more of Middle Earth than he had himself and emerged largely intact.

The sound of his name made him straighten, boot slipping from the trunk and onto the soft earth.  Rian.  A bright grin lit Kvasir’s face as he walked from the shelter of the tree and onto the path.  A careful and mostly unnecessary glance around him – it was unlikely anyone would venture above ground in this weather unless they had to – ensured that nobody else was around to hear him.  Whether it was a gift or a curse to the poor lass, Rian was the only one he spoke to.

“Hey R’en.”  Kvas watched her approach, tilting his head, puzzled and pleased by her quickened pace in equal measure.  Surely she couldn’t be that happy to see him?  The fact that he would have gladly waited until night fell and then a little longer, just to share the last few miles home with his friend, did not pass his lips.  Instead he answered more plainly, given that he could not have been lingering by the road for more than an hour or two.  “Nah.  Good t-trep?”

.~.~.~.

Translations (definitely not necessary this time, oh well):
“Hey Rian.”
“Nah.  Good trip?”

Rian

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Things You Can't Outrun
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2015, 11:26:00 AM »
Kvasir hadn’t seen her coming – her call caused an instant reaction, his silhouette breaking away from the trees and gaining colour and texture as he moved out of the shadows, a smile brighter than the entire day greeting her. He glanced around, as always, her gaze following his to double-check unnecessarily. He was careful about only speaking to her, and while she didn’t quite know why she was the only one he trusted with his voice she took the gift seriously. It was a secret she had no intention of spilling, his tones – even a little mangled (sometimes she felt the both of them were, too) though she was sure he was improving as time went on – something she had every intention of treasuring.

 He seemed almost puzzled at her change in pace – defensiveness flared briefly, she had good reasons for speeding up, there was nothing else to it – but happy to see her, too. That was definitely mutual.

 “Nah. Good t-trep?” Rian shrugged one-shouldered, readjusting her light pack, the habit formed when using both was painful. The bruises were gone and the cuts reduced to neat pink lines, but her shoulder still wasn't perfect. It was a lot better, though, and she was only reminded of the painful dislocation when she tried to move her arm above horizontal. Even that movement was returning, day by day. As evidenced by the loose fist lifted easily to brush his wet shoulder before she let it fall to normal height for him to clasp.

 “Mm. Good. A little boring, though.” A hint of mischief lit her eyes for a moment. But we can fix that. For a moment she considered taking off then and there, leaving him in her dust – well, mud, today – but that would have been rude and she was curious, and no harm would be done in letting Kvasir relax into his stride first, giving them a short moment to talk before the race he didn't know was coming. She was biding her time, waiting for an opportune moment, and ironing the most of the anticipation out of her movements as they fell into step. Green eyes found his blue again, bright in the shadows of his hood. “And yours?”


(#008A15)

Kvasir

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Things You Can't Outrun
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2015, 04:14:00 PM »
The friendly brush of Rian’s fist against his shoulder only caused Kvasir’s smile to widen and grow more crooked.  His hand went to hers immediately, fingers filling the familiar spaces between her own, grateful that in her company he had no need to sign or scribble.  Hours spent at the forge were gradually making themselves known in Rian’s palms, callous developing now they were reacquainted with hammer and tongs, but still her hand fitted his far more comfortably than any chip of marble long worn smooth.  It was amazing, really, that each of them had made it to adulthood with both hands intact – the scar on Rian’s wrist a constant reminder that they ought to be thankful for such mercy.  Kvasir’s expression softened at this thought, his body relaxing into an unhurried stride.

The rain had made his cloak heavy, soaking into the thick fabric.  With his free hand, Kvasir thoughtlessly adjusted its position at his shoulder.  He found himself recalling that day he had encountered Rian east of the Misty Mountains, though he had not recognised her then.  There was no mistaking her now, her hair unashamedly blonde, the easy smile on her lips, sunlight dancing in those bright shades of green.  Kvas read it as amusement, half expecting Rian to elaborate.  When she didn’t, he instead turned his attention to his answer with a gentle tilt of his head.  

“Naw bad, ta.  No surprithes.”  The errand had been a simple one, an official-looking document carried a short distance north to a small community that had grown up around a quarry.  Something to do with auditing, Kvas supposed, or accountancy.  One of those fancy careers that involved tallying numbers, reviewing, shifting parchment from one side of a desk to another.  An alien concept to him.  Work without blood and sweat was almost unimaginable.  “Theh alwayth look so s-stunned when theh open the door t’ meh.  Li’ Ah migh’ rob ‘em, or beg fo’ food.”  The exile’s grin flashed back into brilliance, saying without words that there might be an ounce of wisdom in that.

.~.~.~.

Translations:
“Not bad, ta.  No surprises.”
“They always look so stunned when they open the door to me.  Like I might rob them, or beg for food.”

Rian

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Things You Can't Outrun
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2015, 09:42:00 PM »
Rian suspected she hadn’t hidden the flash of her intention, but it mattered little. Even if Kvasir thought she was up to something, he almost certainly wouldn’t guess what, and even if he did it wouldn’t make his start faster than hers. His journey sounded the same as hers – uneventful, routine.

 “Theh alwayth look so s-stunned when theh open the door t’ meh. Li’ Ah migh’ rob ‘em, or beg fo’ food.” Mixed emotions in her smile now – she was amused, happy at his bright grin, the teasing at the situation. And a trace of rankling at the way people judged.

 She abandoned the first words to come to mind before they’d fully formed – something she didn’t want to acknowledge about how it was probably just his good looks surprising them. A laugh stirred under her voice, tone warm in the hissing rain. “Why is it that people think we’d knock and then rob them?” It made no sense but sometimes people shrank away from her, too – less often when they could see the feminine slant of her face, though. Then there was mainly confusion. Her smile turned sardonic. “Mine nearly had a heart attack when he realised I’d travelled on my own, poor thing. If only he knew.” A theatrical sigh, and she flicked back rain-darkened hair that had fallen into her face. The remembrance of the tree-feller’s attempt to chastise her out of running messages made defiance bloom inside her, a desire to immediately do something fun and likely frowned upon. She had hidden the reaction under a veneer of politeness before but now there was no need. Green eyes searched the road ahead, and when she found it empty she twisted quickly to check behind them. Empty as well, as far as she could see down the forks. Opportune moment.

 “Kvasir.” Her eyes were still directed back as she paused, trying to draw his gaze after hers, get him facing the wrong direction. The distance would be too long for her to sprint at full speed, so any advantage would be taken. And no one had ever accused her of being overly fair in the first place. Maybe it was her competitive streak rearing – she was in this more for the running and the company than the winning, but she wouldn’t object to getting to the gate first. The next words were sudden but clear, delivered in the same measured tone of voice as a smile stretched again. “Race you back.”

 Then she was moving, worn boots kicking up splashes of mud as she took off. Her hood lasted a good five steps before it blew down, water spattering her face as she grinned, discarding the memory of another rainy sprint along a darker road. This was different, so different she could scarcely believe that the chases had the same participants. It was so much better in so many ways this time; the elation of running magnified by happiness and fuelling a burst of acceleration, a lighter heart seeming to take the half her load and speed her further along. Now she didn’t fear losing.


(#008A15)

Kvasir

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Things You Can't Outrun
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2015, 03:52:00 PM »
(OOC:  ahsagsxvghdjwfc! *flails*  I have managed to keep most of my keyboard smashing to Skype but I couldn’t resist, not for this post… I hope this works?  *hides*)

In answer to Rian’s question, Kvasir shrugged his shoulders, making his small rucksack shift against the column of his spine, amusement dancing in shades of blue.  “Maybeh we loo’ poor, hungreh an’ stupid.”  Freedom came to him more easily than it did to his friend, he supposed, though she had never allowed the small matter of her sex to hold her back.  Bold, clever Rian.  “Ah worreh more ‘bout otheh trav’llers when you’re on the road.  Some poor soul migh’ ‘ave a saddlebag go mithin’.  Ah know ‘ow tha’ feels.”  Laughter bubbled up, the sound musical and intact, miraculously left undamaged by the biting edge of the hunting knife.  He would have nudged his shoulder against Rian’s own, to needlessly and wordlessly tell her that he was teasing, but a fear of hurting her settled Kvas on gently squeezing her warm hand instead.

Out of the corner of his eye, he became aware of Rian glancing around, and a formless curiosity poked at him.  Had she heard something?  Not that he felt particularly tense – Rian’s company had a way of softening his rough edges, this was a popular road and even the most desperate highwayman would be disappointed if the exile turned out his pockets.  It was the sound of Kvasir’s name that drew his bright, unseeing gaze away from the mucky road stretching ahead of them.  With a double-take, the ghostly smile that lingered around his lips died, blue eyes following Rian’s green in the direction of the empty road behind them.  “Wha’s it?”

Race you back.

Kvasir’s expression twisted with surprise and delight as Rian bolted, his own hood falling back as he immediately took off after her.  In his elation he didn’t even try to avoid the puddles, fat droplets of muddy water splattering his legs and boots.  Rian’s head start put her several long strides ahead of him, cloak flaring out behind, damp flaxen hair stealing the light from the overcast sky.  Maybe it was because he was starting from cold, having stood still and idle at the road side, or maybe it was the unseen and rarely felt scarring the consumption had left on his lungs, but a creeping dismay niggled that he wouldn’t be able to catch her.  That was when Kvas realised wasn’t racing Rian, as she had suggested they do, he was chasing her.  

Pushing himself harder, Kvasir forced himself to accelerate, his thundering heart in his throat as rain pattered softly on his face and soaked into his hair.  He drew level with Rian, matching her pace for a time, the sound of their heavy footfall occasionally striking out the same rhythm, not caring that he was splashing and being splashed.  The trees flew past him in a blur of forest green, the sodden ground rolling away beneath his booted feet, cool clean air filling his chest.  The gate was still out of sight when Kvas chanced a glance across at his friend.  Rian looked as exhilarated as he felt, her whole face lit up, green eyes keen and bright.  She was wild – and she was beautiful.

In that moment Kvasir’s head and heart disconnected, a wild and gasped laugh escaping as he asked a little more of his wiry body, forcing himself to overtake her.  He could not have pulled more than a length or two ahead when suddenly – thoughtlessly – he slowed, stepping into his friend’s path, bracing for the contact that he knew would come as the charging shape of Rian filled his open arms.  The fact that it was his own doing meant he was largely able to disguise the instinctive shudder that rolled through his frame.  Mercifully there was no time to think, to allow doubt to creep in through the cracks.

Kvas’ aim was truer than he could have hoped for, given how his blue eyes fluttered uncertainly shut.  His breathless kiss caught Rian’s perfect mouth square on, calloused hands landing inexpertly on her hips, anchoring him to her as a strange feeling of weightlessness stole over him.  Surely that was less intimate than allowing them to cradle her face?  Her lips were damp with the rain, but what struck him above all else was how warm they were – how soft – and he could have sworn they were still quirked at the corners, lifted either in amusement or surprise.  

.~.~.~.

Translations:
“Maybe we look poor, hungry and stupid.”
“I worry more about other travellers when you’re on the road.  Some poor soul might have a saddlebag go missing.  I know how that feels.”
“What is it?”

Rian

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Things You Can't Outrun
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2015, 11:00:00 PM »
Mirth bubbled up again with Kvasir’s reply, followed by a mock-reproachful hey at his tease. She ignored the disproportionate warmth that his rough fingers around hers stirred inside her, returning the squeeze with an almost soundless laugh.

 The diversion worked but her head start wasn't quite as substantial as she'd been hoping - she could feel Kvasir gaining on her almost immediately, creeping up faster than she had predicted (or maybe that was just her laughter slowing her) until their sure steps were splashing each other. She didn't mind, though, his grin flashing in the corner of her eye and pushing her on, not letting him gain any more ground. She could blame the pack or the mud or the undoubtable distraction that Kvas was, but she couldn't speed up any more without her stamina burning away and she needed to save it for the last stretch, try and shoot past Kvas then since she would never be able to maintain a lead the whole way there. It was looking like she wouldn’t be able to manage, though, as he shot ahead with more speed than she was expecting. Unless he was overestimating his own endurance and tired himself out too quickly – too much thinking. She ran better when she didn’t think, when it was pure instinct driving her. She lost her thoughts to the next few steps, words turning to sensations and kinetic intent inside her head. Replacing cognition with impulses.

 Kvasir was suddenly in her path, turned around and stopped, and leather boots slid in the mud in her attempt to check her progress before she knocked him over. Panic, but not a bad panic. More like a fluttering surprise, a good shock. Still smiling as they collided, as the parts of her that embraced the confusing warmth she felt whenever Kvasir smiled understood and overrode the dregs of worry and logic before they could return.

 The kiss was warm and close and exhilarating and breathless, her hands sliding over his shoulders as his caught her hips, as she leaned into him. She was inexperienced and rushing but any worry was still far away, held back by a heart-driven tide of something like confidence, rooted in certainty that this was good, that this was right.

 A curtain of soft rain gusted over them and she broke away, still smiling but in need of a breath. Green eyes opened to search for his blue ones, and suddenly she was thinking again.

 Suddenly she was thinking, and panicking, and this time it was anything but pleasant. Her eyes flew wide with shock and she froze, breath solid ice in her chest. Oh no. No no no no no no. This wasn’t supposed to happen, this wasn’t good, she was already wrapped in barbed wire – she had dived right in herself – and there was no way to get free without tearing her skin but she had to get out. This (she refused to name it, naming it made it real and though it was in vain at this point she didn’t want to make it any more tangible) was danger and pain and certainty of bad things, bonds like hangman’s nooses, entrapment and hurt. It would claw her to pieces from the inside and lock away the shreds and she had to escape before it did, before – before she did the same to Kvasir.

 Running will hurt him too. But she was already running (hurting him), back the way she had come as though she could reverse time and put it back where it had been, undo this mistake (not a mistake) and start again (start over, this isn’t like back then, know it isn’t. Kvasir isn’t after a prisoner or a slave, not manipulating him – he kissed first. And I kissed back and - Try. Things can change.).

 Shut up I don’t want things to change shut up shut up shut up. Hitched breaths and fresh water cooled the flush of warmth that Kvasir had brought to her, and she wished the momentary numbness would sink in and obliterate the war raging inside her ribcage. She had to run harder, had to make the pain in her lungs surpass the rest and let the wind and rain whipping past her tear the words and the conflict away, had to stop thinking.

 Can’t run from yourself. She swiped a hand over her face and pushed her burning leg muscles harder.
 Watch me.
 Shouldn’t run from Kvasir. Rian swore under her breath and forced herself not to slow. She didn’t have much choice.
 Coward. Selfish coward. She knew that, and she’d generally been alright with it before, but Kvas – Kvas deserved an explanation. One she wasn’t sure she could give, and stopping would only hurt more. For both of them.
 Don’t know that. Don’t even know why I'm running. Old reasons don’t apply with him. Running away is a bad habit, should break it. Why hadn’t she stopped thinking yet? The pace should have erased the words by now, but they were only buzzing louder and louder as her stamina flagged. A part of her, just as hard to silence as the rest, wondered how long he had felt for her as something other than simply a friend.

 Rian stumbled to a halt, pushing the heels of her hands into her eyes as though she could press away the words. The last time she had run away from Kvasir had been more than two years before – it would soon be three – and she had regretted the hurt she had caused then ever since. She couldn’t run, couldn’t break her strongest friendship no matter what. Couldn’t stay, couldn’t let herself be trapped. She knew Kvasir wouldn’t try to, and that threw her into more confusion, because what if it was possible – No.

 Maker. What’m I doing?” Her hoarse whisper was desperate, so muffled and distant that she felt rather than heard herself say it.

 Running away and hurting him and being lost, unsure of herself and caught between two absolutes – an impossibility and a truth. This seemed familiar, but Rian couldn’t think – couldn’t accept – a way for it to turn out so happily this time.


(#008A15)

Kvasir

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« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2015, 01:14:00 AM »
Whatever tension sparked at the light touch of Rian’s hands on his shoulders was washed away by the gentle and responsive press of her lips.  The kiss that Kvas feared he had stolen was offered freely, clumsy with their shared inexperience, but heavy with unspoken feeling.  Perfect, so far as he was concerned.  His mutilated tongue was a horror story locked behind unyielding teeth, blissfully and miraculously forgotten – if just for a moment – while heart knocked loud and persistent against his ribs.  When Rian pulled away Kvasir made a small, breathless sound of contentment, blue eyes seeking green and finding them joyous.  This was good.  This was right.

Perhaps he would have spoken, or maybe he would have found the courage to kiss her again, but before he could do anything other than smile back in bewildered and wide-eyed affection, the moment shattered.  Kvas watched with confusion and then mounting dismay as regret and fear took hold of Rian, stealing the happiness from her face and the light from her eyes.

Wait – Ri – No!

But she was gone before Kvas could breathe those words to life, having turned on her heel and fled.  Fled him.  Suddenly it was as though there were hooks buried deep in his flesh and in his heart, wires growing taut and pulling hard as Rian ran.  That dizzying hurt had Kvasir bolting after her, in a burst of brilliant speed that too soon burned away to nothing as uncertainty consumed him.  He could not give chase.  Not now.  It would not be like moments before – laden with excitement, elation and anticipation – it would seem threatening, the act of a desperate man who would not take no for an answer.  The very possibility that Rian was saying no stung fiercely, stealing the breath from his lungs.  “R’en!”  Kvasir called after her, hating how choked and hoarse his voice sounded.  Can’t force this.  Give her time.

But what if she didn’t need time?  What if she just didn’t need him?

But she had kissed him back!

Worried hands pushed through his untidy unbraided hair before moving to linger over his mouth, hiding his treacherous lips.  Stupid, stupid, you’re so stupid Kvas!  What they shared – linked hands, low conversations and lingering touches – was good.  It was enough.  So why did he have to push it?  Because it felt right.  That he loved Rian, Kvasir had no doubt.  In truth he had known for a long time – she had claimed a place in his heart years ago, holding it for as long as he could remember – though the colour and shape of his feelings had shifted into something unrecognisable.  The boy born without desire had somehow grown into a young man with someone he wanted.  Someone who quite possibly did not want him in return.  You shouldn’t have kissed her.  That thought stalked the peripheries of his mind.  Still he wasn’t sorry – couldn’t be sorry – though he was afraid.  

Rian had sprinted far, running as fast as Kvas had ever seen her go.  With a strangled and wordless murmur, he went after her again, speeding up into an easy jog, stung by the sight of his friend with her hands shielding her eyes, distress written into every inch of her body.  How he wanted to know what was going through her mind, and whether she had it in her to even look at him. Vaguely it occurred to Kvasir that perhaps she was just scared, though the notion of Rian beginning afraid of him was almost as wounding as the possibility that she did not want him.  

“R’en…?”  Kvas tried again as he drew near, slowing to a halt and swallowing nervously to clear his throat.  It felt tight, too tight.  A paranoid glance over his shoulder confirmed needlessly that there was still nobody to hear him.  Nobody besides Rian, at least.  He stalked a little closer, carefully, as though she was a wounded animal.  “Ri?”  The rumour of a sad and confused smile was on his face, pained concern creasing his brow.  Had he broken it?  Whatever it was that they had?  “You… d’you wanna preten’ tha’ didn’ jus’ ‘appen?”  

Please don’t say you do.

.~.~.~.

Translations:
“Rian!”
“Rian…?”
“Ri?”
“You… d’you want to pretend that didn’t just happen?

Rian

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Things You Can't Outrun
« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2015, 02:49:00 PM »
It was a moment before Rian realised that she was alone, which made her glad at first (no one to see her break down like some useless, indecisive maiden in a story, whispering questions to the unhearing wind) but then achingly sad. He hadn’t followed her. She had been vaguely sure, somewhere beyond the maelstrom in her heart and head, that she had felt him behind her at the beginning, but now there was silence but for the hissing rain. Maybe he didn’t want to, didn’t want her on second thought, or maybe he was giving her space, but a part of her cried out illogically that Kvasir was supposed to follow her. Wasn’t supposed to let her run away. He had looked so joyful and genuine in the moment before she ran, he had kissed her, he wasn’t supposed to let her leave him behind so easily.

 But no, if he had just chased her down again then she would have hated that, too – she didn’t want to be hunted down like prey, knew the Kvasir she – knew he wasn’t so forcefully desperate as to try and make her do anything. He knew who she was. He wouldn’t hurt her, wouldn’t risk her, wouldn’t pretend that his wishes and opinions automatically trumped hers. He valued what they had just as much as she did, he wouldn’t ruin it.

 She had a say. She wasn’t being pushed or corralled or chained, so there was nothing but habit and the less easily admitted fears to keep her back, and there was – she couldn’t deny it any longer – there was a part of her that wanted to run back and kiss him again.

 Steps separated from the soft hissing of rain, slowing cautiously. There went that dilemma. Kvas wasn’t leaving her alone but he wasn’t trying to catch her, either. “R’en…?” Rian kept her hands pressed over her eyes and didn’t turn to face him, clinging to the illusion of distance between them. Make your bloody mind up. She couldn’t answer that familiar voice, careful and nervous. Not like she was porcelain, like she was a person. With a choice to make. Do you know how completely unique you are, Kvas?

 “Ri?” Kvas was closer now. Turn around. Look at him. Not yet, she couldn’t yet, she had to make a decision. Had to think, much as she’d been trying to avoid it earlier. This wasn’t a contradiction she could run from. She dipped her head in half a nod, making a conflicted noise, letting him know she knew he was there. It was all the answer she could muster for now. “You… d’you wanna preten’ tha’ didn’ jus’ ‘appen?”

 This would have been so much easier if he wasn’t so… Kvasir. If she really did unquestionably want to do that, if their bond hadn’t been changing for a while now without her conscious acknowledgement. Or if he did something wrong. If he tried to force her then she could run and have done with it. But he didn’t. He gave her an option, gave her the choice of trying to undo the past few minutes, of going back to how things had been, even if by his voice he didn’t want to. Rian had long lost track of whether they were friends because they were like this or if they were like this because they were friends. If they meshed because they simply did or because they wanted to, because they cared enough to work together and around each other. Either way, the fact was that they did fit together, that she did trust him with her life, that somewhere recently along the line her heart had gone and become attached in some new and different way to the old familiar platonic bonds – the ones that had made it so easy to admit to herself that she loved him as a friend – and the part of her that wasn’t terrified was completely and utterly joyful about it, and refused to step down. And he felt the same way. It was written large in his voice, and she had felt it in the kiss and seen it in his eyes.

 “No.” Fierce, low and longing for him. But bonds like these were wounds waiting to happen, deeper and wider than she thought she could survive. The closer you allowed someone, the more you could injure each other. The thought made her panic, as much because she was sure she’d hurt him as because she was afraid of being hurt. And she wasn’t… She was an eclectic collection of lies and contradictions. She couldn’t even figure out who she was sometimes; how could he know her well enough to know he-? (Because he’s Kvas. And apparently he does.) He couldn't. She couldn't do this.

 “Yeah.” Conflict was clear in her tone and Rian dropped her hands, the dim light still too bright for her eyes after so long in darkness. She didn’t want to turn around. The rain running over her rapidly blinking lids was cool and refreshing and hid the other moisture forming; this was alright for now. She would have to face him eventually, though. “You don’t. I don’t know, Kvas. I’m…” A mirthless laugh, still slightly out of breath. She couldn’t lie, even when she couldn’t see him. Not a massive surprise seeing as she couldn’t even spin him an untruth from the other side of the city through a shield of paper. The smoke damage left hoarse cracks in her voice as she went on, wound tight with internal strife. “I’m terrified. Don’t know what I’m doing. What we're doing.” Do you? She drew in a deep breath, trying to calm down, and released it in a shuddering gasp of clashing emotions.


(#008A15)

Kvasir

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Things You Can't Outrun
« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2015, 09:28:00 PM »
All of his focus was trained on Rian’s wet and darkened tresses, on the small and uncertain noise that somehow reached his ears over the pounding of his heart and the incessant whisper of raindrops.  No.  Kvasir’s shoulders slumped, tension leaving them, the relief evident on his face.  It was with a growing smile that he stepped closer – but his jubilation proved premature.  Rian changed her mind, halting him in his tracks, tired-looking boots sinking into the mud along with his heart.  Dread bloomed like a poisonous flower as Kvas’ smile withered and died.  She was afraid.  Of him.  Of them.  

I’m scared too.  

Whatever this was, it was genuine.  It was not comparable to the clinging of a desperate boy soldier infatuated with the idea mutual unhappiness.  There was more at stake and he had less to give.  Rian could do better.  Doubt seeped into him like water into a keeling ship.  What had he to offer, besides himself?  Certainly not the security and comfort of riches – he could not even guarantee to keep the bite of hunger at bay during the long winter months.  Worst of all was the sly whisper that reminded Kvas he wasn’t complete.  He was scarred and broken and damaged, he could not bear to be touched without shuddering unhappily.  Something to be pitied, not loved.  But the Rian he knew did not care for such things.  She saw beyond the frivolities of material wealth and did not seek someone to act as her keeper.  With a tremulous breath Kvasir paused to push back the damp hair that was sticking to his brow.  At least they were talking.  This was progress.  

“Ah dunno eitheh.  S’new t’ meh.”  The confession came quietly, with a sad shake of his head.  They were together in their cluelessness and honesty had to be better than false confidence and bravado.  There was no telling where this path would lead them, or how far things would change.  The sheer uncertainty was terrifying.  Rian was independent, capable, clever and made to fly.  He could not stand to be the one to clip her wings or to weigh her down – and he was not without baggage.  Líknví and little Muradel walked in his shadow, looking to him in times of need.  He adored the girls and had a duty of care to them.  Maybe Rian saw that and spooked, fearing he would shoehorn her into the role of elder sister or, more intimidating still, a role more similar to that of mother.

Kvasir edged closer, nipping his bottom lip nervously between his teeth.  “Theh’s… theh’s an us though, righ’?”  The breathless excitement of their letters, their moments of nearness in the forge, the emotion in that brief kiss, how Rian had filled spaces in his life that he hadn’t even realised were there… it all had to mean something.  “Even if weh don’ hol’ ‘ands or… or kith.”  Kvasir swallowed shyly and could feel the colour rising in his face – it almost made him grateful that she wasn’t looking at him.  “Theh’s still an us becauth you matteh t’ meh an’ Ah know Ah matteh t’ you.”  A weak smile tugged at his mouth, hopeful and fearful both.  “An’ Ah like tha’.  Mattehin’ t’ you.  Seein’ you ‘appy.  Makin’ you laugh.”  The temptation was there to reach out, to embrace her, to bow his head and press his face into those wet, clinging locks.  Instead Kvasir chose to settle a hand lightly on her uninjured right shoulder, a small contact that she could easily pull away from.  It wasn’t his place to convince Rian of anything, but at the very least he could reassure her.  “Ah jus’… Ah’m your frien’, Ri.  Whateveh ‘appens.”  

Even if you do break my heart.

.~.~.~.

Translations:
“I don’t know either.  It’s new to me.”
“There’s… there’s an us though, right?”
“Even if we don’t hold hands or… or kiss.”
“There’s still an us because you matter to me and I know I matter to you.”
“And I like that.  Mattering to you.  Seeing you happy.  Making you laugh.”
“I just… I’m your friend, Ri.  Whatever happens.”

Rian

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« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2015, 04:58:00 PM »
“Ah dunno eitheh. S’new t’ meh.”

 Rian couldn’t help it – she smiled. A little desperate and a little scared, but a smile. They were in it together, and a part of her that was steadily snapping more and more of its repressing cage into tiny pieces said triumphantly that that was how it should be. It didn’t matter how uncertain everything was, so long as they were side by side.

 And she hadn’t considered that he was as inexperienced as she was, as completely out of his depth. He hadn’t spent years fighting the assumption that he’d be sold off to the highest bidder and locked away from the sun, but he definitely hadn’t grown up surrounded by good examples of romantic relationships. She nearly flinched at the thought. The situation she had grown up in had given her more reasons than she could count to never let herself feel and be bound like this, but compared to his it seemed positively encouraging. It was a miracle either of them would ever have the slightest wish to kiss anyone willingly – it almost defied belief that it had just happened. That her heart still gave odd little mildly panicking jumps when she thought of it, when she thought of him. Following her – not abandoning, not hunting.

 If he’s willing to try, so should you.

 It didn’t work like that, though. Just because she got on so well with Kvasir, because they clicked and they were friends and he wanted to be something else as well – it didn’t mean they had to be. These things had to be two-sided to be real. There was such a thing as a platonic relationship, and she had had herself convinced that that was all she would ever want, and maybe he could be happy with that. But was that still what she wanted? Or would she simply be avoiding a good thing out of habit, letting long-held opinions trap her as surely as an arranged marriage could have?

 She refused to be trapped. But maybe they weren’t caging, maybe they were sensible, and she couldn’t just toss them aside. It was difficult to let go of a lifetime of reservations – individually she could probably deal with them, but there was a sheer wall pushing her back that was simply overwhelming. And some things – some huge things, like we will only hurt each other and how do you know who I am – weren’t solved so simply.

 “Theh’s… theh’s an us though, righ’?” Rian’s head raised, listening intently. If there was one thing she was sure of, it was that they were an us. She just didn’t have a clue what kind they were, what they could be, what they should be, what she even wanted them to be. The kind they always had been or the kind that – that held hands and kissed, as Kvas put it, voice quiet and searching.

 “Theh’s still an us becauth you matteh t’ meh an’ Ah know Ah matteh t’ you.” Rian smiled again, unable to stop the bloom of warmth at the apt words. They weren’t just passing fancies to each other – they mattered. She couldn’t begin to imagine life without him – it was like her earlier thought; they meshed. They had woven edges together until it was hard to tell if either could stand alone. Which was terrifying. She had always assured herself that there were no ties she couldn’t break if need be, but it had been clear for a while now that Kvasir was an exception. It wasn’t just that she didn’t want to lose him; she didn’t think she could and still be her. She worried about who she was, but he steadied her, and he knew. He knew her better than she knew herself. Well enough to know he lo- “An’ Ah like tha’. Mattehin’ t’ you. Seein’ you ‘appy. Makin’ you laugh.” She dipped her head in a nod, wanting to say it’s mutual but unable to get it past the sudden tightness in her throat. Like the sparking heat in her chest had welded it shut. A hand rested lightly on her good shoulder, warmth seeming to soak through the layers immediately. “Ah jus’… Ah’m your frien’, Ri. Whateveh ‘appens.” Rian tipped her head to press a wet cheek to his familiar, gentle fingers, wondering if he could feel the conflicted tug at the corners of her lips to match the unsure smile in his voice. This – this consideration, this care – this was part of why she loved him. And this time the word didn’t make her flinch so much internally, as she noticed with no small degree of surprise.

 This was a choice, and hard as it was to accept, she wasn’t being pushed either way. There would always be an us encompassing the both of them, no matter which path she tipped them down. Staying as they had been was safe and known and the slightest bit stifling – she didn’t want to do that. At least not entirely. Kvasir didn’t want that either, though he would accept it (it was so strange feeling like she didn’t want to overpower someone else’s wishes rather than fighting to have her own heard). But being something else was alarming, alien; a leap in the dark that she had always thought would end in being smashed to pieces on stony ground. Her breath still seized at the thought, panic a vice around her chest. It loosened slowly, and then she could talk.

 “Good. I’m… I like mattering t’you, too. I like being friends, and I’ll always be one to you.” She spoke quietly, shaping her smoky tones carefully as they spilled on to his hand on her shoulder. Each word was important, so sincere it scared her. “And… Yeah. I like being an us. I don’t want to be without you, Kvas. Not ever.” Making a smaller decision first, Rian reached up to lace her fingers through his and moved back the slightest bit, closer to him. Still not quite ready to turn around and be confronted with his expressive blue eyes, but closer. She swallowed, hoping distantly that the smoke wouldn’t choose this moment to crack her voice into inaudibility. “That’s… That’s what scares me. The more – the more we grow together and the more we matter to each other, the more we might hurt each other. I know we wouldn’t mean to, but… We might.” This wasn’t coming out the way she wanted it to, but she pressed on. “I’ve been sure since before I can remember that nothing was worth that risk and now… Now I’m not, and I’m scared.” Her fingers tightened around his. “I’m not that brave, Kvas. I don’t know what to do.” I don’t want to be hurt and I don't want to hurt you.


(#008A15)

Kvasir

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Things You Can't Outrun
« Reply #11 on: January 26, 2015, 04:58:00 PM »
Half of him expected Rian to spook beneath the sudden and steady weight of his hand, to sprint off along the muddy path once more, away from the sturdy gates of Ered Luin and away from him.  The cold stone walls of the mountain settlement and the warmth of his scarred arms were not so different, Kvas supposed, for each might offer safety and comfort at the same time as trapping and strangling.  Perhaps this was how it was meant to be; maybe he was destined to never quite catch her, to never hold her for more than a moment.  That would not be so sorry a fate, though Kvasir could not deny he nurtured a glimmer of shapeless hope for something more.

Rian’s back remained to him – an unspoken gesture of trust, in its own way – when she tilted her head, a soft and rain-soaked cheek pressing comfortingly against his fingers.  If Kvas had to guess, judging from the tug of tension that played about her mouth, she was either smiling or on the verge of tears.  Maybe both.  Her words drifted to him over the patter of raindrops, husky, soft and low, as though spoken through the veil of smoke that had irrevocably roughened her voice.  They were heart-wrenchingly sincere and bone-achingly fearful, shaped into an answer that felt distinctly like a no.  Not even the warm tingle of Rian’s breath against his hand was able to stave the growing trepidation that, with the eager meeting of their lips, they had asked a question that neither was ready to answer.  The fierce joy kindled in that brief moment, where they had suspended all thought and acted instinctively, faded by degrees.

She’s still your friend.  
She’ll always be your friend.
 

This consolation was resonating through Kvasir’s skull when Rian’s hand found his, nimble fingers threading with his, her body shifting a little closer.  Kvas could not help but respond, edging cautiously forwards, their shared fear of hurting one another making the small distance between them seem almost insurmountable.  Maybe he was worth the risk; maybe he was worth his friend having to question one of the great unfaltering pillars or her life.  Or maybe he wasn’t.  The scales tipped and swayed, vying for dominance, his heart hanging in the balance.  When Rian’s grip tightened, Kvasir squeezed back.

Please don’t be scared.  Not of me.  I won’t hurt you.

“Mebeh… mebeh weh don’ ‘ave t’ know wha’ weh’re doin’.  Weh can jus’… keep goin’.”  Drawing in a breath and holding it, Kvas eased closer, his chest pressing lightly against Rian’s back.  His scars grumbled and protested the contact immediately, his heartbeat spiked with irrational fear, but this was Rian.  She had been patient, the countless small touches they had shared acting as stepping stones.  They had come far.  This was getting easier.  Quietly, tremulously, Kvasir exhaled, fighting the desire to pull back and find safety in distance, in being remote.  The small victory was marred, however, by the incessant hum and itch of his right forearm, the loudest of his marks.  Beneath tunic, carefully wound bandage and leather the word kalilel murmured devilishly.  Treacherous.  It was not true, not for Rian, but perhaps old wounds – the false belief he had betrayed her, carried for all those years – had worked its way into her bones.  Maybe she could not bring herself to trust him implicitly, not with something as important as her freedom nor with something as important as her heart.  

Yet there were other words to counter that, written not into his flesh but stitched carefully onto the inner forearms of the leather vambraces he wore, put there by Rian’s own fair hand.  They were new, Kvas still growing accustomed to how they hugged, but already they were cherished as his most prized possession, along with the silver clasp his mother had given him all those years ago.  Not even his sword came close.  Dijnûr one whispered reassuringly against his skin, bâhel sang the other softly.  

Trustworthy.  Friend of all friends.

“Weh can…”  try.  The sentence went unfinished, sounding too much like pleading inside Kvasir’s own head.  He pressed his lips together thoughtfully, choosing his next words with care.  The proximity made him aware of the inch or two he had on her in height – and in the wider breadth of his shoulders – prompting vague recollection of a time, before the trials of adolescence, when they had been a similar size and shape.  Both narrow in the hips, slender in the limbs and pinched in the face.  “M’yours, Ri.  You can ‘ave s’much or as li’l ‘f meh as you wan’.”  For a moment he considered reminding her that he wasn’t some strange suitor hand-picked by her brothers – someone interested only in her as a vessel, as a housekeeper – but Rian knew that already.  Hers was a fear of entrapment, a fear of hurt.  “Ah’ll neveh run freh-from you.  Only to you.  Weh-with you.”  Emotion made the words heavy and slow, while the fumbled enunciation shamed him completely.  This was a promise, ugly as it was in its presentation, to always stay with her.  

In spite of his state of anxiety, or perhaps because of it, Kvasir was emboldened.  His free hand shifted to catch the heavy curtain of damp flaxen hair – it was soft and smooth, even when wet – fingertips gently sweeping it around Rian’s neck and over her opposite shoulder, revealing the smooth skin of her throat, the line of her beardless jaw, the corner of the mouth he had kissed.  “Or afteh you.”  A small, wordless sound that might have been a breathless chuckle died before it truly formed.  How he wished he could see her eyes.  Were they bright, reflecting the living green of the forest?  Or were they hooded, heavy with fear?  He needed to look at her if – when – he told her what they both already knew, even if it meant that there was no possible way to take back this afternoon without one or both of them hurting.  “Ah wish you cou’ see wha’ Ah do.  You’re s’much braveh than y’know.”

.~.~.~.

Translations:
“Maybe… maybe we don’t have to know what we’re doing.  We can just… keep going.”
“We can…”
“I’m yours, Ri.  You can have as much or as little of me as you want.”
“I’ll never run from you.  Only to you.  With you.”
“Or after you.”
“I wish you could see what I do.  You’re so much braver than you know.”

Rian

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« Reply #12 on: January 27, 2015, 05:21:00 PM »
Kvasir blocked the rain and cold at her back, substituting it with solid warmth. Something she could lean against – she was tempted to, since the foundations of never let anyone this close felt so awfully close to crumbling. But fear was stubborn, so she clung to her shaky self-built walls for now. They felt like sand drying to dam a river – washed away as fast as she could shore them up. Maybe. Maybe we can just guess our way. Together. Or stay in the safe, known, well-lit routes that they’d always walked and run. Rian had stolen and lied and cheated her way out of dire straits more times than she could count, weighed and measured words when their reception would decide whether she lived or died, but this choice felt like it mattered more.

Kvasir’s breathing shuddered against her back and she waited for him to pull back, for his reasons to keep clear to drag him away like hers did. She knew she’d feel the loss of his warmth and solidity, feel more precarious than she had before when she had stood alone but for the bridge of their joined hands. But the hollow space never opened, existing only in her worries. He’s willing to climb past his fears. Why can’t I?

 Because he’s braver than I am. Braver and kinder and steadier. She knew she should break away, put distance between them right at this moment if she intended to keep it and not let Kvas get used to it, not give him moments to miss. But she found she didn’t want to. She couldn’t. Couldn’t let go of him or of her cracked foundations, couldn’t step from one to the other. Not now, not yet.

 The next sentence went unfinished, and Rian was hesitant to guess its completion inside her head. We can what, Kvas? Her mind raced in circles, setting the scales more clearly. What the deepest parts of her wanted and feared, the sheer risk of that, against safety and habit, remaining atop her tower of sand and hoping it held, hurting her dearest friend as well as herself. She was a coward to even consider the second option, but Dyen’s empty-eyed gaze had followed her for too much of her life and that nearly made her grab for it, shrug off Kvasir’s hand and cloak herself in isolation. People could hurt you whether they intended to or not. When you tied your heart to someone else’s, stabs would carry from one to the other.

 And they were bound to take a few more knives between them – someone else would catch up with her, or the road would turn on Kvas. It wasn’t so much pessimism as realism.

 Not if we have each other’s backs. But they already did, and her shoulder still ached sometimes, and Kvasir’s collection of scars kept growing. They’d never be able to protect each other from everything.

 And that already hurt.
 And she already accepted that, already knew that it was worth it for the privilege of being friends.
 Was this any different, just because she’d thought about it first?

 Rian straightened, keeping her fingers around his to let him know that she wasn’t pulling away. Green eyes stared intently into the rain, as though the blurred distance would give her answers. More words broke the silence, piling on to her sliding indecision with terrifying weight. The offer made her wonder how much of herself she had given over in turn, worried her beyond belief. Have was a word she had always hated when referred to people. No one could own anyone – they could only try and trap them. But whatever was between them certainly wasn’t that, wasn’t so much taking as giving and sharing, weaving together. A well-meant and accidental sort of thievery as they took over corners of each other. A different sort of have. And he had as much of her as she had of him, whether he realised it or not. She was just a lot more hesitant to admit it, even to herself.

 The promise came slow and substantial, drops of molten gold that warmed her heart and burned the reaching tendrils of doubts, landed heavy on the side of the scales that would throw her into something unknown. Tipping it further, rocking her internal balance, tearing away at the base of her tower of sand. When people knew who and what she was, they tended to run. Maybe not literally, but they backed away and closed off and left her unless she left them first – but Kvasir didn’t. And he never would. It made her wonder just what in all of Aule’s works he saw in her.

 The shield of her damp hair was suddenly lifted, baring one side of her face and neck to cold rain and tempting her to look around, to see Kvasir properly rather than as a blurry presence in the very corner of her eye. The sensation was still alien – almost jarringly intimate – hands other than hers sweeping her rain-dark tresses sideways, but this time she didn’t flinch.

 “Or afteh you.” Rian couldn’t help the smile that matched his half-laugh, tense and unsure though it was. I’d prefer with.

 “Ah wish you cou’ see wha’ Ah do. You’re s’much braveh than y’know.” She blinked, stiffening in breathless shock for a moment. Flattery gets you nowhere- but this wasn’t the moment for flippancy. She tried to reply but the weight of the words had blocked her throat and she had to clear it, searching desperately for a way to frame what she felt, to shape the frothing rapids into something coherent.

 “Not sure I am. I have a bad habit of running away, y’know.” Not a particularly good start. She swallowed again, trying to work around the tightness in her throat. Vertigo swelled, the scales starting to come to rest. Pushing her one way, leaving the other inaccessible even as panic instinctively tried to drag her back to the space between. “But I’m… I think I’d prefer running with you, Kvas.” Slender fingers squeezed his again and didn’t loosen, the next words rushing in an insecure torrent as she lost her footing and started to fall. Or started to jump, running towards that leap in the dark. “Are you sure about this? About me. Me, Kvas, I’m not…” As brave as you think, I’m lost and scared and all I do is lie and take and injure. “Are you sure about being this kind of us? I don’t want to hurt you.” And I’m not sure I can avoid it and do you know what we’re risking and are you sure you want to trust me and what if what if what if-

 She could trust Kvasir. She did trust Kvasir, with everything she had. He wouldn’t do this lightly, wouldn’t skim over reservations, and he knew her well enough to not need warned.

 The decision terrified her still, but it had been made. The time for facing away was done. Hand still interlocked with his, Rian turned – it felt like dancing, even with mud splashing up from her boots – and faced him, green eyes searching, hoping, the slightest bit scared but sure and certain.


(#008A15)

Kvasir

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Things You Can't Outrun
« Reply #13 on: January 29, 2015, 07:05:00 PM »
Save for the small, involuntary shivers that occasionally rippled through his body – nerves sparked, complaining anxiously of the warmth that seeped out of Rian and into him, as though she might at any moment burn bright – Kvas was motionless.  Beneath the calm and steady blue eyes, behind the barely parted lips, he suffered the sensation of falling fast, his heart beating in his throat.  It was at odds with the serenity of their surroundings, clashing against the gentle kiss of raindrops, the whisper of the forest and the increasingly muted light of day.  Whatever inner turmoil Rian endured was evident only in her hesitancy, his friend choosing neither to recoil nor to lean closer.  Their fingers remained clasped, however, a physical manifestation of the confusing emotional bonds that tied them.  

A habit of running did not make Rian less brave, Kvasir thought but did not say, it made her a survivor, and that was admirable.  Tales of heroic deeds had proved no match for the reality of a childhood of hunger and fear.  Unfaltering bravery was synonymous with foolishness, fortune striking down the stupid as quickly as it favoured the bold.  Everything had to be weighed and measured and Kvas did not take the absence of an unshakeable answer to heart.  Maybe one day she would run from him, truly, with no desire to be chased or found.  Maybe one day she would leave him to be haunted by memories of moments such as this one, to cut himself on the razor-edged pieces of a broken heart while his faith in the world – his faith in others – was burned to ash and cast angrily into the empty spaces that she left within him.  If that ever happened it would not come unprompted.  Rian would never hurt him on a whim, of that he was certain.  Whatever their fate, Kvas wanted to walk this path, to take the chance of sorrow and hurt in the hopes of a happiness he had never dared dream of.  They might stand fast, side by side, fiercely protecting and loving one another until the Maker chose to unmake them.  

Or would their fate be to blinker themselves and keep walking the well-worn paths of friendship?

Kvasir waited.  Rain soaked through to his scalp, droplets cutting tracks over his cheeks, beading in his wet brown locks and catching in his short beard.  I think I’d prefer running with you, Kvas.  Wintery eyes blinked, almost surprised, his expression brightening slowly.  The next words came in a flurry, as though Rian had to utter them quickly to keep them from being locked away inside her forever.  What she wasn’t, Kvas did not guess, focusing instead on what he knew her to be, on what he saw as she turned to face him, her familiar hand warm, steady and reassuring in his.

Beautiful.  Clever.  Bold.  Wild.  Loyal.  Patient.  Kind.

How could she doubt her own courage?  There was more confidence in Rian’s face than concern, a certain determination underlying her features.  Shades of blue sought that green-eyed gaze.  She was a girl of many guises, a talented creature capable of adapting to her surroundings and deceiving the company she was in.  Her flaxen hair she could hide (a shame though that was), her smoky voice she could twist and her gender she could conceal – but her vivid eyes remained the same, as did the telling shape of her lips.  With that thought, Kvasir’s attention fell to that perfect mouth.  Rian made untruths an art form, spinning stories of such colour and complexity that even the most sceptical would believe her.  To him, however, she offered the gift of honesty, allowing the protection of falsehood to fall away.  There was unspeakable trust in that gesture and her quietly voiced fear of hurting him was so sincere that it pricked his heart.  Any pains their future held would surely be accidental, or necessary, and entirely forgiveable.  With any luck they would also be a poppy seed compared to their shared joys and moments of triumph.

It was better that they took this chance, that they nurtured what had already started to emerge and never have to look back and ask themselves what if.

“M’shuh.”  The corners of Kvasir’s own lips quirked, warm and certain.  “‘Bou’ you.  ‘Bou’ us.”  It was a pity that this moment had to be marred by his butchered voice, but not even the awareness of how he sounded could keep his smile from growing.  Nervousness bloomed as the admission that had sat heavy on his tongue demanded release, now that it seemed the decision was made and it could not be received as a ploy or some terrible form of emotional blackmail.  “Ah love you, Ri.”  The words were not said lightly – and they were surprisingly well-formed – nor was there any expectation of their return.  He had just needed her to know plainly.  Exhaling nervously, giving Rian’s hand a gentle squeeze that was meant to reassure himself as much as it was her, Kvasir continued quietly.  “An’ theh’s nothin’ you can do tha’ll change tha’.”  While it was truth he spoke Kvas was not entirely naïve.  There were certainly things Rian could do to make that love turn on him, to have it eat him up and tear him down, to destroy him from the inside out or to make it into something ugly rather than something beautiful – but he trusted her not to.  His faith in Rian was absolute, his trust in her complete.  Wordlessly he offered her his other hand for her to take, rain droplets pattering softly against calloused skin as it hovered vacant and hopeful.

.~.~.~.

Translations:
“I’m sure.”
“About you.  About us.”
“I love you, Ri.”
“And there’s nothing you can do that’ll change that.”
 

Rian

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Things You Can't Outrun
« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2015, 12:14:00 AM »
It felt like two years before, realising there was nothing to forgive; that same rushing release and suddenly Rian could breathe. A good thing, because she needed to. The pressure had been drowning her and a part of her still doubted - promised in panicked screams that she had made the wrong decision, chosen to dive to oblivion rather than surface. But it was a small part, and she could deal with it. There was no question that the flashes of panic were nothing more than remnants of something overcome, things to be rid of. The shattered shadows of bonds that couldn’t keep her back anymore. Nothing to fear. They were used to shouldering burdens and fixing wounds; her reluctance was no different. It would fade into nothing with time.

 Being this kind of us meant sharing the good as well as the bad, and Rian knew that she wanted that. That it would be more than worth it, that this was good and right and that it would work, that they wouldn’t tear each other apart. That they wouldn’t stop being them as soon as they kissed and turn into monsters that fought to the death, that they’d heal each other so much more than they hurt, that they would never stop being friends just because their hearts were bonded in another way, too. The sparks inside her had been allowed to flare and breathe, and they hadn’t immediately turned to devouring flames. It was more like a forge, steadily but fiercely warm.

 Green eyes met blue bright with joy, affection, trust, wonder – they echoed each other, magnifying and refracting in shades far more alive than cold emerald and sapphire. She had always loved Kvasir’s eyes, seen them wide as a horizon when there was no sky in the dusty corridors and later been unable to stop remembering his gaze on crisp, clear mornings. That particular light blue that never dimmed completely, that always had some brightness glinting in it no matter how dark everything seemed, no matter how intent the world seemed on snuffing it out and crushing him. Sharp and clever and lively and hopeful and steady and kind and expressive, eyes that had seen deeper into her than any others. Set in his familiar clean-cut features, the memorised planes she was sure she could sketch blindfolded, that she suddenly wanted to trace with deft fingers. The crooked grin that formed now, revealing straight white teeth as he confirmed his assurance, putting a few more doubts to rest. That smile always tugged her to return it and she did without reservation, easily, still scared of how oddly new everything seemed but relishing it. Rian felt a little like she was seeing him for the first time but not - closer and clearer but still familiar and dear, still the Kvas she had always known but in a different light. She wasn’t used to the impulse to kiss him, to run her fingers through his short unbraided hair and trail them along the line of his jaw. Wasn't used to that for anyone, was as curious as she was wary. Physical affection wasn't something she had practiced faking; a line that she refused to cross. She could count the times she'd been desperate enough to try on the fingers of one hand but didn't want to think on those brief panicked moments of mechanical manipulation - they had no more been the same than it had been the same to run for her life from guards as to race breathlessly and carefree with Kvas.

 Not so much, not too fast. Be careful, Rian. She had said she would run with him, but rushing too much would do no good. They were, after all, guessing their way. And while she had every intention of helping Kvas past his fear of touch as much as she could, she didn't want to worsen it accidentally. If there was one thing she would avoid at all costs, it was hurting him.

 “Ah love you, Ri.” The words caught her off guard, eyes snapping back from the mouth that had shaped the words, delivered their weight, surprised and unexpectedly delighted. The three syllables whirled and flashed inside her, adding to the tumult. Perhaps they should have scared her, so soon after thinking them impossible and terrifying – to be fair they still did scare her, but they thrilled her more. The smile quirking her lips was too slight for the wild joy they stirred, small and soft and genuine, full of affection and trust. Of appreciation for the depth and genuinity of the statement. Her foundations were shifting where she stood, but now they weren’t all she was leaning on.

 He was nervous too, clasping her hand more firmly as he continued. She returned the squeeze, eager to reassure even though the words wouldn’t form just yet for her to return. There were still too many leftover internal safeguards to break through, too much fear of the weight, and no small measure of reluctance to admit that she was capable of it. And accepting that someone else could love her – that Kvasir could love her, that this was something unshakeable and unconditional, genuine and deep, so unlike every other person to ever have claimed it because he meant it, he wasn't trying to guilt trip her or trap her or manipulate her, wasn't lying, he loved her - already seemed almost too much to deal with. It was unfamiliar in every way, her steps eager but blind, close to tripping.

 They could lean on each other, though; could steady and support and pull each other up. She took his other hand like a gift and a promise, scars and calluses familiar to her less toughened skin. For a moment she marvelled. They had been through so much, both together and apart. And they fitted like they’d been forged as a matching set, rain sliding over joined hands and tracing the edges of smiles. Her head tilted towards her curtain of hair, allowing the cool water to bead and trickle on her skin. She had always loved the rain, and she suspected that now she would love it more. That it would always whisper the echoes of this day to her.

 “Never thought I’d be happy to hear anyone say that.” Laughter stirred under her smoky voice, nervous but heartfelt. Were those the right words? Probably not, but she suspected perfect ones would be impossible to find. Kvasir needed to know that he was different, that she had no intention of twisting that attachment back on him or running from it, that it didn’t pour thick, paralysing fear into the space around her heart. It shook her and scared her, sure, but not in a bad way. Like a forge, which even with its pressing heat and deafening noise still struck happiness into her very centre. “But I am.” And I will do my best to live up to those words. She stepped in to bring one hand close and kiss his knuckles, freeing her fingers to reach for him and smooth along the defined line of his jaw, through his short beard. Green eyes stayed on blue and her smile grew. "I truly am." And I'm going to return them. The feeling was already there, deep and strong and alive. Somehow Rian knew what it was, even with no reference or past experience to identify it by. It was just difficult to voice, though she wanted to. She needed to.


(#008A15)

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