|Characters:||Kayid & Slip|
|Summary:||Kayid comes home after the party to find a tipsy Slip who accidentally opens the door for a heavy question.|
Slip should probably still be out there with the stragglers, but she's found her way inside, currently sitting in the dark, sprawled on the couch with a half-empty cup of mead nearby, unattended. For all intents and purposes, the bikini-clad hostess seems to be doing nothing but staring at the ceiling, but maybe she's listening to the music coming through the open backdoor. Or, more likely, she's eavesdropping on the others from afar just because she can.
In the midst of her eavesdropping she'd catch the no doubt familiar foot-steps on their approach up the alleyway. He's coming through the back gate, a few passing remarks with some of the stragglers about whether they had a good time, had Slip left, but the footsteps don't stall. Even when he snags a piece of pizza on the go and lets himself in the backdoor.
He drops his bag as he passes through the kitchen toward the living space in the front and the stairs. He didn't bother with the lights. He takes a bite of the cold pizza as he starts to step up the stairs, if she didn't interrupt him, but no further than the second one before he catches her scent and pauses, falling back a step to look over to the couch. "Seems it was all a success," comes first as he steps back down the steps. "Boris is nearly all by his lonesome out there." That would be the pegasus, full of hot air.
Slip smiles to herself when she hears those familiar footfalls, when Kayid's voice pulls her focus. She doesn't move, doesn't call out, doesn't make any attempt to stop him short as he heads in and up, almost certainly intending to listen to whatever he does when he thinks she's not around, content in her drunken state of lurking and listening. But he stops and peeks into view, a dopey smile offered up at him. "Ernestine," she corrects of the pegasus. It might be the third or fourth name the floatie's been given. It probably won't be the last. Some creatures are just fickle like that. "It was a good night," has an airy, noncommittal quality to it, like she's still weighing it, undecided. More solid, entirely earnest, she tells him, "I missed you," without the weight of disappointment or expectation. Just honest affection, gratitude that he's here again.
"Ernestine..." Kayid chuckles around a second bite and behind the curl of his hand. He notes a convenient abandoned plate from someone's previous nachos on a side table and tosses the slice there as he makes his way to the couch. He crouches down beside it, folding his arms on the cushions beside where she's laid out and propping his chin in one elbow. "I'm glad," he murmurs quietly, like somehow the folks outside might hear and ruin the close moment for it if he were too loud. "I'm sorry I had to leave," he returns without much real guilt. A very british sorry that one. "One of those sources living in the homeless encampment was lucid enough to text a coherent thought. I didn't want to miss the window." His hand edges over to brush his fingertips along her arm when he adds, "I missed being here," while his eye studies hers perhaps a little more purposefully than just holding them.
Slip doesn't track Kayid visually as he moves, waiting for him to sink back into her field of vision, currently at peak laziness. Or inebriation. Maybe both. When he settles into reach, her fingers push through his hair, that contact immediately brightening her smile. "I know," though it's not clear which part she's claiming knowledge of. Blame the mead for that. Her hair, still damp, doesn't hide her ears well, but there seems nothing odd about them that might require hiding, just as pale and near-perfect as the rest of her. Nevermind her cheeks which, at the moment, are not particularly pale, colored instead with a drunken flush. "We'll have to throw another party when you move into your new place. Little one at least. Or a housewarming for mine. Darcy says it'll do some good with the thing across the hall. Fend off the bad feels with some good ones. Dinner party maybe. Less everything. More substance." Her eyes widen a bit as she gestures with the hand that had been in his hair a second ago. "Not that this party was without substance. We hacked into Eva's iPhone to call... somebody? Her boyfriend? I dunno. Not my mischief." She needs a moment to refocus.
His head sags with a shallow grunted sound, relaxed under the pass of her fingers through the strands. His eyes lull a little, only falling half closed as he considers her features, no sign of the fading dream version of her there. He wasn't even really certain what he was looking for anymore. A sheen? Any light might cast that. He focuses instead on the color in her cheeks. "Perhaps. We'll see how quickly I consume the place in work. Something for yours." When she starts to get the teensiest bit riled up, he chuckles and reaches out to snag the gesturing hand. "Of course not. That sounds like a truly noble pastime," he teases her as he starts to push himself up to his feet. He slips his arms beneath her on his way, urging her with small nudges to wrap his neck. He wasn't exceptionally strong by any means, but enough to manage her small frame so far as the second floor. "And how did that go?" he asks as he heads to make the ascent.
Fingers caught, it's easy to refocus on Kayid himself, even if her thoughts are all sloshing around and scattered. As she's scooped up, Slip murmurs so very quietly, "Do you know how gorgeous you are?" with what seems to be sincere curiosity. Her arms drape about his shoulders, her damp head tipped in against his cheek. Asked after the outcome of the mischief, she draws a deep breath through her nose and recites, in a passable imitation of Charity's british accent, "Hello, Nicolas darling! We're at an absolutely fantastic pool party - complete with floaties that need rehoming - and our lovely Eva is terribly sorry that she forgot to invite you. You should see her, she looks smashing. She'd absolutely love to have you here, sipping mead and floating about with us. Mostly her. Do give us a ring if you get this before the very wee hours. Or just her, if it's after. Ta!" No stumbling, no hesitation. Either she's very good at extemporizing or she may well be a living, breathing recording device. Back in her own voice, she murmurs, "Mm, but I don't think I met a Nicolas tonight. I met a James. Superhot. Here with the guy Gast flirted with philosophically that one time. Which is probably a shit way to remember somebody, but I liked it. Watching them be clever at each other." With a nuzzle of nose to cheek, she wonders, "Your lucidity pan out?"
The question is met with a chuckle, a dip of his head and an almost blush before admits, "I might have been told something to that effect once before." No false modesty, but nothing about his self value hinged on that face either. Well, at least not much. He's still human. Her answer to the question was clearly not the answer he expected. He draws to a stop halfway up the steps to just sort of listen to rendition. That sounded awful verbatim to his ear. He didn't ask after it then, or even test it, more interested in moving upward again toward the bedroom while he listens through the rest of her evening. "Is that why you draw people to you? To watch them from the comfort of your chosen place?" he muses, dressing it up in good-natured ribbing. Reaching the bedroom, he sets her down on the foot of the bed, and settles down to one knee to start helping her undress. "Somewhat. I'm not certain. The fellow claimed one of the missing individuals returned and gave me a description. I'll know whether it panned out when I track the woman down."
"Mm," isn't much of an answer. It doesn't sound particularly affirmative, but neither is it a denial. Feeling the momentum of descent, Slip presses a kiss to Kayid's cheek, not quite as soft as intended, her breath so very sweet with spiced mead. "It's comfortable," she admits of her habit. "Easy. Beautiful, really. Watching the way someone unfolds when it's not my own poking. Or what they do when they don't know I'm listening." Some self-awareness about how maybe that was weird flashes across her features, and she decides to stop her list there, hands reaching to join his in undoing her bikini top, drawing the straps down. The concern which creeps over her flushed features seems to come out of nowhere, but she sits there, topless, looking at him with a very intent expression. "Be careful with missing people, okay? Things could--You could..." Her expression sobers a touch. "This sounds like maybe something you should let the authorities handle maybe."
Kayid didn't press more on her reasons, his understanding of it untethering from the dream somewhat and leaving some confusion about why it rang so true. His fingers tucked into the waist of her bottoms and started to work them down over her hips, but they pause somewhere around mid-thigh, to peer up at her, sensing the change in demeanor before she ever speaks. He furrows his brow the further she gets along, and then looks back down to his work. He finishes with the bottoms, setting them aside before he stands up to start nudging her back towards the pillows, to sit down on the edge of the bed beside her and rest his hand curled over the rise of her hip. "It's most likely that they've been admitted to hospital somewhere, especially if at least one has returned. But I am not going to call in authorities who will take any excuse they are handed to make those souls move yet again and risk the violence," was explained in that gentle Londoner lull as he adjusts the pillows for her, helps with the sheets. Once she was settled, he asks, "Who went missing, love?" Almost. Clearly he's reading her fears as personally inspired, but has wildly missed the mark on just how.
Slip is slow to accept the nudging, giving Kayid a look that says she's serious with a little more petulance than intended, her fine control a bit off thanks to an evening of drinking. When she tucks back in against the pillows, she folds her legs like she means to sit up, not looking to stretch out just yet. This is very much a vertical conversation that might take place, some very upright feelings that she's wrangling with as she watches him move to join her. He's right on the point about authorities, and she knows it, but that does nothing to calm the unease knotting in her stomach. A hand pushes down on the sheet, stilling his work, silently demanding his focus. Which she gets in the form of that question. That awful, terrible, simple little question.
She just stares, a furrow forming between her brows, for several seconds as she tries to sort through sloshed logic to weigh what she should say here, how to answer. Shoulders sink with an exhale, a decision made, a detail remembered. "I already told you, didn't I? That I used to be somebody else?" Her lips pull into a faint frown as her hand finds his at her hip. "You're going to see me differently. I like the way you see me now, Kayid."
It was probably not his finest moment, wielding that question that way when she was wobbly as she was. Not an entirely fair play, but he's not really felt himself the last couple of days and chalks it up to that. He could chew on the ethics of it later, for now he focused on what she was saying now. His hand turns from her hip to lace his fingers into hers, and he tugs her more to his lap, into the wrap of his arms. "I see you differently every day," he tells her plainly. "Each day there's a new piece, a fuller picture, and by the time I might think I've nearly completed it, you'll have grown and changed and I'll realize I'm missing new pieces to discover. "
Slip's hand holds tight to his, but she resists the tug toward his lap, toward those warm arms. It doesn't take long for her to reconsider, to lean in of her own accord and cuddle up close. Her arms wrap about him as her cheek presses to his shoulder, her eyes closing as she listens, as she thinks. "This is a really big piece. Several pieces. And I don't have all of 'em." An absence, where the missing pieces should be. And a long silence where there should be further explanation. Drawing in a deep breath, she turns her head to press a kiss to his chest, to that bright red shirt, and begins. "I don't remember being taken. I barely remember... there. But I was gone for while. Missing, presumed dead. No life left for me when I came back. And I don't know if I woulda made it back at all if not for Gast. Not--" She shakes her head, collects herself. "Not that he's my hero or anything. Fucker got himself fucked over, too. Looking for me. The detective on my case. But we made it out together." The thought doesn't sound finished, not nearly, but she swallows and looks toward the bathroom door. "I, uh. I think I wanna shower. I'm gonna go shower, okay?"
Kayid didn't push the hold, but wrapped her up just as readily when she settles in how she likes. His breathing is slow and steady, deliberate. There's a little more staccato to his heartbeat, not quite running too hard or fast, just stuttering a little under his composure, likely giving away the near instant jerk at emotional cords. There's a beat or two before he lets his body react, to wrap her up tighter into both arms and rest his cheek to the crown of her head until he has to lift it again with her visual search for somewhere to go hide. He didn't look that direction himself, hesitating before easing his arms for her to slip out of. "I'll be just here," he tells her quietly, knowing full well that wouldn't last. She wouldn't be gone five minutes to the bathroom before he's paced the floor to sit himself down with his back to the door.
Slip places another small kiss against his chest before she gets up, taking advantage of the loosening of his arms as soon as they go slack. She doesn't look back, not even as she closes the door, but there's nothing particularly hurried about her movements, even if the steadiness in her steps suggests she's sobering up with this conversation. Aside from the rush of water on the other side of the door, it's quiet. No singing, no crying, no bottles moving about to suggest she's actually doing much other than standing under the water. When she hears him draw closer, the flow of water changes, her position shifting, indication of awareness before stillness resumes. It's a while before the water shuts off and wet feet find the tile floor, before she can be heard toweling off on the other side. She's careful as she opens the door, slow about it, peeking down through the crack. "Hey. You alright?"
Kayid very much wanted to be on the other side of the door, but he waited on the outside, arms draped over his knees, his attention wandering between the noises of the few people still hanging around outside, his own thoughts, and the sounds coming from inside the bathroom. If he'd heard a wave of tears, a sob, he might have knocked or let himself in, but her quiet suggests to him that it isn't the right time. She's not completely going under just this moment. So he waits, patiently, until he hears the water go off and her feet on the tile. When the door cracks, he shifts off to the side to better peer up at her eye through the crack. He turns a small smile and assures, "I am. I wanted to be near in case you weren't." He gets up then, grabbing the door frame to help him along the way. He seemed to be alright. Chewing on thoughts, no doubt processing and neatly shelving the new information in his mental library, what it means practically, emotionally, far more than can be done in a handful of minutes. For now though, he nudges that away for attentiveness, stepping toward the closet when he asks, "Would you like a tee shirt to wear?"
Slip looks a good bit more clear-eyed than she had when she fled, the time under the hot water helping her sober up some, sort through her thoughts a little. With a flick of the light switch on her way out, she keeps close to Kayid when he steps away from the door, one hand finding his side as he stills. It slips around to his stomach as she pulls closer, drawing her still-damp body in against his back, a bit off center. "Yeah," comes with a nod as she presses her lips to the back of his shoulder. "I'm feeling a bit better. Lotta mead. Old memories. Head was swimming a little." Peeking up at him past his shoulder, she offers, "I can talk more if you want, or we can leave it be for a while. Whatever you want. I like..." Her fingers tighten where they lay, squeezing a little. "I like that you look. I like when you see me." Cracking a small grin, she adds, "Even if I kinda hate it too."
Kayid pauses when he feels her touch, laying an arm over hers and looking down over his shoulder towards her, only twisting a little in his hips to help out. "It's alright," he assures, twisting a little further, enough to dot a kiss to the top of her head before looking back to the closet. His head stays tipped her way, listening as he picks out a dark purple tee with a fleur de lis printed large around one side of it in a paler shade, likely football merch from some souvenir stall around town. He also grabs one of several pair of nearly identical athletic shorts from the shelf he's relegated them to while here before twisting around in her arm to face her, hanging his arms loose over her shoulders. "It's a double-edged sword," he acknowledges. "It's good to be seen; it's also frightening." He lets the empty hand fall, finding one of hers as he so often does, to twist and tangle his fingers through hers. "I have questions, but they don't all have a shape yet," comes with a small hug to his chest before he nods towards the bed, offering her the clothes from his other hand as he starts to head that way, to settle down sitting on the end while she went about dressing if she intended to yet. "It couldn't have been very long ago," wasn't quite a question, and relied on rather mortal timelines and understandings, if she'd gone on to make a any sort of plan and life with the man who rescued her - it would be very odd if she'd been a missing child, and he'd likely have drawn up *some* sort of missing persons. Children would have gone back to their families, not have had nothing waiting, so many reasons for the assumption, and possible implications. Perhaps the rebounding he'd voiced concern for earlier was larger than people.
"I like that it's you wielding the sword." Slip's fingers squeeze his as they tangle, reassurance for them both, an anchoring in that connection, deepened when she reciprocates that brief hug. Clothes taken, the first thing she does is put the shorts back right where they came from before pulling the tee shirt on overhead and then drawing her hair out to flop down over it, a darker purple splotch forming where the wetness spreads, where the water on her back from intermittent dripping bleeds through. "Five years? Almost six. Since we... escaped." Flashing a small smile, she teases, "I'm older than I look," but he might've already known that, depending on how old he thinks she looks. Elisabeth Butler is, on paper, 28, with a fall birthday waiting for her in November, a bit past the maybe 23 she could pass for. Nevermind the three decades she lost somewhere along the way. Settling on the bed next to Kayid, she explains, "I came back a different person. Even if everything had been there waiting for me, which it wasn't, but I guess I didn't really have much of a life to lose anyway. Just... even if what little I had was still there looking, hoping, I didn't fit right anymore. I wasn't that girl anymore. And I definitely wasn't the girl they imagined me to be when I went missing, all this virtue and innocence tacked on. Victim. Tragedy." With a shake of her head, she looks over at him and says, "I didn't want that."
Nothing is said for the return of the shorts, but a mental note was made. When she sits down, he's leaning more forward, weight propped against his knees. His attention pivots around, following her, and unlaces his hands to reach a hand over to wrap over her nearer thigh, just above her knee. "There's a tendency in humans to forget the flaws, to only pain for those who were infallible," he remarks absently. He's quiet a few moments, considering the details filled in. It was like turning on a flashlight in a dark cavern. He hadn't known there was a gaping hole in the middle of it but now that there was some thin shaft of light - he's aware of the shadow at it's edge, that there is something significant missing from his understanding. He didn't believe she was lying to him, but there was some vital detail that would surely make the mismatched ends make sense. It doesn't lead to another question though. When he looks up again, he remarks, "And so you've moved, place to place, looking for that fit...?" There's only a small beat before he asks, "Is that where your nightmares come from?" His tone suggesting he suspects a yes, expects a confirmation more than anything else.
Slip tilts toward him at that contact, slumping forward just enough to make the lean in against his side a little more even, comfortable, contact reciprocated though she keeps her hands to herself. She breathes a quiet, grimly humored laugh and mutters the sort of, "Yeah," that might imply there's evidence out there to back up that imaginary infallibility, news articles about parents who had never been any good to her suddenly crying for their little lost lamb once she was gone. If only he knew when to look, what name to look for. She nods promptly for the first question, a missing piece tucked in flush with her admitted desire to find place and purpose. The second earns him a steady look before she nods again. "I don't remember much. Not... directly. There are habits, behaviors that I brought back with me. They kinda form an outline. But when I dream? It's closer. Glimpses of then, of... isolation and separation and..." With a faint clench of her jaw, "Purpose." She pulls a proper face once the word comes out, a sourness meant to lighten the tension. "But it's all mixed up with other stuff. It can take what I have now and peel me away from it. Part of why sticking around is hard."
She holds all of his attention, though it might not seem like it on the surface. He's clearly running two tracks, the one taking in what she says, how she says it, but the other is churning through something else behind his eyes, dredging up those thin, thin ghosts of memory from his dream. His eyes turn from an ear, to each of her eyes in turn, across her cheek while he slowly threads the words out of memory and to his tongue, quiet, somewhat uncertain, and watching her so very closely. "It's lonely," he starts, a few beats, "In the in-between places, the obligate Witness to the world without you." There's another small pause before he finishes, "...some anticipation of performance," though that dangles even more uncertainly than the rest. It's hard to say just what he's feeling in all that, or about what he's feeling out, when his face looks little more than mired in thinking, even when he leaves what should by all rights be at most a somewhat confused and presumptive extrapolation of what she's said thus far to simply watch and try to read the microexpressions in her face.
Such very normal ears. Such a natural hue to her eyes, to the short expanse of her fair complexion in between. So perfectly human. The corners of Slip's mouth tug upwards ever so slightly when his eyes meet hers, reflex still functioning despite the heavy weight of their conversation. When he starts, her smile grows, a little sad but sympathetic, a nod of that shared emotion. It's when he continues that it clicks, that she understands that he isn't simply drawing parallels or trying to understand her words; he's using her own, from elsewhere, what ghosts of them have come back to the waking world with him. A faint flicker of surprise registers before she self-corrects, sets her expression back to sympathetic listening with enough ease that it would certainly convince others, those not so good at catching minute details as Kayid. She knows these words. She's surprised at his recitation, but not by their substance. At the end, she nods very slightly and offers a calm, quiet, "Yes," and nothing more. Her turn to watch, to see how he processes that confirmation.
He doesn't make any attempts to hide or mask his expression. There's still something not adding up. The order of the surprise, the place that it landed and for what didn't quite make sense. Perhaps surprise at the end, at some clever bit of insight, but that's not when, and he couldn't find a reason in his own mind to mask it if it had been. Several long moments pass before he sighs through his nose and lets his head sag some like the thinking had been quite taxing. His hand moves from her leg to flip the other way, palm up and offered. Rather than dwell on the pieces he couldn't make fit yet, he muses aloud, "There is a belief I was taught when I was very young, that bad dreams should never be spoken about, never shared, that they are given to men by Shaitan and are not true. But I wonder sometimes if what we might perceive as 'bad' might only be frightening truths, that through our mortal lens, they are frightening for the unknown, but not truly bad. That it might only be the mind sorting through what it needs to." He shakes his head some at that and leans back, admitting, "I'm not certain what I mean by all that." His own out loud processing, active denial. "I dreamt about a different you. I don't remember it so well as I'd like." But clearly well enough! "I know there's more, but I don't need to know what you don't want me to, before you're ready, even if that is never. I... still need to follow this story, but I can make it easier for you. I can send you regular messages when I am not with you, or take you with me to speak to people, if that might make you feel more at ease about it."
Slip doesn't rush him. The silence of heavy thought might be more comfortable than whatever revelations might follow, a calm before a storm, and so she waits, a quiet, steady presence beside him until he's ready. When he offers his hand, hers moves to accept without hesitation, without thought. Her fingers tangle with his, her thumb keeping slow time in a back-and-forth drifting over his nearest knuckles. Some small bit of nodding expresses agreement with his take on bad dreams, a dim glint of brightness in her eyes marking a thought she doesn't get around to sharing, caught off-guard again by the earnest acknowledgement of their shared dream. Her other hand joins the first around his, both holding steady as she shifts to turn toward him, one knee bent behind him, the other nudged firmly to his. "I'm scared, Kayid," is said without the weight and desperation that emotion might deserve, a gentle confession. An explanation. "I'm scared of you getting taken. I'm scared of you getting caught up in the really ugly parts of the world that I've been through. I'm scared that sharing too much of me might lead you deeper into all of it, the way you work, so obsessively. A friend, a, uh, fellow kidnapping victim. She told me that ignorance of what's out there doesn't keep anyone from getting taken, and she's right, mostly. Except maybe where inquisitive people like you are concerned. And I feel like an asshole for saying that." She squeezes his hand, flashing an apologetic frown. Heaving a quiet sigh, she concludes evenly, "But we are definitely past the point where I should've fucked off if I really wanted to shelter you. I fucked up. Cuz I like this, and I want you, and I'm selfish." There's clearly more, but she pauses, the thought held for several seconds as she works through the words that follow. "Is it worse to suffer knowing or not knowing? Whichever you want, it's yours."
When she turns to face him, he shifts a little as well, not so far that either leg needs to leave the edge of the bed, but angled more her direction, where he can take up both of her hands. Some small part of himself hated the voice that got frantically excited in the back of his head - that there was a story here he could find. It was much bigger than just her, some sort of ring that needed taking down, something Epstein-esque no doubt. He shuts that voice down quickly enough and squeezes her hands both tightly. "I can't imagine what that truly does to a person, being taken and held captive, but I'm not a stranger to the ugly parts of the world." This world anyway. "I'm not afraid of your past," he goes on, though he undoubtedly should be. "You're right, perhaps, to worry that I would poke, and look, and if it's something that is still hurting people, try to do something about it. I won't lie and say that I am not just who I am - " He frowns some when she stops, when she gets to the question. "If there is a threat I should be aware of, I'd know it," he tells her quietly, leaning in closer to tip his head and find her eyes, "But I want you to understand, truly, that wanting for normal human desires is not selfish, that I make my decision to be here knowing from the first moment that this, whatever it might become, was going to be complicated. If anything were to happen to me, it would not be because of you. The actions of others are not yours to take on, love, whether it is your captors or my curiosities."
Slip's expression says what she doesn't, the way worry creases her brow, how disagreement darkens her eyes as he tries to tell her he knows the ugliness of the world when he's only seen a fraction of it. That concern holds, deepens even as he continues, as he talks of maybe going after whatever awfulness is out there, but her attention doesn't stray. He leans in closer, and her eyes stay steady on his. The emphasis on choice, on his knowing willingness to be here, soothes some of her concern, earns the barest ghost of a resurfacing smile until her features flatten with a measure of resolve. "Then I need you to promise me something. Promise me that you won't dig into what I share with you without my help, and I promise I will answer all of your questions as truthfully as possible. And that we'll be able to find one another, no matter where we are. Through the end of summer." It's a big pitch, but a small ask, all things considered. And it's spoken with weight that the very air seems to answer, that spring promise which clings to her slightly more noticeable for a moment.
He registers that disbelief, but he didn't try to persuade it to belief. His past was familiar to him, real enough, it didn't rely on belief or even matter at the moment. He focuses more on the small smile, then the request. He weighs it, the word 'promise' one that he very rarely used. But that was the word she was asking for. "I can promise to do what I can," he starts. "I can promise that I won't dig without you, that I can make every effort to let you know where I am when I am not with you, send you messages, but I'm not certain that being able to find one another is in my control to promise." He glances down to her hands, lifting them up to push a kiss in somewhere over her fingers. "But I do promise to do what I can to make you comfortable, to put your fears to the side if not to rest."
"That's enough," Slip replies quietly as she squeezes at the fingers which draw hers to his lips. All the promise and possibility resolves itself, the Wyrd wrapping itself around their words, giving them potence and consequence. "More than enough." She leans in closer, the leg behind him stretching a little until her heel hooks past his hip, another means of securing this proximity. A distraction tactic, maybe, to encourage focus on the physical as the visible world begins to change. Shadows rise up from beneath feet and along creases, between fingers and beneath the bow of his head, deepening and darkening to envelope her skin like something out of a movie or maybe a dream. It happens rapidly, a matter of seconds to cover her in shadow, for all that darkness to then dissipate back into normality. Unveiled, unmasked, her skin has an odd hue to it, a strange texture, a smoothness that's just a little too cool, too perfect. Her eyes are paler still and strangely distance, as they had been in his dream. And those ears, with her wet hair pushed back, are utterly inhuman, all round and pointed, metal and mechanical, held currently at uneven angles as one, still, remains turned to the rest of the house, just in case. It's so very nearly her, so close but so different. Tentatively, she whispers, "I will try to do the same with yours."
The initial sigh of relief might have been a hair premature. That was enough. He didn't need to fight his own determination to keep things good and right. When she leans in closer, he lets go of one of her hands to reach and circle her hip much as her leg was doing around his seat. That didn't last all that long though.
Seeing her consumed by shadow has him sitting back abruptly, his hand pulling from her hip as he starts to stand, tugging a little at her remaining hand like he might pull her from whatever it was that was suddenly sweeping over her. That stage of mind, impulsive reaction and survival instinct, lasts all of half a second before he realizes what he's seeing. His hand does slip from hers then, before the shadow can wash across her fingers, and he stands up and back fully and on his own, leaving the contact behind. When he's left staring at that different her, he takes another step back, but it seems more like the kind meant to catch wavering balance than drawing away. His hand curls over his mouth, dragging down as for several thunderous beats of his heart he just stares at her, tries to find some words, but his vocabulary comes up blank. He makes that inevitable look around, grasping for something that explains, a camera maybe. He hadn't even really been drinking, nothing he could have accidentally taken. By the time he looks back, all he can really muster is, "I..." before faltering back another step until he just gives to his knees and lets himself drop down to the floor, to sit as his hands push back into his hair, eyes never leaving her, not even to blink for some time.
Fingers tighten around his only briefly, only an expression of want and will without any attempt made to actually keep him close. Slip understands the need for retreat, for distance from this. As he stands, she straightens, turning toward him as the foot that had been tucked against him falls back to the floor. It's all too perfect to be technological trickery, to very her without any lingering effect now that the shadows are gone back to their normal behavior. Seconds tick past until she's outside of the window of the magical rewind she keeps on hand for really big--or mildly embarrassing--fuck-ups. There's no undoing this. Hands fold and settle on her lap where the purple tee shirt pools across her thighs. The hint of distant, joyous laughter which rings through her mantle is easily passed off as just be the last stragglers out back, unaware of what's going on here. "I was taken to a place on the other side of reality," she provides quietly, evenly. "By something that isn't human, that doesn't think or operate like humans do. I was changed." With a shrug, she adds, "Maybe for the better," in commentary of the life she lost or maybe the person she's become. "But it kinda colors my view on the supernatural, on things that extort offerings from humans. Like the ghosts of long-dead witches. Or fairies."
Later, he might recognize what she means by those last words, remember the past conversation in the cemetery, but for now it's caught up in the turbulence being taken in as one whole thing to be sorted out later. Connecting dots would come in time. He doesn't notice the return to his first language when his voice comes back, quiet and only slightly shaky, a single short statement sounding somewhat lost and at a loss. Gradually, his heart starts to slow though, the rational takes over, tells him he's not immediately in danger, tells him that this is the same person, that he's seen this very face before. Another short statement, made more to himself, sounding like realization as he starts to move. It's hesitant at first, but once his weight had tipped forward, he was more committed to the movement, pushing himself up slowly to his feet. Once he was sure of his feet, he stepped closer, reaching out again with an alien hesitation that felt wholly unnatural to both him, and in the way it dressed him. His reach stalls a couple of times, before his fingertips finally make contact with her cheek if she didn't pull away, to follow the line of her jaw down to her chin.
Slip keeps terribly still as she waits, only the steady rise and fall of her chest or the occasional shift of her gaze to search some different part of him--or the slight tilt or pivot of one of her entirely unusual ears--giving away any life, any evidence of remaining humanity. The metallic undertones to her complexion do not mean she's actually an automaton, a robot. Sympathy bordering on outright apology holds steady in her expression until hope creeps in as he approaches, a restrained desperation which leaves her tilting toward his fingers well before they connect. Her eyes close as she breathes out a sigh, lips remaining parted while his fingers draw down the soft, smooth surface of her skin. Warm, so very near normal, were it not for the slight shift in texture, the copper coloring that hadn't been there before. "You can touch whatever you want. Even my ears, now that you can see them." Her own fingers tighten where they hold to each other, avoiding contact despite a keen desire to cling. Better to let this proceed at his pace.
When she first sighs, his fingers pull back a fraction of an inch, a hypervigilant and cautionary reaction. He exhales himself and closes the distance again, finding the end of her chin and moving toward her lips behind her permission. His attention turns toward her ears when he murmurs quietly, in English again though he gives no thought to shaping it, his accent thick. "I thought you did not like it." He swallows thickly and lets himself ease down in his knees, crouching in front of her as his hand pulls away. "You're not human...but you used to be," was still quiet, but it's harder to say if that is just him thinking out loud or asking the way he trails off, his eyes pulling down from her face and over her body. They stall there on her hands, and after a moment looking at them, he reaches to wrap a hand over the both of hers, squeezing them beneath his. After a few moments, he looks up to ask, "Has the person you have been, barring protecting this secret, been true? The person who wore lace to break into a graveyard and borrows strangers swimming pools?"
Slip tenses slightly when her relief earns his withdraw, making mental correction to be even more careful as he works through this... though that doesn't keep her from leaning into his touch when it resumes, hungry for that contact, for the reassurance that he isn't running, that he hasn't fled yet. "I don't," honest and prompt. "I like to keep them hidden, and... they're still there even when you can't see them." Eyes open, she seeks out his as he lowers himself in front of her. "I didn't want you to feel them." There's no answer for his musing, only a sort of helpless expression that confirms he's got the right of it. She tries so hard to let him guide the contact, to let her hands remain tightly folded beneath his when he squeezes them, but she fails, she breaks, hands parting and turning in an attempt to reciprocate that touch, to hold. "Yes. The same person to steals things and gives them back when asked. The same person who sometimes just wants to watch you squirm naked while she asks you questions, the same person who is growing very accustomed to waking up next to you." Her lips work over another idea, something harder to shape, seconds passing before she manages, "You already saw so much of me."
Kayid's hand tenses when hers move, but this time at least he doesn't pull back, and when her hands wrap around his, after a few moments, his fingers curl in around one of hers. His attention falls down toward the floor for a moment, eyes turning this way and that like he was reading something off the carpet. He looks up again when she speaks of what he'd already seen, considering her for a moment longer before a very small, still somewhat spooked smile tugs at one corner of his mouth. "Then it is only the exterior that is no longer human..." was less of a question and more of a verdict on those observations, those things he's already seen. His eye drifts across her face before he adds, with some wry humor force-injected into his tone, "This all might take a little...getting used to."
Mostly only the exterior. Enough that Slip doesn't argue the point, doesn't add how she lost a little bit of her soul on her escape, how she's bound to otherworldly forces which grant her peculiar powers beyond human capability, how there are certain things in the world which can cause her to fall still and silent just by entering the room. They'll get around to the rest of her strangeness later. Better, now, to accept that tiny smile and the decree which follows, to lean into that willingness to get used to this. "I won't usually look like this. I don't have to look like this now if you don't want me to. It's a choice. And it... It's not safe to do regularly." The shake of her head says that's an explanation for another time, when he's ready for more questioning. "I wanna stay, Kayid. I'll wear whichever face you want."
"I imagine it's not," clearly didn't understand the full extent of why it might be dangerous to walk around looking more than human. He was only considering the obvious. He pushes himself back up from his crouch, moving toward the edge of the bed without trying to pull his hand from in hers. "I want you to wear the face you are comfortable in, whichever you feel safe in," he tells her as he settles in and his body relaxes some. "I want you to stay also," he adds, swallowing once more before going on, "Please don't mistake this question, it's not where my thoughts or fears lie, but I must ask...if I have anything to fear from you, your own choices or those that might not be yours to make but might come at your hands?"
"This is always the face I see," Slip clarifies quietly. "I'll keep my mask off a little longer if you're alright with it, though." The effect will fade on its own soon enough, the Wyrd reweaving her mask to protect herself, to protect it, but for now, for a little while longer, she can remain unhidden from him. While she stays. He wants her to stay. As if that had been the biggest question, tension bleeds from her, the weight of a long day, a long night of drinking shown in her sinking shoulders. But there's a question, first, one with a preamble which she accepts with a small nod. What follows causes her to straighten again, inspires her spring mantle to swell with the giddy mirth of unseen others, with a breeze that threatens rain. "My choices are my own, Kayid. I am a creature of will and desire by my own choosing. Nobody moves my hand but me. I do nothing that I do not want to do." That point clarified with more emphasis than she may have meant, more bluster than he would have seen were her mask still up, she huffs a breath and adds, "I hold no oaths that would put us odds. I can't promise being close to me won't attract unwanted attention, but that's been the case from the beginning. I told myself I wouldn't date anyone normal again." She shrugs helplessly. "And then I met you."
"I'd like to become accustomed to it then," he notes for her face. "When it's safe." It's clear it's still jarring, that littlest bit, in how he still double-takes when he glances towards her, the small 'huh?oh right' sort of twitch in his brows when he looks more intentionally her way. The assurance of her own control over her choices is met with an accepting nod, a distracted nod. He wound up glancing around when he feels the breeze and spotting no open windows, attributes it to her even if it left him shifting his weight a hair where he sat. It was all a lot. "What..." He starts, bites back his words, thinks on how to p hrase it precisely before giving up on finding a way to ask the question that didn't sound vaguely insensitive or self-concerned. "What happened with the the last 'normal' person?"
It's a lot for Slip to get used to, too, watching him look at her like that, catching his distraction when her mantle flares with her vehemence. Here, in the mortal world without the illusion which lets her fit in, the Wyrd answers her more readily, more fervently, and her oath to Spring may well be the most fae thing about her. Aside from the ears. She tries to keep her own discomfort from her features. Which actually proves easier with the question, as he asks it. "We're still friends," comes with a reassuring smile. "I never told him. I always held a big part of me back with him. I still do. I always will. But he's not like you. He's the earth to your fire. He accepts where you pick." One of her hands flutters as she murmurs, "Which isn't to say I find you unaccepting, just... I think everything you're willing to accept is a starting point, something you'll pull apart sooner or later. And I like that about you. But it makes it hard to hide." With a little shrug, she adds, "But that also means I'm still here, that I'm not running away because I'm sick of playing normal. Not that the, what? Month or so that we've been at this is enough to bore me. Even if you did seem the type to eventually want me to settle down and meet the family." She makes a face, all scrunchy and self-conscious, aware of her babbling. "I left him. We reconnected a little while ago. He's a good person. But he'll never get all of me. And that's not enough for me."
Kayid dips his head, nodding some with his understanding, some tension he didn't realize was in his jaw easing with the assurance that nothing horrible had become his normal predecessor. He snorts a laugh at the suggestion of settling down and meeting his family, bites that back, and shakes his head when he assures, "Not that," without any further explanation as to why. He accepts the rest with another nod before sitting up straighter. He draws a deep breath, holds it with a little puzzlement for how her it was to his senses, then exhales it back out in a releasing huff. He twists around to look towards the pillows and then back towards her, tugging at her hand a little as he starts to move toward the head of the bed. "I am sure to have a million questions in the days and weeks to come but for now - I am exhausted, and have plenty to think on, and would like very much to wrap around you and close my eyes," explained quietly as he stretches out on top of the bedding and pulls the pillows in beneath his head, one arm lifting for her to scoot under if she were coming.
Slip feigns mild relief at the assurance that that isn't the sort of normal he is, that there's no settling down in their future, however far that future might stretch. It barely takes that tug of her hand to get her to follow, though she waits for it because she wants it, because she craves that reassurance of his desire right now, that clear indication that he wants her close. Which is even better when he says it aloud as she crawls close, as she moves to sink into that space against him that he's made for her. "There is literally nowhere else I would rather be," comes with a squeeze of his torso as she pulls herself closer, cuddling up nice and snug. And, really, aside from how the air just feels different in here, how she smells so very much like herself, how her skin is just a tiny bit smoother, it could be any other night. Except, well. Her ear does feel weird where it presses to his shoulder, too large and strangely shaped and a little too hard. Had it always been like that? Surely not. He would've noticed. Right?
It might have always been like that, but the way he shifts a little, lends a little less pressure against her ear that he didn't normally make, suggests that it felt the slightest bit different at least. His arm wraps over her shoulders, gathering her in close as his nose tucks down close to her hair, taking in breath after breath as his eyes close. He didn't say anything more, and though his eyes closed, though his pulse was calm and his breathing steady, despite his claim of exhaustion, it still takes nearly an hour for those cues to give away his usual light sleep, for his arm to go slack and heavy.