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 Fell on Black Days [Shio/Irene]

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Subject Post 11PostSubject: Re: Fell on Black Days [Shio/Irene]   Sat Jan 13, 2018 3:22 am




Shio stared at Irene, a hint of fragility to his smile now, as if he were far elsewhere, thinking things to himself. Chiefly, what he was thinking was that this girl was clearly a simple-minded sort, no doubt one who didn't have much to worry about in her day-to-day life, and probably had left the cities for just such a reason. There was something to be said for it, but...he couldn't help but pity her, when he heard her talking about her tummy, and kittens being dragged into trees by their mothers. His own mind couldn't help but work overtime, always trying to warn him about a billion different things, so he could scarcely imagine what it was like, in this girl's head. All he knew was that he suddenly found himself wondering if this was all a mistake.

"It seems more likely to me that the kitten crawled up there on its own to get away from something it thought was a predator. As for being abandoned, I've heard far worse. Supposedly, cats will sometimes eat their kittens if they think they don't have a good chance of survival. I'd prefer being abandoned entirely over having someone who you placed your faith in betray you. There's something extra heinous about dereliction of duty, to me."

He walked after her, teapot still tucked safely against his torso, the warmth suffusing his body through his outfit, and his lips moving wordlessly, as if he were working out what to say next, what he planned to discuss if she felt a need to reply, or comment. He had about him a sense of great comfort and ease, but it was also clear as they continued talking that he was also greatly preoccupied...as if he were trying to keep a complicated shopping list stuck in his head, or remember some important math equation until he had a chance to write it down. There were entire stretches where he seemed to be absorbed in himself, almost walking on autopilot as he followed her through the underbrush.

"So, Irene. What is it you do out here? Do you just live off berries and whatever small animals you find already dead? You don't strike me as the sort who could kill a rabbit to feed herself. Do you just go into town every few weeks to buy some food and come back home to cook it? I'm curious just -how- far disconnected from the city you are. It seems, with the forest this close, you must go there sometimes."

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Subject Post 12PostSubject: Re: Fell on Black Days [Shio/Irene]   Sun Jan 14, 2018 10:47 am

Irene had something to think about when contemplating Shio's words. The part about cats eating their own young seemed to be what threw her off the most, but it wasn't like when she didn't understand the word he used. Instead, it was like she didn't want to think that way. She wasn't confused, but pushing it out of her mind. Once she came back to focus, she shook her head and stared at him. A moment later, she let it go and began walking with him.

The two soon came to her little cottage in the woods after finding one of the many dirt trails that winded through the Karakura Forest. The cottage was well taken care of. Vines were nicely trimmed, flowerbeds well-tended, and a garden out in the back behind a small fence could be seen from the front. There were cream colored curtains hanging closed over the two windows out front. A small wooden white fence, a little too short to keep anyone out, surrounded the entire property. Irene led him up to the gate and up a cobblestone path that led up to the front door, the two passing many different flowers that lined the path and were scattered randomly throughout the yard.

"Um... I hunt when I need to, but I sometimes go into the city to buy things I can't make myself or find out here. I can't make everything on my own, so things like clothes, silverware, bowls, plates, blankets, pillows, curtains... I also like going to the cafes because I don't bring coffee home. I like going to the parks sometimes. I just don't like the loudness of the city. I can handle it sometimes, but every day? It's uncomfortable... What about you? Do you live in the city? You don't seem like someone who likes people very much."

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Subject Post 13PostSubject: Re: Fell on Black Days [Shio/Irene]   Thu Jan 25, 2018 12:57 am




"You must not have met a shinigami many times before, huh? I live in a big...I guess you could call it a temple? It's hard to describe. But it's pretty peaceful. No noisy cars, no big buildings, mostly just people. We all hang around with each other, and we keep an eye on the world. I actually don't mind coming to these big, busy cities sometimes. It makes me feel like there are a lot of people out there...a lot of really different people. Makes me wonder if some of them might be nice people."

He shrugged ever so slightly, walking inside and settling on the chair closest to the door. His hands were folded over his lap, and his legs kicked gently, strategically, pushing his outfit out of the way; it was clearly something he'd done many a time before, as he sat there, already plotting out his method of escape if this girl ended up being somehow perturbed by his words, or deciding to pass judgment on him for...some reason or another.

"It's not that I don't like people, I just haven't met many people. It's more accurate to say I haven't met anyone I'd consider a friend yet. But I don't have much of a social life, as a shinigami. I see the same handful of people every day, for weeks or months. After a while, it's hard to see the good in anyone when you're all cooped together like that. It's just...hard to explain, really. I guess it's the opposite of your problem? In a city, it's loud, but it's always...different. Where I come from, it's the same noises, every day. It's like if you had a really loud bird outside your window every day. It's just...too much to handle, after a while."

His voice was airy, delicate, giving the impression at any moment that he might break into song, or start laughing. But he was looking at the wall, instead of Irene, and his posture still gave the impression of one who was contemplating flight with every passing moment. Her aura was powerful, and it certainly dampened his impulse towards anxiety, but there was only so much it could do. A man like Shio, who ran as a matter of reflex, whether or not he saw a good reason to, couldn't be dissuaded for too long.
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Subject Post 14PostSubject: Re: Fell on Black Days [Shio/Irene]   Thu Jan 25, 2018 9:10 pm

The two entered the house. It was clean, orderly, and comfortable. The floors were made of wood and flowery wall paper was hidden behind many pictures, book shelves, wall shelves, plants, and other decorations that Irene had collected. As you walk in, immediately to the left is the living room with a puffy arm chair that was rarely used. Along adjacent wall was a love-seat couch where Irene obviously spent a lot of her time. There was a princess covered novel on the wooden coffee table that stood in front of the couch. On the wall across was a large book shelf, obviously too heavy for Irene to move herself, with a plethora of books, but two healthily green vine plants that have grown enough for their vines to move along some of the living room wall.

To the right was a small, but very clean kitchen with a single cup on the counter next to a stainless steel sink. A small light-colored wooden dining table that could comfortably sit four stood between the two and the kitchen counter. In the middle of that table was a large bouquet of multiple types of flowers, many that had been picked from the areas around her home.

As he took a seat, Irene went to put the kettle on the stove and returned once she had the water heating up. She sat down on her couch and curled her knees up to her chest, her skirt covering her body like a tent. She set her cheek on her knees as he talked, a small smile never fading from her expression as she listened to him without missing a word. She showed quite a bit of interest in him, but she felt bad for him and that might have shown in her eyes. It was strange for Irene to hear him talk the way he was. Her experience was that she couldn't see very much bad in people; it was like they were all good people or just very good at hiding it. She couldn't imagine living a life with that kind of distrust in her heart. She took a deep breath and sighed to relax.

"I guess I can understand what you're saying, maybe... It just makes me feel sad with you too. I don't want anyone to live with that kind of sadness in their heart, and that's the only way I can describe what I hear when you speak about your life in your home city. It's like you've been saddened by constant bad around you, so much so that you don't see anything but the sad anymore. It's not fair. I don't think you have anyone to talk to about it either, no friends or family, so that likely makes it really hard to deal with too."

Irene stood and hurried to him, her bare feet patting quickly on the wooden floors, arms spread and a few tears falling down her cheeks. She practically threw herself into a hug with him, holding him as tightly as she could. She was shaking a little because of the crying and she wasn't willing to let go easily.

"I'm so sorry! It's not good to hear someone that's been so kind be so unhappy. I can hear it in your voice and sense it in your soul... You're so scared, so miserable. I don't know what I can do to help besides give you the biggest hug that I can give. Hugs usually help me, so I'm going to hold as tight as I can until you don't need it anymore. I want... you to be happy, so you can smile more..."
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Subject Post 15PostSubject: Re: Fell on Black Days [Shio/Irene]   Sun Jan 28, 2018 6:17 pm




Shio couldn't help but chuckle when he saw the young girl sitting in such an odd manner, her legs pulled so close to her center of gravity, and her face resting on it. The entire time, Shio couldn't help but feel some strange sense of disconnect from the world around him; a girl, living out in the woods like this, who had just found a kitten...it all seemed too neat and tidy, too coincidental. It struck him as absurd in some way, as something that only happened in stories and movies. But all the same, he sat here, meeting her own gaze and talking openly for several moments.

His eyes were wide, his hands already rising in a gesture of warding off as she hit the ground, charging towards him. Shio's eyes were wide, his heart beating far faster than was healthy, but for some reason he wasn't scared as such. He could sense that there was no malice intended, and so he made no real attempt to stop her as she pressed herself against him, squeezing tightly. The smell of pine needles seemed to suffuse Shio's skin, as if he had recently bathed in a bucket of pine-scented cleaning solution, or had tried out a very powerful-smelling soap. It was natural and potent, strong enough to sting the nose a bit if one were as close as Irene had gotten.

"Come on, come on. I'm not really the hugging type! I appreciate it, but...I don't really do hugs. Besides, weren't we going to share some tea? It would be a shame if we missed our chance because we were sitting here making skin-to-skin contact like this. Tea just isn't the same after it's cooled down and reheated. And...isn't this the sort of thing people aren't supposed to do unless they're dating?"

Shio coughed, just a tiny bit, raising a hand to his mouth as he did so, and glancing off towards a corner of the room. He couldn't possibly admit how...nice it felt, to be held like this.


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Subject Post 16PostSubject: Re: Fell on Black Days [Shio/Irene]   Tue Jan 30, 2018 6:27 am

There was no malice behind anything Irene did. Her intentions were pure, kind, and loving. There weren't many people in this world that could say that about themselves and it actually hold true. Whether a blessing or a curse, Irene was just that type of person. She was glad he didn't push her away since that had happened before, but did release him when he implied he wanted her to. When she let go, she wiped a couple of tears from her face and went to go check the kettle. It was just starting to whistle as she took it off the fire.

"I agree. Tea is perfect when fresh. You mentioned a special kind that you prefer? Would you mind getting it ready then?"

Irene brought a tray over with the hot kettle and two teacups on saucer plates. She set the tray down on the table and looked a little confused at Shio a little for a moment. She then looked off, deep in thought for a few more moments until she came to her own conclusion about what he said.

"I don't know what people do when they date. I've heard it's important. And I know I'm older than a lot of people, but I haven't done a date before. If it makes you feel better, I can do a date with you and then give you a hug. I just wanted you to feel better and stop feeling so badly about the world you live in. There's no reason to be that sad, that scared. It only holds you back."

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Subject Post 17PostSubject: Re: Fell on Black Days [Shio/Irene]   Tue Jan 30, 2018 4:07 pm




"Miss, please...! Dating isn't something you just do! I've known you for less than 30 minutes. And besides, I don't often get days off from my shinigami duties. Let's just focus on the tea for now, alright? We can discuss...that...another time. I appreciate the hug, and I really am glad to have met you, but this is a lot to take in at once."

Again, Shio could feel his brain reeling and stretching nearly to the breaking point by this woman he had run across. How could anyone be this naive, this sweet, without there being some sort of ulterior motive? It almost made him feel ashamed for being unable to match her words and desires with equal intensity. He rose, carrying his own pot with him as he set it on the flame, as she took hers off, allowing it to heat itself back up, and then turning around to survey the room. After a few moments he spotted a suitable mortar and pestle, snatching it up easily, and reaching into a pouch by his side. He withdrew the leaves slowly, examining each one; about two-thirds made it into the pestle, the others left to drift gently to the ground.

He began to apply the mortar with steady, gentle force, as if he were stuck in the middle of a soothing ritual, or an almost hypnotic trance. When he did speak this time, it was in a sigh moreso than actual words, each one coming out with a tone that almost sounded like sighing. He didn't look anywhere else, gaze remaining strictly on the leaves, as he began to grind.

"The key to good tea is to find leaves that have only barely started to lose their chlorophyll. A leaf plucked straight off of the plant is too hard to get a good texture on; it becomes paste, more than anything. But if you let them rest in some dark place for about five or six hours, it starts to consume the sugar that's been built up, and then the leaf loses a bit of its rigidity. It's an interesting metaphor, I think. You can only get the best experience from allowing something to spend a little bit of time in the dark, depriving it of light and comfort, until it's lost some of its rigidity. The Gotei is very similar, I think. There's no malice involved. They just...have to be rough, if they want to bring out the best quality in their product."

Shio spoke without any pause, the words simply flowing out, his hands moving with that same steady, almost metronomic rhythm, eyes no longer noticing much of anything as he continued to press down with the stone mortar, grinding the leaves until they were one step away from becoming a powder. His hand was gripping the stone so hard that one could hear it creaking, but Shio was still working at it, no longer even seeming consciously aware of what he was doing.

"They're not bad people. Just like I'm not a bad person for leaving these leaves to dry and wither a bit. It's just what you have to do to make a good cup of tea."

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Subject Post 18PostSubject: Re: Fell on Black Days [Shio/Irene]   Tue Jan 30, 2018 6:36 pm

Irene was a tad bit startled by his reaction. She looked at him wide eyed and then nodded quickly in agreement to concentrate on the tea. She felt bad now. She couldn't tell whether she offended or scared him, was confused about real dating, and thinks he just lied to her. He just said he doesn't get many days of, so how would they talk about it another time? Irene didn't think he'd come visit her again, not with how bad she's been being. She had lot of things going through her head now too. What exactly was dating about? She had never been on one before, but she had a little bit of an idea from hearing other people talk about it. Were the ideas she had about dating all wrong?

Irene watched him silently for a while, curious about his movements. She eyed the fallen leaves and was going to immediately clean them up, but he began giving her a lesson about tea and her desire to take notes overwhelmed the desire to clean up. Irene backed herself toward a bookshelf, quickly grabbed a notebook, and sat on the couch to quickly write down everything he said. She got stuck at the word "chlorophyll," but gave up so she didn't miss the rest of his tea lesson. She was scribbling along until she heard the word metaphor and looked up to him. She set the notepad down and tilted her head curiously, wondering what he meant. At times metaphors went over her head, but for some reason she was able to understand this one. At least she thought so.

"So... Sometimes you need to experience hard things in order to get better. Sometimes it's okay being in the dark because it becomes easier to handle? I think... You're not a bad person, Shio. You know what needs to be done to make the tea. It's a good skill and you've taught me more about it because you have it. I'm not a stupid person, you know? I know it may seem like it. A lot of people have told me I am... but I'm not. I-I promise... I'm not!"

Irene was a woman to struggle with herself in ways that a lot of people couldn't. She knew she was ignorant to most of the world, but she kind of had to be. It made her feel stupid, but she didn't know another way of dealing with it. So as she stood there defending herself, she gripped tightly onto her own clothing and stared down at the wooden floor. After a moment, Irene brought her burnt hand up to show him. It hadn't really caught on fire earlier, like Shio had thought. It was more like acid was slowly being poured over her skin.

"I am an Angel Iramasha and my Aether is a billion-million times more pure than other Angel Iramasha. It can be good sometimes, but there are other times it is really bad. If I start feeling any strong negative emotions... it backfires on me. It hurts me, like this..." she looked sadly at her hand, "I can sometimes be a little sad, but if I start to cry for myself, this happens. I can cry for others, but not for me. I can't be mad or super angry. I can't even feel scared! That's why I left the city! All the people there are strong and scary and if I got scared, my own power would tell me I wasn't allowed to do that. I have to avoid people. I have to avoid the meanness of the world or I feel the pain more than most. You know what happen the last time someone tried to kill me, Shio!? I HELP THEM. I get scared... and my own power helps them..."

While she was on her rant, Shio could see the hand begin to burn again. Irene didn't flinch when it did either. She was kind of used to it, even if sometimes it did catch her off guard. She closed her eyes and began taking deep breaths to calm herself down. She wiped the tears from her eyes and pushed up a smile, though it was a sincere one. Irene learned to shift her moods very quickly for the sake of self-preservation. She put her hands behind her back in that innocent school girl pose and twisted her body back and forth.

"See. I'm not stupid. I just have to do these things to not hurt myself."

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Subject Post 19PostSubject: Re: Fell on Black Days [Shio/Irene]   Wed Jan 31, 2018 1:58 am




"You really do prize intimacy don't you, Irene. We've only barely met and you're telling me everything about yourself. I wish I could make you understand just how strange that is to me. I wish I could trust the way you do. But perhaps this is just the difference between you and I. You've always hurt yourself...and I've always had to worry about pushing myself too far without ever feeling the pain. I've honestly had a few moments in my life where I skipped meals for so long I honestly thought I'd collapse. Because I honestly believed in what I was striving for. Now I just skip them because feeding myself seems like...such a meaningless priority, most of the time. I'd rather be feeding others, even if I'm feeding them portions of myself."

Shio's hand had managed to loosen on the mortar he was using, his expression one of quiet contemplation and deep concern as he looked at her hand, watching it consume itself slowly. He blinked for a few moments, having to fight off the urge to say something intimate, something that may or may not impact her, and make her happier. His burdens weren't meant to be shared, not in that manner. He couldn't ask anyone else to suffer simply because the weight was growing too heavy. Not when he was surrounded by...those people. And those doubts. He inhaled slowly, reaching around behind himself towards the boiling pot, and removing it from the fire. Once more, he hardly seemed to notice as condensation formed on his fingertips, leaving them moist and reddening.

Apt, I should think. She consumes herself as fuel to sustain others. As all candles do, in the end. Are you beginning to understand, sweetling? Why I chose this form to present to you? Look at this child, and find yourself in her. Perhaps, by helping her, you may be able to help yourself.

Shio sighed, ever so slightly, pouring a cup of tea for her, and then gesturing for her to sit near him once more. He seemed to be searching for the right words, uncertain of how to reply to her heartfelt confession. It wasn't something he had any experience with, to be honest. Up to now, he'd been so focused on himself, so determined to push towards the finish line with a goal in mind, he'd never even noticed those that were running alongside him. Had that been why all of this had happened? Had he somehow pushed them all towards the darkness, by pushing ahead faster than they were able to keep pace? Had the light of hope pushed so far ahead, they'd become mired in the darkness of doubt? Or was it simply that some people didn't want to move towards the light?

"Avoiding the world only teaches you to keep avoiding it. We all fall into habits, Irene. I know it won't be easy for you, but you'll have to face the world around you. Normally, humans would be trying to subject you to the things you were afraid of so you could see they wouldn't kill you, but...your energy is a unique obstacle there. I may have an idea of someone who can help, however. I'll see what I can do to think up a way to help you get back into the big city, and make lots more friends. For now, I just want you to focus on paying attention to your own thoughts. Fear may lead to pain for you, but there's a difference between being afraid and being fear. You may not understand yet, but I'll do my best to make it easier to understand."

Shio looked towards the doorway once more, hands slipping to his knees, lips moving silently, as if he were remembering something, or trying to figure out what he wanted to say. He began to speak several times, stumbling over his own words, lapsing into silence each time. It was clear he was having trouble with the words.

"I don't think...no, I'm not a bad person. I don't think I'm a bad person either."

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