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Long Conversations
This was probably the last time that Nox would be in this small rental apartment, the place with Aurora was more than big enough to accommodate him, Aurora, a training area and several other rooms.

Maybe he'd talk to Aria see if she wanted to take up residence with them. If he remembered maybe they'd talk about it, she was coming over, they had a bit to talk about. She said it was important, and he really wanted to talk to her too. Aurora was nothing but her loving and caring self, but when it came to his shit, she didn't like knowing things, and he didn't exactly want his sister to know that he was having some pretty big doubts about things. He had to put on the front for his life depended upon it. Aurora understood his secrets, but she didn't have blood on her hands.

For some reason he thought Aria would understand. He took a deep breath and flopped back onto the fully made bed and waited for Aria to come over. He stared at the ceiling lost in the thought that he'd killed people he hadn't even known because he was pissed at his sister. It had been an accident, but the weight was heavy on his mind since finding out. He didn't even remember what the argument was about, that's how trivial it was.

A knock sounded on the cheap wooden door bringing Nox out of his thoughts. He stood up and stretched, he didn't know what she wanted to talk about, hopefully this went well. Nox moved towards the door and turned the knob letting the door crack open so he could make sure it was Aria. He grinned at her standing outside in the hallway, her black trench coat hiding the blade and gun he knew she carried. His grin widened as he opened the door and let her in. She gave him a smile, but it hadn't reached her eyes. Almost like she was off in her own little world.

"All I've got is water and cold coffee."
It was his attempt at playing host.

Aria looked up at him with a smile, this time he saw it in her eyes, she was such a mystery. She spoke softly, like she was afraid her voice would betray her. "Water is fine."

He grinned, it was even cold. The small fridge next to the bed had a few more bottles of water in it. He took two out and handed her one and sat down at the table, cracking open his own bottle and setting it down without taking a drink. "So you wanna go first? Or shall I?"

She cocked her head, she hadn't known he wanted to talk to her, Nox grinned at her. She waved her hand indicating he go first. She sat down across the table from him and took her gloves off.

""Okay then."
Nox really didn't know where to start now that he had the opportunity to speak to her.

Nox was never shy, never once in his life had had an issue talking to a girl, not even one as pretty as Aria was, but yet trying to form the words eluded him. It wasn't the who, it was the topic, how did you tell someone you killed someone. Aria looked at him, her green eyes shining through him unlike any girl he'd ever met, she cocked her head to the side, like those cute picture of dogs when they are trying to figure things out. She spoke carefully. "I'm not going to judge you, whatever is bothering you. I've probably done worse things than you have."

He forgot she could sense his emotions, she knew he was nervous, knew that it was a hard topic to discuss. Nox took a deep breath and put his head down and stared at his fingers on the table top in front of him. "The plane crash I was in, Aurora and I were in, I was the cause of it."
He could feel the tears welling up in his eyes, but he fought them with everything he had, he wouldn't cry again. He didn't cry! He wouldn't cry!

Aria put her hand on his, her soft skin cold from the winter weather, he looked up at her she wasn't smiling but he could see the pain in her eyes, he sat back in his chair, he wanted to pull his hands from hers, but he didn't move, he couldn't, she felt what he was feeling. She looked at him and she saw everything that had driven him to this point.

She didn't push, didn't say anything just sat there in silence, waiting for him to reveal the intention of telling her. It was like a weight was lifted. Aurora had told him it was an accident. He knew that, he knew he hadn't meant it, but still the blood was on his hands. Aria sat there, her hand on his, and it spoke more volumes than Aurora had ever done. There wasn't faux words coming out of her mouth, nothing to comfort him on the side, just pure understanding.

Silence had never been a comfort, not like this, she watched him, Nox could see emotions playing through her eyes, could see his pain, her pain. He smiled, a true smile, nothing feigned or joking about it. She understood, she smiled at him and Nox grabbed his bottle of water and took a swallow and put it back down, his hand on top of hers. "I was angry at Aurora for something. I don't remember, she doesn't remember. It's not important. I went to amplify my voice, I grabbed her hand, I wove a weave I'd done several times. The pressure in the plane must have changed it. Next thing I know I'm falling through the sky. I felt myself crash into the ground at break neck speed. I'm surprised I survived at all. The plane crashed and 15 people lost their lives because I was upset at my sister."

Aria looked across the table at Nox and smiled. "You don't want to hear it's okay. It was an accident. You want ... absolution? forgiveness?"
Aria cocked her head to the side. "But you don't believe in God, not in the way I do. He will grant you forgiveness if you but ask, but that's not what you want."
She smiled at him. "I will tell you what the Father told me when I sought forgiveness for the lives I've taken. He told him to recite prayers, seek help. He also told me to pay it forward. Help people, as much as I've hurt those in my past. You can't help the dead, but their families, the survivors. You can help them."

Nox knew she was right, knew he wanted to be forgiven but he didn't want the world to know the truth. "How do I do that?"

Aria shook her head. "I don't know, that's for you to determine. We don't make a lot of extra money as hunters..."

Nox interrupted. "I could do that, give money, tokens or something. But I don't think that will make it go away, the pain, the sadness."

As if all the knowledge of the world passed through her Aria spoke wisely, "Only time can make that happen. Forgive yourself. And God will take care of the rest."

Nox sighed, "I don't believe in God. But..."

Aria finished for him, "You'll try."
There was a lot of things going through Aria's mind. The butcher, things that could have happened, things that did happen. Helping Mya, telling Lucas about her life. Helping Asha. Everything was taking a price on her, she wanted to go hunting, but she couldn't go alone, the darkness was tempting, the risk too great. There was reason to keep living, it wasn't just the forgiveness, it was finding someone who actually cared enough to ... well care. It was a first for Aria, she was sure Father Dimitri had cared once, but that time had long since passed.

It had only been a few days since she'd last gone hunting with Nox. It was a trial. They got on well, his powers came in handy, and he really enjoyed the fight. Nox didn't know it had been a trial but it had been. It was time to talk to him about it. Time to present the problem, and how he fit into the solution.

There were things that Aria hadn't told Lucas, and hadn't told him on purpose. He was not equipped to understand the things she needed him to know. Aria was taking a great risk in telling a man she just met these things, on the hope he'd care enough to help her. Nox was a good hunter, but she wasn't sure he was that good of a friend.

Aria took the time to meet with him, to try to start the process of understanding of working with Nox on a more permanent basis. If he couldn't understand her secrets, then she was going to have to do something else. It might be time to fill the Regus' request and pray to God that she survived it long enough to get away from the Atharim before they started hunting her. Because she was sure she would fail in killing Ascendancy.

Nox was still in the same apartment she'd met him in to go find Aurora the first time he'd try to talk to her. It was a scrap of an apartment, worse off than hers but it fit him. But he was moving, or had already done so, this was just so they could have privacy, since Aurora was at his new place, and Asha at hers. This was neutral ground for them both.

Nox opened the door with that fool of a grin, he was always putting on a show, Aria could feel how unhappy he was, how sad and conflicted his emotions where. He offered her water which she was grateful for. Warm water would have been preferred considering how cold she was, but it was water and she was sure she was going to need it.

Aria hadn't really know, not for sure but she knew something was bothering Nox, and the fact that he wanted to talk about it made Aria smile. It was good, maybe it would pave the way to what she needed to talk to him about.

Nox confided in her about the plane crash. He had blood on his hands, accidental, but still blood, Aria knew exactly how that felt, granted her count on accidental was one. It could weigh on the soul no matter what, but Aria knew that Nox was not the religious sort, most people she met weren't, it was a surprise to her that Lucas had been. Most people wanted to believe, but without proof, they couldn't believe, there was no faith. But Aria had faith.

He didn't want to hear words of comfort, he'd gotten that, he wanted more. Resolution, absolution, forgiveness, things that she couldn't give him. He had to do that. She waited, and felt what he was feeling. Most of all he wanted understanding. She understood.

The silence wasn't awkward, it was comforting. The knowledge of secrets kept, acceptance. She smiled to herself, she had been right to come and tell him. He would understand, it was beneficial for both of them. She had faith, in him, and in herself that this was right.

He told her the story as he knew it. Aria listened, she gave him the only advice she had to give him, the same she had received when she confessed her sins - pay it forward. Do something good for all the horrible things you've done in your past. She was trying, and even though Nox did not believe in her God, she knew he would try.

She smiled at him, he felt more alive, happier, he had a certain spunk back in his emotions that made her smile even more. It felt good to know she'd helped him, at least in a minor way. But it was her turn to share.

"I wanted to ask of your a favor, but before you accept or decline helping me, we have a great deal to go through, I need, "
Aria could not express how much she needed to this, the word just wasn't enough, "I need to tell you before you agree."

Nox laughed, "That confident I'll agree."

Aria smiled back, his laugh was infectious, he was a charmer if nothing else. "I feel we have a unique connection, a unique opportunity to be a team, so yes, I feel confident you will agree."

Nox shook his head in mirth. "Well shoot then. If I say no I'll break your whole world up."

Aria smiled at the joke. "I'm sure I'll survive your rejection."

He grinned at her. ""I'm all ears."
Aria got the impression he would waggle his ears at her if he could. He was such a goof, she had no choice but to smile back.

Aria took a deep breath. "First the favor, proposal whatever you want to call it. Keep it in your mind when I tell you the rest. I'd like for us to work together. A partnership. Hunting monsters together, watching each others back, maintaining each other's sanity."

Nox grinned at her again. "I think we are moving in that direction even if you didn't ask. I can't share this with my sister. She'll doubt me. I can't work like that."

Aria nodded, "Neither can I. What I'm about to share with you one person knows. And he only knows because he was part of the whole situation."

Aria tried to pull her hands free of his grasp, it was not something she wanted to share with him by accident, but he smiled at her and shook his head. "You can feel what I do, I can't feel what you feel, but this insures you know exactly what I'm feeling, no hiding, complete openness?"

Aria nodded and relaxed. "I might over-share. I warn you."

Nox nodded and Aria continued. "I've been the cause of five human deaths in my life time. The first was a friend. It was my first kiss."
Aria could feel the horror in Nox's emotions, not at the death itself, it was the thought of a young girl going through the whole ordeal. "I overwhelmed him with my ability."
Aria felt Nox flinch slightly and then relaxed. "I have much better control now."
She smiled reassuringly at him.

"I was told he left the Vatican. He never wanted to see me. I found out recently that I had actually killed him. His heart gave out."
Aria could see the sadness in Nox's eyes, could feel it in his emotions. "I'm not looking for pity, or sadness. Just facts. The depths of my issues."

"A few months back, I met a man. He was like you, in the terms that he was a godling. He touched me. It was casual, it was nothing more than him looking at my "ridiculous sword" as he called it. I had not been touched voluntarily since I'd taken Scott's life accidentally."

"I touched him. My longing to be touched transferred to him. It created a bond between the two of us, Dane and I were obsessed with each other. He followed me around. I used his near constant presence to adapt to my new life. His strange calm center, he wasn't like anyone I'd ever met."

Aria looked down. "I went looking for danger. I was hunting the feel of monsters to touch them, to overwhelm myself, to understand the hunger of the monsters so I could prepare for my final mission."
She looked up with a wry grin. "I'll share that later. He followed me as I tracked a draniaka. I let her go. She let me live. I went into a bar, to see why she'd gone in. Nothing out of the ordinary. But I felt the drainka die, I later understood that Dane had killed her. I don't know why, but he did."

"Inside the bar I'd met Takeo, Privilege Takeo, he had guards outside who saw it go down, at least partially, we went outside. A reporter found us as I had the murder weapon in my hand, Takeo slipped away on video and I was left holding the weapon. I meant to scare her, but Dane was so close, I felt my desire for him, and I gave it to her instead of fear. Seducing her. It worked well enough. She took me to her apartment."

Aria stopped for a moment letting Nox's emotions catch up to what she said and took a drink of the water he'd given her. Aria could feel the typical lust and she smiled knowingly, he blushed. He actually blushed. He shook his head with a grin and Aria continued. "We had a little fun, a few beers, and were in bed when Dane walked into her apartment. My heart leapt, my eyes barely left him. Dane was holding the power, I couldn't feel what he was feeling, but I manipulated the woman to lull Dane, to touch him, afraid of what I might do."

Aria swallowed hard. "He glanced at my sword. It's not a good play thing, and definitely not an object to be used for sex. But I still had the knife. I got it. I turned off my humanity in that moment. I'd been taught to kill a human, and every monster known. I dissected human cadavers, and monsters alike. I killed her. No, I tortured her."
Aria looked up. "It's not that fact really that bothers me, its that I enjoyed it. I want to do it again."

"I walked away from that apartment killing two more in an explosion to cover my tracks, they were an innocent older couple asleep in their apartment. The forth was a man who had followed me, he got caught in the explosion. I killed him to end his misery and so he couldn't tell anyone what I'd done."

Aria frowned, "I want to hurt people, take their fear and their suffering and I want to make it worse. It is part of my ability drawing me to it. But I don't want to do that. Confusing I know. I don't want to hurt people, but I'm drawn to it. Hunting helps, but I get lost in the darkness. I can pull myself out, but usually takes a lot of effort. I need someone to help keep me from falling so far, to be there to help me fight while it's happening, not just afterwards. Lucas is wonderful, and gives me reason to come back, but it's harder the further I fall into the rabbit hole."

Aria closed her eyes and leaned back against the chair and tried to relax the tension that was inside. She tried to gauge what Nox was feeling, but she was having trouble escaping the pull of Dane's memory.

Edited by Aria, Dec 16 2014, 08:57 AM.
People told Nox he was cocky, he was, but he knew what he could and could not do, the fact that Aria believed he agreed either said she was more cocky than he was, or she knew something he didn't. Nox supposed she did, she could feel his emotions after all. She knew more about him the little time they'd known each other than any other person short of Aurora who had been in his life. And she was probably the only person that would understand everything, without actually having to say much. That in and of itself that sounded good to Nox. He hated explaining himself, especially to girls. Guys had their guy logic, the I get what you feel, but let's not talk about it. He liked that.

Aria started telling him things, things that were personal. Her life had been horrible. He couldn't even begin to understand what killing with a kiss felt like. He couldn't help it, he flinched, his hands in hers, she was touching him. She knew how he felt. Aria reassured him, like she was used to the feeling, knowing someone was afraid of you. That had to be horrible. To know exactly what a person thought of you through the smiles and the friendliness, everyone had their mask, and she saw through it. He muttered to himself, "Hell of a life."

Basically it came down to one thing and that was she enjoyed the kill. The hunt helped, it always did. Nox felt drawn to the hunt, to stopping the monsters from hurting someone else. To ending its life. He couldn't say he enjoyed it but he couldn't deny it either. He wanted to hunt, wanted the thrill of the kill, the eventuality that something bigger and better would best him. The thrill of death, it was a risk worth taking, and this little girl in front of him strove towards it, enjoyed it and was asking him to join her in it. Nox should have been afraid, but the thrill of danger was intoxicating. He wondered how she felt, what she felt during her darkness as she called it. Nox swallowed and pulled his hands from hers as she sat back and closed her eyes.

He thought about what she was offering him. And the thrill didn't die down, she wasn't coaxing a reaction from him. He knew this could end badly. She was like a drowning girl, who would take her potential rescuer down with her. Could he do that? Falling down the rabbit hole, Nox grinned at the literary reference, granted he'd never read the books, but he remembered the ancient cartoon from his childhood. "So you want me to go hunting with a girl who claims to enjoy killing, what will keep you from hurting me?"
It was meant as a joke, but the look she gave him was the utmost serious face he'd seen since she walked in.

"Nothing. We will have to work on your free will."
Aria was straight-faced, she understood he was joking, he could see that she was trying to scare him. And really he should have just walked away. But Aria intrigued him, not as a girl who he'd like to see naked, she was just such an enigma, such a mystery he had to know, had to understand.

He put his hands on top of hers. "Not sure how we can work on my free will, but where do I sign up? I don't know if this will work. You mention hunting, and we've done so well before, so easily we mesh together in a fight, I want more. I've never fought with anyone who's like you. Even Aurora who I know like the back of my hand, we don't fight that well together."

Aria smiled at him, it was a pretty smile, she was genuinely happy, "We will do better than that in the end. We've lots of training to do together. Hunting is only part of it."

Nox laughed, "So I become your padawan?"

Aria smiled, "No, we become partners. I can teach you, and you can teach me. We'll teach each other, work together, find the right balance to make everything work."

Nox nodded, "When do we start?"
It was exciting, scary but exciting.
Aria smiled, he was eager in both words and emotions, he felt afraid too, but that was something to be expected. She hadn't exactly expected this level of enthusiasm though, it was asking a lot. Aria smiled, "Whenever you want."

Nox grinned. It wasn't hiding anything. But it still looked goofy. "I know the Atharim have training areas, but I can't exactly use all my abilities, you should come by the new place. I'll show you around."
Aria could feel the pride in his voice, he was happy and proud of his sister for finding it.

Aria nodded. "Sounds like a plan. Working on your 'free will' we don't want to do in the confines of the Atharim either."
Nox was about to ask a question, Aria could feel the curiosity in him building. She smiled and continued. "I can manipulate your emotions at a touch, I've indicated that, you had the normal knee jerk reaction then, as you are now. The idea is to make my ability not work on you. My ability is not permanent. The emotions will fade, and I know it can be broken. I've seen it happen."

Nox's grin returned after having left at the thought of losing his free will. "So if you get to use your powers on me, do I get the same in return?"

Aria laughed. "So long as we don't really try to kill each other than, yes, I don't see a problem being your guinea pig."

"Oh this will be fun."
Nox's smile was genuine, he was happy and excited. "You mentioned some big mission?"

Aria looked down, she felt the humor roll from him, yet she knew the grin remained, always the front for him. "The Regus has sent me on a suicide mission."
Aria looked up and found the grin no longer there, Nox squeezed her hand in front of her, and Aria smiled. "He sent me after Apollyon."
From the look on his face it registered but not enough. "The destroyer of prophecy. The Regus and I, "
Aria sighed, she really did believe it, "We believe, that the Ascendancy is Apollyon. My final mission is to take him out."
Nox liked the idea of being able to test weaves on a live target, and he was impressed that she trusted him that much. She couldn't see, feel or do anything to defend herself against his ability, but she was game. It would definitely be interesting.

He had to know, she had some big mission, some secret thing, Nox just had to know. When he asked her she didn't look happy, like she didn't really want to share, but she did anyway, and Nox's jaw dropped almost literally. Kill The Ascendancy, one of the, if not THE, most powerful men on the planet. He swallowed hard. That was a hell of a mission. He of course wanted in. It was scary as hell, but it was worth the prestige if it came through.

"You can count me in."

The look on her face said that was not the answer she was expecting. Her words spoke the same. "You have no idea what you are saying."

Nox laughed. "Sure I do, what's kept you from going after him. His security? Okay we'll figure that out. You and me. What else?"
Nox held up a finger indicating he wanted to figure it out, he grinned at her. "If he's Apollyon that means he's special. Like me?"
The look on her face and the nod of her head said he was right. Nox smiled brightly, "I can see what he does, feel him embrace the power. What else is keeping you from killing him?"

Aria tilted her head to the side, she hadn't know that. She probably didn't know a lot of what he was capable of. "He's the most powerful man in the world, or near abouts, we can't get close."

Nox laughed, "We don't have to get close."

Aria sighed, "I don't think I want to kill him. But I don't want the death sentence I have by not completing the task either. I only took the job to save my life for a little while longer, maybe I can find away out of it."
Aria paused like she was looking in and thinking Nox grinned, she was a strange duck sometimes. He wondered if she thought him the same. She was foreign after all, foreign to him at least.

She continued but she still looked lost in thought, "There is a friend, who is now working for Ascendancy, he is like you. He wants to meet more like me with in the Atharim. Those who don't want to kill godlings. I'm not exactly sure what he wants with them, or why, but there is no need to kill you, only those of you who go bad. You aren't a monster, neither are the others I meant."
Aria frowned, her eyes went dark at some thought.

Nox squeezed her hand. "Hey. That's not a good thought. Darkness bad."

Aria smiled at him, it really was a pretty smile. She needed to do it more often. "Was just thinking about Dane. It always happens when I think about him."

Nox shook his head. "Purge him from your mind, you've another beau, so don't think about him."

Aria laughed. "Easier said than done."

"I know."
He really did understand. This might be easier than he thought. "What else we have to cover?"

Aria shook her head. He grinned. "Well then, Aurora would like to meet you. Show her around HQ, help with initiation and all that jazz. Come by some time, bring Lucas, I'll show you around, we can spar a little, whatever, help me figure out how to set up for best of our world."

Aria nodded. "Soon. I have another appointment"

Nox gave Aria a mock frown. "You double booked me. I feel slighted."
He grinned. "Really, no problem. Can't wait to get started."

Aria took his hand and squeezed it. "Me either."
And with as little ceremony as she entered, she left. Nox looked around his now empty apartment and knew it was the last time he'd be there.

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