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Helping Hands
Continued from What Comes After the Fall

The train stopped and her and Lucas got off the train and walked the short distance to her apartment. Aria lifted the rug and found the spare key still in place, they had arrived before Nox and his new found friends, she was surprised but glad, gave her time to clean up the place a little bit.

Aria unlocked the door and went into her room. Aria smiled at the picture Lucas had drawn for her tattoo above her bed, it always made her smile. It wasn't that the picture was awe inspiring, but that it was done just for her that made her smile.

Aria hung her leather trench coat on the coat rack by the door and smiled. "Make yourself at home."
Aria busied herself with cleaning up the books on the table. There wasn't one that should be left out to the public, except maybe as a joke. All the journals she placed in a neat stack in the closet, on the floor and left the Monsters A to Z book on the coffee table. It was innocuous enough, a printed manuscript, could look like a joke. But Aria knew better, and so did Lucas and Nox.

Now all that was left was for Nox to show up. "Water?"
It was all she really had to drink, but she'd play hostess since it was going to be accepted of her later.
Continued from Getting Out

Ashavari commented on his story with an oblique comic book reference. Spiderman! He laughed. Not only had she made a joke, she actually referenced a comic book about something that could possibly hit on his realm of career. Spiderman, Superman, all fiction, but could they have been based upon real things once upon a time sure. With people like him showing up, maybe a modern day web slinger will show up on the scene. The thought made him laugh.

Nox laughed. They both accepted but neither understood what was what. "Animals, whatever can said to have feelings. Aria can explain better, she can track just about any thing I've known to exist."

The train pulled up to their stop. "Our stop. Aria can answer better I promise."

Nox warned Ashavari as the disembarked the train he was going to hold on to the power again, so he didn't get cold. He wouldn't have cared really if she weren't Sentient. It let him practice his weaves and moving at the same time, he was grateful for any and all practice his life allotted him.

Nox had been to the Place of Enlightenment a grand total of once. The old stores, the Baccarat Mansion itself standing just a few doors down from Aria's apartment above a shop called The Delicate Scroll. Nox lead Elias and Ashavari around to the side entrance. The door creaked as it opened and the warmth from inside flooded his body, he hadn't realized how cold he had actually been, his little heat trick only worked well standing still.

Nox took the steps two at a time, there was light under the door, Aria must be home. He knocked on the door and her unfettered Italian accent called through, "It's unlocked."

What if he was a robber? Granted robbers weren't likely to knock, and Aria was usually well armed. He didn't doubt that fact. He opened to door to find Aria at the small sink in what could be considered her kitchen. He blinked at the smallness of the place. The large bed in the corner was perfectly made, a picture of the ororborous with two fighting dragons around it sat perfectly centered above her bed. It was the same as the tattoo on her arm. He grinned.

The bedroom was off to the left, a couch sat in the middle of the room in front of the little kitchenette with a coffee table with one lone book sitting on it. He almost fell over laughing at what she'd clearly left out in the open. Monsters from A to Z. A man sat on the couch, Aria handed him the glass of water she had just filled. She smiled at him, and she was clearly happy.

Aria walked over to Nox but didn't offer her hand to any of them. "Nox, Lucas, Lucas, this is Nox, we work together."
Nox wondered why she'd added the last part, was this her boyfriend? Had she turned him down in the tunnels because of this man? Nox's grin widened. This should be interesting.

Lucas looked everyone over and smiled hesitantly, then stuck out his hand. "Glad to meet you."
He looked tired. Nox heard the Russian accent. Local dude, how quaint.

Nox nodded to Lucas and shook his hand with a grin. "Likewise."
He wanted to be his normal self, but he opted to hold the sarcasm in instead. Aria was dangerous, her sword was still at her hip, and the gun was still at her back. And she had the hilt of a silver dagger peaking out of it's sheath on her arm. Girl was armed to the teeth. Better safe than sorry. "This is Ashavari, the woman I told you about, and he's Elias. He ran across her about the same time I did."
Nox laughed. "He's here to make sure we aren't axe murderers or something."
The look Aria gave him was not one he'd expected, he expected her to react to being called a criminal, instead she stared at him blankly. He sighed. "Guys this is Aria, my expert in all things weird."
This time she reacted and the look she gave him made Nox smile happily.

((with Lucas and Aria))

Edited by Nox, Dec 21 2014, 01:39 PM.
The trip back was uneventful, for which Lucas was glad. He'd sent a message to Valentin, who ran the shelters in this area. He couldn't stop thinking about Mya and Sonja. Hope fully they would seek out the shelter he'd mentioned after they paid a visit to the vet. Valentin would have a bed held for them. He shook his head at what Sonja had been willing to do to get her friend the help she needed.

It brought back powerful memories for him- his desperation and hunger, his loneliness and despair. It had been years, but in some ways, that kid was still deep inside him. He had come a long way, with help from others.

He looked at Aria, hoping that she was right about that guy, her savior or whatever, and the Butcher. He trusted her. But if she was wrong, he'd have a dead girl on his conscience. He wasn't sure there were enough 'Our Fathers' and 'Hail Marys' to cleanse him of that, not in his heart.

But Aria lived in a world he'd never heard of, a world that had somehow been all around him. She struggled with dark hungers that he could not fathom. He'd had his own hungers, of course. But in the end, his hungers were really all about self-destruction. Aria's went far beyond that.

But he would not walk out on her. He would be there for her. If he failed, then more bad would walk this earth. He couldn't let that happen. Not just the safety of others. He looked at Aria and smiled. For her own sake. For her humanity. For her happiness. Those were things he wanted for her and if it was in his power to help her achieve that, he would do it.

They finally arrived at her apartment and she put some her books away. Strangely she left one out, though. He was curious as to these 'friends' of hers. She didn't seem like one to have friends, not with her abilities. Well, one friend, anyway. Nox. He wondered who this guy was. He didn't think he was jealous, not really. Not like he owned her. Truth was, the two of weren't really defined either.

Aria got him some water and as she did the door opened a three people walked in, all different from each other. A smiling man about his age maybe who walked in as if he owned the place. A young woman who looked curious. And a tall dark man maybe a bit younger than him, long black hair and long black jacket flowing down around him, eyes lined in black. None of which was off putting.

Lots of older, judgmental folk didn't get it, or mocked them as clones. While it wasn't his style, he understood the sentiment of feeling rejected and misunderstood, of rejecting a society that would judge you so unfairly. Life was not a Disney film. The world could not be understood by oversimplifications. God, he knew that now more than ever. It needed to be faced head on, confronted, not hidden from. But those self-righteous people didn't get it. It didn't happen often, but occasionally he had seen the look on people's faces when they found out he ran a tattoo shop.

The cocky one came in and Aria introduced him as Nox, quick to point out they just worked together. Lucas couldn't help but smile at Aria's assurance. Maybe they weren't defined as something specific, but there weren't nothing either. Lucas greeted him. He was an interesting one, that was for sure. Introduced the newcomers, including explaining why Elias had come.

He didn't blame the guy for making sure Ashavari was safe. Nox was friendly enough, but you never knew what people were like. Well, Aria did. And then Nox blurted out about Aria's abilities. What the hell?

He stepped up to Nox. "Stop talking."
The apartment they walked into felt crowded, for all that it only contained two more people. Problem was, with the exception of Elias, these were now people with connections that travelled like currents, and the emotion in here had an intenseness she'd been unprepared for. She decided pretty quickly that she'd rather be sitting down if the room was going to be so fractious. Careful not to brush against anyone -- it wasn't a huge place -- she slipped far enough into the room to sag against the arm of the couch. She rubbed at her temples, as though she had a headache, and looked at the woman who had offered her a place to stay.

Nox hadn't been exaggerating the weapons. Asha never been around someone who could feel what she was feeling, which at the moment encompassed a healthy and open curiosity edged with something both weary and cautious as she adapted her consciousness to the new dynamics around her. And maybe even a little fear of the woman in front of her. Because. Swords. Asha didn't feel an immediate sense of trust, as she realised she'd assumed she would because of their sameness. And somewhere distant she thought she could sense that Aria wasn't exactly thrilled with the favour.

"Nox says we're called Sentients,"
she blurted. Before anything else slipped that she didn't want to know. And maybe to calm the surge of protectiveness emanating from Lucas as he squared up to Nox. If they started fighting she thought she might faint.
The woman Nox introduced as Ashavari walked into the room, Aria watched her sway to the couch, like she wasn't exactly happy, Aria could feel an echo in her, which she had never felt before. But Nox said things he shouldn't, her attention was back on him, and so was Lucas.

Aria watched Nox and Lucas and frowned. Lucas was being protective and Nox was being, well Nox. Aria stepped between the two as Ashavari commented that Nox said WE were Sentient, that was the echo. Aria smiled, for more than one reason. Aria looked up to Lucas and touched her hand to his chin and made him look down at her. "It's okay. Nox won't say more than he has to. He has far more dangerous secrets that can ruin both our lives. He's just being himself."

Aria turned around and looked and looked up at Nox, leaning slightly against Lucas. "And him?"

Nox grinned at her. "Like me I think."

Aria nodded. "The lot of us are putting Ashavari through hell right now, I'd appreciate the two of you."
She indicated Nox and Elias. "Hold your power, so we don't overwhelm her too much. It's been a rough day I assume for her."

Nox obliged without hesitation, Aria turned to Lucas with an I'll explain later look. Hopefully she wouldn't have to overwhelm him too much. He already had a rough introduction to her life, now she had two godlings sitting in her apartment and two sentients. Life was going to get very interesting and complicated.

Aria moved from the two men and moved to Ashavari and embraced her empty place. "Is that better, for now? I assume you don't know what you are if Nox was the one to tell you."
Aria smiled. "I know that feeling."
He was escorted into a dungeon of an apartment. Complete with weapons, the walls drew his gaze until he realized the tiny presence of their owner. She was drawn out from the shadows of the larger, more obnoxious men, and introduced as Aria. The pleasantries extended only so far as to quickly swap names and that was all. Curt greetings was actually rather refreshing, for once. Elias was used to people drooling all over each other.

Curt greetings turned quickly bitter, only to be diffused by Aria. Elias leaned against a wall like a shadow, an amused witness. Dark hair, big eyes; she was attractive too, and he liked how she could silence two grown men with a look. That she seemed to think he and Nox would obey her every command only added to the charm of a puppy barking at the wolves.

Obedience wasn't in Elias' nature, and he remained empty of light for now. Aria joined Ashavari, and Elias exchanged a smirk of a look with the men in the room.

Aria stepped between her and he friend. He grinned across at him as Aria tenderly made him look down at her. She was short, but she held herself like she wasn't going to be refused, even though she was being tender with Lucas, she still looked like she expected to be listened to.

Nox found it funny that he obeyed when she asked him to hold the power. He hadn't expected to be nearly so compliant, but Aria was master here, it was her apartment, and he'd respect it, for now. Nox took a step back from Lucas when Aria left to attend to Ashavari. He watched her.

She turned and looked back at Elias. It was disappointment. She turned back to Ashavari and spoke. "If any of your emotions make my guest uncomfortable I shall be asking you to leave."
She turned to Nox with a smile and spoke directly at him. "And I'm sure despite the fact your otherworldly abilities are at hand, I can find a way to make you."

Nox grinned. She was a pistol. He held up his hand. "I've seen your work. I'll behave. I promise. I'll let you handle things from here on out."
He bowed flamboyantly. "You have my word."

Aria smiled back at him. "See if your friends would like a drink. Cups are above the sink."

Nox laughed and obeyed. He knew Aria would shot him if he made a mistake. There was a tone of joke in her voice, but her eyes they said otherwise, they said she was deadly serious. That made a shiver run down his spine. She scared him deep down. But she was intriguing. He wanted to know more. Though he didn't expect it was going to be an any intimate situation. Too bad. But she was a hunter, and there was always that.

Nox turned to Elias. "Water?"
Lucas was looking at Nox, pissed. What the hell was this guy thinking? Just blurting out Aria's secret like that? As if she wasn't alienated enough. It was his job to look for her, to help her. He didn't need some punk running out around making life harder for her.

Aria stepped between them, ignoring Nox. She looked up at him, getting his attention with a soft touch to his chin. He looked down at her, into her green eyes. It was odd. She was so....little. Tiny, in comparison. And yet, she did not project weakness. Pain, yes. All encompassing loneliness, very much so. It was what he'd picked up on the first time they'd met. But not weakness.

It was her turn, it seemed, by diffusing the situation. She trusted Nox. They had an agreement of sorts. Lucas didn't know what that meant and couldn't help the stab of jealousy that lanced through him. But he trusted her, trusted her judgement in this- whatever this was. He realized that this was all far beyond him.

Aria seemed to sense his feelings too- well, no 'seemed to' about it. She could sense his feelings. She turned and leaned into him slightly. He was just an ordinary person. But her action made it clear that she was with him, including him, leaning on him.

He didn't know what they were talking about. But that was ok. Well, he wasn't stupid. Evidently, Ashavari- the girl sitting on the arm of the couch- was like Aria. She looked tired too. A part of Lucas felt a sliver of hope. Finding someone like her might help Aria, make it easier. She'd understand.

As for the rest, though, cocky Nox and casual Elias, he didn't know what it all meant. In any case, he could relax as Aria went about trying to play the hostess. Elias shot him a smirk and he returned it with a grin of his own. Women did love to take charge.

He went a sat on the couch, careful to give Ashavari her space. He wasn't sure if she grew up with the same feeling of alienation Aria did but he didn't want to make her any more uncomfortable that she already was.

He would sit back and watch. This wasn't his world. He felt like an outsider. But that was ok. Aria's smile made him feel included.

Edited by Lucas, Dec 29 2014, 10:21 AM.
The situation diffused with a little help. There was a lot to take in, not least Nox's belief that Elias was like him. He'd shown no signs, but that only meant he had not used his abilities since they'd met. Aria's definition of hell was a little extreme; it was just unpleasant, nothing she couldn't rally herself to endure. The care was appreciated though, as well as being somewhat novel; she'd never had someone to look out for her in that way. Actually, she'd rather have a tumult of emotion to deal with than an empty void, though she didn't say. Her cheeks had already heated at all the undue attention to her abilities. That Elias didn't comply - if he even could - was noted but Asha was not disappointed. His detached cool was what she hooked on to quiet all the distractions.

"I'm okay."
Given the situation, anyway, but by Asha'a very nature she was hard to trample down. She had a roof over her head for tonight, and despite everything she had also lost today, that was what she focussed on. That and discovering she was not alone. "I didn't know we had a name. Actually, I didn't know there was a 'we'. I've never met anyone else the same before. Thanks for letting me stay."
Though she had more questions about what Nox and possibly Elias were than herself. She slid Nox's jacket from her shoulders, then shed her own coat to sit in a puddle of both.
Aria had felt the stab of jealously in Lucas, but it was something to deal with later, her house was full and she was feeling more than worse for wear. The days events had been trying enough, now she had guests in her house. Hours before she'd been locked up in a cellar, trapped by a maniac bent on torturing, raping and ultimately killing her. It sent a shudder through her body. And now she sat with two people she trusted explicitly, and two strangers who were as foreign to her as Moscow had once been. How the world revolved on, even if your world didn't feel like it should.

Aria was glad to hear that Ashavari was okay, not that she doubted it, she could feel the curiosity in her, and wondered if there were fewer people here how things would react between the two of them. She'd met one Sentient before her father, and she was a brick wall. Aria ground her teeth at the thought of Dane's doctor, prying in on his thoughts. Aria knew that the mere thought of Dane would bring the darkness to bear, it floated through her and she fought to push it away. The darkness hung so close, so many people here, so many bodies to feel their pain, the call was there but Aria had to push it away.

It was but a moment, but it felt like an eternity for Aria, she was tired, her body ached and now she had company, sleep seemed even farther from the discussion than before. Aria took comfort in the fact that Lucas was still here, but this was not his world, and he'd already had an abrupt entrance to it. She sighed and stood up and smiled, though it didn't touch her eyes. She was just that tired. "You are welcome to stay as long as you need. We can work out the details when it's quieter."

It was the first part of her statement that made Aria smile for real. She reassured Ashavari, "Up until recently I didn't know what I was either. I was told I was something different, trained to be something different. But now it all makes sense and the world is a less complicated being."
It wasn't fully true, it was only partially the truth, the world was only one item less complicated, but that realization had also complicated matters even more.

"I've only met two others like myself, one only briefly, and the other well."
Aria wasn't sure how much to say about her father. It wasn't exactly like it had been a pleasant encounter. "Let's just say it didn't go so well."

Aria had questions of her own. But she wasn't sure how much to ask in front of strangers. Not that Aria wasn't a stranger to the woman. "I assume, you aren't from a Sentient family. It's typically genetic, but mutations do occur to create our abilities. I assume you are the latter, my father was Sentient, my mother was not. I knew neither. One day I'd be interested in hearing about your emergence, I guess you could call it."

Edited by Aria, Jan 5 2015, 04:40 PM.

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