Herding Cats

Oct. 14, 2016
908
2,120
Doesn't know
Male
Valhalir
Roman
Votum
Second Division
Captain
Azure Eagles
Krystal

Cyprian Valerius
Valhalir

Could it be that I fell apart, it shows; the lines on my face ate away my smile.
That was why she felt off. More out of curiosity, watching the flowers and vines. As soon as he thought about it, it made sense. Why wouldn't she have become Narcissa's blade? That was, in effect, what she'd been even long before her death, even if Narcissa couldn't bring herself to admit it. True, it wasn't all she was, but she'd built herself around it, rather on purpose, and it was hard to imagine her functioning as anything but. Some might consider it a terrible thing, but, knowing what you were good at and what you wanted to do, it wasn't so bad. It was probably part of why Cyprian kind of envied her, in a way. She always seemed to know what role she played, always knew what she was meant to be doing, what she wanted. Cyprian still hadn't found it. Any of that.

It was strange, considering they were so very different, that they'd managed to reach a common ground at all. He couldn't say it really bothered him, as Laelia had been a decent friend, in her own way, somewhere amid the fuck you banter. It was kind of stupid now, but at least he'd always known he could depend on her to flip him off, and it was a start, back then, almost anything would have been. He probably shouldn't have missed her as much as he did, given they didn't technically get along, but it was somehow the fact they never seemed to get along that he'd missed the most.

And now she was giving him a headache with all this emotion. That was a first, but, he could deal with it. Fortunately, it took him long enough to parse and process feelings by now, that he could function around it, and then have the panic attack later, when the high wore off, and it started to legitimately hurt.

"Dahlia Nigrum..." Yeah, that was her name. Well, the sword that she lived in's name. "No, Laelia, listen to me," taking her hands in his, using Latin too if only because nosy people and apparently she'd decided they were using Latin. It was a good thing he remembered it, but he had to wonder if you ever really forgot your mother tongue.

"That's not how life and death work. Things like this don't just happen, there's a reason for it. If you're still here, then you're supposed to be. But is it really any wonder, that Cissa couldn't let go of you? Is it any wonder you couldn't leave her behind? It shouldn't be. You may not understand why right now, but there's a reason you came back this way, there's a reason things turned out the way they did. You don't just cheat death. Death lets you."

Aye, he had a headache. "And maybe Grimmjow does love me. At this point, I've finally stopped questioning it, so I can believe it. But you know, Grimmjow's great, but he's not you, and I don't think I'm as fine on my own as I like to pretend. 2,000 years of being alone, it didn't do me any favours." The fact he could admit that was probably kind of a miracle on its own, but he didn't point that out.

"It's okay to be scared you know. That's what really caring about someone is like. I'm proud you've progressed to that. But you can't get rid of me that easy. I found you, or you found me, whichever one, and we're here, together, standing in the same room for the first time since I fell off that stupid cliff, you can stuff it if you think I'm going anywhere." Well, he still had to work and Grimmjow wanted his attention a lot, but that was beside the point. He didn't intend to just pretend he hadn't come across her, finally, even though it was probably partly his fault for not looking for her sooner. But that was what happened when you lived most of your life with your head in your ass. Once, she probably would have happily pointed that out, so he decided not to mention it.

As strange as it was, though, seeing her again, it was nice, too. She was one of the few things he'd really honestly missed.
624
914
Female
Shinigami
Roman
Ha.
Second Division
Seat 06

So he did figure it out. That was quick, but maybe she shouldn't be surprised. If she could sense and occasionally talk to other zanpakutou, it made sense that they could sense her as well. Or maybe he figured it out himself. Cyprianus was certainly smart enough. Laelia had to wonder how many others knew; it was ostensibly a secret, but both divisions she'd been a part of were very good at weaseling out secrets.

"Yeah." She sniffed and wiped her eye. "That's me. How did you know?" Some of the flowers seemed to perk up when he said her name, gold veins racing up the dark petals. Laelia had to at least wonder how he got it, seeing as Narcissa barely acknowledged it. Officially, Laelia didn't have a registered zanpakutou, but most assumed it was either the comb she always wore in her hair or the golden collar that sat around her neck. Well, the second one was sort of true. Apparently that was one part of Dahlia Nigrum that wouldn't go away, along with the eyepatch. She didn't know whether it was a zanpakutou thing or a her thing that made it so frustrating, the fact that Narcissa wouldn't acknowledge who she was. She hadn't been so aware of it when she was alive, but the connection hadn't been so overt then, either.

Again, she almost shied back when he moved to touch her, flinching as he took her hand. It wasn't because she thought he might hurt her; even while they were alive, she never expected Cyprianus to actually hurt her even while she was as careful around him as anyone else. No, she didn't want to hurt him. It was so rare of her to actually be in this form, especially in the physical world, and Dahlia Nigrum's vines were unpredictable. There were thorns, sometimes, but not now. It seemed the vines were as unwilling to hurt him as she was. Which made sense, considering they were... her. She watched as the vines grew, slower now than before, looping around her arms and reaching towards Cyprianus. When they touched his wrist she almost pulled back, arm tense before she forced it to relax. Maybe she needed to trust herself more. Laelia never relied on luck and instinct, but apparently today was a day of firsts.

"Maybe," she said. "You're probably right." It made sense, even as she couldn't actually believe it in her heart of hearts. Lots of people died every day; what made her so special, that she could come back? Maybe the world still needed her, but she had her doubts. Laelia knew that she was important, but it was her actions that were significant. Someone else could fill her niche.

Not that she felt guilty about it or anything, but it still seemed wrong. Sometimes she felt like a speck of grit in the oiled machinery of the world, a contaminant in a perfect machine. But Laelia didn't dwell on it, usually. She wondered why, but never how. Besides, thinking on it usually led back to the manner of her death, and Laelia definitely would rather not relive that. It was worse, the first few centuries after she'd returned, when she was stuck in the ever-changing void of Narcissa's soul, unable to call out, unable to interact because the her outside was still alive. She'd spent a lot of her time sleeping, reliving past memories with an acuity that was far too sharp for them to just be dreams. Even while awake, there were times when she'd actually relived her death. It was a miracle, really, that her mind hadn't completely shattered.

Laelia laughed, quick and sudden, and her shoulders slumped forward as she finally allowed herself to relax, a puppet with cut strings. "I can't believe I'm being more of a mess than you," she said, and shook her head. At least the tears had stopped, and some of the happy was starting to show. "He seems good for you. Grimmjow, I mean." Even though she hadn't seen the two of them together, they were still cute. She just hoped they told each other the same things they told her. "I'm glad you found someone else to make you do things in my absence. But," she narrowed her eyes, "don't think you're off the hook yet. I transferred to Nibantai two weeks ago, and this is the first time I've seen you. Do you really just stay in your office all day?" Her eyes were sharper now. He seemed more open, more honest than before, but she remembered Rome. She remembered his little spurts of passivity and activity, remembered how he seemed like different people depending on the day and his mood. "We have two thousand years to catch up on! I'm never leaving you alone for the next century." Pause. "Joking, I'm joking."

Still, she couldn't help but think that if she hadn't found him, there was the very real chance of him sliding back into old habits even with Grimmjow around. He himself just admitted that he didn't like being alone, and it surprised her, the fact that he actually said it, but that didn't mean he wouldn't do it. Laelia frowned at the vines, and a second later they vanished. Some still wound through her hair and down her neck and chest, but those weren't in the way so she let them stay. It was... relieving, to be able to let go, even a little. At least her clothes haven't changed. Then again, even if they had she could just easily change them back. Laelia sighed and leaned against him now that she could, small dark flowers blooming in her hair. It wasn't a hug, just... contact. "It's not just me," she said. "A lot of people from... from Rome, are here now." She almost said home, but Cyprianus probably wouldn't look at the past as kindly as her. "Thetis, and your brothers. Sandalio? Weren't you fond of him? Adranos, too. I bet they all miss you."
908
2,120
Doesn't know
Male
Valhalir
Roman
Votum
Second Division
Captain
Azure Eagles
Krystal

Cyprian Valerius
Valhalir

Could it be that I fell apart, it shows; the lines on my face ate away my smile.
How did he know? Because he knew a lot of shit he shouldn't. He decided not to mention that, but he wasn't sure what else to tell her, either. It was all so complicated, and Cyprian didn't even entirely understand it. He thought he was Iaal, at first, but then he started getting the feeling he was just connected to Iaal, somehow, and that didn't make sense. Unless he was a Water Fae. Technically speaking, the Fae were a part of the god they were shed from, and might well remember the things their god should. The gods' memories would have been in their Force, or sort of... that didn't entirely make sense either. Then again, very little about the gods and their Fae made any sense at all.

"I don't know," he answered. "Lucky guess? I just did. Besides, you're sprouting black dahlia flowers, it kind of makes sense." Kind of. The good news, at least, was that he didn't seem to have gotten the future sight thing the gods tended to have. Which meant, he didn't know anything more about the future than anyone else did, only the past. He'd be thankful for that, because he wasn't sure if he could handle the past and the future, when it was so hard for him to live in the present as it was. At least he knew that. He'd progressed to the point that he knew that.

Some part of him was vaguely proud about that. And then another part wondered, why, because it wasn't like he shouldn't have been able to figure that out millennia ago.

Cyprian snorted. "You are," he said. She was being a lot more of a mess than he was. "If it makes you feel better, it'll really hit me later. At the moment, I'm very fortunate it hasn't decided to slap me in the face yet, because you know how good I am with feelings -- read, I'm not -- and that'd probably cripple me momentarily." Probably. Especially since he was apparently empathic now, literally, and was feeling a huge wave of what he assumed was coming from her. Parsing out what was her and what was him would be quite the task, but he could focus on functioning now, and deal with it later. He should probably deal with these things sooner, maybe they wouldn't slap him in the face as hard. That was a thing to ponder. But later.

He made a face, somewhere between amused and sort of oh dear, his leg jittering just slightly in apparent slight anxiety, or something. "Basically," he conceded, somewhat hesitantly. "But Grimmjow has taken serious offence to that, and he drags me out any time he gets a chance. On dates, apparently, I didn't know what those were until a few days ago." Which was embarrassing not to know, but it could have been worse. Besides, Grimmjow hadn't made fun of him or anything, just, explained it.

A slight lean backward, as her leaning on him nudged him slightly out of balance, before he shifted his weight and regained it. "I know." And he did, just, he'd never really cared before. "Didn't know Adranos was still around, but I'm not surprised. And Sandalio is... just, a complication. A myriad of things I've never bothered to work through before, and frankly, I don't know if I should bother. Maybe they do, but, so far, I've thought it a better idea to leave them be. They're happy. I don't make anyone happy." That wasn't what Cyprian was known for. Rather the opposite, if only because his moods were always changing, a bit like the ocean. One minute, it was calm, and the next, a raging storm took over. Cyprian was like that. It was kind of interesting to him, how he and Kaiou were both the sea, but different aspects of it. And Iname, well, he was a giant hunk of ice. You'd figure that'd be Cyprian, but he felt a lot more than he let on, cared a lot more than he let on, even when he honestly couldn't afford to, didn't want to. But emotions were pesky things, and when they decided you felt them, you couldn't get away from them, not even just kind of.

"Besides, I'm having a hard enough time just dealing with Grimmjow regularly. I meant it, the alone time really didn't do me any favours, I can hardly remember how to socialise and all that any more." But he was learning again, very slowly.
624
914
Female
Shinigami
Roman
Ha.
Second Division
Seat 06

"That doesn't explain anything." Laelia pulled back and gave him a flat look. Her harsh tone was offset by the fact that immediately after, half of the flowers changed shape, dahlias morphing into daisies and geraniums and daffodils. A chain of foxgloves hung in front of her nose, almost making her sneeze. She frowned, and a moment later and they expanded and curled backwards, morning glories bursting to life along a golden vine. They were conspicuously lighter in colour than the other flowers, faint red edges with an almost white center. Laelia resisted the urge to stick out her tongue. She failed to resist the urge. No one ever said she was mature.

She didn't actually mind him not telling her his secrets. Some painted her as nosy and intrusive, but she was relentless only when it came to pursuing information that she needed to know. Most personal secrets were just that, personal. And if it was something that she needed to know, she would find out anyway. Even so, Cyprianus was being a lot more open and honest today than she'd expected. Laelia wondered if he would still be this willing to share if she dropped by a day, a week from now, or if this was just a fluke. She hoped it wasn't temporary, but, in some ways everything seemed temporary with him. It was hard to tell which version of Cyprianus the world would have on any given day, but Laelia didn't mind. She liked the unpredictability.

"It doesn't make me feel better. You're suppose to be the mess." She frowned and poked him. "That's your thing. I can't steal your thing, that's rude." But, apparently Laelia did always have her issues, they just weren't been so obvious when she was alive. And still her own person. Even now, she couldn't quite wrap her head around the concept of Vasi bonding being a calming influence, but it was probably different from what she and Cissa shared. ... she couldn't even comment on the feelings part, because it's not like she was much better.

... don't laugh, don't laugh, don't laugh - if she were a better person she wouldn't have laughed, but she only made a token effort to hold back the giggles before they bubbled from her lips. "Late is better than never," she teased. "It's not that different from courting." But, usually that happened after a marriage had already been arranged, and really, she understood his confusion. Call her old-fashioned, but Laelia still couldn't wrap her head around the full definition of the term, especially newer versions. Like, casual dating? What was casual dating? How could courtship be casual? ... she was getting old, wasn't she.

A slightly sad frown. "You don't make people happy, Cyprianus. Happiness isn't something you can just give to others, and it's different for everyone. You don't get to decide how they feel. You don't have that right." Her eye rose to meet his. "I know you're scared of hurting them, but isn't it worse to be empty and not know why than to have a definable target?" She glanced down. "I think you're overestimating what you're capable of." Normally, Laelia minced words like it was a dying form of art, winter chill or snow blindness that was a slow and thorough hurt, but Cyprianus always made her feel like a catapult, all of her diffuse attacks merged into one inelegant mess. Before, she thought that she'd done it on purpose, but now she wasn't so sure. "I won't tell them." Laelia still dealt in secrets, but this was one she wouldn't wager. "But they're there if you ever change your mind. We all remember you from before. You've changed in some ways, but not in others. No one will punish you for your basic nature. Not anymore." It may be in bad taste to remind him of his past, but Laelia was efficient, not kind and certainly not gentle. "And if you've managed to make someone fall for you, you're probably not as bad at talking to people as you think. But, baby steps." Small steps forward were better than none at all, and she knew how reticent Cyprianus could be if pushed.

Pause. "We didn't always get along before, and we're not so different now that I'd expect it to be different." In fact, if she remembered correctly, most of their past was spent in mutual antagonism. "But I still looked for you, and I still remember you after two thousand years." And the sake of his memory was what indirectly led to her death, but she preferred to not dwell on that. "I'm glad you're here now." She said it before, but it bears repeating. Somehow, she couldn't say that his presence did make her happier, but hopefully he was smart enough to read it between her words.