Saw My Shadow Looking Lost

Closed (Shae & Kit).

Old Rose Harbor is Anaxas' main trade port; it is also the nation's criminal headquarters, home to the Bad Brothers and Silas Hawke, King of the Underworld.
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Tom Cooke
Posts: 46
Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2018 3:15 pm
Topics: 11
Location: Vienda, but also hell
Race: Raen
: Ψυχάριον εἶ βαστάζον νεκρόν.
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Sun Feb 10, 2019 6:54 pm


the black dove · old rose
☙ 2718 · 22nd ophus · early evening ❧

The tips of his boots just barely touched the floor. The bar was a little high, but it was bearable, and in any case, he didn’t want to have to sit on his folded-up coat; then he reckoned his legs would dangle even more. And it was cold, cold as a gaol – he was pulling that coat tighter around him all the time, hunched into it, shuddering in a draft that must’ve been coming in from a dozen different places, curbed only a little by the crackling hearth and the whisky in his belly.

At this time of day, the Dove was fair crowded; that early Ophus dark was just starting to stretch over the sky outside, and a little red-pink light still drifted in from the slats in the shutters. Tom watched motes of dust drift on them, catch on the lights from the lanterns and the candles. A handful of scarred-up, travel-worn sailors dominated one side of the room, chortling and playing cards, knocking back their drinks like they hadn’t seen anything better than Low Tide in months. There was a low buzz of conversation, mostly in rough Estuan and Tek, although he could hear a couple of blond-haired kovs in the corner talking loudly in what sounded like Heshath.

With a glance of thinly-veiled irritation – and suspicion? – Spitz slid over another whisky on the rocks, and Cooke took a long drink, propping his head up on his hands and rubbing his temples. He took a drag on his cigar, coughing a little and sighing. He could just about feel the tense muscles in his back starting to relax. Across the Dove, some chip had started singing in a wavering, slurring voice, just barely audible above the buzz: it was in Mugrobi, Tom reckoned, because he didn’t understand a word of it, but something about it worked its way into his bones.

This was sure fucking something, he must’ve thought a dozen times that evening. First half of a second he’d got to himself in Old Rose, he’d slipped off alone to the Dove, determined to sit his erse down in his regular chair and nurse his regular drink and feel – if only for a moment, despite everything – regular. That had been the plan, anyway, all the way down the Arova, all the way since he’d started planning this clocking trip. If Hawke decided to put him at the bottom of the harbor before next week, then so be it, but he’d get to go to the Dove one last time and sit in his gods-damned chair and drink his gods-damned whisky.

That was the plan, at least. He wasn’t sure if this was making him feel better after all. In the first place, the Harbor didn’t look quite the same from a foot lower, and he reckoned he didn’t look quite the same, either, for all the mistrustful glances he was getting. (And the hungry ones, but hell – he was dressed down, but he was still dressed like a golly, and he couldn’t blame anyone who took him for an easy lift. He knew Old Rose, and he knew to be careful.) Being Anatole and walking into the Dove was different than being Tom and walking into the Dove, and he knew it. But he’d wanted to think it wouldn’t be, wanted to think he’d plop down at the bar and have Spitz talking to him just like he had seven months ago; he wanted to think the Dove would make him feel like himself again, if anything would.

And it wasn’t even the funny looks that bothered him the most, or the people he’d known since he was a boch treating him like a stranger – and the fact that he had to treat them like he didn’t know them, either, since he didn’t want to spook anybody. At the end of the day, the thing that really pushed all this fucking vodundun over the edge was the fact that when he sat at the bar, his feet didn’t touch the floor.

He was in his seat, his old seat in his old favorite haunt, and it felt different. It felt physically different, and it was breaking his heart.

Cooke wasn’t quite drunk yet, but the world was beginning to feel a little slow and a little warm, and he was starting to flush a little bit. He was twisted around a little in his chair, absently watching the sailors’ card game, but he wasn’t paying attention, and that’s why he missed it: the hand motion, the twitch of the lip. So when things exploded, he was actually surprised.

“You fuckin’ bitch, Adley, you fuckin’ weasel!”

Havakda!

One of the sailors – a big blond kov, Hessean by his accent, sunken eyes bright blue and red-rimmed and livid with rage, nose swollen and crimson – thrust himself to his feet, knocking his chair over with a clatter that turned heads. “You little shit! Admit it!”

“I ain’t done nothin’,” said a smaller man, a black-haired Anaxi, baring his teeth in a smile. He raised his hands. “I swear on me daoa, ye chen? I’d not –”

A third man, heavy-browed and sad-looking and thoroughly drunk, scratched his beard and muttered, “We’ve about had enough of your shit, Ads.”

“C’mon, Bartles!” Adley protested, giving the bearded man a hurt look. He stood up, looking again at the Hessean, dead serious. “Alioe, Lester, don’t be like this. So maybe I –”

Bartles muttered something else. It sounded to Tom like, “This ain’t about Rooks.”

“No,” snarled Lester, “no, no, no –” He thrust the table out of the way with a crack and a moan of protesting wood. Adley threw up his hands, but Lester was on him before he could defend himself. In the mangled slur of words – Adley’s bizarre screech, Bartles’ “oh, shit!” – Tom thought he heard the big Hessean say something about you fucked her, but he couldn’t be sure. In this mess, you couldn’t be sure of anything.

When it was Adley that knocked the Hessean on his erse, Tom snorted into his tumbler, glass jangling as he shook with a spasm of silent laughter. But Lester was up in an instant, and he’d put Adley into a sloppy headlock. All this put him in mind of something he’d seen a long time ago, a very faint memory of another barfight in another time – one in the Dove, one he’d maybe joined in on. The conversation around the Dove was livelier now, and Tom heard someone yell, “Put the stop-clocker in ’is place!” The Hesseans over in the corner were doubled-over with laughter.

Cooke turned back to the bar, finishing off his whisky and calling for another. He was feeling fuzzier by the minute; he thought he was just about starting to loosen up. Without really paying attention to who it was, he leaned over to the kov next to him. “Great Lady, eh?” he laughed, taking another drag on his cigar and blowing out smoke into the drafty air. “What do you bet it’s the Hessean comes out on top?”
word count: 1277
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Shae
Posts: 18
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2019 5:30 pm
Topics: 4
Race: Raen
: Too pretty for you
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Writer: Maximus
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Tue Feb 12, 2019 7:06 am

Ophus 22, 2718 | Early Evening
The Black Dove
.
Image
It was strange to have gone busking. It had been something of a way of life for the former wick but for the raen it was definitely different. For one thing, they weren't actually playing a guitar themself, not that they'd ever been fantastic with it in the first place, their voice definitely their main asset but it meant that when they did sing, they felt oddly naked. For another thing, the main thing really, the voice they now possessed was entirely different. The range was quite new, the heights it could reach beyond what Shae could have managed before but not as high as they might have expected for a woman. It made sense, the body was quite husky-voiced so it could also go a bit deeper but nowhere near what Shae could have managed before. They did kind of miss the depth of their voice, they'd found that when they tried to drop and ended up barely able to rasp out a sound.

Singing was... like talking in some ways, they could manage that but there was also something very different in the way of breathing, dragging notes from the depths of one's being rather than their vocal cords alone. It was strangely difficult to remember how to do it though, the action hardly second nature as it had been in their old body but when they concentrated and had a few false starts and stops, the youth found that singing hadn't been foreign to Cordelia. It made sense, highborn ladies went in for pretty talents so it made sense that it was something she'd picked up and worked on. Even so, it didn't come easily to the raen. They weren't sure if it was a result of their hostile takeover - a definite possibility - or Cordelia's pregnancy. They had known women affected in the oddest way during and after a pregnancy so it wasn't wholly implausible.

Kit was certainly kind about it and encouraging, a fact that Shae honestly couldn't be more grateful to him for, especially given just how much of a burden they were being for him honestly. Although they definitely had their perks as a house guest as Kit would no doubt attest. Still, he was good for their confidence, which definitely helped. They weren't particularly good yet but it was amazing what people were willing to forgive when you were pretty. Admittedly, they weren't awful but it definitely helped that they were small and delicate and pretty-looking. Oh and they could sing wick stuff.

The raen had never really taken to Tek but it didn't mean that they didn't know some songs that was laden with the pidgin. They understood the songs as well. Oh, maybe not word for word but they knew the gist. Those sorts of songs had come from their father when he was around but oddly enough, their favourites, the heartbreaking, sort of miserable ones in lovely Estuan had actually come from their mother. One in particular to do with the loss of what you had known before - a very tsat sentiment - actually had always been a favourite of theirs but when Shae began to sing it while Kit simply looked on, they realised it had new meaning for them.

They had lost everything. Everything they'd ever known, everything they'd ever cared for, all of it gone. It was less their singing voice and more the emotion that drew a crowd with that one, the loss so genuine, the words sung so plaintively that it was a miracle that Shae sang it without choking up entirely.

It had gone over very well but that had been the end of their busking for the day, the raen so clearly upset and utterly incapable of singing anymore that drinks had been proposed. Drinks that were sorely needed.

It wasn't the first time that Shae had been to since coming to Old Rose but that didn't mean that they'd gotten used to the initial reaction when they moved through such crowded places. The looks were one thing, the appraising, the lusting, the predatory glances, some skittering away when they saw Kit, some seeming to give them greater attention when they saw their male companion. Some of them were more interested in Kit, sure. It didn't bother them exactly although it was a bit weird to have a lot of men do it; men had regarded them far less openly in their last body because such relations were more taboo. It wasn't the looks though, it was the flinch, the unsettled and nervous looks when they brushed off someone or encountered another's field. Some shivered and moved away, unconsciously registering their strangeness whereas others stared at them, properly stared with mixtures of confusion and horror and disgust, sometimes pity.

Once they got settled down, it was usually better but moving through a crowd in the beginning was always uncomfortable. Maybe it was why they were happier to stay with Kit heading to the bar rather than breaking off to find a table on their own. Being alone didn't feel safe so perhaps that was why they'd settled into this pattern. Head to the bar together and stay there.

There was initial nervousness as they sat themself down beside some middle-aged geezer, momentarily worried how he'd react to their odd field although he seemed a bit drunk, maybe drunk enough not to care.

Except that they were the one who reacted as they slid in beside him, unconsciously leaning away as they encountered the disgruntled, grumpy buzz of the mona around him. It left them distracted, trying to ignore the man while simultaneously trying to watch him, assess him. Clock the Circle, his field was uncomfortable. They supposed that they couldn't judge but it unsettled them, some part of their mind trying to point out the similarity but their main brain wasn't listening.

Kit would no doubt notice how... unfocused they were, a bit dreamy and yet they were alert on some level, tense, just... not really paying attention to him. He knew what they drank though, the piss poor beer placed in front of them something that they would quite happily nurse; this body didn't particularly like it so slow and steady was fine.

Their attention was understandably drawn away when the fight started behind them, the raen glancing around to see what all the fuss was about. They were playing cards but the words that they were catching suggested that the real fuss was a woman. A different sort of cheating perhaps, friends cheating friends of... well, before they might have wondered why they didn't just share or get over it, it wasn't like there weren't other women out there. But she could be special, she might only have one of them and if the other lost her... Shae could actually understand why that might hurt now. They'd realised that Kit was... special to them. It was... unfortunate because Kit wasn't- he didn't-

Their mind was slipping into what was fast becoming a familiar rut - dwelling on the fact that they had feelings for Kit but that he didn't do relationships - when the man turned to them to comment on the barfight. They blinked, pulled back into the present, eyeing the man uncertainly although he probably didn't notice; he wasn't really looking at them.

"The Hessean has lost the woman so... yeah, he's pissed, he certainly wants to hurt him but... being pissed off means that he has a higher chance of fucking up. He's got one aim, sure, but he's also distracted. He's thinking about her. The other guy's only got to worry about saving his own hide," the raen remarked, eyes moving to the blond, sympathy in their grey-blue gaze.

"Wanting to save your own hide is a great motivator. He probably has a better chance... in the long run. The Hessean might dismantle him out of sheer rage though but I think he wants him to suffer. I think if he wanted to properly wreck him, he'd have done it already."


word count: 1418
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Kit
Posts: 16
Joined: Fri Jan 04, 2019 1:03 pm
Topics: 1
Race: Galdor
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Writer: Foxing
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Wed Feb 13, 2019 5:28 am

22nd Ophus | Early Evening
The Black Dove
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It had been a lovely day, genuinely.

Busking was one of the things Kit loved to do. It was all very well having an actual paid job of an evening in one of the many taverns that littered the bustling harbour, but busking was… well, it was practice that he got paid for. No pressure, just the music.

And with his little stray cat in tow, they had definitely made more than he was expecting given the weather. It was also simply pleasant to have someone to share this small pleasure with, and he had to admit, their voices did sound good together. Unusual, but good.

He wasn't sure if Shae's efforts to improve were due to her desire to have something in common with him and help pay her way somewhat- he knew she loved music, her obvious enjoyment whenever he played or sang was proof of that- or if she were trying to regain something she'd once had that had been marred by the accident she still hadn't told him about. Well, he assumed it was an accident, her memory problems and odd field meant that something must have happened.

The amusing thing was that she seemed to have trouble pitching- every so often she would start a solo song just a little lower than her range would carry her on the lowest notes.

That last song today though… Kit had heard it before, but it had never sounded quite like it did on Shae's husky tongue. Her technique may not have been perfect, but the raw emotion in her voice was… utterly compelling. He'd leaned against the wall behind her, lost in a wave of nostalgia for his own past that he'd so desperately thrust away, and then as the last note faded she turned back and there were tears in her eyes.

He'd just hugged her at that point. Evening was starting to close in, and their custom would have dried out soon in any case, so he'd made a unilateral decision. Chin on top of her soft black head, he'd simply uttered the word “Pub?” and felt her nod against his chest in response.

She was such a sweet, odd little thing. He looked over at her now as he re-tuned his guitar, leaning back against the bar. Honestly if they hadn't met that day at the pawnbrokers, he didn't know if she would still be here. Old Rose chewed people up and spat them out, and it was rarely in one piece.

He definitely wanted to keep Shae in one piece. Friends like her were hard to come by.

But now she seemed to be giving an erudite commentary on the brawl that had just broken out across the tavern.

...full of surprises, this girl…

Distracted, he overtightened a string and it broke with a loud TWANG, snapping back and catching him across the cheek as he bent over the instrument. He swore loudly, dabbing at the scratch with his shirt cuff before giving up and sliding the guitar on its strap to rest against his back again, swivelling on his stool to finally take possession of the drink that had been placed there some ten minutes before.

“People fight over lots of things. It's not always immediately obvious what their reasonings are and sometimes it's just because they wanted a scrap. Hell, I've been in that position myself,” he finished with a chuckle, turning to clink his glass against Shae's with a wink and nodding at the golly on her other flank.


word count: 629
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Tom Cooke
Posts: 46
Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2018 3:15 pm
Topics: 11
Location: Vienda, but also hell
Race: Raen
: Ψυχάριον εἶ βαστάζον νεκρόν.
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Wed Feb 13, 2019 6:08 pm



the black dove, old rose
evening on the 22nd of Ophus, 2718
Cooke started at the voice that piped up beside him; it wasn’t exactly what he’d been expecting. Tipsy as he was, he’d not been paying attention, and – confoundingly curiously – he’d just assumed he’d been sitting next to a man. He’d seen somebody sit down out of the corner of his eye, and he’d taken it for granted, without knowing why, that the somebody sitting on the barrel next to him was a kov. So when he actually did turn to look directly at the chip, look her in the eye, it was with one red eyebrow raised.

He squinted, thinking through the pleasant haze in his head. She was small, this wick, a little smaller than Anatole, but not by much. He realized, a little disgruntled, that neither of their feet were touching the floorboards. She was a pretty little thing, and her black hair and the cast of her features might’ve led him to believe she was Bastian, if he hadn’t heard her talk with that Vienda accent; she might’ve even been a golly, but he dismissed that thought fair quick. The hacked-short hair and the trousers reinforced the point.

Now he felt it, too, and he damn well didn’t like it, whatever it was. That was a hell of a glamour. Tom had never met a wick with one like it. Still, he reckoned he didn’t have any right to judge. Maybe she’d backlashed, like he was pretending to have. Now he thought about it, she looked a little distant, a little out of sorts. Maybe a little sad.

Well, she was in good company.

When she got done talking, Tom let out a little bark of a laugh, taking another drink. He nodded, tossing a glance back at the combatants: the little black-haired kov was still in a headlock, and the Hessean was giving him the beating of a lifetime. But he nodded nevertheless, contemplative. He glanced back at the wick with a crooked smile.

“Aye. I think you’re right, lass,” he replied after a moment. “He’s been holding him down, mostly – making him suffer. Just look at him now, making him gasp for air even though he could crush his throat in a heartbeat.”

Twang!

Cooke’s attention shifted to the man on the other side of the wick – the man who’d been quietly tuning his guitar – and for just a half of a second, his heart froze in his chest. He worried Anatole was going to drop on the spot. He flushed, tried to hide it with another drink of whisky, and then coughed, throat suddenly paper-dry. He’d noticed the man’s full-fledged field, his aristocratic face, but that wasn’t the first thing he noticed. He knew those pretty blue eyes. Gods on high, if it isn’t Kit. Swallowing thickly, he put his whisky down, ice jangling with his shaky hand, on the bar. Fucking hell. Tocks.

It took him a few moments to process what the golly was saying, to process the clink of their glasses. They’re together. Kit and the wick. The last time he’d seen that fine-featured face, he’d – well, he’d not been so focused on the face. He gritted his teeth hard, taking a deep breath and another drink. But nothing could prepare you for this – for looking somebody you’d known in the eye and knowing they’d never look at you and see you. Nothing soured the heart and stilled the blood like that. Like being somebody else in familiar company, being a stranger in the heart of your old life.

You picked yourself up, Tom guessed. He took another moment to marshal himself, watching the sailors. Lo and behold, the Anaxi kov had managed to twist around in a move Tom hadn’t even been able to follow; the Hessean was clutching at a bloody nose, stumbling back against the table with a clatter, and the little black-haired man was already dusting. In an oddly courteous motion, he dashed a handful of coins on the table; then he left, snarling spittle through his teeth, pawing at the bruises that were starting to form on his neck. He nearly tripped over his coat.

The door slammed open and then slammed shut. The Hessean wasn’t following him. He was rubbing at his face, covering his swollen nose, baring bloody teeth. He flopped back down in his seat like a disgruntled boch.

Tom turned to Kit with a smile, albeit one that was forced, distant. On his toffin’s face, it was almost a politician’s smile. “If that ain’t the truth. Sometimes you want to fight the whole damn world.” He glanced from the golly to the wick.

“You’re an odd pair,” he said, trying to dispel the awkwardness, as if he wasn’t used to seeing the offbeat galdor in places like this. “If I may say so. Though I’ve got no right to talk; I think it must be years since there was more than one golly in the Dove.” He looked at the wick, and his smile got a little more genuine. “Seems like you know a lot about ‘dismantling somebody out of sheer rage’. Damn. Not complaining, just surprised.”
word count: 936
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Shae
Posts: 18
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2019 5:30 pm
Topics: 4
Race: Raen
: Too pretty for you
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Writer: Maximus
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Thu Feb 14, 2019 6:15 pm

Ophus 22, 2718 | Early Evening
The Black Dove
.
Image
They'd said too much in their unusually melancholy state, the raen not really in the humour to spin things back to the positive and optimistic. They weren't wallowing exactly but distracted. If they hadn't been then perhaps they wouldn't have said what they did, especially in front of Kit because he might think... well, he might think that they were talking from experience and that certainly wasn't inaccurate. Warmth began to creep into their cheeks, not helped by the evident start in the strange galdor - judging by his dress and size - beside them; he'd obviously assumed that he was talking to a man.

He kind of was but understandably difficult to believe given the pitch of their voice and their look. It wasn't as if they were overtly feminine but they also weren't exactly trying to hide their physical state either. They were getting used to it if they were honest, warming to it and perhaps it was getting easier to forget what they had been only a few months before. Funny how quickly seventeen years could vanish when you died and came back looking entirely different.

Still, the man didn't act like some high and mighty galdor, thank Alioe, and he didn't seem to think what they said was ridiculous either. He laughed, perhaps more from pleased surprise than anything else and it made it easier for the former wick to dredge up an answering smile that was equally crooked as Tom's. The use of 'lass' added colour to their cheeks but they nodded along in agreement with him, eyes moving back to the little wrestling match going on nearby.

They opened their mouth, ready to say more on the matter when they heard the snapping twang of the string, catching the lightning fast movement in their peripheral. If they'd had any doubt about what had happened, the swearing was a good indication of error and pain. Of course, the raen didn't need the swearing to get their attention, gaze almost instantly on Kit, shifting their body so they could try to get a look at his face.

They were worried about him and trying not to show it, resisting the urge to bite their lip although it got caught between their teeth for a few moments all the same.

He was their friend so obviously that was why they were worried. Of course. Because he was their friend and he'd hurt himself and it might be bad.

"You fucking idiot! Lemme have a look at you," they exclaimed, resisting the urge to hop off their stool so that they could get a proper look at him without him trying to shield his injury behind his sleeve. They tutted. "Would you look at the state of- How could you do something so awful to a guitar? What a shame! Oh well, I guess I should be sorry about your face as well, I suppose," Shae teased, giving him a playful nudge in the ribs.

The lip catch happened again though in spite of their best efforts, that anxious little tilt to their head giving far too much away; they'd regret it later. "Are you all right though? It didn't get too near your eye did it? A snapped string can be fucking lethal, I just... I know it hurts like blazes," Shae added lamely, picking up their drink so that they wouldn't be able to reach out to touch his face. They clinked glasses with him, fingers moving to tuck stray strands of hair back behind their ear before turning back to the galdor stranger.

Was he... was he blushing?

Grey-blue eyes widened, alight with curiosity as the ebony-haired head tilted. He actually looked a little distressed, embarrassed even although the raen didn't have a clue why. Was it the exchange between the sailors? Like Shae, did he see something familiar in the situation? Something that he could reflect on? Whatever was up, it vanished behind a smile, the galdor turning his attention to both of them, apparent interest as his gaze bounced between the two.

It was Shae's turn to blush - again - when they realised what sort of connection the man seemed to be making between the galdor and the raen.

"Oh no, we aren't- it's not like- we're only- I'm his roommate," the female-bodied raen blurted, pink stretching its way into their hairline as they did everything they could not to look in Kit's direction.

Extreme mortification.

Was this as bad as when they'd met Kit and told him they wanted to sleep with him but not at that precise moment? Strangely enough, it seemed to be on a par. They were glad that they already held their drink because it meant that they didn't have to grope for it blindly, which would more than likely have ended up with them being soaked in piss-poor beer. As it was, they were able to take a gulp of it, grimacing at the watery but sour taste; the first mouthful was always the worst although this body's taste buds did seem to be acclimatising.

Luckily for them, they'd gotten it down before their new companion's next comment or else they might have sprayed the liquid out through their nose. Snorted laughter issued forth instead, a full laugh coming from Shae that was almost forced out, overcompensating for their awkwardness.

"Oh I assure you, I'm not a violent man," they remarked, realising their mistake a moment too late. There was a minute wince, their panic temporarily drowned in another mouthful of beer as their mind raced.

Man!

Stupid!

Godsbedamned fool!

Circle strike them!

"Obviously... 'cos I'm not a man. My father used to say that but then if he had enough to drink and someone said he couldn't play for shit or worse, someone tried to harm his guitar then yeah, you'd see a man dismantled. Me though? I ent violent just because I'm wick," they laughed, shaking their head, something more melancholy entering their expression. "Besides I'm not a real one, I'm too city. Can't even use Tek right, ye chen?" they added, sullen, briefly bitter before they shook it off.

They weren't much of anything any more.

They tried to laugh it off, spinning Tom's words to shoot back at him. "You're an odd golly, if I may say so. You've a looser way of speaking then most and that seems hard for you lot to pick up. He certainly hasn't gotten the hang of it," they added, jerking a thumb back towards Kit.

"He's a proper posh boy when he's riled is Kit. Oh yeah! He's Kit and I'm Shae by the way, forget my own head if I wasn't attached... to it."

Attached until they forgot themself. Idiot.

There was a brief juggle as the raen's coordination fell off the wagon, spilling beer on themself in their flustered state as they tried to work out how to offer a hand for the other to shake. They settled for setting the glass down, swearing as they pushed the heel of their hand against the damp patch in their lap as if it'd somehow resolve matters because obviously that'd take all the beer out. Then the hand jerked out, its stickiness belatedly remembered so that it could be rubbed on a dry bit of trouser before being finally offered to Tom with a good-humoured, self-deprecating laugh.


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