Plain of Ice
... and if I am going to die, I will take you with me

From Yesterday

Started by Xiaolen Huang at Apr 02, 2019 7:41 pm
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27 Posts

Xiaolen Huang

Little Bee

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

? Years Young 22 Posts Goteijusantai Nibantai Lieutenant


... did he just say - yes, technically, yes he did.

That was somehow unexpected, and she probably looked a bit surprised for a second. On second thought, he'd essentially done the same thing for his first wife, just after she was already gone, which Xiaolen did then and still did now think was kind of sweet. Far be it for her to ever say that. She was still getting used to having feelings, let alone admitting them, but it was getting easier, a little at a time.

Just like when they were kids, he never did seem to judge her for anything she was used to being judged for, including having feelings. Confusing, of course, but not altogether unwelcome. Funny, because in some sense, she thought she'd only ever really been herself around him and Shouren by now. ... well, Junius. He never judged, either. Still, he was a Jeon and it was difficult to figure out how she was supposed to act around him. One would think he'd be worse than the Kuroganes, but one would think wrong.

But that was what made her like him the first time, huh.

"I guess I don't," she said, releasing a breath she'd been unaware she was even holding in. "I wasn't going to ask that, it seemed... really presumptuous, and - not that I know what you're even getting out of this except... me and maybe kids later and you seem okay with that and I don't -" ... get why, but she'd already gone down that track before. Repeating ourselves and go in circles, things we didn't do.

"... if we ever did have kids, though, so we're on the same page, would we be raising them as Jeons, or our kids?" ... he'd never reacted too badly to her weird questions before, at least. Maybe asking the one she actually wanted the answer to wouldn't be so bad.

Habaek Jeon

Pretty Petals
? Years Young 13 Posts Goteijusantai Rokubantai Captain


Well no, of course she wasn't going to ask that. Xiaolen rarely asked for anything, even if it would benefit her. Perhaps... especially if it would, unless there were others that would be harmed by not asking. That was just the sort of person she was. And it was sad, maybe, that life had made her that way. But Habaek could sort of understand the behavior as well. In some ways they weren't so different after all.

Habaek was quiet for a bit, considering how to answer what she'd said at first and of course, it meant that he hadn't said anything at all by the time she asked that question. And for a moment it seemed absurd that she needed to ask that.

Then again, she was a Huang and he was a Jeon and in some ways they both bore scars from their upbringings. Hers were, of course, far worse than his. But the marks were still notable, and of course she would want to hear it from him, would want to know for certain that the two of them weren't going to subject their children to the lives they had grown up into.

"You are more than enough for me, Xiaolen." He said that first, and he hoped that one day he would make her understand it. "As for your question, we would be raising them as our children." Habaek was confident that she wouldn't be opposed to shunning the worst of the trappings of their being nobles and just being a family. That was something that maybe neither of them had really had.

Xiaolen Huang

Little Bee

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

? Years Young 22 Posts Goteijusantai Nibantai Lieutenant


Oh.

That was the answer she was hoping for, of course. It was not, however, really the one she'd expected. She wasn't entirely sure why, but, in retrospect, it made sense all the same. He really had unwound a good deal since the Winter War, but, most of them had. (Barring everyone's varying elders, but every family had crappy elders these days, unless they had no elders at all). Maybe things wouldn't be so bad, then. Though, it wasn't as if she had any idea how families were supposed to work, and something told her, maybe Habaek had no better idea than she did. They were probably going to have to wing it, huh? If even they ever had kids at all. Maybe they wouldn't.

Still, it was good to know that maybe it wouldn't go badly in that way. She could be glad that they were apparently both in agreement on that much. Not that they disagreed about too many things, anyway.

It probably seemed like a bit of tension went away, and she smiled a little, for just a second, before it went away. She still didn't really want to go home. Besides, maybe here would be home soon enough, Xiaolen should probably get used to getting around the Jeon manor. Else, she'd end up lost a lot in her own house, go figure. (The Jeon manor was a lot bigger than the Huang manor.) A little hesitantly, she reached over and took one of his hands.

"Tea sounds nice." She'd lost that somewhere in there, but maybe that was a conversation they should've had all the same. And if he didn't mind her presence, which, he didn't seem to, even said as much several times already, but words hardly meant anything to her anymore, she was going to avoid going home, then. She should probably do that eventually, anyway. Shouren would probably be interested to know the offer of adopting him was apparently on the list. It did occur to her, Kaiou might marry him right off, now that he was out of the Maggot's Nest. On the other hand, maybe not, all the same. Iname and Ciaran still weren't married, but neither did they really need to be, so who knew how that'd turn out. If nothing else, Kaiou probably did have some readjusting to do, first. "How was your day?" That got skipped in there, somewhere. After a second, her eyes narrowed slightly. "You weren't still working, were you?"

Not that she paid attention to his habits. Of course.

Habaek Jeon

Pretty Petals
? Years Young 13 Posts Goteijusantai Rokubantai Captain


It was clear to him that he'd said the right thing. Not only because it was the only response to the statement, but because the tension seemed to slide out of her just a little. For a moment she had smiled, and sometimes Habaek forgot just how lovely her smile was - probably because it was an incredibly rare sight. Maybe one day it wouldn't be quite so rare. It was hard to say, because some people just weren't the type that smiled a lot where others it was external circumstances that did that and honestly... after the life that she had led, it wouldn't be surprising if it was never common.

Sad, maybe a little. But not surprising.

Habaek smiled a little himself when she took his hand. His lingered a bit longer than hers had before fading back to a relatively neutral expression. It wasn't extremely common that either of them displayed affection physically. So, it was a little surprising. On the other hand, it was nice. Carefully he closed his hand around hers. Yes, that felt right, somehow. Then again, it probably should given the current nature of their relationship. 

Right, he had offered her tea. Well the offer was still on the table, so he nodded slightly and began to lead the way towards the manor proper. "My day was fine. Uneventful, just a little busy." It usually was, so that wasn't surprising. Habaek did have the sense to look slightly chastised by that question and her narrowed gaze. "I was." He didn't bother attempting to evade because lying wouldn't help much. "But I should stop anyway." Yes. He was off and wasn't supposed to be working anyway.

He didn't care, but she might. Probably did, even, given her expression.

Xiaolen Huang

Little Bee

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

? Years Young 22 Posts Goteijusantai Nibantai Lieutenant


Work was supposed to stay at the office; at least, that was what she heard, and she supposed the source of that particular statement would probably know better than she did (Rohan had a much better concept of how work-life balance was supposed to go than a Huang ever would; he often came by, and dragged Kurogane-Taichou off to do not-work). It seemed to work okay for them, though. Maybe if they tried it, they'd figure out how it was supposed to work along the way, and maybe have more of a life. Not that Xiaolen had any idea what she'd do with one of those. ... didn't people have friends, and whatever?

Uh, well, she'd never really had friends before. Once, a long time ago, when she was much, much younger, and she had more to lose. Actually, she was talking to one of those.

"Tisk," she said, more amused sounding. "Work's supposed to stay at the office. Or so I keep hearing, and given how often Kurogane-Taichou chases me out of the office, I guess that break stuff is important." Maybe once in a while, she'd just grab a book and curl up in a blanket in his home-office and leave him to it, but, eh. Not today. Apparently, today, she was in the mood to talk, which was a rare occurrence as it was. But then, a lot of things that were rare occurrences with her seemed to be less rare around him. "Kind of nice nothing's exploding. I almost forgot what that was like." It was true, there for a while. Seemed like nothing would ever settle down and go back to being quiet like it seemingly had been before the Winter War.

Then, nothing had really been quiet before the Winter War; just contained. Maybe that was why things seemed more peaceful now than before. "Oh, I hear Villas-Sotaichou decided to release Kaiou-sama. So another good Kurogane's back home, now." He might be interested to know that. Not that he wouldn't eventually, because Kaiou got bored very easily, and would sooner or later go back to the Gotei, and that'd be paperwork passing through Rokubantai. But it would be less surprising when it did, now. That was a bit of weight off her, too.

She was fairly certain she was why Kaiou had gone after Tetsuya in the first place, and while he wasn't the only one Kaiou had taken out, he was the one Kaiou had gotten caught over.

Habaek Jeon

Pretty Petals
? Years Young 13 Posts Goteijusantai Rokubantai Captain


That was a funny thing to hear coming from Xiaolen. ... On the other hand it was coming from her and maybe that was a sign that he should really consider that more carefully. The world wasn't going to end if the paperwork waited until morning instead of getting done in his off hours at home. .... On the other hand, it wasn't as if he really immediately knew what to do with that extra free time. ... Aside from, perhaps spending it with her. Then again, that would certainly be welcome. Spending time with Xiaolen was something he looked forward to almost more than anything else.

He nodded very slightly in agreement - it was nice that nothing was exploding. Things had gone back to normal and yet somehow better than normal. That was something to be enjoyed though. Peace, and a chance to remember what it is to live properly. Of course, it meant learning to live without some of those they cared for.

"That is good." Habaek agreed immediately. "He's a good kid." And it was good that he was back with his family now, as it was questionable if he'd deserved it in the first place. Certainly his father had been.... adamant that he hadn't. Habaek had never weighed in on the situation because he simply didn't know enough about it to speak clearly on it. Still, it was good he was home.

"Do you have a preference for tea?" Asking seemed like a nice idea, given he kept several types and it was possible that yes, she did have some preferences. Encouraging that those preferences mattered was important to him - because they did matter, and he did want to know.

Xiaolen Huang

Little Bee

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

? Years Young 22 Posts Goteijusantai Nibantai Lieutenant


Yes, he was, and that was one less thing chewing at the back of her mind and reminding her that her choices and inability to save herself from stupid things led to a lot of hurt. She should be kinder to herself, maybe. She thought she remembered Ashera saying that, once, and maybe Junius had repeated it once or twice, but it was easy to forget. It was easy to fall into the same patterns she'd followed all her life, and maybe that was a bit of a problem. After all, she was still learning, life didn't always work in a manner that following the same patterns she'd always followed worked for. Habaek was the big one that didn't.

"Er." ... that was highly ineloquent. Of course, this was Habaek and if he didn't care, he wouldn't ask. Much like she didn't, he didn't waste time on things he didn't care about, or didn't matter. Uh. Well, that begged the question of, did she have... any preferences? Well, he was most likely to have an abundance of - "Gr -" ... damn it.

She paused, right there, looking a bit annoyed for a second, and then let out a huff. "... oolong, sounds good, actually," she eventually answered. It did, come to think. That was an odd thing to decide sounded good, but on the other hand, she'd decided something sounded good. Maybe there was some hope, yet, for this whole want thing. Was that really the same thing? Maybe it wasn't. Maybe it was? (Hell if she knew. She'd ask him, but she'd already bombarded him with inane, sad questions. She'd give that a rest, for now.)

"So, maybe in a few days, I'll come by Rokubantai for lunch, and drag you off to the Dai Li?" That sounded nice, too, so she mentioned it. He usually didn't mind it, when she up and appeared randomly, but sometimes the warning was also nice. With warning, of course, he could manage not to do anything for lunch before she got there, so it wasn't awkward when she did.

Habaek Jeon

Pretty Petals
? Years Young 13 Posts Goteijusantai Rokubantai Captain


Habaek was quiet while she considered his question. He wasn't immediately certain why it was such a difficult question to ask. And, in a way, it was sort of cute, because he ended up chalking it up to the way she got flustered whenever it was obvious that he actually cared what she thought, or he (somewhat clumsily, he would admit to himself) flirted with her.

"Okay, Oolong it is." He said easily once she finally had made a decision. He also resolved to just not make a big deal about it taking her some time to decide, because it wouldn't really help matters. And maybe if he kept asking as was patient enough eventually she wouldn't have trouble answering anymore. At least, that was the hope.

And Habaek quietly began to lead the way forward into the house properly so that he could start on that tea offer.

He smiled and nodded immediately at her suggestion. "That sounds nice." The Dai Li was a pleasant place to spend time, and there wasn't usually too much going on. ... Besides, spending lunches with Xiaolen was definitely something he'd like to do more often. Habaek figured it was probably good for them both.

Xiaolen Huang

Little Bee

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

? Years Young 22 Posts Goteijusantai Nibantai Lieutenant


... right. She had been the one to ask, and it stood to logical reason he'd probably be okay with it, but it still managed to be a little bit surprising that he was. Okay. Okay, maybe he wasn't kidding when he said he didn't mind her being around. (But then, you generally wouldn't decide you wanted to marry someone you hated, right? Was that how that worked? It wasn't like she'd really know. Frankly, she spent a lot of time around people she didn't necessarily like, but a lot of things she did wasn't necessarily normal.)

As they went in, of course, they passed by the gardens; most of it was hidden behind the estate, and Xiaolen had never really been back there, and seen it properly, because before, they weren't exactly close. (And she had few qualms about breaking into the Tullius estate; a few of them about breaking into the Jeon estate. Some of them, after all, could keep up with Ashera, she wouldn't be much of a problem.) The only thing Xiaolen remembered of her mother was, she loved plants. Xiaolen vaguely recalled them having a garden, too, once, a long time ago, remembered green things dotting the house's interior, but when she'd gone (not long after Shouren was born), so had all the green things. Their father always said it reminded him of her, too much, but that seemed like it should've been something preserved, not destroyed.

"Hey," she started, "do you know what all's in your garden?" Maybe he did, maybe he didn't. She was just curious, really, and it was something a bit less depressing to think about. Xiaolen didn't like plants to the same extent her mother had, but she didn't scorn them because her mother had, the way their father did. It still seemed a strange reaction, to her, and maybe if some of it had been preserved instead of destroyed, the manor wouldn't be so darned oppressive.

But hey, what'd she know?

Habaek Jeon

Pretty Petals
? Years Young 13 Posts Goteijusantai Rokubantai Captain


Blink. Ah that was actually kind of an odd question. Or at least, it was one he hadn't expected from Xiaolen. Not in a bad way, actually it was something of a ... pleasant surprise. Still, it was probably clear it caught him very slightly off guard.

"Only some of them off the top of my head. If I spent some time out there I could probably name half or so of them." Probably. "Some of the flowers I never did remember the names of." But he knew some of the herbs and some of the flowers. Maybe not quite half of the list out there. He shrugged slightly. "Some of those plants have been there for probably two or three generations." Habaek had to admit he'd never really paid much mind to the garden, often he was busy with other things.

Maybe that was something that should change.

"Why? Would you like a better look at the gardens later?" Just sort of following the logical train of thought there since she was asking. "You're welcome to, if you like." Even if he wasn't here for it, actually. But for the moment Habaek decided not to press that particular subject again. It was probably better not to given they'd already sort of gone circles about how she didn't entirely understand what he saw in her. Feelings were complicated as it was.

He'd worry about getting her used to the idea of being welcome here a little at a time. It wasn't as if she'd had a terribly easy time of things, Habaek needed to remind himself of that from time to time. They'd led very different lives and they both would bear the scars of the lives they'd lived probably for the rest of their existences. And Habaek figured that really all they could do was learn to work with those little things and maybe some of them would change, and maybe some never would.

That was okay though, he loved Xiaolen exactly the way she was.