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

In the Quiet

Started by Xiaolen Huang at Apr 03, 2019 4:01 pm
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14 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


She didn't understand.

The words, certainly, had made logical sense, but somehow, she still didn't understand. Maybe it was the Huang in her. Maybe it was the Onmitsukido in her. He said that, Habaek had said, in not so many words, that he loved her and didn't want anyone else, anyway, but it made no sense. Xiaolen may never be able to love him the way he should be, and that wasn't fair to him. He didn't really understand, and she was afraid of trying to explain it.

They were at a bit of an impasse. Xiaolen was afraid to lose him, but afraid to let him in, and she knew enough to know that they couldn't stay like that forever. She needed someone else's opinion, someone that knew everything, unlike Shouren. (Some part of her was always afraid Shouren would hate her, if she told him everything. It didn't help he had actually gotten involved with a Kurogane, too. Certainly a better one than she did, she could be glad for that.) Some part of her was aware she should tell him. That maybe she needed to be honest about it to someone, talk and work through it sometimes, but there was always that little corner of her mind telling her that it'd been her biggest failure and admitting to it wouldn't earn her any favours. Most of the time, she didn't care what other people thought; she cared a lot when it came to her brother and Habaek, and admitting to either one she was anything less than perfect was... difficult, at best.

It was probably a bit silly, to come here. On the other hand, he knew, and aside from Kaiou, he was the only one that knew the truth, or at least most of it. When she was pregnant with her daughter, she had to go somewhere, that the elders wouldn't find out, and it was with Junius and his family that she'd stayed. Funny enough, he was good friends with the Kuroganes, the same one Xiaolen had been. They didn't talk much; they lived very different lives, but he understood a few things others never really could, because he knew things most didn't, and she left him when she'd gone, too, just the same as she'd left Xiaolen.

For all that Xiaolen didn't know how to love, she did recognise it when she saw it; he loved her too, just in a different way than Xiaolen did.

Of course, Gage was in, too. That wasn't surprising. Xiaolen nodded at him a bit, and then shuffled across the Jusanbantai office, and set a small package on Junius' desk. Nothing fancy, just a box of a tea Xiaolen knew he liked, and a couple lollipops. She bowed just a bit. "Sorry to just let myself in," she said. Things were fairly slow, though, so she thought it was decent enough timing. "I was hoping you had a few minutes to talk." And then she remembered Jordan was here - he was Junius' Lieutenant, now, and given the former Espada hadn't tried to murder anyone recently, it was working out okay. Grey eyes glanced at him. The arrancar arched an eyebrow, and then stood up.

"Aight, I get it," he said. "I'll... be that way... switches or something," Gage decided, and then he meandered that way. Xiaolen almost looked surprised, actually. She wasn't really expecting that to be very easy, but, Gage had been surprising everyone, these days.

Junius Tullius

Hurricane
? Years Young 7 Posts Goteijusantai Jusanbantai Captain


Today was a quiet day, but it was also a good day for Junius, so he was trying to catch up on some of his paperwork while he was feeling well. The good news was that he didn't have that much backlog, as his good days had outnumbered his bad ones for a some time now. One of the fouth division members that he worked with often had formulated a new treatment and it was working rather well for him so far at least. Certainly the older captain wasn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth, so to speak.

Junius both was and was not surprised to see Xiaolen in his office. On the one hand, it was strange to see her almost-acknowledge that they were friends, but on the other hand she had very few friends, and if rumor was correct in the Seireitei, she had Habaek had plunged rather deeply into the waters of a relationship, perhaps without considering the implications of doing so.

"It's no problem." Junius answered smoothly, offering her a warm smile that did indeed light his eyes. Junius was rarely too busy for a friend unless he was also too sick to be here in his office. He hadn't really expected the gift either, and made no attempt to open it at the moment. Ah. So he'd been right, and she wanted to talk about something. It was probably a good thing really, that she realized she needed to talk at least.

Ah. "You don't have to -" Junius had been intending to suggest they take a walk elsewhere, but apparently Gage was going to go for them instead. Junius sat back a little and motioned for Xiaolen to have a seat. "Would you like a cup of tea?" He asked in a mild sort of tone. She'd get around to what she wanted to talk about now that it was the two of them, Junius had no doubts, but he didn't exactly expect her to jump right into it.

While the former captain of the second division could be quite blunt, she rarely was when it came to matters of the heart. Of course, he could be completely wrong about what brought her here in the first place.

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


She'd almost laughed, slightly, but it came out as a weird half-smile instead. "He's doing pretty good, these days." It was more a passing observation. Gage had been in several different divisions before settling into Jusanbantai, and that was only at Junius' insistence. Nobody thought it intelligent to give him the pissy cat, so nobody suggested it. Of course, Junius was the least annoying of the captains, even if switches were boring. The arrancar had actually spent a few weeks in Nibantai. His hand-to-hand skill was really good, and he was a good officer. He was just also too loud, and didn't tend to follow protocol. Or do what he was told... he just kind of, winged it. In any other division, that might be a merit, but in Nibantai, it'd get you or your comrades killed.

"Glad he finally found a division he can stand," she said, and then folded down into a seat. This was still a bit nerve-wracking, and they didn't really talk much. It seemed sort of rude, almost, to drop in on him out of nowhere. It wasn't like they'd never spoken since... you know, just rarely. More often, the Tullius' found random boxes of good quality tea lying around in their house. Or Kan... Xiaolen was good enough to get in, drop some Kan, and get out.

Maybe she should mention something about their manor's security. But she also didn't want them to know it was her. They'd done her a very big favour, though, and even now, it didn't seem like enough.

Tea.... "Ah... that sounds nice, actually, if you don't mind." She almost apologised for bothering him and said something about she should've bothered someone else, but, it wasn't like she had friends. Actually, the only other friend she had was Habaek. ... and they were... whatever they were. Daaaatingggg~ her Zanpakutou supplied. Xiaolen's expression went flat, and wordlessly, she slid the bracelet off her wrist, held it out in front of her, and dropped it. The pain in the butt could stay there for a minute or two. She was talking to Junius, not the peanut gallery. Well, maybe small-talk would calm her nerves a bit. "How's your day been?" Given he was here, and not in the ICU, she assumed fairly decent, but still, asking was nice.

Junius Tullius

Hurricane
? Years Young 7 Posts Goteijusantai Jusanbantai Captain


"He is." Junius was honestly pleased at how far the Arrancar had come. It seemed the atmosphere of the thirteenth was just what he'd needed to settle into - it probably helped that Junius was completely unruffled by the insulting manner in which the Arrancar had started out addressing him. If nothing else, that hadn't become a point of contention, and that meant there really weren't any of those for Gage to contend with. "I'm glad it ended up working out." Maybe well enough that if he wanted to, Gage could eventually go elsewhere.

But somehow Junius didn't expect that to happen. Sure, the switches were boring, but Gage didn't seem the sort that would leave when he'd finally found somewhere to settle into without trouble or conflict. If nothing else, it meant that the blue arrancar would always have somewhere to go that was much less grating than anywhere else - and that was likely a blessing all it's own.

It hadn't been long since last time they'd found a gift in a random place at the manor. Zuko had found the last one, and reported in a rather confused tone that the slight increase in their security measures had apparently done no good in deterring their strange visitor. Junius had long suspected Xiaolen might be behind it, but hadn't ever brought it up in conversation. Still, it was slightly tempting to casually mention their security "issue" and see how she reacted. Maybe in a bit, depending on what she'd actually come here for because the answer was very rarely small talk.

"Of course I don't." And so Junius set to making tea quietly.  If he had any thoughts on her dropping her Zanpakutou unceremoniously onto the ground, he wisely kept them to himself. "My day has been pretty good, actually." He couldn't complain. It was a good day for his health, and things ran rather smoothly now that his third seats weren't occasionally fighting about who got to do what lieutenant-like duties. Sandalio had been nudging him about getting a lieutenant since before the last sotaicho had died. It was... fitting, somehow, that when he did finally choose one, it was someone who had needed a place to go and fit in.

"How is your day going?" It seemed like a good question to ask, not that he really expected a particularly in depth answer.

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


Many were glad for that. Gage was a bit of a loaded cannon, even at some of his best moments, but he'd fit in here with Jusanbantai well enough, it was almost hard to imagine he was. Still, canaries didn't suddenly change their feathers, or whatever the saying was, and perhaps he was doing well now, but, Xiaolen had to wonder how long that would last for. He'd only been here about a week, now. Things would inevitably change and shift as they settled, and who knew. Maybe he'd be one of those rare individuals that just wasn't cut out for the Gotei. It'd be a sad thing, and likely wouldn't bode well for making friends with the remaining arrancar scattered around Hueco Mundo, if they said they had a place for them to go only to end up changing their minds about one.

Ah... right, he probably wouldn't have offered if he minded. That thought had occurred to her a bit late, perhaps, but by then it was silly to try and correct it. And anyway, he didn't seem to notice. Well, no, more likely he had, and just hadn't seen fit to point it out. Unsurprising, given how polite he was. Strange, sometimes, given he and Sandalio were said to be quite a bit fucking old, but they didn't have too much of that old-person lack of manners. (She'd never admit it, but, their last Sotaichou had seemed to be lacking in certain aspects of decent manners... and he wasn't the only one...)

"That's good. Um. Alright," she said. "Mostly uneventfully. Nobody's killed anyone today, that's always nice." Actually, she wondered if she'd have noticed it if someone had, given she'd spent all day thinking about that conversation with Habaek the other night. Not that she'd - well, maybe she'd admit that eventually. It depended on how the conversation went. It was just... she knew what she wanted. Now that she'd thought about it, she did know what she wanted, and maybe the truth was, she'd always known, somewhere in her. It seemed silly, probably, that she was still hesitating over it, because honestly, they hadn't butt heads over anything, and Habaek was much sweeter than he seemed like he'd be to most. Of all the guys in the Seireitei to fall for, he was probably one of the better ones to.

But he had been that kind, once, too. And she was a lot more hesitant about tying herself to another irrevocably that way. She'd inevitably burn some bridges with her family on the way out, especially if she brought Shouren along for the ride. That'd mean, if things went downhill later, she'd be dragging her brother down with her and there'd be literally nowhere else to go. Course, Shouren did have that thing with Kaiou. Maybe he wouldn't be there very long, anyway. At this point, she wasn't sure what was worse, dragging him down with her, or dealing with the potential fall-out by herself.

"I ah. I got curious, a few years ago," she'd start there. "Wandered out to Rukongai to find her. She's ah... lot quieter than I expected. Very intelligent, though, catches onto things easily. I never told her why I was around, but I'm not sure I had to." She had Xiaolen's eyes, after all. It was like looking at a younger version of herself. "Seems to have had a good life, so far. Her reiryoku's pretty high. I think she'll be headed this way, soon." She paused, right there, mulling something over in her head, and then took a breath, and said, "I'm the one that made that decision. Why am I still so angry about it?" It'd taken a bit, for her to figure that part out. It wasn't a new revelation.

It just still confused her, even this long after having it.

Junius Tullius

Hurricane
? Years Young 7 Posts Goteijusantai Jusanbantai Captain


Quiet, and no one dead was probably the best they could ask for here in the Gotei most of the time. Sometimes it really seemed like too much to ask, but well. It was nice when things were more peaceful than they might be otherwise. Certainly the peace was nice after the winter war. It was good that things had been uneventful. Even if that meant things were a little dull at least it also meant nothing major had gone wrong.

Mm. Somehow that both surprised him and did not. For a moment Junius was quiet, considering what she'd said. He wasn't really sure how to respond because, of course, it was a delicate subject and he didn't know much about what Xiaolen had been expecting or... what she had found, either. "It's good that she's doing well." Was what he said in regards to that, as he wasn't sure what else to say. In the end, maybe there wasn't much else that he could say, and maybe it wasn't his place to try. 

Xiaolen had, of course, been careful when she sent the girl out there. Still, it was good to know circumstances hadn't drastically changed. It was good that she was well taken care of and that when the time came there was little chance that the child would be afraid to come to the Seireitei and get the training she would need to take her rightful place in the Goteijusantai - in whatever division she chose.

"Ah." Despite that slight sound of acknowledgement, Junius was quiet for a moment longer. "If I had to guess it's because despite the fact that you did make the choice, you felt like you had no other choice that you could make. You felt forced into that choice." And in a perfect world, maybe it isn't the choice she would have made. If she hadn't been backed into a corner by her elders and the reality that even if the father's family claimed the child things would be no better for the girl - if Xiaolen hadn't had to worry about her daughter being forced to be the same Shinigami that Xiaolen herself had become then maybe she wouldn't have given her daughter up at all.

And certainly Junius could understand her anger, but... it had already been done, and maybe there wasn't much for that.

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


Well, that made sense. Except, that didn't make sense. It was the same thing in every other aspect of her life, it wasn't as if this sort of thing was new. It was, in the end, part of being a Huang. The family elders made decisions for you, a lot of the time, at least a good many of them. It wasn't as if they could make them all for you, even if only because they weren't always there to do so. Maybe the difference was as simple as, every other situation only affected her; this one affected both her and someone else. It wasn't like she was terribly pleased about the Huang elders nosing around in Shouren's life, either, despite knowing that was probably the only constant in the life a Huang led.

Feelings were stupidly complicated. There was a reason she didn't bother with hers too much, and maybe this would just be something she never quite understood.

"Seems like a strange thing to be upset about, I guess," she eventually said, with a slight bit of a huff. And it was. That was the most normal situation for her to end up in. Then, it occurred to her, it wasn't as if she even knew what a mother was supposed to be like. Her own mother had never really been much of a mother, no real fault of her own, maybe, but it wasn't like that hadn't been the best choice, even without all the other things that had ultimately factored into the decision. Yet, without all the other things that had factored in, maybe Xiaolen would've known what a mother was. Maybe she and Habaek would have more than a passing, faint idea of what a family was supposed to be like.

Maybe it wasn't the thing itself, but the circumstances that had led to it. And just why, exactly, was she seemingly the first Huang to think about this kind of thing? To see what their family had become and be unhappy with it?

"Habaek and I had a talk the other day," she went on. "I'm sure you've heard about that. ... half my division still occasionally looks like they really want to ask how that happened. I don't really have an answer, anyway. I asked him if, if we ever had kids, if we'd raise them as Jeons, or our kids. Seems like a strange thing to be worried about, but maybe not. And it was right then that it really hit me, he has a bit more of an idea than I do, but neither of us really knows what a family's supposed to be like. That's really gotta be some kind of sad." Some kind, yeah. Maybe a few kinds, being realistic. "Still not sure what he wants, but I think that might be a conversation for another day." Maybe.

Junius Tullius

Hurricane
? Years Young 7 Posts Goteijusantai Jusanbantai Captain


Junius didn't really think it was a strange thing to be upset about at all. She had been essentially forced into giving her daughter up, in hopes of allowing the girl to live a reasonably good life. It was sad and he thought that she had many reasons to be angry about the subject. Her entire life had been dictated to her by someone else, and when she had finally been given a chance to make her own choices, she'd still be forced into a choice in order to protect her child. It was sad, and any mother would be angry about it, he thought.

Xiaolen didn't often connect with her feelings, but it wasn't hard to imagine that they existed somewhere under it all. That was sad too, in its way. Junius didn't point that out, of course. Perhaps there was no point in it, in the longer run. It seemed she was starting to connect with them now, at least a little, and the last thing he wanted to do was chase her away from that.

"Well I'm glad the two of you are talking about it." Because they needed to in order to be on the same page, and that was kind of important. She liked him, certainly but love could easily turn to resentment if they didn't really understand each other. "I don't think it's a strange thing to be worried about, for the record." Not given both of them had changed quite drastically thanks to trying to be what their families wanted them to become. "And maybe that's a question you should ask him."

Though Junius wasn't sure she would understand the answer even if she did. ....Assuming that Jeon-taicho could even give a real answer to that. Because sometimes there really wasn't an answer at all. Or at least, not a logical one that could be put into words. Sometimes the heart just wanted something. But that was the trouble, wasn't it? Xiaolen didn't understand wanting any more than she really understood any of her emotions.

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


No, it probably really wasn't, after the lives they'd both led, it just... seemed maybe it was strange. Then, what was normal, anyway? It seemed to be different for everyone, and maybe she and Habaek's normal kind of warranted the question. Besides, if they were going to make a marriage work, they really probably ought to get things like that out of the way, and worked out between them, so that later on, they didn't abruptly slam into things like that. It wasn't like either of them were a mind reader. ... and maybe a mind reader would have one fuck of a time with them, anyway.

"... well, I did," she said, tilting her head a little. "And his answer didn't really make any sense to me. ... you know, the more I wander into this, the more I wonder what the hell is wrong with me." The simplest of things confused the crap out of her. And maybe most people wouldn't be quite so confused, in the same situation. How did people just, do stuff like this? Other people always made this seem so easy, but, then maybe these things were never easy, and just seemed that way, on the outside looking in. It wasn't like she'd paid a terribly large amount of attention to other peoples' marriages and such. Then, marriage happened quite rarely among the Goteijusantai, anyway, so it also wasn't as if she had a lot of opportunities to pay a large amount of attention to other peoples' marriages.

So went life. Unlife. Whatever.

"... I was uh, actually thinking about telling him about her." Which seemed really stupid, but that also sounded like something you told people you got married to? And, you know, people you trusted, and maybe the sad reality was, she both did and did not trust him. It wasn't really his fault. Certainly, he'd not given her any reason not to, it was just... it was just stupid ancient history shit she seemed entirely incapable of letting go of, and she really didn't know... why. He was gone. He'd been gone for a long time now, at least about as long as their - no, her - daughter had been alive ... unalive... whatever, and she was just being stupid.

Gosh, she'd known Habaek most of their lives, he wasn't anything like him. There was the potential for it, though. He'd been a raging little ball of impetuous temper, once, and that sort of disposition never really went away, not entirely. (She'd know.) Then, his temper had always been cold, not hot like Habaek's was. Sure, he'd snapped at everything, but it was gone as quick as it came, most of the time.

Still, there was always the little corner of her head, that wondered if maybe the problem hadn't been him. If maybe the problem had been her.

Junius Tullius

Hurricane
? Years Young 7 Posts Goteijusantai Jusanbantai Captain


Mm. Well Junius did suppose that was an issue all it's own. But, it wasn't surprising that the answer hadn't necessarily made sense to Xiaolen, given emotions rarely did make sense and love was perhaps the most nonsensical of them all. He did give her something of a saddened expression, not really sure what to say to her in response to that. He couldn't say there was nothing wrong with her, because perhaps that wasn't the truth. On the other hand.... it wasn't anything wrong with her it was wrong in the way she was raised to not understand emotions or what love was like. Or....even how to be loved.

For a moment, he wasn't sure how to say that. And maybe it wasn't worth trying to say it. She knew, of course. She knew that her family had done this to her. It was why she was so hesitant to leave her brother to their not-so-tender mercy.

Ah. That explained what brought this up. And perhaps it explained what brought her to talk to him in the first place. Junius considered it for a long moment.

"Well, if you feel like you're ready to talk about it with someone, he would probably be a good choice." He began, carefully. "If only because you are considering marrying him, and because that is probably something that you should have a discussion about." Habaek understanding what exactly he was getting into, for example, was not a bad idea. "But," He continued after a moment, "if you aren't ready to talk about it there is no rush." Everyone had secrets and things they weren't ready to reveal.

Even two people who were married sometimes had things they hadn't shared with their partner. Not out of malice but because some scars ran deep and some things were very hard to talk about. And, of course, what had happened to Xiaolen was difficult to discuss and it would be hard to breach the topic without at least hinting at how the girl had come to be.

Still, it spoke mountains to Junius that she was considering telling Habaek.