Astraea finally makes her mark on Alain.
Location: Air House
Related Scenes: None
Scene Number: 354
The Air House is relatively quiet this afternoon, no doubt due to a combination of a certain wedding that happened after the gala (Kell's got his room to himself!) and the fact that it's a clear, sunny day on what may be one of their last days in Argentum Bay. Alain himself is just returning to the house, carrying a couple of bags, dropping them onto his cot, before he heads into the kitchen to grab some water. He's dressed casually yet neatly as always, only the top two buttons of his shirt undone.
Settled on the sofa, Astraea is off of her duties for the day and settled in to relax. There's food in the kitchen. A sort of gumbo, by the smell of it. No need for folks to go out and find a meal if they don't want to! The Scorpian has a bowl of it on the table next to her along with a glass of water. She's in shorts and a halter-top. A combo likely seen before; she didn't go wild with civvies. Just a few things for the week. Mostly, she's focused on her sketchbook. When Alain comes in, however, she watches him. There's a twist to watch he man as he heads into the kitchen. "Hey," she calls after him. "Y'got plans?"
Although Alain pokes his nose into the pot warming in the kitchen, he doesn't partake, carrying his glass with him back into the lounge for easy conversation. He grins as he spots Astraea. "Taking it easy?" he asks, before answering her question: "Was going to go for a walk on the beach, maybe see what kind of surf there might be tomorrow," a beat, "Why?"
"Oh, plannin' on surfin'? I might hafta come out and see that." Astraea grins, lowering the sketchbook to balance it in her lap. "Well, I got out my kit an' all." She flips a few pages back to the design he chose for his tattoo, turning she sketchbook to hold it up. "I was thinkin', if you wanted... we could get this done. Or a least started. We'll prob'ly have some time yet b'fore we get int' any serious combat, so it'll have time to heal an' all."
"Was thinking of it... if I can get," Alain pauses, briefly, but continues on smoothly enough, "Banshee to come out. Only been out a couple of times, still new to it all." When she flips over the sketchbook, he exhales. "Yeah. You know what, I should just do it." There might be a hint of nervousness -- it's his first tattoo after all -- but he nods. "Let me find a tank to go change into," he says, heading for his cot.
"You don't gotta be afraid to say her name around me," Astraea says, assuming that's the hitch. She glances up at him, from the sketchbook. "She's th' one that I've got issue with. Not you. She... thinks I'm gonna cause her harm an' she's goin' around tellin' other people. That ain't on you, Jigger." As he stands, she offers a bit of a grin. "You were a marine. You can handle a bit of pain. This'll be nothin'." She gets to her feet also, heading for the room she's been occupying to get her kit.
Hesitating a moment, Alain scratches at his chin. "I'd like it if you two can get along. Doesn't mean you have to be friends. But she did make a gesture the other night at the gala." Nevermind he nudged her to it. "Cut her some slack, eh?" It doesn't take Alain all that long to change, though he does take the time to neatly fold up his button down shirt before he pulls on a single tank. "Not worried about the pain," he admits, "As much as what my mother'll think. I guess it'll be a while before my next trip home, so there's that," he says, as he steps back into the lounge. "Where do you want me?"
"I never did anythin' to her. All I'm doin' now is avoidin' her 'cause I don't wanna cause problems," Astraea calls from the other room as she collects things. "She gave me a drink, apologized, then ran right back to you." She reappears herself and shrugs. "I dunno what else I can do, short of never speakin' to you again an' I'm not gonna do that." She's got her kit in hand, considering the question. "Depends on where you want the tattoo itself."
"Nova," Alain exhales slowly. "She's trying, okay? All I'm asking, is you do the same." He holds her gaze for a moment, as if to impress his seriousness. "Ah, well. I was thinking left shoulder. Save the right for the wolves, whatever we end up with."
"This... is me tryin', yeh? If she were Scorpian, we'd have fought already, then gone out for drinks after. But she ain't, so I... don't frakkin' know how else to navigate it, Jigger." Astraea lets out a frustrated sigh before moving to the sofa, grabbing at the edge of the coffee table. She gestures to the other end of the couch with her chin. "Sit there. We'll be more comfortable this way." Once the table is pulled in closer to the couch, she sits nearer the middle of it and starts pulling out the tattoo gun, ink, and needles. She sets the sketch out for reference before she starts laying out the tools themselves that she'll need. "I promise I'm tryin'," she adds. "Just seems she needs space an' I'm givin' it to her, best I can."
"Thanks, Nova," Alain says, after a beat. "Well, maybe you can skip the fighting, and go straight to the drinks?" he suggests, with a brief smile. "That should be the CF way." At least in his opinion. When she gestures to the couch, he moves that way, settling down and getting comfortable, although he sits straight-backed, away from the back of the couch -- but that's normal, for him. "Think we've all needed some space. Been tough, on the Vanguard. No where to get away, really. Looking forward to the bigger space on the Dauntless," he admits.
"I still want to deck her," Astraea admits quietly with a sort of sheepish grin directed at Alain. "I am what I am, Jigger. I get mad, I wanna punch things." Beat. "People, sometimes, too." She's got those alcohol pads in the kit and turns towards him, one leg tucked beneath her as she sits sideways on the couch facing him. Her attention is on his arm, but she talks as she works. Her touch is light, but there's that barrier of the gloves she's put on. "It's just... the way things are here, or least in clans 'round this region. Can't just go to drinks, 'cause you might get drunk an' start fightin' again an' then you're drunk an' fightin' without properly resolvin' th' issue 'cause yer too drunk for resolution." She gets a few final things arranged, in reach, and prepped. The tattoo gun isn't on yet, but it's in hand. She looks up at him and arches a brow. "Ready?"
"I appreciate the restraint," Alain says, with a seriousness in contrast to her sheepishness. "Hope in time, you won't want to deck her, even if you're never friends. Although, if you two end up you know, baking cakes together, or going surfing, that'd be grand." He's aiming high! Maybe he'll offer some prayers to the Gods later to help out. "The Gemenese way is to pray and meditate, to figure out what's really upsetting you. Because sometimes it isn't the other person, it's yourself, something in yourself reflected or magnified by the other person." He considers. "Of course, sometimes it really is just the other person, but it helps to be sure." He grins at her, looking at ease. "Ready," he assures her.
"You know what upset me, Jigger. I was fine with her, really, until she came in drunk that night goin' on about how she couldn't be here 'cause she thought I'd stab her. Rest of it, whatever. She's lonely an' jealous an' all. Seen an' dealt with that before. It's th' fact that she honestly thought I'd hurt her." Astraea sighs as she shifts and gets ready to work. "One drink doesn't tell me whether or not she still feels that way. I can still hear her sayin' it an' I just get this hollow feelin' in my stomach." She shakes her head, pushing that aside. There's a glance to the notebook, going over the lines of the chosen art with a measured eye before the machine is switched on; her other foot on the pedal that's on the floor next to the couch. She has her other hand on his arm; holding him in a firm, but gentle way. When she works, it's definitely with a professional bent. She's doing this for a friend, yes, but she's taking the work seriously. It'd seem she's starting on the helmet: the outline of it, at least.
"I don't think she thought that," Alain says, carefully. He's trying not to move, given she has the tattoo gun close to his skin, but he turns to regard Astraea as he adds, "I think she was drunk, and upset, and said things she regrets, and that she's apologized for." He goes silent as she starts working; he wants to look, but he trusts Nova to work, keeping still instead.
"All she said," Astraea says, voice pitched over the sound of the tattoo gun, "was sorry for th' other night. That's it. Nothin' specific. Did she even know what she was apologizin' for? What had hurt?" She exhales slowly, stopping the gun briefly to look up to Alain. "Look, I... I know she's your wingman an' she's more important than I am, Jigger. So I'm doin' my best. I'm doin' everythin' I can, but it still hurts a lot, okay? I can't just... forget an' just like you're askin' me to try, I need you to allow me time to process how much it hurt." With that said, she goes back to her work on the tattoo.
"Not sure she remembers all the specifics," Alain says, with a brief twitch of lips, although his smile fades, soon enough, at her latter words. "You're right. Sorry for pressing. Just... don't like that my friends don't like each other, you know?" he exhales. "Last you'll hear from me." Then a beat, "Maybe." With a wryness, as he does his best to keep still, despite the urge to look at what she's doing.
After a time, Astraea sits back and turns off the gun, dabbing at a few spots with a napkin for blood that has pricked up and any excess ink. She's gentle with it. "I understand," she says, picking up on the previous thread of conversation. "I'd want my friends to like each other, too." There's a look up to him and a small smile. "I ain't purposefully dislikin' her an' I'm not tryin' to carry a grudge. Promise. I'm just hurtin'. An' like any injury, it's gotta heal, Alain. One drink isn't a cure."
There's a few grimaces here and there, but otherwise Alain weathers the tattoo creation well. He glances sidelong, still trying not to move too much, when she switches off the gun. "Done?" he asks, not looking yet since she's pressing the napkin against it. At her latter words, he grins, "So you're saying... a bottle, then?" with a grin, before he remembers and lifts his arm (the right, so as not to disturb her work), and gestures with closed finger-and-thumb across his lips as if to indicate he's keeping quiet on the topic.
"Not done. Just gotta clean up a bit every now an' then. You can look iff'n you want." She's noticed how hard he's been fighting it. It's coming along well. Most of the outline work is done. Astraea snorts faintly when he mentions the bottle, prodding briefly at his side with her elbow as she turns to rearrange a few things. "We can talk about it. You just gotta respect my needs just like I'm respectin' yours, yeh? It's gonna take time." She gets herself resettled, but gives him time to look at the tattoo so far and give his thoughts- if any.
Only when he's given permission does Alain lift his arm to examine her work. He looks surprised, studying the work closely. "It's come out nicely. Didn't think it'd follow the drawing so closely," he says, pleased, as he lowers his arm to allow her to continue. With a shake of head, he seems okay with moving onto another subject, asking, "You moved your stuff onto the Dauntless yet?"
Lifting the tattoo gun so he can see it, Astraea smiles. "It's like a calligraphy nib, almost. Just... a cluster of 'em, on a gun. The end moves so fast you barely feel it puttin' th' ink under yer skin." Scorpians and Taurons would know a fair bit. She's got plenty of ink herself, after all. "I'm just drawin' th' same thing onto you." She shifts slightly where she sits on the sofa before readying to continue. At the question, she shakes her head. "Naw. Gonna put it off long as I can. But we should time it so we can make sure we're in th' same general area, yeh? Dunno if we'll all be in th' same big bunk room again or not." That said, she gets back to work.
With a nod as if to encourage her to continue, Alain says, "I think it's as much the thought of getting it -- the permanence -- that makes people wary. I can understand why Razor doesn't want to get one," he says, slowly. A twitch of lips is given before he replies, "I heard the bunkings are much bigger. Won't say no to that. I'm going to hold out till the last day before moving all my stuff, but... thinking I might dump some things there a bit earlier, try and at least find a good spot, you know?"
"Th' permanence is what makes it so important. Mine tell th' story of my life. What clan I'm from. My triumphs. My failures. What I can do. None of those things about me have or will change-" Astraea looks briefly up to Alain, "so why should I fear havin' 'em marked on my skin? You're not gonna wake up tomorrow hatin' Ares. An' none of us are ever gonna forget havin' served with th' Timber Wolves. But I ain't gonna force it on anyone." She gets back to work and this time, she's soon into shading. That might hurt a bit more for how it's less of a steady, even-keeled pressure. "If you do, lemme know? Might go with you or send you with a bag to grab a spot for me, too."
"Probably not," Alain allows, of hating Ares. "He's put me through my paces enough to date. Could almost say I've grown used to it," with a brief chuckle, although he stops quickly when he realizes it might affect her work on his upper arm. "Huh," he sounds surprised, "Do all Scorpians wear all that stuff so openly? It seems like it'd be... well, revealing?" he muses. He nods, to her latter request. "Will do."
"It is, but it's also... a sense of pride." Astraea grins a little, glancing up and then back to her work. "I mean, we went around that ball with medals on our uniforms. How good of pilots we are. What campaigns we've been in. All that. It's no diff'rent, really. It's just always there, on our skin. An' it ain't like you or anyone else can read it anyway." Most Scorpian tattoos being little more than stylistic line work to the untrained eye. "There's some that don't, but... I believe in acceptin' defeat as much as victory. So I wear those, too."
Alain's silent for a moment, contemplating that answer, it seems. Or maybe just giving her a moment to work while the Gemenese man is deadly still. "Makes sense. Though," he admits, ruefully, "Can't imagine wearing my medals everywhere. But I guess most people don't really know what it means?" He certainly doesn't. "I imagine it makes it easier, meeting other Scorpians. You can kind of look at them and immediately get a sense of who they are, what's important to them?" he speculates.
"Who they are, where they came from, what they've done... How dangerous they might be, or whether you can trust 'em. It's helped me avoid anyone from Tybarre, for example." Astraea falls quiet for a time as she focuses on her work and when she stops again, it's same as before. The napkin is used for any excess ink or blood. She leans back, stretching before she sets things down. "We're almost done, but my ass is goin' numb." She rolls to her feet, arching her back as she does. "You need anythin'?"
"Doesn't it let them identify you just as readily though?" Alain muses, thoughtfully. He's silent, too, while she works, content to let the quiet settle without interrupting it. When she stretches and stands, he shakes his head. "I've got water, thanks," he says, as he brings his arm up to examine her work further. "Nice," he approves, of what's there so far.
"It does, but before I was the hapless Raptor pilot you see today, I was a rather talented thief." Astraea flashes a bit of a smile Alain's way as she moves about the lounge, getting blood flowing again. "I'm actually rather sneaky, thank you very much. Most folks don't notice me. 'specially when you got so many warriors millin' about." She finally returns to the couch and settles back in after a long drink of her own water. She picks up the tattoo gun again, but doesn't immediately return to it. Instead, she pauses and bites her lip briefly. "Can I ask somethin'?"
Taking a long drink from his water, Alain makes a face. "Don't believe it for a second," he says, without missing a beat. "You look so innocent." He regards her for a moment -- or more accurately, her tattoos. "Which one says you're from Tybarre?" he asks, as he sets his glass back down when she settles in again. Her question is answered easily, along with a curious look. "Of course. What is it?"
There is a laugh at his words. "Years of practice. Gotta pass for innocent sometimes to be a good thief, yknow." Astraea gives a small shake of her head. "I'm Hyacinth. Tybarre owns us." She pulls aside her halter top a bit. Not enough to be scandalous; just enough to fully show the ink on the left side of her collarbone, over her heart. "This one. This is for my clan an' my family. Masters." She releases the fabric, getting comfortable as they start positioning to get into the final leg of the tattoo. "Now... just to, uhm. This isn't me tryin'... You're a friend, you... know me better'n anyone aboard right now. I just..." She sucks at her tooth for a second. "Do you think I'm worth someone's time? In general?"
Alain remains unconvinced as to Astraea's words, or at least, is putting on a good show of being dubious about her thieving origins. It quickly becomes a smile though, before he leans in a bit to examine the ink, curiously, then nods as if taking it in. He settles back, stilling as if ready for her to continue, though that's broken quickly enough when her words draw his gaze, sharply. "What are you even talking about, Nova? Of course you are," with a furrow of brow that suggests he's baffled by the question.
"I... did somethin' stupid th' other night," Astraea admits quietly. "I was drunk an' tried to kiss Razor. An' he... said how he just likes flyin' with me an' doesn't want to change that. I wish I was like y'all an' I only cared about th' war, but I'm pretty sure I ain't gonna survive it." She takes a deep breath as she settles back in, ready to continue working. "I just wondered if maybe somethin' was wrong with me."
Alain starts to answer with, "I'm sure it wasn't that stu--" when Astraea continues. He visibly winces as she continues, though he tries his best to hide it by shifting his position on the couch and resettling. "I can't speak for Razor," he says, after a pause, "But, it isn't that I only care about the war. For me, it's like... the war's too big for me to see anything else right now." He exhales. "There's nothing wrong with you," he says, fixing gaze on Astraea, voice serious.
"I..." Astraea lowers the tattoo gun again as she tries to put it to words. "It's not just that I get lonely or that I want just... anyone." She shakes her head a bit. "I like both of you, for... diff'rent reasons. You make me calm, y'know? Like I said. But if I think of being in th' fight an' I always imagine he's at my side." Her words come a bit stilted; it's strange to say it all out loud. "Which... prob'ly doesn't seem right or fair to you an' I'm sorry for that." She cringes a little, only chancing a brief look up at him. "But I always feel so... apart from everyone else. Even in th' middle of a celebration like th' ball, I feel like I don't belong."
This sort of thing might be awkward, but maybe Alain's past training as a priest helps; he cocks a listening ear towards her, still and silent while she talks. Only when she's done, does he speak, "I don't know what to tell you, Nova. It's not like I can disagree with your feelings, but," he spreads his hands, briefly, as he says, "You aren't alone, and you do belong. Gods' honest truth," he says, pressing a hand to his chest with a brief, encouraging smile.
"I'd be happier if I liked neither of you. Obviously." Astraea tries to smile, but it's clearly strained and she gives up on it. "I mean, neither of you likes me, so it's sort of a waste of... everythin'." She shakes her head a bit. "But... do ya ever get that? In th' middle of a crowd an' all of a sudden you just feel... alone. Like everythin' is muted an' far away an' you can't... get a hold on any of it anymore. Like everyone might as well be on a whole other colony."
Alain is quiet for a moment. Not so much to pick his words, as just contemplating hers before he answers. "Not... really. Sometimes, I guess, but I always feel like Ares, or Artemis, or someone's nearby, not in any physical sense. But just kind of present, if that makes sense?" He glances at her, seemingly aware it might not make sense to those who aren't religious.
"Sort of," Astraea says, tilting her head in a nod. "It's just... I don't like bein' alone since th'... th' bombin'." She lifts a hand to press the back of her wrist to her eyes. "I wasn't trapped long, but it was long 'nough, I guess. I know Apollo was there. I had light. I was never in th' dark. But I hate bein'... physically alone all th' same, but even so, I can be in a room full of people and still feel completely alone sometimes. Never... asked if anyone else ever gets that, too."
"Think many people feel like that," Alain says, after a moment. "Just listen to -- well, most of the songs, most of the books ever written. People can feel like that even when they're surrounded by family and friends, and they're loved. It doesn't mean anything is wrong, just -- some people need something different from those around them." There's something apologetic in his gaze, briefly, before he shifts it away from the raptor pilot and focuses instead on his half-drunk glass of water.
"Wish I knew what I needed. I feel... so lost sometimes." Astraea falls quiet for a moment, recovering herself. She sniffles a little, taking one of those napkins to press at her eyes with. She looks up at Alain with a small smile. "I'm glad Ares led you here. I get why Gemenon misses you, but... we need you here, Jigger." With that said, she finally gets back to her work on his tattoo.
"Perhaps it's just a matter of finding your place, feeling comfortable." Alain says, slowly. "Maybe it'd help to talk to one of the doctors... maybe the chaplain?" He reaches to touch Astraea's arm in comfort for a moment, before he smiles, ruefully. "Not going anywhere," he reassures her, "Least not until the CF decide to ship me back to Gemenon." His arm drops, stilling in preparation for her to continue her work.
"I'm afraid of th' doctors wantin' to give me some sorta pills," Astraea admits. "I have talked to th' chaplain before, but not 'bout this. Maybe." She lets out a slow sigh, looking up to him with a smile. "Good. You go anywhere, I might hafta follow an' drag your ass back. You belong here, with us." That smile broadens briefly before she gets back to her work putting in the final details; some on the spear, but primarily on the shield.
"I'm not doctor, but, I'm pretty sure you aren't crazy, Nova, if that's what your worried about," Alain says, with a brief, flickered smile. "Oh, I don't think you'd want to go to Gemenon. You'd find it very dull, indeed, for more reasons than just that it's far from the war." Despite his words, there's a fondness for his home colony in the Gemenon pilot's voice.
"Did you miss th' part," Astraea says with a small smile, glancing up only briefly from her work, "where I said I'd drag you back?" She nudges at Alain's leg with her knee before going back to her work. "As for crazy... I dunno. I just don't wanna be put on pills. Seen it happen and... th' person just sort of seems... not themselves afterward. I don't want that to be me, y'know?"
"I didn't," Alain replies, with a tiny smile. "But my mother can be awfully stubborn. I'm afraid you'd lose against her, given the opportunity." His lips twitch at the nudge, but he otherwise tries to keep still, so as not to ruin the tattoo. "Don't think they'd force you. Not unless they thought it was serious." A beat, "How's it looking?"
"We can bring her, too!" Astraea grins with the proclamation, clearly just toying with Alain, now. It's easier to focus on the playful part than to think about the risk of being put on any sort of drugs. She's quiet for a time as she continues the finishing touches on the tattoo. Finally, the gun stops again and she sets it aside. More dabbing with the napkin and finally she puts that aside, too. "It looks good," she says, softly. "Check it out before I put a bandage over it. Skin's gonna be tender for a bit." She's already turning to her kit to start cleaning up and give him some time to commune with his new ink.
There's a quick glance at the ink, before Alain pushes up with a grunt, and goes to get a proper look in the bathroom mirror -- after all, it's upside-down, to his view. He whistles. "That looks great, Nova!" he calls, sounding pleased. He stares at it for a time before he makes his way out, standing still to let her bandage up the tattoo. "Thanks," he says, with a smile. "Turned out great. Uh, how long do I have to keep it dry?" he gestures at his arm.
By the time he's returned, she's packed up the kit and stacked up any trash carefully. The bandage is applied fairly quickly. "You'll wanna pick up some lotion, too. Uh, water-based. Put it on twice a day an' anytime it itches. Never, ever scratch it. Rub at it, slap it, whatever. Don't scratch." Astraea glances up when he mentions keeping it dry. "Least a week. For showerin' or yer flight suit-" since they get sweaty, "you can wrap it in plastic. Ain't entirely comfortable, but it does the job. And," she grins. "Easier on th' arm than other areas. Usually gotta use a lot of tape for places you can't wrap up."
When he hears just how much work he has to take care of it over the next week, there's a visible grimace from Alain. But he does listen dutifully. "Got it," he assures her, as she fixes the bandage. "Think I'll manage. Distract me from the weirdness of our new sleeping quarters, if nothing else." He picks up his water, and steps towards the kitchen. "You up for something to eat?" he asks, setting about refilling his glass, and serving food for them as they settle down to eat and chat.