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Secrets and Favors

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76 Re: Secrets and Favors on Sat Feb 06, 2016 2:50 am

"You told me I reminded you of him!" I argue quietly, guilt settling in my stomach like a solid weight as I frown sharply. "Then with the intimacy thing and everything you just said - And the stuff with that whor- Luella! 

"I don't know, I don't know what I was saying, I just got confused, and- I don't want to be a place holder!" My jaw aches with the tension there, the familiar pain settling in just below my ear as my lips threaten to twitch uncomfortably. A hand rises to cover my twitching cheek self-consciously, my new appreciation for just how aware Marnin is leaving my cheeks to flush with embarrassment.

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77 Re: Secrets and Favors on Sat Feb 06, 2016 9:22 am

" That is NOT what I meant!" I snap, am uncomfortable feeling of panic and anger settling in my gut. I feel like I've made a mistake, being so open... "You remind me of him in the same horrible way that I remind you of Gatz, because it's scarred into your mind to see those things! I can't help but flinch at certain things, and they're things that everyone does, not just you! And I don't want those reminders, I don't want a placeholder!

"But, God help me, I don't want to go through this alone either!" I know I'm crying by this point, and I hate it, almost as much as I hate the way Ljuba is trying to cover her face to keep me from seeing her flaws. "And I hate going to a whore, too, but I didn't know how else not to feel so fucking isolated and guilty for wanting to be close to you when I KNEW something about me terrified you!"

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78 Re: Secrets and Favors on Sat Feb 06, 2016 4:49 pm

"You're misunderstanding-" I start, sniffling roughly as I glance to see Jean standing ahead of us, watching us. "I didn't mean... I don't know what I meant, I just- 

I huff at my own loss of words, my hand still pressed firmly against the uncomfortable spasms in my cheek. I know I need to work it out, I know it's from tensing my jaw but the pain is distracting. Coupled with the tense feeling of fear and confusion between Marnin and I, I can hardly think straight. 

"It scares me." I finally say. "He blinded you, he's ruined your family- I've seen you on the phone with him twice in just two days, and it scares me."

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79 Re: Secrets and Favors on Sun Feb 07, 2016 12:39 am

I knew I should have hid! I scold myself, the internal dialogue more than evident in my body language as I clench my fist and shake my head sharply, my lip catching between my teeth angrily. Dismissing the thought, I try to take a deep breath, focusing on listening to Ljuba's elevated heart rate as I frown.

"Ljuba," I sigh heavily, a pained look on my face. "I don't want you to be scared," I say weakly, and I know it sounds as lame as it feels. "But I don't want to hide these things from you anymore, either... and I don't want to tell you there isn't anything to be afraid of either because I'd be lying. But you're right, I am smarter than that, and I can tell you that I will never choose him over you. I will never go with him willingly, so if I ever go, if he ever comes for me, just... remember that? No matter what I say at the time: I. am. not. willing."

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80 Re: Secrets and Favors on Sun Feb 07, 2016 12:44 am

I nod slightly, still gripping my cheek as I rub my fingers against my jaw.

"I don't like seeing your hurt," I whisper softly.

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81 Re: Secrets and Favors on Sun Feb 07, 2016 12:53 am

That brings a frown to my face, concern drawing my brow together as I step forward hesitantly, my hand going toward her cheek as I pause to gauge her acceptance. She seems to hesitate for a moment, but she allows me to come forward as I replace her hand with mine before leaning down to press a gentle but firm kiss to her cheek. I can feel the muscle spasming under her skin, my thumb rubbing gently along her jaw to ease the tremor, my other hand cradling her neck as my fingers press into the muscles and tendons in the back of her neck to alleviate the tension that had started the spasm.

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82 Re: Secrets and Favors on Sun Feb 07, 2016 1:09 am

I feel guilty as my muscles threaten to tense more as my eyes swell with tears. Anxiety pools in my stomach at the contact, an awful sound sticking in my throat as I close my eyes tightly. I couldn't bear to stare at the swollen bruises on his face any longer, remembering just how and why he got them.

"I love you," I practically breathe the words, my fingers gripping the wrist at my cheek as my head drops shamefully, "And I feel helpless knowing he's out there..."

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83 Re: Secrets and Favors on Sun Feb 07, 2016 1:22 am

My throat sticks shut as I feel her tensing under my touch, her anxiety so thick I can almost taste it. It isn't until I hear her breathe those words against my cheek that the breath catches in my lungs, though, my arms slipping around her to pull her into a hug.

"Can I tell you a secret?" I ask, my voice so soft I'd doubt she'd heard it if she didn't nod faintly against my chest. "Gatz... this whole thing, it's-," I hesitate, my eyes rolling toward the sky as I try to find the words through the knot of fear in my chest. "It's a sort of... test? I don't know how to describe it... but I have it in my head, if you can do this... then Richard-," but I can't finish the thought, the anxiety at just thinking about the daunting possibility of ending him - of losing him - I can feel my throat constrict, my nostrils flaring as I try to pull in more oxygen.

I grit my teeth angrily at the panicked response I know has more to do with the triggers he'd instilled in me than anything, my head shaking as I force a steady breath into my aching lungs.

"Richard is next," I force out firmly.

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84 Re: Secrets and Favors on Sun Feb 07, 2016 1:50 am

I draw in a shaking breath, another sob threatening to suffocate me as I hug my arms around him. I can't explain the odd form of relief that settles in my shoulders at his admission, the looming threat of his abuser fading only slightly. I couldn't explain the panic that'd struck me when he'd described the hold Richard held over him, the threat that after six years of loving him, and finally reaching a point where I could act on it, he could be ripped from under me.

It'd been eating at me since he'd first mentioned him in the truck three nights ago. The twisted nature of their relationship, the inability to break free, it'd sat and fermented in the back of my mind. I couldn't find the words, but there was an anger that settled in my chest that I could lose him before I even got to enjoy what little intimacy I'd come to allow. Anger that stemmed from my own reluctance to be open, and the matched reluctance from him to share his own demons. That after six years of his being my only friend, how little I'd actually known. But when faced with the opportunity to express the anger, it dissolved into fear and panic.

I couldn't be without him, and no level of anger would quash that.

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85 Re: Secrets and Favors on Mon Feb 08, 2016 12:50 am

I can only relish the moment, my nose buried in her hair as I shut my eyes against the rest of the world. Jean is still awkwardly occupying himself several yards off, but I don't care. I don't want to let go of Ljuba, an all too familiar nagging fear settling in my gut that if I let go, I'll never get to touch her again.

"Lju," I breathe her name before I'm even aware of the words trying to make their way to my lips. I freeze up the moment I realize what I'd nearly said, my breath hitching as I try to squash the emotion welling up inside my chest. I want to say it. I really do. But I'm not ready yet. The words are still too tainted for me to utter, especially to Ljuba. They have to be right, they have to be clean.

"Lju," I sigh, letting go of the tension as I nuzzle against her unscarred cheek before placing a soft kiss near her ear. "My Lju," I breathe instead, the simple endearment carrying as much love and affection as I'd wanted to pour into the other words I couldn't bring myself to say.

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86 Re: Secrets and Favors on Mon Feb 08, 2016 12:53 am

I smile weakly, pulling from the hug enough to rub my hands across my face in an attempt to erase the tears as I inhale deeply.

"We should move on," I say, catching his hands as I squeeze them fondly. "I'd like to be out of this place as soon as I can."

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87 Re: Secrets and Favors on Mon Feb 08, 2016 12:57 am

"Yes, please," I nod as I sniffle lightly. I don't know if it's emotion or the cold, but I feel weepy and gross as I squeeze Ljuba's hand before pulling one free to wipe at my face. "I want to get out of this cold before I freeze solid."

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88 Re: Secrets and Favors on Mon Feb 08, 2016 1:05 am

Nodding, I tuck my hands back into the sleeves of my sweater, shivering against the wind that whips through the holes in the not-tight-enough-knit. We catch back up to Jean, who starts off again once we're close enough. He seems thoroughly preoccupied with his own thoughts, the two of us going nearly-ignored behind him. Silence falls over us as we walk, nothing but the sound of our feet on the snow and ice for several blocks before the din of city-dwellers begins to filter in with the rest. 

The streets seem to fill quickly, and I notice Jean's pace slows to stick closer to us as I walk casually closer to Marnin's side.

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89 Re: Secrets and Favors on Mon Feb 08, 2016 3:26 pm

A little flutter of nervousness crawls its way up the back of my neck as I sense Ljuba walking closer. My hand twitches toward her, stopping short of touching her before I remember what she'd said. "Start slow." What's more basic than holding her hand? My breath hitches inside my chest as I reach over to brush my fingers over her hand, hesitating there as I wait for permission to go ahead.

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90 Re: Secrets and Favors on Mon Feb 08, 2016 3:35 pm

The fingers brushing against my catch me off guard, my hand instinctively pulling away as I look down in surprise. I frown as I realize what it was, tentatively extending my fingers to wrap around Marnin's before squeezing slightly.

"Sorry," I whisper, bumping his side.

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91 Re: Secrets and Favors on Mon Feb 08, 2016 11:20 pm

"It's okay," I smile, relief washing over me as she takes my hand. I wind my fingers in hers, a thrill of excitement fluttering inside my chest as we walk through the crowding roads to find a caravan. I can't help but feel a little bit of pride every time someone glances our way, my grip on Ljuba's hand tightening a bit each time they do - both to soothe Ljuba's discomfort with the crowd as well as to reaffirm that she's allowed it. Allowed me, not anyone else.

I'm off in my own little world, trying my best not to appear too pleased with myself, when I hear familiar voices in the wind. Jean has turned at the corner of an intersection where I stop, my grip on Ljuba's hand tightening as I tilt my head the opposite direction.

"Jean!" I call after the man ahead of us, his head whipping around in surprise when he realizes he's left us behind. "This way. I think I may have found our ride."

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92 Re: Secrets and Favors on Mon Feb 08, 2016 11:31 pm

I look around, the sea of people - while not suffocatingly dense - threatening to set me on edge. 

"Who is it?" I ask Marnin as I lean in towards him, glancing past him to see Jean turning back towards us as he, too, seems to scan the crowd of faces for whoever Marnin might be mentioning.

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93 Re: Secrets and Favors on Tue Feb 09, 2016 8:41 pm

"The green van over there," I say as I nod toward the van parked off on the side of the road in front of an old herbal shop. I can sense the look Jean gives me as I start pulling Ljuba toward the van.

"Are you sure..?" he asks uncertainly. "Whose van is it?"

"His name is Cael," I say as we head toward the van, pausing for the traffic to pass as we go. "I've traveled with him a few times, and he owes me a favor."

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94 Re: Secrets and Favors on Tue Feb 09, 2016 9:21 pm


Bundled in my thick fur-lined coat, I rest against the edge of the van as Cael goes through the motions of jimmying the passenger side window open. I've noticed this is his preferred method of vehicle entry, something that strikes me as peculiar given it's his van. 

He seems triumphant - though, it did take longer than you'd think given he does it so often - and I stand up to scan the crowd impatiently. 

"Where are they!?" I ask in exasperation, ignoring the odd look Cael gives me as he holds the passenger door open waiting for me to crawl in. I frown as I step out towards the sidewalk, finally spotting the small trio crossing the street towards us. "There!" I grin, turning back to Cael. "Two lads and a lass, two imperfect and one whole. They're here."

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95 Re: Secrets and Favors on Tue Feb 09, 2016 9:35 pm


"What the fuck are you talking about now?" I sigh in exasperation as I look around the van to see what she's talking about. I let out a groan when I see Marnin heading our way, the twisted hanger in my hand clanging against the van as I step back to throw it into the car. 

"Get in and lets go!" I hiss loudly. I already know Marnin is aware of us, and more annoyingly, I know he's heard me telling Teagan to get in the car so we can leave. Still, I let out a loud curse when he hits the front of the van sharply with his cane - a spiteful move, I have no doubt. "Damn it, Marnin! I don't want to lug your stupid ass around! Go away! And quit hitting my van! I know you can see it!

"I've got new headphones," he says simply, a smirk already tugging at the corner of his mouth as I groan inwardly. Fucking asshole. 

"I don't need new headphones! Go fuck yourself!" I snap, the lie coming quickly as I reach into the van and shove the broken headphones off of my seat. The cord is frayed and the plastic headband has more tape holding it together than I care to admit. "Besides, I've already got a passenger. She's creepy enough without you and your weird friends."

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96 Re: Secrets and Favors on Tue Feb 09, 2016 9:40 pm

I've already busied myself with opening the side door, tugging it back much to Cael's dismay as I shove my bag in behind the passenger seat and hold my hands out to offer entry for the trio. 

"I was wondering when you'd all arrive. We almost missed you." I say, earning a peculiar look from the scarred woman as her eyebrows pinch together, her hand squeezing that of 'Marnin's' at her side.

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97 Re: Secrets and Favors on Tue Feb 09, 2016 9:47 pm

"See?!" I wave my hand at the woman in annoyance. "All the time with this!"

"Wha-?" Jean seems more thoroughly confused than Marnin, the blind man showing no outward sign that he's at all perturbed aside from the twitch of an eyebrow above his red tinted sunglasses. "How did you know we would be arriving..?"

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98 Re: Secrets and Favors on Tue Feb 09, 2016 9:49 pm

"Hmm," I pause, looking at the tall man as I consider him. "I pay more attention than you do."

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99 Re: Secrets and Favors on Tue Feb 09, 2016 9:54 pm

"Oh, this is gonna be fantastic," I groan as I go to climb into the van, a steely glare fixed on Marnin as he snickers at Teagan. "Well, get in! Son of a bitch, why does no one have their own car?!"

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100 Re: Secrets and Favors on Tue Feb 09, 2016 10:07 pm

I crawl into the back of the van, stepping through the two front seats so I can sink into the passenger one as the other three file in behind me. One behind the other, they settle into the back before the door shuts behind them. 

"We're all heading in the same direction, and I don't mind the small detour." I reassure Cael with an absent smile, tucking my hands into my lap.

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