Description: It's been too long since Elisabeth Blanctorche crossed paths with her 'little brother', Ash Crimson, particularly in light of her suspicions that something terrible happened on Zack Island. Worse even than the bevy of bikinis on scandalous view for the entertainment of the common man. So it is that the fallen heiress seeks out her family's wayward ward, and tackles him outside the gates of his school... but neither seems to suit their memory of the other, and what should be a welcome reunion grows cold, and cruel. Is this goodbye, or simply 'au revoir'?
It's a chilly day in Southtown, which goes no way at all to explaining why a tall, statuesque brunette in harshly form-fitting attire is standing outside the gates of Pacific High. There's *no* reasonable explanation for the long, sleek riding crop held fast at her hip, though a few of the older schoolboys gradually dribbling out into the streets of Southtown have posited a few ideas as to its utility. The woman has remained unfazed, casting a cool, dismissive glare and arching a manicured eyebrow; the look of a thousand words, all of them snooty. They're beneath her.
Everybody is beneath Elisabeth Blanctorche right now, except for the errant 'enfant prodige' she's here to accost. Well into her mid-twenties, and of a stern countenance, she's hardly the type to be stood outside a high school at hometime - at least, not unless...
"Excuse me, ma'am?"
She's snapped from her watchful revery upon the gates, straightening up (haha, just kidding, she was already ramrod-straight, who do you think she is?) with a distracted 'hm?' and unfolding her arms with a creak of tight material to brush idly at a perfectly-sculpted sweep of dark hair. She finds herself confronted by a balding older gentleman - a gaijin, to be certain - who probably teaches a shop class. He certainly seems the type, all nervous and awkward to be away from his workbench.
Elisabeth responds with a lazy flutter of eyelids as she stares him down, "Oui?"
Okay, it's kind of a dick move, but this is Japan, anyway! They'll BOTH be difficult.
"Y-You've been out here a long time, is all. Are you looking for... for your kid or--"
He doesn't get much further, because the sole surviving Blantorche slaps him curtly in the face. It's not a particularly rough gesture; she doesn't want to lay the poor man flat upon his back, but it communicates very clearly that if he implies she's some kind of - what do they call it? - 'Christmas Cake' again, they'll be having a much longer and harder interaction that WILL leave him gasping. With a gentle, ladylike harrumph she refolds her arms and resumes staring at the departing children.
"For your information, monsieur, I am here to meet a very dear friend. We've not seen each other for quite some time, and I'd appreciate the opportunity to speak with him privately. Will that be all?"
It doesn't sound like a question. A highly-practical and not at all unnecessarily-sexy riding boot flexes as Elisabeth makes a point of ALSO crossing her legs, heel scraping delicately against the asphalt in a manner that suggests this, too, could be part of their oncoming discussion. The poor, befuddled teacher considers his position for a moment, assesses just how very finely and expensively Elisabeth is dressed, and decides to hastily excuse himself with a tug of his forelock. Interesting, considering he's never used the gesture and certainly won't remember making it.
That, folks, is the power of true nobility.
With the irritant removed, Elisabeth relaxes - which is to say, she does nothing to alter the perfect postural strength she's already exhibiting, nor alter her manner in any way - and continues to wait. She's beginning to wonder if she's miscalculated, or whether... no, the idea that her 'ward' would evade her cannot be considered. Something is certainly amiss with Ash Crimson, but she's certain he will be here. Perhaps he's passed her by, and she didn't notice. Maybe he's had a haircut?
Elisabeth laughs. Which is to say, she breathes out a little bit harder through her nose.
No. He'll be here. She can sense him; and she is never, ever wrong.
Her Frenchman sense may be so refined as to detect Ash Crimson in a cerulean sea of teenage bodies, but she has yet to notice what is a swelling gathering of the very same behind her -- some of the unclean, common masses trickling out from the school doors have chosen to remain and dither about. They enjoy gossip, the strange, the random; they do not trouble themselves to keep their voices down as they discuss the noblewoman. Many questions are raised regarding her rather incredible presence, like who this snooty cow happens to be, and why is she loitering at the gates. More than once, a few of the older boys suggest that Elisabeth's preferences are all about barely legal meat.
And by meat, I mean...
You get the idea, I'm sure.
Eventually, gasps of shock echo throughout the entrance courtyard, the onlookers reacting rather predictably as their teacher is struck. Elisabeth is declared a female dog of the highest calibre, even though these students feel no particular loyalty to the balding, middle-aged man. It's a pack mentality, a mob mentality...
Almost swallowed up by the lingering crowd, the very individual Elisabeth seeks does nothing but stare straight ahead, entirely unresponsive. Ash wears nearly no expression at all, save for a slight downwards turn of his thin lips, suggesting he is frowning, or at least on the verge. On the one day he actually came to schoo-- A random jostles him by accident, sticking a bony elbow into his ribs. He starts, bumping into another, and a chain-reaction follows. Feet are stepped on, someone is smacked in the head by a bag, and the effeminate flamewielder slips away in the commotion, his long strides carrying him directly to the waiting woman.
In his mind, it stirs. It whispers to him...
His shoes are a polished white, slacks properly pressed and creased down the centre. The royal blue blazer suits him, brings out the colour of his eyes, as clear as the morning sky. With them, he looks down the length of his lightly freckled nose at the Blanctorche heiress, the angle that his head rests at more petulant than haughty. She's only an inch shorter than Ash, so it's a wonder how he can manage this.
For a moment, and a single moment alone, there's a myriad of emotions that pass through his gaze, but as a smile splits his attractive visage, the broad slash of his mouth widening, they are siphoned off and gone. Only nothing exists. An empty void, extending on and on forever. "Saa, I figured you'd find me, sooner or later, Betty." Ash speaks with a casual, musical cadence, the saccharine sweetness failing to belie real disappointment that he fights to conceal.
He did want her to find him, when he needed her. When he thought he had died, when he DID die. Now Elisabeth is here and Ash just wishes she was as far away from him as she can possibly be. On the other side of the world, anywhere but before him.
"Comment ca va?" Still, the young European carries on with flourish, a jovial laugh, an entirely too feminine gesture of tucking a long forelock behind an ear. His hair has grown since she saw him last; it would spill across his shoulders were it not for the black band used to keep the strands at bay in a neat ponytail. Ash's nails are a rust crimson, with white patterns artfully painted on the surface. He pauses to admire them, uncaring of her answer and hardly paying the noblewoman the slightest bit of attention. In fact, Crimson may very well interrupt her! "I don't have a lot of time to stand around and chat, I'm afraid. I'm rather busy these days, you see." Well, no, she kind of can't, but whatever.
Whether Elisabeth likes it or not, her personal space is suddenly invaded. The shop teacher may have been a timid flower that wilted under the Frenchwoman's severe glare, quailed as he was slapped, but Ash has no such fear or any compunctions related to his actions. If she tries to strike him, her wrist will be in his grasp. "A few words of advice, Betty..." Soft, breathy, perhaps their noses are two inches apart; she might need to strain to hear him, "Go home."
The flamewielding, flamboyant Frenchman withdraws in one fluid motion, straightening up to his full height, still wearing his empty smile and going so far as to simper, "It was nice seeing you," before he pivots smoothly to saunter off. His pace is rather quick, so if Elisabeth wants to catch up, she might have to trot after him... And risk Ash's ire.
Is she concerned for the response of Pacific High's trust-fund rabble? Certainly not. Elisabeth's icy stare penetrates through each and every person that isn't the one she seeks, her air of superiority absolute. Oh, naturalement, if they were to approach her or assault her in any way that mattered she'd present them with enough attention to ensure they did not try such a thing twice... but thankfully, this is not the case. Let them mutter. She'd hate to exert herself more than necessary.
Of course, her cold disregard is nothing compared to the frivolous laziness of her childhood friend, and Crimson's apparition follows a display that should be distracting; Elisabeth sees the crowd surging and bumping, analytically poring over the details she catches in short order. It's an oddly orchestrated chaos, so much bustle, action upon action - but all in order. A chain reaction indeed. From a butterfly's fleeting wingflap... ah. For the first time she smiles, a lengthening of the mouth and the faintest of upturns acknowledging her recognition of the circumstance.
Only HE could so deftly leave a crowd whilst taking so few measures himself.
"Graceful as always."
Her comment to his approach comes with an eyebrow quirking aloft, the smile stinging upward a fraction more. It doesn't reach her eyes, though. Those deep, dark pools, a blue so steeped in itself as to appear almost black; they hold as much emotion themselves as a beetle's wing. Hard, and cold.
"I am--" she begins to respond, in pointed English, to his query, only to indeed be cut off. Here he teases the emotion out, her forehead creasing and a flush of irritation creeping into her cheeks. Anyone else would receive an immediate command, a dismissal, or a good solid slap, for daring to cut her off. She's caught in this instant of failing poise for long enough that his trap closes neatly. Her arms do not unfold, no hand raises, but she does begin to lean back. His nose comes so close to hers at a cost; but not for Ash, the Blanctorche heiress instead placed quite literally on the back foot. It's really rather awkward, and her mouth forms a line of grim indignity.
It's a tender moment, to be sure, until he has to go and ruin it all by *simpering*. Piled atop the embarrassment she's already suffering, it's enough to infuriate Elisabeth to a level that few others might; perhaps nobody could have this power over her, to drive her to such distraction, to aggravate her to the point that she has to EXPRESS herself. He pulls away, and she jerks upright herself! Arms and legs unfolding, she's moving already to follow the freckled boy, her stride quickening rapidly. The high heels of her boots clack across the asphalt, and all eyes are upon the striking pair.
"T'es rien qu'un petit connard!" Her furious exclamation is accompanied by the outthrust of an arm, the lustrous purple capping off her sleeve culminating in firm, grasping fingers that WILL close upon the padded shoulder of Crimson's school blazer. "Don't you DARE walk away from me!"
With vigour, she attempts to wrench him around to face her. It could end in tears, but she's already continuing the building rant, that aristocratic calm now completely dissolved. She's FURIOUS.
"And don't tell me that you're busy! I know precisely what you're 'busy' with, Ash Crimson. Exploitative reality television?" Wait, she knows what 'television' is? Somebody's begun to move with the times. "Cavorting with peasant hussies in swimsuits and frankly ridiculous chainmail bikinis? Judging ludicrously-sexist 'talent' shows? Or perhaps, with that itinerant oaf of a common brawler who follows you around? You're an irresponsible child, and it's clear to ME that you need a touch of discipline in this so-called 'life' of yours. I've got some advice for YOU; stop turning your back on everything important, LOOK at me when I'm speaking to you..."
She pauses, draws and releases a breath, and then throws her arms helplessly in the air.
"And next time someone takes the time and care to send you a letter, write a reply, you inconsiderate... cochon!!"
Each step is taken with almost precise measurements, but swift. He begins a countdown to one from ten as he walks away. Upon reaching the final number, her fingers close around his shoulder, the blue material creasing beneath slender digits. The furious shout causes his smile to broaden, reaching grin-like proportions. Ash knew that the noblewoman was too stubborn to let him go...
He's always liked that about her.
The intention may have been to wrench him around, but that doesn't happen, not when the lean fighter turns with the movement passively, lazily -- there's only a little awkward tugging involved. Faintly freckled lids bat long lashes in mock surprise, blinking at least three times in rapid succession. A passionate tirade is thrown in Ash's face all at once without preamble, and his expression is so shit-eating that it's hard to imagine that the young man so silently ridiculing Elisabeth with his presence alone was years before a beaming, laughing child who wanted nothing more than to be by her side at every moment.
Crimson's head jerks suddenly, flicking back his fringe so that his sight is unobscured by windswept strands of platinum blonde. She'll find, allowing her hand to linger upon him, that there's an interesting spike in the temperature of his clothes. It's as though the woolen fabric of his blazer was slowly building up to catch fire, Ash's eyes like the clear sky staring off at some point above her head, unfocused.
To say he weathers the entirety of her rant from the start to even after she has released her grip is a lie, because the flamewielder picks and chooses at his leisure what is deserving of his attention and what is not. Insulting Shen, cavorting with 'hussies'... These are shouts that fall upon deaf ears. Calling him an irresponsible child does earn the bemused quirk of his eyebrow, which promptly disappears behind his fringe that has returned to its place. Were the youthful European a more emotional person, a more open person, not so shrouded in falsities and a carefully constructed persona of frivolous, cavalier arrogance, Ash would engage in the argument that is looking to commence.
Instead, the Frenchman shrugs.
Not just any shrug, but the infuriating, insouciant variety that is bound to piss off Elisabeth even more.
Ash Crimson, inconsiderate pig, giggles at his new title, splaying thin fingers against his lips as he does so with the pretense of politeness. "Who knew you were so, ah, invested in my current affairs, if that's even the right way to say it," he runs a fingertip over his jaw, "I'm not so sure..." Oh well! "Tell me, Betty. Do you have trouble letting go of the past? Do you still think you need to pretend to be my 'Big Sister'? That I need to be taken care of?"
"Time changes, people change..." Finally, at last, he looks directly into Elisabeth's eyes, so deep that one might mistake them for obsidian first before noticing the hints that mark them as blue. A flicker of something else nearly surfaces, a hatred for the French heiress so powerful that it would erase her existence if given half the chance. Ash continues to say, cryptically, "And so have I."
Elisabeth would state plainly that there is no argument to be had here; she is right, Ash has turned away from his childhood and grown apart from all that he was taught, spurned the family he was given as easily as if they had not been lost at all. Eyes as cold as rime burn at the edges now, the Blanctorche heiress smouldering in a manner that perhaps fits her face too well - she is as given to blazing, righteous indignation as she is to aloof, dismissive glares. Which makes it no less rare - composure is a skill she was taught from a young age, even when otherwise angered.
Hands previously hurled in exasperation slide down, through the air, to her hips, and she draws in a deep breath to calm herself. Her chest heaves, and when she exhales her cheeks and lips puff outward. This is rather less becoming, but the gestures serves the purpose in cooling her jets. At least until Crimson rolls his accursed, slender shoulders. Frightfully-dark navy eyes are suddenly wide, plucked brows cutting into a forehead that soon cuts down, a storm front closing in from all sides.
Her breaths are heavy now, the heiress fuming so hard she might start to exude smoke. But she holds back from trying to interrupt, hearing out the youth and his confoundingly lackadaisical air. Her chin lifts with indignance when he further challenges her, uses that teasing epithet he so favours, and she can feel the snide punctuation around the term he uses. 'Big Sister'. Was she anything but?
"Yes," is the first thing she says, forcing calm through her every pore to render the word quiet, a stealthy dagger in the break in the waves allowed for Ash's gaze to make contact with her own. "They do." People change, indeed. That he confirms it almost goes unnoticed, however; she's an observant soul, the noblewoman, and she catches that morbid flicker. A twitch of her left eye betrays an emotional reaction beside the severe annoyance she has shown thus far, but she suppresses it. If he's going to play this game, she will play it too. She forces back her self-forced maelstrom.
Because it was a choice, it's always a choice. She could react however she wanted - she CHOSE to be angry. At least, this is what she so vehemently tells herself as she takes a drifting step closer, only the gentle clack of her heels betraying what would otherwise be a graceful, smooth motion. She has his attention, at least; perhaps it will be enough, to make him listen...
"Forget our past, then," she enunciates clear, but still quiet, slowly blinking those obsidian eyes and then softening her expression. Her willpower exerts itself with aplomb, and the rage subsides to leave only genuine care behind. Concern. The concern of a sister. A shame that it still fails to touch her eyes - he's more likely to simply see himself in them, a reflection in the darkness. Pressing forward for a like reflection of the intimacy he used against her moments before, Elisabeth makes no attempt to press any other advantage - he is allowed his 'higher ground'. She wants to look up at him. She wants him to look down at her. He's certainly doing a good job of it already.
"Tell me," she tightens her jaw, defiance creeping into the question, "What happened on the island?"
From anyone else, the question might be astonishing. Lest he protest, she asserts herself further; before the words are even from her lips, she answers his quiet display of power with one of her own, her aura slowly thrumming until a little of that noble light spills from beneath the surface, a fingertip curling from her hip - the left, away from the watching crowd - aflame momentarily with the energy that is her birthright and her gift. There is a reason he cannot hide from her.
No matter how much 'time' may change.
The world is unfair. To believe otherwise is like expecting the lion not to eat you because you didn't eat him.
And Elisabeth has ventured directly into the lion's den, with the expectation that she will not be devoured.
She gradually regains her bearings, goes through the motions to reclaim her lost composure... Deep breaths, forcing calm, answering his questions. Her only saving grace - the reason she is not 'devoured' - is that the Blanctorche heiress chooses to maintain a respectable distance slightly greater than his before. For now.
One could interpret the abrupt change in expression that follows as annoyance -- the grinning mouth is replaced by a thinning line created by the very same lips. Pupils dialate, awash in the startling blue of his eyes and drowning further until a mere pinprick remains. Elisabeth's voice is soft in his ear, and Ash can feel the warmth of her breath on his face...
She wants to look up at him, establishing a strange sense of dominance that Ash isn't certain how to deal with, other than scrutinizing her almost harshly, noting how the last of a once building, burning fury ebbs like the tide. It retreats from her beautiful, aristocratic features, from her entire being.
Surely, to the spoon-fed student body of Pacific High, those who are still present and wishing that they could be a fly on the wall for the conversation, this is the absolute height of entertainment. They're now beyond even Crimson's notice, locked in a moment of weird intimacy that isn't all at the same time. It's a lengthy pause between her query and any sort of response... Because Ash recognizes it, as the emotion fails to reach her eyes. She's /still/ being his 'Big Sister' and that this is something he doesn't want. It drives the young man, so carefree and unconcerned, to an anger of his own.
Anger that she is stubborn.
Anger that she will not leave him be.
Anger that is entirely unexplained, and can never be, at least not until He regains control.
Ash's attention is held, and the pitch of his voice drops half an octave, quite different from the higher note that is normally associated with his tone, "What happened on the island?" Smooth as silk, the fluid lilt of his French accent unable to conceal impudent sarcasm, "Weren't you watching?" Watching when he faced off against a murderer who saw through his fear of drowning, as he pulled a sobbing Hitomi into his arms and the girl has since refused to fight. Watching... as the cameras went dead, unable to capture the moment the consciousness resurfaced and wielded his body with such wreckless abandon that he died? The young European waves her question away with blithe indifference after that, because he would rather not answer. He doesn't think she would so easily accept that he doesn't actually KNOW what happened.
Knowing that the French noblewoman likely will continue to pursue the topic until he relents, the flamewielder intends to head her off at the pass. "Be careful..." he cautions, canting his head to the side with interest, gaze wandering. Perhaps he notes the threat of her aura, her simple display of a hint of her power, or... other things best left up to the imagination. When Ash's eyes return to the point of original focus - her own eyes - a predatory smile plays across his lips. A not-so-casual lean forward, to reduce the distance between them to something more uncomfortable and unnerving, "Any closer, Betty, and you may learn that I no longer think of you as my 'Big Sister'." How he can say it in a manner so kittenish is all the more terrifying, that disrespectful mockery once again come to light.
He isn't serious, is he?
That lecherous crowd has long melted away for Elisabeth. To her, it's only natural that this freckled youth be the most important thing in her world; he is all the family she has left, the subject of what love she has for mankind as anything but an ideal. She's not one for the frivolity of friendship or the pursuit of company - she is the torchbearer for an ancient power, a shieldmaiden whose duty will be to stand tall when she must. Fight when she has to. This perpetually-aggravating, laughing-eyed boy with all his flippancy and casual cruelty... in a normal sense, he's everything she has.
He's the only person she'd travel across the globe for. Scream at. Tolerate ill treatment from. Any other man treating her like he does now would be scolded and whipped for having the audacity to present her with anything but the respect her station is due. But he-- he's her *brother*.
"Oui..." This time it's not posturing that brings out the syllable in her native tongue, but the distraction of that too-real concern failing to show in midnight eyes. They downturn now, her gaze slipping from Ash's to find the space between them. Her chest and his frame her view, the ground below seeming to melt to make way for the void of pained thought. Yes, she was watching. She'll not tell him that she has an incredibly expensive plasma screen installed for the express purpose of watching his professional matches. That she cares that much to abandon her conviction to not partake in the petty mores of the common classes. That she'll make exceptions, for him. "J'ai regardé."
Her lips quirk, the concern grows bitter, and she looks up with a curt sniff.
"Je vous ai vu faire un fou de toi."
It comes out in a thick murmur, and the hardness of her gaze perhaps makes the words all the harsher. 'I saw you make a fool of yourself'. As if not a second of it mattered to Ash, as he danced for the pleasure of the masses - made his money as an *entertainer*. She couldn't be more scathing in her dismissal without being outright cruel. But she knows there's something more; he would not turn upon her so readily for the mere sake of fame and fortune. Or for large-breasted simple children. There's perhaps more she isn't saying-- but she betrays very little now, save what she is choosing to.
He had his chance to ruffle her feathers, she thinks. And as he leans in closer and attempts to curtail her insistent probing, render her own baiting obsolete in the face of his manipulations, Elisabeth allows her hands to begin sliding down her hips. Fingers catch upon her tight-clad thighs, keeping her arms in position a minute longer as she responds to his dare by indeed coming closer; his words scarcely out when she eases forward. She's practically directly below him now, looking up into his mocking eyes with their breath mingling. "You," she whispers, eyes half-lidding and lowering with a curious intimacy that might make it clear just how close their bodies are; a brisk wind and she'd be falling against him, pressing her chest to his. "Are trying to distract me."
Her gaze lifts, and she smiles. It chills to the bone. "I've known you too long, mon petit."
Suddenly her hands are raised and shoving forward, pushing each away from the other. The motion is insistent rather than outright violent, authoritative and just powerful and swift enough to catch him offguard - or so she judges, as she's already stepping back with the implied momentum. If he doesn't stop her first, or make her the fool by evading, she'll straighten with a toss of her head, hands dropping back to her hips where one set of fingers thrum against her riding crop.
"Stop playing games," she outright commands him now, tone loud and firm, "And answer me. I need the truth, Ash."
Sticks and stones (and winged horses made by a Goddess' divine light) may break his bones, but words will never hurt him. Not now. Perhaps as a child, the young flamewielder would have been pierced through the heart by the harshness that she exudes, a palpable aura that compares to the tundra, cold and unforgiving. Elisabeth hurls the insult at him in their native tongue, but Ash wears not an expression of hurt or guilt for his actions. Both pencil-thin eyebrows lift, and while he tucks away a long forelock of his platinum blonde hair, chasing away the shadows from his attractive face, he is only amused by her audacity.
Ash even goes so far as to encourage further misunderstandings, but knowing full well that Elisabeth isn't so stupid as to take his casual candour as the reality, "Saa, mon travail ici est termine, non? Vous ne devriez pas trop attendre," he laughs, his musical cadence granting her no favours, "Je suis juste une imbecile."
Then, she leans in. Provoked to act, but more to call his bluff. The predatory gleam in his cerulean eyes, the leering twist that has seized his thin lips, falters. He has not been cowed by the French noblewoman, but Ash does reconsider. It creates a new moment, one of awkwardness that stretches on and on. To him, it feels like an eternity that they spend a mere hairsbreadth apart, sharing breath. If it were just... Someone else. Crimson is all about escalation, not the type to be shown up at his own game -- he would take what he had promised were the challenger anyone else. But not her.
Elisabeth Blanctorche must be like his goddamn kryptonite or something.
It can't happen like this, he thinks. In his mind, the consciousness shrieks with impotent rage. How dare the host entertain the possibility, or anything other than strangling the life from this woman and leaving her corpse to rot in the sun! He should erase her from history, from existence! His head throbs as the hateful screams continue to buzz around, and they do not stop until Ash is pushed back, rocking away onto his trailing right foot and no further.
Hands rest against the generous curve of his hips, arms held akimbo. He has been rejected, yet Ash still bats his lashes until his eyes are fully clothed, his smile impish and his giggling enough that his shoulders gently quiver, "Apparently not long enough, Betty," It begins pleasantly, but the second half sounds... chilled. Icy. "You seem to have missed the part where I grew up." Calling him 'mon petit', is she trying to ridicule the lackadaisical Frenchman?
He doesn't care.
"I wonder if you realize that you may, ah, /need/ the truth, but I have no obligation to answer. Do you think speaking to me with that tone compells me to comply with your wishes? Ahaha~" A pause to admire his nails, because Ash has never been good at being still for long periods, except when it comes to these. Treasured in a way that is absurd, hours were consumed by polish and patterns that could've been better spent completing his school work. He is graduating soon, after all. "It's time for you to adapt, accept that things around you are no longer the same." The freckle-faced European hums softly.
With relish, he says, "Say 'please'."
Perhaps, if she knew the inner workings of the boy's mind, the fallen noblewoman would feel rather smug to know that she's affected him in a manner not entirely removed from his effect upon her. However frozen her treatment of him may on occasion seem... compared to what she delivers unto others? His is the warm, loving Elisabeth Blanctorche. Were she to have a confidante, they'd hear a compelling and moving story with regard to her uncertain feelings; but, naturalement, she does not. There's nobody in the world who knows her better than Ash Crimson. There's nobody who deserves to.
Once, she may believed she knew him, as well. But right now, she can't even recognise his aura - something's wrong... different, even twisted. Once they're parted, and he locks her stare with that coquettishly-styled gaze, she has a moment to reflect upon it. Could he have changed THAT much? Are her senses merely betraying her in light of an emotional turmoil raging?
It's the latter that reasserts itself, driving forth a derisive snort from Elisabeth.
"'Things' certainly are different," she utters primly, thrumming fingertips once more against the hilt of her riding crop. For a moment she finds an urge to examine the nails on her other hand-- realises they'd be mirroring each other, and abruptly quells it. "Whatever stellar rise to maturity I missed, it must also have bypassed those baby blue eyes of yours. Perhaps it's time you looked in the mirror, and thought about what you see. You speak of adapting, *monsieur*," it sounds like she's speaking to a troublesome stranger, "But it seems to me that all you've done is regress to the petty, childish state from which I was instrumental in saving you. Now you ask *me* for manners?"
Her lips purse, and she examines him with those obsidian eyes. A toss of the head, and then suddenly she's smiling, a nostalgic softness creeping along a serrated edge of cynical amusement. 'So be it', her expression declares, as she lifts the hand from her crop and angles it placatingly to Ash.
"A fool, you are. Yet I am not. I will yield for the both of us." Her head tips to one side, the gesture almost cute enough to be disarming, "Please, will you tell me what happened to you?"
She's sorely tempted to add 'before I stop playing nice and start hitting you', but it becomes a lady to show restraint.
Oh, Ash would be so flattered to hear that out of all the people in the world (7.125 billion), he is the only one considered worthy enough to know the Blanctorche heiress, to be close to her...
Because it's not as if the current head of the Kagura family is in an elevated position that supersedes Elisabeth's own, no.
Because there can't be anyone on this Earth who is her equal, or superior. Not at all.
Let her have her fantastic flights of fancy; in her mind, Elisabeth can be unique. Special. Important... The cold truth that the noblewoman has yet to discover is that while she imagines she stands alone on the precipice at the end of the world, a shieldmaiden who will guard the rest of humanity from disaster, she grossly exaggerates her significance.
Her mission, once his reason for living, is a torch that any could bear, and many already do, in their own way.
Ash feels a rush of sweet temptation, a strong desire to pop the haughty woman's bubble, the one that protects her. Keeps her sheltered and locked away, insular. He wants to disrupt Elisabeth's entire way of life, because of course someone so naive and parochial would travel to foreign countries to drag him home, kicking and screaming by this point. The freckle-faced flamewielder threatens that peace and security when he is not at her side.
The slender young man had mirrored her by placing his hands upon his hips, but Ash has no compunctions or hang ups about it, especially not since he then shifted and began admiring his nails. They were raised together, is it so strange that they share similarities or mimic one another? Is she ashamed? Even his fighting style, what could be called a fighting style, is its own variation of the noble arts of Blanc and Koukenjutsu, which itself is a bastardization of Savate. The crest embroidered on her sleeves can be found at his fingertips at all times, further proof of influence. Should he change this?
No, because it's entirely true that she affects him, whether the Frenchman wants to acknowledge it or not.
Sucks that her damn attitude problem persists, however. The corner of his eye is seized by an annoyed tic, broadcasting clearly what may be an eventual loss of temper. She erodes away his patience further with snark and sharp jabs. There's a subtle curl to his pale lips. So mature. 'Bypassed those baby blue eyes', keh. Two can play at this game. "You were instrumental in saving me?" Ash asks softly, "Ah, maman, I hope you cannot hear these words up in heaven." He splays fingers over the crested front of his blazer, right over his heart, thrumming a steady rhythm. Throwing back his head, the European teen wistfully gazes skyward, as if he even believed in such a place, or an Almighty God. "Maman, why couldn't you raise me properly?"
"Saa, of course, because you died. How silly of me."
As lazy and lackadaisical as he may appear, his posture is strange and unnatural. Forced. Rigid. Lines of tension appear along his jaw when he silently grinds straight white rows of teeth together. "It wasn't by your /good grace/ that I didn't succumb to that grief, you were nothing but a snotty, overprivileged princess. It was my choice..." If Ash is talking over the heiress, so be it. That suits him just fine, because maybe she'll miss something... "Just like this, a choice I made. I could want to meet interesting people, entertain, have fun, play the fool...." His musing comes to an end, eyes rolling to the side, staring at the French noblewoman. For a moment, his face remains eeriely blank.
A laugh, frivolous and fake, what Ash Crimson himself has become. He's a parody of what he once was. "You're really disappointing me, Betty," he says casually, visibly relaxing. This is the proof, testament to how much he has changed, if his aura wasn't enough of a hint.
Or, the laughing-eyed boy hid a monster inside him all along.
Snide remarks appease the consciousness, this being the first instance of it resurfacing since the island. As much as it might like to make a comment, praise him, its presence is weak, unable to do more than rage impotently... Perhaps reviving Ash came at too great a cost, not that /he/ misses the voice, which has only caused him trouble thus far. He needs to figure out how to be rid of it...
"Tch." If the flamboyant flamewielder were the gullible sort, he could be convinced that her request is genuine and heart-felt, not because he demanded it. That she was asking him with sincerity, because he's her 'brother' or because he's her friend...
Ash doesn't DOUBT her concern, don't get me wrong. He knows Elisabeth well enough, even though years have passed since he last saw her. She may hide it, bury it under layers of ice and cold, but it's there. The freckled bridge of his nose wrinkles with thinly veiled disgust.
Clearing his throat, he speaks louder than before, "Now I've heard everything. You'd even lie to me?" Ha ha ha. Cute. Collecting himself around the middle, Ash cants his head to the side like a curious pup, "'It' sounded so pleasant, at first. You should say 'it' more often, oui?" He allows for a very brief pause, before the enigmatic teen sweeps up featherlight stands of platinum blonde hair between his long fingers, twisting them around into a tight curl. "One day, you might even mean it," he giggles, "What happened to me? I'll write you a letter. You can leave." Brutal, harsh dismissal, complete with pointing the Blanctorche in the direction to the nearest train, so she can ride with all the filthy commoners she so detests.
Crimson wielding his deceased mother like a weapon gains not even a residual sympatico from the heiress; rather, her gaze narrows and her brow furrows. That was low; especially as here and now, she's fairly convinced that if anybody cares about such a thing, it's her. This wretch before her is barely-recognisable at best, and at worst? She's tempted to just walk away. Ironic, the similarity between them, each disgusting the other and in turn being disgusted. So much alike and yet thousands of miles apart, figuratively and - soon, perhaps - spacially once more. What an impasse.
Then, he dismisses her, even before he attempts to do so in truth. The Blanctorche scion tightens her grip upon her crop and then abruptly leaves it be, dextrous fingertips falling away with a curt flick. She can see where his manner is taking this confrontation, can hear the intent behind the words well before they're uttered, and is in truth barely listening by the time he actually speaks. Her stance shifts, weight rebalancing to the balls of her feet. Her obsidian gaze lids and cants downward; a gesture he may take, if he pleases, for a successful reprimand. Perhaps she is cowed - she doesn't care now if he believes that. It's clear she will make no headway here.
When he reaches the point, she snorts an outbreath, anger briefly setting a dark smoulder to those eyes. Her head lifts, chin tipping upward with furious pride, and then she simply shakes her head. Stepping forward, she shifts at the hip and redirects her pace to carry her around the flamboyant flame-wielder in a broad arc. She's not exactly far from following the direction of his pointing finger, mind; handing him another 'victory', because it's no longer important.
"Disappointed, are you?" She says quietly, once she's drawn level with Ash, now looking askance with an icy-cool stare that betrays nothing - save, perhaps, that she's forcing down the emotions that must surely be there. That were, a moment before. By denying her concern, he's lost the right to experience 'it'. Two can play this game; at least she now knows that he's alive, and that is quite enough. Seeing him like this... he's making his own terrible decisions. Let him, she thinks.
It's not a thought made entirely in logic, or in respect of her own desires. But she'll cling to it.
"Ce sentiment," Elisabeth murmurs, tossing her head, "Est partagé."
The first syllable of the final word, it comes out harshly. A spitted puff of breath, just on the fringe of causing an undignified cascade of saliva. She has better composure than that, and far more grace; but it's a wet sound nonetheless, allowing him just a hint of the fury she's feeling. She may be arrogant, she may be over-entitled, but she knows that in this she has the moral high ground - because she DOES care, because she DOES show it, because she has made every concession for this prig of a boy. In her own mind, she couldn't have tried any harder. So, she leaves.
As she walks away, she speaks without turning, the command in her tone carrying it clear on the wind.
"Don't bother with the letter, Monsieur Crimson. I'm sure you have better uses for your time, and it's clear you believe you owe me nothing - that any mutual affection between us is gone. If you wish to make amends, you know where to find me. See that you do it in person. Jacques will be only too pleased to make an appointment, I am sure, if I cannot be present at the time of your arrival."
She has to slow her pace to fit it all in, but she doesn't *stop*. On quickening her pace, she knows she has to raise her voice to say one last thing; to make it audible. So she doesn't.
"Au revoir," she, instead, almost whispers, "Prendre soin."
She supposes that's what he's best at.
Yes, that's exactly what he wants...
For Elisabeth to be far, far away.
Somewhere he can't find her, where Ash can't reach her.
Because that's the only way that she'll be safe.
Safe from him, from the consciousness, from any other who would do her harm...
'You won't take her from me, not in any life, not for one minute.' Then Ash snapped Eve's neck...
Elisabeth is able to recognize the impasse, that there's no way to make headway with him. The slender Frenchman pushes her back at every opportunity with his derision, his contemptuous smiles, all frozen in place. Eyes like the clear sky hold no love for her, no affection. They're simply the windows to an endless void that this horrible person crawled out from, presumably. Snorts, the flare of anger, her advance... Ash remains disconnected, uncaring. He hardly even acknowledges that she's close in proximity to him, again.
He just... lifts an eyebrow once she's drawn even with him.
But concealed behind his elbow, from her entirely, there's more. Ash's arm tightens around his middle, fingers clenching the blazer, creasing the woolen material. His knuckles blanche and his heartbeat quickens.
Ash steels himself for a rain of blows, whether they are words or otherwise... All she says is that they are in agreement, that the flamewielder is just as disappointing... Oh. Releasing the twisted strands of hair, he slides that hand over his mouth, yawning. It adds real insult to injury, intentionally. 'Whatever, Betty' is what he doesn't add.
She brushes on by, stirring the chilly air that seems somehow stale, her scent lingering... Or maybe he was paying too close attention. 'If you wish to make amends,' the Blanctorche heiress lays into him from afar, Ash stifling a laugh, biting down on his lower lip. "That's not going to happen," he mutters around his fingers, "Laisse-moi tranquille."
Long after the noblewoman has left, the thin young man slumps against a convenient post, probably belonging to a streetlight, and sighs. His breathing is shallow and quick, and Ash is thankful for the curtain of his hair, because in that one brief moment...
Well, he's not crying...
The very next day, police are baffled at the strangest kind of vandalism -- the streetlight Ash had found support against is mangled and melted. The victim of a destructive temper tantrum, no doubt. But nobody knows who, how or why... except him.
Log created on 20:38:03 10/04/2015 by Elisabeth, and last modified on 01:47:37 10/15/2015.