Pax and Alanna One
[8/3/13 10:54:34 PM] Pax: It’s fucking annoying being wounded because you get followed around by this… weird chick. I looked over my shoulder. She isn’t there. I looked over my other shoulder. Same. Finally, with another quick glance, I pushed open the door and entered the galley. There she was. “Damn it.” I muttered as the door swung closed behind me.
[8/3/13 10:59:49 PM] alex.bohannon: I had prayed from nightfall until the wee hours of the night. It was after I completed my closing ritual that I realized the aches of having fasted all day. I wanted the connection, needed it, yet I still felt completely closed unless
they wanted to talk. I then decided that it was time to break my fast…at 4 am. Nico wasn’t even up yet to do any early morning baking. Only me, alone.
I found a small parcel of jerky in the cupboard and a heel of a loaf of bread. Right as I finished gathering my sandwich materials, did I hear the squeaky opening of a door. Pax.
A flush of embarassment crossed my face as the awkwardness of the situation made my stomach flip.
[8/3/13 11:06:55 PM] Pax: I could feel my face doing all sorts of things that I really didn’t like. I wanted to frown, scowl, even snarl at her, but I saw her blush and… I snorted. “Raiding the larder, huh? I never pegged you for a thief.” I made absolutely positively sure that I did not hobbled toward her. I closed the distance in a moment or two. “I mean, you’re so damn pious.” I steepled my hands and gave her a shit-eating grin. “There were a lot of your types back at the monastery. They and I didn’t always see eye-to-eye.” I sat down at a nearby table – wincing, oh damn it – and grinned through the pain. “I won’t tell if you don’t.” Tap-tap-table.
[8/3/13 11:11:38 PM] alex.bohannon: My embarrassed flush turned into a flash of irritation. I rolled his eyes at the the snide attempts at my “piousness.” If he wanted a decent healer to make sure he didn’t lose valuable body parts, she would have to eat. Even if it was a dried meat-wich at late o’clock.
Squinting my eyes at him, I retorted, “WELL, were you praying for six hours straight? I think not. You were probably sleeping—” I noticed him wince and gave him a wry smile, “Or not taking care of yourself.”
[8/3/13 11:19:03 PM] Pax: “Bah!” I shoo her accusation away like a fly. The monks weren’t allowed to hurt flies – but I wasn’t a monk anymore. “This flesh will always fail you.” I shift my weight on the hard wooden bench. “‘Sides, I don’t do that whole ‘praying’ thing, sister. No one ever accomplishes anything on their knees.” I tap the table again. “Sit down. Eat. I won’t make too much fun of you.” I stifle a yawn. “Hell, find some more and we can have ourselves a Laughing Day feast.”
[8/3/13 11:24:06 PM] alex.bohannon: I nod my head, conceeding his point about the wariness of the flesh. The weaknesses of my own body. I started feeling small in my own skin, as I rummage in the cupboard and retrieve another segment of jerky and bread.
His following admission of prayer made me stop in my tracks. My brows knit together. I could not think of a day without prayer. But I made no comment on this. It was not my place or business to chastise a personal relationship with a god, where as mine…
I sigh audibly as I plop down on the bench across from him. “Laughing Day feast? From your monastery?”
[8/3/13 11:35:49 PM] Pax: “Yep, yep.” I reach out and snatch at the food in her hands – bad decision; stitches gnash my side exploding across my torso and up my neck. “Ah, damn it.” I rub my side, seething. I see her looking at me. “Shut up.” I lean forward and place my elbows on the table. “Yeah, Laughing Day. It’s a big shindig that the elder monks made us put on every year. Lots of food, lots of music, lots of fun – if you were a black or a white. We had to do a lot of shit to get it ready for them.” I grinned.
“Of course, that was before Bart the Battlement took me under his wing.” My grin faltered for a split second. I… what’s the old bastard doing now, I wonder? Is he taking his medicine? If Telemachus hurts him, I swear that I’ll…I was looking at my hands– I felt no smile. I changed that. “Yeah, after that, I would just kick ‘em in the throat or something. Make ‘em show the proper respect befitting someone of my station.” As I said the words, that old question floated up again:
What does that even mean? The monks always gave me special treatment, but I never knew why. They always told me that I was of a “high station.” My friends got in trouble for stuff that I did, and, if they did anything remotely like me, they were punished. I never saw what they did to them, but they… usually stopped hanging out with me afterwards. No one wanted to be my friend near the end.
Fuck ‘em. I don’t need ‘em. “Where you come from, did you have friends?”
[8/3/13 11:44:24 PM] alex.bohannon: I watch his grimace of pain. It hurt me seeing him in such a way, but I held off. After being his nursemaid for a couple weeks now, I was aware of how much he didn’t want to be babied outside of the regular ministrations of my duties. I hold my hands up in a gesture of “mean no harm” and say nothng at his reaction to me.
A smile crosses my lips. It sounded like Laughing Day held some good memories for him. Some darkness crossed his face. I cocked my head expectently, looking for an answer in his face.
“Friends? Oh, well, we’re not too different,” I begin, hoping I’m not voicing a sore subject by bringing up our similarities. “My brothers and sisters of arms in my Order were my friends. I come from central Agire, small town called Birmingham.”
[8/3/13 11:53:06 PM] Pax: Did she not get it? I dropped it. She obviously didn’t. No one ever did. “Your ‘brothers and sisters in arms…’ so, you were in a militant order?” Does my face betray me? I feel my lips twitch downward; I jerk them back up and look her square in the eyes. “Why didn’t any of your friends come with you, then? Surely, this quest merits some reinforcements.” I had actually wondered this for a while now.
“Did you get kicked out like me?” Or, more honestly, were your friends not really friends at all? I didn’t say that, though, but the thought was as loud as a cannon blast in that quiet galley.
[8/4/13 12:05:06 AM] alex.bohannon: “…something like that. Order of Bendek is the group of paladins who worship Pelor. I’m not in a traditional military, but as you can see, I can fight as well as heal.”
His direct eye contact at his next question caught me off guard. I was not prepared to deal with this tonight. I was the first to break eye contact and looked down at the jerky and bread. My hunger returns in full force and eat a big bite of my sandwich. The denseness of the bread and meat gave me time to chew it over. Literally.
Swallow. “No, I wasn’t kicked out. I chose to leave.”
There. I hoped that would satisfy him.
“And you were kicked out…care to share?”
[8/4/13 12:05:37 AM] alex.bohannon: ((returned in full force and I ate a bite…
[8/4/13 12:17:41 AM] Pax: “You’re fucking lucky.” I’m not passive aggressive. I pick at my meal. I pull off a crumb and toss it into my mouth. I chew and swallow. “It’s like your guts decide to turn against you. One day, you’re the apple of their eye and the next… well, you hit one old rotten bastard in the throat and it all goes to hell.” I thought about shouting, I really did. But, I don’t want to deal with pirates right now.
She doesn’t want to deal with it either. “You understand trying to protect someone, right? Even if they don’t want it – it’s your duty, right? You… care enough to help them and they throw it back in your face.” No one ever listened to me. I was just a kid, what did they care? The whites knew that I was clueless, and the blacks were too busy being three-quarters of the way up their asses.
“I tried to help and it didn’t work. They didn’t listen.” I snap into the sandwich on the table in front of me. It amazes me how good it tastes. “You know, they were a bunch of dandelion-eaters. The hunters would bring game up to our gate and the monks would pay them and use it as fertilizer. We only ever ate vegetables… maybe that addled their brains somehow.”
Sister Clementine came to mind.
((What do you mean?))
[8/4/13 12:21:23 AM] alex.bohannon: ((Oh, I had funky tenses earlier.
Damn! I really want to reply, but I need to go to bed. Dad and I are in a hotel, and he’s already beat me and turned only half the lights off. I want to be courteous.
I’ll reply tomorrow morning. Goodnight.))
[8/4/13 12:22:15 AM] Pax: ((Oh, all right. I need to go to bed too. ’Night!))
[8/4/13 8:46:34 AM] alex.bohannon: “You…hit someone?” my eyes widen in suprise. From what I understood of the Laughing Peace…. I mean, well, peace was in the name, wasn’t it? And this angry, misunderstood child—yes definitely child, no man could pull off those sullen faces—was supposed to be the answer. He was supposed to restore peace to the world?
I had studied the fraction of the prophecy I possessed on the compass. I read all of local church lore, as there was no centralized governing religious body in Agire. Took me two years. After all of that, he was supposed to be my answer?
Of course I knew what it was like to protect someone. I nodded, as his spiel continued. I chucked a bit at the vegetables comment. I was glad that Pelor had no qualms about meat-eating and other dietary restrictions.
Acknowleding his comment, I shrug one shoulder, “It could make sense. Dietary imbalances have done stranger things.”
[8/5/13 10:19:51 PM] Pax: …have done stranger things? “So, dandelions are the reason that I was kicked out of my home?” I sucked in air through my teeth, “and thrown into a forest infested with filthy goblins…”–exhale and–“left outside in a horrible fucking world that tries to kill me third chance it gets?!” I didn’t realize that I was standing until my side screamed in protest. My head swam: kaleidoscopes bursting into vivid, phosphorescent life as fractals swirled and danced like spinning tops.
Did I scream at her? I think I did. Her face… fuck, I’m not good at reading faces. Well, I’ll find out as soon as someone comes rushing in with scimitar and I have to kick him in the throat. My head swings toward the first door, and then my vision moves molassesly to see the galley entrance and… somehow, I am seated again. I feel like I oozed into a puddle of painful goop. Darkness edges toward the center of my vision–I’m really really… “dizzy.” My hand feels sticky.
[8/5/13 10:25:49 PM] alex.bohannon: I can safely say that I did not expect that reaction. One moment, we are having a relatively tame conversation, and the second he’s having a mental breakdown.
And breaking his stitches, as I see that his left hand is now covered in blood after he touched his side.
Suddenly, the door to the galley burst open. It’s Dion—red hair askew, no shirt on, crossbow drawn at the ready. I mentally roll my eyes. Of all the people to check on a threat…
“Dion,” I say gingerly, “It’s fine. We’re fine. We were just…ah, um, having a little chat and Pax got upset and yelled because of his ripped stitches. That’s all.”
I pointedly look at Pax.
[8/5/13 10:43:41 PM] Pax: Her words are gibberish, but her tone make sense–somehow in my muddled mind. “Yeah… get the fuck out, you ginger bastard–what’s it you call… oh, I’m “macking” on this…” I try not to fall out of my seat as the blood rushes to my head again. All those dances today… they’re catching up with me. For fucking sake, the monks are stabbin’ me in the back even when I’m hundreds of miles away!
“Leave, man,” I wave my hand at him–is there blood on it? “Get out, go away.” He doesn’t move. “Dion, man, don’t fuck with me right now.” I stand, I swing one leg over the bench, “I mean it, I’ll fuck you up–” and the floorboards come to greet me at lightning speed.
Blackness… golden sunlight… birds chirping and a girl laughing… cardamom and cinnamon wafting into the air. “Don’t do it, Pax, you’ll get in trouble.” She whispers from my childhood. I’m on a window-sill, looking into a building swarming with bakers–a delicious cake between them and me. I look back: freckled fear and concern under a waterfall of chocolate hair. She followed me wherever I went.
“You’re such a baby, Esra, nothing’s gonna happen, you’re gonna be fine!” As my eyes open and the ceiling comes back to me, I see her for the last time – stumbling, and flying headfirst into a roaring oven. I stifle back the tears.
“Yeah, we’re fine.”
[8/5/13 10:47:26 PM] alex.bohannon: Dion looks from Pax, now having more issues, to me. I nod my head “no” slightly at him. He backs out of the room and leaves, not taking his eyes off me.
[8/5/13 10:47:31 PM] alex.bohannon: ((SHIT not done.))
[8/5/13 10:47:58 PM] Pax: ((Lol, Pax flashback fucking errything up.))
[8/5/13 10:48:22 PM] Pax: ((You know, I was gonna work on the elves this evening, lol))
[8/5/13 10:50:58 PM] alex.bohannon: After a few minutes, I go to Pax very slowly, as if he’s a wounded animal. It was my charge to take care of them at the church, and now it’s my charge to take care of another.
I walk over to Pax, his grief seemingly tangible over whatever memories he was dealing with. I sit beside him and lift his shirt, ignoring his response. Oh gods, he just pulled almost five inches of stiches out, leaving open, bleeding side.
I hope that I can do this after a night of prayer. I place my hands on the wound and seek the connection I had been yearning for. My hands grow warm and tingle in their tips. I close my eyes…
[8/5/13 11:11:43 PM] Pax: I grab her hand. “She went into the oven, Alanna. She listened to me and she went into an oven. It took ‘em two days to peel her out. All I got was a slap on the wrist.” I let go. That was the first time I ever used her name. “I killed her. I… stop that!” I slap her hand away. I sit up.
Why am I feeling like this? It’s all so damn sudden. The first minute, I’m angry and now I’m… I’m… why… today of all days, why do I remember Esra? I try to climb to my feet. I can’t. I’m so weak. Yeah, you are, aren’t you? The girl was weak too. Maybe you should die like her. “I should’ve let the goblins kill me,” suddenly I flare up–“you should have too.” Not a shout, not a scream, not a curse, but a whisper.
“Why am I always special? I treat you horribly. I treat everyone on this boat horribly. The monks would hit me if they could see me now. I would be locked in Sole Tower for a week without any food! And you still fucking take care of me…” This time, I do stand up. I know what I have to do. They don’t deserve the burden of me. No one deserves it. “I… I… I’m gonna go jump in the sea. Don’t try and stop me.”
I stumble towards the door.
[8/5/13 11:18:20 PM] alex.bohannon: I stand, and walk towards the door after he swatted my hand away. This was getting serious. If he had accidentally…no, purposefully killed someone. My stomach turned flip-flops. I care about this misguided boy. I mostly feel like I need to protect him, even though he hates that. And it wasn’t from some outside force. No. It was from himself.
I stand infront of the door, my exhaustion all forgotten. Nico was probably going to be down soon to start breakfast, but I didn’t care. I stood in front of the door and look at him with deadly calm.
“I can’t threaten you with anything that you wouldn’t willingly do to yourself. But I will say, after you hit the water, you will experience the worst five minutes of your life when you realize the regret the STUPIDEST and MOST SELFISH decision of your life.”
Now I was yelling. And my hands started to feel like they were burning. Because somehow, I had actually conjured fire.
[8/5/13 11:33:20 PM] Pax: “Why do you care?” I struggle to stand up straight. “Really, why? I’m some kid you hunted down. What do you care? I’m weak. I can’t get strong – I can’t help you in your mission, so why do you care?” I hold up my bloody hand to her. “You see! The strong don’t bleed. I do. The strong don’t wallow in self-pity and threaten to off themselves because some girl jumped left when she was supposed to jump right to avoid a stupid fucking cart that got her killed.”
I stumble forward and grab her shirt. “Just tell me why.” And I realize that I’m afraid. What is she going to say? ‘Oh, you’re just a tool, I don’t really care, there’s the great blue ocean I can find six more like you,’ and I… smell something burning. I look down. My fucking shirt is on fire.
Oh, for crying out loud. I rip it off and throw it away and feel more of the stitches rip. I fall onto my knees. I want to say so many things, I want to talk, I want to express how fucking sad I am and how everything is killing me today and how I can’t get to the mental peace that the monks wanted me to get to and how I am a failure as they all told me I was.
Brother Bartholomew didn’t. My eyes are glued to my knees. “Damn it, woman, I’m sad. My only friend burned to death seven years ago today.”
[8/7/13 10:21:49 PM] alex.bohannon: I look at his anguish. And in this moment, after almost setting him on fire, I feel like this is too much for me. I care about Pax—but he’s complicating things… wait, what? I shake my head of such an unkind thought. I’m a little freaked out about the fire thing, but I don’t let it show.
“Pax, you couldn’t have done anything. Here,” I help him up and try to prop him up on my shoulder. Maybe I’m a bit less gentile than I could be out of irritation from putting his own healing a week in the hole.
“We’re getting you back to bed. Now.”
[8/7/13 10:37:53 PM] Pax: At this point, I don’t bother fighting her. I didn’t realize I felt like this. I don’t even know why it happened. Maybe that knock to the head is what did it to me. “I didn’t have to go after that cake, woman.” I muttered. “I knew she followed me everywhere and I still went after it. I didn’t even get a chance to atone–it was all swept under the rug… they don’t believe in forgiveness, you know? The idea of needing to be forgiven, it doesn’t click with them.”
My hand presses against my side, trying to stanch the bleeding. She won’t answer my question. She probably thinks I’m a burden. “You fuck up, you fuck up, you know? You’re supposed to accept it and live out your life in peace. Anything you can feel guilty about, you’re just supposed to move on.” I stopped our forward motion. She looked really pissed about it.
I didn’t care. “Do you think they cared? Or is someone dying just a way of getting to where you need to go?” I look into her eyes–she has pretty eyes. I shake it off like a duck shakes off water. “Am I someone that can be forgiven, or am I just some pawn in a great prophecy that I have no control over?” I think I dug to the crux of it – the marrow of the matter.
“What do I do after I fulfill your prophecy? Roll over and die, Alanna?”
[8/7/13 10:53:34 PM] alex.bohannon: Pax starts muttering and I just don’t know what to do. If I didn’t know anything better, I’d say the blood loss was getting to him finally. Out of the door now and he stops.
His comment on screwing up—fucking up kind of hit me hard. I really understand where he’s coming from. Feeling like a screw up, even if it wasn’t really your fault. He was getting heavy. I pushed onward, out of the galley where the first stirrings of morning were happening on the ship. I frog march with him down the hallway until we reached his private quarters. It was kind of the Deth Proofe crew to allow Pax and I our own rooms, Dion and Marcus bunking up in order to do so.
“I hope not, Pax,” is all I reply to his last query as I get him to the door of his room and open the door. I honestly didn’t know what I was signing him up for. Or me for that matter. I plop him on the bed and begin to assemble supplies for his tonic and a poltice for his raw and bleeding stitches.
[8/7/13 11:37:53 PM] Pax: I’m on something soft like an embrace now. I sink in and my eyes close. In the darkness, I hear cooing and a finger touches my cheek. It’s not the woman’s: her fingers are more calloused, but these are really, really soft. Someone’s leaning over me, she’s making sweet sounds. I can’t make out her face eclipses the sun and I hear the sounds of creaking floorboards and smell the spray of the sea.
The dark, unctuous odor of her medicine yanks me out and greets me like a mailed punch. I am still as a stone. I think my face is passive. “You don’t have any answers for me, do you?” I remember now: she promised that she would tell me someday when the time was right. Would that day ever come? Did she even know the answers to my questions? “If you don’t know anything, then I won’t ask anything more of you.” That’s what the monks usually told me at the end of their lessons.
That was right after, “you’re a lost cause,” boy. “Tell me about your life before you decided it would be fun to take care of me.” She didn’t just jump out of the pages of a book, she must have a story. I’ve told her enough about me. She won’t have any more of me.
[8/8/13 1:55 PM] alex.bohannon: I busy my mind with my med kit as Pax lays on the bed, not moving. He seems as if he really hates himself. I take out my marble mortar and pestle and grind up some lavender with garlic. Unfortunately, the garlic plus the milkweed produces a stench that the small bits of lavender I still have left in my kit cannot cover.
I am still facing my work as the question barrage comes my way. His voice, sharp and hateful, actually makes me flinch. He truly is exhausting me. I didn’t trust him yet to be able to handle what I needed to tell him and every day he was proving that lack to be correct…
Then, to my astonishment, as I finish his paste, he finished the rest of what he had to say. A wave of relief comes over me. If he was truly the one of the prophecy, and—sigh—I was beginning to doubt, he hasn’t really proven me right yet.
What surprised me more still was his inquiry of my past. I initially dodge the question as I motion for him to sit up, in order to apply the paste to his wound.
“This may sting…well, actually, this WILL sting.” I meet his eyes briefly and offer a soft “sorry.”