(2017-01-31) Snakes and Ladders
Snakes and Ladders
Summary: A bird and a snake meet in the lounge
Date: 2017-01-31
Related: None
Scene Runner: NA

     It's after class, and Ryuunosuke is sat on one of the couches in the Metis Dorm hub, wrapped in a blanket.  He's watching TV, just one of those braindead cartoons that seem to be about all any kids channel can put out these days.  His feet are pulled up under him on the couch, and to avoid having to stick his hand out of the warm covers, he's using one of his shadow serpents to eat chips out of a nearby bowl.  He looks like he's doing exactly what these cartoons are designed for — zoning out and not thinking about anything.

     Taká wanders out of his dorm room, whistling abstractedly — well, something between a whistle, and a chirp.  It's hard to say; it wanders back and forth between them.  Sometimes it's a whistle.  Sometimes it's a genuinely avian twitter or trill.  Abstracted or not, of course, he goes nowhere without his trusty pad of paper and pen.
     And he stops, standing there, falling silent.  "Ryuu tavár'h."  And there he stops for a moment.  He'd been wanting to catch Ryuu alone, and now that he has, his nerve is about to give out.  He approaches slowly, and tries again from a different angle.  "Are you well?  I have been… I am worried about you."

     Ryuunosuke doesn't seem to notice Taká at first.  Not until Taká stops there near the door.  Then he becomes aware of it… but its his shadow serpent that looks first, potato chip still in its mouth, glowing red eyes focused on the birdman.  Because it's a shadow, a facial expression is hard to distinguish.  But the eyes are wide, as if in surprise.  A moment later, he shifts, reaching a hand out of the blanket to take the chip from the mouth of the shadow serpent and deliver it to his mouth.  Then the serpent disappears withdrawing into the space behind Ryuunosuke.  He looks at Taká.  "Konnichiwa," he offers in greeting.  He blinks at the question, though.  But he looks back to the television, not answering for a moment.  Finally he notes, "It's nothing."  But instead of merely dismissing Taká, he offers the bowl up.  "There's space if you want to join me."

     "Thank you," Taká replies, bowing slightly, and comes over to sit at the end of the couch.  "Apology, I am concerned about mental contact, so I should not be on the couch with you."  He is close enough to raid the bowl of chips, of course, and does so.
     He sits there quietly for a moment, occasionally glancing at the TV and not really comprehending any of it.  "It is not nothing," he says quietly after a moment or two.  "You are changed."

     Ryuunosuke sets the bowl of chips down between the two of them.  And he nods to Taká's words of mental contact.  So he'll go back to using his shadow serpent to retrieve chips from the bowl.  They probably don't have enough substance to act as a conduit between his and Taká's minds, even if Taká does touch one.  But hey, using the serpent means he can get back under that blanket.  But then Taká speaks up again, and he looks in the birdman's direction.  He draws a breath, seems to hesitate… and then says slowly, "It… is another kind of imprisonment."  His lack of familiarity with English is probably messing with his phrasing.  "Before, the evil was just… inside the building.  Now it's chained in the cellar.  Does that make sense?"

     "I do not like to think of anyone or anything chained," Taká says with a little shudder, feathers bristling.  "It is a restriction on our Gods-given freedom.  The only time my people are physically restrained is when there is something terribly wrong with the mind and it is for the poor victim's safety."  He shudders again.
     He looks up eyes wide and troubled.  "You are so much more subdued now.  It is like your spirit has been chained, not just the dark entity I saw inside you."

     "But when a being can't help but hurt others, it has to be dealt with," Ryuunosuke replies.  "People who commit crimes against other people are punished, put in jail so they can't hurt others anymore."  The wide-eyed look… Ryuunosuke looks away.  The troubled expression hurts him to look at.  But he does nod to the statement, banishing the shadow serpent again.  "As I tried to say.  That entity and I are one.  To bind it further, bound me."

     "Even though he had the opportunity to hurt me and did not?" Taká asks.  "You… he… one of you had me completely at your mercy and could have abandoned me.  And did not."  He slips his hand into the bowl of chips.  "And that means either you are stronger than it, or it is not as completely evil as it claims.  Or both."  He opens his mouth as if to say something in addition, but after a moment instead stuffs it with a couple chips.

     Ryuunosuke shakes his head.  "There isn't a 'he' and 'I'.  We're the same being.  Yamata no Orochi had eight serpent heads.  Now he has seven.  I am the eighth."  It's hard to explain, so he repeats something he said to Kaylee the last time he spoke to her.  "Eight heads, but one mind."  He pauses here, trying to think the cause of it, why he let Taká go.  "…Perhaps the boy had a stronger influence on the demon when the two were merged."  Now he speaks as if he is neither Boy nor Demon.

     "Perhaps," Taká repeats, and it's impossible to tell whether he agrees or not.  "I am… nnh."  He falls silent again.
     And then he looks up sharply, almost defiantly.  "Did I cause this?  When I touched your mind?  When you ran from me?  Is that why you are like one whose mind has been clumsily redacted?"

     Ryuunosuke raises an eyebrow at the began and then dropped statement, the 'I am'.  Though the confusion clears when Taká asks the question.  "Aa.  No, you didn't," he assures Taká.  "I did.  I did something stupid, and the priestess who was responsible for sealing Orochi within this boy's body thought it best to restrain my power further.  I expect I'll get used to the new level of power eventually.  But it will take some time."

     Taká blinks, once, twice, twice more.  "You will get better?  You have been so subdued, so quiet so… dead.  I was afraid you had been injured."  He taps his temple.  "Up here.  That I caused…."  And that's a sentence he cannot complete.

     "Iya— no, you didn't," Ryuunosuke assures Taká again.  "But… no, I won't really 'get better'.  I'll get used to it.  People missing limbs learn to live without them.  They eventually adjust, but they don't ever 'get better'."

     Taká absorbs that somehow.  "I think your priestess goes too far.  You are so much less… afire… than you were before," he says, a little sadly.  "It can not be comfortable, and if I played any role in her decision, I apologize for it.  But you are still tavár'h.  My friend.  If you can adjust to the new you, I can adjust too.  I thank you for your absolution.  I will still feel a little responsible though."  He starts to reach over, as if to shake hands, then jerks his hand back.  "Uh.  Apology.  I am not mentally settled enough to risk contact."

     "You didn't.  It was my own fault.  I did something stupid.  I crossed the line.  She needed to push me back across it," Ryuunosuke reasons.  However, he tilts his head.  "Mentally settled?" he asks.  "Did something happen to you?"  He seems concerned.

     "I have been concerned about you," Taká says.  "And I have been concerned about my role in what has happened to you.  It is not something that I can let go of easily; it has been a slowly building concern for the last month."  He grabs another handful of chips, and delicately munches on one.  "I still do not think your demon can be all evil, of course."

     Ryuunosuke nods.  "You don't need to worry.  It wasn't your fault," he replies.  "Even if it were, it wouldn't have been done if it hadn't been necessary."  He pauses then.  Looks thoughtful.  "…Perhaps not.  Perhaps the Boy has changed it far too much."  He sighs then, leaning back against the back of the couch.  "But it was.  Yamata-no-Orochi was a kami of destruction.  Eeto… a spirit, a god.  It consumed all, until the god of the storms killed it.  There was nothing redeemable about it."  Which might explain all his previous behavior, all the blustering and posturing.

     "I will still not believe 'nothing' redeemable," Taká says.  "If that were the case, I would have been left to my own devices in that coffee house."  This time, he even manages a bit of a smile.  "Or I would have been badly hurt when I reached into your mind.  You… he… both of you would not have retreated from me."

     "'Was'," Ryuunosuke points out.  And the shadow serpect reaches out to try to boop Taká gently on the nose.  Ryuunosuke smirks.  But he continues, "Perhaps the merging of Orochi with the Boy when it was sealed within this body changed it.  Gave it some shred of good."

     Taká can't help but giggle at the shadowsnake, and even reaches to try to pet it.  "That is my point exactly.  Once the two of you were housed in the same mind, if Orochi were… was irredeemably evil, then Ryuunosuke–"  Not bad, got through the whole name without stumbling.  Much.  "–would have been destroyed.  And I would have been upon contacting him.  I am nothing special.  I mean, there is my rha'thar, my special gift, but I am not otherwise unusual.  There is nothing in me to be frightened of."

     It's hard to describe what the shadowsnake feels like.  It doesn't really feel much like anything, to be honest — room temperature, the surface neither particularly rough or smooth.  It feels like… if the air could be given had a physical shape, but not move.  But there is a pulse under the not-skin.  "Unless the Boy was strong enough to remain in some capacity," Ryuunosuke notes.  "Orochi wasn't at full strength when the sealing was done.  Think of it as… blending paint.  If you blend blue and red, you get purple.  The purple is a new color, made of the others, but itself unique.  In a way neither Orochi /nor/ the Boy exist anymore.  I am, like the purple.  Made of them both, but not wholly either."  As for being frightened?  "That… was a strange experience.  I don't know why I reacted in such a way."

     "Ryuunorochi, perhaps," Taká says with a faint smile, watching the shadowsnake, beeping its nose in return.  He looks up curiously.  "I do not know why either.  It was unnerving.  I have never had that effect on anyone before."  The birdman averts his eyes a little.  "I did not like it."

     Snek's nose is booped, it did not do a prepare!  The shadowsnake seems to tilt its head slightly, and Ryuunosuke raises his hand to rub at his nose, with a chuckle.  Might he have felt it?  He did say all the heads were 'one mind'.  Either way he doesn't comment on it.  What he does do is wince slightly, as he notices Taká's expression.  "Gomen — sorry.  I didn't realize it had that kind of an effect on you."

     "I did not expect it either.  I am sorry for the discomfort I caused."  More chips.  Taká offers one to a shadowsnake.  "I have been… it… nnh."
     He sits up a little, and while he's not exactly frowning, he's not smiling either.  "Everyone I have met here is at least comfortable with their special gifts, their powers, whatever you want to call them.  Even you, to some extent."  Taká turns his gaze up to the ceiling.  "I hate mine.  They are why I am not at home with my family and my people.  I use them only when I have to, and even then only carefully.  But you ran from something I take for granted, from my mental touch.  It never occurred to me that my normal self could have that impact on someone."
     He pulls his attention back to the here and now.  "And do not apologize to me for that.  You reacted naturally, not out of intent to hurt.  The mind touch is not natural to you as it is to me."

     The shadowsnake accepts the chip.  Though instead of swallowing it whole, the shadowsnake actually chews it.  And then Ryuunosuke swallows rather than the serpent.  Weird.  He nods to Taká's words.  "I can understand this.  The Boy, he would've hated these powers too he was… much like you."  A tilt of his head then, as Taká speaks of his mental abilities.  "What's 'normal' for you, isn't for many of the rest of us.  My apology isn't because I ran, but because I didn't come and explain to you later.  It's for being thoughtless."

     "Well," Taká says after a moment's reflection, "it sounds like you are getting accustomed to a new balance inside your own head.  I can not fault you for being disconcerted.  You are still tavár'h, yes?  Friend?"

     "It'll eventually settle," Ryuunosuke replies.  "It will be difficult until then, but it will eventually."  He offers a half-smile at the question.  "Yes, if you still want."

     Taká looks up with a more relaxed smile than he's had all evening.  "Yes, I still want.  Thank you, Ryuu-tavár'h."

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