[P] I used to like to go out before I met you
"Salem?" He knocked a few times, which he believed was plenty of warning before he stepped inside. Shutting the door quickly behind him, careful not to catch any of the hanging beads, he quickly appraised the room.

Although the world outside remained dark and peaceful, an innate feeling told him that dawn was not far off. Ordinarily he would have known the hour by the stream of customers, but he had seen it prudent to close down La Roja with the arrival of all or most of his siblings (as far as he knew). They kept coming in, one after another like a bleeding wound, and shutting the doors was all he could do to staunch the flow.

It was happy occasion mostly, although each of them had come with their own unique baggage and strange revelations. When they had opened, Calrian never imagined one day having to navigate a minefield of complex feelings and topics, and it had exhausted him entirely.

Be it the wisdom of her trade or common sense, The Fortune Teller had kept out of it.

"Salem? Can I stay in here, just for a moment?"

He spied the lump of her form buried under a mound of fur blankets. Not bothering to conceal his footfalls, the weary Broker came beside her and sat down. Eventually, he laid back and stared at the blank and unmoving darkness over their heads.
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Salem roused slowly: First, when the rapping on the door startled her from a rare, blessed, dead-to-the-world slumber, to which the Fortune Teller did and said nothing; and second, when the door opened and the clattering of the bead-strings denoted someone had come through. Calrian had already made himself known so she had no reason to panic, but to be awoken and so abruptly was aggravating just the same. She slept in the Divination Room and apart from the others in the communal quarters for several reasons, this instance being one of them. Didn't Cal know by now how challenging her insomnia was? ...Or had they never discussed that? In the fogginess of sudden stirring, she couldn't remember.

Beneath the blankets, she patted fingertips daintily across her cheekbones and brows. Right, she'd washed the paint away for the night when she closed up shop. It had been so busy a night that Salem not only welcomed her full-body exhaustion but coddled it: she'd taken the time to wash her face clean instead of collapsing in the furs and cushions wearing whatever it was she spent the day in (and consequently smearing her mask and stretching her seams as she tossed and turned all night), lit an incense, and fell asleep mid-meditation. How irritating that peace was to be interrupted, somewhere around an hour or two later.

As such, Salem did not pull herself from her blankets and used them as an excuse to keep her cleaned face covered up. Instead, she stretched out a upturned hand across the floor and wiggled her fingers loosely in some sort of weary greeting.

"Cal?" she mumbled sleepily, muffled and warm under the furs. "Yeah, sure, it's fine. Everything okay?"
He couldn't help but think of how comfortable their friendship had grown compared to a spring ago; rather than demand he leave, she stirred gently to greet him in this liminal hour normally relegated to solitude and silence. Albeit with just a hand, but acceptance was acceptance all the same.

The small question she posed pierced his shell of contentment, and he deflated with a sigh. Although he was a greatly self-involved man, even his feelings eluded him from time to time, making it difficult for him to describe the way he felt about the situation.

He and Malik had inherited a love for their older siblings from their mother, but there was a very hard and real part of Calrian that hated that they showed up now. Tiamat and Lotan had never expressed interest in them before, and it was clear to him that he and Malik were incidental to whatever enigmatic quest they were on. It had been a convergence of coincidence — or fate, as some would have it — that brought them there.

Serafina's arrival had disturbed him for other reasons. Most of it was to do with the fact she had been ill-prepared to venture out in the world, and that she'd been abandoned by their parents (or had abandoned them herself; perhaps a mutual abandoning).

He could tolerate the chaos well enough, as he knew there would be an end to it eventually. The wind of destiny that brought them all there was soon to shuffle them out. It was how this would come to effect his twin that worried Calrian.

"Yeah, it's fine." He said. "Taking a page out of your book and hiding, for a bit." He expected the little hand that was acting substitute for his friend to reprimand him with a small whack.

"Come to think of it, I'd be better hidden if I were under there too." If he hadn't gotten hit yet, that was sure to do it. He didn't like to jeopardize their tentative peace, but sometimes self destruction was his only means of deflection. "Just an observation."
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Taking a page out of your book and hiding, for a bit. Gods, he made her sound as if she had no social skills. Beneath the furs Salem rubbed at her eyes, ousting both stress and sleepiness as she did so. Wen she opened them thereafter, they didn't sting with her paints smeared into them, for once. Delightful. She did thwap him with a weak backhand as he wordlessly predicted, when Calrian strayed his ankle near enough to reach.

Salem supposed she couldn't judge him when it was true she had been more distant of late from her fellow Troupers. The new arrivals, having stuck around for some time now, she found to be somewhat overwhelming if only because Salem wasn't interwoven into whatever ties had made themselves apparent between the strangers and La Roja mainstays. She'd learned a few of their names, not that she could remember any of them off-hand, and caught wind that at least one of them might have been related to the Amaranthe brothers, but the Fortune Teller's information died there. It wasn't her business, and to be frank, the one (or two? she couldn't remember) supposedly related to Calrian gave her some of the same troublemaking vibes, if only in opposite ways completely. Salem chose to steer clear. One Amaranthe in her business was one Amaranthe often too many.

"Don't push your luck," she grumbled from under the sheets. A cautious hand lifted up the edge of the furs, just slight, to determine how light the room was. Insufficient, she let her blankets fall flat again and didn't move. Her painted nails peeking out gestured at the pair of covers she'd thrown aside earlier, now too hot to sleep under during early spring.

Though waking up slowly, Salem's words came groggy still. "I don't care if you sleep in here, but I'm going to kick your ass if I can't get back to sleep after this." She yawned and turned over. "You sound upset."
"Thank you, love. Your kindness will not be forgotten. When your siblings show up all at once, I'll let you stay in my bed."

He scampered away to the discarded cover before she could give him another delightful tap. As he made a neat bed of it, he pretended not to notice her peeping from underneath the blankets, pretended that this irrefutably cute action didn't set his heart aflutter. It was becoming difficult again to not want more, and situations like this were no help either.

He settled down again, after a few circles to make the right feeling stick. From where he lay, he could see a gibbous moon shining through the holes in the curtains. In another cycle or so, the nights would be far too warm for blankets; absently, he wondered if his siblings would still be there. Serafina likely would as she had no other place to go, which meant her handsome, tightly wound friend would hang around too.

He supposed there would be more answers once he figured out what kept Tiamat and Lotan in the area.

"Right, right," he yawned at her grumblings, feeling comfortable for what felt like the first time since half his family showed up. The following question gave him pause. "I'm not...upset, exactly," he said. There were worse problems to have than an unexpected reunion; even if things hadn't gone smoothly with his older siblings in the past, didn't they now have a chance to look to the future together?

He looked at her, where he imagined her face might be. "Want me to ramble on so you can fall asleep?" It must have been a hard thing to transition indoors, he surmised.
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