[P] Who Needs A Superhero When You Have A Brother
For Jace/Caspian!
Ooc:: Same day as This Thread. Late at night when Caspian is due to come to bed.

Guilt and anger had a similar flavor on the back of her tongue. Both could burn hot, both could also burn cold.

Curled in the dark of the wetu, the one she'd slept in every night with Caspian after his mother's death, she tried to maintain being in control. She cried so hard earlier that day, shouting anger and abuse against her brother, Lucian's, hide. He'd taken every strike, though he had no reason to.

If Artoia started crying again, she'd never stop, and she didn't want to scare the golden-furred boy that she also called her brother as soon as he'd entered the wetu to prepare for bed. Her fur was still wet from the rain that'd cascaded over them in the training ring, and now in the chill of night she could feel the chill creeping closer to her bones, prompting her to shiver and curl up tighter on the bed of furs.

Without warning there was a swish of fabric, briefly opening the inside of the wetu to the elements, which still drizzled with the rain of late fall as the world began to go back to sleep into winter. Her head lifted to look, and it was Caspian, frozen in place as he realized she was there.

Molten golden eyes met melted green ice.

He was going to turn and run. Spend the night elsewhere. She could feel it. He didn't want to face her, not after how poignantly she showed her wrath the moment he'd stepped on home soil again.

Was it possible that he hated her, like she'd feared from Lucian?

"Caspian, Cas," she breathed, soft and desperate. "Please. Stay."


Being home was strange. He wandered as a ghost, lost in his own mind. The places he'd played as a boy held a different relevancy now. Caspian paused but rarely, walking and walking and walking, until he was tired and his legs and feet were sore.

He didn't want to go back to that place. The home that was no longer home.

It took him a long time to even begin to think about walking there, and by the time he had he was soaked through by the misting rain.

Stepping inside was... a chore. Even more so was the figure that waited for him, striking at his broken self viciously with just her presence, enough so that Caspian flinched to see her and froze there in the doorway.

He would have turned and fled, as their eyes locked together. His hand hovered with the flap in grasp, allowing the chill wind and the dripping rain to beat against his back.

"Arty." Cas' voice was older, than the last time he talked to her, hoarse and gritted. Pitted by shame, and by pain and suffering. By guilt and by self hatred, and all together too many things to name at once.

"Please. Stay."

Cas' eyes narrowed to golden slits as his mouth drew down in frown. He was hurting her, by being here, by existing, he was hurting her and it was all his own fault. He would hurt her more by going though. His eyes fell to his own dirty feet, muddied from his walking.

The flap fell closed as he released it from his fingers.


He didn't move though, remaining standing by the door simply staring at his feet.


Caspian stayed that way for a frozen moment, nothing seemed to move, not even their breathing, as he struggled to decide to stay or go. Artoia's lip trembled, and her eyes grew hot, melting the ice of her green eyes into pools of anguished longing, and darkened tracks of pale fur began to appear on her cheeks. Only after she pleaded did he come to a choice, and the flap fell from his fingers like they'd become numb.

Even then he didn't try to approach, stuck like a statue there, and her heart threatened to crack. It was like her very presence brought him disdain.

Had she reclaimed one brother only to lose another? He'd called her the nickname he'd given her though, could that mean she possibly had a chance?

"Caspian," she whimpered, and his name was punctuated by a poorly muffled sob. Did he hate her now? Was it Eros? Was it her reaction at his return? That she hadn't come after him? "Cas," her anger had been all spent, earlier that evening, yelling her feelings out to Lucian's face and letting it all come to the surface and be released as tears of relief, relief that they were both home safe and remorse for how she'd welcomed them.

Slowly she uncurled from her Lupus ball, though she did not stand, she slunk toward him, inches at a time, her head and tail low, ears pressed flat into her wine red mane.

"I'm sorry," she whispered, her voice wavering from the tears which marked her cheeks, though she wasn't sure if she could see them she knew he could smell them. "I didn't...I had no right...I wasn't angry..." she stopped, only a couple feet closer to him, but if he truly didn't want her any closer she didn't want to push him away even more by stepping on his boundaries.

"I'm sorry," she told him again, "I was angry...but you left...I was there as much as I could be, but you left anyway...Did I do something wrong? Was it Eros?" Lucian hadn't hated her for Eros's cruelly timed words, but maybe Caspian's heart had been hardened by them somehow. "But you left, and...and I was so scared..."

"When I saw you...and I was so happy...but I had been so scared, the whole time you both were gone and I...I..." the relief and the joy at seeing them again, alive and whole, had turned to a wave of wrathful anger that fear seemed able to spark from her quickest of all.

"Please, don't hate me," she breathed, her voice swallowed by the darkness of the wetu, almost overshadowed by the elements outside. Were they building up again? She'd noticed he was also drenched, as she was. Where had he been before coming to the Camp?

Maybe it was just the pounding in her head, the ache in her skull from the fury, the joy, the relief, all rushing through her with the force of a hurricane so she almost felt delirious. She was so exhausted, she couldn't even shiver or sob anymore, just silent tears darkening her face as she held her breath for him to respond.

Would he respond? Or would he walk away?


His feet had taken him far. Running. Fleeing. From all of his problems, from his fear and pain. It hadn't worked though, they'd come with him, doubling and multiplying in his chest until drawing breath hurt beyond measure. Caspian had done and said things he was deeply ashamed of. Running away hadn't helped at all. All that had happened was that he'd caused more suffering.

At night he saw his Mama's hand in his dreams, falling away from him. During the day he heard Lucian's scream as they had plummeted towards the lake far below. The air had screamed too, he recalled, as it had whipped by his ears.

Running hadn't helped.

Through the darkness her pale green eyes glowed as he looked back up, just as his own did. Wolf bright.

He had cried, far too much and it felt absurd that he should have any left to shed, but there they were springing to the corners of his eyes without hesitation at Artoia's words, at her grovelling apology that he didn't deserve, hadn't earned.

"No..." He said thickly, shaking his head, "No."

Finally, he unfroze himself enough to move and it was more than the joints in his knees simply gave way than it was a conscious decision. His hands reached out across the scant distance, brushing away her tears. A crying Artoia was disturbing, too beyond the norm for the girl he had grown up with, who gave back as good as she got and punched hard enough to deaden your arm.

So he said no to everything.

"You had.. have... every right to be angry. I was a coward, I was selfish..." His voice was whisked away to a hoarse croak. There was so much more else he could, should, say but it was washed away in the tide.

"I'm sorry."


For a tragic, heart-stopping moment, the air between them was still, frozen in time, and as the heartbeats ticked by she didn't know how she'd survive if this was it, if he'd walk away and leave her laying there.

His words were thick and choked by emotion, two simple denials, and she saw his tears, saw how he trembled, how he leaned towards her.

Caspian's knees gave out, and he knelt to the ground with a dull thud that she knew must have hurt but she didn't care, because he was reaching for her.

For a single breath, she twitched backward by a hair, the ugly thought that he intended to strike her cropping into her mind. In the next, she'd torn it apart, and then his hands were against her face, her muzzle, combing through her mane and holding her tenderly, like he always had before.

He tried brushing away her tears as fast as they fell, but it was no use, and she didn't care how wet her muzzle got or how gross she looked.

He wasn't walking away.

Artoia sank into his embrace, using what little strength she had in her quivering body to push into him and curl her Lupus form as closely as she could, as she had as a pup, while her shoulders shook beneath his touch.

He tried to tell her she had every right to be upset, self-deprecating himself and invalidating his own reactions. She tried to growl at that, to shove her head against his chest in disapproval. The display was ruined by, instead of a growl, her attempt merely succeeded in making snot bubble from her nose, and getting some of it on the fur of his sternum.

He apologized just after that, and after wiping her nose on her foreleg and managing to tear her head free and lift it just enough, she gave him a watery glare from a single ghostly orb.

"You were in mourning," she told him raspily, as if he hadn't thought of it in that way. "You're still in mourning. You have every right, I have none. Not a single one." yes, she had lost someone too that horrid day. Mahnama Veri had been as close to her as Mahnama Jace, the rest of the clan, and her Ronkyha's.

But, like she'd realized when venting her anger on Lucian earlier that day, she had no place to stand and judge.

Artoia knew, in the face of her own Mahn's unexpected death, she might have reacted in a very similar way.

"I...I miss her too," she admitted, a mere whisper against his pelt, the pain of the loss drumming in her chest like a gong.

"Just, just..." she shoved herself bodily against him again, pressing their fur tightly together, and the water from his coat he'd gotten in the rain outside seeped into hers as well, causing a shiver to ripple through her, but she didn't move even an inch away from him again.

"Take me with you next time. If there's a next time. Please. I can't take...I can't take not knowing." lifting her muzzle, she found her way to his face and decorated it with loving, comforting licks of her wolfish tongue, smoothing away his tears like he'd done for her own moments before.

After a moment she paused in her attentions and nuzzled his neck, listening to the strong pitter-pat of his heartbeat, assuring herself he was really here, solid and alive.

They stayed curled together like that for what seemed an eternity, and Artoia had no inclination to move whatsoever, but she was certain his knees were in discomfort from their awkward position.

She had to clear her throat a few times to be capable of speech again, but eventually, she got it, even if her voice was hoarse. She'd cried so much today, it was a miracle she could speak at all. She nudged him, gently.

"Hey, get shifted," she told him, and finally, let herself be freed from his grasp, scooting away to give him room. "We can nest together." her eyes were drooping from the rapid back and forth of the day, and now with her reconciliation with both brothers, it was like the balloon of her emotions had been popped and deflated with a needle, leaving her beyond exhausted and ready to drop. Had she not been sitting on her haunches and slightly hunched over, she may have even fallen over.

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