[m] hard feelings

POSTED: Tue May 01, 2018 3:52 am

WARNING: This thread contains material exceeding the general board rating of PG-13. It may contain very strong language, drug usage, graphic violence, or graphic sexual content. Reader discretion is advised.


Like every morning, Tiamat rose before the sun and sat in the pre-dawn quiet. She liked the breadth of the coast, the whole stretch of the sky to mark her progress while she went about her tasks. She watched as the first strips of gold lined the horizon, and as the light worked its way through cloud and cover, so did she work the tangles of her dark hair into braids. Her fingers carefully twisted and passed the pieces over and under. She worked much more slowly now, and sometimes her fingers would seize and she would have to extend her arm and wait for the sensation to pass. The wound was still fresh, after all.

Tia!

Her ears folded back, though she did not turn to the call of her name. When it came again, she waited.

Eventually the man collapsed beside her, spraying sand across her lap and in her hair. She had expected this - the mess, the carelessness - but she hadn't expected the embrace. Griffin wrapped around her until she fell back into the soft beach, and then he pushed his hands through her hair, undoing the braid she'd just made. Her body hurt with the pressure.

What if I lost you? He asked, gazing down at her. She wondered if there was anything in her expression that was encouraging him. If he could look past the deep frown or her knotted brow, what look would it take to deter him?

You'd live. She said.

Terribly, he countered, cupping her cheek. I'd drink every day. I'd gamble away my goods. I'd get in fights. Her eyes narrowed as she thought on how he already did live this way. I'd lose my mind, Tia. I swear, if you ever die, I'll walk right into that sea and never come back out.

I told you not to follow me, she smiled, her lips lifting enough to bare one fang. Now, get off.

At first he began to obey, and then his gaze trailed to her arm, the scabbed gouges on her shoulder, the bandage at her waist. In silence, he traced these parts of her with the tips of his fingers. His attention traveled along the grooves of her biceps and elbow, and then he reached for her palm. She sucked in a breath as he flipped it, his gaze meeting hers. He looked at her until, for the first time since they'd seen each other again, Tiamat looked away.

I should have been there, he murmured.

You would have gotten in the way.

He stood up suddenly, and Tiamat breathed deep with relief. Griffin shoved his hands into his pockets and looked out across the waves. The golden light struck his fur like fire, and she had to admit (though never aloud) that he cut a good figure when he wished. She had always liked that part of him - the contemplative side, which he often masked with humor and exuberance.

Sometimes he sulked about these sorts of things. Don't make this about you. She warned. She meant for the words to be gentle, but they came out hard and cold. What I do doesn't concern you.

Do you really believe that? He turned so suddenly that she rolled back into the sand. Have you ever looked around you, or did the Bedouins forget to teach you how to pull your head out of your ass?

The ferocity was unexpected. Her expression cinched with anger. Don't speak to me like tha-

I came here for you, Tia. We all came here for you. And we'd go anywhere for you.

She felt like she had been lured into a trap. The suddenness of his anger began to blister on her thoughts. All she could think about was how the sun had grown hot against her face, the sand in her eyes. The morning had been so peaceful before he had arrived.

Griffin didn't seem to notice - rather, he didn't seem to care about the lull in her reaction. You know, I didn't drink when I was Captain.

Tiamat scoffed, and this made his eyes light up. He knelt beside her and jabbed his finger at her. I didn't drink. I didn't go into the ports with my crew. I stayed on the ship, and I watched over our shit, and then I bailed their asses out of whatever the fuck they'd gotten into the next morning. You know what else I didn't do? I didn't think for a whole fucking second that I was anything without them.

That's rich. A growl rumbled low in her throat. If you don't shut up right now, Griff, I'm going to hit you.

Fine. You won't hear it from me, but ask your buddies, huh? What you do concerns all of us.

He sprung away when she lashed with her claws. He laughed scornfully, running a hand through his hair. See this? Picking fights, this is your drinking. There isn't a fucking war anymore, Tiamat.

Your drinking is your drinking, you hypocritical ass. They were slavers.

And Johnny at the bar raped a girl, and Angelo beat his mom up, and every fucking gap-toothed loner out here has done something that you think warrants condemnation -

- and they do. Don't their victims deserve justice?

Would you let me finish? He snapped. That's not the fucking point. Maybe you're right, maybe there's no coming back for those guys, but for fuck's sake Tiamat, would it kill you to stop and think about us? Just for once? And pick your damn battles. If not for me, then for that sissy kid, or Ray. Think of how much she gave up for you. What do you think would happen to us if you died?

It stung. They had fought alongside her in the desert, and they had fought alongside her in the city. As she mulled this over, her hand began to pick at the dressing on her arm which Naji told her to keep clean and dry. She would need to change it now that it was covered in sand, and that would be another burden on the woman. Was this the life she had imagined when she left her tribe, her homelands, her people?

There was injustice in the world. They had all seen it first hand. And Tiamat was determined to right it whenever she could. They had known that. They had always known that. They made this choice too, didn't they?

The ocean churned in the ensuing quiet. The sun was hot on her face as she stared into the lapping waves, at the seashells that rolled with the ebb and flow. She didn't realize that her hands had balled into fists until her wound began to hurt, and then she squeezed them tighter.

Hey, he said, a little more gently. Don't hurt yourself.

Leave. She snarled, NOW!

This time he listened. Thrusting his hands into his pockets, Griffin began to walk away. He turned only once to say something, though she heard nothing over the roar of the ocean.

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