[m] disappearing for you

POSTED: Wed Jan 30, 2019 3:58 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.

Haha, you did what? Griffin laughed and leaned over the side of his hammock to get a better look at her. When she paced by, he tried to ruffle her head. She swatted his hand away with a growl.

You heard me, she said, panic creeping into her voice. I messed up. I don't know what came over me. Heaving a great sigh, she collapsed into the hammock beneath his. I don't know what to do. Something’s wrong, and…maybe I need help.

No, you don't. He countered nonchalantly. The Tiamat he'd found on the crates, that Tiamat had needed help. This one was just fine. Experiencing as much as she had in the past few months, he didn't blame her for the confusion, but all of it was only natural. He leaned back into his stiff bed, tucking his hands beneath his head. You're mortal now, just like the rest of us, and we're messy little creatures. If we're not killing each other, we're fucking. He couldn't help but laugh at his own brilliant observation, and because he knew that Tiamat's silence meant she was glowering at him below.

I didn't — she started, and he let out an exasperated groan. — I know you didn't do anything, Tia. God help us all if you ever so much as hugged someone.

He yelped with surprise when something sharp poked him from below. Whipping over the side, he flung his pillow at her. She must have expected it, because she knocked it away without even looking. He wrinkled his nose, and then spun over the other side of the hammock. She was laying with her hands folded over her stomach placidly, as if nothing had happened.

What do you want me to say? He asked. You're just going to have to tell him whatever you really feel and deal with it.

Her eyes lit up with alarm. She sat up to look at him squarely - or as squarely as she could while he hung upside down. There’s nothing to say. I think…I think I made a mistake. Her ears flicked back, and she bent down to grab the discarded pillow and bring it into her face. She made a muffled noise.

Griffin didn't think she realized how cute she was being. He slowly reached a hand down, delicately so as not to upturn himself, and tugged the pillow just enough to see her face. She glanced up at him in a way that made his heart skip.

Uh, he cleared his throat. Definitely don't say that to him.

Her brows cinched. Why not? She lowered the pillow into her lap and plucked at the feather ends poking through the holes in the fabric. I can't...I can't do this right now. I'm leaving with Rahab and Lotan tomorrow, and things are too complicated as they are. I need more time to… get over her ex, was what was written all over her face.

Griffin rubbed his chin. Ok. Well, that's better. I guess we can work with that.

The hammock gave a great creak as he struggled down to the floor. She didn't tease him for his less than graceful landing, though there was a ghost of a smile on her lips when he bounced back up, his hair tousled foolishly around his face. It was getting unruly these days, and not because he was trying to see if he could pull off a Tsolin-esque look. He pushed it back into the semblance of order.

He took a seat next to her, only to fall in much too closely as the hammock dipped to accommodate his weight. He flipped back like it was what he meant to do anyway and stretched out, fully expecting to be there for a while. He liked their little chats now that they were friends, and he purposefully hung out in the cabin to avail himself to Tiamat's unpredictable moods. That, and he was trying to lay low until the debt collectors deemed him missing. He needed time to craft a new look before going into town again.

It surprised him how much she had to say. He wondered if it was because they had forged a new connection over their respective heartbreaks, or if her sudden openness with him had something to do with how she felt that Rahab and Lotan were best left to each other.

To his surprise, Tiamat tucked herself in the hammock alongside him, except in the opposite direction so that her feet curled up against his face. He couldn't tell if this was supposed to be less intimate or a joke, though he permitted it for the excellent view it gave him. She was a seasoned warrior, yet still so naive to the ways of the world.

When Ray asked you to stay....

Nope. He shook his head, we're not talking about that. But if you're thinking about telling him to stay behind, don’t. Do you know how hard that is on someone? Griffin sank into his frown. There was nothing worse than how Rahab had done it. Just think of how it felt for you when Mateo left. Nothing can make the whole thing not-shitty.

I'm coming back. She mumbled.

Doesn't matter, he dismissed. Didn't Mateo say the same thing? More or less? That's just what people say to make it easier. Even if they do come back, nothing's the same.

Tiamat pressed her palm into her forehead, like she was trying to cram the sense back into it. This is different. I have to go with my brother. I won't be separated from Lotan. Not again.

And I'm sure Mateo was all like, 'blah blah my stupid heart needs to go where the wind blows' or something like that.

Tiamat shot him a withering look. Griffin cracked into laughter. What, did he actually say that? Don't tell me — oh, fuck, Tia, He threw his head back and roared a laugh from deep in his belly. She began to kick at his face as if that might stop him. Wheezing breathlessly, he tried to block her feet. She managed to get a soft blow on his cheek, though this opened her to a counterattack. He latched onto her heel and without thinking, gave it a good rub with his whiskers.

She burst into a high-pitched giggle and quickly clamped a hand over her mouth. Immediately all movement ceased, and they stared at each other in shock.

Don't, she warned him at a normal octave.

Still staring wide-eyed at her, he began to slowly pull her foot to his whiskers once more.

Don't! she cried, and then shrieked with laughter when he did the thing again.

As soon as he relented, she wrenched her foot from his hand and scrambled into a retreat. Except now he knew something about her that no one else knew. He had to do it again. He lunged for her legs, and the motion sent them swinging. As if the hammock had decided that enough was enough, it suddenly flipped and spit them onto the hard wooden floor.

He felt some or all of Tiamat beneath him, squirming to be freed. He rose onto his elbows, and she gasped from under his chest.

You ass, she accused, like he'd planned any of this. If he had tried to plan it, it would not have happened this perfectly.

I've never heard you laugh like that. His revelatory expression broke into a wide, fiendish grin. I'm going to tell everyone.

No, she begged, wriggling free a hand to clutch at his shirt. Don't, Griff, wait —

He made as if to get up and run for the door, and this was enough to send her into a panic. She tugged him back with all of her strength — and this being Tiamat was a lot — and he collapsed back into her with almost giddy consent. She held him there, her knuckles twisted into his shirt and their noses almost touching.

Don't, she whispered ominously.

I might, he murmured, lowering his head to the curve of her neck. He taunted her with a twitch of his whiskers.

Like he knew it would, this set her off. She less than gently flipped him over — knocking the air right out of him — and pinned him down. Swear that you won't tell anyone, and I will let you go.

And if I say no, you'll hold me forever? He grinned up at her.

She gave him a look of disgust. Stop enjoying this. She commanded, and he laughed.

Stop! She said, and when he just kept laughing, she began to vigorously tousle his hair in the way he hated.

Hey! He barked.

They wrestled for a moment, and then it happened.

Most collisions were the end of something, but when their mouths met, it felt to him like the whole universe expanded.

He caught the wild splash of her hair in his hands, and folded his arms around her. She was immaterial and absolute, the ages of storms gathering on the horizon, dissolving better men than him into dust.

She was the first to withdraw, just slightly. She searched his gaze, perhaps looking for that sense they each had lost some time ago.

He could see the moment slipping, and never one to let a good thing go, he coaxed it back with another kiss. She softened back into him and entwined her fingers in his hair.

Mm — no, wait, he murmured, drawing back.

She was a terrible beauty, and god, was he such a simple, frail man.

She had a confused look on her face, as if she were caught in a haze. Fuck, he wanted that haze. He wanted to draw that mist down over his eyes and spend the whole night asleep. This was all he had ever wanted for so damn long, and now, of all times, his good side was kicking in? Couldn’t he have been shitty for just a little longer, just one more night?

We can’t do this, Tia. He eased her off of him with a gentle hand and sat up. She looked to be in some kind of shock, a hand over her mouth and her gaze fixed on the floor. He supposed she was feeling the horror and confusion of making terrible mistakes for the first time. For him, this was a regular night at the bar.

He sighed. You don’t want this, he smiled at her, though she only looked at him in utter dismay. You made a different choice when…well, when you were in the right state of mind. I want to respect that choice, because that’s the Tiamat I know you to be. What kind of friend would I be if I didn’t remind you? He rubbed the back of his neck in thought. This isn’t fair to you and, it’s not fair to me.

He wasn’t over Tiamat, or at least he was just realizing this. Falling for Rahab hadn't changed that, and maybe that's why it didn't work out. He could feel her eyes on him, and he knew she was understanding the actual depth of his feelings, and just how hard it had been to stop her. Did he hate himself this much, or was this the kind of thing good people got off on? Either way, it was too late to go back.

What they had before was gone. What they had just now was gone. Their relationship seemed only to consist of smashing down walls and hastily repairing them, and to use her words, to what end? Why were they so reckless with each other?

I’m sorry, she said to him, I just want the pain to stop.

He knew the pain. He felt for her, even if she had been the one to inflict the feeling on him first. It would have been a lie to say he wasn’t a little bit bitter about it, but he didn’t want her to go through heartbreak nor realize how far down loneliness actually went.

He’s gone. He said, The pain's going to fade away. If I can get through this, then you definitely will.

You didn’t. Tiamat’s words, while innocent, stung — she’d always been great at hitting him where it hurt. It was then that he realized that as long as he stuck around, he never would heal.

His hands came to his face, and he tried to rub the weariness away. Too much had happened too quickly, and he hadn’t even gotten the chance to enjoy the best parts of it. I don't know what to tell you. It's better that he's gone. Otherwise, you'd never get over it.

She was quiet again. I’m sorry, Griffin.

He could hear in her voice that she meant it.

No, I — I’m sorry too, he replied. They had both made a mistake, or something like that.

For a moment their eyes met, and he felt like he was looking at her upside down again. He could see her differently now, and everything was familiar and not quite right all at once. To his disappointment, it didn’t change how he felt. He supposed he didn’t idolize her anymore, and the feeling was simply, regrettably, love.

Maybe she had gotten derailed in trying to find her way through all this, but who didn’t? She was at the start of getting that much stronger, she just didn’t know it yet.

I’m going to go pack.

He watched her stand up, straighten her clothes and run a few fingers through her hair. She didn’t hurry to the door, but she definitely didn’t linger. He rose slowly after her, and felt his hands shake a little bit as he stuffed them into his pockets.

Tia, he said, and she turned around. I don’t think I’m going to be here, when you get back.

She didn’t move, didn’t even look a little bit surprised. After a pause, her gaze fell to the floor and she nodded.

He looked down too, because he didn’t know what else to do. Where was he going to go? He had made a life with them. Maybe he’d backslid a little bit into his vices but he’d also made improvements overall, hadn’t he?

He thought he heard the door close a final time.

A moment later, she was crushing him in a tight embrace, knocking the air out of him once again. Her footsteps had been so quick, so quiet, he’d hardly heard them over the roar of his crisis.

Bringing a hand to her head, he tucked her close. She smelt like all the things he loved, the sea, the cold of morning, and the fire as it burned too low. If he could have chosen any moment to be alive, it would have been this one.

She didn’t let go, and he kept her buried there, his heart, his treasure. My stupid heart needs to go wherever the wind blows, he said softly to her, and though muffled, he heard her laugh turn into a quiet sniffle.

Everything will be different, she said.

For the better, he told her. She squeezed him tighter, and he knew that meant she didn’t think so. His reasons may have been different — better, he thought — but when it came down to it, he was just the same as Mateo. Another asshole, leaving her before she could leave him.

She pulled away, rubbing the remnants of her tears with the back of her hand. I hope you find what you need, out there.

He knew what he needed. Looking at her, he felt more certain than he had ever felt about anything in his life. He tucked away a little curl that had fallen across her eyes, and she gave him a small, appreciative smile.

You too, he said.