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"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis." -Dante Alighieri

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Nicanora
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Flame

Post by Nicanora » Wed Jan 02, 2019 9:41 am

New Year's Eve 2018

Time heals all wounds. Or so the saying goes. Just a year prior, Nicanora may have believed that. Though the end of the year brought with it a torrent of pain and scars ripped open anew, it had been almost bearable three hundred sixty five days ago. Will helped. Crispin and Niamh too. Even Daniel and Lidia to an extent. She knew that Dia still missed Christopher, likely almost as much as Nica did, and the little boy that she was raising was a reminder every day of just what they had lost. Every day he looked more like his father and if there had been any doubt before just whose child he was, it could be denied no longer.

But things change. Plans, for all of their good intent, are simply plans. They were no guarantee no matter how hard Nica may have planned to the contrary. And so another New Year's Eve came and another New Year's Eve found her barely holding herself together. It had been a late to rise day, much of it spent wrapped in two layers of blanket, one to insulate against the draftiness of the warehouse loft's chill thanks to winter in Rhydin at large, and another to guard against the general malaise of her soul. Or maybe to hold it all in, to guard it and keep it safe. If it were hers and only hers, she didn't have to share with others just why she was still hurting after all this time. Not even the promise of breakfast or lunch could rouse her, likely some combination of nausea and self pity, if she had to put a name to it. Either way, two thousand eighteen was ending and the looming coming of a new year promised no relief.

The last year had given Will a lot of thing about. From ongoing discussions about their pending wedding to new trials and tribulations at work. From the little signs that the he was something more than he wanted to be (it had been a while since a serious incident) to talks about where their choice would take them. His conversation with Crispin the week prior didn't help. It only gave him more to think about. It had made him oblivious to a few things, but not all. Nicanora wasn't a creature of subtle emotions and while her growing malaise crept up on him by degrees, when something was really wrong with the Spanish beauty, it was readily obvious. That she didn't want to talk about it was even more disconcerting, compounded by a surprising disinterest in eating or drinking.

Never the type to give her too wide a berth, the paramedic could only give her so much space before the need to be closer to her defeated him and it was in the evening hours that he finally crept in behind her to slip his arms around her blanketed form. It wasn't like him to say nothing, but he did (or this case didn't) do just that. He laid his head against hers and just held her in the pregnant silence.

Each secondhand stroke of the clock was another second closer to a moment that had been etched permanently upon her very being. For all that she had tried to convince herself to simply get over it, she couldn't. There was something about the loss of her parabatai that was impossible to let go. Maybe it was the way that the long since faded silver mark beneath her collarbone still ached from time to time. Perhaps it was the intermittent sound of emptiness in Christopher's father's voice when Nica spoke to him over the phone, a crackly interdimensional connection that held for varying amounts of time each chance she got to get in touch with him. Parents weren't supposed to bury their children though they did exactly that all too often in her world. It was a world she hated, a world she couldn't bear the thought of living in without her best friend, a world she couldn't stand the idea of... bringing life into.

Her breath caught in her throat when her fiance slipped his arms around her and though she initially stiffened against his hold, after a few moments, she relaxed bit by bit, until she was a puddle of a girl beneath his touch, lost to her grief and general worry over the cards she had been dealt. The silence lingered for a minute, five, ten, until at last she mumbled. "...I'm sorry."

"It's a rough time of year," he told her, assuring her with his tone that an apology wasn't necessary. "You've got a lot on your mind and I know it's hard for you. I just wish there was somethin' I could do to help."

He pressed his face against the side of hers, lips finding a spot low on her jaw to kiss. His arms tightened around her and after a little adjusting, Nicanora had a third layer of warmth wrapped around her in the form of one William St. Jude. She was held like that for a time with no further words, only the occasional squeeze and another kiss. The paramedic knew there wasn't anything he could say that was going to change the way Christopher's memory made her feel, do he didn't delude himself into trying.

"I..." Her words failed her and she fell silent once more. The firm wrap of his arms around her were a steadying force, a grounding reminder that her future was here. The past, no matter its weight and its pain, was behind her. Metaphorically if not literally considering Will's positioning and all. It was strength and weakness all in one. Christopher was supposed to be here too. He was supposed to know and love Will as much as Nica, albeit in different ways. He was supposed to be by her side as they grew up and settled down and made lives for themselves. Instead, his son would grow up without a father and she would go on without her best friend. Her lower lip trembled with the renewed threat of tears, though she staved them off with a hard sniffle that held them at bay long enough for her to whisper. "I don't know if I can do this..."

"I dunno..." The words were soft near her ear, one hand lifted from its hold on her to comb fingers through the wild length of her hair. "You're a pretty tough chick, Fanny. And I don't think he'd feel good seein' you like this. I mean, dude knows you like I know you. Better than I know you. I think he'd want to see that vibrant soul full of life and energy and stubborn will, celebrating him. Livin' life."

Will continued to stroke her hair, trying to offer some reassurance through the pain. "I think he'd expect you to give the pain the finger, hit it with some Star Wars quotes, and just... be you."

"No, no." She shook her head. It was different now. Everything had changed. No longer was it a matter of her parabatai missing out on just his son's birth and development but also missing her wedding and now... now it was pretty much strike three on the Things Christopher Would Miss List, tipping it over into Straw That Broke the Nephilim's Back territory. Will was right, her best friend wouldn't have wanted to see her like this. But he also would have wanted to be around for these moments in their lives. "It... it isn't do or do not, there is no try for this... I just... Will... I... he was supposed to be here... for Cristian... for Dia... for me... and... and..."

"Yeah, I guess you're right." His tone grew hushed, but he didn't stop the gentle stroke of her hair. "Sorry, babe."

His other arm squeezed her tighter, his mouth dropping to kiss the spot where her shoulder met her neck. He wrapped himself tighter around her, creating a long silence between them before he eventually spoke up again. "Wish I had a better answer."

She didn't want to be right. And he wasn't exactly wrong either. It was just that no matter who was right, there was no winning in this. He held her tightly and in the moment, her thoughts bounced here and there, idly wondering through her grief just when his arms around her would no longer fit so snugly. Pushing against the blanket around her, her own hand shifted over top of his, covering it with blanket more than flesh with a firm grip as she swallowed back another wave of tears. "He promised he would be here to make sure I don't fuck it all up when I have kids."

Ultimately there was no right or wrong answer and no teasing quip was going to fix any of it. No dirty joke was going to make her smile. Instead he held her. He squeezed her when he thought she needed it, kissed her skin when that didn't work, but when she spoke of her parabatai's promise, all he could do was give a soft grunt. "We... that's not anything we have to think about any time soon. He'd have been an awesome uncle, though."

If she was sniffling and teary before, it was nothing compared to when the dam broke. Body racking sobs that shook her from head to toe no matter his hold on her. She cried like that for what felt like an eternity, any words she could manage ending up incoherent blubbering. It seemed like she might very well be on the edge of hyperventilating when she finally managed something understandable. "Will, I'm pregnant."

The stroking of her hair ceased when she started to sob and both arms were quickly wound back around her, clutching her tightly against his chest. Will started to rock her, gently, murmuring soft reassurances against her ear right up to the moment she dropped the bomb on him. "You're..." he choked on the words. "Wait.. but we, the rune, uh... You're sure?"

At first she could only nod, teary eyed and bottom lip quivering. But it seemed like his question was enough to help ground her, to draw her out of her grief and into the moment instead. Will needed her, or so it seemed, and thus she needed to try and calm down at least somewhat. She caught her breath, at least enough to answer verbally as well. "Two dozen home tests and a blood test done by a Mundane doctor say so."

"...I..." Will paused, dumbstruck. After a few moments he started again, then abruptly stopped. He lifted his free hand to scrub at his face and then murmured quietly. "Wow. I'm gonna be... we're gonna be. That's... fuckin' wow..."

Tangled in blankets, she still managed to turn over to bury her face against his chest. It felt like she was suffocating amidst her tears and her hair and the heat of her own breath hitting her in the face but it was better to be there with him. "It... I... yeah..."

After she had shifted, Will dipped his chin to kiss her forehead, squeezing her all the tighter against him. A deep breath was drawn and then exhaled into her hair, his words light against her. "That's... how do you feel about that?"

"I'm freaking out." She admitted in spite of herself.

"Yeah..." He replied, agreeing at least somewhat. "All things considered, the timing's kinda awkward. I... man, can my fish swim or what?"

"Wait... why is the timing awkward?" She asked, sobering enough to lean back and look up at him.

"Us trying to plan a wedding," he said while reaching up to stroke her hair. "All of our talks about what comes next and, just given the time of year and what it commemorates. And Cris and I had a talk the other night, at the Christmas thing. About you and me, and future choices. I'll say this, the universe has quite a sense of timing. I wouldn't change it for the fuckin' world, not even a little, but... fuck, I'm gonna be a dad."

He didn't sound terrible upset about the notion, all things considered.

"Oh." That did seem a little awkward. By the Angel, the wedding. She groaned and buried her face against his chest again. "The universe is an asshole..."

After a few moments, she gulped back a deep breath and exhaled slowly. "I'm gonna fuck this up..."

"How do you figure?" His fingers slipped through the wild mess of her hair to gently stroke the back of her neck.

"I just... never thought it would come down to this. We were careful." She shook her head. Runes weren't supposed to fail. That was kinda the point of them. "I thought... maybe... maybe if we did the whole kid thing... it would be in years... not in months..."

"Super careful..." Most of the time. "I mean, I know I'm god-like in bed, but... Man, I know I said being a dad would be super cool, but I'm with you there. I figured we'd have more time to get things sorted out. The wedding, making sure shit was cool with your people, and... man. I mean, I'm not disappointed."

That was good enough for a roll of her eyes and a quiver of a smile. "I mean... my dad's been harping on me for years now to settle down and have a kid or three... but damn. I guess beggars can't be choosers, huh?"

"Oh yeah," Will snorted. "Papa's gonna be thrilled about this, I'm sure." Then he grinned and lifted her chin. "Not gonna lie. I'm a little freaked out. This is one more big thing to worry about. Huge. But also? It's more than a little awesome. We're havin' a kid..."

"Gigantic..." She exhaled the word and did her best not to let it overwhelm her once more. Christopher may not have been there for the moment, but Will was. Thus she focused on him in a bid to pull herself through. "I'm more than a little freaked out... not gonna lie... we're due in early August... just before my birthday..."

"Sooooo, get all the rough sex it before when?" His hands framed the sides of her face and he smiled down at her.

Weakly she pushed at his chest, groaning at his ill timed Will-ism. "Dios fucking mio, Loaf. You're terrible, you know."

Beat. "Also, having a kid won't stop us from doing that."

"I am terrible," he admitted with a grin. "But I'm relieved to know that you still have your priorities straight."

His thumbs teased at the corners of her mouth, his forehead lifting to hers so that he could look deeply into her eyes. "This is a good thing. It'll be a great thing. You're pretty amazing, you'll be a great mom, and things're gonna be okay. We can do this, right?"

"I..." She wished she could flat out agree, that his reassurance was enough. But it wasn't, and she wasn't the sort to lie to him. "I don't think we have much of a choice at this point, do we? We kinda have to, right?"

"We don't have to." There were other things they could have considered but Will didn't seem to have an interest in entertaining them. "But we're going to. I mean... this is a piece of us, Nicanora. You and me. We made life..."(edited)

If there were other options, they didn't seem to be truly optional in her mind. So his assertion that they didn't have to was met with a shake of her head that aligned instead with what came to follow from his lips. "It is... it is and we can do this, right? You'll... you'll stick it out too?"

"There's nothin' to stick out, babe." He was shaking his head. "I'm with you and that's never gonna change. You're gonna have my baby. Our baby. This is still and always where I wanna be."

"This just... wasn't according to plan." For all the free spirit she was, she was still a creature of meticulous habit. If her routine was upset in any way, it set her off kilter for an extended period of time bordering on ridiculous. Deep breath in, slow breath out. "I just didn't want you to, like... leave."

"I'm not leaving, Nicanora." Will said the words and then kissed her soundly on the mouth. "With you is where I wanna be. Buildin' a life and I'm certainly not gonna cut and run just because our little family's getting started earlier than we expected."
Cur ante tubam tremor occupat artus?
Why should fear seize the limbs before the trumpet sounds?
--Virgil
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Nicanora
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Re: Flame

Post by Nicanora » Fri Sep 06, 2019 2:03 pm

24 February 2019

Lined notebook paper, black smoke, gone in a flash, curling around a glowing ember of a Mark.

All Nica could do was wait.

“He’ll call. I know he will.” Soft words, lost to the lip of an insulated travel mug of ultra rich cocoa. Bluebird Sky watched over her, shading the hunch of her shoulders and press of her elbows to bouncing knees. It was hard to tell the difference between her breath and the steaming wisps rising from the mouth of cup save for when she blew out an impatient sigh and checked her phone.

As if on cue, it came to life, thrumming in her grasp as it lit up with an old but cherished snapshot of Nicanora and her father at a seaside hotel’s rooftop bar in Barcelona. Overlaid, Papa left no question as to who it was. She took a deep breath, set aside her mug upon the cold metal bench’s arm, and tapped the green button to answer.

Hola Papa.” She said, her tone controlled, even, steady.

“‘Anora, mija, estás bien?” In contrast, her father’s tone was clipped, concerned.

“Yeah, I’m okay…” Before she could say more, her father spoke up once more.

“Renata told me that you needed me. She received a fire message, why didn’t you call? Are you sure you’re alright?”

“Yes, I… I didn’t mean to worry you. I just… wanted to check with Renata and make sure you were at home before I called. Didn’t want to… interrupt anything.”

“Anora, you know I will always make time for you. What do you need, mi amorcita?”

“Just wanted to hear your voice… how is Madrid? Do you miss Miami at all?”

“I am home, I am where I should be… where you should be. But alas… surely that isn’t what you wanted to talk about.”

He was right. The pang that echoed through her chest had struck such a nerve that she quieted, picking up her mug for three swallows of the fast cooling cocoa. February in Rhydin was unforgiving compared to the tepid coolness of Spain. Three years she had spent there and still she wasn’t quite used to it.

“Anora?”

The homecoming call of her name snapped her from her reverie.

“Yes, Papa?”

“You’re quiet. What is on your mind? Are you having second thoughts about the wedding?”

“No… nothing like that.” Her teeth worked against her bottom lip, chewing back the words that so desperately needed to slip free.

“Then what is it?”

“I… Papa, estoy embarazada…”

Silence fell, a shroud of uncertainty in the wake of what Nica could only assume was a bombshell.

A moment later, it sounded as though the phone on the other end had been set down. The scratch of chair legs scooted against wooden flooring followed by a muffled laugh. Nica wasn’t sure if it was genuine or a darker approximation.

“Papa?”

In the background, a door opened and shut, only to reopen a moment later. The phone was shuffled and a feminine voice answered instead of her father.

“Nicanora? Are you still there?” Renata asked, a welcome reprieve from the quiet that had opened in the chasm of minutes stretching the call longer and longer.

“Ren, where did he go?”

“Is it true? He ran off shouting that he was going to be a grandfather.”

“...Good shouting or bad shouting?”

“Well. Let me show you.”

Another shuffle of the phone then a creak of her father’s office door. Nica strained to hear, pressing her free hand over her other ear while squeezing the phone to its pair.

Distantly, so faint she almost couldn’t make it out.

Voy a ser abuelo! Voy a ser abuelo! Haha!”

The voice was getting closer.

Louder.

Nica sucked in a harsh breath as her father reclaimed the phone from Renata’s grasp.

“Anora! Mija preciosa! This is wonderful news, you should have called me sooner.”

“Papa, I…”

“Not to fret. What do you need? How can I help? When are you due?” That and seemingly a thousand more questions spilled free, leaving Nica to try and answer as quickly as she could. No sooner had one answer been given before the next question came.

For all that she had worried. All that she had fretted. All that she had dreaded this conversation, Nica basked in his curiosity, answering every question until they finally trickled off. The sound of her father’s laughter was music seldom heard since her mother’s death. To hear it now…

“Please let me know if you need anything. Anything at all, day or night, I do not care. You need me, you call me. Understood?”

“Aye, Papa. Th-thank you. I should get going though, I promise we’ll speak soon.”

“Swear it.”

“I swear it.”
Cur ante tubam tremor occupat artus?
Why should fear seize the limbs before the trumpet sounds?
--Virgil
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