Oberons had gone. Satorii's mind reeled as she returned to Jeuno, in a sort of haze. He had shown no compassion, barely even a familiarity, when she found him in the Jungle. She struggled to understand how someone once so affectionate could become so cold and calculating.
She shook her head as if to clear away the image of his impassive face, but the toneless words kept ringing in her ears. He didn't want to see her again.
Finding herself finally back in Jeuno, Satorii finished up some dealings with the goblins in Jeuno's Lower level and went to visit the Auction house on an errand for them. She focused intently on each minute detail of the mundane task, forcibly holding at bay her growing anger at Oberons' complete turn around. How could he not care now? She scolded herself -maybe he had never cared. Perhaps she had been the foolish girl who pined so hard for her "true love" that she didn't realize she was creating something that wasn't there.
Stepping back, away from the bidding counter, she found herself crashing face-first into Tricky's chest. He threw his head back in laughter, that rolling familiar laugh that had been growing on her since they'd met in the party at Promy.
"There you are," he said moving aside to walk next to her away from the crowd. His face, so animated and quick to change modes, flashed a serious look as he spoke quickly, "How did it go?"
She glanced around the open area, staring off at the horizon for a moment to prepare herself. It would hurt to say it out loud. "Oberons... doesn't want to see me again. It's over."
Here she laughed mirthlessly, leading Tricky toward the Goblin's shop. "I guess it never really began, though..."
He smiled understandingly, a strange expression she could not quite read passed over his features. He accompanied her to the shop, nodding in his friendly way to a few passersby he knew. Finally, the errands finished, the two of them sat at the base of the large fountain in Lower Jeuno, talking closely.
"You really had me worried there," Tricky said, clearing his throat nervously. He fumbled with the handle of a dagger on his belt. "I'm glad you're back..."
She smiled weakly, unsure how to plunge into the multitude of questions running through her mind. "I'm sorry about.. before."
He laughed again, breaking up the seriousness and bringing back her cautious smile. The two of them sat in silence for a moment, each one gazing at the scenery around them and darting furtive glances at each other.
"What was it like?" he asked, shifting a little to face her directly.
"Well... I can remember only bits and peices..." She fumbled with the fabric of her tunic, "brief flashes of conversation with people I don't know, emotions... physical sensations..." Her eyes caught his momentarily, asking questions she couldn't speak.
He swallowed hard, searching the ground around them for a response. His face became serious, and he reassured her that nothing serious had happened. The two sat in silence again, until an associate of Tricky's came by and briefly conversed with him. Satorii waited on the fountain steps, mulling over the events of her life and her limited knowledge of physical interactions. Her mind moved back to Oberons. She was more angry than hurt now, imagining him off in some jungle -unaffected by the loss of her. Her brows furrowed.
"You're looking stern," Tricky said, easing himself down in front of her on the ground. The two sat facing one another, as Satorii laughed sarcastically.
"I'm sorry all this happened," she started, frustrated with herself and her own naivete. She flushes pink. "Perhaps I put too much importance on... purity of the flesh."
Here she stares off at the distant horizon, the smooth line of the water is fascinating in it's simplicity. She looks back at Tricky, who's expression flashes from a roguish grin to a suspicious watchfulness.
"Purity of the flesh, eh?" Tricky's eyes darted quickly as his mind worked, he seemed to her so vulnerable in the flashes between his perfectly controlled expressions -yet now he seemed flustered, manic.
In one smooth, fluid movement he slid his long thin blade from it's scabbard at his side and pressed it into the soft flesh of her neck. She stopped her breath, her chin lifted, eyes widening in fear. The cold metal brought her back from the drifting revelrie she'd been in since the meeting with Oberons, and she focused her eyes on Tricky's hard stare.
"If I ever have reason to think it's anyone other than you in there..." Tricky applied the faintest pressure with the blade, she resisted the urge to swallow, "...I'll not be able to help you in any way but this. Understand?"
His eyes seemed to falter for a split second, his muscles were tense and as she leaned back on her hands -frozen in the position she had been in at the time of his sudden intimidation- her breath came back slowly, a long exhalation. Her eyes filled with tears gradually as they sat frozen in this dramatic power struggle.
"Well? Say something to convince me it's you.." His voice cracked the tiniest bit, as he pushed again at her flesh with the cold steel.
She whispered, "Tricky..." her gaze now steadily fixed on his own, unsure what to do or say.
He withdrew and replaced the blade in it's sheath as quickly as he'd drawn it, and she drew in a ragged breath. He looked down at the ground again, as if he were searching for the proper facial expression.
"I think you would know..." she started, reaching out to place a hand lightly on his arm, "If you looked into my eyes."
He nodded silently, clearing his throat again. Somehow, his actions had only frightened her for a second. She knew she was safe with him, and as he moved his arm gently to place his gauntlet under her touch and break the skin contact she had made, she withdrew her hand. He looked back into her eyes and after a brief second nodded his assent.
"I ...would hate to think of you falling into the hands of one of those 'people' you mentioned, Satorii." He started this new strand of conversation, continuing their re-capping of the events of her possession. "Whoever they were, they were in league with that demon -and it could be very dangerous if they come looking for you."
She smiled, reassured that she was forgiven for her weakness and vulnerability to the evil.
Tricky smiled again as well, seeming as he often did, to have some secret thought that amused him. His eyes traveled the length of her body, and she found herself blushing again. He cracked a joke that made her feel accepted as well as embarrassed. His humor was so mercenary, so roguish -yet by saying such inappropriate things, he made her feel as if she were a compatriot. His nature and demeanor set her at ease while they alternately set her stomach to fluttering with giddyness. Suddenly she thought "God he's so good for me..."
"Where have you been all my life, Tricky?" She laughed, attempting to filter the rising affection she had for him.
"I know where I was for part of it," He quipped, a momentary flash of distress giving away the memories he had registered. "Either way, I'm here now."
He paused, "...I suppose you'll be soloing from now on."
She looked up at him, swallowing in nervousness herself. "Well... If you wouldn't mind, I'd like to fight alongside you again. I think we make a good team." Her eyes darted up at his from the spot on the ground she'd been studying.
He met her eye and smiled. "You know... I think Oberons was holding you back... You're not a child anymore, and without him treating you like some pampered object -you've gotten really strong."
She blushed at his praise, pleased with the attention and humbled at the same time. They continued their chat until the evening, when both decided they needed to sleep.
"I'll see you in the morning," Tricky said, patting the hand she had placed on his own. She agreed, and the two went to their rent-a-rooms to prepare for the next day's adventuring. Satorii climbed into bed and sighed contentedly, imagining all the things she might learn from Tricky in the future.