I wrote this latest chapter this morning, and I just...can't figure out if the argument makes any sense. It FEELS like it makes sense to me, but it also feels just iffy enough that I think I need some outside input. >_<
So, the book is called Blue Vitriol, and it's about an infamous mercenary who is (at present) wanted by the rulers of the country...like, for an arrest. ^^; They aim to give her a show trial and throw her in some top-secret prison.
This chapter in particular can stand alone pretty well: despite the fact that this is a fantasy story, there isn't a lot of weird terminology in it. The focus is mostly on the characters and on some pretty universal themes.
Well, here we go:
In the end, I didn’t take a train anywhere.
I left the train station on foot, heading north to the residential district. The rain started to come down, and I had no choice but to let myself get soaked. It’s not as if I had an umbrella…I didn’t even have a coat, or a handbag. All I had was the clothes on my back, and my trusty gun.
Where was I going? I wasn’t sure. I was just tracking someone’s aura- for the first time in my life, at that. If I was supposed to have an image of my destination in my head or something, it wasn’t happening. I had no idea what kind of situation I would be walking into.
But if nothing else, wherever I ended up, I was sure Hans would be there.
I’d decided to run away with him after all. Better late than never.
I didn’t know where we would go…I had nothing to my name in this world, so if we went anywhere in particular, it would probably be to gather up some of his old resources. I certainly wouldn’t mind going back to Auda to get Grendel: an Ore like that would probably come in handy for a couple of fugitives.
‘Couple’…this would be a big step for our relationship, wouldn’t it? I mean, living on the run was the kind of thing that brought even mortal enemies closer together. Sharing danger, pain, and fear; day in, day out…we might end up really serious about each other. I’d never been REALLY serious about anyone before…but I was eager to try it out~. I felt like I was beginning a beautiful new chapter in my life.
Once upon a time, my #1 priority had been carving out a place for myself in a universe that seemed to belong to my mother. Then it was finding clients, making money and staying one step ahead of the KotL’s at all times. For a brief couple of weeks, it was getting a handle on this crazy Ferrocene situation…
And now, the goal was very simple: just survive. I no longer had any obligations to anyone, except to myself and my golden-haired boy~. I now had an excuse to try a lot of things that I’d never had time for before…things like…romance. Self-sacrifice. Real, genuine friendship.
What’s more, I could finally kill Business Vitriol. After all, there was no more business; any time left after finding food and shelter was to be spent any way I wished. I’d never have to hear her nagging voice again, and that alone was enough to make me smile.
I walked for a long time, for so long that I stopped feeling the rain. I passed by stores, then office buildings, then homes. People stared; one woman asked me if I was alright. I just smiled at her and kept on.
Eventually, I arrived in a quiet corner of a quiet neighborhood. It was a cute place, with green lawns and white picket fences. It didn’t look like a place where one would keep rebels and revolutionaries. And yet, I was certain that Hans was in the house in the middle of the cul-de-sac, the one with the green door.
I walked up the front steps and knocked on that door. I wasn’t sure if anyone would actually answer, though. While I waited, I squeezed the rainwater out of my hair.
It wasn’t long before the door was opened. As I expected, Hans appeared, wearing a (very cute) loose striped shirt. “Audrey…what are you doing here? Did something happen??” he asked, looking almost frightened.
“Don’t call me that,” I said, letting myself in. “I’m happy today. Just call me Blue Vitriol. Or ‘Vit’. Or you could use my middle name…my grandmother is the only one who ever used it, but I’ll tell it to you because you’re special~.”
Hans gripped my shoulders. I could tell I was creeping him out, but I was kind of enjoying it. “Are you okay?” he asked in a quiet voice.
“I’m fine,” I answered. “Don’t worry, I’m not drunk or anything. And I don’t need any help: believe it or not, I’m free as a bird.”
“You’re supposed to be at the Asylum right now…”
“Oh, so you knew?? Looks like Praz and I were the only ones left out of the loop…anyway, Mr. Robot let me go, if you can believe it. He drove me off the base himself.”
“The Automaton, the Second Grand Sentinel…I’m sure you already know him. Smug bastard thinks I’ll just end up right back in his hands…well, we’ll show him, won’t we?”
“I don’t understand…”
“Let’s just go, Hans.” I gave him a hug, resting my head on his warm chest. “Let’s just leave all this behind and never look back. What do we have to lose?”
To my surprise, he wriggled out of my grasp. “What do you mean, ‘what do we have to lose’??” he cried. “Do our lives not count as something to lose??”
“…Well, I don’t know about you, but my life is already on the chopping block,” I answered, trying not to look shaken. “I’ve realized that I have two options: get caught by the Symposium while working for Ferrocene, or get caught by the Symposium after trying my damndest to survive on my own. And now that I think about it, Option B sounds a hell of a lot better than Option A.”
“What about Option C: Ferrocene kills you for deserting him, just like he’s done to so many others before you?” Hans protested. “And it’s not as if trying to outrun the Symposium will be easy…why are you even doing this??”
“So…you don’t think it’s a good idea?” I asked. My confidence was sinking fast. “Which means…you definitely don’t want to come with me…?”
Hans looked surprised…then frustrated. He turned away. “Why would you want me to go with you?” he asked.
The same question Prasiolite asked…apparently everyone thought I was a self-centered jerk. “…Believe it or not, I am capable of showing concern for other people,” I said, frowning. “I mean…we are dating, after all—”
“How do you figure that? We haven’t even been on one real date. We’ve hardly known each other for two weeks. I think you’re…getting ahead of yourself,” he said, still not looking at me.
I have to admit, that made me furious. Furious…but mostly embarrassed. And I felt guilty for it…Hans wasn’t trying to insult me; he was just stating reality. If he didn’t feel like we were dating…then we I guess we weren’t. And if I was the only one of us who thought we were, then he was probably right: I had been getting ahead of myself.
I just thought…back when he’d said he was willing to go out with me, I thought that meant he might be as crazy about me as I was about him, and I’d run with that assumption ever since. But now…
“…I-it doesn’t matter,” I said, even though it did matter, and that fact was probably written all over my face. “The point is, you can’t just let people control your life! Outrunning the Symposium might not be easy, but at least it’ll be my choice! O-our choice, if you went with me…and you should! And if Ferrocene has a problem with that, then…I’ll fight him! I might not actually be a match for him, but…at the very least, I wouldn’t let him hurt you! You can trust me to at least do that, can’t you??”
“Please don’t ask me that!” he cried in a shaky voice. “Of course I trust you; that’s part of the reason why I’d rather not go with you! I’m sick of people trying to sacrifice themselves for me! There isn’t any point! I know I shouldn’t stay in this situation, but you’ve got to understand that I’m fine with it! I don’t feel the need to take any risks; there’s nothing waiting for me out there! At this point, I’d be wanted by the Symposium, too…It’s not like I could ever have a normal job again, or a family…the only life I’ll ever be allowed to have is right here. So why leave it…?”
I gulped. “Is that…how you really feel?” I asked.
“If it wasn’t, I would have gotten out after Lydia died.” He finally turned to face me again, and in the dim light I could see that his eyes were red. “She thought she could save me, too…she lost her life trying, and for no reason, because I’m just too much of a coward…Kyanite was right; it’s the same thing all over again…”
Lydia…I guessed that was his ‘previous sweetheart’. I really didn’t like being compared to her…but I brushed it off.
“…If you’re afraid of people sacrificing themselves for you, don’t be,” I said. “I would do that, if it came down to it…but I don’t plan on it or anything. I want to survive…with you. And I really think we can make it. You have more power than you know, and there’s more waiting for you out there than you think. I should know; I’ve been living on the outskirts of society for a long time. And it can be better than this…so much better.”
“But how does it end? Either you get killed or we both get killed, or we get arrested and never see each other again…”
Huh. That was a strange thing to be concerned about for someone who insisted we weren’t even dating…is that what they call ‘getting mixed signals’? God, people are complicated…
In the end, I decided to stop trying to decipher his signals and just send my own, loud and clear. “I…I think it’s worth it,” I began. “If I could spend a few years, or even just a few months, living in secret with someone I…l-loved, then…I mean, if we could just be happy for that time, then I wouldn’t mind if it ended in tragedy. I mean, it’ll probably end in tragedy regardless, so at least we’d have gotten something out of it. That’s what I meant when I said we had nothing to lose.”
Hans just stared at me. Slowly, I went to the door. “I’m…gonna go now,” I said. “But I’ll be back…at least to make sure you’re okay. I mean…’if I don’t help you, I worry about you’. Y’know?” I gave him a small smile, then let myself out.