A Sticky Situation

Discussion in 'ROLEPLAY GRAVEYARD' started by The Mood is Write, Oct 14, 2016.

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  1. Twiggy seemed to meander through the halls. Stone surrounded him on all sides as his cane tapped in front of him, seeking obstacles: subtle dips and bumps in the floor, objects, or people. His head turned side to side, scanning, as though the blindfolded man tried to see his surroundings. In truth, his attention was on his ears as he listened to all around him, trying to form a map.

    His footsteps echoed off the stones in the narrow hall. His own breath quickened as something in his stomach tightened and yanked, and he picked up his pace slightly. He'd stopped questioning the strange urges that pulled him into and out of strange places and events at their whims.

    The cane jerked as it struck something, and Twiggy stopped to feel it out through his socked feet. Instead of the expected wall, he found a step, and above it another. Three steps.

    The tall man edged forward with caution, but regardless of intent, something clonked against his head and sent white stars into his mind. Twiggy grunted, then rubbed at his forehead with a quiet curse of "Frig". He ducked as he tried again, and another smack to his noggin nearly knocked him over.

    At six centimeters short of two full meters, the massive man began to use his hands to feel out what was before him. A few moments found it was a tunnel, but much narrower than the hall he'd been walking. With a heavy sigh, he collapsed his cane and stuck it into one of his many pockets, then lowered himself to hands and knees. He crawled forward and forward. The sound of cloth rubbing stone accompanied him. The ever-present scent of ancient dust and his own sweat tickled at his nose.

    His hands crushed some sort of dried film on the floor, but he kept on until his knees and the heels of his hands felt wet, and the scent of blood accompanied the stagnant air. Despite this, he kept forward, wishing he had some idea how far he'd come and how far he had still to go. His arms, shoulders, hips, and back burned as the urges sent him still forward.

    The change came abruptly. An abundance of new scents and sounds surrounded him, clawing at his mind, demanding attention he wasn't able to give, and the floor underneath felt different, but the urge continued. He wasn't where it wanted him yet, but he had a strange feeling in his gut he couldn't identify. He paused, trying to explore the sensation further, but one hand shot forward, and the rest of him followed to keep from falling onto his face. A growing sense of anticipation gnawed his nerves raw, even as he felt the brushing of his hair against the ceiling cease as it grew taller. The urges kept him on hands and knees, anticipating and leading—wherever he was going next had a low ceiling.

    So this time it warned him.

    Twiggy tried to keep his commentary away, but a sudden jerk in the urges sent his face into a wall.

    Sorry, Sorry!

    He fumbled, dizzied, and began to follow the urge again, still trusting it to lead.

    The ground changed beneath his bleeding hands and knees again, and more scents came. His mind couldn't comprehend them all. They felt so different from the place he lived, where most of what he could smell were stones and people, and sometimes the scents that the other Hunters brought home with them, of strange and faraway places that smelled so foreign he had no understanding.

    He stopped still and turned his head around again, scanning for sounds, scents, anything to tell him where he was. The urge was gone. He was at his destination.

    To someone who had vision, Twiggy crawled from the inside of a closet, a box on its side, a cupboard, from under a table, or any other strange place a strange person could crawl from, but never from anything tall enough for him to walk, no.

    On hands and knees, he looked tall, but not nearly as tall as he truly was. The man looked as narrow and thin as a needle, and as awkward and gangling as an adolescent. His smooth face was offset by a startling square jaw, and his blindfold was tied in place behind his head, the knot rested against the short, buzzed undercut present.

    He wore colorful and mismatched socks and soft flannel pajama pants. Over his torso and most of his legs, he bore a long, dark leather jacket with too many pockets. As he remained on hands and knees, any shirt, if he wore one, was only visible as light-weight, dangling cloth that hung in front of his belly and between his arms.

    The stranger turned his head side to side still, listening around him as his shoulders and back slowly stiffened, and his hands formed into trembling fists. Underneath him, smears of blood from hands and knees marked his path, disappearing mid-smear somewhere within the object from whence he crawled.

    The man held still for a few moments, save the turning of his head and nervous gnawing at his lip, before he finally swallowed his unease and spoke. "Hel... Hello?," he called, his voice high and choked with panic
     
    • Love Love x 1
  2. Whenever Elena was having a bad day, flowers were her go to. While romantic roses were a personal preference, tulips sufficed. Plus, they were cheaper, and more readily available at this time of year. Elena was in dire need of flowers, and perhaps a nice cup of tea. Tea and flowers equally brightened an evening, however cliché. Elena's home was often spotted with bouquets in various stages of bloom or decay, each a different shade of brilliance in accordance with their age. Elena could never afford vases, so beautiful flowers contrasted strangely with the whimsical containers which held them. Elena used more cups for flowers than she did for beverages. Considering her tea drinking tendencies, this was saying something. She had many cups.

    Elena's day had began rough, to say the least, and the young woman looked slightly worse for wear. Disheveled would be a more accurate term. Schoolchildren were seldomly merciful beings, and they were always particularly rowdy before the weekend. On top of the prevalent pandemonium, the class frog had passed away. Croaked, as she'd accidently told the students. Such a poor choice of words had reduced some children first to choked laughter, then remorseful tears worse than the initial grief. Elena had been relieved when they'd been dismissed, feeling as though her sanity was saved by the blessed bell. She had no idea how one was supposed to host a frog funeral. The very idea stressed her out.

    There was no reprieve today for Elena, it seemed. Immediately following the dismissal of her students, Elena had been issued an angry phone call from the hospital, a gruff nurse reprimanding her on forgetting to confirm that she was on the night crew that evening. Elena had completely forgotten about her medical responsibility, but had blurted out a stumbling, sincere apology. Her promise of punctual arrival had placated the orderly, though Elena could practically feel the woman still breathing down her neck. Taking a moment to pause, Elena realized that she'd been frowning unintentionally, and softened her features as well as her thoughts.

    Deep breath, she reminded herself. Shakily, she inhaled shortly, exhaling a little more slowly. Somebody may need flowers more than me today, she realized kindly. In the midst of her anxiety, Elena sometimes became selfish. She understood that many people were the same way, and did her best not to forget the better part of her humanity.

    Elena could briskly walk to most places she needed. She could also commute, but the idea of most public transportation made her physically queasy with dread. Elena's simplistic life revolved within a twenty mile radius: apartment, school, hospital, supermarket, library. Elena did own a car for excursions of the more time-consuming nature. Currently, she was zigzagging her way across the open sidewalk and street, knowing the route from her school to the hospital like her own heartbeat.

    Which did happen to betray her, from time to time, just as the road did. Construction. To hell with the traffic. At least the weather's nice. Elena struggled to remain positive as she cut in front of a car, jumping to startled safety when she was aggressively honked at. Affronted, Elena only granted the driver an apologetic dip of her head before scurrying onward. Of course, just to spite Elena's positivity, the skies decided just then to open their floodgates, dumping a deluge on many ab unsuspecting passerby.

    Elena sighed, grossly unprepared for the turn of weather. Despite feeling her mood gradually dampen with the rest of her body, Elena began to hum to herself, something akin to the tune of Singing in the Rain. Elena's heeled leather boots squelched as she continued her detour, one of the first parts of her to get completely soaked. They were followed shortly by her red peacoat and raven hair.

    Dredging the curl, Elena's dark hair blackened, extending another inch with the weight of water. A fuzzy halo appeared on her scalp as she scurried, droplets trailing in her wake. Elena's detour was to a tiny flower shop that knew her personally enough to ask about her class. Most people barely got Elena's first name out of her, let alone anymore information. Sweeping back out into the downpour as she brandished her bouquet of lillies - today was just full of disappointments - Elena wiped wet hair out of her eyes long enough to be temporarily blinded. With her luck and brisk pace, this caused a sidewalk collision.

    Smack! Down went Elena, with an astonished, wounded squeak of reproach. She practically rebounded off the tall man, immediately yielding the road due to her stature, or lack thereof. She landed directly on her bony rear, which afforded her little cushioning, and was too shocked to so much as flail her arms. Lillies scattered, Elena's book bag regurgitated its contents in open rebellion, and Elena had been lucky enough to land in a puddle. Ker-splash. Leggings and skirt thoroughly soaked, Elena's bottom lip trembled as she looked to her roadblock.

    Elena wasn't sure what was more shocking: her ricochet, or the man before her. She had children in her class that claimed to dress themselves, and they looked more put together than this adult. Funny enough, it wasn't the blindfold that Elena stared at. It was the socks. She just couldn't get over them.

    Elena was apologizing even before she had fully recovered. "Sorry, sorry!" she babbled in a soft, agitated voice. Pained, she scrambled to her feet with an unexpected sneezee. Lillies. She loathed lillies. For such a beautiful flower, they carried obscene amounts of pollen. "I'm s-so sor-ry," she stuttered nervously, her blue skirt dripping brown. Noticing the blood on Twiggy's hands and knees, Elena froze, immediately fearing that she had caused the damage. "Are you h-hurt? Or lost?" she managed to ask gently, trying to visually assess his injuries without touching him. Instead, she sneezed. Again.
     
  3. Something slammed against Twiggy, and he fell from hands and knees onto his side. His first instinct, the one he obeyed with ease, was to curl, to cover his head, to tremble On his side now, she could see his shirt was a crop top that was on the longer side, revealing a lined and tattooed midriff. On the light pink shirt's chest was the phrase "Raised by Mermaids" in a cursive font, and a few mysterious holes decorated the chest, accompanied by equally mysterious and troubling stains.

    His blindfold, that her eyes didn't grasp before his socks, was probably the ugliest silver faux snakeskin necktie a person could acquire short of skinning a snake that had been beaten to death with the ugly tree.

    Still though, his socks: gloriously unmatched and sopping wet in the rain, shone eye-catchingly into the poor woman's eyes. One was fuchsia with a leopard print pattern, and the other had grandma's-couch-floral pattern against olive green.

    He had only a few seconds of quiet to wonder if he'd perhaps hit something, before a voice spoke. He flinched visibly, hen slowly uncovered his face. "It... it's ok," he managed after a few moments of shocked attempts that looked like a landed fish's gasps. She began to sneeze, and just above the blindfold, his brows came together in worry. He tried to ask, but his voice refused, and by then, she started asking after him.

    A few more fish-gapes and he finally got a noise out: an undignified croak. He buried his head in one arm, then slowly felt around as he started to push himself upright, at least enough to sit. "I... was crawling... crawling a long time. Told... told to come here, but I don't know... where here is." His head shifted side to side occasionally as he tried to listen around, to learn about his surroundings from the small piece of concrete he could experience, and the voice of a woman nearby.

    "Are you... allergic to lilies?" The question came out before he could stop it, and his face visibly reddened. "I um... I can smell them, and you're... you're sneezing, but you don't... don't smell sick." He squatted, feet flat on the ground as he remained in place, but he wrung his hands together between his legs, arms straight and pointed downward. "Um..."

    He paused as he felt the sticky blood, the roughness, and the sting of pain at even the lightest touch, then winced as his mind caught up to the sensation. "Ow..." He lifted his hands and looked between them for a moment before he carefully began to trail his fingertips against the heavily-scraped skin. "Ah... haha... I already forgot that those were... were raw. Ow." His voice sounded tight, torn between laughter and tears as he explored the injuries on his hands, but seemed not to notice the red stains that had soaked through the knees of his pajama pants.
     
  4. Elena, forever the prude, was immediately inclined to blush deeply, torn between examining Twiggy's wounds and averting her gaze entirely. Elena's blue eyes widened as her face began to match her drenched coat, clearing her throat as she focused on Twiggy's hands with surprising intensity. Anything to avoid catching a glimpse of intimate skin. Anything. For being so shy, Elena's burning curiosity was prodding her towards a boldness she was unfamiliar with. Such curiosity kept her from bolting outright, saving herself an enormous amount of embarrassment. Apparently, she'd rather satisfy her curiosity than save her dignity. In this scheme, it appeared as if she were going to lose it, either immediately or gradually. It was a sacrifice she reluctantly provided for the wellbeing of a stranger. Sometimes, sadly, Elena was kinder to a stranger than anybody else they'd ever known. Such was an unappreciated, undermined gift; selfless kindness.

    Instinctively, Elena tutted in a very maternal manner with casual disapproval, forgetting her embarrassment long enough to jarr herself into a more efficient mode; nurse. Elena unintentionally shivered, absolutely drenched, her fragile frame chilled to the bone. There wasn't much between the chill and her core. The water, the same color as her eyes, had efficiently soaked through cloth, skin and bone. If Elena were more dramatic, she would've thought that the nip brought on by the downpour had touched her very soul. More realistically, she'd probably contract walking pneumonia. But drat, if that were the case, how would this stranger end up?

    Everything about Twiggy screamed help me! From the strange silver tie used as a blindfold - this was about as high as Elena could see anyway - to his gloriously mismatched socks. While Elena shuddered at the disgusting tones the socks sported, she couldn't help but admire the brightness. She was a fan of bright colors, as long as she wasn't wearing them. She could admire them from afar. In the entire world, Elena's person was the only thing she didn't consider a canvas. Almost forgetting that the strange man had said something, Elena had to force herself back to attention, embarrassed that she'd been so easily distracted by bright socks. Shame upon her. A patient's health was at stake, and all she could do was reminisce about vibrantly colored socks. Perhaps this was why she hadn't made it far in the medical world.

    Of course, her immediate assumption was that Twiggy was mental. Out of context, his ramblings did sound quite vague, odd, and deranged. Elena had worked with clinically insane patients, and harbored no fear for them unless they exhibited violent tendencies. In fact, one of her favorite patients was a strange woman as old as time named Elise. She spoke avidly of her deceased pet cats, and had dubbed Elena her godchild. Elena felt rather flattered. "Here is very far from anything important," Elena explained gently, peering around the vicinity. Where on earth had this man come from? Her first assumption was the nearest alley. Therefore, she also came to assume that Twiggy was a hobo. He certainly dressed like one.

    Elena tried to empathize with the blind man. She tried to understand what scared him. She used her ears, her nose, her skin. Traffic bustled noisily, but the thud of rain on the concrete muted the noise of such bustling machinery. The rain tapped like a nervous man, creating a cacophony of music on rooftops, through gutters, against the sidewalk. Elena gave up tracing its entirety. The rain produced a new smell as well that Elena could't quite put her finger on. With her allergies, she was lucky to smell anything aside from lillies. As if to remind her, the confounded flowers made her sneeze again.

    Luckily for Twiggy, Elena had sympathy for the delusional. She couldn't help but smile at his concern. "Y-yes, I'm allergic." she affirmed. Latently, she added, "They weren't for me, so it's no matter." Elena felt a pang of disappointment as her eyes swept across the wreckage of the bouquet, the floral arrangement becoming a soggy sprinkling of ruined vegetation, beauty washing down the street. Elena turned her back on the ruins. They were just flowers.

    "I suppose I'm l-lucky not to be ill, but you'll be m-much less fortunate if you remain like this," Elena explained softly, her voice losing some of its nervousness. She bit her lip, struggling to pluck up her courage. She could hear the edge of hysteria that Twiggy's voice bore. It was all too familiar to her. Elena would never abandon a person in need, even if she had dubbed them crazy. "I'm going to touch you, alright? I just want to help you. I mean, help you g-get under cover. I have a small first-aid kit," she babbled nervously. She had reached a small, slender hand out to Twiggy, maybe an inch from his elbow. Try as she might, Elena had difficulty sounding soothing when she was quite frazzled. Her pale hand shook, slender fingers trembling in unison.

    It took courage not to abandon Twiggy, but it also took courage to push past her own panic.
     
  5. He could smell her discomfort, embarrassment, uncertainty. His blindness at least gifted him a talented nose and ears that could hear the rapid beat of this kind stranger's heart. What had her embarrassed? It was a certain type, too, like someone had just flashed her... He wanted to check his clothes were in place, but in this situation, he didn't feel suddenly yanking his pants up would be that good an idea, especially since he did feel the drawstring still digging firmly into his hips.

    The man wasn't aware how his head lowered under her scrutiny, how he began to fold himself as small as his beanstalk body would let him, until she suddenly tutted in a voice so like Kanna's his head suddenly lifted, visibly alert. However, Kanna's scent only came from his own clothes she'd helped him pick earlier, and the rain was drumming that smell away from the cloth.

    This woman's scent seemed to shift rapidly. He wished he could see or feel her face, to discern what each scent meant coming from her specifically, but for now, he simply kept his hands to himself, forearms rested above his knees as his butt hung behind his ankles.

    She said they were in someplace unimportant, but it was more busy, more crowded with scents, more noisy than any other place he'd been short of a battlefield, but the only blood his nose detected was his own, and the fear in the air came from himself and the woman before him, but hers wasn't a fear for life and limb... Not strong enough, that sort of fear could be detected even by humans' noses.

    After several moments of silence from both of them, him listening, her... doing something he couldn't hear, she finally spoke again and said yes, she was allergic. Poor girl, and lilies for someone else: probably a friend going through loss. Lilies meant death or something like that. He wanted to say something, but just as he gathered the courage to start to open his mouth, she beat him to it, and his head jerked toward her: roughly towards her. His directional hearing could have been a lot better.

    She was lucky, but she thought he'd get sick if he stayed where he was. Her voice and scent lost some of the uncertainty along the edges, and his eyebrows lifted, waiting for what might come next. He looked calmer, though his throat remained tight. The nerves in her voice and scent returned as she explained she wanted to touch him to lead him to shelter.

    He 'stared', then nodded. "I'm... not used to people asking." A small, nervous laugh escaped. "Please? I um... I can probably get to whatever... whatever I was sent to do, but... my gift, it doesn't work if I'm... I'm safe." He continued to trace at his bloodied hands. The worst had been rinsed by his own touches and the rain, to display ragged, raw skin across the heel of his palms and his first knuckles. The bleeding seemed to have stopped, and if she'd caught a glimpse of them earlier, she might notice that the scrapes appeared significantly less deep, and covered less area than before.

    "Um," he started, "What's a first aid kit, though? Does it have... have silver? I'm... I'm allergic to silver. The metal, I mean—..." He trailed off, suddenly and absolutely certain he'd scared the woman, or at least made her think for sure he was insane.

    "Just um... ignore that. Story time as a kid. Gets... gets in your head. Monsters being... being burnt by silver. S-silly, right?" His voice shook.

    He didn't sound like he believed a word of his own excuse, and his shoulders lifted, as though to protect his neck at the same time he flipped up the collar of his jacket, which was tall enough it covered all but the upper quarter of his ears. "Sorry. I'm weird. Sorry." Left unspoken, a silent 'don't leave me alone here, this place scares me' nagged at Twiggy's chest.

    Gracelessly he tried to change the subject. "My name—name's Twiggy! Because... because I'm long and thin and not... not strong."
     
  6. Truthfully, Twiggy would soon find out that Elena pretty much dwelled in a constant state of embarrassment. She was sometimes embarrassed by her surroundings, but far more frequently by herself. Elena cradled her insecurity with more gentleness than her heart. It was a foolish choice of priorities, and one Elena unintentionally fed. It was akin to the process of simultaneously hacking and watering a weed. The struggle was both exhausting and futile, in the long run. Elena's soul was wearing away, and an aura of undiscovered sadness seemed to taint her gentle kindness. It seemed very distant to Elena. It wasn't something she could easily explain, and therefore, she just turned a blind eye. Such sadness was a fickle, unexpected fiend. It usually caught Elena unawares, robbing her of breath and color. It appeared in the shade of blue in some flowers, in the thick fleece of a nearly-forgotten blanket. It stopped her world from turning, sometimes, leaving her to vacantly stand in front of a shop window, or halfway through turning a page. In turn, the ghost of sorrow etched itself into the strain of Elena's back, in the tired crinkles at the edges of her gorgeous eyes.

    As Twiggy began to fold in on himself, Elena realized with a note of chagrin that crouching so lowly had brought the towering man down to her height. Unable to help herself, Elena sighed, briefly wistful. This was the closest she'd probably ever get to viewing the top of Twiggy's head. At the least, it was one of the rare times they'd ever be eye to eye. Taking a brief moment to appreciate the situation, Elena blinked vacantly, quietly appreciating Twiggy's healthy hairline and square jawline with confused enthusiasm. Elena was still in heels, yet remained a midget. Such was the story of her life. Chances were, once Twiggy stood, she'd have to get used to talking to his chest. While she could maintain tentative eye contact with the same gender - most were at her height, or just a few inches above - she'd barely glimpsed the faces of at least half of the male race. However, she was very well acquainted with their shirts.

    As Twiggy moved, Elena jumped in her skin, startled by the abrupt head snap. She briefly retracted her hand, the pale limb shaking horribly as it curled into a small, white fist. She studied Twiggy warily before internally scolding herself. How could she suspect such a helpless man of any ill intent? She had no need to be afraid. I don't need to be scared. Elena repeated that line to herself, trying not to shake like a leaf between the cold and her own anxiety. Initial first contact often bothered Elena more than most. She uncurled her fingers forcibly, flexing them as they continued to tremble. Get a grip, she scolded herself.
    Unsure what to make of Twiggy's jumbled words, Elena simply nodded. Remembering the need for difficult, verbal replies, she cleared her throat apologetically. "A first aid kit helps with i-injuries. No silver," she reassured with a tiny half-smile. The flicker of warmth added a note of harmony to her voice, and she slowly reached forward with a tentative, gentle hand. Considering the nervous tremor, it was a wonder that Elena was medically certified. As she steeled herself, Elena's tiny hand gently touched Twiggy's elbow. She breathed a sigh of relief, her tremor ceasing as some of her initial fears evaporated. Elena breathed a little easier.

    Even if Elena found Twiggy completely delusional, she didn't mind. Stooping, Elena used her free hand to absentmindedly scoop many a soggy content back into her messenger bag. Only briefly did she mourn the loss of her school papers. Luckily, the first aid kit was pristine. Standing, Elena gently pulled Twiggy towards the corner of the block. Just around the corner, there was a covered bench framed by ancient lamp posts. It would be sufficient shelter. Delusional, but in need. Elena gingerly patted Twiggy's arm, tentatively comforting. "I don't m-mind weird," she soothed, brushing a curtain of wet hair from her eyes. Elena's reply had been honest, at the least. After all; Elena herself was a testament to weird. She moved towards the bench, a sudden chill running up her spine. She blamed it on the rain, rather than paranoia.

    Elena couldn't help but smile warmly at the name, however strange, and she failed to question its authenticity. "It.... k-kind of suits you," she conceded honestly. Reddening, she remembered her manners. "I'm.....! Elena. I don't t-think it has much to do with my p-person," she apologized, sorry to disappoint. She seemed rather sheepish about the lack of character in her name. It was a name given, not adopted. For Elena, it bore no significance.
     
  7. The gaunt man rose and moved easily with Elena's lead. With one socked foot, he carefully felt ahead before each step, even if it was half-assed, because he was so tall, and his legs had a habit of moving too fast or too slow for whoever led him, but regardless, he shifted direction if she did, and though he kept his slouch, and his mouth remained set in a nervous line, his shoulders began to drop as he felt safer, especially as they got out of the rain.

    Still, Elena had been so scared before she touched him. He kept his nose's attention on her throughout the short walk, and protected from the rain, he turned to face her as best he could and stepped closer, perhaps a little too close. "Twiggy is um... I don't actually have a name, but people called me Twiggy a lot before um... never mind, I'm... being weird again." His stubbled face reddened. "Elena is um... it's a pretty name. It means a bright light, like... like you're a torch in a cave, though... for someone blind um... Maybe a flower in a cave." The tall man squirmed slightly and absently scratched at the buzzed hair along the back of his scalp and neck.

    "I think you're... I think it... it suits you." He smiled, turning his face toward her again, his gaze just slightly off-center from her. "I... I don't always... People don't always help me. I'm... thank you, Elena." He absently fidgeted with his sleeves, uncertain what to do or say next, and unaware of the bench nearby save the scents of its materials.

    His lips shifted as he held himself back from biting his lip, but nonetheless, the words came out suddenly and not long after he thanked her. "I... can I ask you a question? It's... it's a weird question, prob... probably. Very weird. You can... you can say no. It's just... I get um... nosy sometimes."
     
  8. Elena was endearingly gentle and kind in her method of leading. Her grip on Twiggy's arm was soft, and she was persistently patient with their slow amble. Though her arm had to stretch, Elena tried not to gape in wonder or jealousy at the man's extraordinary height. She avoided puddles and bits of trash with an accuracy she should've applied to her own individual pace. Elena would've saved herself many an injury if she had simply exerted as much care in simple actions as she did now. Normally, Elena was astonishingly clumsy. The fact that she tripped so frequently only made her more nervous, and therefore, even more accident prone. Elena was very unappreciative of her many mishaps, though she had never once called attention to the damage, for the fear that the stupidity of the circumstances would be called to light. A burn from a water gun, a punctured artery from a chihuahua, a black eye from a car mirror, etc. Explaining herself was often more painful than the rest of the recovery process. Why bother?

    Elena came to the bench and, quite awkwardly, forgot once more about twiggy's blindness. Though he probably didn't expect most people to immediately and perfectly factor in his disability, Elena was still slightly embarrassed that she wasn't perfectly accommodating. Elena's hostess instinct was very strong. Considering that it was practically wrapped in a delicious bundle along with her nurturing instinct and kindness, it was a wonder that the beautiful woman wasn't married. Strange, even. However, somewhat like Twiggy, Elena was weird. Delightfully strange, but sometimes in an unintentionally offsetting way.

    Noticing how close Twiggy was, Elena actually had to crane her neck to glimpse his.... chin. Reddening, Elena gently tugged on the edges of Twiggy's coat to guide him into a sitting position, unable to push down his shoulders. Elena could maybe touch Twiggy's collarbone, but forget the tops of his shoulders. Briefly, she was forgetfully grateful to be out of the wretched rain, though the chill persistently clung to her frail bones. Hopefully, a hot cup of tea would drive out the parasite of an illness. In response to Twiggy's odd compliment, Elena smiled to herself, pale face blushing slightly. To be fair, though she was unaware, the small woman actually did smell vaguely like a flower. Not just because of the damned lilies, but also because of a faint perfume or conditioner, perhaps. It may've just been the smell of her house. Roses, tulips, lavender, vanilla and paint. Despite being drenched and rather homely, at least she smelled nice. "Your nickname is suitable fo-for you too. I-in a good way! T-thank you?" Elena abruptly decided to shut up, before her tongue deviously shamed her further. Evil organ.

    Elena suddenly began paying very close attention to her messenger bag, fumbling rapidly through the scant contents. Finding the first aid kit, she slowed down, carefully popping open the tiny white lid. Inside were the usual; cat band aids of various sizes, disinfectant spray, gauze, painkillers, wipes, tampons, diapers, rations, lollipops, an epipen, a facemask, and tiny vials of various medicines. Elena was a nurse, bound to be well prepared. "I've got to roll up your pant legs, your knees are bleeding," she explained with professional clarity. Nothing about that sentence had been bumbling. Elena could put on a brave face. Careful not to cause him any more pain than necessary, Elena carefully rolled up the pajama legs, slowly peeling away the bloody, congealed fabric seemingly integrated with the knee scrapes.

    Elena was beginning to notice how much this stranger seemed to talk. Unexpectedly chatty. Funny enough, Elena didn't mind. Usually, chatty people made Elena feel socially trapped, unable to escape the evil clutches of the socially selfish and oblivious. Twiggy was different, most likely because he required genuine feedback. Aware the babbling would probably calm him down - it sounded like it already had - Elena nodded to herself. "Fe-el free to ask," she conceded sheepishly. Taking out her disinfectant spray, Elena shook it, and the aerosol can clacked loudly. "Please hold still, I'm going to spray your scrapes. It may sting a little," she elaborated, genuinely sympathetic. It was funny, that she was all bumbling stutters one moment, then painfully professional the next. Quickly, before he could object, Elena sprayed Twiggy's scrapes, almost immediately taking disinfectant wipes to the bloody abrasions.
     
  9. As Elena turned him and pushed him down, his rear fell down with a heavy thunk onto the bench. He let out a brief laugh, full of sudden nerves, as though he hadn't been sure what or when his rear end would hit something. Careful hands began to explore the bench, and he didn't seem shy about even using the raw heels for exploration as well. He brought his hands back as Elena's commentary about compliments came to an end, and his cheeks reddened slightly as it clicked into place that maybe she was trying to compliment his name, too.

    "Thanks," he managed, a small smile appearing until he heard her rifling. His mouth dropped slightly open as he listened, head aimed at her bag as the shuffling disturbed the scents within and drew them out. His head nodded upward a few times as he sniffed the air, curious. A purse, maybe?

    She finally stopped, and set something down. The sound of a pop sounded like a latch coming open, and he leaned to try to smell. The inside smelled faintly of fear, blood, and pain, but also like medicine and relief. Candy and alcohol, too. He decided he liked the box, and as she mentioned rolling up his pants, he began pulling up the leg opposite the one she worked at. Though the blood glued flannel tugged at his flesh, he pulled it away regardless, seeming not to mind if it teared at the skin.

    Elena told him to feel free to ask, and the tall man nodded. "Ok," he answered, only to jump at the sudden sound of something hard rattling around inside a metal canister. She told him to hold still, and as he gripped the bench, he swallowed nervously. "Holdi—" The spray came suddenly, and his face scrunched as the smell of aerosol and disinfectant hit him. His nose wrinkled and he covered his nose in both hands, trying to shield from future strong scents.

    Despite his attempts the alcohol from the wipes still stung at his nose, and he huffed, trying to banish the stink.

    The icy wipe felt strangely pleasant, though, and as it began to pull away the blood bit by bit, he started to relax.

    With a swallow, he decided to ask his question, but paused as he realized he'd forgotten it when the shaken can startled him. He cleared his throat. "I um... I forgot the question. Stu... Stupid, huh?" His hands returned to the bench and gripped it tight as his shoulders lifted defensively again. "Maybe a new... new question?"

    As she removed more of the blood, which was fresh when she stumbled upon him, she could see more and more that either his scrapes had bled much more than normal, the blood wasn't entirely his, or by some miracle he'd regenerated away most of the injury, even to the point that the tattoos that intersected the bloody patches were uninterrupted.

    The tattoos seemed to be an extension of the ones visible along his midriff and neck: a strange combination of tribal and circuitry that were so dense and fine, they looked like they were done by some inhuman force rather than someone with a needle and ink. This close, they were a dark purple that bordered on black, and had a dull sheen barely detectable in the dull light of a rainy day.

    "If it's... if it's ok, I'd like to... like to know," he started awkwardly, "What, um—" No, that wasn't right. "Um." The thin man took a deep breath. "Does anything, uh, weird happen around... around here?"

    Never mind that his scraped knees looked like he only had a little bit of rug rash that didn't look like it could draw blood, or that his hands didn't seem to cause him pain at all anymore. Definitely never mind that he'd crawled out of an overturned box, and that his blood smears on the ground started halfway through the box's 'bottom', not that Elena had seen them.
     
  10. Elena had a habit of biting her lip whenever she concentrated intensely. Though it could be considered a bad habit, most would find it cute. Her alabaster brow was furrowed in absolute focus on the task at hand, so engrossed in her labor that she nearly didn't hear Twiggy. Elena put so much effort into tending Twiggy's wounds that her hand tremor subsided, too focused to be nervous. Her brow continued to wrinkle, a bewildered expression appearing on her white face as she studied the injuries.... Or lack thereof. Elena was quite puzzled. She took pause, simply staring at Twiggy's knees as she put her hands momentarily on her hips. This strange man was becoming stranger by the minute. Elena was both curious and wary. A trickle of dread began to poison her good intentions, a sliver of doubt burrowing under her thin flesh. Her friendliness evaporated faster than the dampness in her hair. Whenever strange things began to happen, it was a good indication that Elena needed to vanish, to hide. To stow away the precious, simple life she had toiled over, trying to conceal treasure before thieves purloined the last of her precious possessions. Perhaps her only possession. Elena's stomach knotted nervously, and an unbidden whisper of doubt tainted her first impression of Twiggy. Initially, she had liked this odd man, or had assumed that his intentions were well. He seemed so helpless. Does he truly intend to cause me harm? Elena tore her eyes from the odd tattoos to gaze at Twiggy's face, a flicker of fear entering her cobalt eyes. She folded her hands in front of her, clenching the clammy appendages to cease their infernal shaking.

    Quite familiarly, Elena felt her heart break ever so slightly as her trust vanished. Disappointment was something she was used to. Try as she might, Elena couldn't believe that this man meant her any harm. Despite her track record of depressing betrayals, Elena couldn't bring herself to assume that Twiggy had any intention of harming her. Suspicion wasn't something that came easily to Elena. It was ironic, though; if Twiggy did betray her, Elena was basically patching up her murder; speeding along her own demise. It was definitely something Elena seemed adept at; sealing her own fate. Elena's shoulders slumped in slight defeat, her nerves subsiding into a more somber mood. Somehow, it made the quiet woman nearly mute. Unable to abandon somebody in need, Elena nursed a pang of quaint fear as a companion to emotional tension. She retrieved two large cat band aids from her box of goodies, wondering if Twiggy really needed them. Shrugging to herself, Elena concentrated on sticking them over Twiggy's knobby knees. If anything, they would serve as kneepads. Elena rolled down Twiggy's pant legs without a question, carefully choosing the words to her answer. An answer that wouldn't get her killed.

    Gently prying up Twiggy's right hand, she turned it over in her own tiny hands to gaze at the palm. As she suspected, Twiggy's palm was barely pink. Frowning, Elena wanted to be happy that Twiggy's injuries seemed slight, if nonexistent. However, the lack of an explanation troubled Elena, unsettling her further. For some reason, Elena couldn't look at Twiggy's face. She didn't think he'd mind, or even know. Steeling herself, she pulled a lollipop from the box to press it against his palm in what she intended to be a somewhat final gesture of kindness towards this outsider.
    "Not to my knowledge," she replied with careful, cautious innocence.
    Just then, an explosion erupted down the block.
    --------
    Elena felt the shock wave shake through her being, her hair rippling in response. Forgetting to breathe, Elena jumped hastily to her feet, knees knocking in unison terror. This is how it begins. Elena suddenly sucked in a gasp, swaying on her feet. Her eyes snapped to the sky, a plume of smoke reflecting in her wide, periwinkle eyes. Her long hair rustled, and the scent of burnt wreckage tickled her nostrils. Not just any particular burning smell, however. Something was eerily familiar. Elena soon placed the aroma, and a chill of fear dashed up her spine. She'd smelled something like this before, when she'd accidentally placed a vase of flowers too close to a lovely candle.

    Burnt flowers.

    Upon recognizing the scent of burning foliage, Elena tore her eyes away from the cloud of dark smoke accented by embers, illuminated by fire. She strangled the sob that rose in her throat. Her favorite place in this tremendously tiny town had been obliterated, just a smudge of grey against the sky. A place of joy and fragrance for all occasions, where Elena had cherished the majority of her friends in this world. Their names ran quickly through her mind, each depositing a load of regret far too heavy for her small shoulders. Her fault. An ache, much like the explosion, suddenly erupted in Elena's chest, and she whimpered, a tear dripping down her sorrowful face. Knowing that she didn't have time to languish in anguish, Elena snapped her box shut and stuffed it hurriedly into her messenger bag, hands shaking uncontrollably. Luckily, she was able to keep most of the shakiness out of her voice as she addressed Twiggy with deliberately calm words while tears leaked down her cheeks. Hurriedly, she swiped them away with her sleeve.

    "We need to go."
     
  11. As she washed his knees, he could smell her fear grow thick, becoming sorrow, becoming regret. Had something happened? He remained silent, expression growing ever more worried, ever more uncertain. She pried up his hands and slipped something into one, and he felt at it absently, though his attention was on her as he slid the candy into his pocket.

    She answered his question, but something screamed that it was a lie, something in his gut.

    An explosion suddenly rocked his mind. Ears ringing, he reached out toward Elena, but missed. By the time he found her with his fruitlessly grasping hands, she was speaking, she was sad, she was scared. Every part of him screamed to protect her, but she had something else in mind, not that he could hear her well.

    He heard her say 'need' and 'go' with all the quiet of a whisper, but her tone sounded firm, calm.

    The tall man stood, using his arm to keep track of her location, but instead of moving, he removed his coat, then clumsily pulled it around her shoulders and secured the button at the top with shaking fingers. "It... it's thick. Protection... I..." He stammered. "I'll try... try to protect you." His voice remained too loud. He couldn't hear himself well over the blasted ringing... His head felt clamped in a vice, and even the act of standing, of moving to remove his coat, felt like too much.

    Even as he tried to reassure her, his voice shook. He craned his head in the direction of the explosion.

    "Please... don't be scared. I'll... I'll protect you." From someone who slouched so heavily, who couldn't see, who wore clothes best described as 'stolen from a dumpster', he didn't feel very convincing, but... Maybe it would help?

    Twiggy simply held on to Elena. "Lead... lead the way."

    How had he not smelled anything amiss? The rain? It had to be that or some stronger scent—the disinfectants! That had to be it.
     
  12. Elena sniffed shakily, wiping her face again as if to scrub away the memory of loss. Any life was precious to Elena; she was so fond of anyone and everyone, especially friends. Friends even more so. The employees of the flower shop were the closest she had to friends in this world, even if their relationship was mostly business. They had taken time to learn what flowers she liked, going so far as to prepare bouquets in advance. Such kindness wasn’t usually afforded to Elena, and she had treasured it. Elena’s bottom lip trembled as she reveled miserably in memory, but she clenched her jaw to cease the motion, trying to clear her mind. While she didn’t completely succeed, she did put the loss of her friends on the shelf to be addressed later. They would have plenty of company, among the dusty remains and ruins of her other losses. Eventually, perhaps she’d forget their unfortunate sacrifice, and her hurt would be eased or erased by amnesia.

    Elena was shaken from her stunned state by Twiggy’s kind gesture, the coat resting heavy and warm against her shoulders. She looked to Twiggy’s face, her own drawn and dreary. Her eyes questioned him, but her words had given up on such an endeavor. Now wasn’t the time to ask questions. Absently, Elena pulled the coat closer, wishing the fading warmth of the garment could bring some small comfort to her soul. Instead, the coat weighed heavy, piling damply at her feet. She would most likely drag it through the mud, just like the memories of wonderful people she once knew. Still, Elena didn’t shrug off the coat, but burrowed further within, rolling up the sleeves threefold in a painstakingly slow gesture. Her slender hands protruded from the huge sleeves, dwarfed by the length and enormity of the coat. She was grateful for the protection, even if it afforded her little warmth. As a singed bluebell alighted onto her shoulder like a ghostly reminder, the lump in Elena’s throat rose again, and she brushed off the remnant with a gentle hand and traumatized expression.

    Elena’s heart broke a little more with Twiggy’s adamant offer. “You don’t h-have to,” she insisted softly, though her voice had quickly despaired with weary hopelessness. Optimism was a struggle. However, even somebody without Twiggy’s enhanced hearing would be able to discern that Elena’s insistence was very halfhearted. It wasn’t that Elena didn’t want protection; she craved it. However, she didn’t want anyone else to be punished for their affiliation with her. Elena was’t sure how much more selfless sacrifice she could bear to witness before she broke. Elena blamed herself, and always had. Please, I’m not worth your life, she silently begged. Elena didn’t think Twiggy could protect her. She truly doubted that anyone could, herself included. Kind people didn’t deserve to be dragged down with her.

    Yet despite her plea, Elena responded to Twiggy’s prompt. She took his hand and tugged him along, using all her willpower to quell the urge to run. She couldn’t run, really, though she wanted to. The coat weighed her down, dragging behind her like a wedding train, and she doubted Twiggy could sprint without suffering repercussions. So instead, she walked briskly with her short legs, hair streaming behind her, and made a beeline for the only place she had left; home.
     
  13. He could smell as much as hear her despair. Tears began to dampen the inside of his blindfold as he swallowed, trying to push down the lump in his throat. His adam's apple bobbed, and as she tried to tell him that he didn't have to protect her, he shook his head, perhaps more violently than he should haave. His ringing ears and growing headache felt like he'd just whacked it around in the air and let it hit the floor.

    "I... I'm going to protect you anyways." With those words, he followed after her. After a few awkward moments of feeling along her shoulders, he let his arm wrap around them, gripping the shoulder opposite him as he lifted his head to listen, to sniff, to try to detect danger, even as his skin crawled.

    A whole new place, full of strange sounds and scents, and now it was pretty clear why he'd been sent: to help Elena. Those urges never sent him without a reason or someone he needed to help or something he needed to do. They didn't take him from home and safety and Kanna lightly, so...

    Elena was important. Somehow, somewhere, she was vital to the workings of things Twiggy couldn't hope to understand.

    Plus, she smelled so scared and sad it caused very real pain in his chest. Worse, he couldn't simply pick her up and have her vocally lead, either. He didn't know the ground would be flat. He didn't know what his feet would catch. Twiggy had no way of knowing, if he picked her up to carry her, to make her feel safer, that he wouldn't just fall flat on his face and squash her against whatever hard surface the ground was.

    He had to calm her down, though.

    "El... Elena? Do you want to... to hear a story while we walk?" Despite his offer, his voice still shook, but the set of his jaw offered determination.
     
  14. Elena took her eyes from the path before them to give Twiggy a lonely, overwhelmingly grateful look. She was partially glad that Twiggy was blind, or he'd see the tears well up in her eyes.

    "Thank you," she replied in a infinitesimally small voice, not even the merit of a whisper. Elena's relief was immense and emotionally staggering in proportion. Few ever offered to help her. However, even Twiggy's reassurance didn't quite banish Elena's rather permanent despair. She was sure that people had offered in the past, and she simply couldn't remember them. There was so much Elena couldn't recall. Plus, while Elena was eternally grateful, she felt that her faith in Twiggy was somewhat lacking. She struggled to believe that a blind, clumsy man could protect her. She was gullible.... But not that gullible. She appreciated Twiggy's offer far more than he knew, but didn't foster much belief in his ability to fulfill it.

    If anything, Elena thought she'd end up protecting Twiggy. How on earth was she to do that, if she couldn't even protect herself?

    "Yes please," she spoke softly. Elena pulled Twiggy along over cracked sidewalks and leaf-strewn patches of gravel. She took obscure shortcuts through alleys, carefully avoiding trash cans and broken glass, terrified that they were being followed. She wanted to bolt, but couldn't push Twiggy to move faster in good conscience. She was sure that he was trying as hard as he could. Elena was in such a rush that she didn't even stop to pet her favorite stray cats, and they cast her dejected glances as she scurried along. She kept her head down, using her ebony hair as a curtain against prying eyes. As it was, Twiggy's getup added to her anxiety. He wasn't exactly.... inconspicuous. At least this meant that nobody was paying attention to her, though. Elena passed many places she wished she could tell Twiggy about; a pet store, the bookshop, her favorite park. However, she had no time today. There was no time to enjoy things she had once found lovely.

    As they neared her apartment, Elena realized just how much her feet ached.
     
  15. Twiggy listened and smelled, trying to form pictures as they walked carefully together. He could smell her fear, her sadness, her doubts, though somehow his offer at protection had lessened them to some small degree. He walked beside her, paying careful attention to the light shifts that indicated a possible change in direction, and nodded as he heard her agree to listen to a story.

    A few flashed through his mind, though he dismissed the first. His own story wouldn't do anything good for the young lady beside him. No, instead he decided to tell her a story he'd heard about someone more heroic.

    "Once upon a time and in a place forgotten, there was a male. He was a Hunter, back when Hunters were the guardians of only the humans in every universe. They slayed monsters and battled armies of those who would have brought harm to their charges, and they often gave their lives. This Hunter in particular doesn't die in this story, though." As he recited what he'd heard, his stammer faded. The story wasn't his own, but someone else's, and his telling was mere mimicry.

    He told the story of how a 'male' Hunter named Bryant was loved by everyone and only sent on missions that would bring him glory. He told how he confronted a murderous dragon and ended its life when it told him it would burn more villages, then spent a week burying the remains of those it killed. Twiggy went on about how Bryant found a survivor with no memories among the ruined village and swore to protect her with his life, and how he took her to a nearby capital, and how danger hunted them, but how Bryant always pulled his charge to safety: how he always came between her and danger, even when he'd been nowhere near.

    Twiggy went on as the scents of animals, of dust and paper, and then of a place with nature, animals, and humans together teased at his nose.

    "Bryant protected her, and even sought the Council's blessing to retire and wed her. The Council refused him, but told him he could bring her back home with him. The two married, surrounded by his friends and loved ones."

    He hated this story. Hated it so much, but he kept that irrational emotion from his face as best he could. As he spoke "The end," he finally noticed how his body ached: not just his feet, but his arms, legs, and back. How long had he been out of breath?

    "Bit of a long... long story, huh?"
     
  16. While Elena was extremely distracted by imminent danger, she appreciated the soothing tone of Twiggy's voice. It stilled her tiny, rapidly beating heart, which threatened to tear itself apart with stress. Elena tried to focus on the story, responding in accordance with the expected emotions, but her enthusiasm felt a little forced. Hearing such a heroic tale awaked Elena's fingers, which itched to write her own tales of adventure and mysticism. In stories, she could venture to be hopeful and daring, without suffering the harsh consequences of such a jaded reality. Elena had a bad habit of living through written fantasies, where it was perfectly normal to wish for a happy ending.

    Alas, Elena had eventually come to believe that happy endings were just like the characters that seemed fortunate enough to receive them; fictional.

    Elena tried to keep her expression neutral and her heart less than empathetic as the story seemed to herald more and more of her scattered attentions. She refused to pique her interest when she heard of the survivor, a woman without memories. However, Elena's heart sympathized, for it was in her nature to be empathetic. Elena gave Twiggy a wary glance, wondering whether this fictional tale of heroism was intentionally so close to home. Shaking her head, Elena dismissed the thought. It had to be coincidence. Just a silly story from a silly man for a silly girl. If only everything else in life were so simplistic. It was a sweet tale, at the least, and Elena yielded a tiny, unsuspecting smile.

    "Long stories are the richest," she reassured Twiggy with unfailing gentleness. In comparison, Elena's story was so painfully short. Elena liked to believe that her story would be more interesting if she could just remember it, however, considering how quaint her life seemed now, she highly doubted it. Elena couldn't perceive herself as an interesting person; only meek and simple. A shut-in, a spinster. Elena approached a quaint apartment complex, mostly occupied by senior citizens and odd couples. Elena paid a little more than she could afford, but it was better than being stuck in a thin-walled shanty. Elena liked old people, and she fit in alarmingly well. The complex even had a cliché name, Cherry Haven. True to its name, bald cherry trees lined the sidewalks, out of season and crudely skeletal against the dripping sky.

    Elena led Twiggy up three levels of winding stairs, the color of her building the same shade as her eyes, though dampened by rain. For a few minutes, Elena regretted the extra steps. The view was gorgeous, but she didn't bother to tell Twiggy this, of course. When she finally reached her door - apartment 27 - she pulled an ornate key from the depths of her coat pocket. Attached to the end of the unconventional key was a red ribbon. Elena unlocked her door, mumbling an apology to Twiggy as it jammed. Elena looked rather pitiful, shouldering the heavy grey door open, but she managed. As it burst inward with a creak, Elena squeaked, nearly losing her balance. Grabbing the doorframe, she rightened herself, gently pulling Twiggy over the threshold. "I'm sorry for the me-" Elena stopped herself, shaking her head with a tiny chuckle. He couldn't see her clutter. "Come in, please."

    The apartment was small, but Elena's decorations made it cozy. Tiny potted plants and flowers filled the air with a faint perfume, while numerous open books dotted any flat surface. The quantity of books tainted the air with the smell of vanilla and almond, familiar and strange all at once. Elena didn't have much furniture; a small, round wood table, a large, overstuffed blue armchair, and two dining room chairs made of curled steel and chipped white paint. While Elena had no TV, she did own a large, old stereo. A couch sat adjacent, dotted with the scars of Elena's more aggressive pet; a huge yellow tabby named Sunshine. A male, yellow tabby. From atop his position of the radio, he faintly resembled a muffin top. He croaked out a gruff meow from the table, blinking sleepily. From another room, a canary chirped its greeting. The apartment suited Elena perfectly, full of dusty sunlight and homey touches.
     
  17. He couldn't see it, but he could smell and feel the tension and sorrow ease from Elena. He squeezed her hand gently and smiled. Even if he hated Bryant the Bastard, the story was a good one. People enjoyed it. What Elena and others didn't need to know was that Bryant was an absolute asshole to everyone but his wife.

    Twiggy remembered a few times how Kanna yelled at Bryant for knocking him to the floor and slamming his foot against Twiggy's head and neck until Twiggy entered the realm of visions. Absently, his free hand rubbed at a small dent in his skull. He was glad he'd not heard tales of Bryant and revered him, that small dent might not have hurt so much.

    He pulled from his reverie and sniffed the air.

    Old people, trees with no leaves, and the place smelled really nice as they entered the building. The stairs began, and Twiggy at first thought it must be only one floor. Then two. Then three. Then seven. The further they walked up those stairs, the more Twiggy's shoulders fell, and the more out of breath he became. Most of his home was all flat hallway. Stairs used different muscles, he was discovering.

    By the time they stopped on the stairs, Twiggy had only a moment to catch his breath before they started walking again. Underneath his blindfold, the man's eyelids drifted shut. They came to a stop and Twiggy listened to the sound of keys and mechanisms as, he assumed, his new friend unlocked the door with an apology. He swayed slightly, but only smiled, then squeezed Elena's hand to see if she was alright after that squeak to end all squeaks.

    Not only did she invite him in, but also apologized for a mess of some sort. He entered carefully, using his feet to check in front before putting his weight down. "Thanks, Elena." He smiled at her, then paused in the open doorway and breathed in slowly through his nose.

    She had a cat! She had a canary! He knew before either animal spoke up, and suddenly being awake and moving didn't seem so horrible. She also had plants and flowers, and Twiggy could smell books, too. "I like your apartment," he sighed contentedly as he carefully stepped further inside. "You have a cat and a bird, and it smells like a lot of books, and... I love kitties!" The man paused, then lifted his shoulders forward, protecting his neck again. "Does he let people touch him?"

    Despite his excitement and nervousness, he remained near the door, just far enough to be out of its way, but not so far into the apartment that he felt intrusive. He wrung his hands, a small smile on his face that won the war against Twiggy's fears enough to show.
     
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