Fate and Misfortune

potassiumboron

~I'm drinking coffee on a trampoline~
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"Hey, you swearing is enough of a gift for me; we're equal now, yeah? 'Cos I know I add a 'shit' or drop a 'fuck' in every other sentence, so you evening up the scoreboard a little is-- yeah, that's enough for me, Navi. Don't need anything more than that," the human responded with a devilish grin crossing his lips, unable to fight off the amusement that came with the cuss leaving Navi's lips. The other was a grown man who ought to be able to swear without anything being said about it - but when the word left his lips with some hesitation and still managed to sound odd and strange, Lukas couldn't pretend not to be amused by it.

Besides, the awkwardness that accompanied Navi's hesitation, and the eventual stammer that enveloped the swear itself-- well, it was cute. Granted, admitting that to himself did little to brush away that nagging feeling of attraction rearing its head once more after years lying dormant, but he had deluded himself enough over that time - continuing to do so now was more unhealthy than anything else, wasn't it?

He wasn't about to declare the growing attraction aloud, but he could at least accept its presence without feeling... uncomfortable with it, couldn't it? Even if he was still on the fence about that, he figured he would come to understand it in time - especially if Navi continued to be as cute as he was. It would take a delusion that Lukas was incapable of to pretend it didn't find the considered words and rosy cheeks that partnered them attractive-- so why even try to convince himself otherwise?

"...For real though, you don't need to do anything. Just keep watch. I guess-- that's what you can do. I'm gonna catch forty winks and you can-- keep watch, if you're up for that?" He suggested as he peeked open an eye and craned his neck around to take him in. His stomach churned momentarily in unease at the idea of sleeping during the day, when he ought to be awake and alert, gathering supplies and preparing that night's meal, but... if he was going to share his cabin with Navi, allowing the other to hold some responsibility and not feel like a spare part seemed the best way forward, or his admission that they were a 'team' would be hollow.

No, if he wanted everything he had said to Navi to hold truth, he had to invest his trust in him - and now, when he needed the rest the most, seemed the best time to prove that he was willing to do so.

"You'll be alright; I trust you, yeah? If any monsters come creeping by, you wake me up - arm yourself and shout for me. But we should be alright. You'll just sit there bored our of your fucking mind until I wake up by myself, I bet," he continued, a firm nod offered to add reassurance beyond his jokey tone. "...I need the sleep, I can't pretend I don't. Forcing myself, pushing myself, ain't gonna help either of us so... I'll sleep and you'll keep watch for us both. You think you're up to it?"
 

saturnia pavonia

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“Ah, s-see, it’s different when you swear. It… It fits you, l-like, um… I d-dunno, you’re rough a-and rugged. You can swear all you like b-because… because it fits you!” Navi urged with a hint of a whine as he tried to defend himself when the other’s grin was so obvious. He found himself crossing his arms much like a child on the verge of a tantrum with a jutted lip to match… only for a smile to slowly return, hoping the other wouldn’t take his brief childish teasing as fact.

It was embarrassing to be so stunted to things normal people do all the time - like swearing when upset or for emphasis - but Lukas didn’t seem the type to judge too much and Navi was quickly learning that side of the human as his arms unfurled and allowed his hands to return to their absent fiddling.

While his smile did settle, it was a gentle one and while it was inconvenient to have to turn his full face to take in the much more comfortable Lukas, it was worth looking away from the door if only for a moment to take in his relaxed form - a form he had seen for the first time. It was... nice, taking note of the small wrinkles beginning to form around Lukas' eyes when he smiled or the way he adjusted into the couch for more comfort. He was a rugged man, the scars from the past few years were proof of that, but to see a brief softness in him felt like an honor few had witnessed to. He didn't dwell long though, returning to face the crack in the door once again to do as told.

"I k-know I'm up to it." Navi reassured firmly with an equally firm nod. He could lie to himself and insist that he had no qualms or fears of being given so much responsibility so suddenly when most of his life had been spent bed-bound but he wanted to do this for Lukas, to show his appreciation... and maybe show off just a little bit and impress the man that caused the strange ache in his stomach. He knew he was quiet, preferring silence over having to talk most times, but he could definitely scream if he needed to and wake up the sleeping human - though he'd prefer to avoid that, instead enjoying the other's sleeping calm and keeping it that way for as long as the other needed.

"... and I won't b-be bored. I, um... I did this w-with my family, too. So... I can just, ah, zone off in case. Y-You need rest though, so... get it, okay?" He tried to insist with that same confidence in his hushed tone, hoping that speaking quieter would help the other lull to sleep all the more easier.
 

potassiumboron

~I'm drinking coffee on a trampoline~
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The confidence -both from Navi's assurance that he would be okay and his firm encouragement to Lukas to get some much-needed rest- wasn't brushed aside or ignored, purposefully or inadvertently. On the contrary, Lukas' brow raised at both the determined delivery and the tone that enveloped the words, taken aback by Navi's seeming burst of confidence-- albeit far from in a negative way. There was nothing negative to be found in the other finally feeling like he was capable of achieving something, or him putting his foot down in encouraging Lukas to do something he, deep down, knew he needed the most.

So, while the surprise did linger at first, it soon made way for another smile, an amused one that he couldn't deny didn't also hold a twinge of pride within it. Feeling pride for someone who he had recently met wasn't something he could have ever predicted, but it was hard not to notice the progress Navi had made in such a short time - much like how he assumed the progress he had made in lowering his guards and opening himself up to genuine expression wasn't all that subtle either.

"...Alright, boss. I'll rest up. Can't go arguing with that sort of tone now, can I? I know when to shut up and take a command," he snorted, offering a wink over his shoulder to ensure the jokey tone and light-hearted intent landed successfully. Satisfied that it had, he finally chose to adopt a laid-out position along the length of the couch, doing so slowly and carefully to avoid aggravating the wound or tearing the few stitches currently keeping it closed.

Despite the sliver of guilt that remained at the idea of sleeping during the day, it didn't take long for Lukas to drift into a deep slumber. Perhaps subconsciously awake that he was safe to sleep so soundly, or simply a result of the attack and the need to recuperate from it, the lightness of sleep that Lukas usually found himself drifting into had been pushed aside for a deeper one; one that allowed his body and mind to be put completely at ease. As such, when he finally stirred from it a good handful of hours later, he was understandably disorientated for a few seconds, his confusion kicking in when he blearily opened his eyes and realised the day outside was winding down, the glow of the dawning sunset softly illuminating the cabin.

Sitting up too quickly caused a low groan to break past his lips, a sharp intake of breath following it as he clutched his stomach - and peeled his hand away to notice dots of blood seeping through the makeshift bandage that had been placed across it. Pushing aside the pain, he stumbled to his feet and carefully made his way across to the kitchen, breathing slowly and deliberately to ease the aches as he did so. He was halfway there when the realisation hit him, his head turning immediately to catch sight of Navi, the panicked look in his eyes only easing when he saw the other safe and present.

He had been so used to being alone for so long that he had woken from his sleep and temporarily forgotten about Navi sharing the space within him - though if it proved anything, it proved that he had come to enjoy the other's company if the peace and relief that hit him when Navi came into view was anything to go by.

"You really stayed watch all this time? 'Cos I didn't go thinking I'd sleep this long, Navi. Longest I've slept in fucking years," he laughed, the sound -like his voice- still affected by the sleep he had only just pulled himself out of. Finally sat in a chair, he took a deep breath before tending to the wound, only glancing in Navi's direction the one time to offer a smile; to reassure him he was okay, even if the pain hurt more than he could effectively communicate.

"It's gonna have to be that fucking soup again, too late to go out looking for something to hunt down now. But we'll make it work; pretend it's something delicious even if it tastes-- like nothing. Can't be fussy though, can we?"
 

saturnia pavonia

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Navi watched with a proud smile to see Lukas accept with little resistance to his 'orders' and found that smile turning smug, especially upon seeing the cheeky wink the other offered. It shouldn't have meant much that Lukas was doing as told given it was good advice but that didn't mean it didn't fuel the monster's confidence in knowing someone, for the first time in his life, really truly listened to him, how could he not feel smug? This feeling of being in charge was so new and completely unforeseeable and oh how Navi wanted to revel it.

It was nothing compared to the power his mother actually had, or the power that would be bestowed upon his siblings upon her inevitable passing, but it was good enough for Navi as he adjusted his weight in the chair and was prepared to focus on his duty of keeping watch.

He had plenty of practice of staring at nothing for long periods of time given how often he was bed-bound due to fits of sickness, the difference between staring at the ceiling for hours by candlelight and staring through the crack in the door was that there was at least some visual stimulation other than the shadows he would make over the candle's flame.

An hour or so into his watch did Navi grab a blanket to wrap around himself when the chill became unbearable but otherwise he was planted firmly in his place, his head resting against the wall for when the waves of fatigue would wash over him and he needed to rest. He would watch the occasional hare scurry by or crow peck at the ground in desperation but otherwise it was quiet, peaceful. For a few hours Navi could almost convince himself that he wasn't sharing a room with a creature his ancestors would have torn to shreds; hell, his sister would tear to shreds.

He knew it was silly but for a few hours he could pretend that there was no fighting, no land expansion. No, Navi had always lived with Lukas in their little cabin out of the way from society and he wasn't on watch for his own kind but rather simply enjoying the winter landscape. It made the waves of intense fatigue manageable as he gripped tightly to the head of his cane, his eye moving from the door only to occasionally make sure Lukas was still breathing. When he managed to get his energy back - which was hard to do without any food - he wasted no time in covering the man in his own blanket before enjoying the comfortable silence that filled the cabin.

Navi was happy to continue his simple but important role for as long as Lukas was willing to sleep but it didn't mean he didn't blink in surprise when the other sat up. It had been hours in which he didn't have to pretend or take note of his expression so his smile had faded to a simple thin line despite the happy feelings he had. Seeing Lukas up caused that small smile to return as he offered a thumbs up for emphasis, though that smile faltered at noticing the spotting of blood through the bandages.

"I-It wasn't much different from... from what I u-usually do," he explained, his voice croaky and rough from the hours of silence. He moved to get to his feet but hesitated, not when he was dealing with a new wave of fatigue. He knew he shouldn't ask, that he should focus on getting himself better before helping his friend, but he couldn't help but ask. "Are... you sure y-you're okay? Can I help?
 

potassiumboron

~I'm drinking coffee on a trampoline~
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"No-- No, I'm good, really. Just a little blood, it's not a huge deal. Quick change of bandages and I'll be right as rain, okay? Don't worry," he replied swiftly, keeping his eyes focused on the wound to avoid giving off the impression that he was desperately attempting to reassure Navi; to have him keep a relative distance from the situation. Meeting his eyes, offering a smile and adding more comments than necessary about how fine he was, how unnecessary it was to have Navi involve himself, would have only contributed to the fuss that Lukas was eager to avoid, all for the plain and simple reason that he had an inkling things would devolve into centring around him and his pain if the other did catch sight of the injury.

Because, as adept as Lukas was at tending to his own injuries and -sadly- accustomed to sights of bloodshed and gore through his years of venturing around the forests some rogue monsters called home, even he had to force back a flinch once his eyes fell on the seeping wound, the few stitches that remained holding it closed doing only the bare minimum in actively helping remedy the situation.

Building a connection with Navi meant being honest-- or it did in his view of what a friendship meant, at least. Refusing to disclose how troubling the wound was wasn't going to help either of them in the constant battle for survival, he knew that, but he still kept his lips shut on the matter and tended to cleaning the seeping blood as best he could, in spite of the fact he knew that an infection was treacherously close to taking hold and merely dabbing at the excess blood would do little to spare him pain and discomfort. Regardless, he didn't utter a word, preferring silence instead - both because he didn't want to trouble Navi and because he didn't want to admit to himself that this injury wasn't going to heal quite as seamlessly as all his others had.

Besides, it might have been a lie to keep Navi's concerns at bay but he preferred to think of it as a necessary one, akin to the lies his own parents had fed him when he was a child to keep him content and confident in the face of looming trouble. It might not have worked brilliantly when it left Lukas woefully unprepared for the life he had to take on when both parents passed away, but he could understand the reasoning knew he felt like he was in a similar situation - it didn't feel worthwhile to concern Navi and allow the bravery he had grown into, the confidence he had found within himself, to fall and crumble.

"There, see? All done. S'all good," he eventually added once grouping together the used makeshift bandages and discreetly shoving them in the nearby bin, a smile resting loosely on his lips in the hope he had done enough to convince the other of that fact. Retrieving his shirt, he knew he needed to take his time in lifting his arms up and slipping it on but doing so would only contradict the assertion that he was okay and so he threw the clothing on as naturally as he could, despite the fact it was agony to do so.

"All was quiet when I was asleep then? That's-- That's good. I thought the blood out from that monster would attract some of 'em to us but if hours have gone by and nothing's happened, it's a good sign. We, uh-- We should be alright for a while. Gotta keep our guard up, obviously, but... yeah, we should be alright," he murmured, those reassurances at least backed up by his experience of the past few years, rather than meaningless words offered in comfort. No, this was something he was at least honest in feeling, something he actually believed, as opposed to the casual insistences that he was doing okay despite the overwhelming evidence stood against it.

"Come away from the door, you're probably cold as fuck sitting there-- not to mention uncomfortable. Only so much comfort you can get from a chair like that, huh? Nah, sit yourself by the fire, Navi. I'll get some soup warmed up for us, yeah?"
 

saturnia pavonia

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The wariness on Navi's face wasn't subtle as he watched Lukas tend to his wounds, taking note of the sour expression the other held from the pain. He found his own lips moving to mimic that pain as if he felt it himself but he didn't let it show long, instead focusing on wrapping the blanket tighter around himself. He wanted to believe Lukas was okay because in all honesty, he had no idea what he would do if that weren't the case. He wasn't human, however convincing his disguise might be. He had no idea what organs were inside one nor what to do if something was off so if there was something truly threatening they both would be fucked.

He waived that thought away as a groan escaped from his lips, his joints aching from the movement when he had remained in the same position for so long. The feeling was familiar, the pain that came from stagnation being an all to prominent memory of just a week prior when forced to stay in bed and fight off a bout of vertigo. The moment he got out of bed after hours of resting, even in his true form, left him groaning similarly to how he was now. The main difference being that he had someone he had to care for, he couldn't simply sit in bed all day and avoid that rickety feeling in his joints.

"It's all good," he repeated quietly, his smile a contradiction to his hesitant tone. He moved slowly at first towards the couch though once on his feet properly he could at least move at a leisurely pace and accepted the space by the fire with a thankful sigh. He hated moments like this; moments of sudden fatigue, unprompted and unappreciated when he clearly had so much to do now. He could no longer sit and wait until the wave of heaviness washed away, he had to focus...and the growling in his stomach was just the thing to help him out of his foggy thoughts. His eye move from his stomach to the small kitchenette then to Lukas, silently offering his help through the furrow in his brow.

"It was - it was peaceful. Sometimes I-I, um... y'know, zone out. I-I was paying attention though!" Navi explained, his hands up in defense. "W-We're okay, though. It's all good. Do... you n-need help cooking? I've never done it before, s-so... so I'd like to learn."
 

potassiumboron

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Having appreciated Navi refusing to press the question regarding how much pain he was in -because lying to him wasn't as easy as Lukas wanted it to be- he opted to return the favour by keeping his own questions at bay. Navi's discomfort and subsequent struggle wasn't subtle, the human quietly taking it in as the other made his way to the couch, but there wasn't a need to bombard him with questions about it when all it would do was remind him that he had his struggles to contend with.

None of those struggles meant he wasn't capable of helping around the cabin or supporting Lukas in what eh needed to do to survive, but constantly asking him if he was alright, if he was in pain or not, would only make it seem like he secretly believed Navi wasn't able to do all of that, or that Lukas' earlier reassurances were merely falsities designed to keep him sweet, rather than being what he truly felt.

Naturally eager to avoid anything of the sort settling in, Lukas turned back to the cooker once back on his feet and opted not to press the point further. There would undoubtedly be moments where he had to ask Navi how he was -and as such, he fully anticipated the other asking those questions to him in return- but there was a line to be drawn - and repeatedly asking Navi, constantly eyeing him with concern, seemed to be where that line would be crossed.

Or at least, he believed it would be.

"I ain't really cooking to be honest with you; just reheating some soup. Tomorrow we'll head out and catch somethin', prepare it properly, but I'm just warming this up for tonight 'cos we ain't get anything else," he answered quickly, only to pause when realising it might have sounded as though he was shooting the request down. Granted, there wasn't much he could offer Navi to assist with but, when a sliver of guilt bloomed in his chest (and reminded him of how close he was growing to Navi as a result), he eyed the countertops in order to conjure up something for the monster to do.

"Ah-- you could grab that ladle for me and stir this up before I get the stove going?" He suggested as he beckoned Navi to step up beside him, making a move to the left to ensure there was enough room for them both beside the oven. "Tomorrow we'll get to cooking properly, I can teach you then - how to separate the meat from the bones, how to cut it up, how to cook it. You can help me out more then, if 'ya fancy it. Stirring the soup for me is all I can offer you tonight though."
 

saturnia pavonia

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It was another simple task but it meant the world to Navi hearing the other had a task for him, one that didn't require much energy but at least would be offering something. He could feel those intrusive thoughts return in the back of his mind, creeping slowly like the heavy fog he had come to love as he grew up. This was pity work, stirring a pot of soup. He couldn't hunt or chop things up, he couldn't even properly kill a human so what made animals any different? He ought to just leave in the night and freeze to death like he was about to before Lukas -

A slight shake of the head, not quite enough to be seen as a 'no' in response but still noticeable enough to see, waived away those thoughts. They were all true, he had no real skills to help Lukas at the moment but the human was offering to help teach him, something his family had abandoned on doing early into his development when they realized just how weak their youngest triplet was. He always wanted to try and help any way he could but he was always rejected and brought back to bed under the guise that 'he wasn't thinking straight'. Now he could actually be given the chance to grow, better himself in ways he was never offered before. That improvement started by getting up and stirring the soup that had iced over from the cold.

The way Navi stared at the ladle was laughable in a way, clear confusion briefly marking his face as he stared at it. He didn't cook, had no idea how the cooking process even worked, both because he as a monster didn't need food to be cooked at a certain temperature or worry about bones when his teeth could chew through them like bread. When it came to meals, his mother had assigned the role to another monster and only once when he was younger had he stepped into said kitchen before promptly fleeing from horror at the sight of blood splattering the walls carelessly. Once dipping the ladle in it didn't take long for Navi to learn what to do, the icy chunks breaking down easily as he pushed against them.

His mother and his family hated humans, most monsters hated humans, but the ones who decided to organize took so much from human culture that it was almost sickening. Why even learn to have a human form if they meant so little? Why adopt the concept of clothes or homes or chefs? Why develop an understanding for human language? Follow their tactics? His mind seemed to drift in thought as he mulled over that facts before he blinked, his eye moving from the pot to Lukas beside him with a faint blush.

"I've... I-I've never done hunting, m-my mother did that - or brother. They wouldn't let me g-go anywhere away from our camp," he admitted simply. "It'll be fun to... to l-learn , especially with you."
 

potassiumboron

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The silence that fell over Navi wasn't subtle but, despite having acknowledged it, Lukas felt no need to speak up and interrupt it. When it came to his own contemplations, he often found that cooking helped him work through certain issues that arose within his mind, or work through understanding elements of his past that he had set aside for the right time to do so. Granted, some things from his past, like his family and how they had parted, had been locked away without any desire to free them (until recently, anyway; he saw an avenue of working through that trauma with Navi, if the other was willing to listen) but other concerns he might have allowed to build up were able to dissipate as he prepared food for himself.

It was nothing short of therapeutic for him, the act of cooking often far more rewarding to him than the eventual end product-- after all, there was only so much he could do with limited natural ingredients at his disposal. The creativity he might have been able to express under other circumstances, in another life, when it came to the activity would never be known - but given he had been born into the world as it now was, had no experience of the limitless potentials he would have been exposed to, what was there to miss?

No, even if all he had to work with was whatever animal he had hunted down for that night's meal or a bland soup with so few ingredients that even labelling it a 'soup' came treacherously close to deception, Lukas didn't mind; not when the act of cooking was so enriching in other departments.

And if Navi was able to find the time to engage with his own thoughts in much the same manner as Lukas, then who was he to interrupt that? Sure, he was naturally curious, intrigued as to what thoughts currently ran through the other man's brain, but it was hardly his place to poke into it and disturb whatever revelations might be being made in that very second.

And so he stayed quiet, enjoying the comfortable silence that reigned between them as they both took up their individual duties, at least up until Navi chose to speak.

When he did, and given the content of what was said, Lukas turned his head to take him in, a faint smile offered across in initial response.

"I stand by what I said when you first got here, however harsh it is - they're fucking idiots. Makes no damn sense to leave anyone without basic knowledge like that. I get that they care about you, that's understandable an' all, but... ain't no excuse for keeping you in the dark. What if I didn't find you out there, huh? They didn't teach you how to hunt, doubt they taught you how to make a fire-- an' I sure as hell know they didn't teach you any defensive -or offensive- strategies if that fire attracted a monster to 'ya. Keeping you all wrapped up in cotton wool... it probably made your Mom feel safe but it didn't do you any good," he eventually replied, his smile flattening a little at the eventual realisation that he had begun to rant, a result of the strong opinions he evidently held on the matter - but it didn't make him regret what he had said, nor feel awkward over the statements he had made.

He stood by each and every one of them, however harsh they might be viewed as.

"But hey, s'all good now. I'll teach you that stuff. Can't promise I'll be a good teacher or anything but we'll-- we'll give it our best shot, yeah?"
 

saturnia pavonia

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“My mother - she… s-she doesn’t seem it, but s-she loves me. I’m the y… youngest of triplets, b-but she’s a tough woman who managed, y’know, to keep us alive,” Navi rationalized as his eye returned to the pot of ‘soup’. “S-She killed my father because of us - because we… we weren’t worth t-the resources, I think. I resent her for this, I… wish it was more t-than just us, y’know? But… b-but that’s behind us.”

Navi’s tone shifted from a mournful defense to that of hope from his post by the bowl of now broken chunks of ice and vegetables. He offered a smile; a wary one, like a stray cat not quite sure whether or not he ought to trust the hand offering him some food.

His stomach grumbled at the analogy.

“Garrison,” he began, eager to try and change to a bit of a lighter topic than Navi’s clear internalized journey to break down his trauma now that he wasn’t running for his life or accepting death while freezing in the snow, “is m-my brother. I… I think y-you two would be friends. You’re gruff a-and a little rough around the edges but - but you’re v-v-very sweet when you g-get to know each other. My sister - Tiarina - she would…” the younger man paused in contemplation.

She was sinuous both physically and in personality, her skills in more mental manipulation unlike Garrison’s strength not necessarily conniving because it was often for the greater good for their family, Navi would hope she would appreciate Lukas’ intelligence and ability to survive alone so long, right? A smile grew wider at the thought of them all chatting and enjoying a proper meal, even if it was no way in hell possible to happen.

“I-I think she’d like you. My mother would hate you though, simple - s-sorry, that might’ve sounded rude,” he continued, happy to appreciate the image of them all in their human forms, being humans and getting along. He wanted to believe Lukas would love them too and that they would all sit by the fire and enjoy themselves. It was nigh impossible but it didn’t mean that Navi couldn’t believe it was possible in another timeline.

“I’m s-sorry, Lukas., just… I wanna t-talk to you about my life, you… you're the first person to listen. I’ll make it up t-to your ears by making a v-very yummy soup!”
 
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potassiumboron

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It didn't feel natural to just proceed past the other's confession about his mother without acknowledging it, given the gravity of the words, but what was there to say? What could be said after hearing that Navi's father had been killed by the hand of Navi's own mother? The notable lack of detail, of elaboration, of such a heavy piece of information left Lukas unwilling to let the dozens of questions now forming within his mind be vocalised, however difficult they were to hurriedly deal with.

The last thing he wanted to do was put Navi on the spot and make him confront a dark piece of family history - and so, however intrigued he may be to learn more, to put the admission into some sort of context for his own understanding of it, it wasn't his place to probe and push for that information.

All he could really do was kept quiet and hope for the detail to unravel over time - as long as it came on Navi's terms, when he felt comfortable and at ease enough to do so.

Becoming increasingly aware that he had found himself staring across at the other in his understandable shock at the confession, he quickly forced a smile of his own and returned his eyes to the saucepan. Keen on accepting Navi's efforts to bring levity to what had quickly become a stunned, tense atmosphere, he offered a snort at the descriptors used for him, a brow arching as if in surprise that 'rough' and 'gruff' could ever be used in relation to him.

"I'm gonna take those as compliments. I'd rather you said I was blindingly handsome, but I can accept rough around the edges, I guess. Not like it's inaccurate. I'd be an idiot to claim otherwise," he retorted good-naturedly, the smile on his face lightening the words that had accompanied it. It wasn't easy to move past an admission as dark and shocking as that of a murder but he was keen on doing so if it kept the light, compatible energy that had been developing between the two of them. He wasn't naive to the fact that deep conversations would take place that didn't require the mood to be broken with an out-of-place injection of energy, but he didn't have it in him to devote himself to something that serious after all he had gone through that day - and, from the apparent infection taking place in the wound he had sustained, what he was still having to contend with.

No, what he wanted was a nice meal and a light, easy conversation to go along with it, especially if that meant seeing Navi relaxed and smiling; not tense and emotional.

"Don't go apologising, I like hearing your stories. You can talk about anything and I'd eat it up; I'd find it interesting. 'Sides, it's good to talk, ain't it? I've spent years bottling shit up, pretending not to feel the way I feel, and that's-- no good, right? So talk, seriously. I know I gotta unlearn some of my behaviours, make better use of-- letting stuff out. Getting stuff off my chest. Not that that's ideal for you 'cos that just means you're the sucker who has to listen to it all," continued Lukas with another smile, this one at least more natural and rising gradually into a grin that deepened the dimples in both cheeks. Lightly offering Navi a nudge with his elbow to capitalise on the teasing nature of the conversation, he set his spare hand on the countertop to subtly steady himself when a sharp jolt of pain ran through his side, releasing a build up of air through his teeth as quietly as he could.

"Soup looks nearly done if you wanna dish it out for us?" He suggested to distract from his pain, nodding in encouragement to the other. "You can manage that, it ain't a big task or anythin'. We can eat on the couch, by the fire; that might be nice, huh?"
 

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The resentment was true, Navi did hate his mother for ridding him the chance of meeting his father. It wasn't unheard of amongst monsters to kill their own, they were monsters after all, and perhaps it was a bit childish for him to still hold a grudge over the loss of a creature he didn't even know when there were plenty of parentless monsters in the world given they had a tendency for isolation in the wild but Naveen wasn't a normal monster.

A normal monster wasn't as weak as he was, a normal monster wouldn't grow to love their human form, and most of all a monster wouldn't find himself blushing at the words of a human. Monsters were proud creatures, he had often heard the stories of his grandparents emerging through the crust of the Earth to reclaim it's surface and how puny and pathetic humans were, he had been told his entire life to find honor in his race and watched as his kind easily obliterated humans with ease. Hell, he watched as one nearly killed Lukas right in front of him and while the monster was killed it was clear Lukas was suffering, a suffering he wanted so desperately to help it. He kept his own hand on the ladle instead, his eye glancing over to the other every now and then only to bashfully look away.

At the mention of his 'rough and gruff' comment though, the subtle dust of pink on his cheeks ignited into red and he held his hand up in defense as the other leaned on his cane. He shook his head quickly, a few quiet apologies escaping his lips - that of which turned up in their own small smile.

"I-It was a comp - compliment!" Navi urged quickly before gesturing to Lukas with the ladle vaguely. "You're... y-you're tough, strong! Like... like a... um..." he paused, struggling on the words of such an ancient career. "L-Like a lumberjack!" He then offered to flex his arms for emphasis, the blanket still wrapped around him giving him the appearance of being bulkier than he was before he returned to the soup. "Human history - our history is.. it's s-so fascinating, y'know? Lumberjacks."

Another snort escaped his lips at the idea. Humans going out into the wilderness to cut down trees, that was their whole job? Nothing else? It seemed easy enough - even Navi could hold an axe and make a solid dent in the wood if he was feeling alright that day. For society to rely on these men so much was a bit hilarious, though he changed his focus on reaching through the cabinets to grab two bowls, thankful that the cabin was still intact enough to have something he saw as such a mundane object.

He motioned without words for Lukas to sit down as he took note of the stiffness in the human and his quickened heartrate. He added a bit of poking himself, teasingly poking the other's cheek with the warm ladle to urge him back to the couch. He then poured the 'soup', if it could be called that. He watched the heated chunks of carrots and other bits of root vegetables flop into the bowls and delivered a bowl first to Lukas before grabbing his own and took a careful seat next to the other, his eye briefly glancing out the cracked window of the cabin for any sign of a monster before taking a good gulp of food.
 

potassiumboron

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A moment of confusion that briefly appeared on Lukas' face was quick to vanish once he recalled just what a lumberjack was-- or once had been before the invasion, at least. With the context in place, he let out a laugh, full and rich in its genuineness, preferring to focus on the humour of the comment rather than consider the curiosity that had risen at the idea that Navi had taken note of his physique. It wasn't an observation that necessarily indicated a sharing of the feelings he was reluctant to admit (but unable to ignore) had grown in intensity over their shared time together - after all, it was just that: an observation based on fact, rather than imbued with any hidden depth or subjective feeling.

But that didn't prevent the curiosity from rising; didn't stop Lukas' thoughts running amok within his head at the idea that Navi might... feel a certain way, or at the very least, harbour a sliver of interest--

He shook his head subtly to himself as if to rid him of those thoughts before they could fester and take up a permanent residence. As much as the light pink that dusted his cheeks represented an eagerness for those thoughts to be proven true, for Navi to mutually feel the way he had started to feel, the circumstances they both found themselves in made a relationship, or even an exploration of any feelings, to be... dangerous. To be unwise.

The pink transitioned to a stronger red in hue when the light, reciprocating nudge arrived. It did little to help the effort he was undergoing to remove his troubling thoughts but he endeavoured to continue with the job regardless, averting his gaze from Navi to the bowl of soup now in hand. Fearing the abrupt change would appear ruder than he intentioned, he offered a smile in gratitude and made his way, slowly and with careful steps, to the couch, focusing on the comfort of the flickering fireplace and the warm meal in his hands.

It was either focus on that or the proximity with Navi.

For a few minutes, he allowed the silence to reign given no awkwardness accompanied it. It was peaceful, contemplative and, above all, comfortable (or was for Lukas, anyway) and he took the time to enjoy it, his bones allowed a moment of rest as he eased against the cushions behind him and provided himself with the heat of the soup - which was as much as he could really gain from it, given the distinct lack of taste within the broth.

The silence was eventually broken as he cast his eyes rightwards at his companion once more, a smile returning to his lips as his moment of contemplation seemingly resulted in words he couldn't keep within himself.

"D'you know that if this situation ever changes, if the monsters vanish, go back to where they came from, I'm gonna make you the best meal you've ever had, right? A top-of-the-range steak, some real good roast potatoes, seasoned roast vegetables-- topped off with a good dessert; a cake or something. I guess I'd like cake, if I had some to try-- no chance of that right now I'm not dumb, but-- maybe if things change. Gotta have a dream like that, I guess. Keep us going," he shrugged, deciding that a stab at optimism, at hopefulness rather than his usual pessimistic energy, wasn't too detrimental. He could be a realist, admit that change was unlikely to ever happen - but also have a little optimism and refuse to rule out that change, while unlikely, was never impossible.

"Yeah. Yeah, if things did change, we could go to the city, right? Live a life outside this cabin, outside the woods. A life where we're not fucking terrified that we're gonna get torn apart and eaten at any damn moment of the day. That'd be nice, huh?"
 

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The silence wasn't painful as Navi happily accepted what, by only literal definition, was soup. He hadn't had much in the last week, unless you counted snow as something to eat - in that case he had gotten quite a bit of it directly in his face as he stumbled through the wilderness. The soup he had prior and this now was the only things he had managed to eat since escaping his home and while it didn't taste like much, it was still warm and comforting as he held the warm bowl to his cheek.

There certainly was a... feeling between the two, an energy that Navi saw a bit strange. He had spent plenty of hours watching fellow monsters train outside his window with a longing he couldn't describe but that feeling often went away the longer he spent without having their company. With Lukas, he couldn't really escape that company. It made his head hurt and the chance of a spiral arise, so he focused on the soup instead and accepting the warmth it gave him that not even the fire could really offer.

As long as he focused on the 'food', Navi could get comfortable; he pulled his legs up to sit cross-legged, not bringing attention to the fact that his knee would in turn rest on Lukas' lap. This was normal. He was just enjoying something warm with his... friend. His friend and just his friend, he decided. He'd brush the fluttering in his stomach away, blame it on hunger instead as he hummed a tune he had heard his sister once hum herself. If he closed his eyes he could perhaps pretend he was back at home in his own bedroom, sat in front of his own fireplace, but he didn't want to dwell on that memory.

He was brought out of his internal babbling by Lukas' voice, his eye darting as it peeked up from the bowl as he held it close to his face to let the steam warm him up. He let the other speak, a brow raising in a mixture of curiosity and disbelief at what he said; no way were humans to ever take their land back, it was neigh impossible. If one lone monster could do so much damage to a fully prepared Lukas, he could only picture how the human's heart would sink if he saw the organized group his mother ran. He kept his mouth shut though, instead offering a smile at the thought before resting the bowl on his crossed lap to offer his full attention.

"Well... ideally, I-I... I've thought about it - a lot, a-actually. I don't... I don't think they'll ever leave," admitted Navi quietly, though despite his words his eye still sparkled with hope, "I do think that... t-that there are monster who w-would cooperate with us. W-We... We could function together, y'know? Then y-you could bake a d-delicious f..filet mignon and chocolate cake, right?" He suggested, his smile wide. It was an idea he had kept to himself for so long knowing his family would waive it off and that any other monster would simply laugh, but it was something he believed in. He was living proof that it was possible, right? He moved to take a hold of Lukas' hand and gave it a firm grip for emphasis, his smile confident in his belief. "I-I mean, it... it might be hard, at first, y'know? But it's possible! I know it's possible.'
 

potassiumboron

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Lukas could contend with a disagreement and accept that his effort at optimism was rooted to a scenario so unlikely to ever happen that it teetered into impossible territory. Frankly, he had anticipated that from Navi and that was fine: he wasn't going to take offence to his rare attempt at looking on the positive side being brushed aside when he needed that sort of honesty and remind himself of the reality of their new world.

Ever since he was born, it had offered him no sliver of optimism, no cause for belief that things could change and his personal circumstances could ever truly improve (with the only exception during those years being his discovery of the cabin), so believing now of all times that the norm would abruptly shift and things would magically fall into place for humankind everywhere was... naive at best and deluded at worst.

And he knew that, deep down, which was why he responded to Navi's disagreement with a faint snort under his breath - a sound of acceptance, of agreement, and admittedly, of amusement at his own fleeting moment of blind optimism against the brutal facts of reality.

What he couldn't accept, however, was the suggestion of a world where humans -or at the very least, he- could ever operate on a basis of mutual understanding with the monsters; a world where they were able to cohabit and function peacefully. Even suggesting it, casually remarking upon it without any real belief that it could become their reality in the future, made Lukas' lips pull together into a line. He wasn't willing to immediately resort to cursing Navi's comments, in fear that doing so would upset the other or lead him to believe that the inevitable sourness in Lukas' tone was aimed at him when that wasn't the case, but he couldn't brush it aside and act as though he could find solace, or instil hope, in an idea that, frankly, disgusted him.

"...I ain't ever gonna do that. Other folks might come around to the idea if it brings peace, but you won't find me working alongside a monster; treating 'em like they haven't torn apart my entire life. It's unrealistic, y'know? I know I'm never gonna have it in me to cooperate with that lot, Navi. They're monsters, they-- they've destroyed everything I ever loved. I'd rather stay stuck in this cabin, fighting day-in day-out to survive, than ever partner up with 'em," he eventually responded as he set his now empty bowl on the coffee table opposite him, his eyes remaining fixed on the flickering flames of the fireplace to distract him; to give him something to focus on so his thoughts could be collected in a safe, controlled manner before he let his words spiral without restraint from his lips.

"Not that-- I'm having a go at you for thinking idealistically or anythin', we all do that. That's just something I'm never gonna be open to. Fair play to you if you think it's an achievable thing, if that's something you'd willingly do for a safer life, but-- nah, I'd never do that. Some monsters may be civilised, Navi, but they're still monsters. I don't trust any of 'em; never have, never will," he concluded with a shrug, the action intended to bring down the seriousness, the gravity, of his words, even if it did little to achieve that goal. As such, a heavy exhale sounded in his own annoyance that the comfortable mood had been all but destroyed by the intensity of his comments, an apologetic glance eventually offered across to the other at his side.

"...Didn't mean to bring the mood down. That's the problem with being alone so many years. You kinda forget how to... interact with others on a decent level, y'know? Just, uh... sorry. The soup was great, you did a good job," continued Lukas, the compliment genuine in intent - albeit offered mostly in favour of bringing the mood back up. "No ice chunks left in it so that's a stellar job as far as I'm concerned."
 

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A palpable, stale silence fell upon Naveen as he kept his eye locked on what remained of the broth, the reflection of his human form only being interrupted by his own hand as he gently stirred the bits of carrot around.

The conversation wasn't a new one for the monster, just from the other side; he was reminded of the time he was younger, perhaps around the age of ten or so - still very much a child - when he recalled deciding to speak up during their family dinner. He remembered the smog that dripped from his one, large eye as he watched his family react with such disgust at the suggestion that they do something as simple as offer the humans they kept as cattle jobs that wouldn't lead to their inevitable deaths. He could recall Garrison yelling at him, saying how he was 'too stupid for his own good' before storming off in a huff while his sister Tiarina simply watched with a level of despondency that made him squirm. His mother was an accumulation of both emotions, all hidden behind a surprisingly still face.

Anger wasn't an emotion she often hid, Mariana. She was very proud to show her frustrations, especially if that meant she could show off her strength by easily breaking a marble statue with the brute force of her fist, so for his mother to instead be sat silent, expressionless, only proved how angry she was. He quickly learned not to mention the topic again, filing it away in his brain as he was forced to bed without dinner. No one would ever discuss the suggestion from the youngest triplet again, and apparently it should have stayed that way as he pulled his legs closer.

His instinct was to simply nod and focus on his food; fall in line to how things worked at home. He would sit in silence, eat what was left of the food, and perhaps dare to ask for a nap himself - but he wasn't home anymore, was he? He had no fucking clue where home was, both in his heart and geographically, so he oughtn't fall in line with how he used to be, right? Lukas was his friend, they were on the same level with no sense of heirarchy, right? So instead of relying on the awkward silence, Navi instead moved to finish the broth by simply drinking from the bowl, offering an excuse as to why he didn't immediately reply.

"You and my family would have quite a bit in common then," Navi eventually replied after regaining his breath in the form of a sigh, offering a shrug. He forced the guilt that rose in his throat like bile at the mention of the other's family and the lack of trust, both things he understood but didn't want to admit were true. He offered a small smile, more so to reassure Lukas he wasn't mad than for his own wellbeing, before setting the bowl to the small side-table that perhaps once held a lamp when power was still a common resource. "They're... T-They've called me, y'know, s...stupid for hoping f-for something like that. It's... not r-r-realistic but I think things w-w-would... would get better, one day."

Navi cringed, unable to control just how bad his stutter when he wanted to seem as casual as possible. He silently cursed himself though once again tried to push the bile from rising with his spiraling thoughts. He instead pushed himself to his feet, taking both of their empty bowls in one hand to rest in the sink - a notably domestic sight, something he was sure he would have never had to do if he had stayed with his family.

"M-Maybe I could try f-foraging?" Navi suggested after another silence, returning to the couch without either bowl now though returning to the seat beside Lukas nonetheless. "I've always w-wanted to f-f-forage, collect mushrooms n'stuff. Not now, o-obviously. Springtime though, right?"
 

potassiumboron

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The reoccurrence of the heavy stuttering only resulted in the sliver of guilt that Lukas had experienced at his own blunt response to intensify; to wrap its tentacles around his ribcage and tighten inexplicably as the seconds ticked by. He swallowed hard in the effort to ease the brewing tension within him, a short exhale softly whistled as it escaped through his clenched teeth. He wasn't prepared to go back on his word, not when he fully believed in the viewpoint and the opinions it contained, but the nature of the delivery... wasn't ideal, a realisation he was forced to accept when the consequences played out before his very eyes.

"...I don't think you're stupid, Navi. Just 'cos I'd never work with the monsters out there doesn't mean things can't get better for me; for us an' all the other folks like us in hiding right now. Even the ones in-- what, captivity by the civilised monsters? Yeah, things can get better for them too. Why not? We gotta cling to some positivity. We gotta-- hope that those fucking monsters disappear one day, that they crawl back to wherever they came from. That something destroys them for us. I have that hope for a better world too, doesn't make me stupid. Just as it doesn't make you stupid," he enforced confidently, the strength of the comment arriving from a place of genuineness - he was confident in his ability to feign it if he had to, to instil Navi with reassurance and bravery, but this wasn't one of the times where he needed to adjust his words for a certain outcome (or simply out of support for someone he wanted to see happy, not scared.)

No, this was one time where he meant everything he said; where he could honestly claim to believe in the substance of his words, rather than ramble them off with no intention to take them too seriously. Was Navi's belief of a cooperative world a naive one? Sure, he couldn't claim to believe that, nor even feign support of it, but he did believe that things would get better one day; that the monsters, someway and somehow, would simply... cease to be a permanent presence in humanity's lives.

That one day, his kind could leave the shadows and return to the way things had once been for their ancestors, decades prior.

It was a far-fetched thought, one based solely on belief rather than evidence or fact, but they had to cling to something to keep them going; to keep the days, in all their difficulty, proceeding with some sort of purpose.

"Foraging? Oh-- Oh yeah, you'd be ace at that. There's plenty of stuff to forage when Spring rolls around, you'll love it-- if you're still here. Your Mom might find you by then, right?" He continued, assuming initially that the mention of the other's mother, of his family, eventually discovering Navi would be something to reassure him; to encourage his optimism about that joyous occasion actually seeing reality. He wasn't to know that the emotions evoked would be the entire opposite-- but even in that obliviousness, Lukas wasn't too overjoyed by the prospect either. He assumed that he would be happy for Navi to be reunited with his family when that time came (if it ever came, at least), to see the other have a chance to regroup with those that loved him, but the thought of it cut too deep for him to garner any real joy out of it.

How could he look upon it favourably when it would leave him alone all over again? Selfishly, he wanted to encourage Navi not to leave if the option ever became available to him, but he chose to bite his tongue and hold the words back, having quickly realised that that selfishness wasn't representative of the person he wanted to be; a person he hadn't been for a long, long time but one he was eager to embody once again.

"Ah-- anyway, if you are still here with me, we'll go foraging, no doubt about it. It'll be fun. Springtime around the cabin is-- it's beautiful, actually. You'll love it."
 

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With the blanket wrapped tightly around him now that there was no bowl taking up space, the blanket resembled more of a cocoon now with it covering every inch possible. Navi's smile cracked at the edges, something not noticeable to the average eye, at the mention of returning to his family. It was an idea he rejected so many times and in the few moments he found himself crying for his mother when roaming the wilderness were embarrassing looking back at it. No, he had no intentions to ever return to his family, with Lukas just adding to the list of reasons.

For one, he knew he was a hinderance to their image. His family was seen as strong and brilliant, sending fear into the hearts of fellow monsters and humans alike. Meanwhile there stood Naveen, looming in the background like a dirty spot on an unclean dish that refused to leave. He was certain that many of those under his mother's control were silently thankful that he was gone, that such a weak creature was no longer a dent in their image. Secondly, he no longer wanted to feel the way they... unintentionally made him feel.

Lukas was helping with that confidence, however slowly. He was given responsibilities, seen as an equal rather than an outsider like he had amongst his own family and kind. The cabin was nothing like his own home, food ready on hand with plenty of firewood to heat the fireplace in his own personal bedroom, but it also earned him some quiet. Outside his window he could hear drills or commands barked at other monsters, could hear the screams and shouts of humans as they were brought into custody. There would never be a world without violence when his kind still prevailed but in the cabin he could at least keep the sound down, much preferring the quiet as he was finally able to enjoy the sound of snow as it piled hard on the ground. No sounds of weapons or fighting, no sounds of death and despair, just... the crackling of the fire and the occasional sound of a passing snowbird.

"I f-fully intend to be here 'til spring, if... I mean, i-if you'll have me," replied Navi after blinking away the images of home to instead focus on Lukas himself beside him. There were still the slightest bits of stutters but it was clear he was confident in his words nonetheless. He wanted so desperately to believe that his family wasn't searching for him, that they had realized that he had made a sacrifice for their wellbeing rather than detriment. That being said, he knew his family enough to know they had certainly sent someone out. He just hoped they would have given up by now, his tracks completely unidentifiable due to the snow that left no trace of his footsteps, nor had Navi left any idea of where he would have gone. Stupidly he had just hoped that he would find someone like Lukas, or die.

"... again, assuming you'll have me." He added after a moment of silence, that brief dusting of pink from before once again making an appearance. He needed to focus on the positives before his brain spiraled into darker thoughts again, he needed to focus on Lukas.
 

potassiumboron

~I'm drinking coffee on a trampoline~
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Was it appropriate to crack a grin, unsubtle in its broadness, at the other's insistence that he would still be around in the months to come? Perhaps not, given it suggested a lack of interest in the family members potentially fighting the elements to track Navi down-- but Lukas couldn't be selfless and pretend that he cared as much about that as he ought to. He wasn't heartless, he could feel sympathy for Navi's family if they were indeed looking for their missing son and brother - but he wasn't wholly selfless either, happy to sacrifice his shot of happiness for strangers.

Strangers he had already learnt enough about to have started to develop not only a slight wariness of, but a dislike too - at least, where Navi's mother was concerned.

No, it might have been selfish of him to smile brightly at Navi's words, but he was thrilled by them, overjoyed to the point of expressing it without hesitation, without care. It wasn't just that he would get to be in Navi's company for months to come but it was proof, if proof were needed, that the feelings he had gradually become aware of himself possessing were shared. Sure, he had no evidence that those feelings went deeper than being platonic in nature, but that was a question he could ponder another day if he wanted to.

For now, he was satisfied just knowing that the feelings of friendship, of a connection, weren't all in his head and that Navi did, in fact, share them.

"Kinda stuck with 'ya, aren't I? Like you're stuck with me. Neither of us are gonna get rid of the other anytime soon, so-- yeah. I'll have to deal with it, I guess," came the jokey response, the dramatic sigh that followed it serving to emphasise the unserious nature of the remark. To ensure the words weren't taken seriously, he went as far as to offer a playful wink and a soft nudge with his elbow-- even if the physical contact only made the apples of his cheeks bloom a soft pink.

"Ah-- we should get some sleep. Early to bed, early to rise is how I usually-- operate," he continued, the awkwardness, so uncharacteristic for him, arriving as a result of the tension in the air; a tension he knew he had created with the decision to initiate contact (however tame the nudge was). He didn't want to contemplate why that tension had broken, why his stomach did flips whenever he replayed the moment in his head, and so sleep seemed his best (and only) way of escaping it all, however cowardly it also felt to do.

"You take the couch again; I'm fine with the blankets on the floor," he insisted as he silently leaned forward for the woollen blanket residing at the edge of the coffee table, handing it over to the other with a firm nod. "Take it. You can't have enough blankets, Navi. I'll be alright; I've got the bulk to fend off most of the cold."
 

saturnia pavonia

perseus
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“You would h-have to d-drag me out of here to get rid of me,” Navi teased, with his bashful smile growing wider now the talk of his dream for a harmonious life between monsters and humans was gone. It was reminiscent of home but he didn’t feel like an outsider here. He felt acknowledged even if his idea was shot down, like Lukas at least was able to hear what he said when it often felt like there was no true communication between his family.

He was certain they would disagree and say they had a lovely relationship but the fact Naveen had left with just a note is proof of otherwise, in Navi’s eyes.

He lightly poked Lukas in the knee with the well-worn bottom of his cane, being careful as to avoid anything might hurt nor did he do it with pressure, but it gave him something to focus on rather than the heat his body felt at seeing the playful wink. He knew he didn’t understand humans like a human should but, for someone of his kind, Navi would like to think he knew more about humans than the average monster - and winks had loaded meanings.

The mention of their sleeping arrangement brought Navi back from the sudden airiness he felt, and not the sort he often felt before passing out. No, it was a feeling of butterflies and flips rather than disorientation. He couldn’t focus on that when his concern grew, his brows knit together. He shook his head no quickly (which brought on that dizziness) and got to his feet.

“No, no. A-Absolutely not, Lukas.” He spoke firmly with his best attempt at showing some command… however out of place it seemed coming from Navi. “You are still v-v-very hurt, you need the couch. I-I can sleep on the floor, really! You - you’re the one w-who will keep us alive, you need to get better. No i-ifs ands or buts about it.”