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Private bad choices r us

Discussion in 'Pandopolis City' started by Ozma, Sep 11, 2019.

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  1. Ozma

    Ozma RWBY

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    OCTOBER 3, Y109
    To be perfectly fair, Oz knew that this was probably a bad idea. It was, in fact, one of those bad ideas that was more accurately described, after the fact, as a horrible idea. It was the kind of idea that common, mortal people would remember for a lifetime, and cringe whenever it traipsed cross their memory.

    He knew that, but he was doing it anyway, because he wanted a distraction that was familiar and not Salem before his mind ran itself completely off the track and something worse than the worst outcome of his current bad idea happened. Besides, he wasn't being stupid. He was making an educated decision, and that was why he'd picked one of the worst taverns in Blackhaven - he knew as soon as he walked in that there wasn't likely to be a single person in the building that wasn't responsible for some horrible, barbaric deed. Therefore, if there was an incident with his bad idea, Oz wasn't going to hurt anyone who didn't already deserve it.

    The bad idea was sex, of course. It was the only thing he could really think of that carried the same comforting familiarity he got from Salem, with none of the... Salem. Even moreso, with his new-old memories of his first life to accompany his body. Sex was something he had grown up around, and it wasn't anything altogether special or magical or whatever else people liked to attribute to it.

    It was just an act, but it had always been good for providing a relatively safe and easy outlet for the energy Oz had pent up. Safe really was a relative term, in this case, because he wasn't sure how it was going to end.

    He didn't exactly get off to the best start. Finding someone willing and attractive and generally foul of personality wasn't hard, nor was getting a room above the bar. Making their way to the room was also smooth-going, and by the time the door closed, it was getting easier to drop the confused, conflicting thoughts in his mind. He focused more on the task at hand, discarding his shirt first, working on hers, then easily hitting the bed and falling back.

    That was when the trouble began. His heartrate increased immediately at the familiar weight of another person on top of him. His fingers clenched against her hips, which wasn't actually that bad at all. Then, with a shower of sparks, the light on the ceiling suddenly burst and Oz flinched as the room plunged into darkness and he lost track of forgot-her-name-already's face in the shadows.

    Automatically, he tried to push himself upright, only to be pushed back down. For a few moments, Oz panicked in the dark, then grudgingly settled into compliance. Then eagerly settled into compliance. Nevertheless, there was lingering tension in the darkness, and in not being able to see as well as he would have liked. He reminded himself, as he lathed his tongue against seriously-should-have-asked-a-name's neck, that he could force himself up any time he wanted. Whoever she was, she had magic, but not nearly as much as him. Staying where he was and pouring attention over her was entirely his own choice. It was fine.

    But there was tension, and that tension was going to be a problem. It was already becoming a problem as he absently hooked a finger in the belt of her pants and started to work them down. There was an ominous rattle from the windowpane, and the bedside table, and a distant thumping coming up the stairs...

    Wait.

    The door burst open at the same time that Oz shot upright, spilling whatsername onto the end of the bed. She scrambled to get up, fell flat on her face on the floor with her pants awkwardly loosened, and Oz sprang forward. She might have been a conquest for the night, but he wasn't going to get in the way of justice for whatever the hell she'd done.

    "Go to sleep!" He pressed a hand against still-not-sure-of-a-name's head, and her eyes immediately rolled back and she dropped onto her side on the floor. Then, turning his attention to whoever had just managed to absolutely ruin his evening, Oz froze.

    Then he blinked.

    Then his face crumpled into disbelieving offense at the cruel joke his life had become.

    "Hello." He wasn't going to say anything familiar. With any luck, maybe Toby wouldn't actually know it was him. Maybe he could claim to be his own twin. A clone. A conveniently similar stranger.

    @Toby Daye


     
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  2. Toby Daye

    Toby Daye October Daye

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    Toby had been hired to find a con artist. Someone who had conned a couple of different families out of their money. Not that they had been the smartest people in the world but a crime was a crime. The families just wanted to see her behind bars for what she had done. A proper trial, that sort of thing, and that was something that Toby could do without any problem. But she had started to dig deeper into this woman, she found out that there were other crimes under her belt. Other exploitations that weren't as innocent. Where people got hurt, where she took advantage of not idiots, but people who really couldn't defend themselves. That Toby was less okay with.

    It had taken Toby about a week or so to locate her though. The con artist wasn't exactly stupid and understood that she had to lay low after she pulled off a job. It had taken the investigator longer than it should have to track her down. Most of the skills she used to do so were her her old school ones, but her aura helped so much. She could run and leap better. Hide quickly and she had more endurance than she ever had before. It meant she could put up with a lot more and still juggle a home life... most days.

    Even if she was starting to run herself in circles once again.

    The changeling had tracked the woman down to a really bad bar in Blackhaven. It was sort of odd at this point for Toby, when she walked inside that bar. She knew where it was and who owned it. Once upon a time Toby had been in these kinds of bars more often than not, but a lot of her recent cases had been different. A lot of her job had gone in different directions and she no longer hung out in these places in her own free time. Maybe that was the difference. Because when she stepped inside she felt a little out of place there. She wasn't here for a bit of information or a good time. When had that happened?

    A simple bit of questioning to some people gave her the information she was looking for. Lady was upstairs. Had taken up some guy with her and that sort of shit could only mean one thing. Too bad for them, Toby had every intention of ruining their fun. She still looked decently the part of the bar. Jeans, old t-shirt, like she hadn't slept for more than twenty hours or so. Toby was still good to go and after this, she could go home to get a proper bit of sleep. Toby was looking forward to that.

    Up the stairs she went, two steps at a time, until she hit the next floor. Third door on the left and she had found the con artist's would be love nest. The lock already looked like it had been broken at some point already, it was barely keeping the door closed. Toby didn't have to give it more than a slight shove for it to pop straight open. It was dark but Toby could still make out two figures on the bed. Thankfully decently clothed still. Pants were still on and Toby sure as hell counted that as a fucking win.

    Go to sleep! The voice called out and Toby's eyebrows rose because the smell of that magic hit her like a train. The room had already had the lingering smell of it but there was a fresh blast as magic was used. Her target, the con artist, had been standing up with her pants awkwardly pulled down. No shirt but a bra, thank god, and she hit the ground decently hard. Toby had not made a move to catch her in any way. Halfway because she certainly deserved it, but mostly because that magic smelled like mint chocolate and early morning grass. That magic smelled like Oz.

    Toby took a breath to look at him while he simply said hello. There had been a bit of a face before he had said it and Toby didn't fully understand why, but all his texting made a little bit more sense now that she had laid eyes on him. He was still very much Oz but he was still very much in a different body all together. Toby could note the instant genetic differences in his face, skin tone, and the set of his shoulders. Entirely different. She stood there for a second and then jerked her gaze back to the woman on the floor. The con artist.

    "Hey." There was no question in her greeting. The changeling knew exactly who he was and Toby sure as fuck had questions but for the moment Toby had one on her mind more than others. 'Really?" There was a loose hand gestured towards the woman on the ground. What the fuck are you doing with that. "Have you been here this whole time?!" Alright, maybe not the only question. She didn't know what to think exactly but she took a step into the room and tried to shut the door behind her. It was alright, woman was asleep, she would be for a bit. They'd... figure this out.
     
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  3. Ozma

    Ozma RWBY

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    This was very much not a good thing, and it got worse with each passing second. When Toby spoke, it got about as bad as he could have expected, and Oz flinched at the familial tone. Sucking in a deep breath, he worked to control the immediate anxiety that had reared its head, as well as managing his body's response to the abrupt, unexpected 180 from what it had been expecting.

    All in all, he wasn't sure the human body was equipped to handle this much strain all at once. Which was probably the most masculine complaint he'd ever had in his existence.

    He uttered a scoff at the first thing Toby could think to comment on. "I'm sorry, are we judging each other right now? Because I have a list." He grumbled, hiking one leg up to sling his arms around his knee. Going for his shirt would just be awkward at this point, and he would be lying if he said he cared much about the criminal on the floor. She would be fine.

    "What? No. I haven't been anywhere near here until an hour ago." Oz snapped moodily. Almost a month of working up to getting this far away from the castle, and it had been as much a disaster as Oz had dreaded. Maybe he did have more talent for precognition than he'd ever given himself credit for. "I came here deliberately to make bad life choices for a few hours. No one was supposed to know." At this, he couldn't help but shoot her a scathing look.

    He glanced over the edge of the bed at the sleeping woman and rolled his shoulders in a shrug. "I should have chosen the murderer. I knew it." He sighed morosely.


     
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  4. Toby Daye

    Toby Daye October Daye

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    She didn’t know what to say. She didn’t know what to think. Toby just sort of stared at Oz very heavily while she waited for something to make sense. He sat there and he was… Oberon’s balls he was so young looking! Completely different from who he had been before and yet, still similar. The way he held himself and spoke, though there were still differences and Toby sort of hesitated right up until the man said he had a list.

    A list. Her tone suggested what he was able to do with that list. Which was stick it up his ass. But had she been in that position too. Needing to make some bad choices for a couple of hours to get off and really, Toby hadn’t always asked too many questions when that sort of thing happened. There was a reason she had almost never brought anyone back to her place.

    One hand lifted and ran through her hair, one of those nervous ticks that Toby had that Oz would have known about. He hadn’t been here up until an hour ago? ”Tatianna’s tits, Oz.” She cursed but then took a half step towards the bed he was seated on. Her illusion covered gaze glanced over at the woman lying on the ground for half a second before returning back to Oz.

    ”Have you been…” Her words trailed off for a second because Toby figured she already knew the answer. Oz was not okay. Not only that but he had been worried about hurting other people. Which was why… it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what Oz was doing, not when Toby’s wheels were turning hard and going over all the information she had about the man while trying to fit it in this context.

    Her face crumpled slightly and then she sat down on the bed next to him. He was alive. She had known that before, had “spoken” to him via text but seeing him in person was totally different. It was far more tangible even if he had a different face. The smell of his magic was more than enough to drive the point home that he was Oz. No question about it, never mind their conversation, and so Toby did the Toby thing to do. Even though he had growled about the murderer, Toby ignored it for the moment, and slung an arm around him to pull him into a hug. Tight and careful at the same time, holding onto him because he had slipped away once before. There might have been a choked sound from her but she pressed her cheek to the side of his head and stopped it before it could fully escape. It was okay. The details didn’t matter. Oz was alive.
     
    #4 Toby Daye, Sep 12, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2019
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  5. Ozma

    Ozma RWBY

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    The situation was complicated. Though Oz couldn't deny a certain flood of relief at seeing Toby, as unexpected as it was, there was still an undercurrent of frustration in his thoughts that persisted. Physical, for obvious reasons, but also the stress of being thrust into a reunion he hadn't been able to prepare for. That Oz didn't really know if he even wanted.

    After all, Toby, like everyone else, would have expectations. She had a vision of him in her head that Ozma knew he fell short of, because he was and yet wasn't the man she remembered. He didn't even know who he was anymore. The conflicting thoughts and emotions he felt on a daily basis were as overwhelming now as they had been a month ago.

    Eventually, the tension in his frame loosened just a bit. She sat down beside him and he watched her out of the corner of his eye, wary but unmoving. Braced for disappointment, or scolding, or whatever it was he had come to anticipate over the course of the last few weeks in Salem's company.

    He supposed, in his right mind - or in the mind that Toby would consider right - her hug would be expected. Instead, he automatically tensed and stilled, unable to pull away without making things worse, but uncomfortably aware that he was nowhere near as relaxed as he would have liked to be. The thread of neediness that had driven him to go find the bar and the unconscious woman on the floor was still present and accounted for. He noted, with a hint of hysteria, that he'd never actually noticed how nice Toby smelled before now.

    Clearing his throat, Oz pulled away as discreetly as he could. "Have I been what?" He asked roughly, then cleared his throat again, squeezing his eyes shut. This was a new ring of his own personal hell. "I'm sorry, Toby... but I don't know if I can give you the answers you want." He added slowly, looking down at the bedspread.

    "I can't make sense of much myself. My head is..." He made a vague gesture around his temples, just as he had when trying to explain it to Salem. "Jumbled. I'm sorry. If I'd known you would be here, I would have... not been."


     
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  6. Toby Daye

    Toby Daye October Daye

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    She could tell that he didn't want to be touched about five seconds after she had pressed her face against his. The stiff body language would have been impossible for her to miss even though he hesitated before he pulled away. In a way, that hurt kind of like his texts had. It almost felt like there was an entirely unwilling party in this friendship and it sure as hell wasn't her. Except this wasn't the first time this sort of thing had ever happened to Toby. She had had plenty of her friends, people she thought were basically family, turn away from her because of some life event or other. Because of something she had had to do. It wasn't running up here and cock blocking him from fucking a con artist. He wouldn't be like this because of that.

    Right. Well, this was awkward.

    She let him pull away from her without any fuss and while acting like she hadn't noticed. It was something that she had gotten good at over the decades of her life. More so after she had lost Gilly that first time around. Easier to do because she had already lost something worse. Easy to pull back from, at least enough to emotionally breath and prepare for whatever was going to happen next. Sometimes they slipped away and other times Toby was told not to show back up or she'd be dead by their hands. Her life was varied at times.

    And whatever it was, Toby couldn't be mad. Pandora had done this to him. It had not been by choice and thus, whatever was happening was already forgiven. All Toby had to do was act like herself, just less than she would have. Bottling those emotions up for everyone's safety and well being. Did she want answers? No, I want my friend back. Toby bit down on those words in a breath before offering him a soft smile. "It's okay, Oz." He really didn't owe her anything. Not a single thing. She wouldn't demand answers from him... at least in an emotional direction.

    Instead of concentrating on that Toby pushed herself back to her feet and started to circle back around to what she had been here for. The con artist. "Your head's a mess, it's a mess. I already told you I wouldn't go prying." And after he had had a mental break down over texts, Toby had stopped texting him too. "I can imagine it being a lot to deal with." She was in other people's heads often, but they were often dead and going through something violent. Toby wouldn't understand waking up in a whole new body, though she had seen it happen many times in faerie.

    "Stop apologizing." The soft tone had stayed but she crouched down and turned the criminal over, confirming that this person was in fact who she was looking for. Shirtless with her pants down. How dignified. "I will judge you if you go downstairs and find that murderer though Oz." Because there had to be humor in something and she had to appear upset about something else if this was going to be natural in any way. Oz needed this and if this was what he needed, then Toby would give it to him. To give him what peace she could.
     
    #6 Toby Daye, Sep 12, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2019
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  7. Ozma

    Ozma RWBY

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    The way Toby pulled away didn't make things better. If anything, Oz felt his stomach drop with dread, feeling the harsh confirmation of what he already knew: He wasn't able to be what she wanted him to be. Just as Salem had pointed out a thousand times, he saw just how inept he was. Staring at Toby intensely, Oz's expression twisted with frustration and misery.

    She pushed herself to her feet, and he gazed at the back of her head. It was probably a good thing that she'd moved away, because Oz could feel his heart pounding hard enough to reverberate in his throat. He felt ill. Toby promised not to pry, but... "I..." I need you to pry lingered on his lips. I'm making a mistake followed.

    Oz said nothing, because he knew he wasn't worth the trouble it would cause. It was just as Salem said, he realized. He was of no use to anyone. Less so now than ever before. Even Toby would realize that in due time.

    So he closed his mouth and squeezed his eyes shut, sucking in a shaky breath before smiling brightly. Putting that miserable reality away for a little while. "No guarantees. If you're lucky and I'm not, he won't be there anymore." He announced in a chipper tone. His smile wavered already, but Oz kept it up like a dismal shield. "Her shirt's over in the corner." He pointed out helpfully.


     
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  8. Toby Daye

    Toby Daye October Daye

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    These were terrible situations for Toby to understand because she had just been kicked away so many times that she felt it was almost natural. If someone didn't want her in their life, then who was she to force herself in it? The brunette had tried with Qrow and that had exploded in her face in a big way. Of course, that could be said of a lot of Toby's relationships over the years. Even the ones that were supposed to be unbreakable. Friends from childhood. Fiance. Boyfriend. Best friend. Adoptive family. Her daughter.

    There was little that hadn't been broken in some manner in Toby's life and it was difficult for her to see past that experience because she had been through it more times than she had not. There was always hope that a friend would stick around. That someone would wind up caring about her as much as she cared about them, but Toby also knew that such a thing was also unlikely for her. This was her lot in life. And that was okay. She cared enough to let go when it was needed.

    Anything she could do to help her loved ones.

    Oz seemed to settle back into that normal banter. Something more comfortable than the emotions that were stirring inside of Toby. Because really there was little that could be done or said. She just had to keep acting as normal as she possibly could. "I don't give a shit about her shirt." Boobs were boobs and Toby doubted that it would matter much, but she stepped past the woman to grab it all the same. It'd be annoying to try and re-dress a criminal, so Toby just threw it on top of her passed out body.

    But what was she supposed to say next? What was she supposed to do? There was a smile on her lips but it didn't reach her eyes. Oz knew a bit of her past and she knew a bit of his. That body could have been one of many that he had already worn or it could have been something entirely new. She wanted to ask but she kept it to herself. "Maybe I should just clear out the bar down below." There might have been a chuckle but Toby was certainly considering it. Anything to... well, Oz could likely keep himself safe no matter the circumstances. At least when it came to murderers... but Salem...?

    "Did it work?" Three little words she hadn't meant to ask and Toby instantly shook her head, deciding she shouldn't have asked. The brunette crouched again and picked up the passed out body of the woman, slinging her in a fireman's carry over Toby's shoulders while trying to make sure the woman's shirt was still decently covering her.
     
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  9. Ozma

    Ozma RWBY

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    Though he knew Toby was terminally giving by nature, in this situation it was less a boon and more a reason for Oz to keep his woes to himself, because if he told her the truth, Toby would raise hell on earth for the sake of helping. She would get herself killed, without thinking of the consequences of that, and then it would be just one more thing for him to plague himself with guilt over. Worse yet, there was an insidious doubt in his mind as to whether Toby would help at all, once she realized just how far he'd managed to dig this hole of his.

    The situation was unwinnable. Oz knew that, and his shoulders sank even further as Toby stood up, and he folded his arms across his chest self consciously. Unhappily. "Just because she's not a good person doesn't mean she doesn't deserve some decency." He pointed out softly, shifting his gaze down to the floor, dwelling more on himself than the con artist on the floor. Speaking more on himself than her as well.

    His gaze wandered back up to Toby, and a spasm of frustration arced through the misery. Anger was better than sorrow, though, so Oz held it with both hands. "Then I'll go to the next bar. It's across the street." He countered with uncharacteristic vitriol, because in some backwards way, he was convinced that Toby was only making a show of giving a damn anyway. He could make a conscious point to fuck his way through the entire underbelly of Pandora, and it wouldn't hold a candle to what he had already done. If she knew that, she would encourage his reckless decision. She'd probably hope it got him killed.

    "No." His voice was, for a moment, as wretched as Oz felt, and he collapsed forward, head between his hands. "Everything just got worse. It fixed nothing." Watching her pick up the unconscious body, he felt a spear of despair. She was already leaving. Done with him and his nonsense and his problems. Ozma couldn't even blame her, and he wasn't selfish enough to beg her to stay a bit longer. He merely pulled up his other leg and hugged his knees against his chest, hopeless but willing to wait until she was out of the room before he left.


     
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  10. Toby Daye

    Toby Daye October Daye

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    All Toby needed to see was some sort of sign that she was wanted or needed. That Oz needed something, even if it wasn't directly from her, and Toby would try to help. That was always her problem. She didn't know how to walk away from someone when they needed help. She wasn't good at that part if she thought she could make some sort of difference. Oz knew that, perhaps, but he might not have known how bad it was in Toby. He hadn't been around her long enough to see her completely throw herself into a fight she didn't necessarily belong in. Just because she had skirted the outside edge of that world.

    The Akuma had attacked the office. She had been there and fighting had been her only choice. But what if she had gone hunting for it? What if she-- Gilly. Toby had a reason to think a little slower and that was only for her daughter. The only bit of self preservation Toby had was halfway brought on by Oz telling her not to get involved because it meant painting a target on her little girl's back.

    But when Oz reacted with that snappy anger, Toby felt it in her soul. That not so subtle whip against her emotions. Cutting through all that concern and worry that she had been holding onto because of him. Because she didn't know where he was. Because she didn't know if he was okay. Toby had lost a few others over the last month that had hurt. Harry had hurt and she hadn't told Oz about that because she had thought he was dead. Otherwise he might have been the first she had turned to talk to when she had found Harry and Mouse both gone.

    She had turned to start towards the door when Oz finally crumpled. Started to show some cracks beyond just words. Toby took a breath and then stopped, before tipping the con artist back onto the bed. Moving to stand in front of Oz again. Quiet but uncertain if this was the right thing to do. But what else could be done when he looked like walls were caving in on him. So Salem was still alive and Oz was in a different body. "What do you want, Oz?" Why assume? Why not fucking ask? Why not actually pull her head out of the sand and ask him. "Which do you want?" Her voice was calm and still. Neutral. Toby was trying to understand but she needed it spelled out in some other way. She could help if he would damn well let her.
     
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  11. Ozma

    Ozma RWBY

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    No matter which mind he was in - Ozma, Ozpin, or something in between - Oz was used to being alone. That was ever-present in his heart and soul, and it always had been. It was why he had a nasty habit of clinging with desperate, unseemly neediness to the few people that managed to imprint themselves upon him. People who needed Oz, Oz needed back just as intensely.

    Nevertheless, solitude was ingrained in him by virtue of his upbringing and his many lives since then. He had an intense desire to be wanted and needed by the people around him that was impeded by the stark reality that... he wasn't. He had always been a passing figure in the lives around him - glowing and warm and there when present, but fleeting. Never one to wear out his welcome, for fear of... well, wearing out his welcome. Oz feared rejection more than he feared being alone to begin with.

    The realization that Toby could very well disdain anything to do with him if he just told her the truth was, therefore, terrifying. It didn't matter if the risk was minimal, because the risk was still there, and somehow she remained an impossibly critical part of his life. Both sides of his warring psyche could agree on that. There was no internal back and forth between his embattled thoughts as there was with Salem. Toby was good. Toby was trustworthy. But Toby had a frightening amount of power in a situation like this, and it made Oz balk to tell her the truth.

    "I..." He looked at the unconscious woman, more as an excuse not to look at Toby. Finally, his gaze drifted up to her. "I don't know." Oz finally confessed. "I don't want you to leave, but I don't want you to stay. I don't want to explain, but I do." He closed his eyes tightly, screwing up his expression. "Please don't go yet." The request was hesitant and timid, and he automatically braced for some acidic retort out of recent habit.

    "Just..." His voice failed him again, on the cusp of making some sort of decision, but unable to put it to words. Oz scrambled for a way around his own mental shortcomings. "Ask me what you want. Please. Please ask."


     
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  12. Toby Daye

    Toby Daye October Daye

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    He didn't know what he wanted and that was half the frustration of everything. She didn't know what was rolling around in that mind of his. There was plenty about Oz's personally that Toby hadn't figured out before he had died. Their friendship was still new enough that she could have figured any of this out on her own. If his thoughts were different from before, that would make it more difficult. She stood there for several moments longer. Silent while Oz stumbled through a number of twists in his words.

    Toby continued to stand there when he finally told her to ask. Or rather, asked her to ask. Toby bit down on her bottom lip for a second. Her eyes were studying Oz's face intently, trying to puzzle pieces together before she slowly nodded. Unlike before, the brunette didn't reach out to him though that was always one of her first instincts. To reach out and comfort. She didn't want to do that again, not with how he had reacted the first time around.

    Instead she slowly sat down on the ground beneath her. Questionable motel quality carpet, but Toby really didn't give a shit. Her back was against the wall and her legs were crossed under her. Distance away from him but her eyes hadn't left him while she moved. "Is this one of your old bodies or someone new?" There was a careful chin lift. She knew some of what Oz had spoken about regarding these situations, but she was taking it far smoother than likely most people would. "How long have you been topside?" Perhaps that was a morbid term, but it seemed important to say. How long were you dead, Oz? How long have you been alive? She thought it combined those two questions into something that was a little less... personally prying.

    Her hands clasped in her lap and there was a slight hunch to her shoulders. Not exactly the most comfortable but she couldn't get too comfortable. If that con artist somehow woke up, she'd have to take care of business and this conversation would get cut short. If someone suddenly came to the door and opened it, because they wouldn't need to try, then Toby would have to handle that too. And perhaps she just felt tense. This was a fucking tense situation after all.
     
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  13. Ozma

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    He didn't meet her gaze after working up the courage to invite her to just ask the questions he could see on the tip of her tongue. His eyes wandered down to the floor, straying only as far as Toby's legs when she sat down. He picked at the hem of his pants, eyes drifting to his staff, leaning where he'd abandoned it against the bed. Part of Oz wanted to reach for it, just to have it in his hands, but he resisted the urge. Instead, he focused on Toby's words.

    Immediately, the stiffness in his shoulders relaxed slightly, because at least her first question wasn't one that he was dreading. "This is me, Toby. Not someone else's body. It's mine." Oz explained softly, spreading his hands briefly and gesturing at himself. Then, realizing he was still shirtless, he laughed weakly and folded his arms again to fend off the draft coming through the window. "Ozma... is my name. My actual name. I... I guess. I don't know!" His voice sank back into frustration as he dragged his hands through his hair, looking briefly feral.

    He heaved a thick sigh, forcing himself to calm down again. His fingers continued to play with the hem, fraying it more and more. "I came back about a month ago. I was dead for just over two weeks." Oz confessed softly, staring down into his lap with abject shame and despair. Feeling the weight of his guilt bearing down on him even harder. "I found my scroll. I read everything you sent... but you seemed to be doing better, and I knew Salem wasn't dead, and I thought..." He flinched at his own stupidity. "I wanted to spare you the trouble of dealing with me like this. I'm nothing like what you would have expected. I'm useless to anyone at this point. More hindrance and burden than anything else. You were better off with a memory and just... moving on. I'm sorry."


     
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  14. Toby Daye

    Toby Daye October Daye

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    Toby's eyes widened when Oz explained what was going on. Or at least, what had happened. This was... Her eyes suddenly traveled over for him for a second. This was Oz. The one who had died over a thousand years prior. Before the Gods had played their twisted ass shit on him because of... well, bullshit. Whatever their reasons, it was fucking bullshit and a half even if it had given Toby someone she cared for. It was still cruel. And that was half the reason why she had let him go without as much fuss as she would have normally thrown about. He had looked so goddamn tired.

    But this was different. This young man was... Ozma. His frustration peaked again as his hands ran through his hair. She did look away when he mentioned the texts. That had been a little off the cuff therapy that Toby had felt she had needed. It had helped at the time, even if it sort of hurt to write, and in a way it had been how she had grieved him. One of the ways that she had grieved him. "Stop. Apologizing." Her gaze snapped back to the wizard and there was a firmness in her tone.

    "None of this is your fault. Don't apologize for needing to get your head straight or not contacting or whatever the fuck it is you've needed." Her voice was gentler. There was so little he needed to apologize for. Funny, it was normally Toby doing all the apologizing but Oz had certainly taken that crown from her head. "I don't need you to be useful. I want you to be okay." Oz wasn't okay and Toby could clearly see it.

    Now she had some facts. Salem was alive. Oz was in hi-- suddenly her thoughts cut off. There was a second breath, slightly deeper than the first, and it was then that Toby realized that Oz's magic was stronger than it had been before. The entire room still smelled like his magic and she hadn't seen him do any magic. She had walked in just as the con artist had crumpled. He had mentioned not being at his full strength in his previous body. "How strong is your magic now?" Her thoughts had skipped right past Salem and dove into that portion. More bits of what Oz had been freaking out about clicked in. Toby was smart, when she separated herself from her emotions, she could think a little more clearly. It was difficult, but she was managing. She was still speaking gently but there was this growing list of notes in the back of her mind. Trying to figure out what had happened. Trying to understand.
     
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  15. Ozma

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    He flinched when she demanded that he stop his apologizing, and automatically Oz opened his mouth to apologize, then snapped it shut again with a sheepish expression. His eyes didn't waver from the edge of the bed, and he fought with himself to keep control of his reactions, biting back the urge to lash out again out of frustration and anger at his own circumstances. Toby deserved better than that, and he knew it.

    "You expected me to be useful." He pointed out softly. "Don't pretend that you don't." Oz added briskly, though his gaze remained fixed on the tattered bedspread. He knew what he was - disappointing, less-than, and miserable. Everything that he had been trying for centuries not to let people see in him. Salem wasn't wrong to be disgusted by him. He was repulsed by his own weakness.

    His powers... weren't necessarily a better topic, but at least Ozma understood them better than his head. He flexed his hands, knowing better than to make some grand show of strength. Not here. Not now. "I... don't have a good comparison for you." He admitted uncertainly. "Like I said before... imagine my power in that forest, amplified a few times over. That might be close to what it is now." It was hard to gauge his own strength - certainly, Oz had never met anyone in Vytal (or Remnant, or even Pandora) that could compare to him. Maybe his own parents could have, but they were long dead and beyond his questions.

    "But it's a glass cannon." He added in an even quieter tone that was almost lost in the room, because he'd hidden that from even Salem. He hadd never told her that he was destined to die young as a result of the same power he reveled in. Oz hadn't told her that until a month ago...

    Somehow, it felt wrong to tell someone he'd known for less than a year, but the prospect of that sickness creeping up on him and throttling him when he least expected it was terrifying. He wanted to tell someone who wasn't going to goad him about it, or insult him for it, or curse him because of it. He just wanted someone to appreciate that he had an unseen, terminal illness creeping under his skin, and that it frightened him in a very oddly human way. "All my blood relations - the ones I know of, anyway - died before they were thirty. I suppose I'll be no different..." He paused, looking conflicted and confused. "I was no different..." Oz shook his head and his expression crumpled in frustration again. "Both and neither."


     
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  16. Toby Daye

    Toby Daye October Daye

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    She expected him to be useful. If there was an offended expression on her face it was because Toby was actually fucking offended by those words. How had she expected him to be useful? By killing Salem when he had killed himself? Useful? Is that what he thought he was to her? Her brows drew together and she wracked her mind in an attempt to figure out what he meant. She might have said something about it but he answered her other question easily enough. Spelling it out for her. That sounded beyond a Firstborn and her expression softened slightly. That was a shit ton of power.

    Would he be on par with Titanna? Maeve? Oberon himself? Likely not that last one. Oberon had been like the gods that had tormented Oz in the first place. Likely one of the queens, but that also meant it was a sort of scary amount of power. Another piece slid into place. He had been worried about his control. He was actually having trouble keeping his magic under wraps and it hadn't been some odd, weirdly emotional moment at being alive again. So it made sense.

    But then his next words stilled all thought because it was completely from left field. Died before they were thirty? That was crazily young to Toby and she easily put him in his mid twenties already. Before thirty could mean all sorts of things. "Fuck." She almost spoke it under her breath. Because how else were you supposed to take that kind of information. Her mind was already racing though, trying to think of all the people she knew. All the damn magic healers this world had to offer meant they could figure out something that could help. Just because it had been a death sentence back in Oz's world meant it had to be one here in Pandora.

    "There are so many healers, Oz. Technology." There was a half gesture up towards the sky and she had pushed slightly away from the wall when she did. Leaning forward towards him because this was something that could be fixed. They just had to look for it. Toby could look for that shit even if Oz didn't want her directly in his life for whatever damn reason. She could still do something for him. Help him. "It doesn't have to be like that here, hon." She used a slightly gentler tone but her hands places themselves on her knees instead of reaching out, fingers tightening there instead.
     
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  17. Ozma

    Ozma RWBY

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    Maybe Oz was projecting the expectations of others onto Toby. He probably was, and he would realize it later, but in the moment he was sure that he was right. Whether she knew it or not, in his mind, Toby had expectations for Oz that he couldn't achieve - he wasn't the leader right now, and he wasn't able to soothe frayed nerves and instill a sense of peace and security among people. He was a wreck, and he knew it, and he wasn't what anyone wanted him to be.

    His shoulders curled forward even more as Toby considered the stark reality of what his life would inevitably be within the next few years. For a man who had already killed himself in the last two months, the prospect of dying by that damned disease... the thought of dying at all... it was suddenly different to Oz. Where Ozpin may have been world-weary and exhausted, Ozma wanted to be alive. He wanted to stay alive. He was tired of life as he had known it, but he wanted to find something else, and the prospect of sickness stealing that from him was harrowing.

    His eyes roved up to Toby's face for the first time in minutes, and Oz's expression wilted. "But what if it didn't work?" He asked in a hesitant tone. Thoughts that had been disjointed and jumbled about things for a month were gradually taking form in his mind. Feelings that might have made no sense an hour ago settled into place, with the mental equivalent of arrows leading between them. Oz closed his eyes, relieved that at least some of his frustration had abated. "What if I just waste what time I have chasing a cure that doesn't even exist?" He ventured to say, looking down at his hands.

    "I'm not worth that amount of effort anyway. If... there's anything to be done, I'll do it myself. I don't want to inconvenience someone with better things to do." He added, glancing up with a weak smile. "It will be fine. I think it's still a year or more away... it's hard to remember what happened... happens." Oz pushed off the bed then, taking two strides across the room and dropping to his knees, eagerly pulling Toby into the hug he should have immediately. It might have been an underhanded way of making her forget the unfortunate game of Twenty Questions he had started, but there was genuine relief and love behind the gesture.

    "I'm sorry for everything. I was a fool for thinking I could fix anything. I realize that now."


     
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  18. Toby Daye

    Toby Daye October Daye

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    There were days where Toby wished that fate would leave her and her loved ones the fuck alone. She really tried to get through everything in life that she could but she was not immune to depression. She was not immune to spiraling thoughts and grief. She could not push that away as easily as she did pain. Pain was something to endure and shoulder. Pain was something she was so familiar with that she could carry it most days. But this sort of hurt? The idea that she had gotten Oz back but she was going to lose him again entirely? That was more than she wanted to go through, personally, and her heart was breaking more for Oz. He had no choice. He had to live through this. Much like the rest of his life.

    But what if it didn't work? This was almost the same exact conversation that they had had before and in a way, it was disheartening to Toby. Because she could easily read on the wall that Oz wasn't going to listen to her about this. He hadn't listened to her before and he wasn't going to now. Instead of searching for a way to make himself healthy, he was just going to embrace the little bit of life he had left. And that wasn't something Toby could live with. She didn't know how he would feel about it but she had just added another thing to her to do list. Something that would be followed up with her resources, as much as she could, so that Oz wouldn't have to waste any time of his own. He wouldn't even have to know about it.

    And there was plenty that he said that hurt her further, though it wasn't a direct sort of pain. He wasn't worth that amount of effort?! What kind of thinking was that shit? Toby had fallen silent even as Oz went through all those things, feeling lost and feeling like she needed to comfort him somehow. To try and make it better. To help him through this shit.

    Her face was far more confused than his when he smiled at her and she still hadn't moved much by the point where he had moved down to the floor with her and finally damn well hugged her. Her expression was pained but she hugged him back tightly, not letting go when it might have been natural to do. "It's okay." Those words were almost instantly out of her mouth the second he stopped speaking. "Everything's... okay, Oz." She meant on her end, that he didn't have to apologize, that she didn't need an apology. He was alive and for the moment, that was enough. Even if her thoughts were whirling and even if she couldn't quite figure out what the fuck she was going to do about this.

    They didn't even know how long they had, did they?

    "What do you need?" Her voice still held weight because she wasn't able to shove those emotions easily to the side. Toby still had a need to do something. Anything. Almost everything she could to try and help Oz out. Toby didn't expect him to have his shit together or have a plan. She just wanted to help, somehow, someway. Otherwise she'd feel helpless and that was an emotion she really had trouble fighting against.
     
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  19. Ozma

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    He was going to be dead before thirty, and that was something that Ozma had accepted a very long time ago. Though to the side of him that was still Ozpin, who had forgotten as much as he remembered, it was stark and unnerving to think about, in some ways it remained... just a fact. The sun rose in the East, the grass was green, the rain fell downward, and Oz was going to die young.

    He remembered periods of time when he had acted out in terror and anger at his reality, but that had been years ago. Since his teenage years, Ozma had been in quiet acceptance of it, though meeting Salem had thrown things back into disarray - worse now, because Oz knew what came of his death. Any hope he'd held that she would be able to move beyond him and live a happy life was properly dashed now. His death, and his selfish need for love had killed a world.

    He pressed his face against the juncture between Toby's neck and shoulder, breathing in deeply. Gradually, his tension faded, eased by the familiar smell that he'd never actually appreciated before now, which seemed a bit stupid because it was hard not to notice. Though his grip on her loosened, Oz didn't pull away. Instead, he slowly seemed to melt comfortably into her arms, absorbing as much affection as he could.

    Nothing was okay, but for the time being, he could pretend.

    "I'm... I need..." He stammered into silence, feeling caught at an unexpected crossroads, frightened to be honest, because he didn't know how Toby would respond. She would probably be furious. She might refuse to have anything more to do with him. She would be disgusted, and disappointed, and she would hate him for it. She would never forgive him, just like Oz wasn't sure if he could ever forgive himself.

    He closed his eyes. "I can't tell you." He compromised with himself, swallowing around the fear that had formed a lump in his throat. "I just need more time. I can... I'll figure it out if I have more time." Oz lied, trying to force joviality into his tone and failing exquisitely. He still hadn't moved away from Toby, openly desperate to get whatever affection he could from anyone, knowing what he was going to walk back into. He closed his eyes tiredly. "It will all be fine." He lied again. "I can handle it."


     
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  20. Toby Daye

    Toby Daye October Daye

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    He didn't let go of her so she held on. This was all too easy for her. Holding people had been something that had naturally come to Toby. She had gotten less awkward with it as she got older. Her grip shifted to something that was a little easier to stay in. Oz pressed against her and Toby leaned backwards so that her shoulders were against the wall behind her. Gently taking his weight with one hand pressed gently against his back, slightly rubbing to help comfort him as he stuttered over what it was he needed.

    I can't tell you. She didn't know why but she did know that Oz didn't have to tell her a damn thing. Whatever this was, she didn't think it was something that was putting his life directly in danger or thought that he was somehow hurting himself intentionally, because she didn't know the truth. She didn't know what it was that Oz was slogging through. He didn't look harmed and while he was freaking out, Toby now had perfect valid reasons why. The glass canon. Not being in control of his abilities. Trying to adjust back to the body he had been born with. All of that would have been so fucking overwhelming.

    He needed more time and she nodded slightly, agreeing because it seemed to be what he needed. Even with parts of the pieces, Toby could start searching for a cure for him without knowing too much else. She'd just have to track him down after she thought she had found a possible solution. The odd part was how Oz still hadn't let go but Toby was perfectly fine with that too. She wasn't uncomfortable with physical affection in general and her eyes closed as her head leaned against his. "I'm glad you're alive." Instead she repeated what she had said to him before. Toby was really glad that her friend was alive, even with the circumstances she thought they found themselves in.

    Because if he was alive, then there was something working towards. As long as Oz was alive, then Toby could do something to help and that always gave her a little bit of peace when things were all going to shit. She had something to aim for. Something to hold on to. To fight for. That was when she was in her element. When she put in that extra work to try and accomplish something that everyone else said couldn't be done, because Toby refused to give up in these situations. She would always fight as much as she could, to the very last breath. He was alive. There was something to fight for, even if they didn't know how much time he might have had left.
     
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