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don't lie awake for me

Discussion in 'AU Board' started by Ozma, Oct 7, 2019.

  1. Ozma

    Ozma RWBY

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    [​IMG]



    Oz was tired.

    And worried.

    And he hated himself in a way he hadn't in quite a number of years.

    Lingering outside the hospital, he weighed his options. On one hand, if he left now and returned to Vale, he could do so with a light conscience, because he had done everything that he could, and it had almost cost him dearly. It probably had, judging by the way his magic was struggling to regenerate at the very core of his being. It felt like his body was a tub of water, and he had pulled out the plug, then, when he'd tried to stopper it again, it continued to dribble out anyway.

    That was probably... definitely a bad analogy, but he was tired and he was allowed to be a bit less than a poet.

    Leaning against the wall, he pressed the back of his head against the concrete and squeezed his eyes shut. It felt wrong to leave now, after what had happened and what he had been forced to do in order to keep a stranger alive... except James Ironwood wasn't even a stranger. He was an annoyance, and he was arrogant, and Oz had almost gotten him killed because he'd... what? Wanted to teach him some kind of lesson in humility? He was a young man looking to prove himself, who had accomplished too much in too short a time to respond well to what seemed like a lowly teacher's scolding.

    This could have been handled so much better. This should have never happened. He should have tolerated a bit of annoyance with more grace, and he shouldn't have ever allowed Ironwood to needle him into making such a stupid, reckless call. Someone else should have stopped them from even considering a mission that was listed as needing two four-man teams - no matter what Oz really was, he was physically barely beyond a child. Ironwood wasn't much better.

    But they both had already developed their own reputations, and Oz knew how to work the system because he had made the system. So he had tweaked his way into the mission they should have never been allowed to take, and he had led Ironwood by the nose right into a hell of fire and teeth and claws. Oz had let the arrogant, bullheaded fool assume he was going to be the weak link between them...

    And now...

    He sighed loudly, pushing the air out through his teeth, and his fingers twitched into fists. He still had the stink of it lingering in his nose. Boiling blood, seared flesh, cooked meat. He couldn't remember exactly what had happened in the aftermath, but the Grimm had been dispatched brutally, and then Oz had scrambled for Ironwood, trying and failing to stem the flow of blood and control the shock as it set in, and keep his insides inside, and...

    He had thought about leaving him in the forest. He hated himself most for that, because it had not been a fleeting thought. Oz had stood up, and he had walked away... and something had brought him back, and guided his hands to channel what magic he had into James's form, forcing his body into a makeshift stasis. Then, Oz had flown for the first time in centuries, all the way back to Atlas, and he had risked his own safety and secrecy by following the idiot right into an operating theater, because no one else could keep the effects of the damage at bay.

    Luckily, Oz was an adept liar, especially under duress, and he had painted a story of a very odd bu handy Semblance that the hospital staff had accepted willingly. He'd even had to turn down some hasty job offers over the course of those chaotic days, because Oz had been present for all of it, holding Ironwood's body in the same magical stasis until, at last, they had tried to ease it away (again) and he hadn't immediately started to crash.

    Since then, Oz had been sleeping. He wasn't sure how many days, but at least a week. Maybe more. His life had been nothing but deep, comatose slumber interspersed with bouts of voracious hunger and thirst. He still felt weak, but he was better than he had been by the end of his stint keeping James Ironwood alive.

    He stared at the door thoughtfully, head still leaning against the wall. A nurse had let him know when Ironwood awoke, but Oz had felt...

    It had felt wrong to flock straight to his bedside like some wayward family member, so he'd kept a respectful distance. Now, he was just looking for another excuse to stay away, because Oz didn't know what he was supposed to say. An apology felt hollow, knowing what he had done to a man with his entire life before him. He had stolen that from him, all in some petty, spiteful bid to make Ironwood look like a fool.

    He sighed again, and pushed off the wall at last, entering the hospital. He breathed in the antiseptic stink and wrinkled his nose, but he kept walking past the elevators, preferring to climb the stairs as slowly as he could, biding his time and taking breaks at every landing. Hoping that there would be some miraculous emergency that might call him away. Or, maybe he would just kill his conscience for once and just leave.

    Instead, Oz walked right up to the door he was looking for, and rapped smartly, ducking his head in tentatively. Unfortunately, there were no family members or grieving lovers or whoever else James Ironwood would have at his bedside. The smell of burnt flesh was still prominent, but it wasn't as bad. It smelled more like healing now.

    "Hello." Oz began awkwardly, creeping around the doorjamb and easing his way into the room. "I would have brought a gift, but..." He shrugged one shoulder. "The condolence bears just didn't stand out to me today. Pity you didn't wake up sooner. They had a lovely 'feel better' loon last week..." He shifted his weight, aware that now probably wasn't the time to make jokes. Oz didn't approach the bed, aware that he might be the last man on earth Ironwood would want to see. Aware that he wouldn't be wrong about that...

    He breathed in deeply. "So, what's your plan?" No apologies. No wheedling for forgiveness. No asking how he was feeling. That never helped - Oz knew it from experience on both sides of the bed.

    @James Ironwood

     
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  2. James Ironwood

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    James had struggled for days to bring forwards the memory of what had happened, the day he and Ozpin had gone out on that mission together. But he remembered very little about the mission itself, and what had happened during it. Some things stood out in his mind, like how Ozpin had huffed and puffed at whatever he said, how it’d been clear that he’d already formed his opinion on James long before James had ever spoken to him.

    He remembered Grimm, of course. Remembered fire, too. Remembered leaping forwards, shoving Ozpin out of the way. Remembered pain, and then... nothing.

    It felt like he’d only closed his eyes for a moment. Just a moment to catch his breath, to draw on his aura. To fight through the pain, like always. It hadn’t even crossed his mind that this time would be different, that he wouldn’t bounce back and take those Grimm down.

    But when he next opened them...

    When he next opened his eyes, it was to a nightmare.

    He hadn’t talked, after regaining consciousness. Hadn’t uttered a single word. Not because his vocal cords were damaged. It was just... too much effort to talk. Too much effort to reassure his tearful mother he wasn’t in pain, to reassure his stoic father that he’d be back on his feet in no time.

    Feet. Hah.

    Unsurprisingly, the Chief of Medicine herself had paid him a visit, once he was conscious enough to understand what was going on. She’d been gentle with her bedside manner, conveying her admiration for him surviving, her sympathies for his condition. His right side had been too damaged to salvage, but it’d been a miracle he survived. Ozpin’s semblance had been what had helped him survive, what had kept him alive. James had tuned most of it out, if he had to be honest with himself. But she’d gone on to mention that there were options he could pursue, listing off a number of treatments they could focus on moving forwards. His damaged organs had already been replaced, very basic prostheses put into place around his torso and hip to keep everything in place. Just a torso, no arm or leg. Not that he’d have been able to move them, if they had. She’d gone on to explain that he could upgrade to better prostheses, that he could improve his quality of life. Probably plenty of other things that James just hadn’t registered, lost in his thoughts as he’d been.

    “Will I still be a Huntsman?” he’d finally managed to ask, voice soft. “Will I still be able to fight?”

    Those were the first words he’d uttered, since regaining consciousness. He hadn’t been able to muster the will to look at the Chief, his gaze instead focused on the view outside the window. On Atlas, spreading out below them. Nothing had changed, nothing was different. But it didn’t feel like the same sight anymore.

    Nothing felt the same anymore.

    “I’m afraid that’s not something we can be certain about at the time,” the Chief had replied, words gentle. Too gentle, and James almost regretted not looking at her to judge by her expression whether she was pitying him or not. Almost, because he was afraid he would see pity, the same way he’d seen in his mother’s eyes, in his father’s eyes. In his team’s eyes, when they’d finally let them visit him.

    In Willow’s eyes, when she’d visited a few days later.

    He’d almost cracked under her gaze. Had cracked, after she left. Because something in him had told him that it’d be the last time he’d see her, the last time they’d ever exchange words alone.

    Since he regained consciousness, he hadn’t wept. He’d managed to remain stoic, even when his teammates had visited him, even when it’d been clear in their eyes that he would never be able to lead them again. But he’d wept after Willow left. Wept long and hard, his vitals alarming the nurses so much that they’d come in to sedate him not long afterwards.

    He’d been quiet, since then. What would be the point, in mourning what he no longer had? He couldn’t change it. He couldn’t do anything about it. Prostheses were all well and good, but they wouldn’t be the same. Nothing would ever be the same.

    Everything had changed, in the blink of an eye.

    In just the blink of an eye.

    When Ozpin came to visit him, James was staring out the window again. Hooked up to half a dozen machines, propped up by half as many pillows. He probably made quite a sight, but it didn’t bother him. What would be the point in feeling bothered about something like that? James didn’t shift, didn’t turn to look at Ozpin. He could see the man’s reflection in the window just fine, see the tenseness in his shoulders and the forced cheer on his face. Though those words were were certainly the first dredges of humor James had heard in a long time.

    He supposed Ozpin had felt some sort of moral obligation to visit him after saving his life. It wasn’t like they were close, it wasn’t like they knew each other all that well. Ozpin had always made it clear that he couldn’t care less for him. He could have very well have left him for dead, but... he hadn’t.

    James knew he ought to feel something about that. Something like gratitude, maybe. Something positive, but all he felt was numb. Numb and tired, an insidious voice in the back of his mind whispering that it would have been better if Ozpin had left him for dead.

    Ozpin’s next words made James stir, but only just. What plan? he wanted to demand. What plan, when the doctors couldn’t even guarantee him that he’d be able to walk properly, let alone fight?

    All he’d ever wanted was to be a Huntsman, to help those in need. To prove his worth, to make a name for himself. To carve out a legacy that wouldn’t be overshadowed by his grandfather’s name. Maybe even to rid the world of Grimm once and for all, someday.

    He’d had so many plans, so many ambitions. So many dreams, but he didn’t have any now. He’d had a future, but now he didn’t have... anything.
     
  3. Ozma

    Ozma RWBY

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    People in crisis didn't phase Oz in the same way they might affect others. He had seen too many, and helped even more. Crisis was what he was good at, as long as it wasn't his own, so he regarded James without a great deal of sympathy or pity. He was simply replaying what he had been told and what he had seen himself of the damage done.

    Biology wasn't necessarily Oz's strong suit, and his knack for engineering was limited mostly to weaponry, but he was old enough to have picked up a fair share more than the average man. Bolstered by the innovations if the new era, he wondered...

    But that was a topic for later. Right now, his mission was simply to get Ironwood out of his own head and his own self-pity, deserved or not.

    "You know... Huntsmen have existed for centuries... forever, really... but the organization of them that we have now is still quite novel." Oz explained, sitting at the bedside comfortably, hands folded on his lap. "It makes the system easy to manipulate - especially mission boards. If you know the right people, and you know how what to do and say..."

    He sighed softly, poking at a few things on the bedside table, still regarding Ironwood closely. Guilt weighed on Oz heavily, but more than that, he was looking for something to say that would jolt James out of his own thoughts. "We were never supposed to take that mission, James. It was meant for two teams of four. I overestimated my abilities and underestimated just how... noble you would be."

    He sighed softly, looking down at his hands and rubbing his fingers together. "I promise you, I did not intend for this to happen. But I did expect it to be more than you could handle... I wanted to prove a point, and it almost ended with you dead." He grimaced at his own stupidity. This always happened in a young incarnation. Stupid, youthful impulses were hell to avoid, and he always fell into them blindly. "For that, I'm incredibly sorry. This is my fault, and I intend to fix it as best I can."


     
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  4. James Ironwood

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    James didn’t speak, but Ozpin was doing plenty of that for him anyway. Settling down next to the bed, talking about huntsmen and missions like he had no idea that James would never be able to fight again, never be able to go on a mission again. Or rather... that he knew very well that James might never be able to do any of those things again, but spoke of them anyway. Spoke of them to... to explain himself.

    Slowly, James’s gaze pulled away from the window. Eyes settling on Ozpin’s face, taking in how Ozpin was plucking at things on the bedside table like he didn’t know what to do with his hands. Taking in how Ozpin was talking without looking at him, but it felt different from the way everyone else had avoided his gaze. It looked like Ozpin pitied him maybe, but it didn’t quite sound like it. Not when he spoke of how he hadn’t expected James to be noble.

    He’d known the mission was dangerous. He’d known, and he’d had a feeling that Ozpin had underplayed its danger. But he’d been cocky, brash. Too sure of himself, just like Ozpin had believed him to be all this time. Ozpin hadn’t been wrong about that, hadn’t been wrong about James finding it difficult to resist the challenge. Whose idea had it been to go on a mission together anyway? James felt like it might have been his idea. He wasn’t sure anymore. Wasn’t sure if it mattered anymore, to be honest.

    James stared at him. For a moment, he didn’t want to speak. Rather, didn’t want to put in the effort of speaking. But his brow furrowed, because it was sounding like Ozpin was blaming himself for what happened even if — even if he could have just left James for dead.

    He reached up for his oxygen mask, pulling it down. Sucking in a slow, shuddering breath. Focusing his gaze on Ozpin’s, staring at him until he stared back.

    “You can’t,” he said, voice hoarse from disuse. He was almost surprised at himself for finally speaking, especially when he hadn’t even spoken to his parents. Then again, they’d only visited him once. His old team, even Willow... they’d all only ever visited him once. Like his very condition was shameful as well as pitying.

    His hand balled into a fist in the bedsheets, but he forced himself to speak again. “It’s my fault, not yours. “You can’t fix it.”
     
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  5. Ozma

    Ozma RWBY

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    If Oz had to, he'd keep on talking. He would hit on every point he could think of until he got a response from Ironwood, good or bad. Even if it was the man yelling at him from a hospital bed, it didn't matter. What mattered was communication between them and keeping it going. The longer James was trapped in his own head, the worse it would be.

    Still, he couldn't deny that this was also partially for his own sake. He didn't want forgiveness, but Oz wanted to make the score between them clear: He had manipulated Ironwood into taking a mission they had no right to do, even if it had been as simple as just... Letting him be as arrogant and confident as he wanted to be. Oz should have been the voice drawing him back from danger, not urging him into it.

    He looked up abruptly when Ironwood spoke, and his expression lit up despite his words. This was the hook he needed, and Oz latched onto it with both hands, shuffling his chair a bit closer. "Oh, I'm not discounting the role you played. Don't worry. I'm not here to sympathize with you - that's what mothers are for." Oz prattled lightly, now rubbing the edge of the bedsheet between his fingers. It was softer than he expected - probably because of all the burns.

    "You certainly had a part in what happened. Nobility is well and good in polite society, but it's the first thing that gets a good huntsman killed." He smiled, not going so far as to condemn it, because that was wrong... but Oz couldn't support it fully either.

    He continued to pick at the sheet. "Maybe I can't fix it, but perhaps you can. I've done some research. You're quite the genius when you aren't being an insufferable pri-- when you aren't being overconfident." Oz cleared his throat softly.

    "Atlas is the seat of modern innovation and invention, or so I've been told. I can't imagine one of its favored sons would just... roll over an invest in a fancy wheelchair."


     
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  6. James Ironwood

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    What the hell was Ozpin doing? James couldn’t figure it out, couldn’t piece together why it seemed as if Ozpin was actually delighted at the prospect of — of telling him off? For being noble, for shouldering the blame alone? James couldn’t tell.

    Why? They weren’t friends. They were barely even acquaintances. Ozpin was just a professor at Beacon. The youngest to have ever been appointed, certainly. But still a professor, still as young and brash as James was. Even if Ozpin had apparently orchestrated the whole thing to teach James a lesson in humility.

    It was almost funny, that Ozpin’s plan had gotten flipped over onto its head because James had been afraid that Ozpin would get hurt.

    Almost.

    A part of James wanted to blame Ozpin, wanted to wipe his hands clean of any responsibility. But he’d been the one to suggest going on a mission together. He’d been the one to eyeball the Grimm numbers on the mission log and scoff. He’d been the one to leap forwards, shoving Ozpin out of harm’s way.

    Ozpin might have orchestrated the situation, but it was James alone who’d made all his choices, both good and bad.

    If I hadn’t gotten in the way, you’d be the one in this hospital bed, not me. Or you’d be dead because I wouldn’t have been able to keep you alive, was what James might have said if he could muster up the energy, but even doing that much was hard. More than hard, it was pointless. Pointless to argue about what-ifs and has-beens. Pointless to put in the effort, even though Ozpin clearly was.

    Objectively, James knew he’d made the right choice. Ozpin could berate him for his nobility all he wanted to, but James had made the right choice. He’d saved Ozpin’s life, made sure the man would live to teach another day. But that didn’t mean he didn’t feel any less than shit, any less than... than who he’d once been.

    And now, Ozpin was berating James and egging him on to — to what? To focus on rebuilding his body? James knew about technology, sure. He’d dabbed in more than his fair share over the years. But he’d never dabbled in prostheses, never — never believed that he’d ever be in this situation.

    His hand fisted in the bedsheet again, his jaw clenching as he tore his gaze away from Ozpin. His eyes settled on the sheet, on the one lump beneath it that was his left leg and the painfully obvious lack of a lump where his right leg should have been. He sucked in a deep, shaky breath through his teeth, squeezing his eyes shut.

    How the hell could he even think about rebuilding his own body when he couldn’t even look at it?

    Just leave, he wanted to say, but instead he said, “Why?” Sucking in another shaky breath, he shook his head. “Why are you here, why are you — why are you even saying any of this?”

    This was the most he’d said in days. Weeks, even. Why was it easier to talk to a stranger than it was to his own friends and family?
     
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  7. Ozma

    Ozma RWBY

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    Oz wasn't perfect. He could get things wildly, foolishly wrong at times. This was a perfect example, because James Ironwood was defying everything Oz had thought him to be. He regarded the man with an appraising gaze, watching the way his fist curled in the sheets and the way his eyes lingered on his broken form.

    He didn't try to redirect him from that. He wasn't going to pretend that the damage hadn't been done, and he wasn't going to minimize it for the sake of keeping James happy. The sooner he could look himself in the eye and accept what had happened, the sooner they could start to make things better. Oz momentarily turned his bemusement towards himself, wondering when the hell this had become a group effort.

    Probably the moment Ironwood had shoved him out of the way, or maybe the moment Oz had realized he couldn't just walk away from the utter fool as he died on the ground.

    "Because no one else will." Oz said simply, regarding him with an even stare. "They'll coddle you, and they'll try to help you in the best way they know how, but you would spend the next two years being treated like spun glass. That's more likely to destroy your future as a huntsman than anything else." He continued to fuss with the edge of the sheet, plucking at it absently as his eyes wandered between it and James's face.

    "You saved my life. I don't regard that lightly. We're friends now, unfortunately, and this is what I would do for any friend of mine, James." Oz paused in his fidgeting, stilling entirely as he looked at the broken man. A moment later, he smiled brightly. "You're more than the sum of your parts. I already know that - we just need to show everyone else."


     
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  8. James Ironwood

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    James stared at him, slack-jawed. He couldn’t help it, he just stared. Stared as if he was seeing Ozpin for the first time, and in a way he was. This wasn’t the flippant, even dismissive young man he’d met at that charity ball all those months ago. The man who always wanted to get in the last word, who fought with his wit as fiercely as he fought with any weapon. This was the man who’d saved his life, even if he’d inadvertently condemned him to this... this half-life.

    But had he really?

    Because Ozpin was right, everyone else was treating James like spun glass. Like he was just a hair’s breadth away from breaking down altogether, and while James himself couldn’t dispute such a claim, he’d grown absolutely sick of it. Sick of how fragile everyone was treating him, sick of how unlike himself he felt because of their treatment. His family, his friends, even the medical personnel, had all looked at him like he was some tragically beautiful bird whose wings had been clipped and would never fly again.

    But Ozpin was talking to him like... like he was normal. Injured, but normal. Still the same man, still the same huntsman, even going so far as to call him a friend. Even though James had every right to hate Ozpin, to shout and scream and curse him out for saving his life, for not leaving him for dead.

    “Do you really think just making myself the parts I need is going to fix this? Is going to make me a huntsman again? I don’t — I don’t even know the first thing about making functional prostheses, about — about making battle-worthy prostheses! It’s never been done! And I can’t even hold a fucking stylus because I’m not left-handed!”

    His breath hitched, his hand shaking as he covered his face. He almost thought his other hand was shaking too, but it wasn’t there. It was gone, long gone. But sometimes, it still felt like it was there. Like if he reached out, he’d be able to touch it, to feel it.

    “Why didn’t you just let me die?” he demanded, voice barely above a whisper. “Because I saved you? Because you felt guilty?”
     
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  9. Ozma

    Ozma RWBY

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    Oz had witnessed enough crises to know at a glance that he was pushing James towards the edge of something, and he was already braced for whatever vitriol came out of him as a result, because people didn't break down and rebuild themselves without making a mess. Oz was here, and he was the one doing the pushing. He knew that was probably all James needed to turn his frustration onto him.

    So he sat peacefully and let him spit it all out. Verbal poison, for want of a better term. Something that was better out than in, and it was easy for Oz to dodge the venom in James's tone. He merely picked at the bedsheet, eyes on the mattress as the worst of his outburst tapered away.

    He flicked his gaze up when James spoke again, and this time there was a touch of sympathy in his expression. "I don't know. I was going to, James. I had every intention of letting you die, but I didn't, and I trust my instincts. If you're still alive, there's a reason." He scooted his chair closer and planted his elbows on the hospital bed, folding his hands and placing his chin on the cradle his fingers created.

    "I've seen things you've done just for fun, James. Not being left handed isn't going to stop you. Being down a few limbs isn't going to stop you. You're going to make the impossible possible." Oz's tone was low, but it had gained a fierce edge. "You don't know about prostheses? Fine. You'll learn."

    He breathed in deeply, keeping his own frustration under control. "The only reason it hasn't been done is because no one has ever given enough of a damn to try, James. Someone loses a limb and they might as well lose their brain, heart and soul according to the better half of society."

    He smiled then, and it wasn't a particularly friendly grin. "We're going to prove them wrong."

    Oz paused then, and his expression shifted again, looking placid and thoughtful. His eyes found James's again, and he canted his head. "I'm not guilty. I think... what happened to you may end up being the best thing that ever happened for a group of people who have been ignored for a very long time." Goodness only knew how many hundreds if not thousands of huntsmen had been in similar positions to James. They hadn't been so lucky, but maybe the next generation could be, if Oz was as right about Ironwood as he hoped he was.


     
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  10. James Ironwood

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    James was almost tempted to smack Ozpin's hand away from the bedspread, but that was an impulsive, unkind thought. He knew that he ought to feel grateful to Ozpin for saving him, grateful even that Ozpin was pushing him the way he was. Gods knew no one else had pushed him, treating him like fine porcelain as they had. Or maybe he ought to hate Ozpin for purposefully dragging him into a lethal situation just to teach him humility, hate him for not leaving him for dead. Honestly, he didn’t know what he ought to be feeling.

    “A reason,” he repeated, voice a deadpan. It hadn’t been guilt, it hadn’t been remorse. It’d just been instinct, a reason, or so he claimed. James almost scoffed that it'd been a choice, not just instinct, but he felt too numb. Too numb and too tired.

    Ozpin went on, and when he put his elbows on the bed, the urge to smack him aside grew stronger. But James didn’t, instead listening to Ozpin’s rambling. No, not rambling. It was — James didn’t know how to describe it, but there was something about Ozpin’s words that drew him in. Something that made him almost believe in those words. It wasn’t just praise for the sake of it, not the way it was from so many other socialites. His words were like kindling, stoking a flame James didn’t even know he’d still had in him.

    Because he was right, there were people out there just like James. People who would benefit from better prostheses, people whose lives would drastically improve. People who didn’t have to be cast aside anymore, people who could keep fighting. Whether it be against the creatures of Grimm, or their own personal demons.

    James wet his lips, then shook his head and leaned back against the pillows. Folding his arm across his lap, reaching out with his fingers for a hand that wasn’t there. It felt ridiculous, but he missed threading his fingers together. There were prostheses with fingers, but not much feeling or articulation to them. Which made him wonder why no one had ever bothered to improve on them, but he supposed it had to do with society writing off the disabled.

    Why else had his parents, his friends, even Willow, not visited him again?

    He sucked in another deep, shaky breath. “You make it sound like I’m — like I’m suddenly supposed to bounce back, pretend everything’s all right so I can just — I can just carry on helping people the way a Huntsman’s supposed to do. But I’m not — I don’t — I can’t even —” Biting his lower lip, he cut himself off. Unable to continue, a vice closing around his throat as he tore his gaze away from Ozpin’s. It was too much, it was all just... too much.

    Before he knew what was happening, his eyes were watering. He slammed his fist into the mattress, letting out a choked sound. Shoulders shaking, eyes squeezing shut.
     
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  11. Ozma

    Ozma RWBY

    Posts:
    1,411
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Professor
    Location:
    Crystal Vales
    Race:
    Human V1.0
    Age:
    1000+
    Alignment:
    Neutral Good



    Oz thought he had possibly gotten through whatever quagmire of shock and grief surrounded James. He didn't know if it would last, nor how long it would last, but for a moment he thought he saw a spark igniting. He dared to hope, in that moment, that Ironwood would see as much potential in this disaster as Oz did himself. At the very least, they had managed to transcend James's anger for the time being, though he knew that wasn't the last either of them would see of it before this was done. Oz already expected many broken glasses, and thrown books, and perhaps even a few punches aimed at his head.

    But this outburst seemed to have tapered as quickly as it started. Instead, as with most who experienced a trauma, James was jumping from one extreme to the other as far as his emotions went. Shifting his weight just enough to get comfortable, Oz sat beside the bed and allowed him to have his moment of weakness. Averting his eyes downward to the bedspread, he waited with his elbows still on the mattress and his hands folded delicately in the air.

    "The more you keep it in, the more power it has over your actions." He pointed out as gently as he could without appearing condescending. Oz didn't look up from the bed, aware that it would only make things worse to meet James's gaze now. "I'm not saying anything is all right. You're in a hospital bed and half your body was blasted to hell and back, James, I know it's not all right." Oz sighed heavily and kneaded his forehead, aware that he probably looked a far cry older than he was supposed to at the moment.

    He felt older. "There is no shame in being upset. Nor is there shame in crying." Oz said delicately, looking up at last wearily. "Break down, if it will help. Cry, shout, swear... I don't care. When you're done, I'm still going to be here, and I'm going to help you move forward whether you want to or not."


     
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