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Ozma

RWBY
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Pandopolis
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1000+
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Male
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Schola Praeditos Professor
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JUNE 2, Y109

Funny how it only took a couple of days for the cabin to feel horribly empty again...

Ozma paced from one end of the tiny cottage to the other, arms rapidly switching between being folded against his chest, and tucked nervously in his pockets, and hanging listlessly at his sides. There was nothing to do, really. The cabin was devoid of life and mess. The bed was bare, and there were dust covers on the furniture, because nobody was here. He and Robin had made the choice to go wandering for perhaps the entire summer. They'd packed up everything important and tossed it all on the back of a wagon, along with the two cats, and the dog. The horses were handsomely pulling the whole load.

Ozma wished he was with them, but he supposed he'd gotten the whole day on the road with Robin. They'd woken to crystal clear, blue, cloudless skies as far as the eye could see, and emerald green fields sprawling in every direction. He'd spent the morning quietly reveling in the beauty of their surroundings, and the afternoon had been loud with laughter and good feelings. Ozma had put the prospect of meeting Toby out of his mind until the sun started to dip in the sky and he'd broached the subject with Robin shyly, silently pleading for an excuse to just... not.

Sorry, Toby. No can do. Robin said so - it's not my fault.

Of course, Robin had been entirely understanding and had brooked no complaints, so... here Ozma was, listening to the sound of an approaching engine. The snap of a car door.
The crunch of approaching footsteps on the gravel. His heart started to throb hard and he took a deep breath, squeezing his eyes shut. Ozma realized absently that he didn't have anything to offer Toby. The cupboards were completely bare.

Heading to the door, he pulled it open. He didn't try to mask his uncomfortable, nervous expression or the way his eyes weren't lingering on hers for more than few seconds at a time. "Hello. Come in." Ozma moved away from the door and headed straight for the couch, awkwardly pulling off the dust cover. "Sorry. Robin and I left a few days ago. Just... getting out of the way for a few weeks. Maybe a few months. But it felt better to meet here than anywhere else." At his side, Eir studied Toby silently, ears slightly pinned, but not entirely. Just... nervous. Not unlike Ozma.

@Toby Daye


 
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Toby Daye

October Daye
Empathy Queen
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Changeling
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This was going to be an awkward conversation. Toby knew it. There could have been a million reasons why and Toby wasn't entirely sure what the right answer would have been. Oz had told her not to assume or presume things, she couldn't remember the exact wording he had given her, but Toby did miss Oz. She missed her friend but didn't know where she stood with him anymore. Minus the afternoon date between Gilly and two horses the six year old was now in love with, Toby hadn't seen Oz since he had vanished out of her house.

Was he doing alright? Was he taking care of himself? Why was he living out in the woods now? Everything seemed to turn on its head in a short amount of time but... well, it wasn't the first time Toby had dealt with this kind of thing. She'd listen and be there for Oz. Whatever it was he needed, even if that was simply saying goodbye.

Toby didn't know what this was going to be but here she was, knocking on the door. Oz looked about as uncomfortable as she had figured. There was a little bit of a smile on Toby's lips, lopsided despite the fact that emotions were so obvious. If anything, that meant they'd be able to at least be honest about what was going on without any acting on either of their parts. It also meant that Toby wasn't supposed to cover hers up either when she responded... after the listening part.

She was a little shocked to see Oz's daemon was still around. July had vanished along with Miks the day before. Gabe was... well, he wanted things to be as normal as possible while he was going through his own loss. Toby was here after moving some meetings around. She'd still be going home early to settle in with Gabe so he wouldn't be alone either. Things were emotional in a lot of directions but for the moment Toby just wanted to check on Oz for a bit. "No worries, Oz. Road trip vacation always sounded fun." The one she had taken with the past Qrow while they were searching for a previous Yang had been... well, that had been very complicated. Toby really didn't want to think about it and thinking about Oz with his boyfriend out on the road instead sounded a lot better to the changeling.

"Anywhere in particular? Or just wandering?" A little bit of small talk was probably a good way to start and ease up the tension. She didn't mind easing into things at all. Or that there wasn't a spot to sit down at. She leaned against a wall and hoped that this gentle start would help the wizard. If he wanted to dive into things directly, that'd be fine with her too.
 
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Ozma

RWBY
Posts
2,107
Location
Pandopolis
Age
1000+
Gender
Male
Species
Human
Occupation
Schola Praeditos Professor
Alignment
Neutral Good
Relationship Status
w/ Robin <3
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link
Organizer
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The air felt tense as Ozma curled his arms around himself, eyes wavering on and mostly around Toby, recognizing that this wasn't going to be a pretty conversation. If he was lucky, maybe talking things out would clear his mind and... fix things, but Ozma had his doubts after the last year. All these situations ever seemed to do was dredge up anxiety and terror that he couldn't seem to do away with... but they did usually help the other person.

Maybe that was all he really wanted.

He wanted Toby to be happy, and to understand the tense position Ozma was in at the moment. Otherwise, he didn't doubt that she'd eventually blame herself and chock him up as just one more person who had abandoned her in her life.

He already felt a spasm of guilt at the very thought that Toby would assume that, and Ozma squeezed his eyes shut. He needed to at least get through the conversation before he started beating himself up.

"Just not here." He shook his head. Part of him wanted to explain the reasoning - what he had promised James about staying away from Cinder Fall, and who she was, and how he felt, and...

Ozma didn't elaborate. He bit his tongue and abruptly sat on the floor, allowing Eir to lean against his shoulder. He didn't look up at Toby, and just focused on the wall instead. "I owe you an apology, Toby... for the last few months. For... more like for the last seven months..." He hunched his shoulders uncomfortably.

"After what happened... I haven't been..." Ozma stumbled over his words, staring down at the floorboards. "...okay." He muttered softly. "I haven't been okay. And..." He groaned, pressing the heels of his hands against his eyes as hard as he could. "Fuck. I wish you could just go in my head and see what I'm trying to say." Ozma sighed harshly.

"I'm sorry. This is pointless." He mumbled. "You have better shit to do than listen to me try and fail to form a coherent sentence about something everyone's already aware of anyway."


 
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Toby Daye

October Daye
Empathy Queen
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Because she didn't know what was going on, at least not exactly, Toby didn't know what to expect. She also wouldn't have blamed Oz if they had... grown apart. There were plenty of reasons why people might not be close anymore and while it would have made her heartbroken, if Oz had needed space or time or... who the fuck knew. Toby just wanted what was best for her friend, whatever that was he needed. Oz wasn't actually looking at her though and Toby's eyebrows furrowed together as Oz dove right into things.

I owe you an apology, Toby. Did he? Toby didn't blame him for anything. But it sounded like Oz had really tried to think this through and then he said some magic words. After what happened. The changeling bit her lip and let the wizard keep on talking. Making good on her promise that she would listen to him. Let him say everything he needed to, right?

She shifted slightly to get more comfortable where she was standing even as Oz started to apologize. To say that she had something better to do with her time than be there for her friend. Funny, this might have made Toby really emotional even six months ago or so. She might have laughed awkwardly and come up with another excuse as to why she might need to leave anyway. To make things easier on Oz but this was... it felt like he had called her here for a reason, right.

"I'm not going anywhere, Oz." She hadn't gone anywhere the last few times but Toby felt like it might have been a good thing to say. He wished she could just go into his head? That might have been possible if Toby offered to taste his blood but then that was a whole can of worms because there was no guarantee that everything would center on what Oz wanted. It wasn't something she wanted to dive into either. "We can take our time to talk before broaching whatever it is that's on your mind, if you want." She had tucked her hands into her jacket pockets. "I still want to know all about Robin, if you feel like sharing." Toby wanted to know all about Oz's partner. She wanted to know about the guy that made her friend happy. It should have been a much more comfortable subject for Oz. Hopefully.
 
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Ozma

RWBY
Posts
2,107
Location
Pandopolis
Age
1000+
Gender
Male
Species
Human
Occupation
Schola Praeditos Professor
Alignment
Neutral Good
Relationship Status
w/ Robin <3
Profile
link
Organizer
link

Things would be easier if Ozma just knew what he needed, but he didn't. He felt like he was frequently sampling solutions and gauging their effectiveness, only to be disappointed by each in turn when nothing really worked.

Worse, he was conscious that he'd often drawn the wrong conclusions. He'd assumed that he needed to distance himself from people, only to realize within days that it was the worst choice he could have made. He'd assumed that his discomfort with Toby had had to do with her need to throw herself into harm's way carelessly, but now Ozma realized that the problem was far deeper than that.

And it had little to do with Toby at all.

He picked at the hem of his pants, still sitting on the floor. "Robin works at Schola Praeditos. I met... I met him first in December. Merlin and I tormented him, actually. We asked him to referee a game between us, and then we relentlessly cheated for fun." Oz almost smiled, but not quite. He didn't want to think about Merlin. "But I first really met him at the end of April. He's... sweet." He smiled then, bashfully.

"Sweeter than me, and gentler, but still more than capable of holding his own. His capacity to forgive is... astounding, but he's not a fool about it. He likes to learn about the world around him, and he has a mind for tactics like you wouldn't believe. He's so smart. I can't keep up with him at all. He's handsome, too. Beautiful, even. He has white hair, and his eyes are..." Ozma sighed softly, then dragged both hands through his hair anxiously.

"He's too good for me, but he doesn't seem to care yet."

Ozma laughed harshly, finally looking up at Toby. "I thought killing Salem would be the end of everything, but it was just the start. I could ignore a lot of what was wrong with me when I had Merlin. He was like a drug - as long as I was close enough, Merlin's magic made me feel untouchable. Then Merlin was gone and I crashed. Hard, Toby. So hard." He pulled his hands through his hair again.

"I won't tell you what I did after he left Pandora. I'm not proud of it... but Robin's helped - in a more passive way than Merlin. Probably a healthier way." Ozma knew he was babbling and giving Toby no space to reply, but he couldn't stop. "Time and distance have helped as well... I know I'm not okay. I was denying that for a long time, and I'm amazed anyone has stood beside me after the last year, because I've been a monstrosity. Just lashing out at everyone. Including you. I'm sorry for that."

He brought a hand from his hair to his mouth, chewing nervously on his thumbnail. "I can't even look at you without seeing what happened." Ozma said bluntly after a pregnant pause, looking up at her sorrowfully. "I don't think I've been so frightened in centuries."


 
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Toby Daye

October Daye
Empathy Queen
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63
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Someone being sweet to Oz was a good thing in Toby's books. Her eyes lit up a little bit and one corner of her mouth twisted into a lopsided smile. But then came the next bit. The part where Oz literally started to shit on himself and Toby never knew how to handle that the best way. She had been running into that in a few other places in her life too, where people didn't value themselves in the same way she did. If Robin decided that Oz was good enough for him, wasn't that enough? Oddly, Toby was never good with other people feeling the same sorts of things that she did. Or had. Not the depressive sort of talking down thing she had once hounded herself with, day in and day out.

It was hard for her to hold it all together, but she had promised to listen and Toby was listening. Actively paying attention to what he was saying as well as watching how he was moving. Picking up body language even as she tried to keep her own quiet. This was his space to speak and even if Toby had have a mind to throttle him for the way he was being mean to himself, the changeling was still quiet. He apologized for lashing out and Toby's eyebrows furrowed together. She might have been trying to speak through her eyeballs but Toby had already forgiven her friend. He had been through a lot and the whiplash he had given her had hurt, but she just wanted him to be okay. At the end of the day, Toby just wanted Oz to be healthy and happy.

Then Oz dropped the bombshell. I can't even look at you without seeing what happened. Toby actually looked away for a second, trying to wrap her mind around that and the fact that Oz got scared when he was near her. That hurt too, but it was no one's fault but Salem's. Salem was a scary bitch and she knew some of the things that he had gone through in dealing with Salem because of what Ozpin had told her.... but Salem was scary. Easily past the Blind Michael department. But maybe it was because of her own personal levels of trauma she had been through, but Salem's attack had... not been as traumatizing to Toby as it probably should have been. In a way, it was easier to accept when she was the collateral damage and not the other way around.

"Does it help if we don't see each other?" Toby didn't want that. If she were a more selfish person she might have considered just saying fuck it but she didn't want to hurt Oz more than she already had by... Toby wasn't sure. She actually had not gone looking for Salem after her death. Toby hadn't even looked for her in the first place. As far as Toby was concerned, unless the entire world was on fire or one of the kids was targeted directly, Toby would mind her own goddamn business where the Grimm bitch was concerned. But if she was going to actually lose her friend over this... well, maybe Salem had hurt Oz the way she really wanted and Toby only wished she could have helped instead of hindered. "I accept your apology, Oz. I just... don't want to hurt you even by accident." She was glad they were talking though and Toby looked back up at Oz to offer him a soft smile.
 
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Ozma

RWBY
Posts
2,107
Location
Pandopolis
Age
1000+
Gender
Male
Species
Human
Occupation
Schola Praeditos Professor
Alignment
Neutral Good
Relationship Status
w/ Robin <3
Profile
link
Organizer
link


"I don't know." Ozma shook his head and shifted as he continued to sit on the floor. "Just because it doesn't hurt doesn't mean it's helping. Avoiding my problems... that's what's caused half the issues in my life, Toby." He looked at her evenly, fighting every single instinct that wanted him to avert his eyes. "Running away from my problems... that's become my status quo, hasn't it?"

He didn't know what he wanted on any given day. It had taken this long for Ozma to even recognize what his problem with Toby was. His eyes shifted downward. "I want things to go back to normal, but that's just not going to happen. I'm just trying to decide what the next best thing would be." He admitted softly, pulling up his legs and resting his chin on his knees.

"I'm so tired of this constant fear that Salem will take away the people I love, Toby. I thought I didn't have to feel that way in Pandora, but then..." Ozma gave a miserable laugh and buried his face against his knees. "I don't know. I don't know what I want anymore. Everything and nothing."

 
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Toby Daye

October Daye
Empathy Queen
Posts
4,582
Age
63
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Changeling
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It kind of felt like Toby was showing up for Oz to voice his fears and his anxiety, or maybe to talk through his thoughts. He was hurting and Toby didn't know how to help at this stage. Whatever Oz needed to get back to a normal that worked for him. Toby just had no clue what this meant for their friendship or how she was supposed to help. Just be herself, she supposed, and make sure that Oz knew that she wanted to be his friend. From there, it would depend on what Oz needed and how comfortable Oz as with being around her.

It was traumatic for him though. He had always had Salem over his shoulder. Always had her fucking with his life and Toby was just another element in that blender. One of many that had died because Salem didn't want Oz to have a normal, happy life. Toby really hated her. Salem would have fit right in at a faerie court. Oz didn't know what he wanted and Toby didn't know how to help. What a pickle they found themselves in.

"Alright, well..." Toby stopped for a second and then her right hand lifted to run through the hair on the back of her head. Oz was curling up into a ball and Toby felt her heart break for him. After a few moments, the brunette moved to sit down next to him. Not touching him. They had held each other in troubled times before. Toby had weeped in Oz's arms and he had done the same. In a way, Toby felt like Oz was some sort of brother that she wanted to look out for and lean on in turns. Like you did with family. It wasn't always smooth or easy, but that was... well, that was family.

"So, let's just take it day by day then." Toby didn't lean in his direction but she didn't stare either. Instead her gaze traveled along one of the walls, staring at nothing while she worded out her thoughts. "I'm still going to call you and ask to hang out. Just feel free to say no if you're uncomfortable. You don't ever have to give me a reason, okay?" That was what she could do to be supportive, Toby felt. Let Oz know she was around and then not get upset if he couldn't hang out. She could do that. Hell, she could do that for a good while if that was what Oz wanted. It was easy enough to do, even if it also made her heart heavy.
 
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Ozma

RWBY
Posts
2,107
Location
Pandopolis
Age
1000+
Gender
Male
Species
Human
Occupation
Schola Praeditos Professor
Alignment
Neutral Good
Relationship Status
w/ Robin <3
Profile
link
Organizer
link



The cruelest thing about Pandora was that, for months, Ozma had been free of Salem. He had grown accustomed to being able to breathe freely, and he had started to unfurl himself, bit by bit, timid and unsure of the consequences at first, and then with relish. He'd formed bonds and friendships. He'd come to love Pandora for all its flaws, and he'd seen it as a gift...

Then it had all been brought down around his ears, and even a year later, Ozma could sob at the cruelty of it. Not only had he been tortured and killed more than half a dozen times, but he'd lost one of the greatest friendships he'd ever found, and Oz didn't know how to fix it. He didn't know how to look at Toby and see anything but what had happened with Salem. He didn't know how to think of her without feeling a spasm of anxious dread that she was going to get herself hurt, and this time he wouldn't be there to save her.

Salem had broken everything in Pandora in ways she hadn't been able to in Remnant. Not for centuries, anyway. Not since Oz had learned through pain and death to just... keep everyone at arm's length. In Remnant, he could have watched her torture Qrow, or James, or Glynda... any of them to death, and he wouldn't have swayed or weakened. He would have hated himself, but Ozpin, at least, had gotten used to that.

Oz had opened a door in Pandora, and it was damnably hard to close. He loved Toby. He loved Robin. He loved Qrow, and James, and Maria, and everyone else he had ever met in this world, and Ozma knew that he wouldn't be able to simply stand and stare if they were hurt. It was no longer... Oz had changed. Some would argue for the better, but then, they didn't know Salem.

His eyes drifted up to Toby at last. "No promises." He sighed softly, and his gaze slid down to the floor. Ozma rested his cheek against his knee, arms still wrapped around his shins. "I'm so sorry, Toby. For all of this. I didn't mean for any of this to happen." Ozma explained weakly, squeezing his eyes shut. "Pandora's made a mess of my entire life, you know. Being in this body again, with these memories... I still don't know if it's a blessing or a curse."


 
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