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Private [M] Catch Me As I Fall

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G'raha Tia

Final Fantasy
Posts
242
Age
Appears 24
Gender
Male
Species
Miqo'te
Height
5'2"
Occupation
Mages' Guild Leader
Alignment
Neutral Good
Relationship Status
♡ Asra Alnazar
Profile
link
Organizer
link
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Content Warning

December 11, Y110
tag; @Asra Alnazar


It was all he could do to stare on in mute horror as his hands turned to dust, particles glittering like fine crystals as he scattered to the wind.

G'raha's heart beat wildly in his chest as his eyes snapped open, a shaky, audible breath drawn sharply in. Instinctively, he reached out, hand groping blindly at the space behind him, but he found only rumpled sheets and blankets, long since gone cool from the lack of a body to warm them. He squeezed his eyes shut, unable to escape that sensation of his skin prickling, even where there was no longer any skin to carry such things. His fingers curled against the blankets, clutching them, dragging them close as his tail flicked anxiously over the side of the bed. He squeezed his eyes shut, blocking out the sight of the unfamiliar shapes forming in the wood grain, the way they seemed to shift before his very eyes.

He focused instead on the feel of warm cotton against his skin, the press of the mattress beneath him as he dragged his legs up, toes pressing firmly in. Everything that was real and physical and solid against him. He released that shaky breath, eyes fluttering slowly open as he felt a new weight on his chest. And he found Faust there, an almost comforting weight as she slithered closer, head curling upside-down. There was a question there, a soft brush to his mind that he'd long since grown used to.

G'raha breathed a little easier, letting his muscles slowly relax as he tugged a hand free from the blankets to gently place over her. "Only a bad dream," he assured her, brushing past that lingering unease. G'raha slowly pushed himself up, a quiet protest from Faust as she was forced to abandon her perch on his chest. "Asra's still out?" he asked, even as he looked around the room. Though he needn't have asked. Asra hadn't been there the moment he'd stirred, after all.

G'raha vaguely remembered his love saying he was stepping out for...something. Though he'd been half asleep at the time and the sun still high in the sky. He had slept from nearly the moment they had first arrived in Horizon, two strangers exhausted from their journey from a rickety inn on a little-used road in the Wastes to something akin to civilization with warmth, nourishing food, clothing that wasn't just spares of Asra's that actually fit G'raha, not to mention shoes. And, more importantly, a doctor to make sure he was physically okay after being separated from his body for so long.

Horizon had provided all those things, and all they had asked in exchange was for the travelers to contribute to the Community for as long as they intended to stay here.

And so far, G'raha had only slept. Exhausted and weakened, passing out in Asra's arms nearly the moment they had finally found themselves in their borrowed apartment. That had been days ago and he was gaining his strength, little by little. Enough to make it from the bedroom to the couch or a window just for the change of scenery. And then until he felt strong enough to not feel winded after a few steps and actually explored their apartment, small as it was.

His ears dipped a bit as he shifted, throwing his legs off the side of the bed, the silence, the stillness pressing in around him. His skin prickled and G'raha wrapped his arms around himself, fingers pressing against crystal and skin alike. And still he felt unsteady. Unsteady and out of touch, as his tail flicked anxiously at his side.

G'raha pulled himself out of bed and reached out for the garment thrown haphazardly over the nearby chair -- the woven poncho Asra had given him -- and tugged it on. It was the very same one the magician had draped over his shoulders that night they had first met. And perhaps just the fact he was still in his night clothes -- loose cotton pants and a cream-colored shirt that was just a touch too big for him -- while slipping his feet into his boots was telling enough.

He glanced up, a tired smile on his lips as he caught Faust there, curling over his shoulders, tongue flicking out in question. "I just need a breath of fresh air," he explained, plucking up the strip of leather from the bedside table. He feared he didn't have the coordination to properly braid his hair, so he merely gathered those red and white tresses back, tying it off in a low ponytail at the base of his neck instead.

"It's long overdue, wouldn't you say?" he said lightly, extending his arm back down to the table, letting Faust wind down it and off of G'raha. "I won't be long, nor will I go far. Would you let Asra know if he comes looking?" The last thing he wanted to do was cause Asra any more worry. Nor could G'raha stay bedridden when they owed so much to their gracious hosts. And more than anything, was that strangely hollow sensation in his gut. The way if he let his thoughts wander back towards those strange memories -- more of impressions really -- that he curled his fingers tightly, the two crystalline fingers of his otherwise flesh and blood hand pressing into his palm.

A reminder he was here. A reminder that he was still solid.

G'raha opened the apartment door and found himself breathing in the chilly night air. And there, illuminated in the glow of the walkway's lamps, G'raha found the gently falling snow. His eyes widened a moment, that wondrous sight calling back to times near forgotten, in another world, another life entirely. And his smile only grew as he gently shut the door behind him and set out along the walkway along the Canopy Grove Apartments. Snow dusted the steps, though there was a layer of salt somebody had set down at some point as well. It crunched quietly with each step, a strangely calming sound in the quiet of the night.

And as he had promised Faust, G'raha did not go far. Merely to the end of the path, one hand resting along the railing that separated the apartment walkway from the drop down into the Oasis below. The space opened up from there as he passed the last apartment, G'raha already feeling short of breath. Though whatever frustration he might have felt at his own frailty, temporary as it was, gave way to relief as he found the little patio that somebody had setup here. Potted plants collected snow on their leaves, adding a bit of greenery and life even outside of the oasis below. A bench was situated beside one such plant, overlooking the area. And yet G'raha went to the railing instead, tail swaying easily behind him as he folded his arms against it, eyes drifting upwards to where the moon peeked out from beneath the clouds above.

It was quiet out here. Quiet and still, but here and now, with snow collecting along his furry ears, catching in his red locks as his cheeks grew flush with the chill of the air, he felt so much more alive. And for a quiet, peaceful moment, G'raha felt no need to remind himself that he was really here.
 
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Asra Alnazar

The Arcana
Posts
229
Age
28
Gender
Non-Binary
Pronouns
They/Him
Species
Human
Height
5'8"
Occupation
Fortune Teller
Alignment
Chaotic Good
Relationship Status
♡ G'raha Tia
Profile
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Horizon held a sense of community that Asra found rather charming. There was a lack of payment in a traditional sense. Things were exchanged for things. If you lent a hand, you got what you needed to survive. And as someone who had always functioned in that way, this placed suited them. Their mind instantly falling into the pattern of giving back to the people who had helped them both in a time of need.

G'raha was understandably weak after that entire...ordeal. As was Asra, if they were honest with themself. Care for their own wellbeing had been...not fantastic during their search for G'raha. Which was followed by a massive surge of magical energy. Honestly, they still felt drained. Asra making a point to not really touch their magic for the time being, to allow themself to recover. They were also eating a bit more, sleeping a bit more, and generally not pushing themself physically. It was a subtle thing, but one that was likely the only thing keeping them from catching some random cold at the present.

However, they needed to make their presence a positive thing within Horizon. So, Asra had picked up their typical business again. Reading fortunes through their cards, selling magical extracts and potions that they brewed earlier, or had been jostling around in their bag for months. In this case, however, the 'selling' aspect was more just finding what the person needed, and giving it to them. Enriching Horizon as a whole as much as they could, so the two of them didn't feel like a dead weight within the community.

So they were out on this night. A few people had asked Asra to show up at some sort of...small gathering to read fortunes. It was a small and easy thing; one they were happy to agree to. Plus it would mean they wouldn't disturb G'raha - who more than needed the rest.

They returned back to the borrowed apartment, eyes going a bit wide when they didn't immediately hear nor feel G'raha within the place. Before they could jump to any conclusions, Faust coiled up their body and explained. Ah. Out for a walk.

And so they were quick to set down their bag and head out of the apartment...while helping Faust into a warm knitted sweater, of course. It was winter, after all.

It didn't take long to find G'raha at the end of the path. Asra ghosting up behind him, and wrapping their arms around him from behind. Setting their chin on top of his head, they nuzzled G'raha's hair, and just breathed in the scent they associated with him.

"Look at you, out and about."

Their voice soft, and a bit muffled.
 
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G'raha Tia

Final Fantasy
Posts
242
Age
Appears 24
Gender
Male
Species
Miqo'te
Height
5'2"
Occupation
Mages' Guild Leader
Alignment
Neutral Good
Relationship Status
♡ Asra Alnazar
Profile
link
Organizer
link
Directory
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Even now, with so many months in this world, he found himself gazing upon the moon in quiet wonder. The night sky, the way that sunless sea stretched out into eternity was not something to be taken for granted. Her enchanting beauty as she hung suspended above the world, causing G'raha's thoughts to shift back towards those quiet moments with Asra, his partner's pale hair glowing gently in the moonlight.

And it was as if his wandering thoughts had called forth his love. The magician pressed up gently behind him, G'raha leaning back into that embrace, hands resting lightly over Asra's arms.

"Well, I couldn't very well stay cooped up forever," he said softly, ears shifting gently with Asra making himself comfortable there, draped over G'raha as they were. "And it's snowing." He could not hide the note of awe in his voice, and G'raha reached out with his crystalline hand, palm up-turned, catching snowflakes upon the cool facets. They did not melt there, only clung as he curled his fingers gently forward, catching those snowflakes in the palm of his hand.

He had told Asra of the stagnant world he had arrived in Pandora from -- endless light; no sun, no moon, no night sky or stars to hang like little diamonds. Rain, fog, snow, seasons, they had all been driven out of a dying world.

But there was life here. The Miqo'te smiled gently, snuggling back against Asra's chest, an ear flicking gently against Asra's cheek. "It's been...many long years since I'd last seen a snowfall," he admitted quietly, drawing his hand back to his chest. "Ah, but what of you. The world you've described...did you see much snow there?"
 
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Asra Alnazar

The Arcana
Posts
229
Age
28
Gender
Non-Binary
Pronouns
They/Him
Species
Human
Height
5'8"
Occupation
Fortune Teller
Alignment
Chaotic Good
Relationship Status
♡ G'raha Tia
Profile
link
Directory
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Character Development
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Asra relaxed as G'raha leaned back against them. Arms growing a bit tighter in a subtle showing of both being protective, as well as a bit possessive. Nuzzling their face against G'raha's hair, they listened to him go on about snow. Asra's gaze first lifted to the sky, then the unmelting pieces on G'raha's crystalized hand. There was something...sobering about the fact they didn't melt. Asra kept the thought to themself, as their gaze silently rose back to the sky - wondering if the storm would stay mild, or grow aggressive.

Snow was a silent and beautiful thing. One with a destructive power that was hidden behind the fact it floated from the clouds like a feather. They had learned the truth behind snow during the homeless years of their childhood. Of course there were memories - very old memories - from before. Snuggled up to their mother and father as they watched it from the safety of inside. A fire would be crackling, as food cooked elsewhere within their home.

Once they were gone it was nothing but the cold. Blankets burrowed around Asra, as they closed their eyes and wished for summer.

"It snows back home," their voice even - perhaps even a bit light, "I was once not...someone who enjoyed it, but as an adult, it's slowly growing on me," they admitted, as they began to gently pull on G'raha to get him out of this weather, "We really should get you out of this cold. We can watch it inside, if that's alright?"
 
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G'raha Tia

Final Fantasy
Posts
242
Age
Appears 24
Gender
Male
Species
Miqo'te
Height
5'2"
Occupation
Mages' Guild Leader
Alignment
Neutral Good
Relationship Status
♡ Asra Alnazar
Profile
link
Organizer
link
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Pressed up against him like that, Asra was a miniature furnace on a chilly, snowy evening. G'raha relaxed easily back against him, enjoying the pull and gentle squeeze of those arms. Unlike Asra, he saw nothing but beauty in the snow around him. Oh, there had been snowstorms and blizzards in his youth. But G'raha had always been safe and sheltered within his childhood home, or watching from the hearth-warmed chambers of the Studium when he had ventured from home to pursue his own dreams. There had been snowball fights and snow people of all shapes and sizes and races represented.

His smile grew softer, his bare hand rubbing a soothing path up and down Asra's arm. Little by little, bits and pieces he had picked up about Asra's life. And the magician had already told him once that the colder months had been difficult for them. So it was no surprise that perhaps they had not shared that same joyous childhood in the snow that G'raha had.

Even as Asra spoke, G'raha felt that gentle tug as his love started to guide him back towards their apartment. Out of the snow, away from the sharp bite of chill that drew rosy red into his cheeks.

And for an instant, his mind snapped back to that moment upon waking, the panic and fear, the tattered traces of a dream of crumbling.

G'raha's entire body tensed and leaned back against Asra's gentle pull as he dug his feet in, tail flicking anxiously behind him.

"No." The word slipped out in a sharp, shaky whisper before it truly had a chance to take shape in his mind. And it was as if the moment itself caught up with G'raha, the way his eyes widened, gaze snapping up to find Asra's, before he flushed and looked away again.

"A-ah, my apologies. I don't know what came over me." His ears dipped low, uncertainty in his gaze as he wrapped his arms around himself, unable to still that faint tremor in his body -- one that had nothing to do with the cold. "I've been feeling out of sorts since I awoke." And for longer than that even, though G'raha had said little about his experience on the other side.

The Miqo'te kept his gaze carefully averted, fingers pressing into his forearms, on the verge of curling in on himself right there under Asra's watchful eye. "I wish to stay just a little longer...to clear my head, you see. But please, go on ahead and get warm."
 
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Asra Alnazar

The Arcana
Posts
229
Age
28
Gender
Non-Binary
Pronouns
They/Him
Species
Human
Height
5'8"
Occupation
Fortune Teller
Alignment
Chaotic Good
Relationship Status
♡ G'raha Tia
Profile
link
Directory
link
Character Development
link
"No."

Asra blinked, feeling G'raha resist their gentle tug in the direction of warmth and safety. They immediately dropped their partner's hand, confused, and honestly a bit hurt at the bluntness of the reaction. Perhaps it was a touch presumptuous to guide G'raha towards warmth, but it really was rather cold outside. Hatred for the snow or not, it was a simple fact that he had been out in this weather, likely longer than Asra.

They wrapped their own arms around themself to try to push back the cold, as G'raha apologized, yet no smile found its way to Asra's features. It made sense that he felt...off after everything. In many senses, G'raha had ceased to be. The residue of that was more psychological than physical, Asra assumed...even if they were far from a doctor of either the body or mind.

"...Alright," their voice soft, as they ran their hands up and down their own arms to try to force some warmth back into them, "See you inside, I suppose," their voice soft, as they wandered off. A hand ran through their hand to try to free themself of a bit of the snowfall; expression falling a bit darker as soon as G'raha couldn't see it.

There was an idle fear that came from bringing someone back from essentially the dead; one born from experience. The last time Asra had pulled off a similar feat, their memory of everything they were, ceased to be. It was but an echo of an echo, and they found love with another. G'raha remembered, and yet Asra couldn't help but wonder if there was something lost. Something misplaced. Something they'd never get back.

They pushed the thought aside, as they reentered the apartment - dramatically slumping down onto the couch and closing their eyes for a moment. Faust slid out of their sleeve and onto their lap. Asra warmed their fingers on the fabric of the couch, before running their fingers over the snake's smooth scales. Their gaze empty, as Faust climbed further up their body, booping her nose against theirs.

A quiet smile spread across Asra's features, before a tired sigh escaped.

It'd be alright.
It'd be alright.
It'd be alright.
 
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G'raha Tia

Final Fantasy
Posts
242
Age
Appears 24
Gender
Male
Species
Miqo'te
Height
5'2"
Occupation
Mages' Guild Leader
Alignment
Neutral Good
Relationship Status
♡ Asra Alnazar
Profile
link
Organizer
link
Directory
link
Even after he was gone, G'raha could not shake the sight of Asra's back as they walked away, an unsettling somberness placed over those slender shoulders. Even those words, that quiet acknowledgment left him off kilter. It was only after Asra's form vanished into the darkness that G'raha finally turned back to the railing to watch the quiet snowfall over Horizon.
And yet his heart only felt hollow, his thoughts drifting along with Asra, a strange guilt welling inside of him. The air felt colder now, wind cutting through his clothing as he wrapped his arms around himself. His hair fluttered in the breeze as he dropped his face down, fingers burying themselves into the knit weave of the poncho. The very same one he had borrowed from Asra -- the same his love had lent him when they had first met.

Whatever it was he had sought after to calm his shaking heart, it was no longer out here.

It was not even ten minutes when the door to their shared apartment opened and G'raha stepped inside, carrying that chill with him. He dusted the snow from his hair and shoulders there in the small entry area, eyes instinctively drifting towards Asra. And there he was, slumped on the couch, Faust in the magician's lap.

Those crimson eyes slipped shut a moment, reality tugging painfully at his heart. He only kept hurting Asra.

The Miqo'te slipped his boots off and padded quietly across the room, still dressed in only his sleep clothes and that borrowed wrap he had come to cherish. His fingers toyed in that hem now as he came to a stop a few paces in front of Asra. There was a noticeable droop to his ears, even his tail seemed low, curling almost protectively inward. G'raha could not meet Asra's eyes, one hand idly running up and down his arm in that nervous tick of his.

"May I sit with you?" His voice was low, a quiet hesitance there in the lilt of his words. "And talk? I know I've...put you through so much already. Between the past month and....other complications I carry with me..." His hands unconsciously switched, crystalline fingers dragging up the bared skin, mottled with crystals of his opposite arm, hand gripping tight a moment.

"I told you once that I would try to be more open with you," he went on, gaze flickering back towards Asra. "It's not always easy...for either of us, I think. But perhaps we may help ease those burdens together."
 
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Asra Alnazar

The Arcana
Posts
229
Age
28
Gender
Non-Binary
Pronouns
They/Him
Species
Human
Height
5'8"
Occupation
Fortune Teller
Alignment
Chaotic Good
Relationship Status
♡ G'raha Tia
Profile
link
Directory
link
Character Development
link
In those ten minutes, Asra had acquired far too many blankets within their flat. Perhaps it was to press back the discomfort, or maybe they really were far too cold.

G'raha returned later than Asra would have liked, but earlier then they had expected. Their gaze followed his movement, as their fingers continued to run up and down Faust, who was happily looped in their arms.

At the question, Asra made a faint affirmative noise, and nodded - scooping the blankets so there was actually room for another on the touch. Faust hastily coiled around their neck and the movement, protesting in the back of Asra's mind.

"I would like that," they admitted, with a slight nod - studying G'raha's body language as they spoke - a bit of tension in their own form, which was mostly hidden under a sea of blankets. The promise of resolving things sounded nice, but such conversations could sometimes go...sideways. Something as innocent as trying to be more open, had ended relationships for Asra in the past.
 
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G'raha Tia

Final Fantasy
Posts
242
Age
Appears 24
Gender
Male
Species
Miqo'te
Height
5'2"
Occupation
Mages' Guild Leader
Alignment
Neutral Good
Relationship Status
♡ Asra Alnazar
Profile
link
Organizer
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Directory
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Another day, another time, and he would have felt that fond amusement seeing Asra having dragged what seemed to be every blanket from their apartment -- and perhaps a few he had not recalled seeing before -- onto that one couch, building themselves a nest of cozy comfort. But G'raha felt too hollow, his heart twisted up in his chest. His ears dipped low, arms wrapped around himself, looking as if he wished nothing more than to just curl up in on himself. Even his tail was pulled close, curled about his thigh for protection or self-comfort alike. It only eased when he sank down onto the space cleared for him, fingers twisting together on his lap.

And then he was silent, quietly gathering the courage to even start. It was so hard, still so very, very hard to speak of those things he had held close to his chest for so very many years.

"I'm sorry for being short with you out there. It...it wasn't you." His voice was quiet, eyes focused down on his hands, a finger idly tracing the patchy crystal growing on his left wrist. "I just...ever since I..." But G'raha hardly even knew how to start, let alone where. Was still trying to make sense of the mess his head had become since he was rescued from that endless abyss.

"I...I hardly even know how to....but perhaps..." G'raha chanced a look over at Asra, heart squeezing in his chest at the sight of him half-buried beneath those blankets. And the thought of that same uncertainty, the guilt as he had watched Asra's retreating back. "Do you recall the game we played when we first met?" he asked quietly. "A question for a question. Perhaps it is time to pick up where we left off."

Because G'raha was not the only one hurting here. And finally, finally, he managed a small, pained little smile for Asra. "If that sounds agreeable to you....then I shall claim the first question." G'raha let his eyes drift up, gaze quietly searching Asra's face. He settled his half-turned hand gingerly on Asra's thigh, that pile of blankets between them still. "Would you tell me what is on your mind?"

G'raha had his own guesses, of course. But they were tainted by fears and anxieties. He wished only to hear what plagued his love, who often kept those thoughts under lock and key.
 
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Asra Alnazar

The Arcana
Posts
229
Age
28
Gender
Non-Binary
Pronouns
They/Him
Species
Human
Height
5'8"
Occupation
Fortune Teller
Alignment
Chaotic Good
Relationship Status
♡ G'raha Tia
Profile
link
Directory
link
Character Development
link
The blankets and having G'raha back in view, did wonders to the tension within Asra. Fixed, it was not - but it was a step towards progress. As he spoke, Asra kicked the blankets so they were on G'raha, too. Slight dissonance aside, it was cold outside, and he really needed to warm up. His own immune system was likely off after everything, and catching a fever at the present could be genuinely dangerous.

The apology over being short was appreciated, but being lashed out at when they weren't the focus of the mood was...hopefully not a trend. It happened, it was part of the living experience. Simply, after everything, it felt a bit like a kick to a bruise. Though perhaps Asra's own wellness was much lower than they were letting on, and even realized. The thought caused their gaze to drop, as they slumped slightly beneath the blankets. Faust ended up burrowing herself amongst the folds, as they continued to listen to G'raha.

A slight smile pulled at Asra's lips at the mention of the game from their first meeting. That felt like years ago, even if it was only months. They...had been long months. Hard months. Things had become...complicated since G'raha had wandered into their life. And yet they held nothing against him for it.

When the question was pivoted to them, they let out a faint sigh - attempting to sweep their thoughts into something half coherent.

"Hmmm..." they mulled it over a bit longer, lazily draping one of hteir legs of G'raha's as they spread out further on the couch, "I am rather tired. I spent most of today repaying the community. That on top of the amount of...magic required to summon that door, has left me a bit drained at the moment," they admitted, in a rare moment of sheepishness, "But..." their violet gaze focused on G'raha, "But I suppose it all boils down to one question. Do you wish I didn't bring you back from the Otherworld?"

Asra's voice was surprisingly even, despite their words. It was almost as if they had lost meaning somewhere between the thought and his lips. G'raha hadn't asked to be saved, nor had the Apprentice, now that he thought of it. They just assumed and took matters into their own hands, damned the cost.

The pattern was sobering. One that was hard to ignore.

So they thought to simply ask, and be done with it.
 
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G'raha Tia

Final Fantasy
Posts
242
Age
Appears 24
Gender
Male
Species
Miqo'te
Height
5'2"
Occupation
Mages' Guild Leader
Alignment
Neutral Good
Relationship Status
♡ Asra Alnazar
Profile
link
Organizer
link
Directory
link
G'raha had perched himself on the very edge of the couch cushion, not quite relaxing even when he had finally sat himself down. But some of that tension eased as Asra kicked the blankets over and G'raha hardly even realized he was moving before he had tugged one up to his chin, drawing his legs up onto the couch, curling up beneath that softness.

He hadn't even realized how cold he was as he drew the blanket close. He had hardly been dressed for the cold weather, after all. Asra's shawl barely made up for the thin cotton pants and oversize shirt he had been sleeping in. And he settled in there, allowing some of that warmth in as their game began, wishing he did not feel so raw.

G'raha was quiet as Asra took the time to puzzle over that first question, glancing down only as he felt the mage shifting beside him, a leg suddenly draped over one of his own. And G'raha did not even think about it as he automatically moved a hand towards Asra's leg -- Asra often used him as a footrest, after all. But he paused, fingers just centimeters away beneath the blanket, suddenly all too aware of the mix of crystal and flesh there was on his left hand now.

The Miqo'te said nothing. Only eased his hand out from beneath the blanket and stroked Asra's leg from there instead, as if the fabric might help to soften the sensation.

Truly, when he had asked that question, he had not meant so much how Asra was physically doing. More...mentally. Emotionally. Though with how much he had been doing, how he had been helping to take care of G'raha on top of everything else, it was no small wonder that he was tired. G'raha gave him a small, sympathetic smile as he gently squeezed Asra's leg amidst his gentle stroke.

Perhaps some tea would help them both. Though the prospect of getting up felt out of reach at the moment.

But then Asra's eyes were squarely on him, and G'raha's mouth fell open.

"Why would you--?" he started, those crimson eyes wide. Of all the questions Asra might ask him, this had never seemed even remotely possible. His hands tensed, ears pressing down flat as his mind dragged him back to that sensation of crumbling. The idea of being there, in that state still, it shook him to the core. A tremor ran through him, and G'raha curled in on himself, clutching at his own arms, a faint scratch of crystal dragging against crystal. But G'raha swallowed down the words that nearly burst free, eyes slipping shut a moment as he gathered himself. "I should probably answer your question before I return with one of my own," he said after a moment.

It was a simple answer, at least.

"No, I don't wish that. Would never wish that." G'raha's voice was quiet, his eyes slipping back down to the blanket. Unbidden, his mind drifted back towards that other time they had been together in this region of the world. With Asra sitting by his bedside, tears streaming down his face, fearing the worst of G'raha's recklessness.

"Asra, I...I spent 200 years working towards one outcome, one hope. And the cost would be my life." Asra probably did not wish to hear this, and G'raha had never volunteered this part of his story. But he wanted...no, needed him to understand. "I came to terms with this a long time ago. I did not fear it, nor could I ever let myself regret it." Too many brave souls had laid their hopes on him, after all.

"But then...my plan failed, and we were victorious regardless." G'raha smiled softly, shakily as he raised a hand, surreptitiously wiping an unshed tear away. "And right when I realized I had a life ahead of me, the idea so overwhelming...I found you. I want to experience whatever life has to offer. With you. For however long you'll have me." G'raha's smile was so very fragile, ears settling into a more bashful angle as he watched Asra.

"Perhaps I am...too careless, at times," he admitted, biting down gently on his lip. "And it feels as if fate works against us these past months. But I would welcome you dragging me back time and time again." His hands curled gently in those blankets on his lap, the comforting weight of Asra's leg there still. "Though I certainly don't wish to make a habit of it."

It would be nice to have a measure of peace after...everything. G'raha's fingers plucked at the threads of the blanket, thoughts drifting back towards that endless void that haunted his dreams still. "But you...you saved me from that place." It was little more than a whisper. "And I am...so very, very grateful for that," he murmured, voice cracking. But the Miqo'te only shook his head after a moment, struggling to push himself past that strange hollowness. "Does that...help at all?" he asked instead, glancing over at Asra.
 
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Asra Alnazar

The Arcana
Posts
229
Age
28
Gender
Non-Binary
Pronouns
They/Him
Species
Human
Height
5'8"
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Fortune Teller
Alignment
Chaotic Good
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♡ G'raha Tia
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Asra was silent as they listened; expression neutral, even if they leg remained draped over G'raha. The words were less reassuring than they would have preferred, yet they didn't interrupt. What they were feeling was purposefully tucked away just beneath the surface, leaving very little to brush against his eyes and lips - where it could be seen.

It was a difficult situation, to say the least.

"...Please don't make a habit of it," their voice soft, gaze falling from G'raha to the soft blanket.

They would never not save G'raha, but they knew the effect it was having on them. It wasn't healthy, and if it continued...Asra wouldn't be able to. They were vaguely aware of Ilya leaving Pandora, so he couldn't yell at Asra for being an idiot anymore. Their own mental and physical health was there sole responsibility. Which was how they preferred it. However, they just needed to be mindful. G'raha was not careful with his own life, and Asra had told him as much. The memory of them sitting next to his bed in the Wastes was still etched in the back of their mind.

"I'm grateful you're not...put off by my saving you, but..." their gaze finally flicked back up to G'raha, "Promise me that you'll take your life more seriously. I can't always be there to save you, G'raha. I will try, but I'm one person with not unlimited power. I thought you were dead, and in many senses you were," their gaze was perhaps a bit too intense, as it grew a bit glassy, "I'm so tired of loss," their brows pinched together, as their gaze fell again, "Just...promise me."
 
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G'raha Tia

Final Fantasy
Posts
242
Age
Appears 24
Gender
Male
Species
Miqo'te
Height
5'2"
Occupation
Mages' Guild Leader
Alignment
Neutral Good
Relationship Status
♡ Asra Alnazar
Profile
link
Organizer
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It was the last part of his story -- the last important part -- that he had to share with Asra. And yet as his gaze flickered towards his love as it came out, piece by piece, he found himself wishing he could tell what Asra was thinking. Was this helping at all? Or was he only hurting Asra more?

Everything was uncomfortable and raw, and yet there was no lie in G'raha's words. He wished to live. Wished to stay with Asra. Wanted to adventure and see the world and help people, and after it all, be able to share in those quiet moments with Asra.

His gaze was quiet as he watched Asra, their eyes meeting as the magician asked him for a promise. A promise and fear and a natural limitation. And gods, all G'raha wanted to do in that moment was reach out to Asra. To comfort him. His fingers smoothed over Asra's leg.

A promise, so that Asra didn't have to lose anything else.

"I promise," he whispered, eyes dropping down to his hands. "I promise I won't throw my life away." And yet there was a tremor in his voice. Something quiet and vulnerable as a harsh reality, a fear set itself before him. G'raha's hands were shaking as he turned them around, fingers curling. He stared at those crystal facets, both the familiar and the new.

"I promise," he tried again, voice catching. "But what if...what if I don't have a choice." His fingers twisted together, clasped tightly before him. Anguish, dread twisted in his heart, and for a moment all he could see were his fingers falling away like dust. The remnants of that nightmare clinging to him still, and try as he might, he could not stop the fears from bubbling free. "Back in the otherworld, the way I existed it was...it was nothing. It was just emptiness. And I tried, Asra. I tried so hard told hold myself together, but I just kept falling apart again and again. Until I couldn't think, couldn't remember, and I just...I just..."

His grip on his hands only tightened, knuckles that still could going white. His entire body shook, tail curling close against his thigh, blinking back tears. "And sometimes when it's quiet and still and I let my thoughts drift...And I know it's foolish, and I've checked myself. My aether is stable. And yet I still somehow feel like I'll crumble," he choked out.
And he didn't want this. Didn't want to make this embarrassing display while Asra watched. And yet his shaking hands swiped past his eyes again and again, struggling to hold back the tears. But they only fell, wet and messy down his cheeks as he hiccupped with another sob. "I feel like I'm just going to fall apart. Even tonight, I awoke to that sensation again."

This wasn't what he had wanted. He had wanted to talk. Not curl up and sob and fall apart. Gods, he was so tired of falling apart lately. And yet the floodgates were open, and whatever control he'd been struggling to find, it all fell away. He sniffles, tears dripping from his chin as he scrubbed at his face. "I know, truly, that it is all only in my head. And yet, and yet..."

G'raha's shoulders trembled with those quiet sobs as he dropped his face into his hands. He would have curled in on himself, drawn his knees up, if Asra weren't settled over him the way they were. And he could only sob, words lost to him as another truth they reflected settled heavy around his shoulders. A truth that he was reminded of with each time his eye caught the glint of crystal upon his arm or his hands, or each time he undressed only to be reminded of how it encroached towards his tummy now. Even as he cried, ears dipped low in his sorrow, his hand caught against the rough line of crystal that cut across his cheek.

Perhaps it would not be his soul literally falling apart, but someday he would cease to exist the crystal finally overtook him. G'raha was on borrowed time.

It had always been an unspoken truth, especially as the crystal began to spread once more in Pandora. Before Pandora, before Asra, there had been no fear there. Only a quiet acceptance of a fate that he had thought he would likely never live to see. And yet now?

Now he had something to lose.
 
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Asra Alnazar

The Arcana
Posts
229
Age
28
Gender
Non-Binary
Pronouns
They/Him
Species
Human
Height
5'8"
Occupation
Fortune Teller
Alignment
Chaotic Good
Relationship Status
♡ G'raha Tia
Profile
link
Directory
link
Character Development
link
That promise was all they needed. Asra nodded once - as tension slowly ebbed from their form. It didn't fix anything, but they would absolutely hold G'raha to that promise. If they noticed a stray in that behavior, they would feel less guilty bringing it to the light. Nor would they hesitate even for a moment, if they felt the promise was not being kept.

But things shifted. Asra remained silent as G'raha explained. It seemed as if this mess wasn't quite over. The first words about having a 'choice' hit Asra wrong in nearly every way, and yet any annoyance was sated by the tears that followed. He still felt fragile, in a literal sense. Not emotionally weak, but as if he could fall apart at any moment.

Asra shifted forward - pulling the leg off of G'raha for simplicity's sake, before pulling him into a tight hug. Face pressed to Asra's shoulder, as they held him. Their hand drew soothing circles on his back, as they kissed the side of his head lightly.

"I'm not a fool, G'raha. I know that danger is an inevitability, as is death. It's impossible to ask someone to avoid either. I simply ask you try to be mindful. Sometimes it cannot be avoided, you're right," they rocked the two of them slightly as they spoke, "And...sometimes memories leave bruises, G'raha. You're right. It is in your head. But considering everything you've been through," their gaze fell, finding it almost odd that Asra was more familiar with the effects of trauma, "I'm unfortunately not surprised. This isn't something to be rushed. Time will mend that wound, G'raha. Time, and comfort," their fingers brushed through G'raha's hair, "It's alright. You are safe, and you are whole."
 
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G'raha Tia

Final Fantasy
Posts
242
Age
Appears 24
Gender
Male
Species
Miqo'te
Height
5'2"
Occupation
Mages' Guild Leader
Alignment
Neutral Good
Relationship Status
♡ Asra Alnazar
Profile
link
Organizer
link
Directory
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It wasn't until those arms wrapped around him and pulled him close, G'raha's nose pressed into Asra's shoulder, that he realized just how badly he needed this. The firm press of arms, the warmth of Asra's breath, lips pressing gently against his red hair. All while he threw his arms around Asra in turn, clinging as he trembled with each quiet, hitched little sob into his love's shoulder.

Oh, he had cried before in front of Asra. So many embarrassing displays, but always with tears overflowing from a heart that was just too full. Such relief, such unexpected joy, unexpected emotions bubbling up and spilling out as little moments here or there only reminded G'raha that he was no longer alone.

But these tears were different. Born of trauma and fear, as he clung to the first person who he had allowed to see him fall apart in such a way, to share in this moment of vulnerability. Just as they had been in that other world, Asra was the lifeline he could cling to now, lest he lose himself to that dark ocean of memory. Rocked and soothed by quiet words, that comforting touch on his back, his sobs grew gentler, quieter. Tear tracks stained his face and dampened Asra's shoulder as his cat-like ears dipped low.

Asra offered him time and comfort. Promised him he was safe. That he was whole.

A soft, shaky little exhale as he turned his nose into Asra's neck. Lost himself to the press of Asra's body, the warmth of his arms as they wrapped around him. One of his hands slid down, gently sliding beneath the hem of Asra's shirt, seeking the bare skin of his back, fingers splayed wide, trying to draw in all he could, despite the crystal that stole sensation from two fingers. It wasn't enough.

"Asra,"
he whispered, a plaintive, needy little note. "I want to feel you." Wanted, needed that contact. He lifted his gaze, a quiet plea reflected in his gaze before lashes fluttered shut, and he pressed forward, a warm breath over Asra's mouth. Needed to feel him upon his skin, to share in their breaths and heartbeats. To remind himself he was here, that Asra was here, that they were real and alive and he just wanted to feel grounded again. "Please, can we...?"
 
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Asra Alnazar

The Arcana
Posts
229
Age
28
Gender
Non-Binary
Pronouns
They/Him
Species
Human
Height
5'8"
Occupation
Fortune Teller
Alignment
Chaotic Good
Relationship Status
♡ G'raha Tia
Profile
link
Directory
link
Character Development
link
Asra's mind was a thousand miles away, as they felt the hand slip beneath the fabric of their shirt. They didn't pay it much mind, at first. Simply squeezed G'raha a bit, and let out a slightly exhausted sigh from all of this mess. They really hoped it was only pleasant things for awhile.

Nothing was ever perfect of course. There would be good days, and bad. Days where both their moods were off-kilter for seemingly no reason. But in the grand scheme - simply days and events that were less...what they had been. Asra was tired in a sense that went beyond a night of sleep. Life had never particularly been kind nor gentle with them, but they hoped in this new world that wouldn't quite be a continuing trend.

And yet it was.

But hope lingered.
As well as a silent aggressive vow to both themself and G'raha that they wouldn't let things go the way they had before. It wasn't a choice of how fate decided to unfold, but Asra's.

Things would be good now.
They'd make it so.

Asra.

Everything about the tone snapped Asra out of their own mind; gaze slipping down to the man in their arms.

For a moment, they were still - studying G'raha as if they had misheard him, and were trying to piece it together. After a quick moment, a mischievous yet quiet smile pulled across Asra's lips, as they tilted their head to the side.

"G'raha...are you propositioning me?" they asked with a raised brow - yet shed their shirt anyway - honestly curious when exactly tears had turned into a lower heat. They weren't going to argue of course.

A more physical nature of expression was always something Asra was quick to jump to when it came to quieting their mind. Sex was a great distraction - a reset in some instances. They had simply learned to tone it back quite a bit around G'raha, who was more...shy to such matters. They still occasionally brushed the line, but hadn't ever actually...done it. They could practically hear Ilya cackling at the thought of Asra is a nearly chaste relationship - but in truth it was healthier.

Sex had stopped being a fix-it tool for Asra over the past few months. Instead, the more intimate moments were nothing but a reward for breathing, and being in love. That was likely what it should have been - and perhaps once was.

Or they were wildly understanding, and G'raha simply just was cold, and wanted Asra's body heat.

...That seemed equally likely.
 
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G'raha Tia

Final Fantasy
Posts
242
Age
Appears 24
Gender
Male
Species
Miqo'te
Height
5'2"
Occupation
Mages' Guild Leader
Alignment
Neutral Good
Relationship Status
♡ Asra Alnazar
Profile
link
Organizer
link
Directory
link
"G'raha...are you propositioning me?"

Heat flared across his face as his tail flicked and stood up straight, ears perked up. He drew back just slightly, mouth opening as he struggled to find the answer to that question, even as Asra shed their shirt. G'raha had not truly thought those words through. Had only been following a need, that had culminated in that desire for contact and comfort. The tip of his tail flicked, and he felt somehow like he'd been caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

And yet...

"I-I suppose I am," he whispered, those vivid red eyes carefully averted, cheeks flushed with red. And it helped to stop and think a moment. To really ponder on what he was searching for here. G'raha's ears dipped low in embarrassment as the truth of those words sank in. He reached up, fingers fiddling idly with his strawberry and cream hair, pulling those lockes carefully free from their tie.

Just as Asra had commented what felt like so very long ago, even such a small thing could help him relax.

"You...You make me feel real," he went on, trying to explain himself. As if he needed to explain why he wanted such intimacy with his love. But G'raha, who was always so careful with his words, struggled to express the vulnerability, the intimacy he sought with Asra. "And I just...we nearly lost each other. And I just....I want you. I want to feel all of you, Asra. If I'm..." G'raha paused a moment, hands curling in the blanket they shared. "I want to fall apart in your arms, where I know I'm safe," he whispered, before finally chancing a glance up at Asra.

"Is that...okay?"
 
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Asra Alnazar

The Arcana
Posts
229
Age
28
Gender
Non-Binary
Pronouns
They/Him
Species
Human
Height
5'8"
Occupation
Fortune Teller
Alignment
Chaotic Good
Relationship Status
♡ G'raha Tia
Profile
link
Directory
link
Character Development
link
Asra couldn't help but smile as G'raha considered the merits of what he just asked. The resolution to his thoughts, caused their eyes to widen slightly - yet the smile remained. Asra was...a grounding point to G'raha. Anchoring him to reality, even as his thoughts tried to rip him away. The words both soft, as well as pushing against something else entirely at the mention of falling apart in Asra's arms. Despite everything, their teeth bit down on their own lower lip, before G'raha finally glanced back up at them.

By means of an answer, Asra leaned forward to press a gentle kiss against G'raha's lips, before their fingers cupped his face - staring right into those pretty red eyes of his - offering a warm and reassuring smile. They then pushed G'raha back - gently of course - against the couch behind him. Lips meeting once more with a less chaste intention, as they made a low sound in the back of their throat.
 
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G'raha Tia

Final Fantasy
Posts
242
Age
Appears 24
Gender
Male
Species
Miqo'te
Height
5'2"
Occupation
Mages' Guild Leader
Alignment
Neutral Good
Relationship Status
♡ Asra Alnazar
Profile
link
Organizer
link
Directory
link
It was the sweetest answer he could have hoped for. One that needed no words, for all that needed to be said was there in that brush of lips. G'raha's cheeks warmed beneath the gentle touch of Asra's hands, lips left tingling as Asra drew back. Just enough so they could share in that small smile, G'raha's heart -- still so raw and fragile -- fluttering in his chest.

He trusted Asra. Trusted him as he pressed G'raha into the back of the couch, the Miqo'te's arms winding instinctively up beneath Asra's own. His fingers, crystal and flesh alike, splayed wide over the smooth skin of Asra's bare back, fingertips pressing in, grazing up over his shoulderblades. That soft note was echoed in the back of G'raha's throat, lips parting for that heated touch. He shifted with Asra, drawing one leg up onto the couch, tucked between them as his tail swayed over the blanket, curling forward against Asra's hip where it gave a little flick.
 
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