1965-08-13 - Shanghai Solace, 1922
Summary: A sudden loss is more than Ambrose can bear. Enforced rest is all well and good, but distrust is a hard thing to shed, especially in the den of Shanghai's Shadowiest.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
lamont ambrose 

It's been a few days since the shadow of the athletic young roof-runner graced the balcony and connected bedroom belonging to one Mister Black, ever on his rise up the ladder of Shanghai underworld crime. At this point, his absence is beginning to toe the line of 'irregular', as one Colonel Hathi will say in an animated movie. It's late night, nearing midnight if not soon after, and the city has quieted but for the muted bustle of night-time traffic, both vehicle and human alike.

It might sound a little like someone abruptly threw a large sack of grain up and over the railing, given that the arrival lacks all grace. The leap from the rooftop is followed by a stumble-stumble to allow him to bounce off the frame of the doubled open balcony doors and hes even landing on one knee briefly before lurching upright. Wide eyed, almost frantic and feral, Ambrose looks around the room until he spots Kent.

Even with the balcony doors open, the air is heavy and sweet with that smoke, mingled with incense. Kent lies in that half-sprawled state, propped up in the very back corner of that absurd bed. The room is dim save for the flicker of the little spirit lamp on the table, casting wavering shadows. Ambrose gets an owlish stare.

The pipe itself is neatly disposed on the table in the bed's alcove, and Kent pries himself away from the support of the wall to frankly crawl to the edge of the bed. "Why are you frightened?" he asks, with unwonted bluntness.

"Oh, for feck's sake — " The brunet doesn't even finish the brittle thought, unable to process fully that Kent, once again, is under the influence. "Black — put me out," he says in a haunted voice as he makes his way over almost as if drunk….and by the smell of it, he might just be.

Knees hit the floor, one-two thumps, and he's almost curled in on himself now in his hasty kneel, his hands gripping up his loose khaki pants. He offers up the back of his neck, headscarf a-jumble, and from him escapes a broken inhale. "Put me out, I beg you, I - I dont want to feel!"

Odd to think he can offer mercy. But he can. Ambrose begging….that may have featured in an idle fantasy or two. But not like that. "Come here," he says, reaching for him. "I don't want you lying on my floor. But I'll give you sleep, if you wish."

Ambrose slowly lifts his chin, looking first through the hang of his loose hair escaped from the headscarf and then straight upon Kent. Such terrible grieved dignity draws heavy lines on his face and adds years to dull the usual gleam of his eyes; instead, they shine with unshed tears. Apparently, he wasn't expecting the charity right off the bat — prepared to bargain for it. The fragile resistance melts away and again, he slumps. His back underneath the inky silk of his vest rounds up higher still, as if he could shrink in upon himself enough to vanish entirely from the world.

"I d-don't care if I lie upon the floor, Black." More composure fractures and another huge inhale goes rough before leaving him almost in a whine. He's made no move to take the offered hand, apparently so lost in the tidal pull of sake in combination with emotion. There's guaranteed to be the pins-and-needles prickle of the Bane at the very second Kent's palm touches his skin; it might be best to grab up a handful of the usual black vest instead.

Pins and needles, but not for long. His will reaches for it, forces it back, one long exertion - back down to the marrow of the bones. Without Ambrose's wariness or usual distrust, it's easier than it might be.

Then Kent is drawing him, by his hand, having come forth from that absurd den of a bed. All the better to simply urge him to lie down. Still holding the Bane at bay by his will, as he plays valet without a hint of annoyance. Off come boots and socks, off come that vest. Then he's urging Ambrose to lie back on the pillows, the silk cool and fresh.

The moment he's so settled, that long hand is over his eyes, and oblivion comes down like a dark curtain. He doesn't even speak - just that will like a night tide, drawing Ambrose down.

It's about the time that the vest is being slid from his shoulders that the first tear slips down Ambrose's cheek. He hiccups once then and weaves in place, his breath smelling of rice wine. If asked, he would have insisted that it was a hiccup and not a stifled sob. Misery exudes from him even as he lies back against the pillow, a wave that threatens to swamp him — there's no doubt that Kent can feel this, even when not directly touching the brunet's skin. Another long inhaling that fractures over a few seconds and the cerulean eyes roll towards the other man. They ask yet again for solace — for forgiveness — for the preservation of himself — and then comes the darkness.

Down he swirls into the silence of velvety blackness after breaking through the starry reflection pond like thin ice. His entire body goes dead-limp but for the slow and light breathing betraying life. Another tear slips into the hair alongside his face, eased free by the weight of closed lids.

That last he wipes away with a brush of his thumb….and then, rather than depositing it on the silk of the bedding, Kent brings it to his lips. As if it might taste different than most. Then he's lying down again, settling himself carefully. All the better to holdhimself still as he balances the metaphysical weight of the Bane, for now. The drug is both an aid and a burden on that front, but more the former. His expression is patient and a little sad in turn. Not incapable of pity, despite his ruthlessness.

There's a glance at the pipe, but he'd have to reach over and wake Ambrose to get it, so it's left, for now. Hours pass, and it goes from midnight to the wee hours, when the city is as quiet as it ever gets. There's the sound of the other houses on the lane, most of those of ill-repute - music, laughter, voices murmuring.

One way or another, through slip of attention or maybe in the manner of a sleep-seeming, Ambrose slowly comes to wakefulness. Up he rises through the translucent surface of the celestially-dotted mirror-surface and then he's seeing the muted semi-darkness of his eyelids. There's no doubt that his most-polite host knows the very second that he reaches the state of nearly-total consciousness. He tilts his head to one side, away from Kent in unknowing and mentally-slowed response to his surroundings, and he listens as he squints at the far wall. City birds…faint voices…the sound of a door across the street opening.

His eyes go wide and then he looks back in the other direction. Thus follows the ridiculous response of basically throwing himself as far and as fast away from the other man. A foot catches in the silk sheets and the edge of the bed looms far more quickly than he calculates. THUMP — over the edge he goes into the narrow space between bed and wall. A groan can be heard before being swallowed down. And then comes the faint sound of choking down another sob.

Kent sits up, with that dreamy slowness. His eyes are half-lidded with that combination of sleepiness and the drug. "Ambrose," he says, and his voice is gravelly from that earlier smoke. "Come back here. Lie back down, I'll let you sleep more, if you like. You don't have to…." Be sad? Be afraid of him? "Run away," he settles on. "You do remember that you asked me for sleep?"

"Yes, I bloody remem-mem-ber," comes the small and broken voice from beyond the side of the bed. Ambrose curls in upon himself and another half-sob slips from him despite his best efforts. "It didn't bloody work. Nothing bloody works." The floor is cool from the early morning air slipping into the bedroom. He notes it at a far distance as some scrap of comfort. "I'm not - not drinking more sake. That doesn't bloody work!" He slips into a sudden louder volume for a split second before it sounds like the waterworks begin in near-silence. From the sounds of things, he's clapped his own palm over his mouth to prevent the worst of it from escaping.

There's a hand on his shoulder - that sensation of Kent taking the mental weight not only of the Bane, but of that pain. Muting it, softening it, letting it lose itself in the smoke that's still drifting around in his brain. Ambrose can share in some of the nepenthe of opium, without taking it himself. "I take it drugs don't work, either?" he asks, a little faintly.

The bitter crushing weight of loss is lifted enough that it brings Ambrose up from the attempt to curl in once more upon himself more tightly than a pill bug. He feels the palm on his shoulder and looks to it first with red-rimmed eyes before up at Kent, what he can see of the man from his angle on the floor.

"I don't want to do drugs," he says in a pitiable, fragile tone, the faintest note of pleading present. "I want to not f-feel. I want to go on about my bloody day and not be reminded when it is m-most inopportune. She's…" Kent likely feels the cyclonic upkick of the Bane briefly thrashing about in the starry pool before settling into the depths again. The surface still roils with invisible raindrops. "She's dead, Black." He holds the other man's pale eyes, heedless of any risk of ophidian influence. "Mrs. Gilreath. In her sleep. T-T-Treated me like a — like — like a — a son."

Maybe Kent knows of the well-to-do widow who lived near the docks of the river, maybe he doesn't. Either way, reporting this is enough to send Ambrose into an emotional revolt at his attempted control. The sobs bubble up at half-effort with the muting and still shake him where he lies.

A pang goes through him, at that, unbidden but summoned anyhow. There's a family in England that he left behind in his bitterness, a name he's shed….but there are still those who seek news of Kent, wondering where he's gone. He blinks at that gaze, but his own is far less cold than usual.

Then, without hesitation, he's pulling Ambrose to him. That lean body is a poor substitute for a lover or a family member, but Kent's the only one he can touch, for now. He's warm and scented with several different kinds of smoke….but gentle enough. Not like he didn't soothe a few nerve-wracked pilots or his own weeping soldier, once, long ago.

In the midst of wracking sobs, Ambrose is an easy one to guide. He moves with the discoordination of blurred eyes and life-sucking misery. The awkward jumble of limbs gathered to his own chest means that an elbow might Kent in the ribs, though it seems that his bent knees are nowhere near to impacting painfully. Tears fall freely now even as his chest caves and rises to try and gather air for each convulsing outcry.

"Th'only one I had l-left," he weeps as he shoves his forehead harder against Kent's sternum. For once, the Bane seems to be banished well and good into his bones; or maybe it's that he's not entertaining its existence right now, not one iota's worth. "Now'm alone agai-ai-ainnnn…"

It's like finding some strange new bird on his windowsill….or one he hasn't seen in a long while: guilt. Guilt for those who suffer in England because of him. But Kent doesn't try to hush Ambrose, nor does he simply knock him back under again. Let grief come and go, for it has to be deep, considering that there hasn't been a moment's thought to the fact that he's being held by someone he despises. "I'm sorry," he murmurs, against that dark hair.

"I w-w-want her b-back." It's the heartbreaking plead of the child — the son — the youngling he once was so many decades back now colliding with the uncaring, cold reality known by his current psyche. Death stops for no one; this, Ambrose knows all too well…but he doesn't have to like it. He curls in closer yet, until he's almost breathing his own trapped and heated air between his chest and that of Kent. The bawling continues on yet, though it has noticeably lost a fraction of its intensity now, contained as it is between the two men.

It's like the boys in the trenches, wailing for their mothers as the gas burned its way into their lungs, their wounds. "We always do," he says, lightly, softly. There's an odd light in his eyes. This isn't good. He's not supposed to get this close, not as uneasy allies or teacher and student.

That unease doesn't stop him from stroking that long, dark hair. Ambrose will be angry, when the tide of grief has ebbed, that he's shown that vulnerability. But there's noting to do for now.

Ambrose doesn't seem to notice the gentle run of the foreign palm along his lanky locks, gone wet at their roots with sweat. Naturally, crying this hard has turned him into one hot mess — literally. Nearly-closed fists convulse shut again, felt against Kent's chest, and then the sobbing's intensity drops another notch yet. Like a fire burning itself to coals, he's working his way through the nauseating battle of defiant disbelief and heartbroken understanding.

"W-W-Want her b-b-back…" he whimpers almost as a parting swipe at the reality closing in around him. He shifts his legs and silk whispers against itself as he inhales and exhales shakily before losing his attempt at control. Still, the intensity begins to bleed away as emotional energy begins to flounder.

"Of course you do," he murmurs, closing his eyes. Kent's heartbeat is slow and steady, beneath that knit cotton, the drug imposing its leaden calm. Steadying him, and by extension the both of them. He shifts his own weight, the better to let Ambrose lean against him, half-lying, back against the glossy wood of the bed's wall.

It's like lancing an infected wound - better to let the pain have its way and then go, rather than fighting it.

Finally, possibly several minutes later, the first soundless inhale is completed, even if it quivers like a tree in a storm. Another. And another yet. In and out. Ambrose's face is planted cheek-flat to the other man's chest now. He's not thinking of much; there's nothing high-intelligence to process right now. It's all the basic responses. Breath, in and out; remain mostly upright against slumping bonelessly to the bed itself; heartbeat — listen to it, a rhythm on repeat, one he's felt at his fingertips but not heard with clarity. He leans harder yet before sniffling loudly.

"'m sorry." It's barely a nasally whisper.

From somewhere in the bedclothes, the gray-eyed Englishman produces a linen hankie, and wipes Ambrose's face with it. Gentle, matter of fact, without a parent's brusqueness. Nothing to be sorry for, comes the reply, mind to mind, rather than aloud. EVen that touch is, in its way, gentle. Holding himself quiet and still, as if he might frighten Ambrose away….some part of him already braced for the revulsion that has to follow.

Everything to be sorry for — can't stop it — couldn't stop it — gone — gone gone gone why gone no please not gone —

As easily as he takes to letting his thought stream be heard across the kything, Ambrose derails it quickly enough. Kent is wise to remain slow and cautious in his motions. The brunet takes the hankie's cleaning without much reaction, his face showing the same grief-deepened lines of life's wear and tear, even with the assistance of the resting Bane. The inset of numbness is sure to follow unless something jolts him from it, gently or roughly, for better or for worse.

HE lets it come, silent, even mentally….though there's that sense of thought going on behind the barriers that preserve privacy. Then he settles them both back down, Ambrose resting against him. Neither may sleep, but there can be calm…even if it's the calm of exhaustion. Rest, of a sort.

It's a pseudo-state of meditation that Ambrose enters, lying now on his back and with his forehead tucked up beneath Kent's chin. A sniffle and shudder still shakes him here and there, one out of every eight breaths or so. Little blips of thought rise and burst along the numbed kyth-line, as if rising from tar pits, and all are bright and beautiful and pained.

— Not friends. This one pops smaller than the others, almost as a statement of fact, devoid of emotion. — Thankful. The juxtaposition pops with equal lack of feeling.

Thank the gods for the drug's ability to muffle anything that might result from holding another man in his arms. It grants the younger man a chemical equanimity….and the mental reserve he needs.

For Kent's reverted to being a near non-entity, a neutral presence at the other end of the link, steadying and calm. Just a human pillow.

With nothing but the back of his puffed lids to stare at, Ambrose's attention turns inwards more yet. His brows are still knitted that ferocious and troubled jumble, but they lessen their attempt to permanently wrinkle his brow in noticeable slackenings.

It's almost like a dog nudging its nose under an unassuming hand, shy and present. — You're there? — Nudge-nudge, mentally, hesitant and still cringing, ready to fly at one second and belly-flat to the floor in the next. Anything for a blip of response. How the skin-hunger haunts him.

No impatience from the other end. I'm here, he affirms, gently. And perhaps there's some sense of that…and its mirror in him. For whom does he touch? Not many. No lover, no concubine, no dalliances with the women he employs. Holding himself apart.

His hand still rests on Ambrose's hair. As if they both floated on the surface of that dark, internal sea. Rest.

— can't sleep, remember? — The blip comes with a sad, wrung-out ghost of a laugh to accompany it. Grief surges up to swamp him briefly, but he weathers it well enough, even if it surges to his skin before abating to leave him with stinging eyes once more.

A minute nuzzle seeks out the pulse at Kent's neck and once the rise of Ambrose's cheek finds it, he stays there again, deliberately keeping and then losing count of the fillips beneath the skin. — can't sleep forever — not Sleeping Beauty. Frangible amusement spreads like frost on windowpanes before melting away again. — Rest. Winsomely, the thought falls upon the starry pond and breaks apart. Another nudge across the kything, the dog shoving its nose more firmly yet beneath the still hand.

I'm sorry. That's hard. I'd go mad if I couldn't sleep, I think he muses. His throat works once at that nuzzle. Conscious of the strength and strangeness of the accursed…..and absurdly so of the glow of blood rising tothe skin. He's blushing, despite himself, even as the link stays calm. Rest in the calm. It's quiet here. Both inside and out. Almost dark - the lamp has died down to a dull glow.

— miss dreaming — miss that most of all. comes the thought, filled to overflowing with longing. A pale wash of emotional coloring is beginning to show in his thought stream crossing in and out of the mental link. His breathing is slow if stuffy through his nose and there's a wrung-out limpness to his resting on the bed, within the arms of the other man. It's still not caught up with him yet, the circumstances of this induced state of calm.

Precisely as he'd have it, for now, anyway. I could… It's hesitant, this offer. I could let you sleep and dream, sometime? I think? All tentativeness - he's genuinely unsure. There's the scent of smoke and incense and sandalwood soap to him. I've not really tried to direct a sleeping mind…

Metaphorical ears perk and then slide back to express hesitance. The interest in the offering is now muted; not gone entirely, but a shadow of itself. Old lessons hard-learned at the end of a rifle haunt him yet.

— You think? Disbelief is finely-gritted in the cogs of his processing. — direct, puh. The imagery of a kicked pebble rolling down a hill ripples briefly. Momentum alone, he seems to postulate, in terms of the dreaming? The mind remembers well enough the time spent dallying in the weird brilliance of dreaming. Is there such a thing as mental-muscle memory?

Not so much in the dreams itself, as …. A sense of him seeking the right images. Keeping you under, but not so far it crushes any chance to dream The offering plain, nonetheless, calm and even-keeled. Resting on what the drug offers, that induced strength.

The thrum of a plucked tight-rope echoes across the eerily-tranquil surface of the reflective pond.

— Balance. Flash, looking down at one's toes as the thin rope swings left and right before fear cuts in and falling follows. The acrid taste of fear lingers, pale as it is in terms of emotional strength. There's not much to work with for Ambrose anymore, still lost more than less in the buzzing anesthesia of emotional drain.

A sense of agreement. Balance, exactly Then wry amusement I would offer you a chance to sojourn in my dreams, but we can't hold your curse at bay while I sleep…..and you wouldn't want to see mine

— not consider it further then. The rebuff is taken with majority acceptance and the barest sprinkling of hurt. Ouch, denial. It's likely a side-effect of being so scoured from grief and absurd to consider in comparison to the brunet's usual composure around Kent. The metallic overtones of trepidation fade away into the sweetly-smokey presence that Ambrose is beginning to associate with the reflection pool in its still and celestial majesty.

He shifts where he lays and though it may entice a brief scare over leaving, he simply goes limp once more. — Empty. It's a sad little report across the kything, full of regret like a small child kicking forlornly at an empty can. — all hurts.

A moment of darkness, silence. Then he's offering comfort again. It's awkward, strange, but sincere. Hard to lie mind to mind. I am sorry I can't stop the pain he says, slowly. It's not in me. Reassurance there. Ambrose is not alone.

Not your responsibility — mine — thirsty. The basic physical need pops up across the mental link even as he's licking at his lips. Another sniffle and he shifts again, if only to rub at his face. Drying tear-salt tickles and his palm does a good enough job wiping it away. Another quivering inhale and he lapses back into silence. Seems he's not got enough gumption to hunt out a glass of water much less complain further.

On the surface of the reflection pond, an image wavers into completion: a wizened face, old for her time, kindly and knowing and apparently telling him something fairly insulting, given that it's accompanied by the echo of sudden startled laughter, both fond and prickly all at once. It fades as another wave of grief slaps him. The next exhale is a small whine that quivers into sore vocal cords silencing from effort. Surely Kent can hear the echoes in the kything space of words spoken by a stern voice, even if it's not identified: Stiff upper-lip, lad, weeping is for the women.

Now he moves, carefully, to retrieve a glass of water from the side table, and proffers it to Ambrose without a word. But there's a wave of sympathy from him. You need not feel any shame to grieve or weep before me he offers, humbly. Aware of Ambrose's abiding dislike. I wept like a child when I lost friends in the war There's a moment where the images are a ghostly gallery of faces - mostly young men, though there's one girl there, startlingly pale with black hair and an impish, laughing face under a nurse's starched cap.

Slowly, as if recently recovered from an ague, Ambrose makes his way to sitting upright. He sits but still loose-jointed and hangs his head, as if even raising it would take too much effort. Kent might get to wondering if he's being entirely ignored, but then coming the reach and retrieval of the glass. The man sips at it, swallows with a wince, and continues hiding behind the fall of his lanky brown hair. Easy to proffer, avoidance of shame, but nurture does embed its roots into the psyche.

Everyone's lost someone — sorry for your loss. It has the stiff formality of something offered as rote manners, still hollow. He nestles the glass on the bedding between his legs and keeps it from tipping by loose fingers alone.

Hair he doesn't hesitate to brush away from a temple, expression grave. But mostly Kent's still just a presence in the link, even as he's a quiet figure in the confines of the boxy bed, gray eyes sad, solemn. Thank you. And I am sorry for yours There's something stealing along the link. Not quite numbness, but a closeness meant to offer strength, support, an odd intimacy.

|ROLL| Ambrose +rolls 1d20 for: 8

The brunet's face turns away from the reaching touch that brings the sweat-soaked locks along his cheekbone to tickle, but he does nothing more than leave his head averted at that angle. His eyes are nearly shut and looking at everything and nothing within the shadowed far corner of the joining walls that surround them.

I'm sorry too. It comes across the kything with crystalline clarity, as if spoken aloud, and contains none of the strained rasp of grief. He turns mental attention towards the slowly-rolling arrival of this new amalgamation of foreign sentiments. — ? Then comes the turn of head again, so that his red-rimmed eyes can slide to see Kent in his peripheral vision. His face is still slack, difficult to read.

Kent's sat up, a little. Sitting, almost kneeling, with his legs drawn up to one side, watching Ambrose with that patient wariness. No words in reply, but that offered support. The impression of closeness, that stillness, braced for rebuff or scorn. If anyone in Shanghai knows what he is, it's Ambrose, and the idea of that particular serpentine mind and dark heart offering sympathy might seem absurd.

After a good number of seconds, there's the sense of the impending staredown being averted mentally even as he looks back down at the glass of water in reality present. Ambrose wrinkles his nose and scrunches his eyes tightly even as he shakes his head, all to himself.

No-no-no-no — necessary evil — not kindness — how dare I. The fall of his hair slips from where it was momentarily brushed aside in supposed kindness and back to mostly curtain his face again. Up comes the shoulder closest to Kent and then he's taking a large swig of water…or at least attempting to, what with beginning to detach himself in every way possible from the realization of where he's at.

No attempt to keep him but the wordless offering doesn't waver. It's for Ambrose to withdraw, if he's ready, if that's what he wants. Very still, deliberately not thinking about the circumstances, either - the pair of them in that bed, alone, concealed. But he does reach to brush the hair away again, lightly.

|ROLL| Ambrose +rolls 1d20 for: 5

"Don't." The word is a rough whisper and full of agony. The kything space begins to quiver and become amorphous, blurred around the edges. It's like his attention is slipping within in and, in accompaniment, the Bane begins to stir within the stygian chasm beneath the celestially-pocked surface of the water. "You're a necessary evil. That is all," Ambrose says, his speech gaining no volume.

A blip in the mental link: the desperate need to trust and almost painful retraction of connection, as if pulling back deeply embedded nails with unusual strength necessary.

There's that sense of acceptance, a little resigned. He expected no better. Obediently, Kent lets Ambrose withdraw - not breaking the link suddenly, but letting it taper off and attenuate, as the other bears the weight of the Bane again.

The low-grade buzz of the returning Bane fills the familiar space beneath his skin and he lets out a choked sound of frustration as the full awareness floods his mind. Tasting the cool sweetness of opium in the back of his throat, Ambrose tries washing out his mouth and forces down the mouthful. An audible gulp and then the glass is set aside on the bedcovers.

He makes his way towards the end of the bed with that same stilted appearance of soreness in joints. The glass may fall on its side, but he pays it no heed — simply sits and begins to work his socks back on. The motions are mechanical and still it takes him more than a minute to get the damn cuff over his toes. Same with the other one. Lord knows how long it's going to take him to get the boots back on. All the while, he seems ready to cringe.

Kent rescues the glass before it can spill, reaches over to set it on the side table. "Let me help," he says, softly, slipping past Ambrose to leave the confines of the bed proper and kneel in the alcove. Content to play at being the servant again - he reaches for the boots.

|ROLL| Ambrose +rolls 1d20 for: 2

Apparently, Ambrose grieving goes hand in hand with sudden turns of temper. He beats Kent to his own boots and snatches them away fast as a mongoose on the strike, giving the man a flinty look.

"Thank you, but I can lace them myself," he bites out, his ragged throat doing the defensive words justice. Even after the last word leaves his mouth, he looks as if someone forced him to bite into a lemon. His lips wrinkle and he ducks his head to hide behind the curtain of his hair even after he slides a foot down the bed, putting more space between himself and the kindness offered to him. The mortification is strong with this one.

"Of course," Kent's voice is low, and he returns to the bed. Retreating back to where he was when Ambrose came in, reclining again, closing his eyes. Stretched out over the cool blue silk, face drawn with weariness. But not yet sleeping, or sleepy.

The would-be crime lord can probably hear the muted thump of one booted foot hitting the floor, followed by the other. Minute shiftings of the bed indicate the amount of force Ambrose is using to tie the lacings and then stillness briefly follows. He finds the vest cast aside and slips it on, rolling each shoulder to settle the fabric into place.

"…thank you," comes the Jackal's voice again from the end of the bed, where he sits, hands clasped between his legs. "You did not need to offer what aid you did. I was assumptive in my actions. I shall…I shall return at another evening to continue our meditation."

"I will be waiting," he says, in return, voice neutral. Eyeing the pipe where it sits by the little glowing lamp. Ambrose can see, in a little dish of brass and enamel, more of the sticky pills of resin to be smoked. "And you are welcome," he adds. "I…." he trails off. Nothing he can say will be useful - it'll all sound too ulterior. "Am sorry," he finishes lamely.

Kent receives a glance over the line of Ambrose's shoulder. He nods, making his hair shift about once more.

"I will be fine with time." That has the cadence of something falling under the concept of 'said enough, it will be.' Rising to his feet, he makes his way to the opening of the alcove, past the small table with its guttered lamp and paired chairs. He pauses, a silhouette in the empty space, squinting out at the gloaming light of dawn over the tops of the buildings. Not but a few hours have passed, but it feels as a lifetime. He looks back at Kent one more time, turning nearly fully towards him, and his mouth opens as if to say something — but caution rears its head. He's seen to swallow down whatever graced his tongue. "Another time then," comes the whisper into the silence.

"Go well, Ambrose." A far more civilized affair than most of their partings. The sorcerer's eyes glint from the back of the bed, like those of an animal in its den. He's already absentedly peeled off the shirt he was wearing, cast it aside - the lamplight gilds pale skin, calls up a gleam of bronze in the dark hair.

"I shall." Whatever happened to daggers drawn? Fate plays a funny game, rolling its dice against the wills and wiles of the ones who dwell within its flow. His attention lingers to track the motion of discarded shirt and then, on the next blink, his silhouette no longer occupies the opening of the alcove. At a run, he hits the railing of the balcony and vaults into the cooler air of burgeoning dawn — but can he outrun memory? It haunts.

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