2019-04-11: Love Hurts So Much

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<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

Lunata hasn't had the time to really assert herself or her surroundings since Luca; they've arrived, had some tea with Seymour, and then the Fiends attacked. It's in a bit of a stupor that she's wandering nearby the docks and staring out... things still feel like a bit of a dream right now.

But it's not a dream.

This was a land unlike any other. As the remnants of the pyreflies fade away to nothingness with the concentration braying, the Fiends' attack pushed back...

She reminds herself that this is a land suffused with death. Of death and cycles...

Somewhere she could possibly find an outcome.

<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

Shalune's thoughts are still a bit of a whirl. She's normally a little better at adapting to new things than Lunata, but the events of the past few days are still very raw to her, and the neverending question of whether there's anything she can actually do to help it all is not one that feels like it's going to be going away any time soon.

Besides, it's a distinctly different situation here. Lunar was difficult to adjust to - but compared to that place, Spira is a lot more hardline on what she can and can't use in terms of technology, and many of her usual comforts have been denied her.

She's shed her red coat and orange sweater, but hasn't yet replaced the faded yellow shirt underneath; her baggy jeans also mark her out as a non-Spiran, but it's close enough to some of the fashions that it seems like it'll pass muster. At least Spira is vibrant enough that she still fits in...

... especially because she's spending the morning quietly following after Lunata. It isn't exactly stealthy, because Shalune's rather incapable of being sneaky. Lunata can probably pick out her presence - but she's keeping a bit of a distance out of respect, and out of wanting to give the ex-waitress some time to herself.

Just, while she watches on, mildly worried. Totally unobtrusive.

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

At the moment, Jacqueline was looking to arrange a ship. She was working on a new mixture, and she heard some of the ingredients she needed on Besaid - unfortunately, with the recent Fiend attack putting people on edge, it was hard to find a ferry for a reasonable price.

So she retreats, for now. But as she's starting to leave the docks with a defeated sigh, she catches sight of a pair of familiar figures. She'd recognize them anywhere. She freezes in her tracks, watching the two of them for a moment.

She can't miss the way Lunata walks along the docks, almost in a trance, or the way Shalune watches on, worry evident in the way she carries herself.

Jacqueline pauses. Did something happen? Would it be better to wait, and try to get in touch with them later? ...But, it's been so long since she's seen either of them.

"Lunata? Shalune?" Jacqueline asks, stepping forward. She has half a mind to rush over and sweep them both into a hug, but she resists that urge, keeping her hands clasped in front of her.

Jacqueline has been adapting to Spiran styles, with some help. Today she's wearing a forest green sleeveless blouse and a long blue skirt with a pattern remniscent of ocean waves. There's also a white flower in her hair. She still has that normal 'Jacqueline' look about her though, with full pouches by her side.

<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

Lunata is so deep in her thoughts she nearly misses the first call.

She knows Shalune's around, following her. In a way, it makes her feel worse and that makes her feel guilty because she doesn't have an answer to Shalune that would satisfy her or make her feel happier and yet she knows telling her to leave her alone would make the both of them just feel much worse.

"Uh..." Lunata's eyes just about shrink as she turns to face Jacqueline, in her Spiran-style clothes. It still looks familiar, though, with those forest green colours, the blues and whites... she looks gorgeous.

She looks... good.

Fitted to the world around them.

"Jay... I'm..." Her world is spinning right now. "Glad... you're all right. Did you... come with the rest of the Caravan Kinship?"

<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

Shalune, too, knows that there's no answer that could easily satisfy either of them - and that whining concern and insistent hugs can only carry things so far. But leaving Lunata alone to stew in her thoughts feels like the worst of all possible plans right now, and even if she recognizes that it might be what the other girl /needs/, her own worries and fears mean she can't help but follow along.

Jay's call nearly sends her scurrying away in a rapid version of fight or flight - she settles for diving behind a flower bed, peeking up over the rim. It might work were she wearing her hat; instead, she has tufts of unruly pink hair to contend with.

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline watches as Lunata turns, and Shalune goes to dive behind a nearby flower bed. She massages the back of her neck a bit sheepishly.

"S-sorry...I didn't mean to startle you..." She says apologetically before looking back toward Lunata, offering her a slight smile.

"Everyone's here...for the most part, at least. It took us a little while to settle in." She says. It's not hard to imagine who she's talking about, but Jacqueline doesn't elaborate. "How are...um, how are you two doing...? For a while, I wasn't...sure if you made it. But it's good to see you two again."

The immediate question on her mind was how Lunata was holding up. She had suffered on Lunar last time, and now that they were back...she was a little worried...

<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

"I was. I was, um," Lunata blurts as she turns to face Shalune but suddenly she's disappeared and her Perception check isn't actually high enough to find the tuft of pink hair amidst the sakuras even if the Caution music has started playing. Where are you, Solid Shalune?!

"Yeah... everyone's here, right? I figure-- you all got... moved together," Lunata doesn't so much speak as drone on, like she's reasserting what's already been said.

"I was... fighting in the air... there were a lot of Gears... but then we were teleported-- away, without the Rephaim. Like last time."

<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

Shalune isn't even quite sure why she's chosen to hide, chewing at her lips in serious consternation for a moment as she tries to evade their sight. Jacqueline's sharp enough to spot her, so the question is whether doing such a thing was even necessary-- but part of her can't help but feel that Lunata and Jay need to talk this out together, and that her being there...

... she can't really put it into words, and it makes her scratch at her scalp in frustration. Maybe it's a misstep, maybe she's wrong - she nearly picks herself up, then sinks back down in indecision, making a low noise in her throat that makes a passing dog sniff at her cheek out of curiosity.

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline listens to Lunata. She still feels a little awkward, but keeps on, sparing a glance to the side as she hears a noise from Shalune. ...She's a little concerned, but if Shalune wanted to stay hidden...well, she'd let her take it at her own pace.

She nods as Lunata confirms what she's said - they might have even seen some of the flyers that Jacqueline had put up.

She frowns, though, as Lunata continues, explaining how she was teleported away without the Rephaim.

"I was afraid of that..." Jacqueline murmurs, looking back toward Lunata. 'Like last time'...

"How are you...how are you holding up?" She asks. Without the Rephaim, and so far from Filgaia. Lunata's condition last time on Lunar still stuck out vividly in Jacqueline's mind. She hoped they wouldn't see another repeat of that.

<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

Lunata grabs hold of her forehead as she starts rubbing it, gently. Taking her time. Her expression is one of deep stress and tension, not slacked or loose in any way, sense or form. She looks towards Shalune hiding underneath the flowers and getting of all things a dog picking after her!

"I'm-- I'm..." Lunata murmurs. She doesn't quite look back towards Jacqueline. "I'm okay... if the body is what you're asking about. I haven't gone wild using Ge Ramda's powers or anything..."

A pause, as she surfaces one of the Level 4 Key Spheres she managed to accquire from the market.

"And this thing... this sphere... it's letting me channel some of her power somehow. This world is full of strange things, especially when it comes to... ..."

She trails off at that.

"How're... you doing? You-- well, you look... well, you look better adjusted."

<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

The mechanic wavers again - and when Lunata spots her as well... well, it's a little awkward for her to just stand up then walk over to them, but she manages it, even if her head is bowed as she continues to work at her lips and fidget with her hair. It still doesn't feel right to get into the middle of this, but she sucks in a breath when she catches sight of Lunata's tense expression, gravitating towards her just a little.

"Sorry," she mumbles, picking at her hair. "Kinda felt like I should let you both talk first, y'know? But I guess that was a little stupid of me. You look good," she chimes in with Lunata, putting a bright if lopsided smile on her face for a moment. "Me, I couldn't just keep wearing the coat. Kinda feels like I'm wearing next to nothing now," she grumbles, casually doing her best to step lightly around any discussion.

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

"Well, that, and.../you/, too. Sorry, I didn't mean it that way..." Jacqueline replies...and then looks to the side, where Shalune is currently hiding. "And you too, Shalune."

She looks back toward Lunata as she produces a sphere of some kind. Jacqueline had gotten used to the sight of them before now, but this one looks different than the one's she's seen so far.

"Wow..." She murmurs in surprise, and looks up as Lunata asks how's she's doing. She seems to miss the underlying meaning there.

"...I have Catenna and Prissa to thank for that." She admits sheepishly. "Catenna took charge, and Prissa helped everyone get adjusted. I was...um. I was a little out of it... I'm alright, though. Now that things have...settled in, a bit."

As much as could be expected, anyway. And though she doesn't say it, seeing the two of them here helped, as well.

Shalune emerges, and Jacqueline offers her a smile.

"Thank you. I know that feeling...this is a lot lighter than I'm used to for casual wear. I was a little embarrassed at first, but...I got used to it." She replies.

<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

Lunata cringes just a little bit as Jacqueline apologies. Every time she apologies, it feels like there's something of a stab in her heart. She bites her lip as she pockets the sphere again, shoulders just a bit tighter as she explains about Catenna and Prissa and everyone else. They're really all into it...

"It's... Matilda. Isn't it," Lunata quietly says. "I don't know if you talked with anyone about it yet... I was... not in a good state when I saw, myself."

She furrows her brow.

Unlike Shalune, she's still got her coat on. It looks deeply out of place, being a tactical Yggdrasil jacket, but it seems to give her some measure of comfort.

"And... what do you think? Is-- the Carakin going to go after Sin?"

<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

"Well... you know me," Shalune says in response to Jay, though her heart isn't quite in it; it's been a rough few days for all of them, in their own ways, and the mechanic can't quite muster her usual upbeat tone. "Wherever I end up, I'll usually find a way to muddle through. I mean, I haven't seen Big Shal yet, but we met a Maester who gave us a bit of an introduction to Spira."

She chews again at her lips as Jacqueline mentions Catenna and Prissa, her expression a little clouded. Matilda is a whole other question she hasn't let herself think about just yet; the only way she can really parse it is as an act of lashing out, but it's one heck of a giant piece of lashing out that she can't even really fathom. It doesn't help that Vinsfeld's speech was delivered in the midst of a panic attack.

Which comes abruptly back to mind as Lunata asks her halting question. Whatever Shalune was about to say, she trails slowly off, swallowing back the words as she dips her head. One hand drifts over to Lunata's arm, more for herself than for the other girl.

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

"Wow, you met a Maester? I'm impressed. I'm glad they were able to help you, though..." Jacqueline comments with a chuckle. She hadn't met anyone quite like that yet, though she had made sure to familiarize herself just in case.

Lunata asks, pointedly, about Matilda. Jacqueline nods once, quietly.

"...They know. I wrote a note, and Catenna and Ethius spoke with me about it." She confirms. Some of them took it better than others.

And then, Lunata asks her a question. Is the Carakin going after Sin? Jacqueline frowns, and considers.

"...I don't know yet." She admits, shaking her head. "Catenna seems determined to seek out information on fighting it, and I'll help her where I can. But I'm not sure yet what we can do, beyond helping the Summoners with supplies."

It was a threat on a different scale than what they've encountered before. It was like a force of nature, and they saw at Azado how effective force of arms was against it. A Shaman might be able to help...but she was no Shaman.

<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

"Y-yeah. Yeah. Of course... you should, you should go do that," Lunata lapses into one of those heart-palpitating moments as she trembles at the thought. Honestly, she was already expecting an answer that wasn't 'nope let's go right back home', but hearing it still...

"Uh. I'm, I'm going to..." Lunata shivers for a moment. "Jay--"

She swallows deeper. Stares towards Shalune.

"I'm going to go stay and work some jobs for that Maester Shalune mentioned. Maester Seymour."

Something feels like it's just flown out of her. Something irreplacable.

"I'm... yeah. Think... think that might be..." A pause. "Good," she swallows. "For me. For a bit."

<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

Carefully, slowly - as if the other girl might break, and that honestly feels more and more likely each minute - Shalune gently nods in return to Lunata's gaze. She draws in a breath as Lunata voices her intention - and then lets it out in a rush, scratching at her hair as she picks up on the thread of discussion. Lunata's made a choice - so she'll at least do what she can to support the both of them in her own way.

"Yeah... um, we felt pretty bad when we appeared on Spira. We crashed right into a market stall, disrupted the Maester's lunch, accidentally used machina in front of him - but he was super patient with us, and helped us get our bearings," she fills in Lunata's silence with her nattering explanation. "So it seemed only fair we help him out, and-- well, maybe learn a few things along the way."

Maybe it's easier on her because she's always been the flighty, free-spirited sort - but she makes sure to level a smile at the both of them in turn. "It's not the end of the world or anything. It's not like anyone's disappearing off to Elru," she adds with a slightly guilty smile, but a genuine attempt at a joke. She was the first to do this, after all.

"Just-- make sure you keep yourself safe," she adds with a stern frown at Jacqueline. "Sin's not somethin' you beat up with a stick or a sorcery. Spira seems like they've got 'holding him off' in hand."

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline frowns a little as Lunata replies, at the way she reacts. It looked like...something was troubling her. Did she...say something wrong?

But Lunata seems to have come to a decision. Jacqueline is a little taken aback, and her expression falters. She massages the back of her neck.

"O-oh." She says. ...A part of her had been hoping that they would come back to the Caravan with her, at least for a little while. "...I-I see...

Shalune fills in a little on what happened with an explanation and Jacqueline nods quietly, managing a lopsided grin at her little joke.

"W-well..." She starts. "If you both think it's best, then...I support you, one-hundred percent. And, you can always come back to us if you need anything..."

Shalune offers her a word of advice, too, and Jacqueline sends her a nod.

"...Yeah. Don't worry, I know it's not anything to be trifled with. Miss Lulu made that abundantly clear..." She confirms. "They have a system in place for it, so they're at least better off than most places we visit..."

<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

There's a faint cringe within Lunata as, once again, Jacqueline quietly accepts their decision -- even after she looks taken aback like she didn't expect it. How could she? Things weren't...

She honestly doesn't know.

A part of her wishes Jacqueline was insistent at this point. 'I want you to stay with me!' Something like that. Something firm and... selfish and not like everything else the alchemist had ever approached: with quiet, gentle acceptance.

Even if it hurt her.

Maybe she would've been ready to stay if she did that. But she didn't...

"Don't worry. I'll... I'll visit the Carakin before I leave. I'll pack my things up and-- make sure everything's spick and span."

No, you idiot, that's not what she's worried about.

"I'll smooth it out with... well, as many people as I can. Don't worry, you have a lot of people who're by your side still."

Ouch. Lunata cringes internally at how jealous that last one sounded.

<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

Shalune can at least feel a bit sorry for Jay, scratching at her hair for a moment. "... I don't know about it being what's 'best'. I think it's just... something to try. Something we ought to try for a bit." Something Lunata needs to try, she amends in her head, but doesn't say it out loud.

She pauses, looking a little older than normal as she studies Jay's face, the way in which the alchemist talks about her plans for Sin, and the lessons she's learned thus far. The mechanic is well aware that the scope of the Carakin can easily creep; she doesn't look completely convinced that Jay's going to leave well enough alone, but she does at least nod for the time being. "... okay. I'm not trying to stop you from doing anything, just... telling you to be careful, you know?"

--and then she grimaces hard at Lunata's blustering, this time placing her hand on the ex-waitress' arm to give it a squeeze. Her heart feels kind of heavy; the thought of leaving it at this much still doesn't sit well with her, not when there's so much unsaid. "... are you sure that's everything?" she prompts gently. "I don't want you to feel a bunch of regrets. It's okay to let a bit more out," she adds rather wryly, giving the other girl a nudge with her elbow.

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline nods quietly, as Shalune comments that it's something they need to try.

"Don't worry. I'll...I'll be careful." She replies. She'd try to be, anyway. If she did decide to get involved, she'd approach it cautiously.

Lunata says she'll visit to pack her things up and Jacqueline flinches a bit. There was a worrying finality to that statement. Even when she was with the Yggdrasill, there was still something left behind.

"N-no, it's..." She replies, shaking her head. She pauses, and hesitates. "I-it's okay. You don't...you don't have to do that..."

She quiets again, when Lunata says she'll smooth it out. Jacqueline can't really come up with a response for that, her gaze finding the ground. It comes up only brief, looking toward Shalune when she nudges Lunata.

<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

Lunata's eyes widen, stiffly, wondering just how much more every thing she says would hurt Jacqueline more. She didn't want to be in this position, do the things that she's doing right now. All those analogies people make about ripping off the band-aid--

Then Shalune nudges her and urges her if there's anything else.

... of course there was.

But was this really the time? Really? Wouldn't that just hurt Jacqueline more, leaving things said and then running off at the last moment?


If she really did get what she wanted, would she ever get another chance to?

"... there was... there was something I never had the courage to tell you. And truth be told... maybe I'm too much of a coward to," Lunata murmurs, each syllable and word coming out very slowly.

"And it's..." Lunata finds her mouth opening and her eyes are widening more, as she stares at Shalune.

"I was... really..." Her inability to burn up with embarrassment feels starkly inhuman right now, to her. "Into you. Attracted to you. I mean in a way we-- we say we're best of friends and we love each other often, but..."

A pause, as she finally lets loose with her shoulders and sags them.

"I really do love you, Jay. There're a lot of days, all those days when you'd come by each morning to the Saloon and I'd brew you tea and serve you breakfast, where I swore to myself I wouldn't ever leave your side no matter what happened. That... that I'd keep serving you tea and breakfast every morning, or whatever you wanted. But I guess..."

She squeezes her eyes shut, deeply grimacing and gnashing her teeth in shame.

"I'm just not strong enough for that... I'm not a hero... I'm not strong like you, I can't do it... so..."

She turns half-way, lips blubbering a little. The inability to cry feels /doubly/ inhuman at this point.

"Thanks... for letting me able to feel love for someone while I could... I guess."

She swallows a final time.

"Thanks, and-- and-- and farewell, Jay..."

She darts off into a run after that. Being in her company was worse than being run over by Mother's ring of flames, by the very spikes of Ge Ramtos into heirdom, right now.

Love hurts so much.

<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

The mechanic has her head bowed by the time Lunata runs off. She wouldn't dare interrupt, not when her childhood friend is finally letting slip something she's kept locked inside of herself for so long; if anything, she chews at her own lips, knowing that she's also got too much she ought to say before it's too late. Maybe that makes her a bit of a hypocrite, nudging Lunata like this, but at the same time she swells a little with pride as she hears Lunata go.

She draws in a breath and then lets it out again, looking up at the too-blue Spiran sky as she feels her hand go back to her head to run her fingers through her hair. "You did good," she mumbles softly, more to herself than anything--

--and then drops her head to fix Jacqueline with a stare. It's not angry, and it's not upset; her gaze is soft at heart and tinged with a sad smile, but she's trying her best to firm up her expression into something stern as she holds a hand forward.

"Don't... go after her yet, okay? I know you probably wanna just rush over to her - you wouldn't be Jay if you didn't, and that's cute - but I think she needs some time to sort things out. To try to figure out what she wants to do that isn't chasing after you."

She lets out a breath; her mind's whirling more than she thought, and as much as she tries to put on a brave face it kind of feels like her legs have fallen asleep on the spot, because they're not really responding to her. "And don't be all 'oh no then I'll stop the Carakin for her sake' either, 'cause I bet you'd think of that, too," she continues with a grumpy frown as she puffs out her cheeks. "That's the last thing she'd ever want, to stop you doing what you think is best."

At least her legs /can/ carry her forward, and nudge Jacqueline into a hug as she sucks out a breath. "She's proud of you. We both are."

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Lunata says she has something that she'd never had the courage to tell her. Jacqueline looks up, listens to her...and freezes in place. She stares, realization dawning on her face as Lunata puts everything into words. It's as if something's fallen into place in her mind.

Everything seems to slow down. She feels like she should say something. Anything. She opens her mouth, but no words come out, everything still lodged deep inside. And then, she says those words.

'Farewell, Jay.'

Lunata runs. Jacqueline urges herself to move forward, to follow her, to say /something/, instead of standing there like the oblivious idiot Lunata must certainly have thought she was.

...But she doesn't. She can't. It's all too overwhelming for her, she isn't used to feelings like this.

In the end she only manages to stumble in the direction Lunata ran off, eventually collapsing to her knees. Much like Shalune, her own legs weren't listening to her.

She sits there, listening as Shalune talks to her. She gives Jacqueline a hug and she shakes her head, just slightly.

"I-I'm..." She whispers. Her body's shaking, tears starting to form. "I-I'm not as strong as she thinks I am..."

It was only because of everyone's support that she was able to support them all in turn...and now it felt one of them might be lost to her, just as she had begun to realise just how important it was.

<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

Gently, Shalune lowers herself to the ground, the better to match Jay's height in her hug; she nudges in closer, letting out a soft breath as she feels her eyes bead with tears, feels her stomach clench out of worry. "I'm-- I'm sorry. If... if there'd been some better way to say it-- some better timing-- I don't know," she sags, suddenly feeling much older. There's no way to apply her usual joking around to this. "Maybe I should've nudged her earlier, maybe we'd have avoided some of this," she whispers amidst Jay's sobs.

"But... that's not true. Bringing so many people together-- you're really strong. And she'll still be thinking of you." For a long while she falls silent, letting the alchemist work through her feelings - balling her own up a little and tamping them down as she does her best to stay strong for Jay's sake as she starts to rock the alchemist slightly.

There'll be time to eat a bunch of crap junk food and work through her own feelings later. At least... she dearly hopes so.