As the sun began to peek through the windows, Ariel rolled over and took a deep breath. Opening her eyes slightly it took a moment to register that she was somewhere unfamiliar. She reached behind her, where her clock would usually be sitting, to check the time but found someone else was there. Sitting up send looking groggily she was met by the sight of Nolan. If anyone was watching they could see the gears slowly start turning as she began to connect the dots.
They were at Nolan's place. She'd gone there to talk with him about the God she'd run into. He'd also asked her to stay and they went to bed and... The lights finally came on in Ariel's head and she tried to get up but fumbled over herself and fell off the side of the bed. "Ow, oh crap." Scrambling around she got herself together as surely her panic had woken Nolan.
A thump had stirred the sleeping Nolan and slowly, his eyes opened. He yawned and propped himself up with one arm against the bed, looking for the disturbance. "Dalton I swear to whichever god is watching, I..." It was not long until his eyes fell upon Ariel and his face turned into a deep red as he remembered what happened last night.
"Oh, um... Hey there, Ariel." Nolan fully sat up and scratched his neck. Good lord this was awkward; his girlfriend was caught rushing out of bed like deer in headlights and he himself was just feeling embarrassed for letting his emotions get so heated up. "Are you okay?"
Considering Nolan was acting rather chill about things, Ariel wondered if she was mistaking something. After a few seconds of silence she spoke up again. "I guess so. Uh... Do you recall anything from last night?" She asked sheepishly.
His face grew redder and he nodded in response to her question. "Yeah...um, we..." He felt his throat felt like it had something stuck and he was trying to force it out. Last night was something that he was trying to process still. "We...did it." He responded with an equal amount of awkwardness that Ariel was feeling right now.
"That's what I thought." Running a hand through her hair she was at a loss for words. Her hand slid down her face over her chin. It was clear she was conflicted. Sitting back down on the bed her eyes wandered around the room..
Nolan sighed and wrapped his arms around her shoulders from behind. She could feel his warm breath against the back of her neck as he held her close. "Do you regret it?" He asked, not even trying to hide his concern at this point. The last thing in the world was to screw up their relationship.
Ariel took a deep breath before answering. "It's not that I regret it completely. It's just too soon. We can't take it back now but I wanted to wait." She turned her head so she could see Nolan.
What she saw was Nolan looking down at the bed, his gaze avoiding her's. It was not hard to see that he was ashamed of going against what Ariel wanted. Why did he not ask her if this was okay? Why did he not stop himself and ask himself if this was okay?
"I see..." He sighed heavily and flopped back down against the bed. Nolan just stared at the ceiling for a bit in silence before he broke it."It's not like I planned for this either. I was just... vulnerable and you were too. I needed you and you needed me. By the gods that is cheesy." Nolan muttered the last part to himself.
Huffing Ariel turned around and tried to work out how to say what she was thinking without sounding harsh. "I said that but it's not the same thing. I wouldn't ordinarily say it that way. I did want it but I didn't at the same time. I know that doesn't make sense. But that magic last night is very... passionate. And once we were in the moment it sweapt me away." She wrung her hands a bit before looking down.
"Until we're more than dating you have to be careful with me. You know I don't work like regular people do. When I feel something it's either really brief or really strong. I wish I were normal like everyone else." Turning she dropped down with her face into a pillow. She wanted to cry but her feelings were dragging her around in circles.
She could feel his hand lay on her back, slowly and gingerly rubbing it. "I wouldn't change a thing about you. Your quirks, your faults, everything that is a part of you. If you changed them then you wouldnt be the woman that I fell in love with." Nolan smiled and his hand travelled up her back to her hair.
"Love is a funny thing; you put the person you love the most on a pedestal so high that you don't feel like you're worthy for them. Even now I see myself as someone who wonders why you would date someone who is the dirt beneath the soles of your shoes." He chuckled a bit as he stroked her hair, his fingers caressing it gently.
"Everyday I think I should change for you, but if I did that you would tell me not to. So don't think you need to change when you're already amazing." Today was just one of those days where all he seems to be saying is pure cheesiness at this point, but he was telling her the truth.
Shaking her head she eventually rolled her head enough so she could see Nolan again. "I can't live like this Nolan. I don't have control. I can't trust myself not to do something."
His free hand gripped the sheets of the bed tightly enough that his knuckles had turned white. "Why do you think you're alone in this? You're not the only one hurting here, you know." Nolan said with a hint of frustration. "It's not just me, but there are so many others in the guild that care and worry about you. Why can't you place that weight on us and let us help?"
He knew how much of a hypocrite he sounded and perhaps he was telling her this out of his own frustration of not relying on their guild too. That was etched on his face and there was a certain kind of pain in his voice."You're not alone anymore... Neither of us are."
Picking herself up off the bed Ariel ground her teeth. There was fire in her eyes and she looked like she might set something ablaze. "Why do you think I came to you? She turned red with Blood magic, something she'd only ever used once when she had been kidnapped. "And when I needed her Penny left and avoided me." She punched the wall at the head of the bed. "So it's not like I'm not trying!" She punched the wall again harder.
Getting fed up with the situation she stepped down to the floor and started marching out. Was she overracting, maybe. But reason doesn't play that strong a part in a rage. She was actually probably dangerous to let out into the public. There was no telling what she might do if someone caught her bad side.
She would feel her wrist grabbed and her arm was pulled back slightly. Nolan had quickly grabbed her before she could walk out of the room. "Ariel...please, calm down." He was not stern, but he was pleading to her. "I didn't know... I'm sorry... I didn't know." His arms was shaking not because it was hard to hold her back. He was just barely able to hold himself together.
He did not know what to do and it was written plainly over all his face. All he wanted was to make her happy and in the end he was useless; he just made things worse. It was killing him.
Ariel struggled to get free. Thankfully this magic was so rarely used it hadn't had much chance to get very strong. So for Nolan it wasn't that hard to restrain her. Let go of me! She fought against his grip until the rage subsided. In a 180 she dropped to her knees and started crying. "I-I-I'm sorry, I can't...."
Nolan got down to his knees and held her as tightly as he could, letting her head rest into his chest as she cried. "It's okay Ariel, everything is going to be okay." He whispered softly. It had been a long time that he had seen her breakdown like this, not since the time they were trapped in the painting together. "We'll get through this together. We will."
Given how overwhelmed she felt she didn't speak for a while. She cried until it hurt. It was easy to tell when she reached her limit because her Dark magic came to the surface. It was as close to a reset as she had. She sat down calmly and casually wiped away her own tears. "I'm fine."
Nolan knew that the last thing in the world she was, was fine. He sighed and unwrapped his arms from around her and kissed her forehead. "How about you go have a shower and I'll go make breakfast? I'll make whatever you want." She did not need the subject to be pressed further down on her. He'll give her some space and let her collect herself together. She'll talk when she wants to talk.
"Okay." Thinking for a moment she shrugged a bit. "You can pick." Standing back up she headed toward the bathroom. Before getting too far though she paused and turned back. "Thank you, Nolan." She turned back and continued on.
Nolan smiled and nodded before he decided to get dressed. He ended up walking out of the bedroom wearing loose black jeans and a red tanktop. When he got to the kitchen he grabbed a white apron and got everything needed to make pancakes, eggs, and bacon. Normally he did not make such a big breakfast, but he decided to make a special exception.
He was hard at work, making pancakes from scratch while watch closely on the bacon and sunny side up eggs. In the background, a lacrima was playing calming jazz softly in the background. While he was cooking, he did notice the tea kettle he placed on the stove yesterday and wondered why it never boiled. It then occurred to him that he never turned the stove on for it.
"Yup, definitely not telling her that." He muttered to himself as he prepared another pot with fresh water.
Ariel entered the kitchen after taking her shower. Seems she hadn't really taken her time with the process but Nolan still had enough time to get breakfast together. "Smells good." She took a seat at the table and watched Nolan as he fixed them each a plate.
"Heh, I would hope so. It's mainly for you too you know." Nolan said with a wide grin and handed her a plate that was stacked with food. He also gave her a cup of black tea with milk in it. There was some sweat dripping down his face from the heat of the stove. It was clear he was working hard for her sake.
He walked back to the counter to his own plate and if she watched him carefully, he was stepping in time with the music with rhythmic motions as if he was dancing a bit.
She didn't really notice the dancing bit but she could tell that Nolan was doing his best. "I'm sorry for any trouble I'm causing you." Looking at the plate it was a lot of food. Though if she were honest with herself she could probably eat it all in one sitting. All the different magic changing had a way of building her hunger..
Nolan had grabbed his plate and sat down with her. He smiled and shook his head at her. "Why are you apologizing? You're my girlfriend, I'm here for whatever troubles that you are going through. You'd do the same for me." He smirked at her and leaned against the table, propping his head against his arm. "With the way you've been eyeing the food, I think you should be telling your stomach sorry for denying it some grub. Eat up!" Nolan said in a teasing manner.
Ariel nodded and started eating. As per usual Nolan proved himself to be a good cook, even if breakfast wasn't the most difficult meal to make. She took her time though and made sure to enjoy it. "This is good."
Though she didn't talk a whole lot her mood seemed to be better, even if it was muted quite a bit. Her little tangents were taxing and seemed to have a way of spirling out of control. When she was finally getting toward the end of her meal she spoke up again. "While I'm somewhat stable, I have a question.
"Lay it on me. I told you yesterday that I'd tell you whatever you want to know." He took a long sip from his piping hot cup of tea.
"Do you think we should get married?" Despite just asking a loaded question she returned to eating.
His eyes widened and he nearly choked on his tea from shock. He kept coughing and he held a finger up to tell her he was going to need a minute. "Married?!" The only thing he could do is stare at her bewilderedly as he tried to process what she had just said.
"I mean I would like you to be my wife... It's not like I haven't thought about it as a long term goal, but to bring up so soon..." His face was flushed red and he could barely look her in the eye. "What brought this up Ariel?"
Munching on her meal she answered. "Well that was my plan for what we did. Wait until I was married. But that kind of didn't turn out." Another bite; "Also my father might try and kill you if he found out." Her tone was rather nonchalant given the subject matter.
"I think your dad just doesn't like me in general." Nolan stated rather bluntly. "Not that I blame him. This whole relationship came pretty much out of left field." He sighed and leaned back in his seat, scratching his neck. How in the world does he get into these kind of situations. Of course he wanted to make her happy, but rushing off to get married? And he did not want to make her feel like she was used by him either.
"Ariel..." Nolan stopped himself, hesitant on what he should say. "Before we can have this conversation, I think there are things that we need to talk about. Get some things out of the open."
"Alright, like what?" Having finished her meal she moved on to the tea and sipped it calmly.
He sat in silence for a bit trying to find the right words. "It's...I'm tired of having secrets, Ariel. At this point I am doing myself more harm than good trying to keep you away from them." Nolan sighed softly and continued, "I know your life, but you don't know mine. I know you said you don't care what happened in my past and that you care about the me now, but it matters to me." Even though he wanted to tell her everything, her apathetic side made it really hard to talk to her at all though he could not bring himself to tell that to her at all.
"I see." There was an awkward silence for a while and it didn't seem like Nolan was going to tell her anything right now. After a little while longer she figured that perhaps her current personality was offputting. Others in the past have at least indicated as much. Closing her eyes she focused on feeling something. Moments later she changed to her Light magic. Putting a hand on her head she had a slight headache. "Ow, changing back kind of hurts."
"You've been changing your magic too much in a short time span. I'm sorry you had to change again on my behalf." Nolan sighed, but at least when she was in this form she was much easier to talk to. "Do you need me to get you an aspirin?"
"Worth a try." She rubbed her temples a bit before rolling her eyes again. "Oh man, this is a lot better though. I don't like those negative emotions." She let out a soft sigh and smiles at Nolan.
"No one likes them in general." Nolan smiled and he got up from the table. He went over to a cabinet that had a bottle of aspirin and popped out two pills. He soon came back with the pills in hand along with a glass of water. "See if this helps." Nolan handed her the glass and the pills before he sat down in his seat.
"You remember what you saw in the painting, right? My memories?" He inquired nervously.
Popping the pills into her mouth she took a sip of water and downed them. Glancing at the water a moment she answered the question. "Uh, yeah I do... She made eye contact with Nolan and gave him her full attention. Those memories that she experienced were pretty jarring. If there was more that he was hiding then she could only imagine what it could be.
Nolan sighed and he shifted in his seat uncomfortably. It was obvious that he was reluctant to do it, but he knew that he had to tell her. "What you saw was not the entire picture. There are some things that you need to know." He looked her in the eyes and knew that she was doing her best for him too. What she saw was not easiest thing to swallow, but now she needs to know the whole story.
"Before all of this, I was the son and heir to a family of merchants. When I was old enough I was supposed to takeover the conglomerate that was known as Waltz and Co. After the Heartfillia Konzern fell into ruin, my family had no more competition and they gained a monopoly over many trades." He looked down at his cup of tea and sighed, shaking his head.
"To be honest, you'd think being the heir to a company like that would've been amazing, but I resented it. My entire life was planned out for me; my hobbies, the food I ate, who I would marry, everything. I'm pretty sure my siblings hated me for stealing their chance of immense wealth and status. I think my mother was the only one who really cared about me." He chuckled bitterly.
"But you know what happens next; my father took us all to a business trip to Caelum and a storm hit us. My mother was crushed instantly by the ship's mast and my father probably drowned. I thought I was the only one who survived, but..." Nolan had stood up and walked over the kitchen counter and grabbed what looked like a magazine. He walked back over and tossed it on the table, skidding towards Ariel. "My siblings somehow survived too and were rescued. Everyone thought I was dead until two months ago."
On the cover of the magazine was a man wearing a suit that bore an incredible striking resemblance to Nolan, only this man had slicked back hair and in his thirties. "That's my older brother, Jay, the man running Waltz and Co. My sister and him approached me during the games."
Listening to the story Ariel wasn't quite sure what to say at first. There was clearly more to the story. Mulling over the story of how Nolan lost his parents she tried to maintain her current feelings. Not that she didn't want to feel anything else but it would probably be a better idea to try and not do too much changing for a while. "I see..." She looked at the magazine for a few seconds before looking up at Nolan again.
"Honestly, I'm only telling that part because my siblings have been...persistently trying to be involved with my life. I'm sure you're going to meet them one day whether I like it or not. I just don't want you to be shocked about, well, everything." It was clear that he wanted them to leave him alone, but it seemed like he has resigned himself to just accept that this was happening.
He scratched his neck anxiously, his body was shaking slightly. "I was washed up on the shores of Caelum and the people who found me were slavers. The next thing I knew, I woke up in a cage with cuffs around my wrists. The person in charge, The Madame, kept me as a pet and..." Nolan trailed off to the point he said something that was impossible to hear and he shook his head.
"Ariel when you saw the memories, you saw the me that was caught in the storm. I was seven when that day happened. I wasn't saved until I was ten years old. For three years I was her slave and she... she..." A lump was in his throat and he could not finish what he was going to say.
Ariel got up from her seat. Though she didn't intend to change her magic her Green magic came to the surface anyway. She was concerned and took Nolan's hands in her own. "Take your time."
Nolan looked down at Ariel's hands that were intertwined with hers. He squeezed hers and softly said, "Ariel, she molested me. For three years, three long years."
Hearing this Ariel froze for a moment. This information cleared up some things, or at least pointed fairly clearly to some kind of reasoning. Something like that for so long. What kind of deprived human would do that to someone? "Oh Nolan... I had no idea." This must be why Nolan was so afraid of woman. And she couldn't blame him for it.
There was only silence. Nolan just looked down at their intertwining hands. It was not too long before he broke the silence though. "It's not your fault. I made sure that no one knew." He closed his eyes and sighed heavily. "It's one thing to know it happened. It's another to live with it."
He pulled his hand away from hers."But it is just one of the many things I have to live with." The pain in his voice was palpable and his face contorted with a strange hurt. "I was saved by a monk named Arjuna and he and along with his followers gave me a home and loved me as one of their own. They taught me almost everything that I know today, even my magic, but this year they..."
The memory of a temple set ablaze with corpses everywhere should've been etched into her mind, especially the white haired man. "The gods sent their messenger and killed them all...except me."
Ariel nodded slowly, remembering what they felt and saw from that memory. It was not an easy thing to recall, but she was somewhat glad that it allowed her to connect with Nolan beyond words. "Right. I remember that."
I lost everything again that day. I left the place I called home for the last eight years and travelled Caelum. I fought many dark guilds and other criminals, but I never killed.I thought they would face justice. Nolan glanced down at his hands, gripping his right tightly. Even now he could see the blood that was on his hands.
"But I snapped one day. I discovered a village's doctor had been abducting children and sold their limbs and organs on the blackmarket.... There are some things no one has to see." Nolan did not dare to look Ariel in the eyes. There was so much guilt and regret that he could not bring himself to look at her.
"I tortured him to get everything he knew and killed him. I killed so many crimianls thinking that this was the only way, but really I was just taking my anger out on the world." Even now he could not look her in the eyes. At this moment, he was convinced that Ariel was going to leave him and he would not blame her.
Hearing about what a doctor did to innocent children sent a chill down Ariel's spine. That was sickening. To be honest she didn't know how she would react to discovering something like that. Might depend on her mood at the time.
Of course then Nolan admitted to murdering not only the doctor but many others. To some extent Ariel had suspected that her boyfriend had severely hurt people and maybe even killed some in the past. Looking the man before her looked broken, hurting, and alone. While their circumstances were different she recognized the feelings.
What made a greater impression was that the god slayer had chosen to tell her these things. Clearly he was ashamed of what he'd done. All of this information of his past told Ariel that she wasn't just someone that Nolan managed to get close to. Last night in light of what had happened years ago meant much more than runaway emotion.
Ariel wasn't quite sure what to say. The silence in the room was deafening. However slowly she stepped forward and gently put her arms around Nolan. Holding him close she rested her head against his chest.
He opened his eyes and looked down at Ariel, wrapping his arms around Ariel. He pressed her close as tightly as he could, his heart raced and his body shook. "Why?" Nolan muttered softly with a quiver. "After everything I told you, why are you still here?"
Shaking her head lightly she managed a slight smile which might seem a little odd given the circumstances. "Why? You're not supposed to ask that." Turning her gaze up her eyes were watering, not quite crying. "That wasn't an easy thing to share, Nolan. Especially with me. I had no idea the burden you were carrying."
Wiping away a tear she tried to keep herself together. Loosing her grip she put her right hand on Nolan's cheek. "I said before that I didn't care who you were before. I was lying to myself not knowing. But with everything you've shared now I know you're not the same man that did all those things." She sniffled a bit before continuing. "And while it may have not been timely, I can't believe you would let me so close to you like last night. It just... I can't believe it."
"Ariel..." He brought a hand up and wiped some of her tears away with his thumb. "Come on, I'm not worth crying over." Nolan smiled sheepishly and kissed her forehead. It was obvious that he was forcing the smile on his face, but he did not want Ariel to cry for him.
"Don't tell a woman what's worth crying for. We'll cry over whatever we damn well please." She poked him in the chest playfully. She was trying her hardest not to change magics again and she paused a moment to catch her breath.
"Hey take it easy." He saw that Ariel had overexerted herself today with the constant change of magic and the intense personality changes that brought. It was not easy for Ariel to live like this and he knew that all too well. Perhaps he needed to hunt down a certain scientist?
He was a bit hesitant to ask though. After all, the man he was thinking of kidnapped her, but he's the only one that came to mind that could help her. "Do you think Tidius indicated where he would be next?"
"Tidius? She looked at Nolan confused. "Why would we want to find him?" To say that the man that had abducted her during the Grand Magic Games was not her friends would be an understatement. Although Tidius had, in his own twisted way, took care not to harm her. Misguided as he may be he didn't mean harm.
He sighed, feeling his blood pressure increase just at the thought of Tidius. The last thing in the world he wanted to do was ask for his help. He'd rather snap the scrawny bastard's neck. "Believe me, I don't want to find him, but he can help us. He may have a way to develop a limiter so can get some relief from your magic." Then again it could also be a horrible idea. For all he knew, Tidius may betray them and steal Ariel's abilities.
There were risks, but every time he looked at Ariel he saw how tired she was from the complete personality shifts. "I know you're not happy with the way you are now. It's not easy to deal with your magic and then have to deal with my baggage. Don't you want to find some relief?"
Ariel put a hand on her head, feeling the leafy hair that came with her Green magic. Ironic that they were talking about Tidius when she had this magic. The man had cultivated it using a combination of lacrama. "I do but... I'm not sure about him. I guess we can at least try and find him. Put out word or something and see what happens." Shaking her head lightly she turned and stepped toward the exit. "Right now I could use a drink of water and some fresh air."
Yeah, she was not a fan of that idea. He did not blame her though; asking the person that kidnapped her for help was definitely not something most people would not do. He grabbed a glass of water and held it out to her. There was just one other thing that they needed to talk about though the subject left a pink blush on his cheeks.
"By the way, um, about marriage..." He sighed and did his best to look her in the eyes. "I'm not sure if it is something that I am ready for yet. I've...I've only got this close to you and I don't want to rush things further than you already feel like they had. But..." His gaze broke away from hers and he scratched his neck."But maybe do you want to move in with me? To see if you can really stand being around me?" He said shyly, his eyes gazing towards the floor.
Breathing in through her teeth she thought about the offer. She had been the one to bring up the subject originally. "I don't know. Moving in really ups the chances of another night like last night happening. Maybe I'm being old school but I'd rather be married first." She couldn't recall if they ever really talked much on the subject. There was always tension that existed because of secrets that shut down the conversation. "I would have rather been married before last night but, well, a bit late now." She shrugged.
Getting outside and sipping her water she relaxed as the sunlight washed over here. The outdoors were always more pleasent to her when her Green magic was present. Taking a deep breath she looked in a better mood already.
Nolan nodded in response and smiled at her. "Whatever you want, Ariel. I can wait." He reached out and grabbed her free hand gently, letting their fingers intertwine. "I can wait." He sighed contently.
Ariel wasn't quite sure if she was ready to get married either. Her suggestion was kind of out of the blue. Then again maybe she'd blurted out her inner wants or something. Outwardly the woman seemed to be contemplating something as they walked.
He glanced down and saw Ariel focused on her thoughts. She looked so serious that he could not help, but to laugh a bit. She looked cute that way. "What's going through your green head of yours?" He said with a playful smirk on his face.
"Eh?" She hadn't realized that she was broadcasting what she was doing. Blushing a bit she squirmed a bit. "I was just..." At first she was going to make something up but given that they just spent most of the morning dealing with confessions she decided to tell the truth. "I was just thinking that maybe I wanted to get married. I know it seems kind of sudden but it's not like I haven't thought about it before." She averted her eyes from Nolan's.
"And I want to get married too." Nolan said with a blush too and he averted his eyes from Ariel's too. "But to want to and should are two different things. Can you tell yourself honestly that you are ready? Do you really want to jump headlong into this after two months?" While it would have been easy to get swept up in his emotions again, he was trying to restrain himself.
Ariel had to conceed, she was probably getting caught up again. "You're right. Huh, it's really only been two months? It feels like so much longer for some reason." She sighed and looked at the town around her. "Guess I really can't trust myself until I get a handle on things."
She would feel the weight of Nolan's hand on her head and her hair was ruffled. "Then I'll keep you grounded until and beyond then, no matter what." He looked up at the clear, winter sky and enjoyed the warmth of the sun bathing his skin.
For some reason, he looked like he was at his happiest after a long time. He knew that life was going to come and bite him at some point, but at this moment he was serene.
After taking a little time to unwind Ariel was ready to go back to the guild hall. Coming in the doors with Nolan they were greeted by Sasha who appeared to be waiting. Actually from the looks of it people were getting ready to head out. "Hello. Uh, what's going on?" She inquired stepping out of the doorway.
It figures that she leave for an evening and things suddenly start happening. Not that Ariel's life wasn't exciting enough but she didn't want to miss anything important. And despite her magic limiting her, magic was also the only way she currently knew how to unlock more of her emotions. So as much as she might wish she could sit where she was at putting herself out in the world of magic was more to her advantage.