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After living in Evermore for two years, Caleb could finally find his way home in the dark, which was useful seeing as he often left his studio at in the early hours of the morning, just before morning arrived in the sky. The city crossed a hub between tranquility and turbulence around 4 am. It was only in those wee hours that many creatures cared to come out of the shadows, both human and other alike. He'd learned from Giselle how to keep himself safe, but there were also others around the city who helped clean the streets of the worst crime. Many of them wore masks to protect their identity in day-to-day life and despite his gratitude for their help in keeping the human sector of Evermore free of rogue werewolves and disingenuous valkyrie, Caleb never expected to meet one face to face.There seemed to be some honor bound code between these masked individuals and citizens like himself. It kept them anonymous and him at arms length from any danger.
He had never been the type to rush head first into a fight without thinking, especially considering that by trade he was a painter, certainly not a soldier. His job was to help recreate the light and beauty that teetered on edge during the night in the city.
Only two weeks ago, during an evening seminar on the development of art in the community where he was speaking, a band of armed robbers had blasted down the front doors of city hall, demanding that everyone give up their valuables.
The ones he carried weren't obvious: a silver ring with twisted diamonds and rubies, which had belonged to his mother, now hung from a chain around his neck.However, the raiders were clearly professional and had an eye for detail. The light reflecting just so off the silver chain on his neck reflected in the visors that protected the captain's eyes.
Under the point of a gun, he'd refused to hand it over.
Perhaps, Caleb was a fool. Standing still at 4:05 in front of City Hall and feeling the absence of the stolen jewelry felt foolish. He should be in bed, at home, asleep.
It was just a ring, wasn't it? The emotion attached to the small physical object was only temporary.
Relationships, despite as he knew they ended, didn't seem like they should be temporary to him. It was hard enough to see the good in everyday life. When certain people brought it back, shouldn't they stay?
Sounds of a ruckus in the back alley drew him away from his thoughts. He would never be out on the front line, but neither would he be able to hesitate when it came to helping someone else who was -- like the Scarlett Archer. She was easy to recognise, in costume, at least, and it helped that it hadn't been Caleb's first encounter. The light from a nearby street lamp just barely illuminated two figures making an exchange. One was tiny and clothed in red and the other was tall, muscular, and wore black down to the ski mask. Every instinct told Caleb to walk, as quickly as he could, home; yet, curiosity beckoned him closer to hear what was being said. However, no words were exchanged before the large man took the slim figure of the younger woman by the throat, pulled her an arrow from her own quiver, and stuck it firmly against her chest.
The threat was obvious even to him, but unarmed, he could do nothing. Caleb could only watch as the giant of a man dropped the masked stranger into the street, and snapped her arm in two in a single crack. As he left, the alley's former darkness dissipated into the normal shadow of night.
The young woman wasn't moving.
Careful that he wasn't seen, Caleb picked up her and carried her back to his apartment a block away. The least he could do was make sure she made it through until morning.
Now that she was really noticing everything around her and had calmed down from her earlier panic she noticed the different touches on the place which implied two people of different tastes lived here, on the one side you saw the sketch pads and art supplies around which she was sure were Caleb’s but then there were warm decorative touches on the house which seemed more feminine, the kinds of things that someone would buy to decorate the home and make it feel more personal, plus there was a beautiful spray of flowers in almost every vase in the place “Right and there’s not always time” she spoke softly and nodded, she had lost today and that was impacting her greatly, it wasn’t like her to feel downhearted or like her fighting spirit had been quelled but tonight she had to admit she felt a little lost.
“Most” she repeated in response to his words as she looked back at him, there was also this struggle with what she did about whether she was doing the right thing, she was taking the law into her own hands often and some people saw that as dangerous, though Nora did everything she could to apprehend and not actually harm those she caught “Do you believe everyone can change?” she asked it softly because she truly believed there were some out there who didn’t care for others and who would refuse to change no matter how much good you showed them.
“Me too” she nodded slightly, she did better on her own most of the time because she found other people so loud that it was often hard to get her thoughts together around them, that was why she didn’t do much in the social realm, going to work and being around people all day every day was more than enough for her to get her fill of noise. After he headed off the garden she took a little while just to gather herself, whoever had done this to her was still out there and she feared they were dangerous but it seemed like she was no match for this guy one on one so she was stuck for what to do. She could inform the organization of what happened but how much would they take from her word when she would have to call in anonymously. As a reminder of her own mistake today too, her arm was throbbing and consistently reminding her how reckless she had been.
She hovered in the doorway for a moment before he turned around the canvas and showed her the painting he had been working on which made her take a few steps closer just to marvel in it for a moment “You’re right, this ensures that I get to keep doing what I think I do well” she pressed her lips together “It also keeps you safer not knowing anything” the picture was incredibly detailed though and while it was in his own artist style it captured features about herself she wasn’t even sure you could tell whilst she was wearing a mask “Wow” she spoke softly as she perched herself on the wooden bench nearby “You have quite the eye for detail” she spoke softly before turning her eyes from the painting to the sky “It’s going to take at least a week for my arm to heal” she commented in a frustrated tone, she wanted to get back out there so bad but even she didn’t have a suicide wish.
Caleb had shared a home with Giselle for a while now and it had over time grown from being half empty to filled with his own personal touch. He'd brought things back from his old apartment in Paris, some which had memories attached to them, and some which were basic necessities, but it hadn't felt right until he'd planted a chute off the willow tree from his great aunt's garden. It was related to the one he'd planted with Ava when they'd lost their baby.There wasn't a lot of sense of wasting all his days in mourning. In truth, it never made him sad to sit next to the tiny plant, very often it brought back a sense of nostalgia or peace to the small abode that he'd made. His son would have been four years old now probably with reddish hair and bright blue eyes. He may have lost one family, but now two years settled into Evermore, he was making a new one. "We don't always get the time to do the things we want...to love the people we want to love." The Frenchman mused and smiled up at her from his seat. "So, all I figure is we make the most of what's left."
Scarlet was right. Not everyone would respond to kindness. Caleb had been fortunate that he hadn't truly run into a lot people who wanted to treat him badly. Even his father leaving was not the man's fault and Jonas had expressed to him in the few times that they met, if he had another chance, he wished he'd known his son. Caleb fiddled with the paintbrush for a moment before dipping it in water and watching the clear fluid turn first a soft pink, then a bright red. The combination of color that he'd used on the canvas lasted only for a moment before it swirled together into a muddy concoction ready to be thrown away. "Some people change," He shrugged, leaning back on the stool and partiality disappearing into the plants on the porch. "But, I think most people are given the chance to change and don't try, because change is scary. We see who we could be and chose to leave that behind for the comfort of the familiar. It's...easier. The curse of being human."
Caleb let out a long breath, enjoying the fall air. It was December and still in the mid 70s. He was spending as much time as he could outside, before the bitter cold set in and he was stuck indoors by the fireplace with two layers of socks. He would always choose a few clouds and a bit of chill over being stuffed into a room, unable to stretch his legs. He had never dealt well with claustrophobia. Pairing it with a party or a loud group of people made it even worse. Perhaps, he was truly an introvert, but he certainly was one who preferred exploring and the outdoors. He liked being on his feet and on the go, always ready to find a new adventure. He cleared his throat and stood up, tidying the art space that had just exploded with creativity. "Well, seeing as your superhero alter-ego may be out of commission for the next while...what is something you haven't been able to enjoy recently? You know, with all the stregems and arrow slinging?"
Granted, he knew very little about both strategy and bows and arrows, but he could guess that in any profession, one could use a break now and again. The small home by a lake was an excellent place to do that.
Nora didn’t like to think about her past often, there wasn’t much good in it if she was honest and the good memories she did have were tainted by what she knew came after them. There had been a lot of good for her in the past few years though, from meeting Emilio and starting Everectronics and seeing it grow from this tiny startup on one floor of a building to now having one of the tallest buildings in the Evermore skyline was certainly exciting. But there was one thing she knew she was sorely lacking in her life and that was people to care for. After everything went down she just kinda shut herself off from it all, she had lived alone since then, she worked around people but she rarely let the conversation turn personal and the few friends she had she barely got the chance to see. “Maybe you right” she responded giving credit where credit was due, how did one even begin to start letting their walls down enough to let someone in when she knew how badly people had let her down in the past “I find that easier said than done though, I guess my default is the go it alone approach” which is why it was so hard for her to accept help.
She sat herself against the seat and curled her feet underneath her, resting her hands on her knees in an almost meditation-like position as she listened to him talk, it was actually quite relaxing to sit here and while away some time while watching the way he worked on his painting, he was a natural, she noticed, everything he did seemed to effortless and like it was easy for him but she was sure there was a lot of thought going behind each movement too “I think you’re right” she responded to her words “Everyone has the capability to change but most people put up these invisible barriers for themselves and stop themselves before they even try” which was a sad thought but she supposed the idea of comfort and stability was often overpowering when compared to opportunity “And others don’t even see why they would need to change in the first place” she did see some good changes happening in the city, peace contracts expanding, greater communication and cooperation but it was slow progress for certain.
She leaned back against the seat and closed her eyes for a while, just breathing in the cool fresh air and really appreciating this evening for what it was. Underneath the frustration she felt because she couldn’t get back out there and tackle this threat again for at least a while, there was a part of her which knew she craved his level of peace, to just take a breather for a while, so maybe this wasn’t the worst thing that could happen to her. “Honestly?” she asked with raised brows as she thought about his question for a moment, there was a lot of things she sacrificed in the name of what she did for the city “Having a good meal” she responded and nodded her head slightly “I literally can’t remember the last time I had a steak and I love steak” and now that he’d made her think about it she really missed those little indulgences she used to give herself, like a really nice meal or setting aside an evening just to sit down with a book.
Caleb was introverted and spent a lot more of his time thinking than talking. He very often found it easier to describe his experiences in his head than to get them out in words. He had a vivid inner life and he often wondered if the reason that he'd been drawn to art was because he'd struggled to make connections through talking when he was younger. It hadn't been a problem during his university years. Almost everything got easier with a glass of wine in your hand and sometimes he'd used that as crutch. He'd become dependent on that buzz to make socialization relaxing and easy. Ava hadn't tolerated it, especially since he had a weakness for letting go so much that his actions could turn into a blank slate and fuzzy memories. She'd been a hard person to win-over, but once she was his ally, had fought harder for him than anyone, including against his own demons. Caleb hadn't had a drink in five years and in her honor, he was fairly certain that he never would again. He ducked his head, looking over the finished canvas at the petite girl. "We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Talking certainly isn't mine."
He tucked the pencil behind his ear and headed through the patio doors, back towards the kitchen. By now, the mug of tea within her hands must be cold and he had to admit that something to eat sounded delicious. He understood what she meant about not having time to relax, despite that his world surrounded in canvases in clay could seem very much like an oasis. Being haunted by memories had its downsides and he often struggled to sleep. The dark circles under his eyes were evidence enough to that. The deadlines were another thing.Painting on commission was different than working on his own. Working with clients could either be a nightmare or a daydream and sometimes people had ideas that he simply couldn't bring to life. It took time to learn how not to punish himself for not succeeding or being where he wanted to be: ambition had a truly painful bite.
Caleb propped open the doors to the outside as he shuffled around the living room searching for a cellphone and the list of all the restaurants he knew delivered at crazy hours. His sleep schedule was...off to say the least and he'd found some people to truly accommodating, especially considering he didn't enjoy eating french fries and bacon 24/7. Taking care of himself was important, or he knew he'd end up in a swirling tornado of rainbows and watercolor like his mama. As beautiful as it sounded, all he knew was that her obsession with perfecting her art had ultimately lead to her death. He wanted to be different than his parents. Perhaps, though, he could still carry on the good parts of the wonderful woman who had raised him. He dug between the couch cushions and felt a cold metal phone meet his grasp. He did have a tendency to lose things, but at least they stayed within a rather small apartment. "Is there someone you'd like to call? Just so they know you're safe."
She nodded slightly when he spoke about people having strengths and weaknesses, her strengths tended to lie in her intellect and determination along with physical coordination but that was balanced out by her lack of connection with others, she had always found it hard to connect with others, whether that was down to her isolated upbringing or experiences of others letting her down she didn’t know “Me neither” she commented pressing her lips together “People, in general, isn’t mine” she guessed she’d never really clicked with anyone the way others described, she had friends sure but they were the kinds she’d get a meal with and then be on her way, she was yet to meet someone she felt the need to pull closer to her, perhaps because she didn’t let people get close to her in the first place.
When he got up to wander around the house she stayed where she was, knees huddled to her chest as she watched the sky for a while, nothing particular was happening other than a few clouds brushing past the moon but she always found a sense of calming from just looking up at the sky she supposed. She wasn’t sure how exactly she felt right now, she was in an unfamiliar situation and she knew there was no doubt a crisis out there tonight which the Scarlett Archer should be attending to but for a while, she just wanted to hide away here and mull over her choices til now.
His question about making a call had been thoughtful but sadly not something that came to mind, there wasn’t anyone waiting for her back home, after all, no one would actually worry over her. Emilio would realize something was wrong when she didn’t show up for work the next day but other than that, it seemed like she didn’t have much personal impact on others. “No that’s okay” she responded with a shake of her head “My family and I don’t talk anymore and I live alone so” she grimaced slightly as though it was no big deal. Instead of wallowing in it she thought for a moment before asking him a question of her own “What’s your inspiration behind what you do?” she jerked her chin towards the canvas, she was curious to know how an artist’s mind worked when it came to what they shared with the world. Nora often questioned her own motivations when it came to the things she did and the answer often came back different depending on the day. It occurred to her that she did a lot in the name of others but expected very little back in return.
Caleb waited for their meal to show up, paid the service, and brought it out back to the porch with some napkins and two glasses of water. It was important for anyone who was healing to get good nutrition. He, also, lived alone and had for several years now. Before Ava, he had also lived alone. He had a tendency to enjoy his own company more than that of others and despite the friends he had in his life now, he still found it extremely necessary to retreat on his own to process the day and its happenings. There was always something he needed to think about or feelings that needed a place to go. Truthfully, that was was why he made art. It was an outlet and a place he could speak when words didn't same to portray the depth of so many situations that he'd experienced.
"My only living family is just under 5000 miles away." He said, playing with the food on his plate and arranging the vegetables into a face, as his Mama often had as a child. It still amused him, honestly. "Technology helps, but sometimes I still feel guilty for leaving France when there could be people there who need me. I have tried to convince her to come here, but she says she is old and Paris is her home. I am grateful I have the ability to purchase plane tickets whenever I want...but that doesn't mean I am eager to...to go."
Caleb looked down at the takeout tray. In such modern times, it seemed like there would be better solutions to his crisis of not being able to fly in planes. Not yet and not anytime soon. "I miss my family, but I suppose my art is one way of helping myself be at peace with the place I am right now." He twirled a pencil in his fingertips, making brief eye contact, before looking away. "Some people prefer to wield a weapon and all I need is a brush. I think it helps me feel just as strong as carrying any sword."