“Maybe it's worth a try” she murmured to herself and bit her bottom lip apprehensively while her thumb hovered on the screen of her phone, it was as if the name Arcadia written in a neat font was slowly calling her out. Maybe she’s free… maybe she’s not free. Astraea knew the elder Aurazin was volunteering at Evermore General, so with all the logical explanations considered, she should be busy. She probably should’ve thought twice before accepting the task given to her earlier today instead of thinking she could handle it when she may not have the capacity to hold her own. It’s been a little over two months since she’s worked at the cafe as a part-time waitress. Somehow, they employed her after seeing her work ethic for the past month. She’s been working for dinner shifts mostly since she would visit the tea shop in the mornings to help the old lady who owned it. 

Mrs. Evans is a very nice woman around her late eighties who owned the shop and from what she gathered, people often ventured there to buy her tea sachets. Surprisingly, she was still so healthy and it didn’t take the Aurazin long to develop an attachment towards the kind old lady who taught her how to brew tea. Today is one of those silent days, it wasn’t that busy when the clock struck 5 pm. Not that she was complaining, she could get some rest then. It wasn’t until she was greeted by the news that the cafe will be closed at 6, a few hours earlier than usual. Astraea was used to closing up at 10 pm the earliest after cleaning up so it was news to her. Apparently, someone reserved the place to hold an event tomorrow, and it was both good news and bad news for the staff. 

Good news, some of the employees would not be needed for tomorrow because it was going to be a private event and they will only pick a few to stay, and those who are selected to work for tomorrow would be paid twice the amount by the hour. Bad news, they will need to have the entire place prepped and done in less than 22 hours. 21 hours now, after she cleaned up and sat by the kitchen, staring at the phone in her hand with a skeptic look. Time was running out and she was told to decorate the cafe and make it ‘presentable’ by 4 pm tomorrow. By presentable, she had a feeling it needed to look close to perfect for a private gathering, judging from the looks her co-workers gave her. The Aurazin was fine with doing anything. 

One big problem. 

She does not know anything about event planning, not the slightest.It was why she has been scrolling down Google for the past 35 minutes trying to wrap her head around it. She really needs help, she decided, and pressed on the name before pressing her phone against her ear, “Please… please, pick up” she mumbled and when the call was finally connected, she almost cheered loudly. “Arcadia! Hey… it’s me, Astraea. Do you think you could come over to Wanderlust? I need a big favor” she was trying her best to drag it out politely but it was clear from her tone, that time was running out. Leaning against the counter near the cash registry, Astraea started telling her what happened and why she called her. It was almost 8 pm by the time she finished cleaning every table and every surface. She wasn’t sure if they were trying to test her or bully her, because being left alone to decorate the spacious room in less than 20 hours was definitely not how she envisioned things happening. Positive thoughts, Astraea.

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She smiled and nodded her head in understanding, she’d be lying if she said she didn’t also get those pangs in her chest making her feel like it was unfair that she missed out on all the good things going on “It’s one of the most rewarding things but also...pretty sad” it was a reminder that you weren’t a part of that world anymore, only a visitor on a mission there, to later move on and leave. “I have to be...nothing about what happened to us is...easy to handle” but the fact that they were still here and fighting was a testament to how strong they were and how dedicated they were to protecting others.

She could understand the way that Astraea felt, there were many times she had thought the same thing and felt cheated by what she had lost, hell the woman she loved and still loved was here in this very city but she didn’t know if she’d ever have the opportunity to be with her again. “We’ve always had a code to take care of the world…but there’s nothing in our code that says we can’t use our free time as we wish” some aurazin were stricter than others on how to interpret their responsibilities “We did this out of our own choice...so perhaps we can choose to be more than just...a shell” it was true that they didn’t have many stories about them, since their existence was kept so secret.

She giggled at the very thought of them having a girls night and going a little crazy on the sugar “Well true, it’s not like we don’t deserve to have some fun after all the time we’ve spent ensuring everything around us is okay” she commented in a soft voice. Astra and her got to spend time together quite a bit in the veil but since coming to Evermore everything had gotten more complicated. Cadia pressed her lips together and hummed slightly when she spoke about foods she wanted to try from in the store “I swear sometimes I want to grab the whole shelf and put it in my basket” she commented and giggled softly “Brownies huh? I’ve tried a couple, they very rich, definitely the type of thing that can make you feel full quickly” but she did love chocolate.

Cadia smiled as she came to collect her coffee cup from Astraea and took a small sip, holding it in her hands “There is nothing better than the warmth that comes from a hot drink, she murmured softly as she blew on the steam a little “It’s a shame that the world can come so far and yet it still isn’t safe for a woman to walk the city alone at night” she commented sadly and nodded her head slightly “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of you” she assured her as she wrapped her arm around her shoulder as she took one last look at the good work they’d done and then headed out of the store “So did you make any friends in the city?” she asked with a small smile.

Astraea pursed her lips lightly and sighed, Arcadia was right, nothing they face is easy but it is what it is, isn’t it? They obviously have to be strong to go through it, to brave themselves through every obstacle they face because that’s what they do. It’s time she sucked it up and reminded herself that this isn’t the first time. “Considering how easy it is for us to tamper with people’s memories, there were times when I wished it would be possible on our own…” There has been more than one occurrence where Astraea felt like it would be so much better if she started anew with new memories but it wasn’t that easy. No matter how cheated they felt, they couldn’t forget about it.

“Mhmm, no rule stating we couldn’t… but I always end up letting that free time take over, and that’s the problem” she huffed, clearly it wasn’t easy to manage her time if she kept getting distracted. “I don’t know how people do it, when you get attached, when you form an attachment towards someone or something, you can’t just leave them.” Yes, they were able to tamper with their memories once everything was done and for them, those who have had enough experience and hone their memory tampering skills, were also able to replace one memory after the other with what was already there. Not enough to make them think nothing went wrong, which wouldn’t be a problem if you weren’t too close to them, but certainly enough to induce a false sense of security. Which was sad, in her opinion. “Getting high on sugar is barely a crime” she nodded, if this was her trying to convince herself that it is fine, then whatever justification she received would be enough. “Maybe we should go do that… go to a convenience store and then grab a few things to try out… How bad could it be?”

The worst that could happen was them rolling around and giggling in the safe place they could call home. At least they’ll be together and though there is a possibility of two aurazin high on sugar being dangerous if they were let outside, they were… responsible enough to make sure that doesn’t happen. “Oh yes, even those chocolate lava cakes are so nice…” It made her curious enough to try and make it next time. The aurazin allowed a small and sad smile to come across her face upon hearing that, “The world can’t all improve at once, right?” As sad as it is, she believed it wasn’t realistic and the universe is anything but nice all the time. While they were walking down the pavement, she noticed the lights were not broken as they were a week ago. Thank god, Astraea especially disliked the darkness. “Kinda? I mean, I think I can call my colleagues my friends too, and oh- I met someone.”

Arcadia could sense the sadness in Astraea which made her soften her eyes slightly “Perhaps it would be easier to be the one forgetting huh?” she murmured it softly in agreement, perhaps Cadia saw things a little differently because she was observing for the most part, she was used to being a stranger and a visitor in this world after being an empath for so long. It was harder for Astraea because she was easily attached “True, it’s a hard balance to keep” she laughed softly “Perhaps it’s time we start questioning our rules, our duties were assigned to us clearly, to take care of the world as best we can...to ease people’s pain and guide them when they are lost” she nodded “But we are not in the veil anymore and we should stop pretending we are” they didn’t even know if it was possible to go back.

Arcadia put a hand on her shoulder and squeezed softly with a half-smile “You have so much love to give to the world” she complimented in a soft voice, Astraea was one of the purest people she had mad and the blonde could tell how badly she wanted to be able to have a life again, she had been stripped of hers so young and so unfairly. “Well true, it’s not a crime but it’s certainly scandalous for our kind” she teased playfully and grinned, not that she was going to let that stop her, she favored the idea of having some fun and sugar was one of the easiest ways for an aurazin to achieve that. She giggled at the idea of just going to a convenience store and grabbing whatever they wanted “Knowing you, you won’t be able to pick what you want” she teased and grinned.

“I don’t have anywhere to go tonight if you wanna go for it though” she teased playfully, it had been a while since they’d gotten the chance to properly catch up anyway so she was kinda looking forward to spending more time with her. “They really are lava though, I tried one once and burned my mouth” she commented and pouted her lips slightly, still it was delicious though. “It can’t, but it has come a pretty long way already” she commented and nodded her head slightly, she saw a lot of movement forward for good. “Colleagues can be friends if you get along well” she assured her but she raised her brows at the way the younger aurazin said she met someone “Someone? As in a cute...we like them someone?” she questioned curiously.

She stared at the blonde with a sad smile and hummed softly in agreement, yeah that would definitely be a lot better than having to go through the pain of erasing every bit of memory from the person who probably didn’t deserve to have their head tampered with. Scratch that, nobody deserves that. “It doesn’t help when I also feel guilty whenever I erase them, don’t you think it feels wrong to mess with someone’s head? Knowing that if you didn’t do it precisely, it’ll have an aftermath effect on them.” Like individuals realizing something was amiss, that’s a big problem. “But I guess that’s why we don’t bother forming attachments with the ones we meet anyway, it helps to erase the small bits when you are not significant to them.”

She wondered if that will turn out to be a problem for her in the future, especially when she has stayed here in Evermore longer than she has ever stayed on earth. “Rules are meant to be changed at some point in life, right?” Maybe she was trying to make herself feel better, and honestly, Arcadia is doing a really good job at assuring it’s nothing wrong, which makes Astraea feel grateful. There was a small blush painting her already rosy cheeks, every time she gets complimented, it makes her like that but knowing it comes from the elder aurazin, of all people, the level of significance and effect it gave her was a little bit higher than usual.

She nudged her playfully and grinned “When have we really let ‘scandalous’ things dictate how we conduct our affairs?” Arcadia was right, she wouldn’t be able to really choose, it’s more likely to find her sitting by the same aisle for the next 20 minutes deciding which type of chocolate she wanted before eventually pushing all of them in the cart. “I saw that new cotton candy stand near the supermarket and it was so tempting… I know that’s sweeter than the usual sweets, I saw it on YouTube…” And god does she want to try them. She turned to her side a bit and gave her the infamous puppy eyes “Really? You don’t mind? We’ll just make a quick stop by the convenience store and grab a few sweets.” Maybe they can spare themselves some sugar for the night, it’s been stressful anyway.

Was she excited to tell her sister figure about the peculiar celestial she met? Definitely. “Yes? I like him… what did you mean when you said that anyway?” She does find him to be enigmatic. “I think it’s the first time I actually met someone who didn’t like me. I mean not that he disliked me but… you know, the type who’s nonchalant and wished you would stop trying to make him care for something he clearly doesn’t?” That’s a weird way of describing Sunmin but it works.

Arcadia knew what Astraea meant when she said she felt guilty about what they did to take memories away from people “It’s only memories of us, everything about the happiness they felt, the peace it brought them….that all stays” that’s what she told herself to justify it every time “But of course I feel guilty, why wouldn’t I want to...stay” they all cared about people and wanted to matter to people, it hurt every time the reality set in that they were a temporary figure. “But I’m practiced enough to do it right now...as long as the person doesn’t get to know me well” which she never allowed to happen because it got too complicated and messy.

“Rules are meant to be in the best interests of those they protect, if they stop being effective they should change” she blonde agreed, she wasn’t the type to stick by some custom which is clearly not working or helping others, if all it created was misery in the long run, what was the purpose? “Still...avoiding attachments while we’re here...living here...that’s gonna get more difficult, we have to blend in here, figure out what life we want to build” there was a real possibility that they wouldn’t be able to go back to the veil so how did they plan their lives around that? She giggled when Astraea pointed out they didn’t tend to listen to the rules and nudged her slightly “True, our reputations have never been perfect” she teased softly.

“Cotton candy?” she questioned and raised her brow slightly “So you wanna skip the mixers and go straight for pure sugar” she commented and laughed gently, giving a playful roll of her eyes “I don’t mind at all, we’re overdue some time to let loose and god knows you deserve it after the hand you were dealt today” she nodded slightly, besides it had been a long while since Cadia had just given in and let herself enjoy it. She scrunched her nose slightly “You know exactly what I mean, does he make your heart do that little fluttery thing whenever you see him?” she pried with a raise of her brow.

She did frown when Astraea said she didn’t like her though because that wasn’t where she was expecting the story to go “So knowing you, you didn’t let that bother you anyway” she commented and smiled softly “Did he come around?” she questioned as they walked the direction towards the little shop on the way back to Astraea’s place “I’m guessing he did by the way you brought him up.

The elder female was trying to make her feel better and there were no lies in what she said, but still, the aurazin felt like something was missing from the very sentiment they’re giving towards the victims. They’re not the bad guys, they’re the guardians sent to console them… but she always felt guilty every single time when it was done and accounted for. “Is that why we won’t be able to… be attached to anyone? Because what happens when we have to go and we have to do the same, and because we’re in plenty of their memories… it felt like a significant part was taken away? Won’t that hurt more?” 

Nobody really said they couldn’t be attached, not directly, but everyone knew in this line of duty, there was no space for that. “It’s a lonely job, that’s what it is…” She wanted to stay and have a life of her own too, not having to fear that at the end of the day, she had to say goodbye because nothing lasts. “We can’t avoid attachments when we’re building a life here, correct, but we can’t be too attached either because it’s just not guaranteed to last and while it’ll be painful to us, it’ll be painful to them too.” Sometimes seeing is believing until the end. 

When Cadia agreed that it was time they let loose and basically gave her the green light to indulge in some cotton candy goodness, Astraea was close to actually hopping in excitement to the point where she had to keep her feet glued to the ground in consciousness. “Why go mild when we can go bold, right? Life is short… we should live to the fullest while we can. I think people these days have a term called YOLO which means you only live once.” Which is honestly ironic. She scrunched up her nose and scoffed when she asked if Sunmin made her heart flutter “I mean… he makes me happy?” Does your heart not flutter when you’re happy? 

She had that stupid smile on her when asked if the stubborn and grumpy star came around, at last, to which she nodded “Of course he did, you know I don’t give up when I say I like someone.” It wasn’t easy but has it ever been easy for her? She dragged the blonde by the wrist to go inside the shop and pointed to the cotton candy machine at the other aisle “Look… it’s so pretty…”

Cadia shrugged her shoulders slightly “Our role is just to help people get through the toughest times they’re going through, none of it is supposed to be permanent, they’re supposed to go back to their lives and keep living” that was the hope with the work an empath did anyway but it was definitely hard not to feel the charm of those around them “But the more we place ourselves into their lives…the more we want to be a character in their story…the harder it is to let go” god knows maybe it was better that Cadia was still hung up on Ce because it meant she didn’t keep reaching for people she knew she shouldn’t.

“But we all have that…one person we can’t shake” she knew she wasn’t the only one and she wouldn’t be the last to find one either “Maybe soulmates really are a thing…even cross dimensionally” even know Ce still thought of her and missed her, that had to count for something right? She hated the idea of being the reason someone was in pain but she also couldn’t help the way her heartfelt, she couldn’t just pretend like it didn’t exist “The problem is that we can talk about not being attached all we want…it doesn’t stop it actually happening” it was such a natural thing to experience.

She was glad to see Astreaea happy through all of the doom and gloom though, watching as she lit up just at the very idea of it all. She couldn’t help but laugh at the way she talked about only living one “Or in our experience, twice, I guess” she teased but she did understand the sentiment, they had to seize what they wanted now because it could be gone tomorrow. “Happy is a good start, though I feel like it might be more than just…happy” she pried with a playful grin because she recognized that look on her face well.

She giggled when Astraea explained how she wasn’t one to give up “Still, it can’t be easy to win someone over when they don’t appear to want to be won over” she was definitely curious to know how all of this played out because it was evident this guy was pretty important to her. As they headed into the shop her eyes wandered over all of the things for sale and she couldn’t help making a mental list in her head of all the things she saw and wanted, but getting dragged over to the cotton candy machine she grinned “We’re going straight for pure sugar huh?” she giggled and asked the clerk to make them two.

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