Of all the festive seasons, Thanksgiving and Christmas would make up high on his list. Simply because it was supposed to be a season where families gather together and meet up to share their stories, bonding over it with laughter and elation. Well, at least it used to be that way for him. Julian didn't have a big family, it was only his parents, him and his elder sister and his younger sister. The five of them were able to make up the absence for plenty though, which was the reason why the Nephilim never felt like anything was lesser when they gather together. Unfortunately, this year wouldn't make it possible for him. He couldn't go back to England because he had a whole shift two days ago and the flights bound there were all sold out, leaving him no choice but to spend his Christmas in Evermore. He had no problem with the city, but who wouldn't want to go home for Christmas? He misses his parents and Christmas was one of the times he could actually get to see his elder sister who is otherwise, staying in Australia. 

And ever since the tragedy that took place a few years ago, it's the only time they were able to check in the Nephilim to see if he's doing fine as he says he is. He's guessing that he'll have to settle and FaceTime his family for this year, and hope that his schedule can be cleared out next year. While he was busy cleaning the cabinet where he stored his bow and arrows alongside other weapons in case anything happens, he realized that he's been tapping his feet against the carpeted floor for over half an hour. He wasn't usually this jittery when he's alone, so he stopped whatever he was doing and tried to figure out the reason for it. Until he realized that the living room was pretty much cold to the core, which was unusual because he was sure he had turned on the heater before. With a rag still in his left hand, Julian went over to where the heater was located and crouched down to its level to check if it's working. 

The lights weren't on and he thought he must've turned it off accidentally. Another unfortunate case for the poor Nephilim who had to endure a cold night while being alone for Christmas, it wasn't turned off, rather, it was broken. A heaved sigh escaped the male as he got up and realized that he will have to rush to the stores to get a heater unless he wanted to spend his nights cold. He knew there was no way the stores would be open on Christmas Eve, and even if they were, the chances were likely high to know that it's been sold out. Yet that didn't prevent Julian from wrapping his coat around him and rushed out. At least, his car was slightly warm. And that's probably the alternative for his place to sleep tonight or for a few nights if there was no more heaters.

 That was the case for Julian who was still diligently searching for a heater for about an hour already. Sighing to himself, he exited the last shop which told him sorry because they were sold out. Just his luck. "Goddammit, Julian… you're full of bad luck at this time of the year, aren't you?" he grumbled to himself and found himself slumping against the bench while listening to Deck The Halls With Boughs of Holly blaring from god knows which shop. 

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Nora watched him carefully as he spoke about his family and she was relieved to know that his sister was okay but it was evident there was some sort of situation that happened between them which caused them to grow apart. She pressed her lips together because she could sense that it was hard for him. She never talked about her family unless she had to, so she understood where he was coming from, it just seemed like such a shame because he talked about her so brightly and she could sense he missed her a lot “She’ll come around...people deal with hard times different ways” she did so by shutting everyone out. She laughed when he said he was glad he enjoyed his work “It’s surprising to me how many people continue a career even though they have no joy from it” routine or needs must she supposed but it wasn’t the way she would ever want to live.

She nodded slightly, he was a nice guy which meant he probably would give anyone a chance if they piqued his interest a little, whereas for her, the natural decision was to push them away and reject them “Well then I guess that’s where we’re different” she shrugged her shoulders slightly “I don’t really do relationships” she admitted and pressed her lips together “So I’ve tried to be clear with people before they even try, saves a lot of heartbreak” of course it didn’t always work and sometimes she had people who were a little harder to shake, but she found most were easy enough to get to forget about her before long. Men mostly allowed themselves to get distracted by the next pretty girl who came along. He liked the way he talked about Maleeah, he had this certain softness and sense of his care in his voice which told her a lot about their relationship.

She grinned when he said he felt the shot she had taken when her comment about people staying with the first person they fell in love with “I’m not saying it’s impossible” she responded and laughed slightly “Just that it’s unrealistic for everyone to have that same endgame” she nodded slightly, then again it was supposed to be a happy film with a happy ending so she wasn’t really expecting it to end up differently. “Exactly” she responded, thinking about what a best, best friend would be like. Honestly, she didn’t really know “I never really had many friends but I did have a best friend...maybe even a best best friend” she commented and nodded her head, Leah had been the one person she truly felt like she understood and connected with when she was younger, the two of them had been inseparable for a long time. Nora missed her a lot too.

She shrugged her shoulders and smiled softly “I don’t trust people who don’t like cinnamon” she responded playfully, she remembered having cinnamon in her coffee as a ritual since she was about 16, every year she would wait for the Christmas overhauls to the coffee shops and then she would order one, it was like a reward for getting through the year she supposed. “No one would want you to be unhappy” she responded with an encouraging smile before pulling back her hand and hopping out of the car, she was about to come around to help unload the tree but when he said he would handle it she raised a brow “Are you sure?” when he seemed to be she nodded and headed towards the front door, leaving it open so he could get in with the tree and swooping Cloud up in her arms so he wouldn’t try and make a mad dash for his new friend “Look what we’ve got Cloud, our first real Christmas tree” she cooed it softly as she watched Julian bring it inside and she pointed out the spot in the lounge she wanted it.

It was a bit embarrassing for him to talk how indifferent his sister feels now when he's always promoted that healthy and happy family picture. Even though siblings fight all the time, he knew that whatever happened between them, it wasn't just their casual arguments. Something set the elder female off and Julian couldn't pinpoint what it was. But he does miss her, truly. Spending this long away from his family without going home to visit a few times a year makes the longing grow fonder. "You're right… people deal with it differently." He did. After his ruined wedding, Julian recalled he wouldn't even look at anyone else the same again, much less hold enough eye contact to even speak a word. Maybe Jane-Ann grew tired of that, who knows? But at the end of the day, she's his sister and he knew she wouldn't abandon him this easily. "I guess for some people, they weren't given the same luxury we do. They need to work to pay bills, and not everyone can work what they're passionate in. Not to shade any specific profession but I doubt I would want to be the hangar's janitor because I have a passion in cleaning and in being a germaphobe."

 He's generally messy, there wasn't a day when his jumpsuit wasn't stained by the oil or the likes. He tried his best to look decent and neat every time Nora comes though, save for the trips she made there secretly where she's surprised him to the point he actually tripped on a wire. In front of her. "You and I seem different but all I see if just a window and opportunity for me to change the awkwardness between us and make the best of our company together." That's why he's here now. Because Eleanora Nordstroem deserves someone to hear her our and lend her a shoulder to cry on, and perhaps he had no problem being that guy. "I thought I wouldn't do relationships when I was like 11… but found myself falling hard for a girl a few years later so I could hardly say much about my consistency" he didn't swear off girls, but Maleeah was usually the one who would tell people to lay off him because they were disrupting his focus most of the time. 

Who would've thought it would take a petite girl to tell people off when he was a towering giant who could probably stomp on them without sparing so much as a glance back. He wondered, what Nora would do if he were to give it a try. Certainly not telling her now, for sure. Nor after her response. Sometimes it's good to have surprises, right? Maybe he could slowly creep into her heart? Julian knew it was a simple crush but it was hard for him to ignore the fluttering sensation in his heart when his crush keeps showing up every once in a while. Not that he was complaining. But because of this, the Nephilim was not able to stare at another female the same way again. Not when his heart is clearing up a pending space for a certain someone. "You'll be surprised to know what love can do to you" he teased, love changed a lot of things for him once, he found himself doing what he's not used to, and he didn't even mind them. "I can't be your best best friend since that spot is taken but I can be your friend? A close friend between the ranks of best friend?" Take it slow, right? Besides, he was genuinely curious how to be her friend.

 "It's a good thing I like more cinnamon than any average guy" he winked playfully, probably not as much as her given her endless love for it but he does like a little bit of this and that, it just so happens to be cinnamon. "So if I want to propose a truce id we ever argue in the future… I should go get you some cinnamon from Starbucks?" Sounds likely. She was right, no one would want him to be unhappy so he's going to take that as his motivation. "It's just a tree, I'm strong enough, I'm stronger than I look, you know" he narrowed his hues at her playfully as he proceeded to bring in the tree. Good news, nothing was stuck anywhere. The branches were fine. Once he found a spot, he placed them neatly, and was just brushing off his clothes when he noticed how she had cooed at Cloud, "Just don't go shedding yourself here, Cloud, and we'll be just fine. You wanna start decorating?" he pointed towards towards the box filled with the ornaments earlier, "Don't worry I'll be your ladder if you can't reach the top" he added before snickering wryly. 

She nodded slightly, she was doing her best to try and open up but mostly she didn’t have to say much because he didn’t ask her many questions, she wondered if maybe he was scared to ask because of her reactions or if it just wasn’t in his nature to pry, she was trying to offer up bits here and there, things she wouldn’t normally tell others “I never figured out a good way to handle it...losing people...just made me angry more than anything” and she took that anger out in the form of excessive training and exercise and trying to right wrongs by getting criminals arrested. She nodded when he spoke about work “That’s true and I suppose for others..a career just isn’t the thing that is important in their life” there was certain luck to being able to find that middle balance between doing something you enjoyed and earning enough money to live the life you wanted to.

“There’s awkwardness?” she responded and smiled, acting as though she hadn’t noticed the way he would stutter for words or get nervous a lot when they first met, she had noticed the longer that time went on the less it happened, which told her that he felt more comfortable around her than he did before. He did manage to trip over and hit his head a lot though and that didn’t seem to change with time so she decided he was probably just clumsy in general nature “The only awkwardness I remember is trying not to laugh that time you tripped on a wire” she scrunched up her nose in amusement because it wasn’t the tripping that was funny but rather the awkward way he tried to play it off. She gave a slight smirk “I’ve been pretty consistent all my life, though people tell me pushing everyone away is unhealthy, I do it anyway” better not to let people in than to have them let you down.

When he spoke about love she went quiet for a moment, pondering whether love would change things for her. Honestly, she couldn’t say so either way because she’d never experienced it before, she was sure she could have if she’d stayed and let someone get under her skin but the whole prospect of it scared her. If someone got attached to her, wouldn’t they find out she was the scarlett archer? And if they did, how would they feel about it? Would they leave her because of the dangers? Would she feel guilty for going out there knowing she may get hurt and that would worry them? It was complicated “Maybe” she responded in a soft voice, maybe love would change things. The way he so apprehensively asked to be her friend struck a chord with her and she felt herself feeling pangs of nervousness in response “Are you sure you want to be that?” she asked in a soft voice as she looked up at him.

She grinned slightly when he spoke about his like for cinnamon, she wasn’t sure why she liked it so much, she supposed it was mostly because it felt like it signified good times in her life and so whenever she thought of cinnamon she related it to happy times. “That would be a good start to getting forgiveness yes” she laughed softly “What about you? What’s your all-time bribery tactic” she wondered what someone like him would be weak to. Before long they had the tree indoors and there were pine needles making a trail through the house but she didn’t “Well at least he’s white, if he sheds it’ll look like snow” she laughed as she set him down and he headed over to inspect the tree. “Yes...just...need to get one thing” she nodded before heading into her room and grabbing the fairy lights which were still on the side, she had planned to use them to decorate her room but never got around to it “We should start with lights right?” she edged closer handing one end to him because there was no way she could reach the top.

He wasn't sure if he was ready to open up, which wouldn't feel right considering he prodded Nora into doing the same, so why couldn't he do the bare minimum too? Maybe he was afraid. Yeah, maybe that was it. Nora may see him as a friend but while he was content with spending his quality time with the dhampir, Julian already had an existing crush on her. So things were slightly different, in plenty of senses. He didn't want to disappoint her. What if she didn't feel the same way? That's fine. But what if she decided to take it as an insult to their friendship and choose to discard him off her life? Now that's bad. "I understand that… I know there was this immense guilt and sadness but I just felt so angry at the time. It died away only to come back stronger than ever to knock you down" It was a never-ending cycle, it had traumatized him gently. He wondered if he should be feeling such anger? Wasn't that unhealthy?

 "Lucky for us, our careers are made of something we are very passionate in, no? We have it luckier than most. I like to think that I'm lucky because of it." Not many would have the same opportunity he did. To be promoted is one thing but to be acknowledged for your contributions, that was another. He would prefer the latter if he even had to pick, honestly. The Nephilim had a feeling that she was teasing him which made him pout and cleared his throat awkwardly, "Shush you know it was… " he murmured and fiddled with his fingers, it was hard not to be nervous or a train wreck around the COO, especially when she pays visits every once in a while. It didn't do well to hear the smooching noise effects made by his colleagues, he swore he never felt the temptation and desire to choke the living lights out of his colleagues that day. It was scary and nerve-wracking.

 "It was one time" he whined in defense, he had been so occupied with the wiring but his attention had been on Nora because she looked extra pretty that day, so while he was trying to hide from her because elf his messy state, he had tripped on the wire and honestly… she heard it so he wasn't able to run off like he had originally planned. "Rebel" he clicked his tongue in feigned annoyance as he shook his head, "Such a rebel." His concept and view of love may be different from others, one because Julian has experienced them but he has also experienced the heartache that comes after it when you could no longer be with the person you wanted to spend your life with. So was it worth it to find another person to make him happy again? He didn't know. But the day he realized he may have developed a tint crush on her, he thought it was just a game and distraction. Until it developed into something more. 

Are you sure you want to be that? That's what she said and Julian only grinned at that, "Honestly, if we're being honest, I wanted to be more than that. But baby steps, right?" He knew he likes her, there was no doubt in that. When she asked him if he had anything worthy to bribe him with, the Nephilim shrugged, "I strangely developed a liking to corn snacks. I don't know why but I just do… it's nor as easy to find but I think I'm willing to buy the entire stock." Weird choice but it was something he ate when he was a kid. "Well now that you've said it I suddenly want him to shed… just for aesthetic purposes." She had given him the fairy lights and Julian couldn't help but smile fondly at how enthusiastic she was being on decorating the tree while he stared, "Cute." Once she was done with the lights, he went over to finish it at the top with ease. Perks of being tall, he guessed. "The bells should be enough in the box, there's about a dozen?"

Everyone had different ways of processing things, some people could handle pain very well, while others could feel completely crushed by it, it all depended on the person, the experiences they had, and also what they were responding too. Sometimes it was even impacted by who was around you and often dealing with grief alone was a lot harder. “Anger is definitely something I have experience in...sadness too” she nodded slightly “Feels like negativity just surrounds you constantly and it can be so hard to crawl back from that” she nodded thoughtfully, it couldn’t have been easy for him to lose the person closest to him, the same as it wasn’t easy for her to lose the one closest to her.

She nodded “Yeah...though I honestly never thought I’d see myself going into business like they did” it was different because they had been doctors who expanded their business with time and experience whereas her background came from actually studying business but she did feel like she was following in their footsteps sometimes. The difference was that she planned to do right with the power she gained. She smiled, giving a shrug as though she had no idea what he was talking about when he insisted she knew it was awkward. “One time where you did a full-on trip and then tried to continue our conversation like nothing happened” she responded and chuckled slightly. She noticed that he was staring at her, she noticed when most people were looking at her, it was like a natural reflex. A part of her knew why he was doing so but she was still doing her best to keep him at arm’s length.

She shrugged when he said she was a rebel for choosing to push people away “I’m sure if people looked close enough they’d realize there’s more to it than rebelling” she didn’t want to face all the complications that came along with letting someone in. Nora had experienced better than anyone what it felt like to have someone you loved dearly completely let you down and she wasn’t sure she could bear to go through it again “You’re too nice to fall for someone who doesn’t believe in love Julian” she warned him with a shake of her head. She knew he had a crush on her, she would be completely blind if she missed the staring or the fact his colleagues teased him for treating her nicely. She could go on a date with him, sure, but she didn’t see it coming to anything and in the end, she would break his heart. She didn’t want to do that to someone so sweet and kind.

It seemed he had come to the conclusion himself though, he seemed to understand that being her friend might be the way he got to stay closer to her. It made her nervous to even let someone in as a friend if she was honest but she wanted to start here. She wanted to see what happened if she tried to let someone in. “Corn snacks?” she laughed raising her brows, if she was expecting anything it certainly wasn’t that “Well they are the kind of thing you can just eat without a thought and before long realize you have none left I suppose” she laughed softly. She was excited to decorate the tree because it would be the first real one she’d had in this apartment and it felt like time. It looked pretty now he had put up the lights. Before long she got out the bells and passed him a few, she couldn’t help but childishly ring them a few times before she picked out a spot for each one and placed it on the tree.

Julian remembered that he was completely crushed when he saw the bloody scene after exiting his dressing room, as if being locked inside for some reason hasn’t been bad enough, coming out only to find your future bride bled dry and a few other guests dead was not the scene the Nephilim wanted to be greeted with, but that was the reality of it. The tragic memory still managed to find its way to replay itself in his head every time he sleeps. It’s gotten better these days though, thankfully. “Everyone’s bound to experience them, it doesn’t get any better when you think about it but… maybe if we’re motivated enough to make it better, perhaps it’ll get better. I’ve been told that the mind can unlock plenty of interesting things” he chuckled, “At least… that’s what my therapist told me which is a bit… funny when I find the irony in it but she tried so, gotta give credit when it’s due, right?” 

When she talked about following the footsteps of parents, Julian paused momentarily because he was wondering about what he would’ve been had he not decided to branch out like this, “My mother would’ve thought I’d be a lawyer and now I can’t even see me and lawyer in the same sentence. It’s funny how it only took one science exhibition, a rocket one, to change my entire future.” He remembered being completely mesmerized by how they engineered them and he found himself following every book about planes that he could get his hands on. A nerd at its best. The dark-haired male closed his eyes and whined softly as she insisted on that awkward intervention, “Ugh… well at least you found it cute, right? Interesting? Amusing? You laughed” he pointed out, he was red in embarrassment then but he noticed how she stifled a laugh and honestly? That was all that he could find to be redeeming of that day’s unfortunate incident.

 “There’s more than just rebelling” he nodded, as if he knew what she was talking about, from the times he saw how she acted, Julian realized that Nora was keeping people are arm’s length because she thought that’s what needed to be done and he couldn’t exactly believe in that, not really. There must be a way. “I think people would realize that there’s more to them once you allow them in” he’s not fully in but the fact that Nora had allowed him to even enter the door, was more than good enough for him. It’s a start and he’s willing to follow it until the end. Of all things, he didn’t expect Nora to shake her head and tell him that he was too nice to fall for someone such as that, it surprised him. Was she aware of his feelings, this entire time? Honestly, he wasn’t sure whether he should be red in embarrassment right now or feel offended that she thinks she’s not good enough. 

“Then what’s going to happen if they keep staying in their own bubble? I don’t think she’s a coward, in fact, she’s probably the bravest person I know and I feel sad to see her confining herself to such a bubble. Is it selfish of me to reach out even when I know it’s highly likely for her to reject? If so, then I’m fine with trying. Until she tells me to stop bothering her.” It wasn’t as if he wanted to hit it off and date her on the spot, he wanted to be there for her, that’s what Julian wanted to do more than anything. If being her friend means he could do that, then he could be her friend forever. “My sister once hid my stash of corn snacks that I’ve been collecting for 4 months, and I threw a pie at her face. We didn’t talk for 15 days.” Clearly, a younger him was definitely serious on what he likes. The Nephilim couldn’t stop but stare at her with such admiration as she hung the bells on the tree, seeing her this enthusiastic, it’s an eye-opener. “She’s a bit happier now, isn’t she, Cloud?” he murmured and the dog nuzzled against his leg, “I know… she looks extra cute.”

She nodded thoughtfully and then pressed her lips together “Well they say there’s a certain power in positive thinking” she responded, she tried her best to think positively but that was a really hard thing for her to do and she often felt like it was a losing battle “Besides I don’t think there is a single answer to coping...you just find your way with time” sometimes it was easy for people to move forward, sometimes people found themselves completely stuck. She smiled at the way he explained his career choices and how what his parents wanted for him completely differed from what he became “When I was really young I wanted to be an interior designer, I remember having this game on an old Nintendo DS where you could style all of the rooms how you wanted and I was obsessed with it” she laughed “Along with my perfect animal crossing town of course” she added and grinned, that was a good memory though not something she pursued in the end.

“It’s strange how dreams and visions can change over time” she mused with a nod of her head, the things she wanted back then were greatly different to what she wanted now and there was nothing wrong with that, they were both valid dreams after all “It was pretty cute, seeing the panic which crossed through you for a few moments” she didn’t forget about it simply it was the first time she realized he was probably trying to impress her, not just because she was his boss but because he wanted to impress her. She parted her lips and then nodded when he responded that she was doing more than just rebelling. To her, she was trying to figure out her place, how did she survive after the people who she trusted most had betrayed her in a way she didn’t know how to handle. It made trusting others more difficult because while she knew part of it was irrational, she expected them to let her down just like her parents did.

“But that’s the catch 22” she responded with a half-smile, she never really talked about her trust issues because there wasn’t anyone she trusted enough to do so and so the circle would loop and things would never really feel like they changed. She didn’t know how to stop it because letting someone in was the thing she feared. Having someone care about her and rely on her, they were all things she was afraid of. It was almost ironic that someone who went out and risked their life for people every day, was afraid of them in their very nature. “What if I let them in and then things turn out differently than I thought they would and it hurts all over again?” he could try to tell her they wouldn’t but she wouldn’t believe that, not after her own parents had been the ones to break the trust.

Nora went quiet, her gaze softening just a little when he said he didn’t want to give up on her even if she was likely to reject him. She had been trying to let him down gently in a way because she wasn’t sure she would ever be able to let him in the way he clearly wanted her to “She’s lonely” she responded in a soft voice “But she’s also so used to being lonely that people trying to get close to her….is the scariest thing she can go through” she pressed her lips together and offered a sad smile “I’m just warning you before she hurts you” which she supposed was her way of saying she wasn’t ready to cross that line and she wasn’t sure if she would ever be and that if he was smart he’d give up on her.

“Damn that is some serious commitment to food” she responded in an amused manner as she rounded the tree and placed the ornaments in different places, making sure they were spaced out well enough and standing on her tippy toes to place a couple. She heard him speaking to Cloud and laughed softly “She can hear you, you know” she gave him a pointed look before taking out some of the baubles and placing those and then inspecting some of the hanging ornaments he had stashed “There has got to be a story behind some of these” she commented as she pulled out a silly-looking penguin ornament and held it up.

He nodded gently when she said that, he's been through a few therapies, having everyone in his life saying that things would eventually get better if only he could move on. That was easier said than done back then, but not entirely impossible when he put his mind to it. Honestly, Julian kind of forgot the ordeal and things got back to normal, as normal as life could be for a Nephilim such as him. "You just have to think positively for a period of time to make yourself feel better and sometimes.. That's fine. What matters at the end of the day is your feelings, anyway" What was the point of pleasing others when you're suffering internally? That's why he didn't stay to appease him family, and chose to discard everything he's learnt about the legislation so he could trade for the uniform that he's been wearing far too many times this week. Hell, he was sure he's stained the uniform more times than he could even count.

 "Ah, now you're making me imagine a young Eleanora Nordstroem with her Nintendo DS looking all happy and enthusiastic... " he mused coolly, he could very much picture a younger version of her doing that, looking all bright. It doesn't seem like an impossible picture even though the older version before him now is trying to sell it to him the other way. People grew up, huh. "Why am I not surprised you played animal crossing" he giggled, he's never been one to have time to play those but he's heard from others how entertaining that game had been. He clearly missed out. "You know what they say, the mind works in mysterious ways" he pointed out, there was really nothing way to gauge that out of their heads. "I'm glad my flustered state makes you laugh and amused, Len" he narrowed his eyes in feigned annoyance as he shook his head at the dhampir, "I was really freaking out then… if you weren't there longer than you were, I probably would've sprinted off in embarrassment." He still would've, truth be told. 

Perhaps he had gone through a certain length to impress her, because he wanted to. It wasn't Julian Lockhart, an engineer trying to impress his superior, but just Julian trying to impress Nora. He may have been shy about his feelings but one thing was for sure, he may try to hide it because he didn't want to be a tomato, but he sure as hell would not deny the claims whatsoever. Unprofessional? Maybe. The way she had worded it made him wonder if she really thought everyone was bound to disappoint her every time, it sounded as if the dhampir experienced more of that than what people expected. "That's the thing… you can never really know how things would go. You can probably weigh your chances following the risks you took but that's about it. That's a part of nature, Len… to allow yourself to make mistakes and learn from it. You're supposed to be living, right? What's a few disappointments here and there?" Of course he didn't want to be faced with that either, but still, he just couldn't bear to see how she was putting herself down.

 Nora seemed so insecure that all Julian wanted to do was wrap a blanket around her so he could comfort her. "Maybe she doesn't have to be alone anymore... Maybe she could find someone to share the burden with, even if it's just to lend a shoulder for her to lean on and cry" he murmured, his gaze fell and he felt so tempted to just take her hand into his and reassure her that, it took everything in him to control himself. "She could try and hurt me… and maybe I'll be willing to take those punches and stabs if it meant things are improving" Anything to make her smile again. What was becoming a good friend, right? "Corn snack was my number one love alongside that book on Edgar Allan Poe my mother gifted me on my 11th birthday." He still had them in his possession. When he saw how she was standing on her tippy toes, he chuckled and went ahead to help, pausing for a bit because he was torn between lifting her enough to put the decoration, or put it himself. He stepped forward and ended up lifting her because it felt better to have her do it, "Maybe I wanted her to hear." His cheeks flushed considerably when he held up those penguin ornaments, "Those weren't… supposed to be there." 

She laughed under her breath and shrugged “I kept to myself mostly as a kid so I had this spot in the house with a beanbag and a fluffy blanket and I would just curl up there and play for hours” she grinned sheepishly, if you looked at the hours she spent playing those games it was almost certainly in the 100s, she remembered being really sad the day it had stopped reading the cartridge and she couldn’t play it anymore “Hey! It’s a fun game okay, getting to make your own town and design it how you want, it’s good for destressing” she gave a slightly shifty gaze because she might be looking forward to the new one coming out next year. She looked up at him and shrugged slightly, there was that nickname again, it seemed like it was going to stick so she figured she was going to make her one for him stick too “I mean you were there the day I broke half my nail off while opening a packet of chips so...I think it’s considered even Jules” she gave him a pointed gaze and shrugged “I remember you laughing too” she pointed out and smirked.

It had really hurt too and the fact it was from a bag of chips had definitely wounded her pride, she was thankful that Julian hadn’t told the rest of the hangar about it because she was pretty sure she would never hear the end of it if not. The things he was saying, they were things she had told herself over and over again to try and get past this natural defense she found herself implementing, often she didn’t even mean to push people away, but she would naturally hit and wall and distance herself from the person. And one thing she had learned is that most people gave up on someone pretty quickly and so before long they would be on their way and worrying over someone else “I wish I knew the ways to break these habits but they’re habits for a reason, they’re how I protect myself” it was funny how she was ready to get punched in the face by thugs on the street and that didn’t faze her but the idea of losing a friend scared her endlessly “I’m not the kind of girl who can lose something and just move on” she admitted and pressed her lips together.

No, she couldn’t do that because when she was young the two people she trusted most had broken it and left her and now all she ever expected was for others to do the same, if her own parents were capable of doing that then what were others capable of. How did she trust people when the people who were closest to her betrayed her and the world in one swoop? “I’m a little envious of how easy trust seems to be to you” she admitted and nodded her head a few times “I’m glad you were raised in an environment that nurtured you to feel like you can be open and expressive” it was evident in her tone and the way she spoke that it wasn’t the experience that she had. “What if that shoulder becomes something she gets used to...something she needs and then one day it’s gone?” the emotion was evident on her face but it was clear she had nothing else to say on the topic so she pressed her lips together and nodded, turning her attention to the tree.

“A book and snacks” she commented under her breath and laughed “Weren’t you the one jesting me for my nerdy tendencies not 10 minutes ago?” she asked with a playful raise of her brows. She could sense him near as she tried to reach for the branch she wanted to place the bauble on and she almost flinched when Julian placed his hands on her waist and she felt herself lifted off the ground. Honestly if it was anyone else touching her like that she probably would have turned around and punched them in the face but instead she focused her eyes on the branch she wanted and she affixed it carefully. When he set her down she shuffled a little, stepping to the side and glancing up at him as she studied the penguin ornament, the way he got defensive made her grin “But it’s so cute?” she explained shaking it a little “You have to tell me more now” it seemed like it had been glued together, did he make it?

“You can’t expect me not to picture a little Nora snuggling to her bean bag while playing her Nintendo DS now that you’ve told me” he purposely stared at the other side of the room as if he was trying to picture that scene, “Must’ve been a cute little girl” he teased. Yeah, he could definitely picture that, the thought of it alone was more than enough to get a smile up as if it wasn’t already there in the first place. “Sounds like a good game, I heard a new one is coming out next year. I’ve never played it but now I feel like I should be eyeing that release to get my hands on them.” He only realized that the nickname had slipped up again only after he'd said them so it didn’t make sense for Julian to replace Len with Nora when he'd already said that. It feels awkward and maybe, he didn’t want to. It was probably a name nobody has ever called her before, right? It could be special. The same way he’d chuckle at her calling him Jules because surprisingly, people didn’t shorten his name at all. They either called him Julian or maybe Ian by his sister. 

“I still have no idea how you managed to break your nail until today, it’s against a packet of chips, Len, it’s hardly harmful” he teased and nudged her playfully, it was a sight, for sure. Shortly after that, he had rushed for the first aid kit. “I also remember giving you first aid care, so it’s not just me making fun of you fully, no? I’m the person who teases you about it all day long while… taking care of that injury.” He couldn’t say he didn’t expect those words to come out of her mouth, as expected, the same message it conveyed was there. His lips were upturned as the Nephilim frowned, “Now I feel bad by how fast I could move on…” it had taken him quite a while but when he heard it like this, he couldn’t help but wonder if he moved on too fast. “But I get it, everyone has their own defense mechanism, nothing wrong with that” he nodded in understanding, he only needed to find a way to break those walls and find things that would make her see it through again. 

A chuckle escaped the male when Nora expressed her envy over him being able to take trust easily, “It didn’t start off that way, that’s for sure. But I grew up in a very positive environment. Every single day was worth it in my book, so I try not to waste them. If I end up being so distrusting, how can I expect others to give me an amount of trust when I’m denying them the same?” He wished she would’ve gotten a taste of what he had while growing up too, but there was no point in dwelling with the past so he may as well try to make up for the present and future instead. “It’ll never truly be gone. You’ll be surprised to see how adamant some people can be. If everyone gives up, then the world wouldn’t have the number of people it does now.” Julian noticed that it wasn’t exactly a topic she wanted to talk about so he didn’t push further.

“Hey, nerds are cute, let’s be real. I mean… you’ve heard me gush over the different parts of an engine last time. And I haven’t even gone through the wing part of the plane yet… I’m sure we both can fit well in that circle” he winked. Perhaps it was too forward, but thankfully Nora didn’t mind, which made him smile silently to himself, she was light. “It was just a summer project my 10 year old self did… it’s hardly anything. They told us to make our favorite animal so I… made a penguin. Penguins. It’s embarrassing…” he couldn’t even face her without blushing. “It wasn’t supposed to be there… my roommate probably left it there.”

She raised her brows pointedly as she looked back at him “There’s no way you could possibly know what I was like as a child” she responded it with a wry smile, she had kept to herself most of the time, always wanting to study to impress her parents because they were these famous scientists and she wanted to follow in their footsteps, she spent a lot of her time with her nanny because her parents were too busy to actually raise her. Things like her Nintendo DS were the only thing that kept her busy “I’ve been keeping my eye on it, though I fear how much of my time it would end up sucking away” she laughed under her breath and smiled, maybe that wasn’t the worst thing though, she could use a distraction from work.

She felt her cheeks get warmer when he pointed out how it was impressive that she managed to break her nail on a bag of chips “This is why I usually keep them short” she grumbled under her breath, the one time she had wanted to grow them out so she could paint them nicely, that had happened, while she was at work no less “I did say thank you for that, but it still doesn’t change the fact that you laughed” she shook her head in amusement, it was pretty funny though, because of how it happened and because of how dramatic it had felt over something as small as a nail “Anyone would have thought I was dying from the amount of blood I got on the floor” she mused and laughed, it had hurt a lot but now she could laugh about it all.

She looked up at him when he expressed how he felt guilty about being able to move on “Don’t be” she spoke it softly “Being able to move on...it’s something everyone wants to be able to reach because then you feel like things are going to be okay again” she hadn’t felt like that for a long time and while she did feel like things were slowly getting better, she still felt like there was a whole mountain still to climb for her. She nodded slightly, he had this positive attitude which she envied because she was naturally cynical because of the experiences he went through “I guess it’s different for you because...you can make peace with knowing no one ever actually wanted to leave you” she couldn’t say the same, her parents had made the choices they made knowing they would eventually hurt people, she had lost her friend to a drug addiction which meant there was a certain part of her which blamed them for leaving her.

She laughed under her breath “True” she responded when he said nerds could be cute, she actually found intelligence very attractive and generally felt herself drawn to people who were on the same wavelength to her when it came to things like that “You do know an awful lot about engines, it surprises me that you haven’t looked into building your own plane from scratch yet” they were expensive to buy new but if you found all the parts here and there then she was sure you could refurbish an old one much cheaper and he seemed to like them a lot. She continued to decorate while he talked about the penguin “It’s not embarrassing, look how adorable it is” she cooed it as she stared at the silly looking ornament and then placed it onto the tree in a spot right in the middle. Before long all that was left was the star which she held in her hands while looking up at the tree and then she glanced over to Julian for a moment biting her lip “Can you?” she wasn’t going to ask directly but she was sure he knew what she meant.

When she said that, he scrunched up his nose and scoffed playfully, “Maybe not, but hey you can picture a girl laying on top of her bean bag with her Nintendo right? That’s enough of a picture for me, I don’t suppose the older version of her could even have that fun again?” he teased, maybe he wanted to see if she was still up for something fun, he wanted her to enjoy tonight, anything to make her smile again. It felt upsetting to know that the smile and laugh wouldn’t last as long as he thought it would but because it was Nora, he would struggle to even get the crumbs. “Even if it does take up your time, I imagine it’ll be worth it. If it’s something you like, then there was no problem investing your time on it. Look at it as if you’re investing your own happiness?” he suggested, if that animal crossing game was what he needed to give her to see her happy again, then he’d find it. 

“I couldn’t help myself!” he exclaimed defensively, in his view, seeing Nora break her nail over a fight with a bag of chips made his day, it was actually the highlight of his day if he was being honest. The reaction from both of them was what came after, and he could recall being the one who was loud over the amount of blood that pooled on the floor. “Also, you were bleeding quite a lot then, I was worried like hell…” If he didn’t know what happened, he was sure he would’ve panicked over her, as if he wasn’t already doing that over a broken nail incident. “Yeah… let’s keep them short… besides, you won’t have those nails to claw at me the next time, so yes… by all means, please keep them short.” “I’ve never had a broken nail before, did it hurt as much as the amount of blood it drew?” Of course he’s had injuries all over his body but nope, not a broken nail one.

 Julian felt like it was unfair that he could move on while she was having a hard time doing the same, “I wish I could share this with you” If she couldn’t move on as easily as him, then the least he could do is make sure he could make her feel like it’s fine not to move on either. No matter how many times he stared at the path, all he could see were the ways he could do to cheer her up. She was too nice for the world to dull over. Len didn’t deserve this. “I don’t want to leave you” he didn’t know how it slipped up or how it happened, but the moment she said those words about him being in peace no one would want to leave him, those words just came out. His hazel hues doubled over and was threatening to close itself shut as he cursed internally, but he didn’t make any effort to correct it. Where was the lie, anyway? 

“I had a few ideas outlined in her workbook, all the sketches and plans I’ve made but I’m not confident enough to make my own… what if it doesn’t work?” Though he may not show it, Julian was deathly afraid of failure. He would get up and work on it again because giving up was not in his dictionary but the fact doesn’t change that he would be considerably affected if it fails again. And again. The penguin looked as if it was really taunting his existence, “I’m traumatized that you found it cute… how… is that thing cute?” he shook his head in disbelief, it’s fun sized, kinda like the dhampir but was it cute? He’s not sure. With a smug smirk plastered on his lips, he chuckled wryly and lifted her up with ease, “Careful” he cooed, but his stare was on her instead of the star or the tree, the entire time.

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