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Shortly after the fall of Skye and the aspects and guards settled themselves into Evermore, Bexley began to look for her own place. It didn’t take long till she was moved out and starting her own shop in Evermore. It was her perfect excuse for her not to be around the group of people that had become a family to her. They had all lost so much in the fall of the Isle, but the pain was something she didn't want to face. She couldn’t be around the others mourning with them, trying to convince one another everything was okay, when it wasn’t.
While she had always been a passionate business woman she never thought it would be a way to escape from people she shouldn’t be escaping from. The thought of losing anyone in their dwindling numbers was far to much emotion for the guard. She turned to self remedies to not focus on the worst in life, she placed herself in a routine and only went outside of it when the aspects called upon her for a mission, or events to keep up appearances the best she could. Though her calls to check in became less.
That morning was like any other, up working out in her home gym, shower, breakfast, covering the scar on her eye with makeup, and off to her shop Diviner Intervention. She unlocked the door walking through the deep green wooden door flipping the sign to open as she placed her bag under the counter, flicking the lights on. She moved her way to the order she received yesterday and began to unbox the crystals, running her finger along the jagged edge of one, connecting to the energy that radiated from it for a moment, before placing it on the display. The ding of the door opening behind her, made her automatically greet whomever walked in. “Welcome to Diviner Intervention, Let me know if you need help finding anything.”
The dark diviner turned around coming face to face with Venetus. She knew she was bound to draw the attention of one of the aspects but she figured it would be many years later, oh how she was wrong. “Ven.” She said softly moving from behind the counter around it standing there in front of him, her five foot six frame vastly shorter than him. She looked up, first thing crossing her mind seeing him in person was that someone was missing, or dead. Swallowing the lump that had seemed to form in her throat as the worst crossed her mind “What has happened?” she asked, wishing she had held on to that calming crystal that she was holding a few moments ago.
He needed help.
Ven wasn't jaded enough to overlook his own weakness and vulnerability but Vladimir's death, the mission, Gabriel's stoic silence and the shock of the events had taken a huge toll on him. He had lived enough to understand pain and loss, learnt enough to deal with it as well and help others, but this time around, the aspect realised that he was sinking- deep and fast and if he did not want to lose his sanity completely, he needed something to ground his emotions.
Despite taking a backseat from the plannings and activity the others were carrying out around him, he knew that many still looked up to him to guide them and be the face of the force and no matter how rattled he felt internally, he knew he couldn't let them down.
Cora and Henri had taken turns kicking his ass to action, hardly reacting to his biting words or angry glares and when the flames of every bitter emotion were shut out, there was nothing left in him but a hollow ache. It was during one of those despondent musings that a familiar face flickered across his mind- Bexley. It had been a while since their paths had crossed. Those were some dark times and though it appeared as if peace was surrounding the aspect and guards now, Ven knew it to be nothing but a facade.
It wasn't hard to find her- he was the aspect of realms after all and as he stood outside the shop, he wondered at the welcome he would end up receiving. Would she see him as some saw- the reason behind the chaos and the fall or would she notice the old friends they had once been? Steading his breath, he pushed the doors open preparing himself for whatever she chose to dish out at him. After his own volatile moods the past couple of days, he could hardly judge others on their emotions.
He shouldn't be surprised that she could read his emotions well. He had a mask of a carefree charmer most days and few could see past that veneer but with the events of the past few weeks wrecking havoc on him, he couldn't really muster the energy to play that role anymore. He took a moment to compose his thoughts before studying her silently- he had always admired the quiet strength and steadiness of character and he knew he had a lot to learn from her.
"Vladimir is dead"
Not the best start but then again Venetus had never been known to mince words or sugarcoat the truth. And though he had been there when they had first understood it, that pronouncement brought in a fresh layer of pain and guilt and every other dark emotion he had tried hard to bury.
"Vladimir is dead and...it is all my fault" The hollow confession tore through his lips as the aspect quieting sank on a random chair placed against the wall and held his face in his hands trying hard to keep himself from completely dismantling.
Bexley study his face as he watched his mind working to tell her the bad news. The bad news she was sure he didn’t know Ery had been by just the day before to tell her. The news that she actually lost it in front of an aspect over. She watched his aura cling to the darkness of the news he needed to express. She ran her fingers along the stone bracelet that wrapped around her wrist as she finally heard the words leave his mouth. Something about Venetus the aspect she was the closest to speak the words caused he crushing realness of the news to press on her heart inside of her chest.
As the Dark Diviner opened her lips to tell him that she knew he had past, that she was planning on going to the Manor with soothing stones the moment they came in. He spoke something she never thought she would hear the strong man utter. Blinking as he lowered himself to the chair she moved closer to him. Standing so she was in front of him, her deep red painted nailed fingers moved under his chin and lifted his face to look at her.
To most Bexley was an utter bitch, she didn’t sugarcoat anything and said what came to mind. Many didn’t like her, those who did where rare like Ven. “Don’t you do that.” She said as she kept her dark eyes on his as she held his face in her small hand looking up to her. “Don’t you go blaming yourself for something we can not explain. We do not know without a shadow of a fact that Vladimir is dead. He is just gone.” She said softly as she moved her other hand to take hold of the other side of his face. “And even if he was dead Venetus you can not blame yourself.”
She moved her hands from his face then and let out a soft breath. “As guards we know that we could lose our lives on life dangering missions. Its part of the reason that the guard is vastly supernatural. We know the life we are choosing.” She said as she then took his hands into hers and held them tightly. “You can’t blame yourself.” Isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black, the diviner thought to herself since she blamed herself for not being able to save more people during the fall of skye.
“We have lost too much as a family.” she spoke softly as she squeezed both of his hands gentle. “You are not allowed to dismantle and fall apart, who am I supposed to be able to lean on?” It was a true statement, she didn’t lean on almost anyone but she allowed herself to be weaker around Ven and Crane. She gave him a sad smile. “Stay for a little while? I can make us some tea.” She said as she stood up holding his hands still. “This isn’t on you Ven, something isn’t right. We will figure it out as a family.” he was the only person she spoke like this with.
With his family and the faction, Ven had to maintain the facade of a capable strong leader, of someone who had answers and directions to redirect their problems and solve it. He was hardly perfect, but it was for the past few weeks that, the realisation of his own fallibility had hit him harder than ever. He had been numb in the numerous meetings they had since then and Ery had attempted to gather everyone together and figure it out. They didn't want to push Octavia too much by asking her the same questions again and again but it felt frustrating. The whole feeling of utter vulnerability and powerlessness was enough to drag Ven down on his knees.
While both Cora and Henri had tried to confront and soothe him, it was Bex's words that really resonated with him. She was his closest friend, almost like a sister and he knew her just as well as she knew him. It was why, instead of aggression and annoyance at words of comfort, he fell silent and simply rubbed his face with the palm of his hand.
"I wish it were that easy Bex. We could all speak in vain and attempt to rationalise, but when the truth haunts you waking moments, even the most strong at times cannot remain sane" Perhaps he was still hungover for he, himself did not understand all the words that came from his lips. He couldn't remember the last time he had stayed sober since the past few weeks and slightly winced at that thought.
"Being confronted with Octavia's grief, Theodore's confusion and Gabriel's anger...I...I just don't know what to do anymore. Do you know that Gab won't even look at me now? He avoids me like a plague and I am so worried about what that boy is going through." That thought produced more agitation in Ven's mind. In so many ways, the young Guard reminded him of his own youthful days and the pain of loss it came with. If would have sacrificed his own life if it meant Vladimir would be back, but life never really worked that way.
"That's just the thing Bex" he responded with a sigh, holding on her hand for a moment taking comfort from her strength "It wasn't supposed to be a very dangerous mission. Vladimir is so skilled, it..it all just doesn't add up. And Octavia not remembering a thing? What had happened there? Something is really not right here and I don't know how to figure it out"
A flicker of a smile danced across his lips at her words. Sincere as the words were, Ven knew just how resilient, strong and capable she was. With a tired sigh, he squeezed her hands silently thanking her. "You and others have more faith in me than I have in myself. I only hope that I can be worthy of that. I'll stay. I think my siblings and boyguard will love you eternally if I get back to the manor sober. Not my best few weeks, but I'm trying Bex. I really am"
It was then that he took a moment to study his surroundings before turning to her. "And..how have you been? As...painful everything has been lately, I am glad to see you"
Bexley dark gaze held on to Venetus one of the few people she actually cared about past a guard ship. So she hoped her words came off as one he needs in this time of what she couldn’t only feel was darkness clouding in on him. She herself was comfortable when it came to her cloud of darkness after all she knew it well, and learned to live with it.
“Bullshit.” Bexley said simply as she looked to Venetus her gaze seemed to slightly harden. “Don’t come in here with that whole line about not being able to remain sane. We have lost far more than a singular person before. More than half the guard in the fall.” She looked from him then as she crossed her arms in an effort to hold herself. “We get to grieve but we don’t get to forget. If we forget then that is when we are no longer strong.” She said simply as if it was plain as day.
Though she was sure that the alcohol he had been consuming had much more to do with his hold on sanity then the actually lost. “They are grieving it is natural for them to go through the stages as such. Gab may not be able to look at you know but in time he will accept his Vlads passing. I think the fact that there is no real answers is what is causing the most of this. Not the fact that he is gone.” She said as her own brain was still trying to work out how he was just gone without a trace.
As his hand held hers and she became his strength while he pushed through his thoughts out loud. “Things may not add up now but that is because we are seeing the back of the puzzle, we have to turn over the pieces to see the pictures. Right now we don’t know the true information and I think that is what everyone is forgetting. It's like with the stars that leveled Skye. It didn’t add up on how they were able to do that, until the fact that their leader wasn’t gone as we had assumed. Once the pieces fell into place, the picture was clear.” She gritted her teeth for a moment. “Besides we have all gone on missions that were not meant to be dangerous.”
“Like our mission that one time to get a sapling you wanted to gift Deus that turned into both of us getting hurt.” She pointed out as she looked to him. “Things may not add up yet but I am sure with time and the man power that is being put into it. We will know more soon enough. If not, I will give you my diary to read.” She chuckled as she then smiled to him softly.
As she saw a smile dance on his lips she felt like maybe she was getting through his thick head somewhat. She squeezed his hand back softly before she took his hand and rested it to her cheek. He was one of two people she would allow to touch her face where the scar of missions past hid under magic and makeup. “You have earned that faith ten folds. You don’t always have to be strong but know you are never as weak as you feel. I know this.” She said softly and then gave a gentle laugh softly. “Well how about I help you sober up for you. Not them Ven.” She smiled to him.
She looked to her shop for a moment before she looked back at him. “I have kept a study income, and have been staying busy. Though lately it seems that guard duty may become a forefront of my life again with everything that has been going on. Everyone...Even Crane...Showing up and threatening to drag me into the Manor.” A place she couldn’t even remember the last time she had stepped foot into. “I am glad you made time to come see me. Though I think your heart was telling you ‘Hey stop being an idiot and go see your friend.’” she chuckled to him softly.
You don’t always have to be strong but know you are never as weak as you feel.
Ven couldn't tell Bex in many words just how much that statement reverberated deep inside him and just how much comfort he felt by that. She understood him better than most of his close family and friends, of this he had no doubt but it was then, with her strength and blunt rationalism had he come to realise just what it meant to have people having your back.
And how much he had taken them for granted at times.
A tinge of embarrassment coated his cheeks and he looked at the ground for a moment, worrying his bottom lips. Bexley was always rational and honest- two qualities he admired the most in anyone. Even now, as she sympathised with him, she was still calling out on his bullshit and as much as it stung to be in the wrong, he was grateful for her words.
"Yeah..you are right. I haven't been in a good place for a while. Even Mal's tiger wouldn't come close to me and that's really telling. You know how that beast gets at time." He rubbed his eyes, fatigue marring his features and sank on the nearest seat.
He sometimes did wonder if their tragedies would ever end. He could still remember the fall, the chaos and loss and all round dejected spirits; He remembered just how hard they had pulled up and how much strength each possessed and..how he had forgotten all that.
"I have grieved before but somehow..this...this felt more personal than anything else. I was guilty too you see. I had sent him on the mission and sure- we couldn't really predict the outcome but I have to bear that responsibility and -" He shut his eyes and rested his head in his hands for a moment.
"- and it is hard"
It was an admission almost no one had ever heard the aspect of realms ever utter. He was a jarring encounter with his own limitations and for all the years spent on the planet and things seen and experienced, it seemed Ven still had to learn a lot.
Bex was correct in his assessment that part of their collective grief also stemmed from the fact that the death was not just unexpected but also inexplicable. Things didn't add up and since there were no clear answers, grief mounted with frustration and ended in alcohol which did not serve any purpose.
"Those were some days, weren't they?" He asked a tiny smile flickering across his face "To be quite honest when I gave you my card, I didn't really think you'd ever contact me. But.." his gaze softened a little and he took her hands and gently squeezed them " I am really glad you decided to join the squad. I think I'd in danger of being evicted out of my own house if not for your sage counsel. Things haven't changed but- I guess...my perspective has"
He let his gaze flicker around for a moment deep in thought before letting out a long sigh. "I'd appreciate all the help. And...as much it would be intriguing to read your diary, I believe I will let it be for now. It is the expression of your most personal thoughts and emotions and I feel I'll simply intrude."
His ears picked up the name and the emotion held behind them as he let his entire attention rest upon her features. She had mentioned bits and pieces about the guy but never the whole picture. "So tell me about this Crane guy. And I don't know about you, but I feel you'd fit right in with all of us there. Especially the tiger."
The first genuine smile lit up his features at her words and he chuckled "At least alcohol hadn't completely addled all my senses. You should have seen Henri when he found me drunk. Almost thought he'd punch my face" Ven shook his head and gestured towards the show " In any case, I am indeed glad to see you my friend and I'd be even gladder if you could give me the tour, show me the place and the stuff you got here"