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Settling into a routine in Evermore City had been easier than Sunmin had expected it to be. Ever since he started working at the little cafe, things started to look up, he finally felt like he had some control of his life, even if it was by choosing to serve coffee to the Karens of the world. The money he earned he paid back to his brother, when he refused to take it the younger male would hide in places he would find it eventually, like in his pockets or down the side of the couch. He felt better knowing he wasn't simply surviving off the back of his brother's good graces and honestly the two of them had been growing to know one another better. Perhaps the little nudge he had been given in the right direction had helped.
It had been a long and difficult day at the cafe today though, not only were the customers being extra difficult today but they had a new manager in the store and she didn't seem to understand the first thing about managing. Sunmin thought he was bad with people but she brought it to a whole new level, constantly reprimanding people for the smallest of things and generally making the mood sour. Sunmin had been close to cussing her out a few times but in the end he had decided it wasn't worth it and avoided her by working in the back most of the day. Typically, what made the day a little better was Astraea, she was always this stupidly bright ball of energy that filled everyone with the spirit they needed to get through the day but he could tell even she was feeling the strain of today.
By the time the shift was drawing to a close, he honestly felt exhausted and he hadn't even been working the floor. It made him wonder who had put itching powder in that damn manager's pants because she clearly had them in a twist. She knew better than to challenge him though, by now everyone at the cafe had learned it was better not to be on their bad side and that he could come back with a clever statement before they even managed to full start a fight. Usually Sunmin would wait until the shift ended and then chat to Astraea for a little while before they headed out, turned out they both came from the same way so sometimes he would walk with her to the subway too. He had just finished clocking out when he heard more yelling coming from the front room which made him frown before taking a few steps towards the doorway
It wasn't exactly a secret that Astraea was the star waitress of the store and that the owners loved her so he wasn't all that surprised that the manager had singled her out. Jealous and threatened came to mind in the celestial's mind. Still, he could see that the telling off and nit picking comments had definitely taken the edge off the Aurazin's spirit. He cleared his throat, interrupting their conversation "We're going to miss our train if we don't get going" he spoke bluntly, staring down the head bitch with a look that said he wasn't going to take any of her bullshit. It had been a long day and everyone needed a break from this place before they all went insane.
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"Did you? Learn from your mistakes?" she asked softly, her voice sounded small this time which was usually not the case but now, it sounded barely audible that it was only only possible for him to hear because he was sitting next to her. "You're spot on with that, I think I was born in the wrong century sometimes" she chuckled, Astraea didn't feel like she fit in back then, she was an outspoken person who liked learning and doing whatever she wanted rather than following what society would deem right for a woman. "It's almost ridiculous… in my time, women weren't even allowed to play chess publicly" she could recall the time others would eye her, and sometimes not in a good way. The 21st century is much more freeing and she enjoyed it. When he said he thought she could handle it more than she thought she would, the Aurazin lifted her gaze and blinked a few times in surprise, "Maybe… but I keep running and though it's very cowardice of me to do that, I couldn't help but do it. Next time, I should tie myself to prevent that from happening" she tried to joke a bit but maybe that's exactly what she needed to do.
"And I suppose you'd know a few things about taking good care of yourself huh? You look like you're doing just fine living the life you currently have" she might've even envied him for it. She realized that she was often scared by what the results might be so she didn't even give it a try. Astraea couldn't help but laugh at his remark, he had some fair few points there, nobody dared to mess with him because they knew they wouldn't get anywhere with him and it might come back to bite them. "How long did you last in that job?" she jested teasingly, she wondered if she would be able to work a similar job. Sunmin can feel rather distant sometimes and it showed even when he was talking about his own brother but she could understand why he felt the way he did. To be indifferent is something but to digest everything at the best pace is another.
"I promise we don't eat your hearts after luring or seducing you." That was the first thing she said, depending on which lore it was, some people seemed to believe that. And maybe it was true in some parts but she wasn't like that and the same goes for her pack. "Kitsunes like their name, are foxes. Every full moon, like others, we turn into foxes. You are either an arctic fox or a red fox, I was a red one. Back then, people describe some of us in horror bedtime stories, or to intimidate fishmongers by their wives to not come back so late or else they would come and play with you before eating your hearts out." It was such a funny story but it was also the same mindset that her murderer had too. "A lot of people believe that they're not to be trusted though, because they can trick you easily… they can lie like it's their second nature while being able to detect lies. They can also blind you with their mind. Some thought they were too unpredictable and that's why a lot sought out to eradicate my kind in my home. We also have cool tails, they're razor sharp and could cut even the hardest diamond. The older we get, the more tails we would have, somewhat it makes you wiser too I guess."
It has been a while since she's talked about kitsunes, so long. "And when you turn, it hurts like hell. Your body is literally ripped apart to be remade into that animal. The more you resist, the more painful it'll be." Her eyes softened instantly when he said that, "If it makes you feel better, I didn't know what I was until I reached the age of when I was going to turn. My mother never told me. Knowing you're not human but also having no idea what you are can be frustrating. Because you're different and you think you're the only one like that for the longest time. It doesn't have to be that way though, I reached out to my pack with some help, so why don't you try doing that too?"
“I try to” he responded when she asked him if he learned from his mistakes “Though it’s not always as black and white as people make it out to be” doing something you knew was wrong was sometimes necessary in order to survive, he had learned that over the course of his years and despite knowing he shouldn’t do something, sometimes he was left without a choice. He chuckled when she said she was born in the wrong century “Well you’re here now” he spoke softly and nodded slightly, though the mention of not being able to play chess publicly made him pull a sly grin “Frustrated you couldn’t show people how smart you are?” he’d definitely noticed it, despite her being often quiet and keeping her words to herself, she was very intuitive with people.
“Self-preservation isn’t a cowardice thing” he commented and shrugged his shoulders “But it’s also true that nothing changes if you don’t...take a chance” though maybe he should take some advice from himself in that manner because since he came to Evermore all he had wanted to do is run. Somehow though, he had found the will to stay, mostly because of Han, his brother had quite the impact on him. He chuckled when she mentioned taking care of himself “I’ve only ever had to look out for me” he mumbled softly, other people were the part of the equation he didn’t know how to handle. “Before I rage quit? I think it was about 3 weeks...tops” he laughed, it wasn’t worth the stress he had been put through.
He chuckled when she said they didn’t eat hearts, he propped his hand under his chin and listened as she described what a kitsune was. She looked excited as she talked about what she was in the past and the way she described it as ‘we’ told him that she missed it, perhaps still considered herself one even though she had to leave that part of her life behind. His expression faltered when she described the pain of being a kitsune and having to turn though, he couldn’t even imagine how it must feel for your body to tear itself apart like that “Do you miss it?” he asked curiously, he wondered if she’d really processed the fact she was no longer one.
He nodded slightly, she was right, he knew he wasn’t alone anymore so maybe it was time that he figured out who was out there and understood his roots. Han told him they had a leader and that she had helped him to get control over his powers, Sunmin had to question whether she could help him too “Why are people so secretive” he muttered under his breath angrily, she must have been so scared when she had to turn with no idea what was happening to her, it didn’t seem fair. “I should” he spoke softly in agreement with her words “Dumb of me to be searching for answers for so long and stop before the finish line huh?” he spoke it softly.
The 21st century is so much better compared to the 15th century she lived in, gender discrimination wasn't as big of an issue as it once was. Women could do more things now and had more freedom. She blushed momentarily when he pointed out that she wasn't able to showcase how smart she was, "That. And I couldn't even enter the library because I wasn't supposed to… even if I was allowed in, there were certain aisles I could obtain permission for. It didn't stop me from sneaking in at night though" she didn't know why people were so adamant to keep her out, it only fueled her curiosity and she remembered navigating into the spacious room nimbly with her lithe figure to read the things she shouldn't.
"I was so bad at self-preservation, if we had a class on it I'd score a D." If she had any conscience to escape, she would've done so but she didn't, instead she gave her life to how the world would see fit. Or maybe it's because she wasn't willing to live a fugitive life. Alone. Astraea was lucky I had people to look out for her, unlike Sunmin who only had himself to depend on. She pulled a face when he said he only lasted 3 weeks, "Yikes, I imagine the stress wasn't worth the pay" how much could they even pay people who had to sacrifice their time and mental health like that? She couldn't remember the last time she could openly talk about the kitsunes, she used to tell her sister the stories about them but that felt so long ago. "To be honest, I kinda do. Even though I didn't have the time to comprehend what I was until a few weeks before my turning, I had a good pack. I wasn't a lone kitsune, I had a pack leader; an alpha and she was quite possibly the sweetest person I have ever met then." Selene didn't deserve what happened to her.
"And… it was the only thing my biological father left me. His gene and a stupid locket…" she chuckled bitterly, she didn't even know his name. "I wonder if I was better off being a diviner like my mother instead of being a kitsune like my father. My mother certainly thought that it was better to be like her" That's why she was so determined to make sure Astraea had control over her emotions. "Well, there is one thing I didn't miss though, the pain. I used to deny my turning a lot and it was excruciating. I'm a tiny girl you see, and I had to endure a pain nobody told me to get used to." She noticed the change in his mood when he expressed how upset he was because people were being so secretive, "I don't know about others and some may say ignorance is a bliss but… my mother didn't tell me because there was no way of knowing which gene was more dominant, hers or my father's and I showed plenty of traits for both. I think I can understand why she hid it from me even though it would've saved me a whole lot of pain but what do you think would happen if someone told you that you're not human?" Pretty disappointing in her case.
Astraea being Astraea would of course defend her mother. "I don't think it's dumb. I think you have every right to pause and take a breather… but you shouldn't shut down the possibility of it entirely, wouldn't your effort be for naught then?" The aurazin suddenly had an idea to cheer him up a bit, though she wasn't sure if it was going to work. She was willing to give it a try of course. "Close your eyes" she beckoned, "I promise I won't do anything weird" she insisted and waited until he had closed his eyes to shift into a red fox, the exact same one she could recall from her past, before climbing up his lap.
He pulled a sour expression when she said she wasn’t even able to enter a library. The library had been his saving grace and one of the places he felt most at home, whenever he had a little money spare he would head in and borrow a book or spend some time on the computer drawing graphics, that was where he managed to escape and just feel joy for a while, something which felt like it was often void in Sunmin’s life. “That honestly sounds like the worst position to be in...not even allowed to read” he pursed his lips as he watched her, it must have been hard to be a woman in those times, especially one with goals and dreams that she wasn’t permitted to achieve.
He laughed when she said she was bad at self-preservation and would give herself a D “Well at least it’s not an F I suppose” he scoffed slightly, she was much more likely to focus on the wellness of others than herself, he could tell. She seemed like the kind of person whose own safety occurred to them last after they were done taking care of everyone else. He found it hard to relate to that but he supposed there was some honor to being empathetic and compassionate the way she was. “I was half tempted to throw things at Karens a few times but I managed to restrain myself” he laughed and shook his head, probably would have deserved it.
He nodded when she said she did miss being a kitsune and listed out her reasons, he was sure it was confusing to be one thing and then have that identity stripped from you “You were lucky to have people on your side” he surmised, nodding his head slightly in thought “Though your father sucks for not sticking around to meet you” he spoke it as though it was a pure fact because honestly in his mind it was. His loss, it seemed like Astraea had found her own path without him. He could imagine a little thing like her felt pain to an extreme level and that honestly worried him, especially because it seemed like she must have been afraid at the time she was turning too “I think it sucks when people hide things other people deserve to know...she could have told you that you could have turned out to be either...then you’d be prepared for both” though he could understand why she would defend her family, he’d probably defend Han despite not knowing him all that well.
“It’s a little dumb but hey” he chuckled, there was that empathic side to her again, she wasn’t subtle at all when it came to her advice and how she worried over others, even someone like him. It was honestly peculiar to him but it wasn’t a bad feeling, having someone seemingly care about your wellbeing. “I’ll make it there...you’re right, if it’s all for nothing I’ve wasted 21 years of my life” aka all of them because all his time had been spent searching for his identity and his calling. He was this close and he was choking. He was surprised, arching his brow when she said to close his eyes and after a moment of questioning looks, he chuckled and shook his head before doing it. The temptation to peek was pretty great but he resisted.
When he opened his eyes, he wasn’t sure what to expect but a red fox running at him and landing into his lap was not it. He jolted back a little surprised, widening his eyes as he watched her closely, there was that same rainbow glow which told him it was her but she was so small...and cute. He tilted his head looking back at her before offering out his hand and stroking gently the fur on her back “So soft” he spoke gently...this was surreal but definitely brought a smile to his face.
When he pulled a sour look upon hearing her complaint on how her life used to be, Astraea couldn't help but to chuckle because it's nice to see someone was in solidarity regarding that. "We were allowed to read, I mean if you come from nobility or aristocracy and are illiterate, you'll be considered to be a disgrace to your family. But the things I wanted to read on, they wouldn't allow me to read them since it's about politics, socialism and whatnot." It was their attempt to remind them who's at the top of the hierarchy and to keep them under. "My father always supported my dreams though, always indulging in me, even though my mother would flip if she finds out."
She pouted when he said at least it wasn't an F, "D is considered bad enough, I need to learn to raise that up to C and then B." She knew A was going to be impossible because of how she is but it was worth a try to be close by. She would never be able to turn down someone who was in need of help ever. She could actually imagine him snapping out of anger after not being able to keep it in anymore, it was only natural for people to act on their emotions. "I would've paid to watch that actually… even though I don't always condone violence." She didn't always get to talk about herself to people, or at least those who actually stayed to remember anyway. Before long she would've wiped their memories and they would start anew elsewhere. With him, she hoped that he could keep those memories. "I was lucky… mhmm. I had people who loved me. That's okay… my biological father didn't have the chance to see me because my mother had crazy sisters but at least my step-father cherished me like I was his own. I have never had another person I could see as a father other than him."
She will forever be grateful, because how was it possible to love someone who's not even your own flesh and blood like they were your own? To her, that takes a great deal of bravery. He was right in both aspects, she would've appreciated a warning or at least some talk about what she will be going through in the future. But the aurazin was too shy to admit she did resent her mother a bit for doing that to her. "I may not seem like it but I used to have a lot of anger and resentment inside me, you know. My mother knew that, or at least she… feared that it would happen. At first, I thought I was just going through a rebellious phase but after I died, I realized I was just angry at how my life turned out. I didn't want to do a lot of things. I was barely 19, I didn't want to die." Up until today, she was still somewhat traumatised by what happened and developed an irrational fear to fire and ropes, anything that could tie her up.
"You're still so young and I'm sure you have plenty of time to think about what you want. But don't take too long, we never know what might happen, the last thing you wanna do is lose the opportunity to find what you were looking for all because of one misstep." Of course, she wanted to help with that too, if she could. But until he asked her in any way that she could possibly assist him in, even if it was just accompanying him, she would just sit by the sidelines and cheer on him. Her attempts to make him smile and cheer him up seemed to have worked when she jumped over his lap and he didn't push her away. If anything, Astraea was taken aback when he suddenly pet her and stroked her fur gently, but couldn't help but purr in content. Like it or not, she's in animal mode anyway, it wasn't surprising. She rolled over on his lap and brought her tail up to cover her face before peeking out of it. The aurazin wondered if it was fine to do what she wanted to do next but later decided she should try it first so she ended up climbing atop him and perch herself on his shoulder before ultimately losing her balance and fell forward, back to his lap.
He raised his brows in relief when she said she was able to read but it was short-lived when she explained how the books she was allowed to read were limited to prevent her from getting any ideas about how she could change the future “Because they were scared of what you might have been able to do given the tools” he commented and shook his head slightly, it was hard to believe there was a time like that, it made him sad. “Your father sounded like a good person” he was sure it must be hard for her to remember her family but have lived so long past them, did it feel distant or was she able to recall those things clearly? Were the people he knew now going to be a distant memory to him one day?
“Hey I’d be lucky if I managed to get a D” he commented and scoffed slightly, he never got to go to school and learn things the way others did, everything he knew either was because he had fallen somehow knowing it, like languages and basic body functions or he had taught himself from books in the library. He chuckled “You and many people I’m sure, they don’t make themselves likable that’s for sure” people who acted entitled and who were rude to people who made minimum wage were honestly the worst and he had no respect for someone who couldn’t show any to him. “You miss him huh?” she mentioned her step-father a lot and it was clear she really looked up to him and thought about him often.
He arched a curious brow when she confessed she had resented her mother for everything that she had done, it was honestly hard to believe because Astraea in his mind was basically like sunshine personified, she always had a smile on her face and she was always trying to help others and make their lives better “Being angry is a normal emotion, I think people forget sometimes that it’s okay to feel wronged” he commented almost matter of factly, he felt like he hadn’t been dealt the best cards in the world. There were certainly people worse of than him though and he had always made do with what he had. Still there were changes he wished he could have made “Were you scared?” he asked in a soft voice, dying seemed like a scary thing to go through after all.
He nodded when she pointed out that he was young and he had time to figure out his path but also warned him not to waste time. Astraea was always full of this advice that came pouring out of her like a waterfall, he thought he’d find it annoying but it was actually kinda endearing because he could tell how much she cared about other people. “I’ll figure it out somehow, always do” he assured her with a nod of his head, he’d decided he was going to do something about it though, it was time to start reaching out. Honestly, the last thing he was expecting her to do was became a fox but it had the desired effect of surprising him and making him smile. He laughed when she turned onto her back and swooshed her tail around. And when she climbed up onto his shoulders he warned her she was going to fall just before she came crash landing into his lap, he laughed and poked her nose gently “Who would have thought my only friend in this city would end up being a crazy rainbow fox” he commented and shook his head, he didn’t think he’d ever forget this.
That's what she first thought of too, they didn't want to give her the room to learn more about what may or may not change their future should someone detect the flaw in it and present it to the others. It would make them look like fools. "They like the way things are… and they would definitely die before having a lady tell them what's right and what's wrong. Nobody wants to be humiliated in public, especially not by a female." It's jarring to see how everything was gender-based back then, it's the one thing she likes about the modern century. It was so much better. "He is" she nodded excitedly, "Darius Agnes is probably the kindest man I have ever met… you never would've guessed he's my step-father. Well, you could because we're two different ethnicities but people were jealous I had him for a father so make that what you will."
Astraea chuckled when he defensively implied a D would be better than nothing, "My mother would kill me if I ever received any lower than the best" she had to love up to her parents' expectations, and by parents, she meant her mother. "You are either pretty or smart, and honestly you can't use your face forever… so being smart is the best tactic for survival." Being pretty wouldn't get her far. When asked if she misses her step-father, the aurazin nodded, "I miss a lot of things and a lot of people. When you've lived a long life, memories are the only thing you could hold onto." It was bittersweet how she could recall even the smallest detail when she was a child but couldn't even remember a date she should be able to remember, though. "It's normal to feel angry you're right." Her mother taught her to fear ever being angry and it brought up until today. The whole 'if I get angry, I hurt people. And hurting people is not nice.' She couldn't help but laugh at that, it was such a simple statement yet one she couldn't shake off.
Her mother wasn't the best mother but she sure tried her best and that is what makes her memorable. Aatraea never thought she would be able to talk about her death so amicably with someone, but it didn't feel hard with him, "For a bit. Dying is meant to feel scary, I guess." But she was also more frustrated than scared back then. Her priorities might have been misplaced, after all. "You're a good person, Sunmin, and normally good people don't turn away those who are similar to them so I don't think you need to worry about that" she reassured, she was sure the Wayfinder wouldn't turn him away and should he need any help, she'll be there. A friend sticks by you, right?
She knew she couldn't keep giving him advice for the rest of the night and thought cheering him up in an animated manner was better, and it really was. He seemed so well-versed with animals. When he poked her nose, she whined and scrunched it up cutely, pushing his hand playfully using her own, hitting him with her tail when he said his only friend is a crazy rainbow fox. She pulled the blanket up and covered his head in retaliation and thought to let him play around for a while longer. Maybe this friendship wasn't so bad.
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