pospreterito: a scattered pile of papers and drawings ({process} ..ar elegance and thought)
[ pos.pɾe'te.ɾi.to ] ([personal profile] pospreterito) wrote in [community profile] copreterito2012-01-05 05:56 pm

{bracketverse, 31_days} there is an ebbing and flowing stream

Title: there is an ebbing and flowing stream
Rating: PG
Wordcount: 673
Story / World: bracketverse
Challenge: [livejournal.com profile] 31_days: January 01 2012, God save the snowman
Other: After and consistent with There Are Bodies On The Ceiling And They're Fluttering Their Wings.
Characters: January Salt, Ciel Noline
Notes: First thing I wrote in 2012, a dubious distinction at best but certainly one irrepeatable. Is that a word? That's not a word.

you must understand, my darling; there is an ebbing and flowing stream
though the days may get dark, the days get dark and my, how the night is deep

“What do you really look like?” January asks, kicking a chunk of asphalt along entirely out of time with her words. The crumbling asphalt isn’t that good a projectile, but her aim is nowhere near reliable either; it evens out, sort of.

Mostly she keeps having to find new fragments. It works out.  It's fine.

She’s not entirely sure, but it looks like Ciel cringes.

“I don’t know, what do you really look like?” he fails to answer, words pulling in on himself. January’s not seen him unhappy before, not folded-up and young. She’s used to the Aleph, but...

His hands aren’t moving at all, she notices.

“Born like this,” she says. Living on the Outside got her enough people asking that so she’s almost used to it and to not getting angry when asked, and the bitterness is more ambient noise than anything. She could pass her tone off for neutral if there was anything to distract from it and lend her credibility, but there isn’t. They’re too far Inside for cars, too far into neighbourhoods of desertion and mourning to get people, and the air is unnaturally still.

January kicks the current excuse for a rock more vindictively than she ought to. It skitters off the road altogether.

“You didn’t answer my question,” she says.

“It’s a stupid question.”

“So answering it shouldn’t do you any harm. Honestly, Ciel. I knew Arianna and no one ever saw her without glamour on, so come on, fess up. What’s with the pretending to be chalk, it’s not that cool, I can prove it—”

Someone did see Arianna without any disguises on, she remembers like a stiletto to the temple, almost entirely irrelevant. Once.

She was a dead body, though, that probably doesn’t count, it not being her and all. January knows that, knows the difference better than most people, all in her fingertips and her ribs, awkward and painful and coltish with the facts of it.

Entirely unwanted, she thinks of Arcturus, of the sign, the signature drawn into the dust—

“I find it insulting and unwarranted,” she says, levelly, and stops, staring cross-eyed and unfocussed at the braids that hang in front of her face. Her beads are pink for having woken up in a good mood an eternity ago, and clear pure green out of fondness, and her three silver bells are held onto her left wrist with broad black ribbon, and she is just so tired.

Ciel says something she can’t quite hear.

“Sorry, what?”

“I can’t actually do glamour,” Ciel says, answering the wrong question altogether, one she didn’t even ask.

“What?” January repeats.

“Cosma’s never let me live it down,” he adds.

“So, you’re...”

“I’m a ghost.” He stops and turns around, takes his hands out of his pockets. “More or less. Chalk as anything.”

“Oh,” January says. She blinks and suffers the world to come back into focus, finally realises she’s forgotten to walk and that’s why he’s suddenly in front of her.

“Try that again?” Ciel says, and he’s holding out his right hand, all of a sudden; it takes her a moment to realise what he’s asking.

“January Salt.” She takes his hand, shakes, not very well. He dwarfs her slightly more than most people do. It feels like he could break her fingers and her wrist just like this. Her feelings are unfounded, probably. “Healer.”

It takes a lot of effort to keep her face still, although she’s not sure what she’d end up doing if she failed. By this point she’s probably moved past laughing or crying and would have to do both at once.

“Ciel Noline.” His smile’s as lopsided as the rest of him. It looks right, somehow, the imbalance of imbalances cancelling itself out. “Aleph.”

Their skin’s the same colour. She wonders how it took this long for her to notice.

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