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Sep 18, 2020 12:44 PM
alteriverse!imrainai lands on atlantis!serg
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"—I am definitely not going to do anything that risks accidentally killing you," he says immediately.

Then, slower and more thoughtful: "I... gave you the fountains so you could have your own water without needing to ask me for it, and the gardens so you could have your own food. I wonder what I'd need to do so you could have your own magic?"

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- oh hey, there's a new anxiety dimension that she didn't notice before her brain decided to figure out whether it should go away or not. Her brain hasn't actually decided what the answer is, so that's fun.

"Did... people on Meraiyu just have magic, or was that just you?"

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"Magic was... not something people had the way I have it. I sort of... stole it all. I'm not sure I could give any away if I tried. I want to, though, I want—I want you to have things for yourself."

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"That'd be nice," she says quietly. "I don't really... this is already the closest I've ever gotten to having things, I think. Unless you count things that don't exist."

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"I want you to be able to go wherever you want and do whatever you want and have whatever you want."

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She smiles.

(He's gonna set up opportunities for her to be happy and then she's going to fail to be happy because she's bad at being happy and only wants completely impossible things and then he's going to be disappointed and frustrated because she's actually impossible to please - )

"I'll have to... think about what any of those things are, I guess."

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"No, I mean—whatever they are, I want you to be able to have them. I want you to be—enough able to go places and do things and have things that when you figure out what you want you can just get it."

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- that sounds like maybe a different thing.

She thinks about what it would be like to be Saikirei, to be able to just do things, to be able to take care of herself and also to need to take care of herself, because nobody'll catch her or make her make good decisions or stop her if she decides that something must be done.

She looks at her hands and she thinks about the sikworms. They stay worms, cycle after cycle, never transforming into anything else, because if they could fly away and be free then they would do that, but they'd be useless, they wouldn't ever make anyone happy or fulfill their purpose. And they're fed and they're safe and they're warm and they're kept in little boxes where they don't ever experience anything, ever, except the sensation of being warm and safe and fed, and that's what they're for, and if they tried to be anything else they would fail at it and die right away.

And she thinks about the crabs, and about the wall, and about the receiver, and about her sleeping corner like it was before Saikirei helped her, and about gods crying in anguish at her songs, and about the submarine bicycle that she designed and that Saikirei made and that both of them have abandoned now, and about whether she could have made it to the surface on her own if she had to, and about the tiny, tiny child growing inside her, and -

 

 

"Why?"

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"Because—I like you, I care about you, and—I like giving you things but I don't want you to need me to give you things—because sometimes I might not be able to and you should still have them—I really hated watching you leave and knowing that if you got hurt I couldn't do anything about it, I want you to be safe even when I'm not there to make sure of it."

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She's not going to cry, she's not going to cry, she's not -

"Yeah, but - like - what if I wanted something that you didn't want? That, like, conflicted with the stuff that you wanted?"

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...he blinks confusedly at her. "What do you mean?"

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Oh ancestors protect her.

"Well, you know, like - you want other things too, right, so what if - what if I decided that what I really wanted was leave and never come back, or for you to never leave Meraiyu even though you could, or to destroy the world, or to destroy the whole universe, or - you know?"

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"—I wouldn't want you to destroy the world. And I wouldn't want to never leave Meraiyu. But—if you wanted to leave and never come back—that's part of what I meant when I said I want you to have things even if I can't give them to you, if you leave and never come back I'll be sad but I'll still want you to be safe and have things."

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" - I mean, I guess you've proved that one, but the point stands," she says, even though she's not actually a hundred percent sure it does. 

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"Does it? What point?"

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She makes a motion with her hand in an attempt to lend emphasis to whatever point it is that she's trying to make, and she realizes that she's trembling.

 

" - you promise you don't lie?"

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"I really don't lie," he says seriously. "I hate the way it feels to make someone wrong about something when I could've not done that. And I'm especially not going to lie to you because I care about you more than I have ever cared about anyone or anything else in my life."

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- OK yep those are tears. They're not going to go away if she ignores them, but she's going to ignore them anyway, just on principle.

"The point is that - the point is that if you want me to be happy, then I don't know if I can do that, but I can try, and you know what that looks like so you can reasonably expect that if you get it then the results will be something you're happy about, and if you want me to be your friend then I can try to do that, too, and if you want me to be - pleasant to be around, I can probably figure that out no matter what, and - if you want me to want things and have whatever things I want and be able to do whatever things I want, then - you don't know what those are, I don't even know what those are, so I don't see how it can be the thing you really want when neither of us even knows what that thing is, and - and - just - the last time you didn't think about what you wanted very hard millions of people died, and I'm sorry to bring it up again but I don't want you to end up with a situation that - the point is that apart from the lying I'm just really disappointing as a person, OK?"

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"You're... not disappointing, though?" he says. "You're—you're you—and you were nice to me and—and—you gave me my life and my freedom and now I want to give you yours."

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She just - really really really wants a hug right now, so she detaches her helmet and lets it fall to the ground and hugs him and cries, very quietly, because even when her brain is trying to rip itself apart it still knows how to be quiet.

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He hugs her tightly, wrapping her in cozy swirling shadows.

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"M'sorry for being dumb."

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"—what??" he says, half-laughing.

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"For - I don't know how to deal with any of this."

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Hug. "Well, neither do I."

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