And yeah, it's supposed to be awkward. And again, braindump, not good, just putting it out to be putting it out. Also - may be triggering.
They're in the coffeehouse. This is immediately after Capri and Halloran reveal that they're finally a couple.
Capri was chattering excitedly; Kieran caught the word “soulbond”, and suddenly Julia was eying him with a frown. Catching the look, Capri excused herself, hugging Julia fiercely, and joined Halloran at the takeout counter.
Which left Kieran with a wary kiri watching him closely. “Um. Want to sit at my table?” he asked.
She looked him over and surveyed the near-full coffeehouse. “Okay,” she replied grudgingly.
Julia got immediate service – one of the perks of being Lishaya. An uncomfortable silence ensued. Julia, who’d been fiddling with a straw wrapper, looked up abruptly. “You and Capri have known each other since you were kids, right?”
“Since she was born, yeah. Our parents were friends. Halloran’s, too, but he was a loner… he didn’t hang out with us much at all. Capri and I were closer in age anyway, and we were pretty much best friends.”
She regarded him directly. “Are you jealous?”
“Am I – of Halloran and Capri? Of course not!”
“Well, I know you’ve had sex with her.”
“Yeah… I was her first, actually. And she and I love each other, but it’s different; Halloran’s her kiri’toth. Everyone’s always known that.”
She frowned, shoving her hair back. “I don’t get that. How you’re okay with that.”
He shrugged. “Just the way it is.”
She fiddled with the straw wrapper some more. “I don’t know that I’ll ever get it.”
She looked up at him. “Yeah?”
He sighed. “I don’t know what to do with you. I mean, right now I had the urge to just reach out and touch your hand. Just – that’s the way I am with friends, and I hope we’re becoming friends. But… you’re not okay with touch, really.
“If you were, say, Donna… I’d’ve done that. I’d’ve hugged you hello, too. Nothing sexual whatsoever. But I don’t know that that’s okay.”
She studied him, unreadable – and finally reached out, laid her hand on top of his. “That much is okay,” she said quietly.
He twined his fingers into hers, watching her to be sure he wasn’t offending. She nodded, and he relaxed. “Thank you,” he said simply.
She shrugged. “I’ll know if it’s a sex thing. The touching. This is okay though.”
They sat in a slightly awkward silence, sipping coffee, until Julia cocked her head to one side and said, “Tell me about you and Capri.”
“I don’t know. Just – continue.”
“I don’t know where to begin! Um. I guess – well – we bonded a little during the Purges. Not remotely like she did with Halloran. Just – we were in the same room, and we were there for each other.”
“You were her first lover.”
He laughed. “Because I’m one of her best friends! Capri’s a smart girl. She wouldn’t give herself to just anyone.”
“And you were glad it was you?”
“Well, of course. Not only are we good friends, but… she’s very attractive, both body and mind.”
“What was that like?”
“What was what like?”
“Being someone’s first?”
“Oh! Gods. It was… a tremendous honor. Her love and trust… such a gift.”
“Physically. What was it like?”
He regarded her with confusion. “Julia – I thought you didn’t want anything to do with anything sexual. Where is this going?”
She bit her lip. “I don’t really know. Answer the question.”
“I don’t really know how! Um. It was… well, it was amazing. The rush of energy from her…”
“Did you hurt her?”
He snapped out of his small reverie, eyes locking onto hers. “What?”
“I know that you hurt her sometimes. In bed. I know you two like that. Did you hurt her then?”
“No! No, Julia. I was… very gentle.”
“Julia – why do you want to know this?”
She looked away. “I told you I don’t know.”
Things clicked in his mind. “You’re –“ She jerked her hand away, eyes glittering with defiance. “I would be gentle with you,” he said softly.
“I didn’t ask,” she growled, standing up. She dug around in her pockets and threw a few crumpled bills on the table.
“I have to go.” And she left, near-fled. He just watched, dumbfounded.
He found her on the balcony just after sunset. She was looking out at her city… possibly watching the fog roll in. “Hey,” he said softly.
“What do you want?” she asked without turning around.
“Just to talk. About what we were talking about earlier.”
She didn’t turn or reply.
He sighed as he sat on one of the stone benches. “I want to be your friend.”
“Because I like you.”
She finally turned to him, regarding him suspiciously. “I’m a total bitch to you.”
“On purpose. You’re not a bitch by nature. You’re just bitchy to me so’s to not give me any ideas.”
She was silent for a long moment. “What do you want, Kieran?”
He spread his hands helplessly. “To be a friend to you.”
She studied him – then sat beside him, tugging her green leather jacket around her for warmth. “So?” she asked belligerently.
He shrugged. “So! How’s life?”
She snorted and looked off into the distance. The silence stretched out, as it so often did with her… he simply watched her, watched the breeze play with wisps of her hair. She finally broke the silence by saying, “They never raped me.”
“I’m glad,” he said softly.
“They did other things,” she continued, still staring out at the city. “Mostly they made me do things to them.”
He merely nodded in response.
She twisted her fingers together. “When I was a drifter… I learned how to use my empathy to affect the guys’ pleasure centers. So I could get away with just blow jobs.” She grimaced. “I thought I’d never get the taste out of my mouth. But it was better than the alternative.”
“I was scared,” she replied quietly, still avoiding his gaze.
“Are you still scared?”
She gave a bitter little laugh. “Of course I am. I have been… bad things have happened to me. And I have done bad things. And they… I… while I was on the run. And before. I was nothing to those guys. Just a, a...”
He touched her hand, and she didn’t pull away. “That’s over,” he said.
“Yeah,” she whispered.
She was silent again, for a long time. “I’m still not asking,” she said abruptly.
“I just… needed to know. If you were capable of being gentle.”
“I am,” he said softly. “As I said… that’s an honor and a gift. It’s something precious. Something sacred. I would never do you harm, Julia.”
“Still not asking,” she reiterated firmly.
“I know. But… thank you for trusting me enough to tell me.”
She merely nodded and looked out at her city, up at the stars. And he sat with her for a very long time.