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Author Topic: Nothing So Fine  (Read 1782 times)

Nothing So Fine
« on: February 01, 2018, 12:40:46 AM »
Anka had seldom had new anything in her life. Most of her clothing was essentially trash that her mother was able to salvage from her washing jobs so her uniforms had been a gift, her boots a blessing, and this new coat was a prize. It was a little long on her - but that did not matter. She had never worn anything so warm. It was soft as well.  She ran her fingers along the stitching. It was so neat and even.  No patches. Brand new. Just for her.

Up until she had enlisted, Anka strove for covered and not smelling too bad. For the first time in her life, Anka took pride in her appearance. Her hair was neatly tied back and her uniform was perfect. Her boots gleamed in the winter light. She polished them every night before she went to sleep. Anka was proud to be a soldier and it was a pride born of gratitude.

“This is such a nice coat,” Anka said quietly, “I’ve never been this warm in the winter. It’s great.” That earned a few snickers from a couple of other cadets - but Anka paid them no mind. She was too happy about her coat and the warmth.


"Rise up."

Re: Nothing So Fine
« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2018, 11:16:48 AM »
​If there was one good thing to be said for the military, it was the garments they issued.  The boots in particular had been nothing short of a marvel to the hard-faced thief from Krolva.  They were durable, comfortable, the supple leather gently hugging his slender calves and yielding to his movements.  More than that, they were the first footwear he had ever owned, the first to be his and his alone; not a hand-me-down, not borrowed, not stolen.

But where the tailored uniforms made some of the other cadets look more baby-faced and inexperienced, it only served to highlight the severity of Ian's appearance. The garments - fitted neatly to his narrow, angular body - looked new and polished, compared to his careworn features.

Nestled in the warm embrace of his new fur-lined winter coat, he stalked his way amidst the other cadets.  Anka, a softly-spoken girl with red-brown, hair voiced a sentiment that mirrored his own silently kept feelings - that this was the plushest coat he had ever owned, that it was a novelty to be kept pleasantly warm in the bitterly cold winter months.

As his shadow passed over the snickering youths, all laughter stopped.  ​​"You think it's funny?" Ian asked quietly, dangerously, his pace slowing to a halt.  Immediately, the pair exchanged a furtive look and moved away.  Then his flinty gaze shifted to the one who had spoken, settling on Anka.  ​​"I don't know about you," Ian began quietly, half expecting the girl to take her leave too.  His reputation as one quick to anger, and even faster to swing a fist, preceded him.  His temper and his history made befriending others a challenge but, the kindness Nanaba had shown him, restored some of his withered faith in humanity.  Maybe people were worth the effort.  "But I don't ever plan on taking this thing off."  It was a joke, of course, though its delivery was deadpan. « Last Edit: February 01, 2018, 07:37:06 PM by Ian Dietrich »

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Re: Nothing So Fine
« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2018, 12:44:04 AM »
Anka knew of Ian. Sandy haired with a face weathered already by a life not unlike her own from what she had heard from the gossips. Her parents had been gentle at least. She was not sure she could say the same for the taller boy. Many in their group seemed to be wary of the lanky young man. Anka saw no reason to be. She had known a few others like him. Hard before their time.

She gave a small smile as the two who had giggled at her comment hurried away from Ian. Only brave until someone stood up to them so Anka was sure they were headed to the Military Police. She turned to face Ian, smiling up at him.

"I don't know about you, but I don't ever plan on taking this thing off."

She laughed a little, "I know, right? I've never had anything this nice." She was silent for a moment, "Honestly, I've never really had a coat. We just layered what had when I lived at home." She fiddled with her cuff, "It's fur lined. Fancy."

They were heading towards the mess hall and Anka's stomach rumbled. "Never had this much food either," she said softly to Ian as they walked. The other cadets had pulled away from them. "I used to have to make two meals like what they give us here go two or three days."

"I'm from Karanes. You?"
« Last Edit: February 02, 2018, 12:53:29 AM by Anka Rheinberger »

"Rise up."

Re: Nothing So Fine
« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2018, 06:12:07 PM »
Somehow, even with his poor attempt at humour, Anka's smile was unexpected and her gentle laughter even more so.  Some of their comrades were soft, having led comfortable lives until this point.  They complained about the hardness of their mattresses, the narrowness of their bunks and the basic, nourishing fare served in the mess hall.  It was born of ignorance, but such attitudes were difficult to overlook and harder still to forgive.  Anka, meanwhile, seemed all but immune to the mockery, and it did nothing to dampen her pleasantness.

​​"Neither have I," Ian confessed quietly, filling the small beat of silence.  His days had been spent barefoot, even when out on the streets, threadbare hand-me-down clothes hanging loose on his skinny body.  It seemed Anka had endured her own trials, eking out food for as long as possible, rejoicing in something as simple as a warm, winter coat.  They had something in common, then.

Ian drifted with Anka towards the mess hall, something in his gait hinting at uncertainty, as though he wasn't sure if he was supposed to fall into step beside her or not.  But the way she spoke on suggested she wasn't expecting him to leave just yet.  He relaxed a little, tension ebbing from his shoulders, and nodded.  Karanes.  Ian hadn't travelled, so he didn't know it personally, but he imagined that all districts were much the same; the wealthy lived on the safer, cleaner quarters, while the poor festered, begged and borrowed in the slums.  ​"I'm from Krolva," he offered, after a moment's hesitation.  "From the scarlet street."  There were many ways to refer to the roads where harlots made their homes.  Red fabric - the calling card of a brothel - hung in the windows of those purveyors of flesh and fantasy, giving the road its name.

As the pair stepped into the hall, the murmur of conversations blending together into a low, steady hum, Ian's eyes narrowed with something akin to suspicion.  He had been well-behaved recently, relatively speaking, so tonight he wasn't barred from eating.  Still, he had the look of one who expected every small mercy to be snatched away at the last conceivable moment.  His attention shifted back to Anka, his hands stuffed casually into his cosy coat pockets.  ​​"Where you sittin'?"

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Re: Nothing So Fine
« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2018, 12:24:10 AM »
Anka matched Ian's step as the walked together. Reading people was a skill (knowing which vendor at the marketplace would show pity was important) and she could tell Ian was uncertain. From what she could tell from just being observant, Ian had no friends in the training group. In a way, it was understandable - he was intimidating if one was spoiled, soft, and weak-willed.  Anka was none of those.  She could tell Ian had a bit of the same soul as her and needed a friend. Anka would be his friend.

Anka frowned when Ian mentioned scarlet streets. They had those in her district. She had overheard her mother and father talking once, late at night.  Her mother was talking about taking to the streets - they were desperate - and her father would not hear of it. He would find more labor and her mother could take in more laundry and do more mending. So she had been luckier than Ian.

"Being from a place and being of a place is different. People just do what they need to do to survive. That's just life for people like us," Anka said as she handed Ian a tray and then took one for herself. "Not everyone understands that," she added matter-of-factly.

It looked to be another great meal. Thick stew and brown bread with butter. Anka never got butter at home. Cheap cheese sometimes - but never butter. Anka thought about Claudia and little Eld - who was not so little anymore, having sprung up in the few months before she left  - and hoped they were getting enough to eat.  Her family was having an easier go of it with her gone and she knew her parents would never turn Eld away.  They were alright she told herself she turned to find a seat.

"I like to sit by the window. Watching the snow is nice. You can sit with me if you want," she said as they made their way through the crowd - which cleared as they walked - and found a spot at an empty table.

"So...why did you join?"

"Rise up."

Re: Nothing So Fine
« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2018, 02:50:15 PM »
Being from a place and being of a place is different. People just do what they need to do to survive. That’s just life for people like us.  Ian was struck by the quiet wisdom of those words.  Anka spoke plainly, dispassionately, but with an insight that was reminiscent of his conversation with Nanaba.  People like us.  Quite suddenly, the angry, bruised boy felt a little less alone.  He took the tray offered, noting the fact that Anka had given one to him before lifting another for herself.  A small gesture, but one that spoke of good manners, or kindness. 

Trays weighted with hearty stew, thick cuts of bread and butter, Ian followed Anka across the hall, like a ghost drifting in her wake.  Their chosen table was by the window, just as the girl from Karanes preferred.  Taking a seat, Ian’s grey eyes peered into the winter evening, watching as soft flakes of snow spiralled downwards.  She was right, it was nice, to be warm and safe, and to stare out into the cold.  With renewed awareness of the warm coat that draped over his wiry frame, Ian’s focus dropped to his meal.  So much food, and he had done so little to earn it.

Then the quietly asked question pulled his attention to Anka.  A faint crease appeared in the boy’s brow as he busied his hand with holding a fork, the knife going ignored for the time being.  “Money for one,” Ian answered softly.  The reasons were numerous, really, and it took a moment for him to gather them all together.  “That, and I got too tall to keep thievin’.”  He had been punished for his honesty - the jibes that came from some cadets, about scraping together their pennies to spend a wild night with Ms. Dietrich, amongst others much less savoury - could have been avoided if only he had kept the truth hidden.  But he was a pickpocket, not a liar.  “The MP knew to watch out for me, the vendors too.  It’s hard to steal when they can see you coming from a mile off.  I’m a mean-looking bastard.”  Growing ever taller and thinner, Ian had loomed head and shoulders over many of the other young thieves who stalked the markets and alleys.  It made him a liability, to them and to himself.  “Ma worried that it was only a matter of time ‘til I lost a hand... or ended up on the wrong end of the hangman’s noose.”

This was almost certainly the most Ian had spoken since joining the Training Corps.  Lapsing into silence, he bowed his head, lacklustre blond hair falling into his eyes as he poked at his meal.  Curiosity stirred, and he found he had a rising desire to know more about Anka.  What had brought her into the military?  Why was she here?  And why - why - was she being nice to him?  There was an intensity in his wintery eyes as he regarded the girl opposite.  “What about you?”

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Re: Nothing So Fine
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2018, 01:39:02 AM »
Anka watched the snow for a moment, “I like to watch the snow now. I didn’t used to. We had cracks in the wall and one window was busted out. Sometimes snow would blow in. Papa put a cloth over the window - but that didn’t always help that much. Got it fixed eventually.” Anka shrugged and dipped her bread in the stew. No shame. No sadness. Just an acceptance of what had been and the cards she had been dealt in life.

Anka listened to Ian as he listed off the reasons for why he joined up. Money. That was a reason many young people joined. And she knew more than a few children who resorted to stealing to ease their hunger pains - or the pains of a father’s beating when one did not come home with enough coin. Anka had come close a few times - when an apple looked tempting or a loaf of bread smelled all the sweeter. Still...she had been luckier than Ian seemed to have been - and always had at least a pot of weak broth to go home to. 

Ian must be very strong to even be alive really. More than a few of her playmates had gone the way of the grave before they reached her age. Sickness, accidents - death was something Anka had known most of her life. She suspected the same of Ian.

"I don't think you're mean looking," Anka said between bites. Anka was no beauty herself. Plain looking rather than unattractive - Claudia was the pretty one.

"Punishments are harsh. Sometimes too harsh. I knew a little boy who got caught stealing and well...they only took a few fingers." She shook her head at the thought. Poor child. But not Claudia. And not Eld.

At the mention of his mother, Anka asked, "Do you miss your family? I miss mine but I know it's better that I'm here. One less mouth."

"Money mostly. Like I said - one less mouth to feed. Mama and Papa work all the time and my being gone just makes it better." She was silent for a moment before adding, "Didn't wanna go to the scarlet streets." « Last Edit: February 05, 2018, 01:39:48 AM by Anka Rheinberger »

"Rise up."

Re: Nothing So Fine
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2018, 11:24:56 PM »
Tearing off a chunk of brown bread, Ian dunked it into the stew, chewing the morsel thoughtfully as Anka described her family home.  He could almost feel it - the draughts, the desperation, the cold ache of chilled flesh, the weighty dilemma of whether to prioritise food or mending cracks.  Here in the barracks, it was another world, where walls and buildings were solid, holding heat and keeping out the wind and rain.  That was almost as magical as owning a winter coat and boots that did not leak.

Again, the thief was struck by Anka’s aura of calm and unshakeable steadiness.  These heart-wrenching revelations of hers were no cry for attention or pity; they were simple honesty, offering a window into her life.  Somehow it felt like these hard truths might bind them both, tethering two long-suffering children together with frayed ribbons of sorrow and struggle.

I don't think you’re mean looking.

Ian blinked, grey eyes widening in surprise.  Liar, was his instinctive reaction, the lonely word dying in his throat even as his gaze narrowed in suspicion.  But Anka’s words, like everything else about her, seemed sincere.  Unequipped to handle such goodwill, Ian mumbled something about her being much too nice, his attention shifting to his meal.  It didn’t make sense for a comely girl with kind eyes and a gentle smile - with hair a rare shade of red-brown - to treat him so kindly.

A child with severed digits was a terrible thing.  Preferable to losing an entire hand, perhaps, but still a devastating mental image.  Ian shook his head almost imperceptibly, anger burning low in his chest.  Such sorely punished and crippled youths gathered under dusty awnings, sitting amongst rags and litter, begging for coin, food, sympathy - something, anything.

Luckily, Anka steered the conversation away from such memories, guiding it back to him, to his family, gently enquiring as to whether he missed them.  “I know that feeling… about being one less mouth to feed,”  Ian responded, poking at his stew with his fork.  “Yeah, I miss ‘em.  Especially the other kids, y’know?  There are quite a few of us.  Some are like brothers and sisters to me… I love them to their very bones.”  He paused in playing with his food, in encouraging the stew to cool.  “It’s selfish I know but… this makes a nice change in some ways, not having to worry about bringing home food or coin.”  It made him wonder how many of the dull-eyed youths actually missed him as opposed to the morsels and trinkets he used to pilfer.

The thought of a girl like Anka ending up on the scarlet street registered as an unpleasant twist in the boy’s gut.  “I’m glad you didn’t end up there.  You seem too… good.”  Ian regarded Anka levelly then, imagining her with lips stained red, eyes smudged and smoky, a swooping neckline revealing the swell of her breasts.  She’d be popular, he had no doubt, the sort of harlot that men would fantasise about corrupting.  A lot of girls started their careers as soon as they had their first blood, sometimes even before.  It didn’t take long for all innocence to be beaten and fucked out of them.  Ian sighed through his nose, crushed beneath a rising sense of powerlessness.  “If I’d been born a girl, I’d never have escaped the street.  Hell, right now I’d likely be on my knees or with my skirts hitched to my waist - mean face or no.”  He tried for a smile, but it was small, tight and unhappy.  At this rate, he was going to drag their conversation into depraved, depressing depths so dark that might cause even gentle Anka to think twice before letting him sit with her again.  “What do your folks work at?” Ian asked, spearing a piece of carrot with his fork.

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Re: Nothing So Fine
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2018, 10:59:21 PM »
Ian mumbled something about her being much too nice...

Anka shook her head, "I've known mean people. Cruel people. You're not mean looking." She thought Ian had a nice enough face. She envied his cheekbones and his fine gray eyes. Ian was not classically handsome by any means - but had a face that showed character and was etched with every triumph and every loss. Ian's face showed who he was - mean did not factor in.

She thought of the little boy and his mangled hand. She frowned and took a bite of potato. "Not that I would make the top ten - but I would never join the MPs. I've seen what they really are." She nodded as if to emphasize the point. Anka did not care for the MPs. 

"If you're selfish so am I then," Anka said as she took a drink, "It's nice to know that I will for sure get three meals a day and a warm bed to sleep in. Could not guarantee that back home. And yeah - it's nice to not worry if the potatoes will last until Mama and Papa get paid again or will the landlord kick us out. Everything goes further with me gone. So it's just less to fret over. Better for Claudia that I am gone."She met Ian's eyes and knew he understood. It was nice to find a little kinship here. She had befriended others - but Ian was someone who knew the life in a way the others could even understand.

Anka smiled darkly when Ian said she seemed to good to be a whore. "That's not what the pimp said. I don't think it's a matter of good or not. It's a matter of luck and how desperate someone is." She thought of her mother for a moment and how she had been willing to sell herself to care for her children.

She nodded, it was harder for girls to get out of the life they had been born into. She had been lucky. Anka had practically sprinted to the recruiting center after her altercation with the pimp and signed whatever was placed in front of her - barely skimming over the papers.

"On my knees or with my skirt hitched up...not sure I'm ready for that yet."

"This and that. Mama takes in lots of washing and does some mending. Papa does whatever work he can find. Labor, selling kindling, cleaning the streets, whatever he can get to make some coin. We never saw them - they worked so much. What about yours?"

"What branch are you aiming for?"
« Last Edit: February 06, 2018, 11:08:27 PM by Anka Rheinberger »

"Rise up."

Re: Nothing So Fine
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2018, 10:05:05 PM »
Ah, she was still being nice to him!  It seemed Ian sat a little lower in his seat, angular shoulders rounding as he struggled to formulate a response.  ​“Thanks,” he murmured, after a long pause, offering Anka a fleeting, furtive and grateful smile.  Really, it would’ve been easier if he had detected even a sliver of insincerity - then he could have simply scoffed.

“Fuck the MP,” Ian muttered agreeably, reflexively, leaning over the table to casually prop his head up in his hand.  Life was surely a little less difficult for the Rheinbergers with Anka gone.  Vaguely, he wondered how much of her pitiful military allowance the unshakeable girl sent home.  He did the same, spending as little as possible in order to see those tarnished copper coins scraped together and couriered back to that shabby street, to be spent on contraceptive draughts, stale bread and cheap wine.

Ian arched an eyebrow in wordless askance at the name Claudia - presumably, that was Anka’s sister.  He might have enquired if not for the turn in conversation.  With only a handful of words, Ian’s expression shifted from one that was relaxed - content, even - into another that was twisted with hatred for a man he had never met.  “Pimps are drawn to desperation like blood, and they speak only lies.  Don’t you ever pay mind to them, you hear me, Anka?  They’re fuckin’ snakes, fuckin’ predators.”  Huffing dull blond hair out of his eyes, Ian stabbed a piece of potato with more fervor than necessary.  He was almost embarrassed by the furious, impassioned words that had spilled unchecked from his lips - but if there was one thing he despised, it was those who preyed on the vulnerable.  “You’re right though,” he continued after a pause, his voice lower and more measured, his tone apologetic.  “About it being down to luck.  And how bad their situation is.”

On my knees or with my skirt hitched up… not sure I’m ready for that yet.

There it was again, that relentless honesty.  Perhaps that was why he answered with the same transparency.  “Me neither,” Ian echoed solemnly, shyly.  While old before his time in many ways, intimacy still evaded him.  Truthfully, it daunted him.  A terrible stereotype of the whoreson seemed to permeate, featuring in crude jokes, bawdy songs and provocative pamphlets; that they were base, driven by primal urges that led them down criminal paths, consumed by carnal desires that shattered the boundaries of normality.  Ian was a criminal - there was no denying that - but lustful?  The women of his home paraded around the house in various states of dress, and yet he felt nothing.  Determined to lighten their conversation, if only a little, if only briefly, Ian had to jest - “I don’t think Paradis will ever be ready to see me in a skirt.”

It was nice, being privy to Anka’s life before the Training Corps.  It was only a small window, but still it painted a big picture.  “Gotta do what needs to be done,” Ian murmured, imagining Anka’s father as a bear of a man, with a thick beard and hard hands, while her mother as petite and sleek, with hair of the same red-brown shade as her daughter.  In his mind, they were visibly tired, laughter-lines matched by creases of concern.  It was a terrible pity that Anka didn’t get to see much of her folks growing up, but it was encouraging that they were prepared to work hard to keep their girls safe.  There were good people out there, Ian was forced to remind himself.

“Ma’s a whore.  A popular one, by all accounts.  My father isn’t around.  Don’t know anything about him, and don’t care to.”  Although he wasn’t made uncomfortable by that particular line of conversation, there wasn’t much more to be said, and he was happy to move swiftly onto the next question.  “Garrison, probably.  I hear there’s a death gratuity that gets paid out to​ next of kin when a soldier dies, but a wage is more appealing.  More… sustainable.”  Ian shrugged his shoulders, then smiled again, wide and wicked.  “But I’d be kinda tempted to aim for the top ten, just to rob one of those stuck-up bastards the chance of a place with the MP.”  Several of the cadets in their intake burned with an intense desire to join the Military Police, and were unbearably - even dangerously - competitive.  More often than not, it was these youths that Ian brawled with.  “What about you?  Please tell me you ain’t crazy enough to shoot for the scouts.”

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Re: Nothing So Fine
« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2018, 12:07:53 AM »
Anka knew when to drop a topic so she just gave Ian and small smile and looked back at her bowl for a moment before raising her eyes back to his. "For real. Fuck the MPs," she murmured back.

Reading Ian's expression, she was about to explain that Claudia was her younger sister. However, before she could open her mouth Ian was letting loose with his hatred for pimps.  She was oddly touched when he told her to stay away from them - sounding almost like a concerned older brother - giving almost the same exact talk to her that she had given Claudia the night before she left. Pretty as she was - Claudia would be a target even sooner than Anka was.

"They are the lowest of the low," Anka affirmed. "Papa says it's the pimps who are the criminals...not the women. But it's normally the women who get in trouble."

Anka looked at Ian again - wondering why he seemed to hate pimps so much. They were hateful - Anka agreed with that. But with Ian - it seemed to be felt to his core.

She looked back out the window for a moment, the snow was coming down harder. It looked pretty. It was odd to think the snow looked pretty. But at this moment - crisp and clean and white - the snow looked beautiful as it blanketed the training grounds.

Anka blinked - it was not uncommon for boys Ian's age to be...experienced. Really...the same could be said for the girls. Many many mothers made barely into their teens. Hell...her own mother had been barely 16 when she was born. Married - but still.

"I don't think it...that....is really that special. Don't rush I guess," Anka said with an uncomfortable shrug. Not to say Anka wasn't curious - just very aware of the problems it could bring about. Like her and Claudia.

She snorted when Ian mentioned how he would look in a dress, "I don't know about that. Some people are into...nevermind."

"Papa helped build some of the newer roads -  the ones by where the richer people live. Mama does lots of their washing and mending. Sometimes when clothes can't be mended pretty - they would let Mama keep them. Then Claudia and I got them." Her mind went back to the cart that had taken her to training and the boy who mocked her patched skirts. She was happy he washed out.

"That must have been very hard," Anka said - her eyes widening just slightly. Not in judgment - but the children of whores she knew (and she did know two to be exact) always did their best to deny it. "I am sorry."

"Not the Scouts. No good to my family dead," Anka agreed. There was a death payment - but a steady wage would do Mama, Papa, and Claudia better. "It must be a brutal life - and I don't want that anymore. Garrison.  Not that it can't be brutal there...but I just think I'd be the most useful there.

"What did your mama say when you told her you were going to enlist?" « Last Edit: February 11, 2018, 12:23:51 AM by Anka Rheinberger »

"Rise up."

Re: Nothing So Fine
« Reply #11 on: February 15, 2018, 12:27:15 AM »
Anka had spirit.  It was a brave few who dared to curse the unicorn-toting soldiers aloud.  Although there corruption was rife within the Military Police, it seemed they still commanded a certain respect from the general populous.  They were the cremedelacreme of the military factions, after all.  Next to them, the Garrison Regiment were perceived as lazy drunks, the Survey Corps as suicidal would-be heroes.

There was no escaping it now - Ian liked the girl sitting opposite him.

It seemed to him her Papa had a good, kind heart, and he wondered if it was from him that Anka had inherited her own.  Too many people were quick to point an accusatory finger at the women of the Scarlet Street.  Few - very few - apportioned blame to the men that made demands of them, either as clients or pimps.  “The girls at home got in trouble from time to time.  They’d be dragged back to us, clothes ripped, paint smeared… a lot of the time the MP dogs would have a go on ‘em too.  They can dress it up however they like, say it’s part of the lesson learned.  Like hell it is.”

Ah shit, another tirade.  Even in an apparent state of calm and contentment, anger bubbled just beneath the surface.  The skinny, angular boy glanced out the window - but not even the gentle snowfall could hold his attention.  Not when there was food cooling in front of him. 

He was glad that Anka’s gaze didn’t weigh heavy after his confession, and he was oddly touched by her advice - don’t rush“Nah, I won’t.  You neither.”  Back home, when a new girl started, men would pay extra to be the first punter to follow her up the narrow, creaking staircase.  Ian didn’t understand it.  Then again, there was a lot he couldn’t grasp.  When boys his own age peeled away to linger in the shadows with their sweethearts, kisses hot and hungry, he was left feeling perplexed and hollow.

Glad of a more lighthearted direction, Ian jumped on Anka’s observation that different people were into different things.  “Whatever keeps the boat afloat, eh?”  He smirked, leaning a little closer, his head bowed conspiratorially.  “Here, I got one for you.  So there’s this girl back home -” (it was funny how, regardless of a harlot’s age, she was still referred to as a girl; the lady Ian was referring to was well into her forties and thus, to many, would surely be considered a woman) “- real firecracker, right?  Men with - ehh - ‘acquired tastes’ tend to go to her.  On this day, a man with all the life and soul of dirty dishwater comes in asking after her.  Fair enough.  Off they go.  Me, I was sittin’ up with this one kid who had a fever, so I got to hear the show.  Lucky me, eh?”  Ian couldn’t keep himself from snickering in anticipation.  His voice - twisted from its once youthful cadence into one more akin to what he would sound like as an adult - dropped further, adopting a faux husky tone, his sentence punctuated by slight pauses as he impersonated the woman.  “You… have been… a very… very…  bad chicken.  I’m gonna to pluck you when I catch you… you dirty bird.  What are you?  That’s right.  A.  Damn.  Dirty.  Bird.”  The chuckle from earlier shifted into a true laugh.

Sitting back in his chair, shaking his head faintly, settling into a more solemn discourse.  “Here, that’s lucky,” he commented on Anka and Claudia inheriting clothes from richer families.  They might be secondhand, they might be worn and mended, but it was something - and something was always better than nothing.  Without having met the Rheinberger family, he had the impression they were good, hardworking and honest people.  Poor, but kind.  Which must have been why Anka had been born with a big heart, a heart which now compelled her to offer him an apology.  Touched, Ian’s grey eyes flicked upwards to meet her own gaze.  He smiled, small and grateful.  “Don’t be.  S’okay.  Ma is fierce - there’s fire in her blood for sure - she can handle the dogs who come sniffing at the door.  And I’m ‘big brother’ to almost a dozen little ones.  Not by blood but… it’s still a nice feeling.  I got more than some.”

Anka’s next question had him tilting his head thoughtfully, thinking back to the day he stepped out the front door - the last time he would do so as a thief.  “‘Good riddance to bad rubbish’ or something like it.  That makes her sound like a cold bitch, but she ain’t.  She looked like she was gonna cry when she said those words.  It’s ‘cause of her I’m here.  She wanted this for me.  And I’ll do it - for her.”  Ms. Dietrich could be manipulative when it suited her, and she was prone to terrible mood swings - her tempestuous nature was deep-rooted, possibly dancing on the edges of madness - but she loved her son fiercely.  Ian knew it in his very core. 

It felt as though he had spoken far too much, about everything and nothing.  How dreadfully dull for poor Anka.  Ian wanted to know more about her, her family, what she found compelling and motivating.  “What about yours?  Did they try to get you to change your mind or anything?  They… they sound like real good folks.”

Signature by the wonderful SilverWings! <3

Re: Nothing So Fine
« Reply #12 on: March 12, 2018, 01:54:00 AM »
Anka gave Ian another small smile. She liked this boy. She liked talking to him. So far she had really only talked to Mitabi, the kind brown-eyed boy from her home district, her bunkmate Nanaba, and a few others. She felt a kinship with Ian. It was nice to be with someone like her. Someone from the gutters. They could be rats together.

“My mama was 16 when she had me. Papa was just 17. They made it work I guess but it was hard. Might have been better if they was older when they done it,” Anka said - lapsing just slightly into the dialect of her birth. She thought about her parents for a moment - neither thirty but already with the backs bent and their hands gnarled from work.  Papa had more gray than red in his beard and mama had lost her front teeth just before Anka had left for training. She had said they just fell out because they were rotten...but mama always had nice teeth. White and straight despite their poor food. Anka was not so sure…

“They  got it hard enough...no need to beat them.”

She shook her head to push the thought away and met Ian’s eyes as he began his story. As he spoke, Anka could not help but let her eyes go wide and clap a hand over her mouth, “Mother Rose! Oh wow. That is…” Anka tried to take a sip of her drink but was giggling too hard. “Dirty bird.” She wiped her eyes with the sleeve of her shirt and shook her head, “Okay so...there was a doxie who...ummm….wore dresses and stuff….but I’m pretty sure they were….not a woman.” Anka said in a low voice, casting her eyes around to make sure no one was paying attention. No one appeared to be.

“Each to their own. They were protective of the other girls. I saw them beating a man who got to rough with one of the other girls.” She shrugged again. She knew some did not care for that - but there were real problems to be faced.  Let well enough alone and mind your own business.

“A bad chicken,” Anka said with a smile, “It must have been hard work looking after the little ones. I just watched Claudia and sometimes Eld and they ran me ragged sometimes.”

“Your mama sounds like a tough lady. Had to be. She raised a tough son. And I bet she misses you and I bet she is proud of you.”

Anka thought for a moment, “Mama and papa were happy when I told them I enlisted. It’s a way out. They’re nervous. I promised them I won’t join the Survey Corps but the Garrison is still dangerous and they know that. But it’s also my only way out so...here we are. I’m one of the lucky ones.”

"Why do you get into so many fights?"

"Rise up."

Re: Nothing So Fine
« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2018, 08:52:48 PM »
(OOC:  Sorry for the slow reply, Quiet!  I really hope this post is worth the wait. <3)

It wasn’t uncommon for ​couples to start their families early.  Still, Ian was struck by the startling realisation that he wasn’t much younger than Anka’s parents had been when they brought her into the world.  It was oddly discomfiting; he scarcely seemed able to look after himself, never mind a whole other person.

For a brief moment, Anka dipped back into what he could only assume was the Karanes dialect.  Ian liked it.  It was real.  Funny what a uniform could hide, if a cadet wanted it to.  A wide smile, carefully enunciated words, believable lies woven with small truths - they could all be used to overwrite the past and create a fantastical present.  Sometimes, the boy from Krolva supposed he could have lied, could have unmade and remade himself as he pleased.  But to him, truth was irresistible.  Blunt honesty was a weapon in his hand, allowing him to wear his weakness where others could see it.  Paradoxically, Ian was confident this made him stronger.

He leaned over the table, head propped up in his hand, revelling in the exchange of sordid stories.  Anka’s own won a warm, smoky laugh.  “Not a bad mistress then, if they beat down a man who deserved it.”  Still snickering, he paused for a sip of his drink.  “Claudia is your sister, yeah?  And Eld your brother?  From the way you talk, I’d bet a copper coin you’re the eldest.”  Not many middle or younger children found themselves run ragged looking after siblings.

To accept Anka’s kindness too easily might it seem he thought very highly of himself; to reject it outright would be rude.  Faltering, Ian chuckled, quieter now, and ran slender fingers through his hair almost sheepishly.  “Ah, I reckon you’re half-right at least.  Dietrichs die hard, or so Ma says.”  It was nice though, to imagine he was missed, that he had made his long-suffering mother proud.  It sparked an ember in his heart, one that warmed him enough to keep the rumour of a smile on his lips.

The Survey Corps were for the deeply unhappy and foolishly hopeful, for those who had nothing to lose.  “Funny to think we could both end up in the Garrison…” Ian mused quietly, taking a bite of stew.  As he chewed and swallowed, his sharp grey eyes narrowed at Anka almost playfully.  “If you end up bein’ my superior, don’t ride me too hard, okay?”

The question of why he brawled and scrapped so frequently threw him momentarily.  His gaze dropped to his scabbed knuckles before sliding away to peer through the window, watching snowflakes spiral and swirl.  “There’s a lot to fight for…” Ian trailed off, shrugging the hard angles of his shoulders noncommittally, the movement softened by his thick winter coat.  “I mean, some folks forget themselves - they need to be reminded.”  With a tilt of his head, he came to regard Anka from the corner of his eye, watching her expression carefully through dirty blond locks - looking for any sign of fear, or disapproval.  “And if I knock enough skulls together, they’ll learn.”  To stay away, to leave me the fuck alone, Ian thought but didn’t say.  Instead, he shrugged again.  “Most people’ll only put their hand in a fire once.”

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Re: Nothing So Fine
« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2018, 10:21:12 PM »
“Claudia is your sister, yeah?  And Eld your brother?  From the way you talk, I’d bet a copper coin you’re the eldest.”

Anka thought for a moment before answering, “Claudia is my younger sister. She turned eight just before I left for training. Eld is...well we found each other on street corner a few years back.” She smiled at the thought before lowering her voice, “Little beasty was trying to grift me. It worked.” She wiped her mouth with her sleeve and added, “Eld...he had it worse than me. My house was no palace...but it was better than what he had.”

"I think the Garrison would be a fine place to be. At least the Garrison soldiers back home were kinder than the MPs." She absently picked at her fingernails for a moment before continuing, "The one time...I...uhm...the one time I tried to steal...it was a Garrison soldier...not an MP who caught me."

"I was desperate and I was just staring at this loaf of bread. Just a loaf of bread. He came up behind me and told me not to do it. Then he bought the bread and handed it to me. I'll never forget that. I don't remember what he looked like though. I was about five."

Anka let her eyes drift to the window and she watched the snow fall for a moment. "He was tall. Huge even."

“If you end up bein’ my superior, don’t ride me too hard, okay?”

She snapped her head back to Ian and laughed softly, “Yeah who knows. I may be the next Commander.” Anka doubted highly that. She’d be content to just be a soldier and make a living.

Anka listened as Ian explained why he was always getting in fights. While that had never been her way, she could understand where Ian was coming from. “Some people won’t understand. I don’t know if they really can. How can someone who has always had a full belly and warm clothes know what it’s like to starve and freeze? Or have to fight to live?” She pursed her lips, “What I’m saying is not everyone has bad intent.” Then with another nod, “But those who do...well...learn them if you have to.” She was back in the “low” dialect of her home, “But if you don’t...don’t. Don’t let them take your chance here.”

She gave Ian a long and even looked, her own brown eyes meeting his grey ones, “Try at least. I’d be sad to see you go.” That was true. Ian was like her. He could understand things that Mitabi or most of her other friends could not. They were the forgotten ones and they needed each other.

"Rise up."


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