The apartment ended up being less of an apartment and more of a condo with the amount of room and space it had. You can suppose being one of Atolls most prominent crime and drug pushers that she made quite a bit of money. Despite this, the rooms were still fairly unclean; clothes were thrown in bunches all over the place, tables littered with scattered patches of bliss. This place smelled like Arjana.
Arjana walked in from the kitchen, carrying a tray of alcohol and wearing something more casual for her afternoon with Lux; a loose tank top and sporty shorts. It was evident that this much more relaxed Arjana look was a sign of trust from the Den owner to the CEO.
"Ya know, each day I think shit is gonna finally chill, and then we get another stupid fucking problem to solve." Arjana complained as she sat down on the couch near Lux, placing the tray of drinks on the coffee table in front of them. "Does it ever end?"
With everything that’s happened Lux was more than pleased when he received the text inviting him over. After their rather emotional moment post surgery as well as a few steamy couplings, he hadn’t much time to really get a chance to have a private serious moment with her.
Maybe he does just avoid the Den some days, frustrated with the way things were turning out. People up and leaving, pledging allegiances and promises elsewhere. It made him nervous and even a little scared at times. He was used to his quiet dealings but he knew that wouldn’t be possible anymore. And as much as he enjoyed his times with Ivory, he knew that once she left he was back facing reality again. So he decided to take this chance to do something about it.
He gave a small smile as she placed the drinks before him, giving a small thanks as he straightened up some. While he was dressed like his usual self his face remained bare, showing the obvious bags under his eyes from his horrible sleeping habit. Here with Arjana he felt no need to put on another mask. It was too exhausting lately.
“If it ever did end, we might actually find ourselves bored to tears,” he jests, keeping his tone amused but it didn’t reach his face. He watched her, aware of her frustration. “But we have to face the facts now that remaining neutral among this mess isn’t going to help us anymore than it already has.” Action. They need action.
Arjana instantly reached over to the coffee table as she sat down, grabbing a bottle of vodka and pouring it into a glass accompanied with some orange juice. She drank it quickly and evenly as her eyes watched Lux intently, showing that she was paying attention to what he had to say to her.
"The city never sleeps so neither do we." Arjana scoffed to herself as she set the now empty glass back down on the table. She then leaned back, taking a more relaxed position on the couch as she look straight at Lux.
"The plan was to let the church and the rebels fight until one came out as the victor. Then, while they're licking their wounds, we attack." Arjana spoke evenly and calmly. "But yeah, neutral is becoming more and more... problematic then I would like it to be."
“It was too hopeful of a plan. People are fickle, always have been.” And always will be. He was never one to trust so openly, few ever gained that gift, Arjana included, but even then at the end of the day, no one knows much of anything about him. It’s better that way. Fable made sure it was ingrained in him.
“So seeing as how we’re in this predicament, we need to make our own moves. And our own stand. I believe we have been too open and because of that, we’ve been left vulnerable.” He glanced down at the bottles before him, eyeing them with little interest. Then he looked back up at her, “I think we should take a stronger stance against the rebels in this.”
Whether Lux realized it or not, his opinion and thoughts had great sway over Arjana. He was one of the few criminals that Arjana listened to and trusted-- she believed him and his word. So, when he spoke about another plan, he had her attention completely.
"A stronger stance? You do realize we just gave the Priest their leader, right? That was a pretty big 'fuck you' to them." Arjana offered with a slightly amused and confused smirk. "Are you trying to say we should stick to working alongside the Priest?"
Lux shrugged, “Their leader sure but that doesn’t mean it’s over just yet.” He picked up one of the glasses, pouring himself a drink before settling back, glass in hand. “That is correct. We’ve already agreed to this ‘alliance,’ why not follow it through? For the most part that is. They expect more then words, so we’ll have to give them more. And I’m sure we can find more than just their leader.” He took a sip, his mind busy going through options. “The rebellion is more than just one person. There’s much we can work with.”
Theres a pause as Arjana considers his words. She has a question to shoot back at him but she doesnt want to allow it to dissolve into a fight; she just needs to know the truth from her trusted friend.
"I gotta ask," Arjana starts as she adjusts her position, looking Lux dead in the eyes and not looking away. "Are you suggesting partnering with the Priest because you want to, or is it because of that Ivory girl. I'm not teasing-- I just need to know."
The question didn’t entirely catch him off guard, as it was to be expected. Between his relations with Ivory as well as being a practitioner in his own right it could come off as such. But it wasn’t. He was a man set in his ways, focusing on the larger picture then just a small piece. Even if it included him.
He kept her gaze, his own features serious as he lowered his glass. “It’s what I believe is best.”
Arjana finally pulls her intense eye contact away as Lux gives her an answer that she trusts without hesitation. She doesn't have any reason to believe that Lux would lie to her; she has trusted him for a long time now.
"Its true that working with them, for now, will help us for a while, but in the long run... well, the Church doesn't want us around. Were all a stain." Arjana looks over her cybernetic hand for a moment. "So once the rebellion is gone, theyll turn their eyes onto us."
Another sip as he listened to her speak list the ever-present concerns on his mind. It’s hard when you try to play two lives for so long, though of course, that’s not the case anymore. He’s presented himself with the criminals and now there was no going back. But there was no point in worrying about that.
“The criminals have been here since the beginning, and I have no doubt it’ll continue long after this war subsided...if at all. All that will be affected is how much more difficult it will be to run operations.” He placed his glass down with a small sigh. “That’s why it’s important we play this right from the beginning. We build up or reliability, make ourselves appear more useful then just a bunch of bliss dealers and there could be future agreements that fall in our favor.”
He held her eye again. “Of course... all the while we play the good little criminals they want us to be, we can take advantage of little cracks in their defense. When their guard is finally lowered, and in time they will slip, that's when we can make our move.” Easier said than done, of course. But not absolutely impossible.
"The church ain't looking for nothing other than to slaughter us with the rebels, you know that right? Working with them for even a second could end up with us as the latest and greatest sacrifices. What if they want more limbs or something? What if they want my other leg, what if they want yours? Your sisters?" Arjana prods because she wants him to think and to think hard about what he was saying.
"With the rebels... they can somewhat be reasoned with. We have a lot of old criminals within the rebels, a lot of sympathy towards us. That might be a little fucked right now, but I'm sure we could shift it back into our favour." Arjana continues on. "But what is our 'big move' if we go with your plan and attack the church when they slip?"
Lux didn’t truly believe that. There were reasons such groups last as long as they do. Connections, promises, agreements, this was all possible in the long run. Perhaps the Den didn’t have that kind of reach as it was more of a recreational heathen paradise than anything close to a pillar in the community. But sometimes things could change.
But as Arjana continued on, his frustration grew and grew. His hand clenched into a fist at his side when she mentioned his sister. Of course he thought of such things. It was a threat that could never clear from his mind. He didn’t need a fucking reminder.
“The Rebels?” He wrinkled his nose as his disgust was purely visible now. “Reasoned with? They can never be reasoned with. Or have you forgotten how our last ‘alliance’ went’? They’re arrogant and ungrateful. They care only for their own goals, those that don’t include us,” his jaw clenched at the mention of the former criminals. It took a lot to keep himself as calm as possible, by the anger was growing in his voice. No, he is not doing this again.
“Those are traitors, Arjana. They have chosen their side and I can assure you if they were given the choice again, they would still go back to that damned rebellion then pay us any mind. And how will we work it into our favor, exactly? What? Do we just let them nestle in our territories again? Go about freely without any real ties? Use our time and resources and then abandon us again when the Church comes knocking? Give them Lucifer? You know they want his head. Do you want to do that? This puts us in an even worse position with the Priest. And we will lose more than our limbs.”
Arjana certainly wasn't expecting Lux to snap at her like that. As his anger grew and grew, the more Arjana looked at him with wide eyes, trying not to seem too surprised by his attitude. She didn't interrupt however, she waited peacefully and patiently until Lux had made his point-- and what a great point it was.
"Lux, I..." She really doesn't know how to say what she wants to say. She wants to say that all those people leaving hurt her-- that her abandonment issues only grew and her trust only wavered. She wants to tell him that shes worried about Cas, still, even after everything. But she can't say these things, so she's stuck in limbo.
"I'm trying to see from both sides. I agree with some of the things you said but I also disagree with others. It's hard, okay? There's a lot of voices to be heard and then I gotta make a damn decision; this shit ain't easy. If it was then we wouldn't be talking about it." She sighed. "But I'm trying my best."
Lux inhaled, closing his eyes as he caught himself and tried to regain calmness. He didn’t want to yell at her. He knew this was hard. Arjana must be so overwhelmed with everything going on. But she was getting soft. This wouldn’t do at all.
After a few more breaths, he opened his eyes again and he managed to keep his composure, voice tame again. “I know you are. That’s why it’s important that the right choice is made. The one that would enable us to move forward in this mess.” He looked her in the eye. “And that is not the Rebels.”
"What if most of the criminals disagree with you? What if the majority votes to go to the Rebels?" Arjana asks, stress and weariness evident in her tone. It feels like this was all she ever talked about-- this God damn war. She hated it, she absolutely hated it.
"If I start pulling the rug out from underneath people then they aren't going to want to follow me or listen to me. I'll be just like the Priest." Arjanas hands move to her temples and she begins rubbing them-- this was going to be a long day.
“That’s the thing, Arjana. I really don’t give a fuck what they think. I care about what you think.” He wasn’t close to many of the criminals nor has he been rather satisfied with them. He was here for Arjana. Agree or not, he would stand by her. But he could only handle so much.
"If what youre worried about is us just... rolling over onto our bellies for the rebels, that's not going to happen. If we wipe out the church together and it's just us left... They will be bending to our rules or it will be another war." Arjana insists intently, not breaking eye contact with him. "At the end of the day, we win. That's the only ending I'll settle for."
Lux gave a hint of a smile, but there was nothing amusing about it. They lack numbers now, and they’ll lack numbers later. It was a foolish plan overall. And it seems like her mind was set. “It takes more than hopeful words to get things done.” He shook his head. Unbelievable.
When he shakes his head at her, there's a twist in her chest. She feels like she's disappointed him and the first thing she wants to do is scream. Yell and scream about how this isn't her fault and this is just how the world is. That's what she's always done and it's hard to break that habit.
"Lux, I'm not saying I refuse to work with the church, it's just that I can't convince everyone to agree to that." She scoots a little closer to him, but doesnt touch him. She's not sure if he would want that. "I'll keep you safe no matter what, okay? You're my friend."
Lux watches her, eyes her getting close, trying to reassure him with sweet words. It was comforting to hear but it wasn’t enough to calm his nerves. He felt bad for putting her in such a position but that’s what was wrong with hope. It made people seem bigger and more powerful than they really were. And this was the reality.
He crossed his arms, trying not to fall into a weakness, trying to close himself off from her. He didn’t want protection, he just wanted to make some progress.
“Yes, we are friends. I’ve even thought of you as family. And I would do all in my power to protect you as well. You know I would do anything for you....” he looked at her, eyes struggling to hide the bubbling emotion within him. But his voice wasn’t as successful. And it hurt him to say it. “But if it does fall to helping the rebels again, I will not help you.”
Arjana sighs, a hand coming up to the back of her head to scratch her scalp. She didn't like this conversation; it made her chest constrict and tighten. She didn't like the idea of not having Lux at her side; he was someone she sincerely trusted and nothing having him with her hurt.
"If the criminals vote to help the Rebels then I'm not going to just... stand by. I'm going in with them. I can't expect them to fight for me if I won't fight for them." Arjana sighed once more. "If you gotta sit that out then... then fine."
Lux nodded at her decision. “Understood.” So that’s where it’s left to. He came and said what he had to say. It was left to her and as their boss, it was to be expected. It didn’t make his decision any easier.
He sat quietly for a moment, looking over Arjana and feeling himself break just a little. He unfolded his arms, making his body seem less rigid. “On that note, should you be wrapped into such a plan...please come by so I can...do maintenance on your leg. Make sure it’s in top condition. It would make me look like a bad businessman should it be anything but perfect on your little illegal activities.” He managed a small smile, trying to smooth any tension out. There was no point to ruin the rest of the evening. He didn’t wanna leave Arjana torn like this.
It was awful; there were certain people Arjana did not like arguing with and one of them was definitely Lux. She hoped he didn't hold this against her and did hate her for it. She hoped he could forgive her for whatever she had to do. She hoped he wouldnt leave her-- God, she was so scared of him leaving her too.
Arjanas eyes flick down to her sleek new leg, looking it over before glancing back to Lux, her shoulders sagging a bit as tension released. No more fighting-- just talking again. She liked that. "Its sturdy, you did a great job by the way."
"Sometimes I fuck up though and fall. I'm still getting used to it. It's different than how I adjusted to my arm." Arjana speaks a bit quieter as her hands come down to the metal and softly touch it. She doesnt dare go near where her flesh meets the metal-- shes been avoiding touching it, even when bathing and cleaning. "Shit's fucked."
He wanted to make sure she thought this through. Make smart decisions, not emotional ones. Of course such a notion is hard to follow through. It is not a test he wished to experience himself. But this was Arjana and no matter what decision she makes, brash and foolish as some might be, he wasn’t going to abandon her. He would never.
Just like that Lux’s eyes softened as her voice grew lower. This was something he can do. Something he can help with. He moved closer and gently reached out and placed one ungloved hand on top of hers. “Things take time. Just let me know if there’s anything bothering you.” He watched as she eyed the metal and tilted his head. “Would you...like for me to work on a different design? For the future?” He gave her a worried look. She didn’t seem too happy with it.
Arjanas eyes instantly went to the hand touching hers and her entire body tensed. It wasn't a surprise, especially to Lux, that Arjanas body became rigid after expressing any kind of affection. She was a woman with a lot of intimacy issues, trust issues and abandonment fears. But, because it was Lux, she didn't shake him off of her. Instead, she turned her hand around and held his hand back. Her grip was tight, full of anxiety and fear, but she was reciprocating.
"The design isn't the problem; it's fucking awesome," Arjana responds before looking away from his worried glance. Holding hands and looking at him was... too intimate. She wasn't sure if she wanted to be that open right now. "It's just that I would prefer my actual leg. But... yeah, not really an option anymore."
Lux felt her tightened grip but paid it no mind. She was tense and their earlier conversation had probably made it worse. But what’s done is done. He merely rubbed his thumb over her hand gently, making a calming circle.
He looked down at her leg when she looked away, unable to stop feeling a twinge of responsibility. Perhaps he could have worked harder in making a more likable design. He should have made something more realistic. His brows furrowed at the thought. “Yes....I’m sorry.”
Arjana gave a little chuckle as she shook her head back and forth, still not looking at Lux but still holding his hand. There was a moment of unsurity if this was a good laugh or a sad laugh, but as Arjana spoke the truth came out.
"You dont have to be sorry, you didnt do this to me. That psycho who probably pisses cybernetic fucking piss is the one who did it to me." She makes a hesitant glance at Lux, hoping he didnt notice how clammy her hands were getting. Intimacy, affection, it always made her panic. "So dont blame yourself or some shit, okay? "
"You dont deserve that."