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No title.
(2013-07-26 - 2013-07-26)
No description.
Maximilien It's been a long night. Maximilien Amadeus Renaud-Sylvianne made a promise, and he intended full well to uphold it the moment he returned from his...less-than-legal venture. And uphold it he did, a spectacle of romance and emotion spinning across four worlds, from Palumpolum to Paris to Manhattan, ending back in the beautiful Cocoon. Dancing, music, a movie, a play, fine food (including a moment of absolute self-indulgence where Max took matters into his own hands to improve on their meal, despite objections from most of the staff); the hustle and bustle of big cities fading away as the two of them whiled away the night; and finally, falling asleep, exhaustion overtaking even Max's energy.

It might be a longer morning.

The smell of breakfast fills the Palumpolum apartment. Max has spared nothing, every bit of skill turned to making the best breakfast he can. French toast, crepes, bacon, eggs both scrambled and sunny-side up, grapefruit, orange juice, all lay spread on the table as Max himself works at the otherworldly stove, occasionally compensating for a lack of mechanical knowledge with a bit of magical ingenuity.

The conversation from last night is finally allowed to weigh on Max's mind as the last touch is put on the table - flowers from nowhere, planted firmly in a vase to set the mood. He had kept his thoughts as far from those words as physically possible last night, supreme willpower, amazing affection, and the knowledge that he had made a promise keeping his smile genuine and his kisses nothing short of pure. But now, with the morning looming and breakfast finished, he had no choice but to wonder what Jihl believed might cause him to leave her. Even if his rational mind told him that he shouldn't dwell on such things, his accursedly human imagination ran wild with his thoughts, spinning wild and fanciful stories all across the ether. What, exactly, would today hold? What would test his happiness this time?

And how genuine, how valid, were Jihl's fears?
Jihl Nabaat Jihl Nabaat had been taken on a spectacle of an adventure, one that involved various world-hopping so that she got the tastes of everything from a variety of worlds - dancing, music, movie, play, food that Max couldn't keep himself from indulging himself in to improve - which made Jihl even more amused than she had been during their conversations that night.

Jihl wakes up to a apartment that smells like french toast, bacon, and everything else. It is a very unusual way to wake up for the lieutenant colonel of PSICOM, and eventually she appears into the doorway of the kitchen, wrapped in a cozy robe, shoeless.

Her eyes drift across the kitchen, a quick look flashing across her face, before she moves to the coffee pot, quietly opening up the carafe - which has always been set, for years, to autobrew so she always has coffee when she gets in the kitchen. She grips the cup and sips from it.

It is a few minutes later before she says, huddled in on herself: "Good morning."
Maximilien "Bonjour," comes Max's reply, easy and calm despite whatever thoughts may be flying through his mind. He bears it well, as he always had, as he always will; it is the responsibility of the Phantom Thief to keep his mask affixed firmly to his face when there might be trouble, not simply for himself, but for those around him. He may let his guard down around the people who care for him, but by and large, Max remains a master of emotional distance, easy smiles flashing across his eyes and his lips. He may be worried but he doesn't have to show it - something all too many people take for granted in the modern world. It's frighteningly easy to be distant when there is distance; the art of hiding and disguise is one that is quickly becoming lost.

"You slept well, I take it," Max notes cheerfully.
Jihl Nabaat "I did, thank you." Jihl responds to his cheerful note.

She looks at him from her coffee cup, raising an eyebrow at him, before she looks back at the table, a hint of uneasiness drifting across her face. Finally, she steps towards the table, deliberately making sure to not get too close to Max - not out of anger, but out of something that seems to be fear.

"Thank you for breakfast." She adds on, in quiet amusement.
Maximilien "Of course," Max replies. He doesn't say anything else; she'll talk when she's ready. He lets the tension slide off him as easily as water off plastic, calmly shrugging his shoulders to physically represent the effect as he starts helping himself to breakfast. "I have no interest in letting you order out any morning I am here, after all. A waste of money and a waste of ingredients."

He pours himself some orange juice with his free hand, his eyes sinking shut. It was frighteningly normal, which of course only served to heighten the strangeness - neither of them was /normal/ in any sense of the word. It was a romantic gesture, of course, but it was also off-putting in a way Max hadn't considered until Jihl was in the room with him, and now it's far too late to do anything about it. "I am simply glad I woke up early enough."
Jihl Nabaat "Max, I don't know how many of the rumors you have heard the citizens of Palumpolum say about me. What those under me in PSICOM might say. However, I know that in a very few instances, with their words, and their anger, they are absolutely correct about it." Jihl looks at him, still sipping her coffee. Her knuckles are white due to the tight grip that she has on it.

"The first is that they might call me a sadist - yes, you have probably heard of the word. It means that I derive pleasure as the result of inflicting pain, degredation, pain, or humiliation on others, or watching it happen to others." She looks pensive. "They are correct."

"The second is that they call me a psychopath." A long beat. "While this is very close, it's not technically correct; I am known for my superficial charm to get close to others, I am manipulative and cunning, I do not have much empathy, and I don't see the point to remorse, or even much guilt at all." She sips more of her coffee.

"The fal'Cie. The Pulse fal'cie that live on Cocoon. Before we unified, one of them woke up. In response, I came up with the plan and enacted one that would result in hundreds of thousands of people either dying or being sent to a hostile planet to die." She looks at him. "I do not regret it." She states, her voice flat -

But not emotionless.

Her green eyes are fixed on Maxs' face, before she finally sets the empty coffee cup down. "I am the cruel, the heartless, the unhappy Jihl Nabaat, who has long terrorized the world of Cocoon and the citizens of Palumpolum by refusing to step down, by emotionally and physically manipulating and horrifying people. There is a reason they are scared of me."

"This is who I am; or at least, who I.."

"Was." The last word hangs in the air as she gives Max a expressive look. He has gone a long way towards fixing things for her.
Maximilien Max was about to say something, but the look in Jihl's eye - and the look of her knuckles, white with concern - immediately silences him. He knows the signs of something like this; he's seen it before, seen it in faces of people sick with fear. He's felt it, himself, whether clinging tightly to a last lifeline or watching his world die around him. He remembers that feeling all too well.

So he braces himself.

He's silent all the way through. There's a look of pensieve thought on his face as she talks, one very distant from the thoughts actually racing through his mind - thoughts of his own past, of the days he grew up around, and of the people who marched to the beat of a very dark drum. His world had been a place still recovering from a miserable hand stretched out across the world.

This is difficult for him to accept, that much he knows. His eyes sink shut as she finishes, as she looks at him, in no small part because he knows the expression on her face long before she makes it and long before she says anything. He's just...silent. Sitting there in deep thought, turning images over in his mind - images of the jackboot across France's neck, images of children dragged from their homes - alongside her face.

Max's head sinks into his hands. He still hasn't said anything, his eyes are still shut tight.

"...I see," he finally manages, emotion cracking though his mask. "I..."

"I am not...walking out," Max exhales, and it's one of the hardest things he's done in a very long time, right up there with seeing Cirra broken and bleeding in the wake of the Hydra battle months ago, or terminating a piece of that witch Abramson who scarred and scared him so deeply. "I am not leaving you."

"But I...I may need some time to..." Max's voice cracks, the mask breaking a little further. "To think. About...about things."

"But I am not leaving you."
Jihl Nabaat Jihl watches him brace himself - although it's more mentally and emotionally than physically, she knows Max is preparing himself for everything. She then watches his hands come up, his head in them, and misery rolls over her face - but only while he's not watching.

Her face afterwards is poker perfect, before she inclines her head. He says he isn't leaving - but that he needs time to think about things. She pushes herself to her feet, wavering a bit on her feet. She is very sure, herself, what will happen once he thinks about it.

"I'm sorry, Max." She finally whispers, before she quietly heads for a spot in her apartment where she doesn't have to watch him emotionally battle himself in regards to her.
Maximilien Max's hand moves to grab hers. Given how fast Max's hand moves under normal circumstances, it's pretty evident that he's not ready to let her walk out just by how fast it moves /here/. His fingers curl around her wrist, tight.

"Stop," Max tells her, his voice still cracking fiercely. "Sit down. Please."

"If you walk out," he strains, "You will begin to let your mind wander. You will let imagination and assumption override rational thought; you will act on those imagined emotions as you picture all manner of terrible consequences for being honest with me, and you will do something both of us will undoubtedly regret."

"Stay. At least in the same room, you do not have to sit, wondering what might be going through my head."
Jihl Nabaat His grip is tight, almost painful; however she pauses as he very accurately explains what she is going to probably do if she walks out of the room. She looks down at her wrist, then gently pulls it out of his grip. Jihl then looks at him.

Maximilien " m'excuse. This is not like me, I know." Max wavers for a moment, his hand still where it was when she pulled away from it, resting on the table loosely. "It is not the violence that...I mean, it is not the sadistic...the..."

Max exhales, his hand returning to his face. "I apologize. Neither of those traits are what bother me. I suspected both of those; eyes and brains, after all. It..."

"No, let me start over. Again." Max runs both hands through his red hair, ruffling it as he thinks. " recovering from a world war. I have no words for how terrible that war was, and I would rather not discuss it at length. It was brought on by a man who believed in something so foul that it catches in my throat to even think about it." Max shakes his head, his eyes looking right at hers.

" very similar to what the people who occupied France desired. Perhaps for different reasons, for different purposes, but..."

"...but I can still hear the cries of other children, dragged from their homes, and I can still hear the weeping of parents and lovers as they were split from their families."

"I know," Max adds, his voice still strong, "I know that it is not quite the same. I know that the things you call fal'cie are terrible entities, and that the choice being made was likely a terrible one for everyone else involved."

Max shakes his head, his hands going back to his face. "But...are you telling me, truly, that you do not hear those screams, those sobs, those weeping mothers and tearful children?"
Jihl Nabaat Jihl watches Max for awhile. A very, very long while. She listens to him ask his question, she listens to his reasons, his story - and finally, after a very, very long while, she shakes her head.

"I did not."

"I gave the order, but I did not... was not... directly involved with it, so those screams, sobs, everything else, I never saw them, or had to deal with them."
Maximilien Max is silent again for another very long time. He finally cuts a slice of toast off and slides it into his mouth, chewing on it quietly. No reason not to eat when he went to all this trouble, no matter how I felt about it.

"And you do not regret it at all," Max confirms quietly, "But then, of course, why would you; it was for your country, for your people, for the people you swore to protect."

"Just like them," he mumbles into his orange juice.

" m'excuse. I am trying very hard not to judge you, Jihl. You continue to be important to me. The...the honesty you were willing to show me, the courage in confessing this to me, means a great deal to me. I promise, it does. I just..."

"...I may need time to come to terms with this, that is all. Some time with this. I /told/ you, I do not intend to leave you."

"You are trying to change, Jihl. The fact that you fear my judgement means that much. I am not...going to let you go when you are trying to take steps forward."
Jihl Nabaat Jihl rubs her face with one hand, leaning against the nearest wall, before her head just sinks into the wall and she takes a very few long moments between his last words and any response she might be giving him.

"I have had people tell me a lot of things, a lot of promises, and they so rarely get made true that - especially considering what you've said--"

"You'll forgive me if I don't ever expect to see you back in my kitchen." Jihl looks up, then, straight at Max.
Maximilien Max nods for a moment, distantly. Then he stands up, his eyes locked on hers. "Jihl. I do not break my promises. I am /not/ other people, as you well now; I am nothing like other people. I do not treat you like other people, do I? Have I ever?"

"Yes, this extraordinary revelation. It is a powerful one. I need time to think about how to approach this, but I /will/ approach it, and we /will/ talk about it - and I will /not/ simply walk off and vanish into the worlds when you need me."
Jihl Nabaat Jihl looks at Max as he stands - his height makes her look up, especially considering she's not in her heels as normal. She watches him for a very, very long moment, her lips pursed, before she inclines her head. There is worry, marred with fear, marred with 'I don't trust this' all crossing her face in various ways.

"If you insist."
Maximilien "I do," Max replies, his own eyes quite firm and serious. He stares into Jihl's eyes silently before moving over and pulling her into a very tight hug.

"I love you," he murmurs into her ear, and then moves for the window. "Please, eat. It...I made it to make you smile, and I would like to see a smile when I return."
Jihl Nabaat Jihl doesn't quite squeak into the hug, but - she is a bit startled, even as Max moves towards the window. "Where are you going?" She asks, worry in her voice.
Maximilien "Out," Max replies. He doesn't face her for a moment; then he turns around and smiles at her. "You are out of groceries, and I cannot cook dinner out of /nothing/ no matter how skilled I am."
Jihl Nabaat "Oh..."

"Okay." Jihl says. "Bye, Max." The head of PSICOM stands there, all confused in her fluffy robe and bare feet, watching the only man she ever truly trusted disappearing out the window.

This scene contained 20 poses. The players who were present were: Maximilien, Jihl Nabaat