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(2013-08-15 - 2013-08-16)
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Maximilien It's not exactly hard for Max to get around Palumpolum. The fragmentary city's uniquely postmodern geography (extremely helpful to let Max move place to place), the inexperienced guard, and the general blend of strange fashions all all mix together to allow Max more or less free movement within the city. He uses that to get around, see what he can, and learn what he can about the city - which he's been dong more extensively since Jihl's confession.

It's also given him a lot of time to think. Exploring the city has put him more at ease; still, those few who knew he existed, who knew who he was connected to, look on him with something not unlike scorn. And Max can't blame them, not really; he remembers how he looked upon those who lived near the enemy in his own world, and the look is the same. He never thought he'd see that look directed at him.

But, evidently, what does he know?

Still, his wanderings aside, he always winds up at the same place every evening. Max scales the building effortlessly, flitting from place to place as he dodges familiar security measures and more familiar windows, until he finally reaches the top floor. It's a long climb, but heights are nothing for him; if he was afraid of heights, he wouldn't be much of a thief.

Max slips open the window silently and makes his way inside the apartment. He discards his cape, sending it flying onto a hatrack (he bought her), and moves directly into the kitchen. Cooking always calmed his nerves.

Pans and pots and other things come spinning out as Max picks over the dwindling contents of Jihl's pantry. There isn't hardly much there, but that's alright; cooking is one of the few legitimate skills Max possesses that he's earnestly proud of. It's just a little bit of imagination, and soon he's got something boiling on the stove.

Indeed, the bubbling pot did calm his nerves. It distanced him from the thought of the people on the street who saw him as no better than her; it brought him back to his center, to remind himself that he has never once cared what another person thought of him besides the people close to him. Most of all, it reminded him that everyone - /everyone/ - had a second chance.

Max moves away from the stove - he could monitor that on breath alone if needed - and picks up a rag. He might as well clean, while he was here. Something active to do.
Jihl Nabaat Almost unfortunately for Max, Jihl, who doesn't really 'live' in her apartment so much as 'randomly use it whenever she doesn't spend her life in office', there isn't very much of any sort of 'mess' to clean up. The closest thing to it, would be the small area around her desk --

It's probably not a *wise* idea to go poking through it, but unless he wants to start raiding her militaristic-based library - (with a very small selection of various sorts of fiction books that look never-touched) - he might as well.

The papers are the general sort of the commanding officer of a large military group. Supplies and the sort. Mixed within all the white paper is a much-creased red-colored piece of notebook paper.

Jihl continues to, well, not be there.
Maximilien Dust is dust, and Max hates dust. As he cooks, he cleans, an efficient two-in-one combination. A little magic here, a little dusting there, a little straightening elsewhere, and what little mess there is is banished from the surroundings. He's frighteningly efficient; if he wasn't such a dedicated thief, he could probably make a fortune cleaning.

On the flip side, he's already made several fortunes stealing, so...

Max makes his way to the only part of the apartment that really gets any use in no time - the office. He cleans up the area around her desk in moments, stacking papers carefully.

The red notebook can't help but catch Max's attention. He pauses, fingers over the book. He almost can't help himself. It is, after all, the nature of the thief to look through things he understands to be valuable, and this notebook is almost certainly valuable. Information is a commodity like any other; if you know who to sell it to, you can make money.

Max's fingers stray across the notebook. He picks it up, holding it thoughtfully.

Then he sets it down on top of the pile of papers and closes his eyes.
Jihl Nabaat Max glances over the notebook. It has nothing special on the cover, except for Jihl's name in a surprisingly calligriphic script. Probably not her handwriting. (It's most definitely not her handwriting, how strange.)

Meanwhile, at the Palumpolum PSICOM office, Jihl cricks her head to look at the clock.

She considers the pile in front of her and dismisses it, before packing up her things.
Maximilien Max closes his eyes. He shouldn't.

But the calligraphy has his attention. A pair of gloves slide onto his fingers; he flips it opens, flicking through it carfully. He's a thief, after all - at least, that was what he told himself as he flipped through the book rapidly.

In truth, he was still hurt. He had put his trust in someone that had not, at the time, been worthy of it. She may be working hard to be worthy of it now, but that trust...from Max, it is not easy to rebuild. That is why he rapidly flips through the book, committing as much of it to memory as he can; not because he intends to steal from her, or because he has some need to hurt her, but because he no longer knows if he can trust her.

Max sets the book back down and heads back into the kitchen. The makeshift meal should be just about done by now.
Jihl Nabaat While the writing on the fron isn't hers...

The ones inside, the important ones, that's Jihl, through and through.

Max gets a glimpse into the life of a woman before she came to Max, including some scribblings about a 'irritating French(?)man' -- followed by dozens of others. Then scribbles about him when they were first starting. Then a line of words, crossed out so much the lines, "I think I love him" are barely recognizable if one doesn't have their nose pushed up to the paper.

The tone of the paper changes. Instead of being heartless, it is now being heart-curious. About hearts. And love. Amoongst them, there is anger - at herself, at those around her. Guilt about 'a relationship built while she's lying', a almost scary need to never want to fail the man who has given her everything - the Primarch.

On one page, there is nothing but the words, written boldly, "I'm sorry". The following pages are blank, before picking up again a few more pages in - once more musings about her life, what she's doing, and why.

Jihl arrives at the lobby of the apartment.
Maximilien The text sticks with him as he moves through the kitchen like a ghost. Max glides from counter to counter, juggling the boiling pot and the sizzling pan as he moves. Candles fly onto the table as he works; a touch of flame from his fingers, and they're lit. He pours drinks; he sets the table.

He opens the stove a moment later and carefully pulls out the bread.
Jihl Nabaat Jihl pauses outside her apartment door, glancing over at the security panel. Max is good enough to not set off *any* of the alarms a woman like Jihl Nabaat has access too, but there is one thing he cannot hide.

THe smell of good food.

The door opens, and Jihl steps in. "Max?"
Maximilien Max looks up from setting the table. He stares at Jihl for a very long moment, then closes his eyes, looking back at the table. The words roll across his face again. A smile spreads across his face, rapidly, as his hands settle onto the table. Then he straightens and turns, spreading his arms.

"Bonsoir, ma chere!" Max settles his arm over his chest, bowing low at the waist; it's sort of like a scarecrow bending over in a bow. He straightens, his hand still over his heart. "Welcome home from your stressful work, my dear. I apologize that it is not much; I did the best I could with what I had. I will likely need to go shopping tomorrow, of course; I depleted the last of your stock."

Max pulls out her chair, then moves around to his own side, waiting for her to sit first. "My own original recipe, made with scrounged scraps left around your pantry. I also tidied your desk while I was here; I thought it such a shame that so much space on your desk being used by so few papers."
Jihl Nabaat Jihl stares back at Max, not sure what's going on in his brain, before Max smiles, and then he promptly gives her a somewhat strangely adorable scarecrow bow. She raises an eyebrow, then glances at the table.

"There was /meal/ in my leftovers?" She asks, incredulous.

He moves the chair, and she obediently sits down - however she freezes when he mentions that he cleaned up her desk, her grey-green eyes moving to focus on his face as she shrugs out of her long jacket, deliberately also ditching her belt and her combat vest, leaving her in nothing but the creamy white dress.

Then, softly: "You looked through it."
Maximilien "Ah, my dear, there is a meal in any food, so long as you are creative enough to work with what you have." Max sits down, a smile on his face.

His smile doesn't vanish as he picks up his fork and knife, cutting into the meal and taking a curious bite. She doesn't ask him if she looked through the book; she just knows. Max's eyes sink shut again as he tests the meal, giving neither confirmation nor rejection. He chews; he swallows; he wipes his mouth with the napkin, the perfect image of a gentleman.

Max sets the fork and knife down and nods. "Oui. Je m'excuse. It is terrible for a gentleman to look through his lady's papers, I know."

"If it makes you feel better, I did not cook this meal as an apology. I was simply cleaning as I cooked, and the notebook caught my eye. I cooked this meal because I was here." Max looks up at her.

"Tell me, are you angry?"
Jihl Nabaat Jihl watches Max for a vrey, very long time. This is in actuality, a few minutes, but for her, it almost feels like forever. She does not touch her meal; she is not particularly hungry, as of right now. Maybe after the conversation.

"... if you mean right now, well, no."
Maximilien Max cuts into the dinner on his plate again and takes another bite, nonchalantly. "Do you believe, then, that you have no right to be angry at me, because of..."

He's quiet for a moment.

"Because of our conversation?"
Jihl Nabaat Jihl tilts her head, slightly confused.

"No...?" She says. "I'm just ... not mad." She shrugs at that. "Not at you. You're a phantom thief, and well, considering the situation we're in, I'm not mad that you peeked at something that I left lying around."

Jihl is taking this surprisingly well, all things considered.
Maximilien Max nods distantly, then takes another bite, his eyes still on her curiously. "...then I apologize," the thief notes. He smiles. "I looked through your private belongings because I was upset. I had no right to do so."

Max's eyes level at her. "But our relationship is not founded on lies. It is not built on lies. It is built on the fact that my heart and your heart are connected; we are tied together."

"I want you to know that, in this month after our discussion, I have thought long and hard about what I said." Max pushes his plate away and stands. He walks around the table, leaning in to look her in the eye; he's close enough that she can practically feel his breath. "I have made my final decision."

"I love you, Jihl Nabaat. I want you to know that I love you, and that no matter what the eyes of this city declare, no matter what these people may believe, I know the truth of you." Max leans in and presses his lips against hers gently, then straightens.

"I promised you that I would be here for you, to help you grow, to help you learn, to help you on your journey." Max holds out his hand. "I promise you again - I will be with you, so long as you need me."

"Jihl, I want you to join me in my cottage. Full-time."
Jihl Nabaat "I would not exactly call it 'private'. That book is more like just listening to me ramble if I ever decided to just talk, and talk, and talk." She looks at him, and he mentions connected hearts, Jihl raising one eyebrow even Max corners her in her chair.

After the kiss, she gives a soft sigh, looking at his hand, before she tenatively takes it. Then he tells her what he wants, and she turns pale... well, pale-/er/, considering her normal complexion.

"Max, I can't." She protests. "It's too far away from here, from the Primarch-"
Maximilien "It is private. It belongs to you, and without your permission, I opened it." Max's free hand goes to the chair; in an instant, he spins her up into his arms, that ridiculous dexterity on display once again.

"But you should know...should you ever wish to ramble, I enjoy hearing your voice."

She starts to protest, and Max holds up a finger to her lips. "I shall not take no for an answer, not tonight. There are airships; there is a portal to a bustling port near the Old Kingdom, barely much of a walk. It would take you an hour to arrive at most; no more a commute for you than any other."

Max's finger drops from her lips to her waist. "You do not need to keep paying for this apartment you never use, in a city full of people who only see you as a monster. It is an empty shell, a monument to the past. Come live with me, in a town that sees you only as a woman."
Jihl Nabaat Jihl squeaks when she gets promptly pulled back up into his arms, resting against him as he promptly and very, very specifically manages to decimate most of her general protests. His hands slide, and she sighs.

"... it's still too far away, I have like a five-minute-away-only-emergency thing. For the primarch." Says the woman, ever, eternally, faithful to her job.
Maximilien "Is that true?" Max inquires softly in her ear. "Or are you simply fishing for reasons not to move in with me?"
Jihl Nabaat "Maybe not five minutes, but it /is/ true." Jihl says. "I /am/ the head of the elite fighting force of Cocoon and thus the Primarchs' protector, you know."
Maximilien "And yet there are ten men in this city watching your Primarch at any given time," Max notes, "Men who, presumably, do not need your orders to protect your leader. Men who are, presumably, trained to protect your leader. And then there is your subordinate, non? Surely he can keep watch in the hours you are in my care. How is it any different than what we have now, when you spend so much time in my arms?"

Max spins her around, pushing her back against his stomach as his own hands settle onto her stomach. "Please?"
Jihl Nabaat Max so rarely says 'please' like that that Jihl actually stops thinking to blink a couple of times. She tilts her head back against him, her silvery-blonde hair fluffing around her face as she does so to peer at him.

"... okay. I'll do it."
Maximilien Max smiles, tightening his arms around her. "Good. Perhaps getting away from the city will do you well." He rests his chin against the top of her head, contentedly.

"You have made me very happy, Jihl. I hope I can continue to make you as happy as you make me."
Jihl Nabaat Jihl shakes her head.

"It won't, but you're sweet for thinking so." She sighs and leans against him. Then her stomach rumbles. "Oh, right. I /do/ have to eat on occasion."
Maximilien Max releases her. "You could sit down and enjoy the meal, you know," he notes cheerfully, pulling his chair over to sit next to her. "For something I crafted out of leftovers and remnants, it flows together quite admirably. Perhaps I'll call it 'restant'."
Jihl Nabaat Jihl grins. "Does moving in with you mean I don't get anymore of my bad takeout?" She asks, before promptly devouring a chunk of her meal.
Maximilien "There is no such thing as /take-out/ in pastoral, medieval France," Max notes, a bit stuffier than he normally is. "Everything is home-grown and home-made, and more often than not, home-sold. You will be eating real bread, real vegetables, real fruit, and real meat, all fresh as can be."

"I cannot imagine how you could prefer the taste of the thing you call /food/ to real, earnest, fresh produce." He shakes his head sadly and moves his chair a bit closer to her.
Jihl Nabaat "I never have the time, mostly, for this 'home' stuff." Jihl says, gesturing. "Why do you think this house is not a home?" She then goes back to more of her dinner. Omnomnomnom.
Maximilien "Because it is empty. It is cold and sterile and untouched; dust fills the corners; the pantry is devoid of ingredients; the icebox is empty; you spend time here, but you do not love this place. You have no love for this place; it is a means to an end. It is a mechanical thing you maintain out of convenience."

Max points his fork at her. "You do not love this place, and therefore, it is not your home."
Jihl Nabaat Jihl smiles faintly, before going back to food. She's not going to respond to that, because Max is right.

This scene contained 30 poses. The players who were present were: Maximilien, Jihl Nabaat