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I Want It All
(2013-02-10 - 2013-02-12)
Maximilien meets up with Jihl in her tower room, and things go not quite as planned.
Jihl Nabaat Jihl Nabaat contains her primary residence in Palumpolum. While she could have one in Eden as well, Jihl is almost always up in the capital city on business, so she maintains nothing there but her work and her military bunk, which, you know, suits her just fine.

Just fine.

Jihl has a penthouse apartment suite nearby the Riviera Towers. While this is not hard to figure out, getting up there alive is the fun part, mostly due to traps and the like. The defenses to get into her apartment are better than the ones on the PSICOM branch building.

That is just Jihl for you, though.

jihl's apartment is furnished modern-style for the city; all high-tech equipment, a white and metallic sheen to the kitchen and dining room, with a multi-leveled living room area containing a lower section with a fireplace, and a higher one with a TV and a half-circle bookshelf set up. There is a short hallway with three doors down the way.

She lounges on the couch, feet up on one end, book in front of her, having ditched most of her normal outfit, hosiery, and shoes to just get down to that relatively simple white dress. She is reading.

What do you do?
> Sneak in, turn to page 42.
> Enter properly, asking and such, turn to page 2.
Maximilien Like that's even a question.

Traps are part of the fun for Maximilien Amadeus Renaud-Sylvianne; traps and guards and all the dangerous things that get between people and things they want are what he's made his whole life getting around, and he finds great enjoyment in dealing with them. Not only that, but they're funny; most people tend to set traps and things to catch common criminals, because the only time you ever set a trap for an uncommon criminal is when you are trying to catch that uncommon criminal. That is, you set a trap for a man like Maximilien Amadeus Renaud-Sylvianne as an offense. You set a trap for a thug as defense.

These men are set up to defend, and that means they have no idea how to deal with Max. The traps are the same; things to be triggered, messed with, things to bypass occasionally with a spell and then get around, because Max wasn't the sort of person who saw an advantage like magic as cheating. If you worked to get it, if you worked to master it, it wasn't cheating.

So a few simple tricks, a few simple spells, and a few misdirections, and Max gets up to Jihl's apartment without too terribly much trouble - and more importantly, without dropping anything he's carrying. He lets himself in with a little finagling of the lock, then closes the door behind him silently, vanishing into the shadows.

Then he reappears next to her couch, flowers in hand, a smile on his lips, and something large, round, and glowing tucked under his arm. "Bonjour, ma chere."
Jihl Nabaat Max picked to turn to page 42!

This page has not been written yet. Let us observe...

Jihl flips a page in her book, reaching down to the floor beneath her where she has a water glass, aa pen, and a pad of paper sitting there, in easy reach. She takes off the pen cap, bites down at it, and starts writing - normally she has firm, small script, but it flowing and large now; it seems this is more for personal consumption then Jihl-Queen(oh she wishes)-of-Nabaat sort of situation.

Jihl looks up, briefly, then frowns; maybe one of her wards pinged her. But -- nope, there's a sudden Max right next to her, and she tilts her head at him, before asking:

"Don't you know the meaning of the word 'knock?'" She eyes the flowers, but her attraction is on the glowy, shiny bauble.
Maximilien "I am vaguely, distantly familiar with the concept as something that other people do for vague, distant reasons, and I am vaguely aware of the dictionary definition, oui," Max replies cheerfully. He just slides the flowers onto her desk; he knows what she wants, he knows where her focus is, he knows what she wants to play with. And he also knows that the best way to hold her interest is to deny it to her. People are easy to mess with, even exceptional people like Jihl; just figure out what they want and keep it away from them for a little while. So he keeps the bauble under his arm as he leans down to steal a kiss; his other hand moves to brush her hair back, and as he pulls away, there's a flower tucked next to her ear. "But it has never meant much to me, as you can see."

"How are you this lovely day, ma chere? I must say, the informality suits you...and yet it does not. Something about the uniform make you...wonderful."

"So what is this book?"
Jihl Nabaat Do not tease the somewhat-happy woman with a hairline trigger temper and better relfexes she lets on with something she she wants. It's terrible, for everyone involved. Post the kiss, she tilts her head up at him.

"I have to prove I trust my own soldiers at some point." She says, with a shrug. "Of course I'm not going to lay around in a armored corset for my whole life." Her nose wrinkles, a somewhat-familiar impish look crossing it.

"I am doing quite well, my dear thief; it is just a history book, one that I picked up out of curiosity. About my own world." She shrugs and hands it over after bookmarking her spot. A hard-back copy is unusually rare.
Maximilien Max had taken some walks around Palumporom in his spare time. He'd been spending a lot more time here lately; getting to know the world, the inhabitants, the way the people behaved. On the one hand, it was interesting - Palumporom was like the more modern lands, but with the familiar magic of the World of Ruin. On the other, it was practical - if he was going to steal from the people Jihl had agreed it was okay for him to steal from, he was going to have to get to know them much better than he had. So he had noticed that these books weren't actually a thing that showed up much in this society; everything was much newer, much cleaner, much sharper around the edges. That included...hell, that exemplified Jihl. In a world of sharp, she was sharp enough to stand out. He liked that.

He was also incredibly wary of that. Nonetheless, he doesn't exactly show that. Max didn't show a lot of things, though; either you got used to him and dealt with it, got mad.

"I rather liked the armored corset," Max replies again, brushing his fingers along her hand as he sntches the book up. "So what curiousity led you to read about your world's history? Did something happen?"
Jihl Nabaat Jihl knows he has been; PSICOM troops are everywhere and Jihl has made sure her agents know exactly what one Max-the-thief looks like, along with disguises that she might think he's in, and where he (isn't) probably going to steal from. Jihl is that kind of woman; she wants Max for something or the other, and him stealing is a important part of this plan.

Her smile is sharp; it helps her stand out.

"A ... templar, I suppose, of this god named 'Ajora' came into our city." She says, tilting her hand lazily as she sits up properly on the couch, shrugging. "A rat-like little fellow, damned if I can't remember his name."

"So I got curious about the mythology and history behind the stories I've heard as a child."
Maximilien Jihl is very intelligent. It's another mark in her favor; she's clever enough and has the machines at her disposal to disseminate information she possesses to a wide crowd. Most of the time, they've even been able to surveil him; he picked up on it a day into one of his visits in Palumporom, because of a lax soldier who made a single simple mistake. From then on, he'd remained in his own clothes and hair when he wanted her to see, but he'd done a little...on-the-sly, magically-aided costumes. Hair-color, eye-color, crouching, tilting, robes, a fake beard...all sorts of ways to fool people if you put a mind to it, to become an entirely different person, to step out of your own skin so completely that that other person's life becomes yours. Stepping outside himself was Max's greatest talent, or one of them; his ability to remove himself from any series of events and act purely mechanically, no matter how interesting or heated or miserable those events became.

Max settles onto the couch with her with some impressive contortionism and a re-locating of the glowing sphere, which he rests squarely on his stomach as he grins at her. "Tell me about your gods, ma chere. You already told me that they rule your world, that they built your world, and that they war. And you told me something else, but here, far from the safety and isolation of my cabin, I think I will not say."

"Tell me about your stories, ma chere."
Jihl Nabaat "This is what I know, as was told to me by my mother..."

Although Jihl's eyes fall to Max's stomach as he reclines on the couch, she takes up a bard-like seat, her voice canting and sing-songing the story. She was taught well. "There were three goddesses built; the Hallowed Pulse, the Fell Lindzei, and the goddess Etro. Pulse created the world known as 'Gran Pulse', while Lindzei created our own Cocoon."

"All gods created the fal'Cie to serve as protectors and caretakers of the two worlds, but... Lindzei and Pulse were gone without a trace. They disappeared, as deities seem to do."

Jihl looks up. "Our legends say it was the goddess Etro who saved us from Ragnarok during the war; but I believe I mentioned that."
Maximilien "It is very odd to me, to live in a world in which gods are truths, and not faraway abstracts who may or may not be listening. It is very odd to me, to dwell in a world in which the physical representations of your gods are present." Max works one of his arms around her as she sings the way her mother did, singing the stories of her people for him. You could tell a lot about people from their mythology, normally; people's beliefs told you pretty much everything about them, especially how they behave, but that was only true when gods weren't real, breathing things. "Then again, I suppose it is very odd to you to hear about gods that are faraway abstracts, and leaps of faith."

He reaches over to tug her close to him again, his fingers against her hair. "I suppose that you are wondering very much what this thing I have been holding is, are you not?"
Jihl Nabaat Jihl nominally rebuffs his insistence on getting up close and cuddly; she's just not that type of woman. However, he then promptly bribes her by asking her the very question that she's been thinking about, and she narrows her eyes at him, her face impassively set aside from that.

Finally, she nods. "It is very weird to hear about it. We give thanks and pray to those we can see working for us on a daily basis..." She chuckles, then trails off. /Others/ give thanks, at least.

"But I do! Share!"
Maximilien Max keeps the smug grin off his face for now. He got what he wanted; now he'd give her what she wanted. That was the basis of their...relationship? Was that even the right word for it? He hesitated to use that word. A relationship where neither side trusted the other wasn't a /relationship/, not really. Or maybe it was; Max couldn't really say. Maybe this was a relationship, maybe this was the real way they go. The fairy tale relationships didn't really exist; they were just two people, hiding things from each other, and being aware of the secrets in the air.

Then again, right now, he didn't really care what he should call it.

Max fiddles with the orb, then cracks it with his hand. "A distraction," he replies cheerfully, drawing forth from it a much smaller glowing ball. It sparks and sputters with power, pure, elemental power; Max presses it into her hands.

"On many worlds, there is a holiday called Valentine's Day. People celebrate their romantic entanglements and encounters by giving each other presensts. I have not oft had cause to celebrate, so I thought that I might take the opportunity now. It is a few days early, of course, but..." Max waves his hand. "Time among the worlds, it is...*unreliable* at best, oui? Douteux."

"This is called Materia. A gift from another world; pure, crystallized magic. If one unlocks its secrets, one can use real magic as though they were a trained mage, though only the magic locked in the sphere itself. I thought it might appeal to you, mmm? And I know someone who has access to plenty of Materia, so..."

"Happy Valentine's Day."
Jihl Nabaat It is a odd and strangely endearing relationship, they have; it being a give-take sort of basis, it also means that either one of them could call it off at any time,. Which is absolutely terrible in the whole way. Jihl tilts her head, arching an eyebrow as she takes the Materia from him.

She stands, then, and takes it to the window; this high up, she's got the last of the pure, unfiltered sunlight from Phoenix streaming through her windows. She holds it up there, examining it for several minutes, before she looks back at Max.

"This does magic. Proper magic. What /kind/ of magic?" She presses him, a geninune smile crossing her lips.


"... thank you."
Maximilien "Healing. It will let you heal people, truly heal people of their wounds. It will not heal their maladies, their sicknesses, their weaknesses...but it is a start. I do not think you would want something powerful, ehn? You do not seem like the type to want something you could not control right off the bat. Except me, of course. I am fairly sure that you still want me." He smirks and snags one of the flowers, placing it in front of his face. It just makes him look more smug.

"But you are most welcome, ma chere." He doesn't stand, of course; he's too busy looking around the room and enjoying the view.

And quietly hating himself a little bit.
Jihl Nabaat Jihl's walk is noiseless as she stares into the small green/whiteish colored materia that she holds in her grip. For someone who has so frequently, so often used her power more for harm than good, to suddenly be able to do something that only those branded l'cie can - the chance to /seriously/ use magic - it is a gift that means more than Max probably will ever realize.

She schools herself back to that half-not-quite-not-creepy smile, looking at him, raising an eyebrow.

"Well... once again, thank you." She knows something is up here.
Maximilien "No trouble at all. I will have to find more of them for you; I expected you would enjoy it." Max slides his arms around her waist when she gets up to the couch, dragging her down into his arms as he does so - he's not a physically STRONG man, but nor is he weak, and the element of surprise may be enough to topple Jihl the way he wants her to fall.

"There are other traditions for Valentine's Day - chocolates, wines - but they were so much more common. And you are not a common woman, and I am certainly not a common man. I am sure you will make much more use of this than I would, regardless."

He offers her one of those charming smiles, tightening his arms around her. "Do you want me to come by and teach you how to use it, ma chere? My schedule is quite free at the moment, after all~..."
Jihl Nabaat Jihl is more entranced with the materia than Max, which is why, in a quick movement, he's able to pull her down against him on the couch, barely retaining her grip on that utterly precious marble-like stone. She wraps her hands around it, turning her head to try to see his face as they consider each other -

Well, she considers his statements.

She smiles. "Come watch me fail, a few times, you mean." She chuckles as she says this - magic has not always been Jihl's strong part, and well, that admission means a /lot/, all things considered.

"Are all materia so... colorful like this?"
Maximilien "There are so many of them," Max replies, his hand settling onto the Materia and closing around her own. "They are multitude...a beautiful, dancing multitude. Some of them are red...some are yellow...some are blue, some are green...their functions are keyed, in fact, to their color. They all do such mysterious things. I am certain you will find exploring them to be..."

Max presses his lips against hers. "A wonderful hobby," He murmurs into her lips, helping hers form the same words as his fingers disappear into her hair. "And I am certain that each failure will bring you that much closer to success. Perhaps I will help motivate you while you train."

"I clearly made a mistake giving that to you so early. I should have waited until I had your be jealous of a rock!" Max smirks. He's clearly no such thing. He's just trying to enjoy himself. Stepping out of the situation.

The one that's really bothering him, not this one.
Jihl Nabaat "They sound beautiful." Jihl says. "I just do not understand how it works, though, it is just -- will? They use the orb and make the world /create/ the magic the orb personifies, like a healing spell, and it will be done? I understand that concept, yet it is so... strange."

Knowledge. Jihl thirsts for knowledge, and even above that, his mouth distracting hers as his hand curls up in her long her, she wants power, that Max is teasing her with. THe power of HIS knowledge. She then pouts, her lips tugging down.

"The rock is telling me more than you are!"
Maximilien "Oh?" Max asks after a moment, seeming genuinely surprised; his eyes widen a bit, and his tone is a touch off. "So you would rather I tell you all the interesting things now, rather than let you discover them for yourself? You would rather I open the archives of my knowledge and let it come tumbling out, my spells and my Materia and my magic weapons and everything that I know about magic? I always find that women appreciate a good mystery. A mystery keeps a woman interested, after all."

"And I want you to stay interested in me for a good, long time, ma chere."

"So of course the rock is being forthcoming; the rock will have your attention forever, after all." Max laughs, moving to push the Materia somewhere more comfortable for them both with one hand, tucking his other under her hair. "While I only have your attention fleetingly."

"I suppose I will answer one more question, though. What would you like to know, ma chere?"
Jihl Nabaat Jihl growls as Max manages to hit the issue right on the nose. "Yes, I /want/ the knowledge, but I don't want it just /given/ to me, I want it to come at my beck and call, I want it to lay itself into my bones, so that I know it intimately like I do the spiderwebs on the palm of my hand."

Knowledge IS power, after all.

She allows him to gently nudge the materia gem into a wedge on the couch where it won't be in the way, humming in her throat as she finally asks, curiosity edged: "Where does materia come from? What makes it?"
Maximilien Max doesn't smug-smile. His eyes do, but he doesn't. He's very good at reading people, Max; even people who try very hard to not be read have their little tells, their little ticks and foibles and follies that shape their personality. Jihl was a rampant perfectionist, a control freak, a woman who needed to either be in charge or be given orders to give to other people. She needed to know things so she could act on them, or she needed to dig for things so she could learn how to act and incorporate it into her. Max liked that about her; more people needed to be like that, willing to earn and not just take.

But...did he love that about her?

It was, in fact, a question that was bothering him greatly right now. Did he love her? Did he even /believe/ in love anymore? Had he ever?

Still, right here, right now, in her apartment, was not the place to have that discussion. Max tilts his head back a bit, thinking. "As I was told it, Materia are crystallized energy from the planet they come from. I do not know how nor why they work, nor what they are; only that little bit."

"But that was two questions, ma chere."
Jihl Nabaat Perfectionist, even rampant, a control freak - these are all decent descriptors of the woman known as Jihl Nabaat, but in the end, that is just one controlling - and probably the biggest - facet that makes up the woman as a whole. CAn he love that? Can Max truly love someone like that?

Time will tell.

"Oh, I'm sorry."

Jihl is not sorry at all.

"I'll make up for it."
Maximilien The real question wasn't '/can/' Max love her. Of course he is capable of it, probably - somewhere inside him is the capacity to care for another human being completely, like anyone else in the world. He is probably able to convince himself that he loves her; he is probably able, with time, to really mean it. But that is not the real question, because it depends upon the real question:

Is Max even willing to really try?

"I know," Max replies cheerfully. The mask is set tight on his real face; layers upon layers hide away the man he really is.

The guilty man.

This scene contained 24 poses. The players who were present were: Maximilien, Jihl Nabaat