Log:Birds of Different Feathers Flock Together
It had been another late night, as it often was. Phoenix had a private performance for a client followed by the remainder of the night at their entertainment. He had collapsed back into the corner of the communal sleeping area that he inhabited with others in exhaustion. With others getting up and moving about and off about their activities, he finally stirs, running both hands through hair a bit mussed from sleep, the marks around his wrists still a little raw but less red than the previous evening. The muscles of his shoulders roll, the ink along his biceps making the thorned spiraling vines shift.
Eden has been awake a while, but hasn't yet stirred from motion, a piece of stillness and quiet observation on the sly while lounging with partial doze and relaxation. Her still silences are pretty notorious and have their own personalities as much as if she were having a conversation in full, sometimes people can see the gears ticking behind her calm eyes. But none of the silences are ever thick and pressing, she has a way about being quiet that's comfortable and doesn't feel the need to fill the air with words when it doesn't suit, and sometimes, those silences are for her as much as she gives them to others as a balm. Also, when she's not putting on, it gives her time to watch.
Maybe it's why people are her forte, the way she's spent a lifetime listening, observing, empathically picking up on body cues, reading between the lines of what makes people tick and be human. She does it with the Fortunate as much as she does it with Callers, and so, she lies doing that now, watching people rise and stir and sleep in turns.
When Phoenix gets up, though, she gives up the ghost of appearing restful over thoughtful and sits up herself, "Good morning. Let's get you in the hot water and take some of the stiffness out. I could use it too and I believe many have already had their time there. It will be quiet."
AKA they'll be able to talk while preparing their bodies and minds for the day, probably uninterrupted.
From the time they were children, Eden's known how to read Phoenix, the shifting moods that are often carried in the way that he moves, the tension in his shoulders, the hardness in his eyes, or the weariness, or the restlessness. Like a big cat, the sort that most have only seen in old photographs, he moves with grace and strength. Drawing himself up, he wears nothing at all when he sleeps, and there's no hint of self-consciousness about his body -- not that he has any reason to have any.
He's aware that Eden is there, aware of her presence and her eyes, as he always is, but he only lets his gaze shift in her direction when she speaks to him and he gives her a small nod, turning toward the baths and the warm water there. It is probably the one greatest luxury that he appreciates for being a Fortunate, the soothing heat of the water on sore muscles. He finds one of the alcoves and eases himself slowly into the water. There are other marks along his body, the evidence left behind from the previous evening's entertainments, nothing that would permanently mar his flesh, but enough to leave an ache the following day.
Eden rises, and for sleeping, she's much less adorned than she is when she steps out. Losing the simple pale pink wrap shift of soft fabric she's lounging in, she trails after Phoenix once standing. Her eyes trail his body as they migrate to sink down into the warm communal public bath tub of luxury, one of those rarities in this dead world life they're entitled to and require as part of their given lot in Sanctuary.
It's a platonic assessing, of course, such lengthy eyes paid to the man's nude form, catching on the marks left from entertaining. They all have their leanings and specialties, this is not uncommon for her to see on him, but it's not the thing people generally come to her for. Sometimes, she gets curious, "Your Caller must have left pleased." Easing down into the water, Eden still has that 'bearing' about her that's grace efflluent, both practiced and innate. But with Phoenix in the tub next to her and no one else paying mind in passing or around, she actually melts down to float and lose a portion of that in favor of let-loose ease.
Then she tacks on, "But was a part of you sated as well?"
Phoenix is used to the assessment, the study of what can be read from him by Eden's gaze. Were it someone else, he might snarl at them, give them a hard glare. But not her. Unlike others, he lets her read him. There's no threat in it, there's no discomfort in it. Once he eases himself into the water, he lifts it in his cupped hand and rubs it over his face, letting it spill down his neck and chest with an audible sigh.
There are many things that callers look for from Phoenix, and exactly what that is depends on the caller. He is a far more complicated creature than he appears on the surface, and which part one sees depends often on what they seek to take from him.
When she eases herself into the water next to him and lets herself relax, he allows his eyes to move over to her, to study her in kind. While he's never been one to look away from her, or to show any particular deference in public -- in quiet moments, the distance in his eyes ebbs, and the comfortable familiarity and fondness touches them. His voice is quiet, soft as he lets his shoulders relax. "He did," he agrees, rubbing lightly at his wrists where the bonds had dug in tight. And then after a moment or two he nods. "I needed it," as he sometimes does, when the cage walls close in too tight, and the restlessness and urge to flee it gets strong.
"Good." Eden's simple reply is very weighted and soft, but it carries extreme genuine meaning. Companions do not do what they do for themselves, of course, but if there's proxy satiation to be attained by time with a Caller, she thinks it a boon. A necessary boon in Phoenix's case. While she's not fond of the idea of violence being doled to him when she lets herself think too much about it, she knows there's something about that and the control of bindings that help him outlet from time to time.
In fact, she's known times when Phoenix has found himself struggling and needing something to wear him down over the years, something to fight and strain against so that he doesn't lash out on the very designed system they live in. She's no stranger to offering to bind him tight in these times in private. It doesn't have the violence, of course, but it's control that she thinks sometimes keeps him together, prevents him from flying apart in a way that would spur him to regrettable actions.
Eden perhaps picked Phoenix to be her closest so long ago because she likes a challenge, and she has the steady hook of an anchor she knew would suit. They are opposite, but still, those opposites compliment.
After soaking for a time and sliding under the water completely to wet her hair while submerged and relaxing, she makes commentary that's one of her ways of coaxing elaboration instead of straight inquiry, "You were with the party that was attacked recently during exchange. I imagine that was a to-do." Because it wasn't just raiders or waste dangers, it was Devil Boys and they're the most organized and elusive enemies out there.
In truth, it's the binding that he needs more than the violence, but there are callers for whom the need to lash out at someone stronger than themselves, to see the Fortunate sate their need for something they can't take out in other ways, and he is willing to take that, at times, as well. But there are times that his own beast rages to lash out, in frustration, in anger, and in those times, the sure and steady hands and their gentle control is what he very much needs, to strain against the bonds until his strength wanes and he has no more within him, and the calm comes once more.
Phoenix has always found Eden's presence to be calming, soothing, and it wasn't long before he trusted her with this, his beast. She'd proven that she could more than handle it. And he'd surrendered it to her to help tame. He knows the strength in her softness, she the vulnerability in his strength.
He dunks his head under the water and runs fingers through it, washing it with the accoutrements provided, and bathing himself slowly now that his muscles have begun to un-stiffen.
"They sent boarders onto the People Wagon," he says as he studies the water in front of him. "Better we were attacked on the way out than the way back when there were children in the wagon." He glances over at her and says, "Cinder didn't handle it well. And when I spoke to him later, he didn't remember it -- said he may have blacked out. I told him he needs to talk to someone."
"Given where Monitor Locke told me the attack happened, the distance marks, and the fact that it was during approach, not return with children on board..." Eden considers the explanation she'd been given the night before officially, the things she'd heard before that, and this piece from Phoenix spurs what she's been thinking on ever since she heard, "This is good." It's not GOOD, it was a Devil Boys attack! But collectively speaking, it WAS better that they were ambushed when they were, and Eden has found an assurance while looking between the lines of the details, "That means they were probably not aware of what the caravan planned to bring back. It may have even been a chance encounter. We remain one step ahead, even when they're at our backs. Their impatient temperament works to our benefit."
Her way of saying that paints Sanctuary and its people and protectors superior, of course, but it's implied she knows as a diplomat what damage and danger the organization and violent, near fanatical ideology this gang represents. It's good to know the party wasn't tracked down, scouted to exchange zone, then attacked while carrying precious cargo, instead." Not that security is her area or anything, but her duties require her to think like other parties, so she's highly attentive to these details by habit.
But then Eden switches her focus and contemplation to the subject of Cinder and even though the woman rarely sighs, there's something about her eyes that Phoenix knows, the set of her mouth. It's a silent sigh that doesn't exist to most of the outside world, "I will be speaking with Cinder in private quite soon. We have spent time with small breathing and coping tactics, but it is not enough. I believe it's time for a different angle. It's imperative I change his mindset to abate his anxieties and fears. I cannot attack the fears themselves with tactic. Fear is too irrational and deep for such things. I have to adjust what causes it if he truly thinks Patronage is his path."
Does Eden think it's his path? She wouldn't say either way, in the end, it will not be her decision, she is a facilitator to possibility, instead, "It is important to strive and have goals. He will find his suitable place, I hope, in time. He seems restless, seeking other ways to fullfill with matchmaking and such. I did not want to tell him in public it is a double edge, to meddle with others just so, despite good intentions. I will be addressing that too, I am not so sure that is the striving he needs to fill whatever is hollowing him out lately."
"Perhaps," Phoenix acknowledges. The tactics of the Devil Boys and the reasons behind their attack are a mystery to him. He only shares what he observed, and little more than that. "They weren't in good shape when we left them. So perhaps they didn't observe us on the return." Though they might have. Of that, he can't be sure. He continues the slow working over of his muscles beneath the water, and the cleansing of his body to prepare for the day as they speak, his attention divided between the conversation and the water.
"I just told him he needs to get his shit together, because no one is going to come to him with their secrets, the way that he seems to pride himself on it, if they can't trust him not to break down, black out, and tell them to anyone who will listen, then forget he's done so." He looks over at her seriously. "That's dangerous." Dangerous for Cinder. Dangerous for the callers that trust in him. He's been protecting Cinder since they were children from those who would pick on him or try to beat them up. He's gotten in trouble with the Monitors on more than one occasion for fighting on behalf of the other Fortunate. But it seems that this recent development has him.. concerned, in a way that Phoenix rarely expresses concern for others.
He makes no comment on the matchmaking other than to give a small snort.
Eden won't talk like this with others, just Phoenix. She believes it gossipy if she makes an exchange about others in the Cage most other times, but her nature also prefers listening and observing to know everything she needs to know, and then some. And even with Phoenix... when she talks like this, she rarely actually says an ill word and tends to lean toward constructive and objective, words laced through with occasional sympathetic benefit of the doubt. But he'll see little signs, like that silent sigh before, when people start to wear on her or become a task, and she //certainly// doesn't disagree when he goes his way of bluntly telling it like it is. In fact, she seems to take satisfaction in hearing him say things she won't say sometimes.
Sloshing slowly through the water with her own arms in drag, the brunette watches the water ebb and move in trails behind her motion, thinking visibly before speaking with weight, "It is dangerous. Cinder tends to see what's in front of him, not in panorama to see the distance too. Sometimes he does not feel which way the wind is blowing until it's too late. He must control what he feels when he starts feeling too much, it makes him erratic. //You// do what you can for this tendency, and so must he."
The way Eden's face is, it's clear that this talk is giving her other ideas on how to speak or what to speak on with Cinder when it's time. For his benefit, of course, as well as the benefit of the collective. She's incredibly quiet and if she feels one way or another other than objective, it's unclear, because she's not saying.
That's the tricky part of Eden that might well bite her one day, this need to focus on the problems, desires, and feelings of everyone else. Because even when she //does// talk to Phoenix about things, she rarely has the subject on herself or how she feels about anything. It's not that she's not emotive or expressive, she's that in abundance, and she definitely feels plenty of things, but it's all tucked and hidden in favor of duty and care for others. It's also entirely possible she does that so much, she isn't sure what her own desires actually are. She barely spends lux, and Phoenix knows she has a stockpile, even with the fact most of her regulars are actually Monitors that give her no lux return in trade.
Speaking of lux, Eden suddenly breaks the silence with a look aside at Phoenix and offering, "You spent lux to accompany outside, I imagine. I am sitting on too much. I should perhaps think of something to do with it, but I want you to have your outings and air. I will give you my excess, if you like."
And that is where they sometimes compliment one another as well. Phoenix will say the things that the diplomat can't, or won't, in the interest of constructive and supportive words. He is the blunt instrument, at times, whether the situation calls for it or not. It's not that he's incapable of support, or even of diplomacy -- he just doesn't utilize either with any great frequency. There's a glance over toward her when she mentions what he must do to control his tendencies, and he nods. Control is something that he sometimes has to fight for. And it is a fight. He acknowledges that. And yet, he still does what he must in order to keep himself in check.
He doesn't seem to have more to say on Cinder, though. He's registered his concern, expressed it as far as he is willing to, and he will likely not mention it again. He lets them lapse into silence. He knows that she will rarely speak of herself, and what she wants. He's become accustomed to that from her. He also knows that, to push her to do so rarely ends in the desired result and so he rarely pushes.
He almost always spends his Lux on the ability to travel away from Sanctuary, for one reason or another. He owns almost nothing other than his equipment, which is where the rest of his Lux tends to go. "You should do something for yourself," Phoenix says to her when she makes the offer with a shake of his head. "You should do something that gives you pleasure, and contentment." He's never accepted a gift before, and it's not likely he ever will, seeing it as charity. He earns his breaths of the outside world, every one.
Just like Phoenix doesn't push, Eden doesn't foist baubles on him pushily in the name of care, either. She understands the earning principle without even speaking about it, he's just that way. But it never stops her from offering here and there, so that he knows if he's ever short and //needs// that air in a way that's dire, she'll make it just so.
Everyone tends to like or respect Eden, it's hard not to, and she rarely plays outward favorites with anything, especially lately given her Patronage elevation. She believes in being an approachable example of how to thrive as a Fortunate. But sometimes that means a little bit of distance too, to be the pinnacle that some others strive to be. Phoenix is her haven from that. She's not a model for him to follow, he knows who he is and she knows too. They get to be themselves.
"I do not know what to do with it. Before, when I was familiarizing myself with travel in preparation for diplomatic treks, I sat on less of it, but that was purposeful and related to task." Now Eden gets to go out because it's in her job description here and there, and she never seemed restless or ready to fly the coop anyway. But she hears what Phoenix is telling her, in degrees, and she quirks a slanting smile, "I know. I should take care of myself too. I will think on it. Perhaps it will be a small excursion where I only require the time of a single Monitor as escort."
Yeah, Phoenix probably knows exactly which Monitor she'd ask to do that, even if she's not wittingly thinking about it at the moment. He's not an idiot. Again, Eden doesn't outwardly play favorites much, but as personal acquaintainces, he knows who happens to always get some of her time when she's saturated with other duties.
And it seems that he knows it. Whenever he declines her, it's not without a small faint smile of appreciation, where others might get a growl or a snarl in response. No, he knows the spirit in which she makes the offer, and he knows that she'll never take offense when he declines. That's the nature of that little dance between them, each time that it occurs. Theirs is a balance, easy, and comfortable, a sort of relationship that he doesn't have with anyone else in Sanctuary. Neither of them needs to be more or less than themselves.
There's no doubt that he knows to which Monitor that she's referring. He dips his head and says, "You deserve to let your feet carry you where they will for reasons only your own from time to time, not at someone else's pleasure. You deserve company and conversation that you've chosen, because it's something you wish for, ever so often." He very lightly brushes his fingertips across her shoulder and nods when she acknowledges that she needs to take care of herself as well.
He rises then, from the water, to pull a towel around himself. "If only for a breath away from all that you do," for everyone else, are the words he leaves unspoken.
"I suppose you're perfectly right, as you usually are." Eden says to Phoenix, smiling suddenly as an aside after the touch to her shoulder. She watches him get out of the pool of communal water, unabashed and thoughtful, still treading slowly through the surface with her arms at idle swish and play here and there. Then she stretches out to just float, no posture, no bearing, no duty, bidden where the communal tub confines let her body drift and glide weightlessly.
When her eyes close, she seems to be proving a point that she's very much relaxing and at least taking some Eden-time this way in quiet, no need to stand tall at all for a while, "I will think about how to do that. But Phoenix..."
After a beat, she continues with what's clearly a joke, eyes still closed, "It will be your fault when I get the wanderlust and we fly the coop on a whim one day. I hope you are ready for the resulting doom."
It's funny because it's Eden saying it. Her flying the coop? Pffft.
"Have a good day, sweets."