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Believe me, I know (Private w/ Ishi)

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1 Believe me, I know (Private w/ Ishi) on Wed Oct 31, 2018 3:03 am

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It was rare for Val to find herself called into a disturbance call nowadays. Honestly, the citizens of the city themselves have been fairly well behaved in the light of recent conflicts related to the looming pirate menace and even the Grimm themselves. Rare, but not unheard of.

Valerie had earned a bit of prestige from her veteran status for most of the recent crises. In fact, she was a minor celebrity now, even going as far as to have a few children praising and imitating her. This would always leave her with a small smile, followed by a massive tug on her heart as she knew that their adoration was unfounded for someone like her, yet she could never bring herself to correct it. Those kids didn't deserve that.

Her status had also cursed her with another side effect, and that was that many of the citizens contacted her directly to deal with situations that they themselves could not handle simply because she had a record for being dependable. It didn't bother her much though, after all, helping the community was helping the community.

The address this time was to a bar in the midst of downtown Bellmuse, and that complicated things a bit more. Val clipped her gun into the holster so that it couldn't be drawn without considerable effort on the part of any would-be attacker. She'd been through this enough times to know the plays in the book of most drunkards, but most of those plays included erratic and unforseeable behavior. That was something that she had just come to expect by now though, just a biproduct of mind-numbing repetition.

There, however, was no training that she had ever recieved that would help her to deal with the subject in question that she was brought to see after stepping through the front door.

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2 Re: Believe me, I know (Private w/ Ishi) on Wed Oct 31, 2018 3:13 am

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Ishi is a man of many things. A man of great sadness. A man who gets drunk everyday until he passes out. His body literally heals itself, so that's the easy part. Speaking of, it wasn't 8 in the afternoon; so why had Ishi downed about 15 drinks? Why was he drunk before 8, and why was it because he was sad and just felt like drowning it?

Well; those are questions for sober Ishi to ponder. This was drunk Ishi; who was disallowed more drinks. Truly a sad thing. Something that he really wished he wasn't disallowed. That would mean he could drink for what came through that door.

What came through the door? Well, his worst nightmare in fact. Valerie Bird. Whatever that bird was. Or something. He'd remember when he was sober. Drunk Ishi's job was to exist. Somewhat. That job was messed with when Valerie came in through the door.

Ishi immediately shoved himself off the seat he was on; moving towards Valerie. Not very well, mind you. Stumbling and all that. His eyes weren't even really full of spite or anything. They were more filled with 'this person won't stop existing and I'm not okay with that' type feeling. It's not that he actually wanted her to stop existing. It was that she wouldn't stop being both competent and calm. Like, who does that? Why both!? Made Ishi look like a scrub in comparison.

"YEW! STOP BEIN' NICE! OR COMPETENT! CHOOSE ONE!"

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3 Re: Believe me, I know (Private w/ Ishi) on Wed Oct 31, 2018 3:28 am

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There was a brief pause in Val's thinking as she blinked to process the situation currently going on before her, or rather, at her. It seemed that this tirade was somewhat at her own expense, though she couldn't think of a reason as to what she had done to offend him. One part of her wnated to remember to ask when he was sober, but the other half of her wrote it off as he was clearly incredibly intoxicated. On the subject, Val was surprised to see one of her teachers drinking, but then again, they were adults and did have the right to do so. Something still felt slightly off about it though, not just the drinking, but the situation as a whole.

Valerie peered around the room to see no one else in her besides the bartender. It seemed that he cleared the place after Ishi started causing whatever problems that he happened to cause. A wise decision likely, but it was her job to remove him, and that she would do.

She grabbed him by the cuff of his wrist and gave a gentle tug to try to stimulate his sensory index and overcome the intoxication.

"Hey. We need to go. They aren't gonna serve you here anymore tonight, so we need to leave. I'm here to make sure we get to our next stop without complications Mr. Omo." Val spoke softly and tugged again, waving with her other hand and pointing to the door to clearly indicate her intent.

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4 Re: Believe me, I know (Private w/ Ishi) on Wed Oct 31, 2018 3:36 am

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MR.OMO!? ONLY BUSINESS PARTNERS CALLED HIM THAT! NOT SOME SMALL CHILD WHO'S BARELY OFF THE BUS! How could this happen! She was trying to simulate his sensory index. How could she? Only he could do that. Only on tuesdays. Or was that something else? Who knows, that's for sober Ishi to figure out. If it weren't for the fact that he could barely walk, he'd be more in her face. However, when she suggested leaving and tugged him a second time, he couldn't believe it. The AUDACITY of this young lady.

Valerie 'I'm a responsible person' Bird, who refuses to just let Ishi sit and cry is silence. 'They won't be giving him anymore drink,' but he'd pay them so much. He'd even buy them, were he sober. He probably owned them. He wasn't sure. He has bought a lot of things and a lot of places. Thus the struggle of being Ishi; you do business deals when sober and drunk, making most of the good choices drunk. It's impressive how one could manage it.

One might think that he'd resist going to the door; but it was more the struggle of getting there.

"Valapal. Do you think that I could ever be good; I mean. Have you seen my past?"

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5 Re: Believe me, I know (Private w/ Ishi) on Wed Oct 31, 2018 3:54 am

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When it was clear that he was cooperating, yet struggling to walk himself to the door, Val let go of his wrist and instead wrapped his arm over her shoulder to put most of the burden on herself. Her wings made it even easier, considering that one of them could practically wrap around his entire shoulder-span, which then did to brace him in the most secure manner she had.

"No, I don't. It's not my job or my business to know about that." Valerie grunted out when they started moving. "It is in my code to make sure that you do not harm yourself or others. That's the extent of what I'm going to force on you, but that is an absolute factor that I won't be compromising."

It seemed like he was dealing with something after all, but this wasn't the time to deal with that. With all portions of the situation considered, the best course for them to take right now would be silence. That seemed unlikely, however, as he demonstrated symptoms of alcohol onset sociopathy. Simplified: he's a dramatic drunk.

All the more reason to hurry up and get him home. Luckily, she already had the address and didn't have to try to extract that from him.

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6 Re: Believe me, I know (Private w/ Ishi) on Wed Oct 31, 2018 4:04 am

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Ishi felt the wing go around his back and all that; and leered at Valerie's face. The face of a nice person. Gross. Well; it wasn't realistically her face that made him sick. It was the copious amount of booze. 'Not hurting others' Sure, he agreed with that. He didn't like hurting willy nilly. Only to find new ways to heal them. It was a service, honestly. If he didn't do that, at least two more people would've died. Probably. It was mostly his semblance doing the shock and awe work. Pain medication was just a side effect.

Now, he had a bigger problem. This bigger problem was being slowly dragged along by Valapalaerie. Or something like that. That was probably her name. Wait, no. It's Valerie. There we go. His healing aura was starting to kick in, which displeased him. He'd take the arm that was being held by the wing and dig into his coat; of which he'd drag out a flask. It contained booze. It smelt like booze.

He'd drink it if no one stopped him. He hoped no one stopped him; but he didn't have high hopes that no one would stop him. He did have Valerie right there, and that was just like, a buzz killer.

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7 Re: Believe me, I know (Private w/ Ishi) on Wed Oct 31, 2018 12:55 pm

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For the briefest of moments, there was calm and silence. It seemed like there was the chance for this whole situation to be resolved much more quickly than probability would have dictated, and that made Valerie a bit more pleased than she had been coming in to this ordeal.

She then noticed Ishi reaching for something, and that alone triggered an instinct from her days in the ERT that told her to proceed with caution. Her hand floated to the holster of her gun and moved the clip, allowing her to draw the gun at a moments notice. She stayed this way as he dug around in his pocket and pulled out the object, and eventually, she sighed and moved the clip back into place upon noticing that it was nothing more than a flask. Though she wasn't going to let him get more drunk than he already was, as it was already something of a chore to help him walk.

Once he went to take a drink from it, Val would reach her free hand over and attempt to snatch it from his grasp with a tight fist and a scolding demeanor.

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8 Re: Believe me, I know (Private w/ Ishi) on Wed Oct 31, 2018 2:41 pm

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Despite his drunken demeanour; he did notice the hand move. It was also an instinct he had from being an assassin. He was too drunk to do anything about anything; doesn't mean he didn't notice. He didn't move to react; nothing but his eyes moved. It was a pretty easy thing to notice. It also told him a copious amount about her.

He didn't care much about it. Going for your gun when someone reached in their pocket is a trained action. Something that he used to do. He didn't do it anymore. Typically he's too drunk. The other part, is he hasn't been in any danger. Not in the last like, 10 days at least. Probably 6 years. He hasn't been in real danger since he's been an assassin.

He also has no problem still murdering. He doesn't like it; and he doesn't want to do it more than once. That'd mean coming back to who he used to be, a man who murdered a lot of people. One murder every once in a while. Not that he's murdered except for out of self defense. That was the only time he did it. But, this moping was stopped when words decided to deal with his emotions.

"I'm touched you think I'm worth going to your gun for, and I get that you're scolding me. But, my damned healing factor kicked in and now I'm sobering up. It makes it worse. I only got to be drunk for like...30 minutes. What a low amount of time."

He'd let go of the flask and take his arm off her shoulder. The only reason he got away with a lot of what he did, is because his body literally wouldn't let himself die. It was something he had taken advantage of multiple times.

"So, uh. Why'd they call you in? Is it cause of the stupid dragon thing?"

He could stand now; but his reaction speed was still almost in the negatives, and his head hurt. For multiple reasons, but that was no matter.

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9 Re: Believe me, I know (Private w/ Ishi) on Wed Oct 31, 2018 5:40 pm

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"I don't think you should be getting drunk at all Professor. Much less for a half an hour, and hour, however long you planned to be." By now they would have worked their way out of the bar and onto the street at least. Sure, Val was being a bit judgemental, but considering that she was the one having to deal with this call, she kind of had the the right to do so.

Now he was questioning her while she was toting the flask. She secured it into her cargo pocket and briefly straightened out her blouse. Her wings folded back up again and she rolled her shoulders to get out some of the tension as she meandered on the sidewalk.

"Couldn't say why they called me. Could be the Dragon, could be the Nevermore, could be the investigation..... Could be all of them to be honest. Who knows? We have an entire school of people that could do it, but sometimes people prefer consistency. They're drawn to what they already know, and I can't really fault them for that." Val spoke as she looked at the ground, her hands slid into her pockets as she started to relax a bit more.

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10 Re: Believe me, I know (Private w/ Ishi) on Fri Nov 02, 2018 12:41 am

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Not get drunk at all; nyeh. Valerie obviously didn't know why Ishi drank. It's partly because it filled that endless hole in his chest. Which was back, now that his healing factor had properly kicked in. That was no fun. When he was drunk, he didn't have to have responsibilities. He could just exist. Not in any reasonable sense. That was the job for responsible rich people; not Ishi. Who was the bad rich person. Who probably would drink himself to death if it weren't for his damned healing factor.

However. This was right as he noticed her put her hands in her pockets. That gave Ishi roughly .3 seconds if he started to run. He didn't want to deal with Valerie. Once those hands entered those pockets, he decided that he should run.

He bolted forward, and hung a left at the nearest alley. This is where he'd see a dumpster; and to try and look cool, attempt to jump over it. He would jump too late; clip his feet, and fall face first into the dumpster. Once he landed; he'd wait for Valerie to arrive probably no more than a few seconds later.

"LEAVE ME! I AM HOME! IN THE TRASH DUMPSTER!"

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11 Re: Believe me, I know (Private w/ Ishi) on Fri Nov 02, 2018 1:38 am

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There was a slight delay in Val's reaction as she had both been idling with her hands in her pockets, but also looking at the ground. Her faunus heritage did help as she was able to react quickly to the sound of Ishi taking off.

"Hey!" Valerie shouted as she took off after her charge. Of course it had to be a runner. It was always a runner. Val didn't have any less-than-lethal tools currently afforded to her, but he didn't know that. "Stop running! Stop or you're gonna get tased! Stop!"

It was a short sprint before he suddenly rounded the corner and was out of her line of sight. "Damn it all." She lamented as she caught up and rounded the corner just in time to see Ishi meet the business end of a dumpster and vanish into the ether of garbage. She suddenly found her face turning red as she was forced to slow down. "Ha..." She slowly walked towards the dumpster as she gripped her sides and started laughing uncontrollably. "Ahahahahahaha. Oh my gosh. You should... Oh no. Hahahahaha. Look... Look at what you went and got yourself into. Oh..."

His words only went further to spur the comedy of the moment. She started going again, grabbing the wall for support as she was bent over herself laughing, When she started to calm down, she was still speaking in broken English as she restrained herself from laughing any more.

"You.. You do... do realize that if this had been anyone else, that I would be slapping you with an additional... an additional charge for resisting, right?" It was there that Val found herself leaning against the mouth of the dumpster and folding her arms against her chest as she peered in with a slight smirk, and prepared to fish the man out of the dumpster if need be.

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12 Re: Believe me, I know (Private w/ Ishi) on Fri Nov 02, 2018 9:41 pm

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Now admittedly, that last statement had been dramatic. It may have been, dare he say, funny. That's what makes him, him. He does funny things while dealing with his general self loathing and lovely personality. He, despite what might seem like a lack of capability or lacking the capacity, and he laughed from deep in the dumpster. It was his home, he was trash. He was also still vaugely human sometimes. His self-loathing will get back to you on that point later.

Ishi knew that he had to stop being dramatic. Probably. That wasn't his medical opinion. He didn't even have a doctorate in psychology. He barely had one in general.

"A charge? Gee golly gosh; I didn't know you were an a police officer! No wonder why you can catch me so easily! I've always sucked at running from the cops."

He continued his laugh, before raising himself in the dumpster. Even adults had to leave their homes at some point.

"Plus, any charge you place on me I can just pay off. It's my easy way around things."

He wouldn't climb out yet though. There was no point in climbing out until he, just maybe, stopped hating himself enough to despise another person again.

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13 Re: Believe me, I know (Private w/ Ishi) on Fri Nov 02, 2018 10:20 pm

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Val backed away from the dumpster, looking smug as she put her hand forward and pulled her fingers back with each point that she was making. "One: We're huntsmen. We all police the kingdoms we work for. Two: You do know that I was an ERT officer. You watched my memories. Three: Judging from that display, I doubt you're very good at running no matter who it's from."

She dropped her hands and put them on her hips. There was a hint of pout on her face as her expression drifted between annoyance at his arrogance to anticipation. Valerie didn't mention his latest quip, instead she looked back out of the alley until her expression softened once again. "Let's move on. Your home is a long ways off. And don't make me chase you again or else I'll have to detain you."

Val smiled a bit after saying it. She really just wanted to walk and talk more than anything else, but his being difficult was certainly putting a thorn in that plan. With him having seen more of her past than any other, she felt like they'd formed a sort of bond through understanding. He was her teacher, and all she wanted was to get his guidance on the doubts and thoughts she had been having.

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14 Re: Believe me, I know (Private w/ Ishi) on Fri Nov 02, 2018 10:26 pm

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Ishi figured he had to show off...but later? Maybe? He wasn't sure. He could most certainly run; just to show off that he was good at running. He also felt like his home wasn't that far. It was a small jog over. Nothing like when he had run with Maestus, all the way out to the middle of nowhere because of his stupid urge to help these dumb kids who thought they knew it all. 'ERT officer' sounded vaguely like something he had heard before. Not to mention, that insult hurt. He had only misjudged the jump timing and clipped his foot on the edge!

How dare she assume that because he's both overweight and nearly past his prime, that he isn't good at running! He runs away from all of his problems! He's like, an expert at running away from anything and everything. That is literally the one other thing he's really good at. Other than like, doctoring. That's his primary skill. Enough moping about though; he would actually get out of the dumpster. He had enough of his trash home, and needed to go to his actual trash home.

"Detain sounds a little rough; so I think I'll hold off on that one. I'll let you guide the way, and see if you can come around with any sort of conversation."

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15 Re: Believe me, I know (Private w/ Ishi) on Fri Nov 02, 2018 10:34 pm

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Val smiled again as she walked over to his side, making sure that there was no chance of him making another break for it in the nearby future while simultaneously trying to build a connection to talk about some of the things that she had been thinking about in recent times. There had been so much death recently, and there only seemed like there was going to be more. She'd wanted to talk about her thoughts, but now that she had the opportunity, she seemed to be a bit tongue tied on actually bringing it up.

"I bumped into one of my old squadmates from the ERT on one of my service missions for the hospital. He's an EMT now. It's nice since the last time I spoke to him was the night that... Well... You saw what had happened there. It had only gotten worse that night too. He quit the ERT program because he couldn't take it."

She sounded slightly irritated about it. "I guess some people just don't take well to seeing so much death."

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16 Re: Believe me, I know (Private w/ Ishi) on Fri Nov 02, 2018 10:41 pm

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"Happens like that. I've seen a good amount of death in my day; totally desensitized once I had taken my second life. Not to mention; I've lost a good few patients. Death's a rough asshole and people underestimate just how much of one it is. It won't even take me for godsakes; and here it's taken all sorts of good people. That's its problem."

He rubbed his chin; he was not a person one could talk to typically. He was not someone who could deal with emotions of others, much less emotions of his own. That is effectively what makes Ishi who he is. If it wasn't for the fact that he's now a teacher; he'd probably be a drunk in some bar over in Atlas or something. He'd probably get paid well there; but also it just didn't particularly matter. All that mattered is he needs to touch the situation with a light touch.

"I can't blame him though. Doing something like you guys do, it'd ruin most people."

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17 Re: Believe me, I know (Private w/ Ishi) on Fri Nov 02, 2018 10:47 pm

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"Much better have been broken by much less. For some, it's a wonder that they've lasted as long as they have. That's why it's important to have drive. As long as we're alive, we can keep doing the work that needs to be done."

Val looked straight ahead as though she were staring into a void. They had a conversation similar to this before, one about death and what it does to people and it seemed clear that neither of them have budged on the subject. "That's what stress does. Then there are people that feel like they aren't good enough because they lost one patient too many. Maybe they feel like they aren't ready for what really comes next when something unforseen happens."

There was a twisting in her chest as she was lost deep in though about the night that Captain Arrow had died on that beach. She had done all that she could to save his life, only for it to be stolen right in front of her like it was never there to begin with.

"It's not death that's unfair. It's the selfish pigs that use it to their own ends. The same people that kill for greed and without remorse."

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18 Re: Believe me, I know (Private w/ Ishi) on Fri Nov 02, 2018 10:51 pm

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Man, that last line made Ishi's heart twist. Most people didn't know this about Ishi but he used to murder people for a living. Valerie noting what they did would probably mean a single thing. She didn't like Assassin's and their ilk. He had to ponder his wording for his next line quite carefully. That wasn't something he was good at, but hoped he was able to do anyway.

"I don't know. That's where I guess I have to stand. I've seen enough people die in front of me, either from or because I wasn't good enough, and it made something obvious. That, and our last conversation. This conversation. It's made me know one thing at this point. I just don't know."

His heart still hurt. He didn't like Valerie, but it didn't seem she hated him. Especially if she was willing to share all of this with him. He couldn't betray this trust. If he did, what sort of teacher would he be? He had to figure out a way to continue this discussion without denoting much else.

"But. More than anything. We're both still here, yeah?"

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19 Re: Believe me, I know (Private w/ Ishi) on Fri Nov 02, 2018 10:59 pm

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Valerie stayed silent for a moment as she regarded his words in conjunction with her own history. Everything she had done since she left Haven has been for the purpose of redeeming what she had done in her younger years. So many lives lost because she was too stupid to realize that her actions always had consequences. She remembered people begging for her and her 'family' not to take their supplies, but she ignored it because they could always get more.

Right?

"What's the cost of being here though? I've killed...... enough..... people to know what they looked like the last time I saw them every time I close my eyes. It's not enough that I remember that, but now I'm forced to hold people so much better than I ever could hope to be as they take their last breath."

Valerie inhaled deeply as she gathered her thoughts into one concise pile in her mind. "There are times when I take a bit of comfort in knowing that someone trusted me to be there in their final moments."

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20 Re: Believe me, I know (Private w/ Ishi) on Fri Nov 02, 2018 11:05 pm

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"Just because you killed people, doesn't mean you can't start saving people here. While I feel for you that people I save are better than me; there's no point in holding the past with such regard." This may have just been Ishi's feelings seeping out, as he often didn't care about such things. However; the need to help was coming back. He didn't feel it very often, he even thought he had gotten it out when he was a doctor.

He did not.

Such is life.

He knew one thing. The person walking by him was someone who had such personal trauma that they'd never come from under it. He couldn't indentify with that fully. He had enough drugs to forget the past, and if they didn't work, he'd just use booze. That was how he dealt with his problem. Booze, drugs and helping people. He had came to peace with directly murdering at least 20 that he remembered, probably far more that he didn't.

"Look. I suck at empathy. I, for the largest chunk of my life, was a sociopathic doctor of sorts. I can only give what little I can give. I'm sorry I can't give more."

He hadn't ignored the last statement; he felt it good enough to leave alone.

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21 Re: Believe me, I know (Private w/ Ishi) on Fri Nov 02, 2018 11:20 pm

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'He doesn't know how much I've done. I'd be a monster not to carry that burden with me.'

This was all that Val could think about as she considered his words carefully and with deliberateness. Every inch of her burned with her hatred for her own selfish feelings and desires in life. Her satisfaction was unearned, undeserved, and most of all, fleeting. Thousands of faces haunted her as she was responsible for their demise, and several more haunted her that they were taken instead of her.

"You call yourself a sociopath, but I remember your face." There was a break in her speech as her memory searched for the memories of her last class with Ishi, with the strongest memory of that night was seeing him work tirelessly in his own memory.

"That night that you showed me our patients death in the face of impossible odds. I watched you work with that boy, and I read your every thought as you fought for him. It was written in your eyes and the lines of your face. It hurt you to lose him for more than just pride didn't it? It was more than just the hippocratic oath. You were alone, fighting against the tide as you watched him pass, and I know you felt pure empathy for it as it happened. That's not the feelings of a sociopath."

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22 Re: Believe me, I know (Private w/ Ishi) on Fri Nov 02, 2018 11:35 pm

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Flattery only works so far; and it only works when Ishi's self-loathing isn't at maximum. It's notable that that was the situation. If it was worth anything, he had to say some other things. He remembered when she had worked as quickly as possible to save a teammate and for it all to be thrown away. How she had been stopped and forced to stay by shock. He never got to know the feeling. He never got close enough to most people for that.

"I call myself that because that was after a troublesome childhood. However, you. You act as if you deal with death any less like that. You're what, 20 maybe? Probably younger. You've had to deal with it far faster than I."

He spoke like that, because any deaths he had to deal with before 21 were of his own doing. Murdering people for money was both lucrative and made compartmentalization a wondrous skill to have. Well, as much of a skill that it could be. Murdering was never good for the psyche; and that much Ishi actually now.

"Look. When we get to my house; have a drink on me. You've had to deal with more than me, probably."

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23 Re: Believe me, I know (Private w/ Ishi) on Sat Nov 03, 2018 12:00 am

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That was a far cry from any of the things that were a possibility. Val had dealt with death and blood at a far younger age, but that was no accolade, not something worthy of bragging about. It didn't make her stronger, in fact, it only served to further embitter the taste already in her mouth from this conversation.

She had a way of thrusting herself into situations that she didn't want to be in which bordered on habit, even masochism. She would force herself to continue talking about all of this even if her spirit snapped and she started to scream. She had to continue this so that she could finally be rid of the black smudge in her soul that threatened to take her apart every time she lost her cool.

As for coping, she refused to allow herself any indulgences for more than one reason. Mostly because it would impair her abilities if it worked, but also because enjoying things made her feel guilty. This isn't to mention the chances that she would come out if she were to get intoxicated.

"Denied. I will not be drinking."

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24 Re: Believe me, I know (Private w/ Ishi) on Sat Nov 03, 2018 11:08 pm

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Hmm. No drinks? What a lass; able to handle it without drinking. That made Ishi feel like hot garbage. Not even hot really. Just like, sad garbage. A 20 year old could handle death faster and stronger, and overall probably more death. She didn't even have to drink. Why did it have to be like this? Why was it so depressing?

It could be less depressing, but that just wouldn't be Ishi.

"I appreciate how mature you are. Makes me look like some nonsense. Drinking and such."

He didn't know everything and she seemed to. Maybe it was his self-loathing. Maybe it was him finally recognizing that she was worth something. Probably not. It was probably the self-loathing. He'd get over this 'nice' thing after awhile. He did need to say something a bit more.

"I can't help but to ask. Why open up to me? I mean, of course I know like we went into each others brains. But still."

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25 Re: Believe me, I know (Private w/ Ishi) on Sun Nov 04, 2018 12:00 am

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Val kicked some dirt as she walked, really not enjoying the praise. "Well.... Thanks, I guess. You could try it too you know." Valerie spoke as her gaze turned up from the ground. She sure didn't feel mature most of the time. In fact, she doubted that she really even grasped where the divide between adult and child even was. It was a chronic condition for her.

There was a lull in the tension after he asked about her reasoning for even associating herself with him. Valerie then shrugged and turned her head to face him while tilting her head.

"Don't really know. Maybe it's just something about having someone that might be able to even slightly understand the kinds of things that you see on a regular basis. I mean, the stress of fighting is one thing, but the stress in trying to protect the people that matter is a completely different animal. No one else here seems like they can really understand when I talk about it."

She turned forward again and stretched her back in the afternoon sun. "Plus, I don't think you're as bad as you claim to be, really."

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