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We are an original character roleplay based in an alternate version of our modern world. Society, superpowered but dynaphobic, has been split into two groups, each imprisoned by dusk and dawn. The plot is entirely player-driven and has a heavy online focus. We encourage members to use their characters to shape and shift the world in whatever ways they can and to experiment with new ideas and storylines.
diarkís
AUGUST, 2017
06/01 Official site open! Please check the announcements for important updates and special events.

05/15 Site soft-open! Players who create characters between now and the official opening on the first of June can purchase a second rank for free (375 point value). This is limited to one per OOC account.

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 you've got one choice, maybe two, @tai
mal gmt/gmt+1 she/her 25 Offline 3 | 3 | 3 mal#4187
150 POINTS EARNED
95 POSTS MADE
95
he/him
bakery owner
gay
single
rank 2
MEET
my heart's a city
Crossing the border between Eastend and Northend felt like entering a different country. The difference was more jarring during the day when the architecture looked more or less the same but the streets of one district remained as full of life as they were at night while the other seemed populated nearly exclusively by Lykofos agents. At night the change was a little more subtle though still noticeable. The Northend neighborhoods were visibly poorer and dirtier and the people much more suspicious.

It was not safe to walk these streets alone at night but Jean was not feeling afraid. A part of it was his appearance: maybe the man was gentle most of the time but the tattoos and the general ruggedness did not make that very obvious. Another, more important reason why he didn't seem bothered was the deep-seeded conviction that death could only happen to him if he let it. And Jean-Philippe was not ready to die yet.

But he would rather not have to leave Diarkis right now, either. One of the reasons why he didn't like his power very much was the fact that he never knew where the swap would take him: there seemed to be no clear rule to it and he had been all over the world so far, in only three jumps, too. If he had to find himself a new body, he could end up in Westend or fucking Japan, which was something he would rather avoid now that he was finally beginning to get a grip on this new life that had been given to him something about three years ago.

Speaking of Japan, though.

Jean took the stairs up to Tai's doorstep two at a time without so much as a quickened breath. This was the first time he visited the man at home, which explained why he was a few minutes late as he had gotten lost on his way here, not familiar enough with Northend in general to follow the instructions given to him by the tattoo artist. It took much more to dampen Jean-Philippe's mood, however, so when the door finally opened he greeted the other man with a smile.

Maybe Taishu wasn't a close friend, but he was certainly someone with whom Jean liked to spend his free time. There was a sense of calm about him that set him apart from most younger Nekros Jean had met since moving to Diarkis, but also a hint of melancholy that Jean only ever recognized because it had become such a fixed part of himself as well. They had spent enough nights at Tai's tattoo shop or Jean's bakery that there was a connection between them now, a potential that could flourish into something more if only they tried. The invitation to Taishu's house was a nice start and even if Jean did not read into it more than was reasonable, he had still been quite pleased to agree to meet the other man here, of all places.

At the sight of the familiar face, he raised one hand, presenting a paper bag that smelled like cinnamon and icing. "I'm sorry I'm late," he said, trying to sound serious even though the mischievous gleam in his eyes betrayed him. "Please accept these gifts as an honest apology and let me inside, it's cold." Not that Jean ever needed an excuse to give away his baked goods and he couldn't be anywhere near freezing in his warm jacket, even though the night air was a bit chilly. He was fully expecting Tai to call him out on both of those things, perhaps that had even been the point.

+ tag@adrien
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BY MITZI
adrien cst he/him 25 Offline 3 | 3 | 3 gay rat dad#1820
130 POINTS EARNED
103 POSTS MADE
Taishu
30
he/him
tattoo artist/info broker
closeted bisexual
single
rank 1
MEET Taishu
I know it's wrong
but I'm so far
gone
forgive this post........gotta get the hang of Tai again

With as much of his private life as he kept exactly that - private - he didn't commonly invite company to his home. It was easier and generally safer to entertain at his shop, where he already spent the majority of his time. It kept his address unknown to the general public and acquaintances he didn't fully trust. Distrust and caution ran deep in everything he did. He had spent close to a decade having to rely on keeping his work out of the public eye. To run among the day cycle while working for such a large and closely monitored criminal organization required tact and ever present suspicion. His exile hadn't changed that. While his former activities wouldn't have been illegal during the night cycle, to be pinned and tagged as a criminal would make him an easy target to kill on sight if he drew too much attention. It was hard not to miss the unusual safety and privileges that the power of the yakuza had allowed him.

Not that it was ever possible to fully escape it. He had tried. He had fled overseas like the coward he was to where their grip didn't quite reach. But the constant reminder provided by the missing last two knuckles of one of his fingers kept his past always in his recent memory. There was no escaping who he was and what he had done, no matter how doggedly he attempted to move on. Once a criminal, always a criminal. That much was made certain.

So Taishu had made his home among the criminals and danger of Northend. When there was so much to look out for in the area, he practically went unnoticed. Relative anonymity always made collecting information a much speedier process. So much of his free time was spent doing some sort of work. It kept his mind busy and helped to stop him from dwelling too much. There was a reason that even his hobbies verged on the meticulous.

In a rare twist of events, Taishu had allowed someone else access to his home. While it was easier for him to claim it as a sign of good faith given shared involvement within Nekros, there was no denying that there was some sort of friendship there. Nothing that the tattoo artist could be convinced to verbally confirm. As ever, evasive to and beyond a fault.

The sharp yap of a small dog alerted him of his arriving company, the Pomeranian beating him to the door amidst a noisy scramble of claws clacking against the wooden floors in his attempt to reach the intruder. A set of slower and quieter footsteps followed after the dog's. There was no surprise there that this was the greeting his friend was receiving.

"Bok Choy, calm down. He's no threat to you." Taishu scooped the animal up beneath one arm and opened the door, dark eyebrows raised at his visitor. "I was starting to wonder if I needed to set up a rescue operation for you." Regardless, he relieved Jean of the bag and stepped aside to let him in, shutting the door with his foot afterwards. "This is a premeditated apology, if I've ever seen one. Did you plan on being late?"

don't need you to tell me I'm so cynical
mal gmt/gmt+1 she/her 25 Offline 3 | 3 | 3 mal#4187
150 POINTS EARNED
95 POSTS MADE
95
he/him
bakery owner
gay
single
rank 2
MEET
my heart's a city
The noises coming from behind the door were the tiniest bit surprising. Jean's gaze dropped to the floor and then followed the dog as Taishu lifted the curious animal in the air, and his lips quirked into an almost unnoticeable smile. It wasn't exactly shocking to see that the younger man kept a pet: Tai was quite a discreet person -- some would probably even call him aloof -- but he didn't strike Jean as someone who liked to be alone. House pets were a good solution for those who avoided people but yearned for company; it was only the breed of the animal that amused Jean. "Some guard dog you have here," he teased, not unkindly. He wanted to reach out and let Bok Choy sniff his hand but he wasn't sure if the scent of a cat lingering on him wouldn't irritate the Pomeranian.

"I am not that late," Jean protested despite the fact that he had been the first one to point out his tardiness. "Am I?" He looked around, perhaps hoping to find a clock hanging on a nearby wall, but also to get a glimpse of his surroundings. The interior of someone's house could be very telling and Jean would lie if he said he wasn't curious about what kind of things Tai surrounded himself with -- both because he was curious about the man himself and also because he simply liked to discover these things about everyone he met.

The dog was but one clue. Jean looked at it again before letting his gaze wander back to Tai's face. As usual, there wasn't much that could be seen in the man's expression, but Jean had been alive for long enough that he had learned to read between the lines. Tai might have an impressive poker face but that hardly bothered the Frenchman.

He was pretty sure that Tai was not displeased with either Jean being late or him being there at all, even if he had refused to smile while greeting his guest. Fortunately, Jean was used to that too, so he wasn't particularly offended.

"Fine, you got me." He shrugged with an exaggerated sigh, admitting defeat. "I got lost, very unintentionally. But I did make those muffins specifically for you, if that matters." He looked at Tai with an expression that was meant to imply that it had better, but the smile Jean couldn't keep from his face for too long probably ruined the effect a little.

"So. How's your night going so far?" This time, he was almost smirking. "Heard any interesting stories you could share?"

+ tag@adrien
+ notesETC
BY MITZI
adrien cst he/him 25 Offline 3 | 3 | 3 gay rat dad#1820
130 POINTS EARNED
103 POSTS MADE
Taishu
30
he/him
tattoo artist/info broker
closeted bisexual
single
rank 1
MEET Taishu
I know it's wrong
but I'm so far
gone
notes

Trying to keep a squirming animal tucked beneath his arm while simultaneously keeping him away from the bag in his opposite hand was proving to be a bit too much for but one man to juggle. Literally. Taishu dropped the dog onto a nearby chair with the sigh of someone who experienced such canine rebellion on a daily basis. The strangely named Bok Choy leapt down from the chair immediately and with the lack of fear that only such a small animal could manage, ran himself over to the stranger. His small black nose pressed flush against Jean's leg while he audibly breathed in with an astounding amount of focus for a breed with a reputation for being yappy and scatterbrained.

"He's never met a cat," Taishu stated idly. He had met the cat himself, of course, and gone through the exact same thorough scent examination upon getting home each time. What a betrayal for poor Bok Choy to come face to face with. "Don't mind him." It was a bit of a belated mention, given that the dog had practically attached himself to the strange man's lower leg and shoe. After a few moments of his intense sniffing, he seemed to be satisfied with whatever he had found and jumped up onto his back legs with a single bark, tiny front feet pawing at the air. It would seem as though the Pomeranian was a bit spoiled by his human father.

While the dog had been going about his dog mandated activities, Taishu had stepped back to flip the lock on the door and then went walking down the front entry way with a wave of his hand by means of invitation for Jean to follow him. Despite the outward appearance of his home, given the area he had decided to live in, the inside of the house itself was shocking comfortable. For a man who dwelled in such a dark lifestyle in both the past and present, much of his decor remained minimalist and light. There was, of course, a prevalent theme of his homeland when it came to the decorative items themselves, with much of the scattered artwork bearing his telltale style. In contrast to that, his furniture was clearly of the western world in nature, while following with the clean lines of the rest of his home.

Situated on a cabinet near the wall of the living room attached to the kitchen that Taishu had walked into, was a large fish tank. Of sorts. It was only the size and shape of a fish tank and beyond that, whatever it was may as well have been a mystery. Instead of bright decoration and an expanse of water, it looked more like a glass rectangle full of plants. Closer inspection would confirm that it was in fact a fish tank, though one far from the norm. The inner workings of the tank itself looked more like a landscape with assorted fish replacing birds, flying about the miniature scene.

"You always know what I like." Eyebrows that were either carefully shaped and maintained to look natural or that simply were naturally perfect raised when he spoke, implications remaining on his words and nothing more. "We can say you were late because you were making these for me." Taishu winked and set the bag down on the counter, talking all while he rummaged around in the bag. When had he actually bothered to eat last? He had cooked dinner the night before. Anything since then, beyond snacking here and there? No...he couldn't quite recall.

"My night?" With a muffin in hand, he went to sprawl out on the couch with one excessively long leg up over the other. There was still space remaining for his guest to sit down, even without moving his legs out of the way. Though that would be squeezing it a little close and the best option would be for Taishu to simply drape his legs over the other should he sit down. "Oh, I always have interesting stories. They just aren't necessarily recent."

don't need you to tell me I'm so cynical
mal gmt/gmt+1 she/her 25 Offline 3 | 3 | 3 mal#4187
150 POINTS EARNED
95 POSTS MADE
95
he/him
bakery owner
gay
single
rank 2
MEET
my heart's a city
Jean watched the dog launch itself at him, more curious than worried. It was hard to be intimidated by a creature this small in the first place but, most of all, Jean firmly believed that Taishu wouldn't have let the dog loose if there was even the slightest possibility that it would try to sink its tiny teeth into Jean's calf. If not because he particularly cared about the other Nychta, then because it would be incredibly rude to let a guest get bitten by a pet just minutes after he had arrived. Jean smiled as Bok Choy pressed himself against his leg and let the Pomeranian sniff him until he decided that he had had enough.

As he had brought no treats with him, other than the muffins that he had already handed over, Jean settled for letting Bok Choy sniff his hand before giving his furry head a few strokes. That hardly seemed to satisfy the dog, which revealed a lot more about Taishu than the man would probably like, so Jean picked him up with a somewhat amused expression. "Then perhaps I should have brought Croissant with me." It seemed like a strange coincidence that both of their animals would be named after foods, but then again, people chose much weirder names for their pets. At least Croissant was somewhat appropriate given Jean's current occupation, while Bok Choy? Well, Jean would gladly hear where that came from. Some other time, perhaps. "He could use a friend." Whether he was talking about his cat or Taishu's dog was unclear.

The wordless invitation was all he needed to get moving, the Pomeranian still in his arms as he followed Tai. His gaze was hardly ever on the other man, though: he kept looking around, intrigued by the interior. It was much nicer than the slightly run-down facade of the building would suggest, which was actually nothing out of the ordinary around Northend, where flaunting one's wealth was... unwise, to say the least, and Taishu was not a stupid man. Jean found that he quite liked the harmony of the matching colors of the walls and the furniture, even if the effect was much different from what his own place looked like. The small apartment above the bakery looked cramped even when it was not, courtesy of items scattered everywhere and colorful paint splatters on the walls. Jean was not responsible for the latter, at least, but he had never tried to cover them up, rather fond of their lively energy and the rebelliousness they implied. They went along nicely with the tattoos and the general style he had adopted in this life, and, well, he also just liked them.

Tai's house seemed much calmer in comparison, just like the man himself: always composed, always balanced, at least to the outside world. Jean didn't really know him well enough to guess the rest but he suspected there was more to Taishu than met the eye. There had to be, if only because there were too many things that went unspoken about the other man's life. Those who ended up on the night cycle often had a tragic story or two to tell, and the missing finger was already a really damn obvious giveaway. Jean was a little curious how Taishu found himself in Canada of all places, but he had never dared ask.

He let out a low whistle at the sight of the tank, instantly drawn toward it. "Did you arrange this?" It truly was a piece of art, and Jean decided to simply stand there and admire it for the short while it took Tai to settle down on the couch. The position and, more importantly, how little space it left for Jean had not escaped the baker, but he didn't think to say anything about it yet.

"Or," he mused, gently putting Bok Choy on the floor, "We can say I was late because I got lost. Personally, I'm blaming someone's shitty directions." Yet he watched Taishu with a smile as he finally approached, only to pause once he had reached the couch. He seemed to consider his next action for a second or two before sitting down, promptly letting Taishu throw his long legs over his lap. Jean didn't really mind, but he still rested his hand on Tai's ankle, just to get on the other man's nerves.

"Choose one, then. It doesn't have to be recent, I just like hearing you talk."

+ tag@adrien
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BY MITZI
adrien cst he/him 25 Offline 3 | 3 | 3 gay rat dad#1820
130 POINTS EARNED
103 POSTS MADE
Taishu
30
he/him
tattoo artist/info broker
closeted bisexual
single
rank 1
MEET Taishu
I know it's wrong
but I'm so far
gone
notes

It was an old habit to simply let the dog do as he pleased. Bok Choy never bothered getting into much and the worst thing that Taishu had to worry about was the small canine getting underfoot or yapping a few times at whoever might approach the front door at any given time. He wasn't the most effective guard dog, but that had never been his purpose. Companionship was necessary for everyone. Even a man like the tattoo artist himself. The real question wasn't so much why he had the dog, but rather why that particular breed.

"Growing up - you know, eons ago back when I was actually a child - we had a family dog. He was a Nihon Supittsu...Japanese Spitz, I think they're called over here. When I ended up over here by myself, seemed appropriate to get a dog and they're pretty close to Pomeranians. So...voila. Bok Choy." The explanation came of his own volition without it even being asked of him. Though it didn't take him more than a moment's thought to know that there was little doubt that Jean was wondering about the dog. He looked quite the opposite of his owner, after all. Something larger and more dangerous was no doubt more expected of him. "It's mostly a sentimental thing. Who knew I'm capable, right?"

He reclined backwards against the arm of the couch with his arms folded beneath his head when he slumped down to use the arm as a headrest of sorts. From his current vantage point, he was still able to see what Jean was referring to, though he did bother to lift his head a fraction to follow his attentions. "A man has to have hobbies. Helps keep my mind focused and hands steady. Gotta keep the tools of the trade sharp. No such thing as a day off." His words were light and his speech casual, but there was a certain truth to what he said. There never was a day off. Not in his life. Not if he had anything to say about it. What was there for him to do with a day off? Remain home with his dog in his life of half required and half self imposed isolation? Nights like those always trapped him within his own head, where the skeletons in his closet knew how to hit him where it hurt the most.

Legs stretched out over Jean's lap and while his eyebrow raised at the touch to his ankle, he didn't move to shake himself free. If anything, he just settled in more comfortably. Everything was a game of sorts, really. And he had never enjoyed losing anything he played.

"Ahh, let me see...back when I first opened my shop here, a few years back, I had this one kid...early 20s or so. He wanted a full body piece, 'like the yakuza have'. Thought it would be fun to show it off." With his arms only slightly stretched out, Taishu shrugged. "Little punk. As if he would be able to handle it, even if he had the money for it. Not even getting into how bad of an idea that is...that sort of thing gets you killed, back home."

don't need you to tell me I'm so cynical
mal gmt/gmt+1 she/her 25 Offline 3 | 3 | 3 mal#4187
150 POINTS EARNED
95 POSTS MADE
95
he/him
bakery owner
gay
single
rank 2
MEET
my heart's a city
It hardly seemed to matter that the explanation had been unasked for: Jean listened to it as carefully as he listened to everything else people said to him. What Taishu had just told him made sense given Jean's judgment of the other man. The baker smiled as if some secret suspicion of his had just been officially confirmed, and answered the final question, cheerfully ignoring the fact that it had likely been supposed to be purely rhetorical. "I did." He observed Bok Choy move around the room, searching for a place where he could settle down without letting his owner out of his sight. "You do look like someone who misses home."

It was something about the way Taishu simply watched the world around him sometimes. Maybe the man was exceptionally good at hiding his emotions, but Jean was even better at recognizing the haunted look he had seen one time too many in the mirror.

But that seemed like such a heavy matter to consider, so Jean decided to be amused instead. "Your childhood home. For you are such an old man now." This wasn't the first time Taishu had mentioned his aging, which tended to make Jean smile in a way he couldn't exactly explain to the other man. Although they had never gotten around to discussing birthday, Jean guessed that Taishu was still in his early thirties at most. Being three times that age, the baker had a much different perspective on getting older -- but then again, he and Tai experienced time quite differently.

"Why Bok Choy, though?" Jean asked then, unable to stifle his curiosity even though he realized that the question might have sounded trite and tiring, especially if Tai had heard it before. Chances were that he had, Jean himself had had to deal with inquiries about Croissant's name on multiple occasions. Still, he continued, "I thought that was more popular in China." At least, he had mostly seen the vegetable mentioned in relation to Chinese cuisine. He might as well be wrong.

The aquarium was hard to look away from. Jean couldn't help but admire the amount of work and attention to detail that had, with no doubt, gone into creating this work of art, even if Tai's words provoked a vague feeling of sadness somewhere deep in Jean's chest. They had been spoken lightly, but he knew the need to keep his mind occupied all too well. Of course, he couldn't tell for sure that Taishu's inner experience was in any way similar to his own but the very chance that it might be was quite upsetting.

Jean hummed, not actually commenting on Tai's words until he was seated comfortably on the couch. His fingers moved over the other man's calf, a seemingly absent-minded gesture. "You make it sound like such a chore," he observed idly, directing his gaze toward Taishu's face. "What do you even do for fun?" With a smile, he quickly added, "Keeping busy doesn't count."

He didn't seem to be paying attention to Tai's shifting as he listened to the story. It wasn't what Jean thought he would hear, but he was not complaining. If anything, he found himself curious, though reluctant at the same time as he was unsure if he was allowed to broach that subject. It was usually considered a great faux-pas among the Nychta to ask about the reasons behind their convictions and Taishu's story had the potential to be even more complicated than most Jean had heard so far.

As the tattooist talked, Jean's gaze flickered briefly to his left hand, or what he could see of it given Tai's position. "Do the Yakuza not get full body tattoos?" he questioned, even a little teasing. It seemed like a neutral enough opening, giving Taishu a chance to elaborate or brush Jean off, depending on his mood and willingness to recall certain events from his past. "To show everyone how badass they are?"

+ tag@adrien
+ notesETC
BY MITZI
adrien cst he/him 25 Offline 3 | 3 | 3 gay rat dad#1820
130 POINTS EARNED
103 POSTS MADE
Taishu
30
he/him
tattoo artist/info broker
closeted bisexual
single
rank 1
MEET Taishu
I know it's wrong
but I'm so far
gone
notes

The fact that his question had been directed at nothing more than the empty air was obvious thanks to the brief and vaguely confused expression that darted so temporarily across his face. It seemed to take a moment for it to click for him, with the way he hadn't been expecting an answer. To be confronted with Jean's opinion gave him pause. An answer to a question that he hadn't entirely asked. "It's...difficult to break away from," he finally answered in turn. "The culture shock was a little extreme. I think all I had going for me was already being bilingual." French, on the other hand, escaped him entirely. Not something he was about to admit to the man sitting beside him.

With his head tilted back against the arm of the couch, he found himself absently watching the ceiling. The position itself was comfortable enough to get him to lay either of his arms over his chest loosely. It was rare to have his guard down, but Jean had never managed to do anything not to have at least a modicum of his trust. Which was more than he could say for most anyone else he knew. Or had ever known, for that matter. Truly trusting anyone within his old lifestyle was asking for potential disaster. Or worse. And 'worse' was precisely what had happened, now wasn't it? It wasn't a mistake that he wanted to make another time. Fear was a strong compulsion and it dictated - loudly - that he keep from having anything or anyone truly valuable to him that he could potentially lose. Or have taken from him. Having someone else suffer for his choices simply because they knew him wasn't something he would wish on anyone. Being distant was just the best way to keep everyone safe.

"I feel plenty old." Taishu countered the amusement that he heard, lifting his head enough to direct a mock offended look at his companion. "Look at you, still in your peak performance. Wait till you start going downhill like me." Maybe it was a tad dramatic, but was it really so surprising, given the way that the tattoo artist presented himself? From his carefully applied makeup to the hint of tattoos visible beneath the hem of his sleeves - sleeves that so often belonged to a suit - to the missing finger, what about him didn't scream drama?

Upon hearing his name, Bok Choy hopped to his feet up on the bed he had only just finally laid down on. The small dog seemed to perpetually be on alert, in contrast to his owner. Taishu oh so carefully cultivated his outward appearance of relaxation, after all.

"I like the way it tastes." Maybe that wasn't the best explanation. "I was told it was my favourite food as a kid. I'm only half Japanese. I'll let you guess the other half yourself. I don't know the language and have never been there, but it's still in my blood. Was a part of growing up, too." It wasn't so difficult to be open about such inane topics. There was no danger in the information he was sharing. A constant worry of his.

"What do I do..." The words were mused aloud even while he felt the unmistakable touch of fingers against his leg. That was a development. Not one worth acknowledging just yet. "I bake, I cook...paint, draw some, rearrange furniture, teach Bok Choy useless tricks. Fish tank. Keeping busy can still count as fun and vice versa, doesn't it? It works out for me if they're one and the same." Giving up on keeping himself distracted at any given moment wasn't something he was ready to do. Not in such a solitary lifestyle.

The glance to his hand, however brief, still caught his attention. It was a fleeting look he had felt on a regular basis, despite never bringing attention to it himself. In a rare gesture, he lifted his hand from his chest and extended it to Jean. The second knuckle of the digit remained there as a sort of stump, serving as an even more constant reminder to him of what had happened. "It's a mark of disgrace. Symbolic, at this point. Weakens your grip on a sword, so you have to rely more on your brothers within the Yakuza to help protect you and makes you more reliant. Doesn't quite serve that purpose so much in this day and age, but the meaning is still there."

With his hand still out, he laid his head back down once more, silent for a minute before resuming his unintended history lesson. "The tattoos...a lot of us -- them -- get them done, but not all of them. It comes from the past of tattooing criminals. It turned into a sort of status symbol. Courage, determination, being well off financially to be able to afford such extensive work...they're traditionally hand poked and far more painful than what you've gotten done." Taishu exhaled and folded his free arm beneath his head, eyes closed. "But for someone outside of the culture to get them with the intent of showing them off...it defeats the purpose. They're designed to be hidden beneath clothing, except for those you're closest to. Clear face, hands, feet...you look like a normal member of society. But I'm sure you've seen photos." When was the last time he had spoken so much about such a personal topic?

"I learned by hand poking, keeping true to the tradition of it. Practiced and learned on myself. If you wanted to know what it feels like, I could stick you a few times, give you a taste of what a fullbody suit would feel like."

don't need you to tell me I'm so cynical
mal gmt/gmt+1 she/her 25 Offline 3 | 3 | 3 mal#4187
150 POINTS EARNED
95 POSTS MADE
95
he/him
bakery owner
gay
single
rank 2
MEET
my heart's a city
Jean-Philippe thought he knew all about culture shocks. More than Taishu, though that was, perhaps, a conceited thought. Personal experiences were not a competition, after all, and Jean, ultimately, saw no point in comparing his own to those of others. He had found himself in new and unfamiliar countries before without so much as a warning, with no chance to prepare himself for the cultural shift as he never knew where he would end up once his mind had chosen a new host. Taishu, presumably, had been aware of where he had been going, maybe he had even chosen Canada consciously. Did that mean it had been easier for him? Jean could only guess that the decision to travel such a long distance had been made under a set of circumstances that had likely made anything seem rather complicated.

There was a story there that he would not mind hearing, even if it had never occurred to him to actually ask. It probably wasn't a pleasant topic. It was not instantly obvious how guarded Taishu really was -- his attitude toward other people was rarely unfriendly -- but Jean recognized the unmistakable signs of someone trying to separate themselves from the hurt of the outside world. He would not try to poke those wounds without some sort of encouragement from the other man.

"That must have helped," he agreed. Being able to speak the language of a country where one would be living from then on was always a good start. Jean remembered waking up in a house on the outskirts of Reykjavik and the confusion of being unable to understand a word of what the strange woman who had emerged from the kitchen (his wife, he had learned a moment later) was saying to him when he rushed to the bathroom looking for a mirror. He remembered wandering the unfamiliar streets and being unable to pronounce their names, or read the headlines of the newspapers he had picked up. Canada had actually been a relief for him as he had already been mostly fluent in English and French -- the latter was somewhat different from the language spoken in Jean's beloved France and he had needed to brush up on colloquialisms to avoid sounding like the old man he was, but being able to communicate with the people around him without having to spend days to learn the basic phrases first had been a true joy.

Spoiled only by the fact that said communication had initially involved a lot of trying to explain that he was not interested in smuggling drugs of firearms across the Canada-USA border to a bunch of dangerous-looking people. Jean had never tried to look into his host's previous life after that and he certainly hoped no ghost from the past would try looking for him in a quiet bakery somewhere in Diarkis.

He glanced at Bok Choy, a little amused by the dog's alertness. It seemed quite in line with whatever Jean knew about small breeds, which, admittedly, wasn't much at all. "I see," was all he had to say in response to Taishu describing his heritage. Not because he was trying to brush the other man off but because he wasn't sure what else to say without sounding rude. Jean had observed the world around him change and he had adjusted accordingly to the times, but a part of him still remembered that he had used to hate the Japanese on principle back in the 1940s. While it was hard to imagine himself being this prejudiced all those years later, he knew that if the nineteen-year-old him had heard that one day he would be sitting on a couch with his hand on a Japanese, or half-Japanese, ankle, one that belonged to a man no less, he might just have had a stroke.

And speaking of age -- Jean could not stop smiling. It wasn't the first time Taishu chastised him for his presumably young age but it never ceased to amuse him. "Feeling old is not the same as being old, Tai." It seemed that the conversation might turn serious despite the light-hearted tone. "Your body is not old. It's just your soul that's feeling weary." Jean had been there before, and he had been much younger than Tai when it had happened to him. Somehow, he had managed to bounce back from it, though it took him at least one lifetime.

He listened to Taishu listing off his hobbies. At some point, his fingers had slipped under the material of Tai's pants to stroke the naked skin beneath but it seemed that Jean was not going to go any further with it. Perhaps he hadn't even noticed. "What useless tricks?" he inquired, curious. Though perhaps that was not the best time to be talking about such mundane things when Taishu had moved on to much more serious topics.

Jean tilted his head a little, calm gaze dropping to the other man's extended hand. The lack of the little finger was impossible to miss but to have it purposefully pointed out like this was probably a sign of trust, or something close to trust anyway. Jean lifted his hand from Taishu's ankle to run his fingers over the scarred stump, listening to the explanation of the symbol that it was. "Disgrace, hm?" he repeated, searching Taishu's eyes for a hint of feelings. Yet he didn't press for an explanation, figuring Tai would tell him on his own if he was even willing to reveal something so personal about himself.

The history of Yakuza tattoos was equally interesting, though only a little less emotionally loaded. "I didn't know that," Jean admitted. "But it makes sense." Something that only the people closest to you could see... "These tattoos, they can be used to single you out. So I imagine it takes a lot of trust to allow someone to see them." He smiled at the offer to get a taste of this experience and shook his head in refusal. Taishu didn't know that, but Jean hadn't even been present for most of his current tattoos. Instead, he asked, "Do they mean something? The individual tattoos, not the fact that you had it done."

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BY MITZI
adrien cst he/him 25 Offline 3 | 3 | 3 gay rat dad#1820
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Taishu
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but I'm so far gone
There was something soothing about relaxing in the comfort of his own home but not actually being alone save for his dog. It had gotten oh so easy to forget what real human contact was like and it had served his purposes to attempt to stifle those memories. It was harder to miss something that he didn't fully remember happening. But the comfort of the conversation despite the implications of the topic was something he had forgotten years ago. The idle and relaxed contact of skin on skin came as a sort of afterthought that for the most part went unnoticed by Taishu.

He was aware of the touch and the warmth that only another human could provide and while it was perhaps crossing some sort of boundary, he was under no inclination to point it out. If he did, it would likely be met with a jovial apology and the touch would recoil from him and the walls that Taishu so carefully cultivated would go rising up between the two of them once more. Combined with the strange friendly intimacy of the moment, it would do nothing less than to ruin whatever was happening at the current moment. The relaxation would be shattered, as would the illusion of normalcy. While it wasn't necessarily true to his real life, he wasn't ready for it to end just yet.

For the time being, he was relatively content to lay with his head back and his eyes closed in imitation of a nap of sorts. But he was comfortable. How long had it been since he had truly relaxed in such a way around someone else? A rhetorical question. He knew exactly when it was. He could practically remember the very moment he had last experienced it. With his eyes closed and his mind wandering absently, it was almost possible to feel slender fingers running through his hair, stroking over his cheek and jaw. A loving touch. And the last thing that he remembered of her. A memory that he was happy to leave in its peacefulness. To speculate on it further would only end in tragedy. He could hope against hope that she had remained unscathed and unpunished and had fled as successfully as he had, but those odds? Never in their favor. The truth of the matter was likely that she was as maimed and disgraced as he was, if not dead.

There was a reason he attempted remembering too much.

In the brief but easy silence between them, Bok Choy scampered over to the couch from his previous alert state near (one of) his beds. Tiny white forepaws bapped against the couch and Jean's legs alike while he danced about on his hindlegs and then in a motion as precise as a loaded spring, he leapt up onto the cushion and wedged himself between Taishu's legs and Jean's chest, taking up the remaining fraction of lap. It hadn't appeared as though he would have fit, but when he snuggled down into his chosen position, exactly how much of him was nothing more than an explosive amount of fur was revealed. A quarter dog at most, with the remaining fraction pure fluff.

"My body is getting old, there's no doubt. In fact, I think I'm nearing my midlife crisis." While his words had a comical lilt to them, his eyes were practically more empty than they had ever been. If it were factual, what he was asserting, he was under the impression that he would live only to 60. Under his original line of work, it wasn't necessarily an improper guess. Combined with having aligned himself Nekros along with the criminal underworld of his new home, it wasn't unlikely that his lifespan wouldn't be the longest. But the way he didn't elaborate further made it clear that it was a likely fact that he had long since come to accept. There was very little that he would be leaving behind if he died at that age.

While they had been talking, his hand had unconsciously moved to pet Bok Choy's head, thumb and forefinger rubbing against one of his small perky ears. "Oh, the usual things...sit, stay, dance, give kisses, sing...walk on your hind legs like a tiny person." The Pomeranian had lifted his head upon hearing the familiar words, curled tail wagging enthusiastically even though he made no move to demonstrate any of his tricks. They hadn't been commanded of him, after all. Not to mention, his current position was entirely too comfortable for him to want to get up after finally having situated himself.

Thankfully distracted by the dog, Taishu didn't go pulling his hand back from the touch. His fingers curled naturally against Jean's hand before he even realized that his hand had been grasped. The scar tissue of his missing finger was far from the most sensitive and it was the sight of Jean's fingers against the old injury that had him finally realizing what was going on. "I displeased my family and in order to offer my apologies, I did that." Maybe it wasn't what his friend expected to hear: that Taishu had been the one to remove his own finger, and willingly at that. To cut through flesh and bone alike in order to sever the digit as a peace offering of his own volition.

It was a subject he was readily moving on from the moment he was offered another topic. Even if it was something so personal as his tattoos.

"Almost every single one carries a heavy meaning. I'm sure you're familiar with the style of waves and koi fish." His left hand remained within Jean's grasp and with his other hand, he moved to roll of the sleeve of his left arm, revealing splash of color after color until he stopped once the fabric reached his elbow, the aforementioned waves and fish exposed on the skin of his forearm. "The water is fluidity, strength...but also ebb and flow, its own strength and ferocity changing depending on what's necessary. The koi is meant for fortune, but beyond that, it's believed that should a koi climb against the current to the top of a waterfall, it becomes a dragon. Perseverance through hardship."

Even with his explanation done for the time being, he left his sleeve as it was with his skin and the corresponding tattoos on display. A true testament to his current level of comfort with the situation.

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BY MITZI
mal gmt/gmt+1 she/her 25 Offline 3 | 3 | 3 mal#4187
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my heart's a city
Bok Choy was clearly used to cuddles and relaxing in his human's lap. It revealed a truth about Taishu that the man probably tried to hide from many people and while Jean knew better than to point it out, he did like what he was finding out about the other man. There was a soft side to him, it seemed. Jean had never doubted that but it was nice to finally have some confirmation, a proof he could rely on instead of just trusting his gut feeling.

Unsurprisingly, the baker's hand found its way to Bok Choy's fur in order to begin stroking it. Petting the dog came as natural as breathing the second the Pomeranian had made himself comfortable in Jean's lap. It was a gesture of someone who simply liked dogs but also very distinctly that of a cat owner. While Croissant was much friendlier than many of his feline kin -- or so Jean had heard, at least -- he was still fickle when it came to being pet. Jean had learned to take advantage of those moments when the cat deemed him worthy of cuddles and it translated to how he instantly responded to Bok Choy's wet nose nudging against his free hand.

Most people who knew him suspected him of being a dog person. Maybe he should get one -- a companion for Croissant. For a second or two Jean got distracted by that thought, trying to decide on a breed. Something big, preferably. A German shepherd, or maybe a husky. Huh.

Tai's voice brought him back to reality and instantly made him smile with a hint of nostalgia that didn't suit his young physique. "Midlife crises are overrated," he said. "You think you only have another thirty years to go, fine. If you've been doing well, keep doing it. If not, shit, you have another half of your life to make up for it." He looked at the other man over Bok Choy's head. "Simple." Was it, though? It had taken Jean decades to accept such a conclusion decide its presumed simplicity.

And Taishu, for all of his secretive nature, seemed much more prone to sadness than Jean had ever been. Even as a young man paranoid about people discovering his sexuality, or as a prisoner inside his own crippled body, Jean had been far more optimistic. It was probably as much due to personal inclinations as it was due to their different life experiences. At least, Jean thought they were different, but then again, how could he tell? Tai may have been a criminal, but then again, that didn't necessarily mean that his entire life, including the childhood that had shaped him, had been a tragedy.

There was so much he didn't know about the other man, but he did not dare ask. Especially not right now, when the atmosphere between them was so pleasantly relaxed, and forcing Tai to talk or even think about certain subjects would only ruin it.

That was part of the reason why Jean only raised an eyebrow at the curt explanation. Frankly, he was surprised Tai had even spoken about something like that at all instead of brushing him off. "Sounds like a great sacrifice." Any act of self-harm was such an ultimate act of violence, be it non-life threatening cutting or more serious mutilation. So many people didn't seem to realize that turning against one's self in such a physical way meant crossing one of the most important lines in any human's life. It went against the most basic instinct of every living creature: survival. To bring harm to oneself, oh, that was an unspeakable crime. "I hope they forgave you," Jean added instead of asking for an explanation what it was exactly that had called for such a retribution. Would Taishu mind if he asked? Did he want Jean to? The baker would rather not take his chances.

He stroked the back of Tai's palm before withdrawing his hand. Now he seemed to have focused solely on petting Bok Choy but he was, in fact, listening to Taishu's unexpectedly detailed explanation. Learning about other cultures -- and people he cared about -- was something that Jean infinitely enjoyed.

"That's how you like to be seen," he stated rather than questioned. "Strong and resilient."

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BY MITZI
adrien cst he/him 25 Offline 3 | 3 | 3 gay rat dad#1820
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Taishu
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MEET Taishu
but I'm so far gone
For as calm as the atmosphere was, hearing himself speak had a sobering effect. So many things that he had never put words to. There had never been anyone who needed to know the sordid details of what he had done - who he had been - a lifetime ago. It wouldn't be easy to believe that the surprisingly soft spoken tattoo artist had done so many unspeakable things, thanks to the current way he presented himself and his life. But some habits were harder to break. Illegal dealings still found their way into his life and the brokering of information had long since become as natural to him as breathing. Those who bought and sold and sought out valuable information numbered few and far between and in the world in which he lived, it was the easiest way he had found to stay alive. Even if it made him a target in its own way.

Taishu had never been of the opinion that his life would be a long one. In some ways, it seemed appropriate for his self imposed need to make amends through penance. For a man who placed honor in such high regard, he had led an entirely dishonorable life. And there were limited ways that he saw as potentially rectifying that. Suicide would have been one way to go about it. An honorable end, in the most traditional sense. But he was a coward. Another mark of shame upon him. Too afraid to do the one right thing he could and take his end into his own hands.

'If not, shit, you have another half of your life to make up for it.' As if capable of reading his mind, Jean's words struck a chord so close to his own thoughts. It was something that had occurred to him before, of course. Something that he had written off as impossible thanks to the extent of his own grave mistakes. The blood on his hands and the weight on his conscious was too great. The things he had done simply had to be beyond whatever assumptions Jean had been making. It was a guilty sort of reassuring feeling, knowing that there had to be no way that his friend suspected the extent of his crimes. How would he take knowing that Taishu was closer than indirectly responsible for the death of his own wife and child? There was no point in asking. It was unforgivable and anyone saying otherwise may as well have been lying.

"I'm working on that, my friend...but the amount of what I have to make up for is more than I think I can bear." It really wasn't so simple as Jean liked to believe; not as far as Taishu was concerned. Yet in the same vein, it was he himself who saw the situation in such stark shades of black and white. The only time grey ares were involved were with others. The standards he held himself to were far less fair.

His own attention turned unintentionally to the dog who was so clearly enjoying being the center of the world. Like he always was. It was clear that he was the center of Taishu's own world and clearly Bok Choy was under the impression that that extended to all of his owner's company. Without any thought more than muscle memory, his hand moved to ruffle the dog's ears with an exhale of breath that sounded a little too close to a sad sigh.

"Whether they forgave me or not...it's a moot point by now. I ran here from my responsibilities like a..." Coward. A word he didn't have the strength to bring himself to say out loud. "It got me here." It was difficult to pull himself from the mire of memory that was so simple to go sinking back into. Wallowing. It was nothing flattering and such a difficult habit for him to attempt to disengage from even with the living right next to him.

The words that met the explanation of his so rarely seen tattoos - the tapestry upon his skin that told far too personal of a story for him to ever feel comfortable allowing others to view - caught him off guard and resulted in his momentary silence. "You...see through me so easily, don't you?" Taishu laughed just once, feeling strange to admit something so deeply personal. "It's how I like to be seen and...a reminder, of sorts. Of the man I want to be and know that I'm capable of. To keep me focused when it gets...difficult."

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BY MITZI
mal gmt/gmt+1 she/her 25 Offline 3 | 3 | 3 mal#4187
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my heart's a city
It was perhaps fortunate that Taishu kept certain opinions to himself. Or not. If Jean heard about the man's thoughts of redemption and suicide, he would not be able to stop himself from arguing that point. It could easily become a source of contention between them, which Jean would hate to be the cause of. But, as someone who had rejected death not once but multiple times, and who valued being alive more than anything else in the world, he would be unable to keep his mouth shut if such a topic was ever brought up in his presence. To die was so dreadfully final, it stripped people of the multitude of possibilities that life offered, and, most of all, it did no good to those who remained alive. The idea that it could ever make up for past wrongdoings just did not seem right to Jean, who believed strongly that correcting one's mistakes was so much better done by helping others than pointlessly punishing oneself. More pain and misery was the last thing the world needed.

Not to mention that knowing precisely how deep Taishu's self-deprecation ran would upset him on a more personal level, a source of great concern for the man Jean considered a dear friend.

He didn't know the extent of Tai's past crimes -- at this point, it seemed likely that he never would -- and he did not dare assume, but he doubted it was anything that could shock him or change his opinion of the other man significantly. Jean had lived through one of the cruelest wars the Western society had ever experienced, he had done inhumane things and while he had tried to justify his own actions -- he had seen Auschwitz, he had been to Dachau after the dust had settled and he had told himself that people responsible for such terrors had not deserved to live -- there was no denying that he, too, had blood on his hands. Maybe that was why he had yet to stop running from death, even though it kept chasing him from one lifetime to another. Jean thought he had made peace with himself and yet there was still a part of him that remembered the horrors of the war, the heavy weight of a gun in his hand, the smell of burning flesh, and the warmth of someone else's blood on his hands. It had been justified back then, it was justified whenever Jean agreed to help the Nekros cause through more violent means now but, in the end, such actions still meant crossing a line that humans were not made to cross.

There was no doubt that Taishu's past affected him greatly. More than ninety years of life experience and decisions weighed on Jean just as heavily, but he seemed to cope a little better with the heavy load on his shoulders, and that seemed to make all the difference.

"If that helps," he said, calmly holding Taishu's gaze, "I learned a while ago that people can usually bear much more than they think." That much was definitely true, whether Tai was ready to acknowledge it or not. Such was the beauty of human nature: the species had evolved to withstand various hardships, resilience was written into their genetic code. Jean had a great deal of understanding for depression, low self-esteem, and other mental health issues, but, more importantly, he believed that they could be overcome. It just took time and more than a little effort but oh, it was so worth it. "You'll be all right." He said it with unwavering conviction, an undeniable fact rather than hopeful reassurance.

"And if it seems too much sometimes, well, you have me," he added with a slightly more light-hearted smile. "And, of course, little Bok Choy." The dog looked up upon hearing its name and promptly jumped to lick Jean's cheek. The man did not protest it, turning a fond gaze toward the Pomeranian. Yes, his company had to be something Taishu needed and Jean was glad that the man had it.

The unspoken judgment had Jean glancing at the tattoo artist again. He could guess what Tai had meant to say and, knowing how proud the man was, he could also guess how difficult it must be for him to apply such a word to himself. That made Taishu's following assessment seem that much more accurate, and Jean smiled again. "Do you realize," he started, playful despite the heaviness of the topic, "That you contradict yourself? If you have such faith in your own perseverance -- as you should -- no hardship should seem unbearable to you. Give yourself more credit, Tai, you deserve it."

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