Razor rod in hand, Baralai was walking the town aimlessly. Paine's offer of housing had been generous, and he really did appreciate it. But every once in a while, he got that ....look from her or Gippal. The one that said he was best off somewhere else for a while. Occasionally a long while.
That had been the look he'd gotten today.
So now he was walking around, on the pretense of finding a job or an apartment. Both seemed equally scarce, though, and he was starting to get bored.
Quistis was out for more or less the same reason. Well, minus the 'look' part. Xu really wasn't around too much. And as much FUN as it was sharing space with Xu, she needed to have her own apartment. She'd also like to figure out where Rinoa and Squall...or Leon, apparently, were hiding.
The heartless, however, were quite annoying, and rather than her whip tied to her side, per usual, she had it coiled loosely in her hand, ready to snap out at a moment's attack.
Walking into the plaza with the clock tower, Baralai thought he saw someone enter from the other direction. Grateful for the distraction -- he wasn't much for random encounters, but anything was better than another lap of the city -- he headed towards the other person. Or started to.
That was when three Large Bodies and a double handful of black Heartless decided to show up in between them.
"Hyne." Quistis had seen someone before the heartless had decided to appear, but she didn't need to worry about that right now. She just needed to... well, running seemed like a good option, but the exit was blocked. Okay. choice two, she let her whip unfurl with a crack and lashed down on the nearest heartless, the black fiend exploding in a burst of munny. Which she STILL didn't get.
Truthfully, Baralai didn't get it anyway, but he wasn't complaining. It was a least a source of funds in his currently unemployed status. Slicing the ring through a pair of them, he worked on clearing a path to the person he kept catching glimpses of between the giant Heartless. He knew better than to attack the large ones head on; he'd learned that the hard way. Instead, he focused on getting rid of the annoying black ones and getting to the stranger. Two instead of one were always better odds.
Quistis scowled, swinging her whip above her head and cracking it down again, looking around. These damn things were so persistent, and trying to avoid being crushed by the big ones wasn't exactly a simple task. She contemplated using the GF she'd had junctioned before the weird uprooting....but it was probably better to get a sold lock on the other person first. At least, she hoped it was a person.
With three very large, very annoyed Heartless between him and the other person, Baralai was getting a little miffed himself. This whole 'appearing at whim' trick they had was starting to get old. He swung the staff around, knocking one of the remaining black fiends into the nearest Large Body. When the Heartless let out a growl and turned toward him, Baralai winced. That hadn't been part of the plan. But as it lumbered toward him, it did leave a very nice gap.
Quickly dodging through the space left behind, he nearly came face-to-face with the business end of a whip.
Quistis swore as one of the bigger heartless shifted suddenly, her whip lashing out, and she let out a surprised yelp as she saw the other person, pulling back on the chain and catching hold of the tail before hit him. "Watch it!"
Baralai would have stopped dead, if he hadn't been more preoccupied with not getting stepped on and/or whipped. When the whip retreated, he had found himself in front of a pretty, if pissed-off, blonde. That was more or less the only impression he had time to make, however, before darting to one side to take out the Heartless that had been creeping up on her. "Apologies, my lady, but there's not exactly much room to maneuver at the moment."
Quistis frowned, concentrating on her GF. Now that she knew where he was, she could make the heartless die. "Hold still, will you?" Without waiting for an answer she summoned the GF, folding up her whip and stretching her arms out as the Junctioned magic did it's stuff, her body disappearing momentarily as Shiva appeared in her place. The GF turned on the Heartless, no sooner looking at them as a blast of ice fanned out over the area, freezing and shattering the heartless. Her work done, Shiva disappeared and Quistis reappeared, looking slightly dazed for a moment before snapping to attention. It had been a while since she'd used that GF. She'd forgotten how strange it could feel.
Baralai blinked as all three Large Bodies froze, and then shattered, leaving only a few gutsy or stupid littler Heartless behind. He looked from Quistis to the now much emptier plaza, and blinked again. Coming back to his senses when one of them tried eating his ankle, he kicked out sharply, before striking through the remaining Heartless with another shower of munny.
Taking a deep breath, he turned to face her. "Remind me, please, to never get on your bad side." He'd never seen an attack like that before.
Quistis turned to the man, raising her eyebrows a little. "...And here I thought most of the screwed up worlds that got dumped around here had summons." She looked around, making sure that all the heartless had really taken their leave. Annoying thing about them was they eventually decided to come back.
Oh, that made more sense. "My apologies, Lady Summoner." Baralai did a small Yevon bow. "It's been ....a few years, since I've seen an attack like that." He left out the part where he'd been much farther away that time, too. Opening his mouth to ask where her guardians were, he heard a faint chittering and promptly shut it again. "Perhaps this conversation would be better held indoors." He gestured toward the clock tower -- it was a decent walk back to the weapons shop.
Quistis blinked at the 'Lady Summoner' bit, but didn't have time to object, frowning a bit at the sound, and nodding as he motioned to the clock tower, taking off for the door without sticking around for the heartless to come back for a visit.
Baralai followed quickly. Those things had a pack mentality -- if one Heartless got away, you could bet it would be back. With about six dozen friends. He didn't know about the woman, but he didn't feel up for rounds two, three, four and probably five at the moment. Stalling them out seemed like a better option.
Shutting the heavy wooden door behind him, he turned back to her. "We may be in for a bit of a wait."
Quistis rolled her shoulders, stepping away from the door and looking around the tower. "...Oh well. Not like I'm in any hurry."
"That does make two of us." Leaning against the wall, Baralai stuck his hands in the pockets of his robe. Now that they weren't fighting, conversation was eluding him. He watched her poke around for a moment. "One of the few benefits of not having a job." It wasn't bitterness in his voice, just....boredom. He'd been taking a lot of walks, lately.
Quistis turned back to look at him, finally fully taking in what he looked like. Weird clothes, white hair, and dark skin. Weird contrast, but oddly fitting. She crossed her arms, tilting her head to the side. "....So, who are you?"
Baralai blinked. They hadn't.....he ran back over the event in his head. Fighting, fighting, massive freeze, flee to clock tower. There really hadn't even been time for introductions. "My apologies, Lady. I'm Baralai." Like her, he took a minute to really look at her. She was the first summoner he'd ever seen that relied on a weapon, at least primarily. She had handled that whip like she knew what she was doing. And the pretty factor was still there. Very there, and more so now that she wasn't annoyed and about to hit him in the face.
He shook his head slightly -- if the temple had drilled anything into him, it was that summoners were off limits. "And you are?"
Quistis shifted her weight from one foot to the other, before snapping her whip into the strap on the side of her belt. "...Quistis Trepe." She'd almost continued her title, but of course, without any Garden, or World for that matter...there really wasn't any SeeD, which really made the whole title pointless.
Baralai nodded. "Lady Quistis." Hearing the first strains of multiple chitters, he shifted his weight just enough to be leaning on the seam where door met wall. No point in letting in more company. "May I assume you're no more native here than I?"
"...Just, Quistis, please." Quistis wasn't exactly comfortable with titles when there was no use for them. Then she shook her head, her arms loosening slightly, although they remained crossed. "No. I'm definitely not from here." Thank Hyne for that.
He lifted a shoulder, dropped it again with a small smile, hands still in his pockets. "I'll try. I'm just very used to addressing Summoners by rank." Baralai tilted his head, considering. "Though.....I suppose it's not quite as important now."
Looking back at her, he asked, "So where are you from, then?" A beat. "Quistis," he added with a slightly more teasing smile.
"..Summoner?" Quistis arched an eyebrow, leaning back against the wall of the tower. "....I'm not a summoner. Any certified SeeD or SeeD trainee can use a GF." She tilted her head to the side slightly. "...I'm from Balamb."
The ground shook a few times. Apparently, the little Heartless had brought some of their larger kin back. Folding his legs under him, Baralai sank to a seated position, back still against the door. "GF?" he asked curiously. "That was the....." skimpy blue lady with the ice "...summon you called?"
Letting that piece of information sink in, he continued. "They're called Fayth where I'm from. Only Summoners could call them -- it's part of why they were so respected."
Quistis frowned a little as the ground shook, looking around the room of the tower again, trying to see if there was an alternate escape route visible to the naked eye. Nothing that she could see. Great. "...I see. GFs...they're something anyone can summon, if junctioned properly." Although it wasn't like GFs weren't dangerous, what with the losing of memories, and all. "...Are you sure that door is going to hold?"
"It seemed sturdy enough." Something thunked against the heavy wood and Baralai winced. "Mostly."
Unfolding one leg, he propped himself up on his knee, as much for comfort as to brace his back more securely. "I think we'll be fine once they lose interest. This can't be the first time it's been used for shelter, not with this many Heartless swarming around town."
Quistis frowned, eying the door for a moment before walking over and sliding down next to him, bracing her own back up against it. "That just means it's old and more prone to giving way one of these days." And she'd rather if today wasn't that day.
He shot her a sideways glance, followed by an amused smile. "That's a pessimistic tack. I know a monk or two who'd be very fond of you."
Another thunk rattled the door, followed by a squeak. Baralai pondered the implications of that for a moment. "I think someone just got thrown."
Quistis arched her eyebrow at the monk comment, and had been about to respond when the thump and resounding squeak occurred, and she frowned a little, tilting her head back to look at the door out of the corner of her eye. "Hyne these things are more persistent than they were in Traverse."
"I can't say I've never seen worse, but they certainly do put up a fight." Baralai paused, curious. "Traverse?" There were more of these places?
"The place where a whole bunch of us got dumped from? Don't tell me you missed that drama." Quistis rolled her eyes a little. People still were more than a little cold to the Traverse Town refugees, for the most part.
Baralai shook his head. "I wasn't a part of that. I was in Spira, and then I was just......here." He still had no idea why, let alone how. Outside, it sounded like there were Heartless fighting with themselves. He supposed that was a good sign. "Were you there long?"
Quistis frowned a little, trying to remember how long it had been in Traverse. "...A few months, at least."
Letting his head lean back against the door, Baralai sighed. That added up to what Paine and Gippal had said. They'd filled him in, more or less, on Twilight Town and the situation now. But details about before had been remarkably scarce. Lost in his own thoughts, he raked a hand through his hair and muttered, "So what the hell happened?"
"...Heartless make the worlds blink out. A lot of them blinked out at the same time. That's what I heard, at least." There had been a lot of stuff floating around Traverse. The journals hadn't helped much, as far as keeping things quiet went.
Baralai started. That wasn't supposed to have been out loud. "I....see," he said after a moment. "You know more than I do, at the moment." Without lifting his head, he turned to look at her. "Who's in charge of the Heartless, then? Worlds blinking out -- that sounds more involved then they seem capable of." There was a loud yelp. "Thankfully."
Quistis worried her lip, tilting her head back a little. "...That, I don't know."
"Still, I thank you. It was more information than I had." Baralai fell silent, listening to the scuffling outside and letting the new information sink in.
Quistis shrugged a little, leaning her head back against the door. "...You would've heard about it eventually. Not like people are keeping it a big secret."
He nodded. "Through the journals, right?" Those things were a little.....peculiar. He wasn't sure he wanted that direct a connection to everyone in this mixed world. Baralai let out a quiet laugh. "I keep forgetting I have one. I suppose I'm not quite up to speed with this place yet."
"I haven't been using mine much." Quistis shrugged a little. "...But yeah. They don't seem to be great at keeping secrets."
"So I've noticed." Baralai cocked his head as the fighting sounds paused for a few beats before picking back up. Maybe they'd finally be getting somewhere. "They're awfully chatty for bad guys." Of course, this was compared to Sin and Shuin, so he didn't have much experience to fall back on. Still.
Turning a little to face her, he kept his shoulder on the door with a friendly smile. "Things get complicated fast here, don't they?"
"So it would seem." She looked over at him again and...hyne, that smile was disarming. Well. This was weird. So she looked away again, ignoring it. "...Of course, this being said by the people stuck in a clock tower due to some persistent black blobs."
"You do have a point there." Feeling strangely rebuffed, Baralai turned his head as well, staring at the boxes that littered the room. The scuffles and howls were coming less frequently now, and with more time in between them. "If it's any consolation, I don't think it'll be too much longer. I think they're more interested in fighting each other by now."
"Thank hyne for that." Quistis grumbled a little, before realizing she was being rude. "...I mean, not that it hasn't been....nice talking to you...it's just, uncomfortable being holed up here. When I could be holed up back in Xu's apartment, rather." ....Yeah, less rude, more stupid right there.
"No, I understand." Baralai risked another smile. "There are, admittedly, better situations to have a conversation." His tone turned a little grumbly as well. "Though any change is better than the four walls of my friends' apartment, I'll agree."
Quistis tilted her head to look at Baralai again. "...So you're stuck in that situation too, huh?" Jobless and mooching off a friend. What fun.
He shrugged. "It's not that I don't appreciate it. I just...." Baralai blew out a breath. "I feel rather useless. No job, no place to stay. And the two of them are.....well. It's awkward, at times." Especially that one time with the shower. "I suppose it would help if I could find a job or a place of my own, but neither of that seems likely at the moment. It's.....frustrating."
And he was rambling about it all to a perfect stranger. Yeep. Baralai felt his ears turn a little pink. "Ah....sorry. You probably didn't care for that much detail."
Quistis shrugged a little. Quite honestly, she'd been feeling the same way. Minus the 'two of them' part. "...My friend's apartment isn't exactly the roomiest place on earth. I've been trying to get out myself." She'd been contemplating joining that 'Brute Squad' thing. She'd heard that the pay was substantial, and she really didn't have any issues with killing stuff for money. Since that had been her job before this whole thing happened.
"We're of like minds, then." He offered half a smile. "It's tricky here. Even with a job, the rents are steep for one alone." He'd found that out the hard way. Even with his potential job at the library, he still wouldn't be able to afford the rent without a roommate. Which effectively left him stuck.
When several moments had passed with no thumps, squeals of pain, or earth-shaking tremors, Baralai deemed it safe enough to stand up again, sliding his back up the door and offering her a hand. "Shall we take our chances?"
Quistis listened for a moment to the door before taking his hand and pulling herself up. "...I guess it's better than sitting in here."
More focused on not getting attacked, Baralai forgot about dropping her fingers as he lifted the latch. Keeping his body angled just ahead of hers, he cautiously swung the door open. And looked out on an empty plaza, with a very dented bench. Apparently not all those thunks had been Heartless. He threw a grin over his shoulder. "Looks like we're in the clear."
"Thank hyne they got bored." Quistis frowned, looking around the plaza. "...But they'll come back."
His smile slipped away. "True. I suggest we make the most of our small window." Baralai stepped out into the plaza, or tried to, until a weight dragged at his arm. He looked back, curious -- had he gotten caught on something, or had......Yevon.
Dropping her hand quickly, he skipped pink this time and flushed straight to red. "Sorry! I mean......um.....I didn't mean......" He almost wished for the Heartless again, just to feel something besides embarrassment.
Quistis hadn't even noticed she'd still been holding onto his hand. Flushing a little herself she hurried past him to mask it before motioning for him to follow "C'mon, we can't stick around here. Get back into the safer parts of town."
Oh, good. A plan -- one that didn't involve him feeling stupid, even. Things were looking up. Baralai nodded briefly and hurried to catch up with her. "Where's your friend's apartment? I'll walk you and then head for the weapons shop."
"...Above the Weapon's shop, actually." Quistis blinked. "...Xu works there, and gets discount lodging, or something."
Baralai blinked back. He knew Xu, in that she worked for Paine and Jecht and he lived with Paine and Jecht. How had he missed her? "That's convenient," he replied, feeling a little foolish. "I mean, that we're both....there. So we can walk together." Apparently, his public speaking skills didn't really work outside of temple walls.
Quistis tilted her head, looking over at him. "...You know one of the patrons, or are you crammed in one of the other 'apartments?'"
"Actually, Paine and I go back a ways. We were part of a team together, but that was a long time ago. And Jecht....." Baralai trailed off. There really was no explaining Jecht. Better to stick with what he knew. "Yeah. Paine and Gippal let me stay, and I pick up a few hours in the shop." Which just added to the general mooch feeling. "And you? Did you know Xu, or were you just in need of a roof?"
"Xu and I grew up together, back in Balamb." Quistis twitched her fingers by her side a little. "...I was prepared to stay in a hotel or on a rooftop, but she tracked me down and forced me to stay with her."
Baralai chuckled at that. "The joys of true friendship. Having the ability to browbeat or blackmail to your whim." He'd been in his share of situations like that, most of them either due to or enforced by Gippal. "Though I think you're better off. I have a friend and his --" girlfriend was not the word for Leblanc. "partner, on the roofs." Still not right, but it was at least a polite phrasing. "I've heard it's not the best sleeping arrangement."
"I'd think not..." Quistis said with a slightly amused expression. "...Although it's about all I can afford on my own right now."
"Well, Nooj is.....eccentric, let's say. If anybody would sleep on a roof, it would be him." Baralai quirked a grin at her as the weapons shop came into view. "I understand your plight, however." He lifted a shoulder. "It seems to be a town made for roommates, at the very least."
"...Yeah." Then a thought dawned on her, and she hoped she wouldn't sound weird bringing it up. "...You know. If we're both looking for a place, and a roommate... if we both found jobs, maybe it'd be possible to um. Split rent? I mean. If you don't want to because we're total strangers and all, that's fine. I just figured since we're both looking... it's kind of stupid to blatantly ignore the opportunity." .........why did she feel like she was blushing?
Hand on the door, Baralai stopped dead. Looking back at her in surprise, he opened his mouth. Then shut it again. That was a thought. Quistis was friendly, she could fight, she was relatively normal. And by a few journal entries, those were all strong points. He studied her for a moment. "That's a.....very good idea," he admitted. It was hard to tell in the eternal dusk, but she looked a little pink.
Quistis smiled, the color fading from her cheeks. "Alright. It's settled then. Once we both have a steady source of income, we'll go in search of a place with affordable rent and enough space so we don't kill each other, hmm?"
Baralai smiled, holding out his hand to shake. "That sounds like a plan."
Quistis took his hand, shaking it firmly. "A plan it is." and getting out of Xu's crammed apartment whee.