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|Hexiva||Nov 15 2011, 01:06 AM|
Just to Talk|
Valentine visits his sister after Amber's death, looking for someone to talk to. Gen, Valentine&Octavia Svarc
Valentine doesn't come here often. It's one of Arcadia's middle class neighbourhoods - lower class for power users, but still above the Normals. Still, the apartment is quite nice, if drab, and it's . . . quiet. It fits her, Valentine thinks. She always was quiet - the whole family was.
He knocks on the door, and it opens immediately.
"Jason!" says the woman on the other side. "You're early, I'm still getting ready, take a s - " she stops as she recognizes Valentine. "Oh. It's you."
"You noticed," Valentine says drily.
This woman is Octavia Svarc, his little sister. She's not in the Elite, and Valentine doesn't think she approves of his career, but she's no traitor. Or at least, that's what Valentine thinks - but they never were as close as sisters should have been.
"I'm getting ready for a date," Octavia says.
"Oh," Valentine says, off-balance for a second - he came here to talk, but he should've called to see if she was free. "I'm sorry, I should've called ahead. I'll just - "
Octavia sighs, pointedly enough to cut Valentine off. "He's an asshole anyway. Family comes first, I've always said." This last sentence is also pointed - Octavia thinks Valentine betrayed the family when he joined the Elite, Val guesses.
"No, I - " Valentine starts - he's regretting coming to her, quickly remembering all of the little ways he never got along with her as a child.
But Octavia is on her phone already, saying "Yeah, I gotta take a rain check. My sister's in town, she's in a bit of trouble - yeah, I rarely see her - well that's not my fault, she has shitty timing - yes, yes she is listening to all of this - Oh, for God's - I'm hanging up now, Jason."
Valentine is scowling darkly at this. He's come to accept that pronouns are a problem for some people, but it feels pointed when Octavia does it. Once, when Valentine was twelve and throwing a fit about something, she'd accused her parents and Octavia of wishing they'd had a "normal" kid - or even a Normal kid, anything but Valentine.
He knows that wasn't true at all. His parents were always supportive, when Valentine made a point of his - or her - gender, when Valentine walked out of their Catholic church, when Valentine went off to college as a man. It was only when the police came to their door and asked them whether they knew that their son was a member of a group of mutant supremacist terrorists that they had cause to question him. And even then, they still talk, at Christmas and Easter, even if they never, ever mention Valentine's work.
"Well?" says Octavia, putting her phone back in her pocket, stepping back from the door to sit on the couch and motioning him to follow. "What happened? You don't visit me just to talk. Plus you look like a bird shit in your morning coffee, Val.
"I can't imagine why that could possibly be," Val says acerbically. He went to sit next to her. "No, as hard as it is to believe, I actually just came to talk." He smiled at that, tried to put a light, joking tone on the words. He is here to offer an olive branch, not to start another fight.
Octavia made a show of getting her cell phone back out and checking the date. "Is it Christmas already and I just didn't notice? 'Cause you don't visit without a reason."
Valentine rubbed his face. "I visited you because you're the only person I could possibly visit. A realization which is not making me feel particularly good about my life, might I add."
He isn't usually like this, and he knows that. Or maybe he's always like this, underneath, and he's just usually better at hiding it. Either way, something about talking to Octavia's words always makes him lash out. He can handle the worst insults flung from anyone else, and smile back smoothly. If he can deal with Gabriel, who God knows he hates far more than he could ever Octavia, he should be able to keep his cool now.
But he can't.
"Don't have any friends?" Octavia says, and then, when Valentine's glance aside reveals that this is in fact, the case, she puts one hand to her head tirely. It echoes Valentine's earlier gesture. "Again, Val?"
"Don't jump to conclusions, Octavia," Valentine says. "I have plenty of friends. They're just - " he stops here.
"Well?" Octavia says.
"My best friend is a sadistic psychopath whose sole pleasure is torturing prisoners. My girlfriend is . . . dead - " he really doesn't want to go into that - "our parents don't need to hear about my work - "
"You get paid to torture people, Val, no one needs to hear about your work - "
"- and my sister is a bitch," he said, finishing the sentence without changing his tone. "What I do is for the good of our people, Octavia. Don't make excuses for the people I interroga - all right, the people I torture. Don't make excuses for them. They are terrorists. Not freedom fighters, not whatever silly romanticised notions you have of them."
Octavia opens her mouth, and Valentine locks eyes with her, and both of them are sure, for a second, that she's going to say something outright treasonous, step over that line that's keeping her in her quiet, normal life.
But then Octavia scowls and says, "It doesn't matter who they are. You are torturing people. You are getting paid to torture people, on a daily basis. That’s no business for a man of . . . God.”
“I’m doing God’s work!” Valentine protested. “I’ll be the one to bring our people into a new era of - ”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m so special, God talks to me, etcetera etcera etcera,” Octavia says, lounging against the couch with a sardonic expression. "All right. If you're doing God's work, why are you so miserable that you came crawling to me? What got through your unbreakable self-confidence?"
"My girlfriend turned out to be a terrorist. And then I shot her," Valentine says, quite calmly.
Octavia's eyes narrow. "And then you went to talk to someone about it, and you found there wasn't anyone. Right?"
"Right," admits Valentine. "I've lied to everyone I know, and most of them I wouldn't want to tell the truth to even if I didn't need to lie to them. I know why I had to tell those lies. I'm not guilty. But it means that I can't talk to any of these people."
Octavia stares at him for a long minute during which he has absolutely no clue what she's thinking.
Finally, she says, "So you've lied to all of your friends, shot your girlfriend, tortured God-knows-how-many-people . . . and now you're feeling sorry for yourself because of that." There's disgust in her tone.
Valentine says, "I haven't done anything wrong."
It is not a vain protest; Val believes it with all his heart.
"You have. You're not one of the good guys, Valentine, and I think there's just enough good left in you that one day you're going to realize that, and it's all going to come crashing down on you. I don't know what's going to happen to you then, but maybe then I'll find it in me to feel sorry for you. Right now? Get out of my house. You don't need my pity; you've always had piles of it for yourself."
Valentine smiles. It's the smile he gives to Gabriel or Vincent when there's a Normal screaming in pain in front of them, and Valentine is pretending he's enjoying the view - thin and cold and unpleasant. "I see how it is, Octavia. Thank you for explaining things to me."
He gets up and walks out the door, pausing on the first stair to say, "And Octavia? Consider whether you want a member of the Elite as your enemy."
It's a horrible thing to say and this Valentine does feel guilty about as he continues down the stairs. (Octavia would mock that, too, that Valentine can feel guilt for vaguely threatening his sister but not for torturing people; but she doesn't understand.) He can't take it back, though, and he knows it'll hang in the air over the dinner table next Christmas.
He won't come here again. In the future, he'll consider spilling his guts to Gabriel before he considers Octavia. Like so many other doors before, he has closed this one and locked it behind him.
Edited by Hexiva, Nov 15 2011, 01:10 AM.
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