A/N: Another Chrno fic. This really served as a way for me to explore Chrno and Rosette's relationship, and try and capture what it is that makes it so powerful to those of us listening to their story. It's pretty introspective, as I tried to explore their characters and their behavior. Oh, by the way, I am still insisting on spelling it "Chrno" and not "Chrono". "Chrno" is how it was spelled on the original Japanese manga, and that's how I'm keeping it. Sorry for any problems this might cause.
Talk in Tongues
by Vitani FyreWolf
Oh the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pour them all right out, just as they are -- chaff and grain together -- certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and with the breath of kindness blow the rest away…
- Dinah Mulock
The tomb had been so cold.
Isolation was cold. Death was cold.
Rosette was warm.
He reached out for her like someone in danger of freezing to death, having spent so long in the frigid air that they no longer remembered what warmth felt like, and would give anything to find out.
It seemed he had to try harder to find her warmth as time went by. He didn't know if it was his imagination, but the more her life was spent, the more he needed to reach out to her to find any. She would probably deny it, however, and in truth he was probably just being paranoid. Rosette was Rosette – a being of light and energy and brilliance, and no amount of lost life could take that from her. Still… it was hard to convince himself of that when he was the one who saw the effect most, her strained face when the seal was released, the harsh breathing, the forced words. After the clock was closed again, she would return to normal – well, as normal as Rosette could ever be - but for Chrno the memory would remain, and join so many others, growing heavier and heavier on his heart. To climb through those to see the sun again, her sun, he would attach himself to her side, taking hope from her ready smile.
Rosette was not very particular about who she touched, which contented Chrno, for she embraced him as readily as she would any other. To him, this seemed to explain why she never drew away from him because he was a demon - it didn't occur to him that she would have acted so towards him even if she was shy. Sometimes he liked to think that she would linger more with him, as though knowing he needed it. They never talked about it. Words took up time, and that was the one thing they made sure not to waste. So, when either of them had something particularly intense to tell the other, they often didn't bother trying to speak it – instead it would be conveyed through touch; a comforting embrace, a restraining hand. Over time this caused them to be so used to the presence of one another that words simply weren't necessary for communication – a swift meeting of the eyes, a change in position, told them everything they needed to know. Chrno and Rosette's personal dialect was one of body language and innate understanding, formed unconsciously and without any purposeful effort on either of their parts. In fact, the two did not even realize it was there, it was such a part of their everyday behavior – but to everyone else, it was these silent exchanges that made them who they were, that allowed them to stay strong no matter what was thrown at them. They would talk, certainly, they were by no means silent – but it's what was communicated despite the spoken words that was important. No matter how much someone else tried, keeping up with the quiet interchanges was an impossible task. It had taken four years of constant companionship to build, and was only understood by the two of them. For others it was like trying to decipher two tongues at once – one of speech, and then one that was made up of what was carried underneath the words. Chrno and Rosette understood because the second language was inside them, and did not require any interpretation on their part.
When he had first taken his child form, it was out of necessity – and he was hardly in a state of mind to notice it. He had no energy left, his love was dead, and he fully expected to also die, slowly, inside a stone tomb out of his own condemnation. The fact that he looked like a young boy was really not of any importance to him at the time. So, when Rosette and Joshua had pushed open the doors those years ago, he did not realize what they were seeing. To Chrno, he had thought they were seeing a fierce demon – eyes narrowed, face hard and bitter, someone to be frightened of. He had expected them to run away. In truth, what they actually saw was a weak child, clothes torn, face dirty, hair falling into eyes unfocused by disuse. So instead of running, they went to him. She offered food from her pockets and welcoming smiles; Joshua brought boyish enthusiasm and awe. It was the last thing the grieving demon had ever expected to find upon awakening. That was probably when he realized that perhaps he should stop underestimating fate… every time he thought nothing could change, it did – and in the most unpredictable, if not always kind, way.
The form had its uses - the most important, of course, was preserving her life. But there were other advantages… people were inclined to trust him rather than judge him, which made their missions easier. Someone put off by Rosette's often destructive energy would often quickly be calmed by the well-spoken boy with eyes the color of warm wine. On a personal level, being a child was a lot more receptive to touch. It was because he looked so young that he was able to cling to Rosette after being frightened for her life, and she would hold him and comfort him before mussing his hair roughly and chiding him for worrying. He was grateful, really, that she had gotten used to his child appearance before seeing his true self, because now no matter what form he was in she would treat him the same. Eventually she would have done so anyway – that's just who Rosette was – but it was because she saw him as a child first that she was so immediately comfortable with him as an adult.
Chrno's love for Rosette's contact was really something she had figured out on her own. When she was young, she would braid his hair without thought and reach for him with childlike abandon. His smiles for her then were tolerant and unpracticed – not used to being around children, he was almost overly indulgent to their antics. As she got older, she noticed that he never began to shy away from her hands, and she started to realize that he hadn't done it merely out of kindness for a youth. More than that, the smiles changed, full of warmth and a clear delight at being in her company – the closer she was to him, the truer his smile was. So she continued, and Rosette's open affection for her demon partner was a large part of why the rest of the order finally came to accept him. When the pretty blonde girl would toss her arms around his shoulders, and his reaction was not to scowl and bare his fangs at her, but rather smile with flushed cheeks, the suspicion of the others would fade. Unlike the smiles, that never changed.
Unfortunately, it wasn't the only thing. At the moment, Rosette was stalking around the room after seeing Sister Kate, having once again been dressed-down for some action or other. Disheveled blonde hair fell free about her shoulders, her headcover long abandoned to the fate of being thrown against the wall in fury. Her demon partner idly wondered if the older Sister would even be able to remember why it was she was angry with the headstrong girl this time – it probably all began to run together after so many incidents. Honestly, he sometimes pitied her… not that he'd ever tell Rosette that, of course. Said girl muttered under her breath, pacing in a manner that made the normally docile act look treacherous, trying to figure out how to talk her way out of a huge punishment. Stopping with a determined look on her face, fists clenched, she seemed to come to a decision and rushed out into the hall, heading across the monastery towards the office she had just returned from. Chrno quickly leapt from his position on the bed to follow, making his usual futile call for her to wait. By the time he caught up with her, she was standing in front of Sister Kate's door, fixing the dark wood with a pointed glare. He gasped for air – did she never need to catch her breath? – and shot her a disgruntled look as he came to a stop by her side. She braced herself before placing a hand on the knob, casting a sideways glance in his direction. He shook his head lightly, knowing it would do no good.
"Rosette… nothing you tell her will work anyway – ow"
"You had it coming."
Rubbing his head ruefully, he offered her a slight pout, which made her snort and turn her back on him, slipping into the office. He remained outside – Kate still was not comfortable having him around - and leaned against the wall, tapping one foot quietly as he waited. He did have it coming, and he knew it. It would be so easy to avoid Rosette's tirades. Chrno knew her every push point – what could make her mildly annoyed to spitting mad. If he'd wanted, he would have been able to never once get hit or kicked or throttled. If he'd wanted.
It had sort of started for them when she was in training. When the young girl had gotten upset and had taken it out on her companion – and he hadn't fought back – it had made people stop and stare, and wonder. They had noticed. After the first few stares it became almost a routine for them, slowly wearing down the fear and contempt of the others. It was hard to call a demon malicious when said demon was being beaten by a blue-eyed girl. In fact, he himself was so sweet looking that some of the nuns began to feel sorry for him whenever his contractor was in a particularly bad mood. Now it was as simple as breathing for them – almost choreographed, Rosette would be angry or tense and Chrno would drop a remark, and she would whirl and attack. In the familiar event, both would be calmed. Her because she was letting off energy, and he because it reassured him she was still strong. She didn't ever really hurt him, and he never said anything that would come near to wounding her. Doing so was unthinkable to either of them.
People who were not used to their antics would sometimes worry that the young exorcist would indeed cause him injury – but they didn't know that Rosette was almost as protective of her partner as he was of her, if not just as much. He protected her physically, true, but she watched out for him in the ways she could. He was her comfort, and she was his. Nobody was allowed to speak disparagingly of Chrno while she was around. Nobody except her, anyway, and only her because he knew she didn't mean it, and it never had to do with who he was. The fact that he was a demon simply wasn't an issue with her. He was Chrno, her beloved companion and constant support, and nothing could change that for her.
This served to keep the order from turning on him in those moments when his eyes hardened, and his defenses went up. Because, unwanted as they were, those times did happen. Hurt, anger, guilt that simply did not fit on a child's face showed traces of his real self. Gentle as Chrno looked – and most often was – he still carried things inside him that no one knew, and no one really cared to know… except Rosette. Even she rarely asked, and would never push him to tell her. No matter what he turned, her trust in him was complete, and it was probably that more than anything that always brought him back - from bitter grimaces to welcoming smiles.
For him, he had to deal with old pain compounded with new grief. Few ever really thought about the implications of Chrno and Rosette's contract. Only the two involved, and the ones closest to the pair, could see the constant wear it had on them. It wasn't merely the strain of losing her life that was difficult for Rosette, it was also having to see Chrno blame himself for it. Sometimes that exceeded what she had to suffer from the contract itself. There were times when he looked at her with such deep sadness that it felt as though she were already gone. She had told him countless times to not worry, and not to be guilty, and that it would be okay… but she couldn't make him believe it. Really, she couldn't make herself believe it, either. It was this constant fear of imminent loss that kept them by each other's side. They had so few moments.
A muffled shout came from inside the office, and Chrno looked up, mildly worried. The handle on the door rattled as though someone was fighting with it, and a moment later his contractor flung it open and stalked down the hallway, so angry her barbed words were almost unintelligible. He sighed and trotted after her quickly – at least she was choosing to walk this time, instead of run across the property.
"How could – no understanding – not my fault – aaah!" With a final frustrated scream she fell into a furious silence, hands clenched in the material of her habit. Deciding he was better off not attempting to speak and trigger her anger further, Chrno stayed silent, his mind drifting back to his earlier thoughts. He automatically walked a half step behind her, keeping pace perfectly.
When she had been silent for several moments, he looked up and saw she had calmed, her energy apparently having run its course. Much to the relief of the rest of the Order, no doubt. He smiled to himself and moved to press his side gently against hers as they walked. Momentarily startled, she gave him a bemused look, and then pretended like she didn't notice… but didn't pull away. She rarely pulled away, for which he was grateful. Slowly, her warmth reached him, and the all too familiar feeling of relief surged inside his chest.
Perhaps it was unusual for him to behave the way he did. It didn't really merit thinking on – it just was. Who they were. Who he was. Right now, who he was… was centered on Rosette… and he didn't mind.
He had no pride to lose.