Hey. How ya doin'? It's been a while, hasn't it? Don't worry though. I haven't died. This story has been sitting half finished since about three days after I posted the last one. Today, I finally found the time to finish it. Hope you enjoy it.
Thanks to Shreek for Beta-ing for me, and generally giving me the idea for Sebastian's story.
"We're winning," Dasha announced triumphantly, knocking shoulders with her younger sister.
They were gathered in the living room at Val Hall. The Valkyrie were perched all around the room watching the fierce battle with rapt attention. Bowls of popcorn could be found in various places about the room, their contents spread across the floor. Dasha, Rika and Kaderin all sat on the back of the couch, flourishing their Wii remotes back and forth.
Rika gave Dasha a toothy grin, redoubling her efforts on the controller. "Don't deny it, Sebby. We're winning."
Dasha leaned in closer to the screen and with a few flicks of her wrist she launched a surprise attack on her opponents. "Shouldn't you be better at this than us?" she asked idly. "I mean, you've lived in this time how long?"
Distracted from his defence efforts at Dasha's word and the fresh rain of popcorn that pelted his back, Sebastian hunched over his own controller, his movements jerky and inefficient. "That sentence does not make sense," he gritted, falling to the side slightly in reaction to a fresh attack on the screen. "How could I have been in this particular time any longer than you?" Letting out a low growl, he thrust his remote up into the air. "The time," –grunt, double tap – "in which we live at current does not change from person to person."
A chorus of boos and hisses met his ears as he struck at Dasha's game character and yet another round of popcorn hit.
"Each second is as measured as the last," Sebastian stated, less tense now that he had levelled the playing field. "Each minute is the same in length. Each-"
Dasha, feeling rather cocky despite the hit on her life line, gestured to herself and Rika, stating slowly and carefully, "Just arrived from the past." She then pushed on Sebastian's shoulder. "Been here all along."
He grunted, pushing back at Dasha as she returned her attention to the game. "I have had little time for these things in my life," he said reluctantly. Truly, he'd only discovered video games in the last few months. He'd felt left out, watching his Bride bonding with her long lost sisters over the contraptions. After a week of Dasha and Rika exclaiming their joy with the games they too were newly discovering, Sebastian had taken Kaderin into the living room of their estate, presented her with a brand new Nintendo Wii console and requested that she teach him. She had given him a private smile and deftly set up the machine, barely looking at what she was doing as Sebastian stared over her shoulder the entire time.
Rika giggled, jumping up and down on the couch as she tried to fend off a double team attack from Kaderin and Sebastian. "Too much to do in your dark little hole?" she asked merrily.
A snigger broke forth from Dasha as she leaped down to the floor, fighting out the digital battle as if she were warring against the biggest enemy in the Lore. "More like he couldn't find the light switch in his dark little hole," she cried. "Didn't know what a light switch was! Haha!" Rika tittered out her own laughter, almost falling off the back of the couch as she waved her controller in the air.
"Stop distracting me," Sebastian bit out, moving over to see around Dasha's dancing form. "I've almost got the hang of this thing."
Kaderin, who had been oddly quiet during the argument and indeed, the entire gaming experience, muttered under her breath, "That's what you said last night."
Dasha stopped her movements abruptly, her jaw dropped open and her eyes widened dramatically. She turned around completely to face her sister, the game completely forgotten. "You didn't!" she exclaimed, an evil grin slowly forming on her lips.
At the same time a look of abject horror came over Rika's face. She had dropped her controller and clamped her hands tightly over her pointed ears. "I don't need to hear these things!" she exclaimed, shaking her head from side to side. "It's bad enough when you say you love the leech. But really. Do you have to say things like that? You'll make my tender ears bleed."
"Tender?" Regin scoffed from the sidelines. "I seem to recall some pretty suggestive comments last week when I took you on a field trip. Remember that? Wanna tell the class what you said to that pretty demon?"
"Butt out, Regin," Rika snapped, picking up her controller once more in order to save her game character's behind.
Regin chuckled and began repositioning herself in the room, dragging Lucia over to stand in view of the four battling Loreans. She instructed Lucia how to stand and her arms crossed and then leaned in close to her best friend, lowering her voice as she reached up to stroke her shoulder. "What would you do if I stroked your horns?" she whispered suggestively. "Would it be fast and hard? Or slow and sensual?" Lucia said nothing, only raising her eyebrow a fraction of an inch. "Perhaps I should find out for myself?" Regin continued, raising her hand as if to run it along the length of an imaginary horn. She then abruptly ended the re-enactment, turning to face Rika.
"If it weren't for me you'd be demon chow right now. That dude was mated."
From there, the gathering had dissolved into a fist fight, which was always much more entertaining to watch than the game play on the screen, and also the perfect cover for Sebastian to take hold of his Bride and trace away.
Arriving at the estate, Kaderin stepped out of his reach and started leading him toward the bedroom, but Sebastian wasn't having it. He was on a mission. A mission that required his full attention and the aid of his Bride. He pulled her to the couch in the living room and fired up the game console that sat on the coffee table.
"Bastian, what are you doing?"Kaderin asked, clearly disappointed.
He grabbed his controller and sat down next to her, handing her the walk through he'd found on the internet the day before. "Dasha is ahead of me. I can't let her take the lead."
"You always get so worked up about these things. It doesn't matter if she's further than you."
Clicking through the options to start playing, Sebastian turned to look at her. "She shouldn't be better at this than me. She's just arrived here in this age!"
"Valkyrie have a natural affinity for technology, she can't help the way she is," she stopped a moment, shaking her head. "Why are you comparing yourself to her anyway?"
"I need to prove myself. You saw how they all laughed at me. If I can't prove my skill with the technology they will never accept me."
"They already accept you, Bastian," she told him gently. "You saved me."
"They're grateful, that's different to accepting," he grated. "Now are you going to help me or not?"
Kaderin shook her head and held up the sheaf of paper he'd given her. "Dasha doesn't need one of these," she commented. "And I don't either."
Sebastian rolled his eyes and looked over at the love of his life. "But I do," he said.
An hour later, Kaderin was sitting cross legged on the coffee table, trying to hold in her laughter as she listened to Sebastian's incessant babbling. He'd started complaining about the game almost the moment he started playing. His practical mind instantly picking apart the graphics and plot.
"What the hell?" he exclaimed, jumping off the couch in his outrage. "I just left the elevator room! Now I have to go back? Again? This is ridiculous. There is absolutely no logic behind this game. None!"
Kaderin did her best to keep a straight face as she nodded her head in agreement. "I know, that's what's so great about it."
"Stop laughing at me. I'm serious!"
"Serious about a game, brother?"
Sebastian dropped the controller and spun around at the sound of his brother's voice. "Don't you ever knock, Nikolai?"
By way of reply, Nikolai sent him a grin and settled himself into the arm chair beside and asked, "What are we playing?" He leaned forward to scrutinise the screen. "Oh, Kingdom Hearts. Myst finished this one ages ago. So what's the problem here?"
"It's completely ridiculous," Sebastian said simply, tossing the controller onto the table beside his bride. "I've been through the elevator room a dozen times already and I'm not getting anywhere."
"What about the waterfall?" Kaderin prompted, obviously enjoying antagonising her mate. "Tell him what was wrong with the waterfall."
Throwing his hands up in the air in frustration, Sebastian looked pointedly at his Bride and said, "Don't think I don't know what you're doing," before quickly addressing his brother. "So there's a waterfall when you arrive at the Hollow Bastion and it's completely massive and seems to just go into a big hole in the planet, except there's an ice platform and a pond area down there. Where does the rest of the water go?"
Nikolai's lip twitched and his voice sounded strained as he spoke, "Brother... I think perhaps you've been spending too much time at Val Hall."
Sebastian raised his eyebrow in suspicion. He didn't like that his brother's face had turned a deep burgundy colour, an obvious result of contained laughter. Nor did he like that his beloved Bride was now curled up in a ball - a violently shaking ball - and laughing so hard that she squeaked.
With the addition of the squeaking, Nikolai was unable to hold back and began to laugh, "You sound... like Myst ... when... when... when some sales lady... tries to sell her a knockoff handbag."
"But it makes no logical sense!"
This set off more laughter and giggles, frustrating Sebastian no end. He was already fighting off grinding his teeth from the incomprehensible nonsense that was Kingdom Hearts. Now he could practically feel the vein in his forehead pulsing.
After taking a few deep breaths Nikolai raised his hands in an appeasing manner. "It doesn't have to make sense, Sebastian. It's like a digital fairy tale."
"Don't forget the Darkball," Kaderin added, having recovered significantly enough from her laughter to rejoin the conversation, but ignoring Nikolai's attempts to calm his brother down. "Remember the Darkball?"
"That blasted vein-y balloon thing!"
"Right," Nikolai said, still fighting a snigger and not really following. "Look, I just came over to ask if you'd heard from Murdoch recently, but since you're having an argument with a video game, I'll come back later. Maybe when you've resolved your issues." He stood and nodded to his brother's Bride. "Always a pleasure, Kaderin. It's good to see that someone is still making light of his over thinking."
"Happy to serve a purpose," Kaderin replied as Nikolai disappeared. To Sebastian, she said patronisingly, "Time to put the toys away. We'll finish tomorrow." After a pause, she moved closer to him and added, "I can think of a few ways to burn off this agitation." She wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed a kiss to his ear, whispering softly, "To the bedroom, James." And just like that the living room was empty.
Thanks, as always, for reading. Hope you find a moment to let me know what you think.