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Tristan/Jade's first (terrible) meeting.

THIS FAMILY IS VERY DYSFUNCTIONAL.

Tristan
Jade

The trip to Lenster had been slightly unsettling. It wasn't as if he hadn't traveled in such a fashion before, but the entire trip had been tense for Tristan. Though he hoped that his suspicions were unwarranted, the trip left him reading whenever he was awake. Remembering Jade's preference toward fire magic--which was another alarm, to tell the truth--he wanted to be sure he understood all that he knew when he arrived. Tristan doubted he would be as skilled as her, but she had hinted she couldn't use--but that might have been a lie to some degree. To put it bluntly, he was prepared for anything.

By the end of the trip, however, he knew there was little more he could do than wait for it to end. When his transport landed in Lenster, he sent a messenger to Jade's address. Arriving there alone didn't seem to be an intelligent route. The gathering of "friends" for a "birthday party" made him feel even more apprehensive regarding his status in Lenster. He was a nobleman, and he believed he had some rights, but he didn't want to draw attention to himself yet. If there was a faction working against the forces in Velthomer, then it would simply be wise for him to conclude that he should stay silent. He picked a place to stand, out of sight, in the case that the beckoned girl would turn up with more people than herself.

Jade had picked up on his suspicions a bit - and it had been rather difficult to juggle wanting to dispel them with wanting to keep her mother unaware of Tristan's heritage. If she advised him to keep his identity a secret or avoided having him talk to her mother, he might grow even more suspicious; if she simply let him do as he pleased, her mother would find out and... well, she, Gawain and Evan would be in quite a bit of trouble.

Fortunately, Evan had been... strangely understanding (possibly out of fear of Althaea wanting to return to Velthomer), and with much insisting was able to convince her that they should spend their Valentine's night somewhere quiet and, most importantly, away from the city. This bought them some time, at least, to see if Tristan would introduce himself as Tristan Velthomer - in which case they could still tell her before she found out on her own. Not ideal, no, but her curiosity had already gotten her in quite a bit of trouble, might as well aim for the lesser of evils.

In spite of all of that, she was still quite anxious to see him - there was the fact he was family, and the fact that she'd just plain liked talking to him over the journals. She wasn't sure what to expect other than him being quiet, reserved, and possibly a little awkward around her, and it was somewhat thrilling.

She went alone, on foot - fortunately the meeting place wasn't very far from where the party would be held. She was already dressed for it, in case their conversation took longer than expected, and admittedly because she wanted to cause a good first impression, as well. It took her a while to locate him - the only person standing still in the area - and she approached him with a casual smile (just in case).

"Excuse me? Are you Tristan?"

Almost in response, his hand drifted down toward one of the locations where he had a weapon. Tristan knew it would reveal a little too much later on, but he could not help it. He turned toward the voice of the woman and stalled in place, partly because she was not what he had been expecting, and partly because she was alone. Tristan cast a wary glance over her head and listened for a moment, lips slightly pursed, for anyone else that was lurking in the distance. His eyes drifted to a half-lidded appearance as he did this, but once he felt somewhat reassurred, his hand drifted from its location and he did his best to relax. But given that he was trained to carry a certain countenance in public, his appearance still made him look somewhat more rigid.

"I am," he spoke, and his throat immediately felt sore from the lack of use over the trip. He stepped toward her, raising a hand to brush strands of brown hair from his face. Even if she knew his father's face, she would notice that he looked nothing like Finn Velthomer. That gift was bestowed upon the older brothers, who took on more of his appearance. Tristan was built more like his uncles, with broad shoulders and a firmer look. "You're Jade, then?" Hesitance slipped its way back into his appearance, as it seemed like he was expecting her to be someone else. If it was her, he imagined he had more to taken into account. If she was this beautiful, and did intend him harm ...

Tristan did his best not to smile. It was the same face he wore when in meetings with his uncles, as they made recommendations for how he could take Velthomer despite the lack of grounding he held.

"Yes," she said with a small nod, the smile fading as she arched an eyebrow. "Is something wrong?" He looked even more hesitant than she'd expected, to the point that it'd overshadowed his good looks somewhat. Yes, he was good-looking, as was (she'd heard) traditional of the Velthomers, but it was hard to be particularly taken when he looked so... stiff. Good, though, that he didn't seem to resemble their father - at least her mother could look at him from a distance without being suspicious of anything.

It was rather obvious he was still suspicious - had he come to try and find out her intentions, or something? If he was scared she would do him harm, coming such a distance all by himself was undoubtedly a very dumb move. Not that she wasn't making a series of dumb moves, herself, but.

Instead of following her back, he decided it might be best to take care of the inquiries here. If she posed a danger, he was sure he could handle her. She was much smaller than him, and their shared gift in fire magic--he assumed, still, that she shared it--would make the fight somewhat easier. She didn't seem as if she was ready to attack, but people like this were always prepped to fight. His jaw tightened a little as he made another glance in the area behind her to ensure that no one had snuck forth while he advanced toward her. It was unwise for him to be there, but if he truly disappeared, his absence would alarm his siblings enough to be prepared for any danger.

"I have only come here to ask you questions, not to take part in any celebrations you may have. I thought to ask you over the journals, but I thought this would be better." It was rash, but he was willing to risk that. Any form of information, any sign, would be better than nothing. It was hard to keep up this face, when the better part of him, the more dominant part, wished to smile and act as if he was at ease. He was not a man who was supposed to be rigid, but hadn't she told him to stand up for what he believed in?

"Why are you asking so many questions about my family? We are in a state of political unrest, and if you are hoping to sabotage that ..." He let it trail off as he did his best to glance away from her and look somewhat enigmatic. Though he could pull off rigid, he couldn't pull off enigmatic and somewhat imposing. As a result, he ended up looking rather foolish, like a boy attempting to be more masculine than he really was. Unaware of this, he pressed on, in lower tones, "Then I can't let you. At the risk of my life." If there was an attack on Velthomer, it could mean the cost of his mother's life. Keeping it from occurring was important. His siblings, too, were valuable to him--at least the ones he got on well with. Phineas and Sheila, he supposed, didn't deserve to violently die.

Jade stared at him for a few moments in a bit of disbelief. Yes, she had been asking many questions - it was natural for her to be curious about her newly found family, she supposed, although maybe she should have exercised more caution - and yes, from what he'd said they were in a state of unrest, but. He'd come all the way from Velthomer to Lenster to ask a stranger he'd met over a magical journal whether she wanted to 'sabotage that'? And say that he couldn't let her, at the risk of his life? It was... well. Surreal didn't even begin to describe it.

But it was the look on his face that did it - she broke into laughter, though contained, at just how ridiculous the whole thing was. Ironically she could bring even more unrest to the political situation in Velthomer, given her heritage, but that ranked dead last in her list of priorities - and that he would even think that someone so far away from him would want to cause him harm - it was too ridiculous.

"I'm sorry," she managed between laughs, "I just - what?" She brought a hand to her face, carefully so as to not ruin the makeup. "Look, I've told you, I'm curious." The last word trailed off into a chuckle, and it took her a moment to continue. "I came here to meet you on the night of my birthday because I was actually excited for it, but I don't know what I'm doing here if all you want is just... make sure I'm not out to get you, or something." A bit of disappointment found its way into the words, but at least she was being truthful. Smiling and nodding would've looked this much more suspicious, wouldn't it? "I promise I'm not going to do anything to your family, so, if that's really everything, I -" she pressed her lips together, muffling another chuckle. This wasn't going very well at all. "I have a birthday party to attend."

Detailing the ridiculousness of this situation was something Tristan was unwilling to do, as it was embarrassing. But what bothered him more was that it wasn't completely unlikely. The actual circumstances within Velthomer were public, so planning against them within Grandbell could be risky. Even if it would only add another bit of turmoil to the situation. He found his hands clenching into fists as she laughed at him. Tristan had never been an angry person, but he had somehow managed to make himself tense over this situation; he made himself ready to handle this at any cost.

"There is every reason for me to be suspicious. Asking for reasons, asking for our different points of view ... You seem as if you simply interrogate quite well. The gift in fire magic does not help." He turned away from her, knowing that he was already sounding like a fool. "But just go ahead to your party then. I'll arrange for a way back to Velthomer. Might take a little while, but it's better to act as if I didn't waste my time coming here." It was better to treat it like that.

"Well, I'm sorry to have been a waste of your time, then, because really." She had meant to say more, but her throat tightened. Yes, she had figured she would be able to handle his suspicions - apparently not. Maybe it was that she'd figured he would be a little more... considerate about it, perhaps, and not spring it on her like this. Not within five seconds of talking, or on her birthday, or.

"Enjoy the sights, at least," she managed, forcing a smile, intending to turn away but unable to bring herself to do it just yet. Maybe she wouldn't see him again if she just left like that. And then, of course, it'd be all the more suspicious if she continued to try and stay in touch, with any of them, and that... would be the end of that. "The Tiurn-Culsan tree is- it's a great tourist spot."

Unfortunately, it took a lot for Tristan to be harsh toward someone. He hadn't believed in the bit about her birthday--or had told himself not to believe it, for the sake of understanding what it was that she was trying to do. When she turned away from him and stared speaking, he could immediately tell that she was upset. It had already taken a lot out of him to remain restrained like this, firm in his belief that he had wasted his time coming to meet her. And now, she was upset. She was upset and it was his fault, despite all his acts of respect toward woman in the past. What did you do? It could have been a farce, an act to breakdown his current shields in a manner that would work. But even Jade would have no way of knowing his weaknesses; she had no way of knowing that his care extended beyond his mother.

His hands released from their fists and he closed his eyes, mouthing a curse to himself, along with something to Fala, before he opened them and moved toward her, sliding his fingers over her shoulder to turn her toward him. She was crying, he reminded himself, and he needed to be prepared for the image of it. Tristan struggled to find words, but now that he had lost the initial mask, he found that task difficult. "Jade, I just ..." His tongue wet his lips as he tried to come up with the right way to word this. "I couldn't take a chance. She's all I have, and if anyone put her at risk, there would be no reason to bother with all that. Unless is was one of my siblings." But none of them knew his weaknesses. His hand slipped down and he looked at her with guilt permanently fixed on his features. "I didn't mean to upset you."

She hadn't been crying, but the gesture did it. It had been a long while since the last time anything had gotten her upset enough to cry - and she felt a little silly now to have let her defenses down to the point of letting him get to her like that. She knew he was suspicious, she should have known better than to actually hope it would go well from the start. And it didn't, and she should've been ready for it, and instead, she'd allowed herself to break down within five minutes of meeting him. A wonderful first impression that was.

'She'? Who, one of his siblings? A lover, a friend? It would make sense to be overprotective, she supposed, in which case she was an even bigger fool for actually being excited for it, wasn't she?

"I don't know what you're talking about," she began after an awkward silence, "I just... I don't know, I think it's just... really bad timing." Her birthday. So much for making the day better. She let out a nervous chuckle, bringing up a hand to carefully wipe at the tears, still not looking at him. "I'm going to need to redo my makeup."

The same suspicious feeling crept up when she said she didn't know who it was. Tristan realized it might not have been immediately obvious. After a moment, he reached toward his sleeve to pull it down so he could raise it and wipe her tears. Though her had been immediately struck by how attractive she happened to be, she looked decidedly vulnerable in this state. It pained him, more than he liked, to see her like this. There wasn't even an increased sense of intimacy, but she already seemed more human in this moment than his drawn out expectations had made her seem. She had been nice, welcoming, and interesting--but he hadn't expected this. In a way, he believed he hoped for something other than this.

Tristan eventually drew his hand back and took a step back to rock onto his heels. "I meant my mother," he said. "Forgive me for not being clear. I thought it might be easy to understand. If there was any kind of attack on Velthomer, they would forget she existed and she would be at risk. And if that someone knew it was a vulnerable point for me ..." He drew in a breath and exhaled it. "I believe you can understand that much, can't you?"

His mother. Right. She supposed she could at least try and understand it, but it didn't make her feel any less silly. Of course, he didn't know who she was. He didn't know that she was actually, oh, a long lost half-sister who just happened to be major-blooded and quite possibly the only legitimate heir of Finn Velthomer's. She had asked him a lot of questions, he had grown suspicious. He feared for someone he cared about. She could understand as much. He likely hadn't believed that it was her birthday, either. Those were all things that she could understand - but she didn't want to understand. Maybe on a different day she could have played it mature. Just not today.

"You have your reasons, I just. Today? It could've been tomorrow. Yesterday. Any day, but..." She paused, swallowed. He was still a stranger. He didn't know about their blood relationship. That she took it so personally could bring up more suspicions - oh, forget it, it couldn't get much worse unless he broke into her house and searched the drawers for any hidden secrets or ripped her clothes off or something similarly absurd. "I feel really stupid right now, I need- I really need to-" She took a deep breath, "I really need to go and... get myself together, fix my makeup, I can't be late for my own birthday party."

Tristan raised his hand up to the back of his head so he could rub it awkwardly. She had a point, but he had a point as well. If she was planning something, wouldn't it be unwise to wait? He couldn't bring himself to admit that he planned on acting like it wasn't her birthday--or simply didn't believe it. He looked at the ground awkwardly, knowing that it would be unwise to say anything like that. It was heartless and stupid, and even though he hadn't meant any harm by it, that was what happened. He wrote it off as her being overly sensitive on her birthday, but it was a little unusual. None of this was unreasonable by any extent of the imagination, he knew that, but he did come on a bad day for that.

"I hadn't expected it to be your birthday, he said, "and I had planned on doing this immediately ..." Tristan looked a little lame as he stood there, with flushed cheeks and hair above his eyes. "It didn't seem wise to wait, so I--I just thought." He hadn't thought enough, or he thought too much, and he turned out to be heartless. "I'll work on leaving, though. I'm no better than other nobleman ... treating you poorly like you're nothing but ... I'll be leaving."

She sniffled, finally looking at him fully. That... was nothing like the harsh, stiff man from ten minutes ago. Or the quiet, awkward man from the journals. He looked like a little kid who'd been caught in the middle of a prank and was trying to explain himself. She was still quite hurt, yes, but it was... easier to overlook it, this way. He probably still didn't really care about her - she would have to live with that. But at least he looked sorry, and she - well, she was still afraid that if she left now she'd never see him again. Jade wasn't sure she wanted to write him anymore if they ended it on those terms - it'd either feel unnatural, or raise more suspicions, or just plain not go well.

She felt as though her curiosity had ruined everything - it was unusual for her to actually blame herself for anything, but for some reason this time she was. Maybe it was that Gawain had warned her, and she didn't listen, or her willingly ignoring the obvious signs that he wasn't comfortable around her, or both. Whatever it was, she did blame herself, and wanted to at least try to remedy the situation a bit, even if she wasn't really sure how, and even if a large part of her wanted to continue to guilt-trip him.

"Or you could just. Say 'happy birthday' and mean it."

If he had been asked whether she would turn out to be this sensitive, he would say he hadn't expected it. She was still affected by it because she was stil sniffling. He understood that he had done a number on her, but it still seemed odd. She seemed so composed over the journals, but he imagined they had a way of hiding certain aspects of someone. Tristan thought it would be illogical for her to sit at a journal and write when she was sad; few people wished to unleash those types of problems onto someone else.

"I imagine if I said it now, it would sound like I was just trying to please you. Even if I meant it." It was a week's journey, and all he did was come here and make a beautiful girl cry. He scuffed a foot over the ground as he tried to figure out the right thing to go on with. "... You're very beautiful, you know," he continued, remembering his mother's words about how it was best to compliment a woman. "A-and it -- you shouldn't cry and ..." It was remarkable that Tristan had any experience with women. "But," he continued, "you're probably told this all the time, and ... I'm just surprised, and maybe I was meaner because of it. But since you are probably told it, you should get going. I suppose I'll have to prepare for the attempts on my life for doing this to you."

...Oh dear Dragons just what was that?

If she wasn't so upset she might have broken into laughter again. He was terrible! He was worse than the geeky, shy fourteen-year olds trying to come up with something to say when giving her Valentine's chocolate. Tristan had just waltzed into Lenster, been a jerk, made her cry, tried to comfort her, and now he was complimenting her on her beauty like nothing had happened and- how could anyone be this clueless?

"You are the single most awkward man I have ever met," she noted, brows furrowing a bit. "I'm not sure if I should be amused or offended or just forgive you, just. That. Was really terrible." Jade managed a smile in spite of herself. "Thank you?"

Despite himself, he smiled in response to that. It was clear that he understood the humor behind his actions. But it was the first time he ever made a girl cry like that. Then again, it was the first time he ever did anything like this. Even in his carefully scripted speeches against his sisters, there was a lack of forcefulness behind his voice, a lack of sincerity that made it clear to both Isabella and Sheila that he didn't mean the harsh words that he was delivering. But he had meant everything to Jade, and that made it worse. It proved one thing: he could stand up for something when he believed in it, even if it was with the wrong intentions.

"I suppose I've never made someone cry before. I guess that wasn't the right thing to do, but it was the only option I had. I was told that compliments ..." He shrugged, as it seemed to be the only explanation for it. "I assure you that I'm not usually this bad, but I was worried and I needed to--well, be more firm about what I believed in. It was a ... very rash, but at least I have that." He paused. "Even if I hurt you. But that's by no means your fault." In a way it was, but even he couldn't admit that to himself.

"It is, a little," she admitted, the smile fading again. "I should have expected... less, or maybe... nothing, I suppose, that's what it boils down to." And that was really the part that had been hurting the most. In the end, he really hadn't personally cared at all, and her expectations had boiled down to nothing. He didn't seem willing to do anything but leave, and while she supposed she understood, it was still a huge disappointment.

"I'll... be going, then," she said a bit hesitantly, turning to leave. She'd messed it up, and would have to live with that. It would be back to pretending Velthomer didn't exist. She could do it, she'd done it so far. "I'll... leave you and your family be, sorry to have caused such a mess." Half of it was honest and the other half was still guilt-tripping, in part as a last attempt to get him to - wishful thinking - consider actually treating this as a friendly visit.

One way or the other, she really wasn't in the mood for parties anymore. Putting on a smile would be... difficult, to say the least, but she owed the guests at least that much.

Truthfully, that was what made it more suspicious. Tristan looked at her with a wary glance. The guilt tripping hit him in a hard place, but it was more the fact that she had expected something. Even if their conversations had been interesting, there was no sense of intimacy that would make her this affected by the arrangement. He ran the possibilities through his mind. There were a few poems of women falling in love with the ideas of men, but he was not vain enough to believe that of himself. It had to be something else. Perhaps she was that impressed by him, but it seemed illogical. Someone so based on the idea that philosophy was fallible would not be guided by that--would she?

He frowned and fixed his posture a little as he observed her. "You expected so much ... why? We have only known each other for a month. I suppose I've never had any kind of friend through such unusual means, but I didn't think we had that level ..." He shook his head to finish the already confused thought. "But it would be unwise for you to just leave. I still have to say 'happy birthday' and have you believe it, don't I?" Tristan knew he gave her a reprieve with that question, but if he didn't leave he could find out the answer. "My things were already prepared to be sent ahead if I didn't request for otherwise, so I suppose this would be best." He pressed a hand against his chest and gave a slight bow toward her. "If you would like to have me on your birthday, Jade, even after I made a terrible mistake."

"I don't know," she admitted, and in part it was true. He was her family, and she couldn't tell him as much, but even still, there was no real bond. "It's why I said I feel really stupid. I could tell you were... perhaps not suspicious, but wary, at least. It hit a little harder than I'd expected, I suppose." If he was going to be truthful, she might as well be, herself - at least as much as she could be. She could just say that she had developed a crush - it might be more convincing than this - but after what had just happened she wasn't willing to give him anything less than things he could believe.

"If you want to," she said with a small sigh. Either it had worked or he was still suspicious of something; right now (and possibly for a long while yet) her money was on the latter. Jade pulled out a small envelope from her purse and handed it to him. "It's an invitation. The address is written there, and it's not very far from here. Eight o'clock direction. I'd show you where, but... the makeup."

Tristan extended his hand to take the invitation from her. He thought to open it on the spot, but smiled instead. "I hadn't been suspicious until then. I suppose I would have wanted to visit you even if this had not occurred, but under better pretenses." Ones that did not leave him apprehensive about speaking to her. All of his words before he arrived were false, barely meant for the sake of cutting the conversation short so he wouldn't have to lie. He didn't like being dishonest, but he couldn't be entirely truthful in her presense, either.

"You don't need the makeup," he added, with a touch of awkwardness, "but I've never really understood that." He slipped the invitation inside of a pocket, so that he wouldn't stand there with it awkwardly set in his hands. "You should get going, though, if you disagree with that."

"You suppose," she echoed, and wanted to continue with 'but you didn't', though she decided against it. She'd caused a poor enough impression. Jade withheld a sigh, and brought her hands to her face to at least try and set herself straight a bit - it'd be terribly awkward if she ran into her brother at home looking like that.

"You really need to stop that, or I might start flirting back," she noted with a (fake) smile before turning around to leave. "I'll see you soon, then." And with that, she walked off, gone from sight not long after.

It wouldn't be a very pleasant night, would it?

ABOUT

Heritage (or Legacy) is an original character roleplay inspired by the Fire Emblem games and specifically set in the world of the fourth installment of the series. This is the second generation of the game; you can find the first generation archived here.

You don't need any canon knowledge, nor do you need to have been in the first generation to play! If you're interested, please visit the wiki for more information!
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