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13 May 2021, 07:47
The Fire Fox  PV Ruka 
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@Ruka Burnett-Tân

Kazuo was starting to feel a bit like a tutor when Ruka pulled out parchment and began copying his words. It was amusing, considering that Ruka was two years ahead of him but he had to admit he was enjoying teaching Ruka about his language. "If we were in Japan, and we were just students but not necessarily friends, you would probably call me Shimada-kun, or maybe Shimada-kouhai since I'm an underclassman. If we were friends, you would probably use my first name, Kazuo-kun, or even just Kazuo depending on how close you consider us. Between peers, the formality tends to be less important, especially with kids in school. But we aren't in Japan," He finished with a wry smile. "So Kaz is fine." He offered up the nickname with a nervous smile. He'd only offered it to one other person before this and that had been Howard. Jack preferred last names so he'd never bothered offering it to him though if Jack ever wanted to use it, he wouldn't mind.

He grinned as Ruka giggled at his impression, glad that his joking mimicry had been received as the humour he meant it to be. Thinking about it, he had the urge to take Ruka and Jack to a maid cafe one day. Maybe over the summer he could convince his parents to let them go to Tokyo for a few days… Ruka recaptured his attention by reassuring him and he chuckled. "That's good because I'm told I talk a lot when I get on a topic that interests me." He admitted with amusement. Others might feel embarrassed by being told they talk a lot but Kazuo had never seen it as an insult. Knowledge was worth sharing and only the exchange of ideas could reveal the gaps and flaws in a person's understanding. "Feel free to tell me to shut up whenever you get tired of listening to my lectures."

He grew serious, thoughtful, at Ruka’s response. Just because I don’t see it… The implication that despite outward appearances, Jack probably had emotional attachments to him. Fingers drummed absently on the table as he considered the possibility, considered what Ruka might be seeing that he clearly did not. Thoughts that only led to more questions, questions he doubted Ruka could answer because he suspected that if Jack had formed emotional attachments, it was unlikely that he either realized it or would admit it. Questions about his own position in it, as well. Questions he wasn’t entirely sure he wanted to look at too closely at this point. He looked up at Ruka when he explained his own reasoning for accepting Kazuo, nodding his understanding. He chuckled with amusement at the protectiveness, the not so subtle warning. “So you trusted Jack’s decision.” Kazuo arched his brow. “And is it even possible to earn your trust?”

He picked up the origami fox, examining it with a faint smile as Ruka explained where he learned to make it. “Can you do more than foxes? My mother taught me when I was younger. A way for me to keep my hands busy and allow my mind to focus. I made…” He grinned as he put the fox back on the table between them. “When I was at the Embassy, I was teaching another kid there how to make cranes and accidentally made them fly. My tutor was so mad, he thought I did it on purpose because I was bored and acting out. I… wasn’t exactly happy to be in London.” He chuckled. “So I suppose I have origami to thank for being here.”

“I believe professionalism is an illusion in psychology. A wall people build, a way to convince themselves that their actions are distanced from their emotions. I think it’s inevitable that the intimacy of the job would slowly dismantle that illusion. Sure, there are rules to help maintain the illusion but how do you just turn off your feelings? If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t care at all then maybe you could maintain the illusion but would you be a good psychologist if you couldn’t be empathetic toward your client?” Kazuo tapped his temple. “This method of communication does seem to be intimate but only if we choose to use it in that way. Like psychologists, we could choose to put rules in place to maintain distance… even if it’s just an illusion. If that is what people wanted, anyway.” He leaned forward, resting his chin on his hands. “Around here, I don’t think Jack is the only one in need of counselling…” Kazuo observed with amusement. “I think Jack’s issues might actually be pretty normal compared to some of the others… But if he needs a rational voice and self-taught understanding of pychology, I can provide that.”

When Ruka met his eyes and smirked at him he rolled his eyes and groaned at the joke. “How about we don’t invite Jack’s ex to anymore crisis situations instead?” He countered with a snort. “It’s a kitsune mask, a representation of the spirit fox. The masks are very popular, as are the stories about kitsune, in Japan. My clan’s symbol is a nine-tailed fox and we consider them to be good luck. I have a real mask in my dorm… if you want to see it some time.”

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Don't confuse my attitude with my personality. My personality is who I am; my attitude depends on who you are.
14 May 2021, 11:47
The Fire Fox  PV Ruka 
@Kazuo Shimada
Eagerly listening to Kazuo's explanations about his language and Japanese customs on how to address someone Ruka could have almost forgotten that they were probably here to talk about vastly different things. It was only when the other boy accompanied his words with a smile that lacked humour, that Ruka felt himself sobering up, ready to move on from this impromptu vocabulary lesson.

"Kaz," he agreed gently, nodding his gratitude for the offered nickname before tilting his head to the side questioningly. "Do you miss it?" There was something about the way that Kazuo had acknowledged their not being in Japan that was familiar somehow but Ruka couldn't quite place his finger on it.

The mood lifted easily, a natural up and down of this rollercoaster of a conversation. As someone who tended to have issues communicating with people, Ruka found Kazuo remarkably easy to talk to; He appreciated the way seriousness was pierced with specks of humour, how there was no clear direction of where their conversation was going without it derailing like it so often tended to do when Ruka talked to other people. So when Kazuo gave him permission to tell him to shut up if he ever droned on too long, Ruka could only laugh as he shook his head. "Alright," he said. "But I live with Jack. That should tell you all about how used I am to someone talking a lot. My tolerance is pretty high." He chuckled, shrugging his shoulders. "Anyway, I like to listen, so feel free to lecture to your heart's content."

With Ruka's observation of Jack's potential hidden emotional attachments, Kazuo grew quiet again, creating a lull in their conversation as he seemed to consider the words. Ruka wondered what was going through his mind, what kind of response that thought had provoked within him, but Kazuo didn't express the inner workings of his mind and Ruka didn't want to pressure him. Instead he waited for the other boy to break the silence again, raising his eyebrows in vague surprise when the next question was asked.

Interesting. Ruka recalled conversations about trust, could remember Jack and Flash respectively telling him that it was something he should be doing, that he was supposed to place his trust in some people even if it ended up broken at some point. Never had anybody asked him if there was already an existing way to win his trust, never had anyone tried to see if there was something they could possibly do to earn it. Unexpected as the question had been, it left Ruka silent for a long while, blinking at Kazuo as if he had spoken in a foreign language. "Yes," he said eventually, tapping a steady One, Two, Three against the tabletop. "You're heading in a good direction."

With that Ruka let his gaze drop to his origami fox, watching as Kazuo picked it up to examine it. "Not that well without instructions," he admitted when asked if he was able to do more than foxes. "I can do cats, but the fox I have most practice with. Do you have a favourite one to make?" Leaning forward a bit, Ruka listened to Kazuo's story about how he had made his origami crane fly while trying to teach another kid to make them. His little acknowledgement of not having been happy about being in London made the corners of Ruka's lips twitch downwards. "Why did you have to come to England?" he wondered, a spark of confusion lighting up his eyes. He had no concept for why anybody would uproot their life to move into a completely different country, but people had to have reasons, did they not?

Humming quietly, Ruka nodded along with Kazuo's words about Psychology. It made sense; There was an illusion there, an imaginary wall that prevented professionalism from just crumbling into dust. As long as people pretended that there was no real intimacy they could continue living in the illusion of professionalism they created for themselves. "Are you the kind of person who'd be able to maintain the illusion?" Ruka questioned as he pressed into the backrest of his chair, forehead creasing in a frown. He could still see Willow, handing out friendship bracelets to anyone willing to come close, but breaking down in an empty room, away from the birthday party she'd been invited to, could still see Jack playfully laughing as he dragged Ruka into his makeshift pool before collapsing on the ground, shaking and crying, could hear Flash's voice growing small and empty, begging to be understood; Ruka, if I didn’t act like this no one would like me. No one at all.

"I'm not big on illusions," Ruka decided quietly. "Don't you get sick of pretending? We're all running around, acting like we don't care, ruining ourselves over trying to keep up the illusion. I'm tired of it, Kaz." Tapping his temple in a mimic of Kazuo's earlier gesture, Ruka heaved a sigh. "No more rules. They only get broken anyway." If they were going to be bound as intimately as that, then Ruka wasn't going to waste his energy on keeping up an illusion of professionalism. Tiredly he lifted his hands to ball them into fists and rub them against his burning eyes before letting out a surprised laugh at Kazuo's observation of Jack's psychological issues being relatively small compared to some other Hogwarts students.

"You have a point," he admitted, amusement lacing his voice as he offered Kazuo a nod and a smile. "He'd definitely do well with a rational voice around, though. We both would, I think." Letting his smile fall again, Ruka rubbed the palm of his hand across his face for a moment. "In turn we can provide you with, well, trouble and fire respectively. Not a fair trade if you ask me, but you've missed your chance to protest it." Offering Kazuo a wink, Ruka found himself laughing brightly at the other boy's next words.

"Sounds good," he agreed immediately before leaning forward to get a better look at Kazuo's drawing. "I'd love to see it," he announced reverently at the offer to be shown the real mask the other boy kept in his dorm, then lifting a finger to let it hover across the outlines of the drawing as if to imprint them in the lines crisscrossing his skin. "Can I read the stories somewhere as well? I'd like to know more about it."
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~Hell is other people~ - Jean Paul Sartre

Stamina: 7 ~ Evasion: 9 ~ Strength: 4 ~ Wisdom: 12 ~ Arcane Power: 6 ~ Accuracy: 7
16 May 2021, 05:59
The Fire Fox  PV Ruka 
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”Do you miss it?”

It was such a harmless question. A predictable one, given the topic. Yet Ruka was the first person to cross that line, to ask that question. It was a question he didn’t want to answer, a feeling he didn’t want to examine, a topic he had been avoiding pretty much since the start of the school year. It was illogical to cling to such pointlessly irrational feelings. There was no changing his situation so why belabour it? Yet Ruka’s question tugged at the edges of his carefully constructed wall of denial.

"I do." Kazuo admitted quietly. "Tokyo is… no, not just Tokyo. Japan is very different. I miss my room. I miss the cat cafe I used to visit and this little bookstore my Dad used to take me to. I miss the cherry blossoms and visiting onsens and the ocean. I miss…" He paused, unsure of how to explain. "There is a… spirituality there, a mystery. I don't really know how to explain it. London is so… mundane by comparison. And the wizarding world here is so… backwards. It's like they're all content to live like it's still the 1600s or something. So resistant to change..." The disapproval was heavy in his voice. It was more than he had meant to say and Kazuo shifted his gaze away, uncomfortable with how much he had shared.

"I miss good sushi." He added with a slight smile to lighten the conversation then snickered when Ruka mentioned Jack’s habit of talking. "And now you have two of us… Sure you don't want to back out?" He teased.

He watched Ruka with curiosity when the older boy fell silent at his question and it was his turn to wonder what thoughts it had provoked. It seemed a straightforward question to him yet the way Ruka was staring at him seemed to indicate surprise. When he finally responded Kaz grinned. "Well I'm glad I'm stumbling blindly in the right direction." He joked but beneath it there was genuine pleasure at Ruka's response.

He considered the origami fox again as he thought about his favorites. "I like foxes. Cats too. And turtles. But… Cranes are my favorite. There is a legend we call senbazuru. The crane is a special creature and we used to believe that they lived for one thousand years. The legend says that if a person folds one thousand cranes, they will be granted a wish from the gods." His eyes shone brightly as he told the legend, intrigued by it. "I don't know if it's true but it's fascinating. Maybe one day I'll hit one thousand and find out."

He wrinkled his nose in irritation at Ruka's next question then shrugged. He hadn't talked much about his family to anyone and no one had really asked. It had been mostly amusing so far, listening to people's assumptions and guesses, and surprising many of them. "My Father's work. He was appointed the position of Ambassador to Britain. Logistically, the clan saw it as a good opportunity to learn about and work with you western wizards. Same reason my parents accepted the offer of schooling at Hogwarts instead of sending me home." He chuckled. “All I’ve learned so far is that this school has an overabundance of danger and adults who don’t seem to care about it. I’m not sure that was what my parents were hoping for...”

He leaned back in his chair and gave Ruka a thoughtful look. “I don’t know. Can’t say that I’ve bothered at this point but I suppose I could be. It’s built into cultural expectations for me. The level of social etiquette tends to enforce distance and I admit, I do use it to keep people at arm’s length.” He shook his head slightly. “Which is fine for people I’m not interested in getting to know but for you or Jack? I don’t know if I could and I don’t think I would want to.” He studied Ruka quietly for a moment before continuing. “We?” He inquired. He had an idea of who the general ‘we’ Ruka was referring to could be but he wanted confirmation of his suspicions. “I’m not big on rules, anyway. They tend to get in the way of what’s important. You want to know what I see? Boys trying too hard to hide who they are. I get it. You all have reasons. And maybe keeping your real self private from people is smart. But you’re supposed to be friends. So maybe it’s not so good to hide from each other. Maybe...” Kazuo tapped his drawing with a half-smile. “Maybe it’s time to take off the masks. As for trouble and fire… Well I happen to like both of those things so maybe it’s fairer than it looks.” He gave Ruka a wink back then looked down at the mask. He carefully tore the page out and slid it across the table, offering it to Ruka.

“Well, my books are in Japanese but I can ask my mother to find some English translations. There are lots of stories about kitsune. We - the Japanese, I mean - we have a fondness for shapeshifters in our folklore and foxes are among our favorites. I’ll send her a letter.”

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@Ruka Burnett-Tân

Don't confuse my attitude with my personality. My personality is who I am; my attitude depends on who you are.
17 May 2021, 12:00
The Fire Fox  PV Ruka 
@Kazuo Shimada
Ruka listened intently as Kazuo talked about Japan, how different it was, the varying things he used to do and couldn't anymore now that he was in Britain. It didn't seem like he was very comfortable with the admission, his voice quiet, eyes averted once he stopped talking. The little joke he decided to lift the mood with only confirmed Ruka's suspicion that it wasn't something Kazuo often talked about. He wondered if the other boy actively avoided the topic or if nobody even bothered to ask.

"It sounds fascinating," Ruka said genuinely, a small smile tugging at the corners of his lips. "I'd love to see it some day." Leaning back in his chair, Ruka pulled his bottom lip between his teeth for a moment. He had never really been outside of Ireland before last Summer, and Cardiff was already much different from what he was used to, so he could barely imagine how Kazuo had to be feeling in a place so drastically different from what he called home.

Laughing at Kazuo's words about him backing out, Ruka shook his head. "Who'd tell you guys to shut up when you get carried away talking, then?" he asked, eyes sparkling. A hum of approval sounded as Kazuo expressed his delight over being on the right way to earning his trust, then both their attentions seemed caught on the origami fox.

Turtles seemed like a curious pick as one of someone's favourite origami figures to make and Ruka wanted to ask about it, but was quickly distracted by the story about cranes and how folding enough of them would grant one a wish from the Gods. Ruka didn't know much about what kind of religion was prevalent in Japan, but he assumed it was a big deal to be recognised by the Gods in any culture. "What would you wish for?" he asked curiously. As amazing as it sounded to have a wish granted, there seemed to be a certain amount of pressure involved. If you only had one wish, which one would you ask for without feeling like you wasted your opportunity?

Humming to himself, Ruka smoothed a finger across one of the rounded edges of his fox origami. "Maybe I should learn how to do cranes then. Just in case." He chuckled, then poked the origami figure back into Kazuo's direction with a gentle smile.

Once again the mood seemed to drop when the topic turned to the other boy's Homelife, the reason he had to leave Japan for England. It was an obvious answer, in hindsight, but Ruka hadn't wanted to just assume. His own dad's work, if he were to call it that, had taken him all over the place as well, so it stood to reason that someone's job would cause them to relocate at some point or another.

"Safety doesn't seem to be their top priority here," he agreed bitterly, tapping his fingers against the tabletop again. One, Two, Three. There were dangers around every corner and nobody seemed to be in a rush to teach kids how to deal with them. On the contrary, Ruka found that some teachers were using a reckless sink or swim approach when dealing with their students. Teach kids how to set things on fire first; worry about how they'll put that fire out again later. "Are your parents likely to pull you out of school knowing how unsafe it is?" It was a valid question, he thought. How many parents were really comfortable leaving their kids in a schooling environment that put them in harm's way all the time?

Watching Kazuo lean back in his chair, Ruka mimicked the movement, nodding slowly along with the other boy's words to show his acknowledgement and understanding. It certainly gave him a much better understanding of who Kazuo was, and Ruka was grateful for the other boy's willingness to be so open about it.
"We," he repeated with a nod, gesturing towards his head before resting his hand over his chest, right where he thought his heart was supposed to be. Kazuo's words elicited a thoughtful hum from Ruka, who let his fingers run through his hair as he nodded quietly. "I'm not a fan of masks anyway," he admitted. Wasn't that exactly what he had faulted Flash for over and over again? Masks upon masks, glamorous illusions that were fragile enough to shatter at the slightest bit of resistance.

Focusing his eyes back on Kazuo, Ruka tilted his head to the side questioningly. "What about you?" he asked, gnawing on his bottom lip for a moment. "You know why I agreed to be bound to you, but why did you agree to be bound to me? Like you said, we don't really know each other." There was no accusation in his voice, merely a spark of curiosity, maybe a hint of confusion. If Ruka's decision was made out of protectiveness, Kazuo's seemed random at best. He'd declared to want to get to know Jack and Ruka, not to work so hard on maintaining the illusion around them, and maybe he had connected well enough with Jack to say that already, but why Ruka when they had barely talked before Kazuo got marked?

Smiling, Ruka reached out to accept the page Kazuo had torn out and slid across the table for him to take. "Thank you," he said softly. The gratitude was meant for the mask as well as the other boy's notion to send a letter to ask for English translations of the stories Ruka was asking about. He wanted to ask more about foxes and shapeshifters and the significance to Kazuo and his culture, but without some foundation of knowledge he found his questions would only be uninformed, aimless even. So instead he nudged his origami figure even closer to Kazuo in an offer for him to keep it before he neatly rolled the drawing into his parchment to make sure it wouldn't get damaged. "I'll take good care of this."
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~Hell is other people~ - Jean Paul Sartre

Stamina: 7 ~ Evasion: 9 ~ Strength: 4 ~ Wisdom: 12 ~ Arcane Power: 6 ~ Accuracy: 7
18 May 2021, 04:48
The Fire Fox  PV Ruka 
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He studied Ruka when the older boy expressed interest in seeing Japan, wondering if it was the sort of false sentiment people offered in an attempt to make you feel better. But no, Ruka's words seemed genuine and he smiled. "I could…" He began then hesitated, considering his words. "Maybe during one of the school breaks, if your parents are ok with it, you and Jack could come with my family. To see Tokyo. If you wanted to. We usually try to go back for a week here and there, whenever my Dad can take time away from work."

He chuckled at Ruka's response to him and Jack talking too much. "There is no such thing as getting carried away talking." He replied, sticking out his tongue. "It's you quiet ones that need watching…" He added teasingly.

Then Ruka was asking what he'd wish for and he fell silent, brow scrunching up in thought at the question. Besides the silly thoughts all children had about wishes, he'd never really given much thought to it. If he could ask the kami for one thing, what would it be? "One wish… That's hard. I don't think I would want to waste it on frivolous things like wealth or power. I know that's what lots of people would probably wish for but why ask for something you can achieve on your own? And hapiness is a dumb wish. The gods can't guarantee your happiness; only you can find what makes you happy." He fell silent, pursing his lips in thought. "Perhaps I would wish to live forever." He grinned at Ruka, then. "All the time I would ever need to learn everything I want to learn. To gain wealth and power. To try all the different things that interest me. That sounds fun. What about you?"

As they came back to the topic of Hogwarts, Kazuo nodded his agreement. "You know how, when we were little kids and it was dark at night? We'd be lying in our beds and hear a sound or see a shadow shift? And we'd be so scared we'd close our eyes tight or hide under our blanket and think 'If I don't acknowledge the scary monsters, they can't get me'?" Kazuo spoke of the relatively common experience that most kids had at some point. "I could be wrong… but that's how I kind of see the staff right now. Like, these full grown wizards don't seem to know what to do so they just seem to be looking the other way and hoping the bad stuff just goes away?" He offered up the observation with a bit of disappointment. "If I told my parents half of what I've learned about this place, they'd pull me so fast. But I…" He paused again, hesitant. "It's too interesting. If I told them and they sent me home, I'd never find out the truth. I want to know what's really going on." He gave Ruka a wry smile. "That probably sounds crazy, or at the very least, foolish, but I need to know."

Kazuo's biggest weakness offered up to Ruka, though of course he didn't see it as a weakness. His unquenchable curiosity, his constant drive to know more, to unearth every secret, examine every piece of every puzzle, even in the face of danger, disaster or death. The desire to watch how the other students around him would be drawn into the shadow web that had been cast over Hogwarts, to watch them fight or flee, grow bitter or better. There was a glaring lack of self-preservation in Kazuo's desire for discovery, throwing away his chance for safety. He wouldn't be surprised if Ruka thought him crazy for wanting to stay.

"Masks have their uses," Kazuo continued with a nod of agreement. "But there are definitely wrong times to use them." Ruka's next question was not a surprise, after all he had started that whole line of questioning so it was only fair that Ruka would want to know why he had agreed to the mark. He gave Ruka a smirk. "You seemed interesting." It was an absolutely terrible reason to make a lifelong pact with a relative stranger. Yet in Kazuo's case it was honest and straightforward. "Jack is interesting and the way that Jack talks about you, the sense I got from you the couple times we did meet, you seemed interesting too. I like interesting people."

He picked up the fox with a bright smile, the small exchange of gifts pleasing him. "And I was right. You are interesting."

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@Ruka Burnett-Tân

Don't confuse my attitude with my personality. My personality is who I am; my attitude depends on who you are.
20 May 2021, 10:03
The Fire Fox  PV Ruka 
@Kazuo Shimada
With each of Kazuo's words, Ruka's expression lit up more and more until it showed nothing but unbridled excitement. "You'd take us along?" he asked, eager for any sign of confirmation that the other boy's offer was sincere. It seemed to be, at the very least, judging by the hesitance it was voiced with, as if Kazuo wasn't fully certain his invitation was appropriate. The thought of seeing a place so different from what he was used to, a place as magical as the other boy had described, put a broad grin on Ruka's face and an excited sparkle in his eyes.

His expression remained bright and animated as Kazuo kept talking, pointed out that still waters ran deep in his own words. "Us quiet ones like to listen," Ruka said, wagging a finger in Kazuo's direction. "And not all of us are on your side. Can't hurt to have someone around who'll stop you when you're about to say too much, can it?" He grinned, ran a hand through his hair and leaned back to watch silently as Kazuo worked on coming up with the wish he would ask the Gods for if he was ever granted one.

The one he eventually decided on made Ruka hum thoughtfully. He could see the appeal, certainly. Living forever, all the time in the world to do whatever he wanted, achieve all his goals. All the time in the world to watch everyone else around him leave and die, one by one, the same fate over and over again. It didn't seem worth it.

"That sounds lonely," he admitted quietly, lowering his gaze to stare at a crack in the wood of the table. If he himself had a wish, just one... "I'd wish for protection," he decided, looking up again to fix his empty gaze on the other boy again. "For myself and the people I care about." No more harm, no disease, no hurt, no more worrying about whether those he wanted to be safe were actually safe or not. He let his lips tug into a small, sad smile, then shook his head off the thoughts trying to overwhelm him to instead focus on the topic of Hogwarts and their lax security.

Kazuo's words made sense, but they painted a picture Ruka couldn't relate to at all. He'd never been scared of monsters as a little kid. He'd been scared of other people's intentions, wild animals maybe, but his dad had never allowed for him to dwell on it. Even if he had been scared of the monsters under the bed he never had, the blankets he'd covered himself with had never been thick enough for them to offer him any illusions of safety by hiding beneath them. As he tried to imagine the scenario the other boy described, Ruka just looked at him blankly, the inability to relate plain to see in his eyes. However, since that was hardly the point anyway, Ruka decided not to comment on it, simply nodded as Kazuo kept talking to explain how that scenario compared to the Hogwarts staff.

"Yeah," he agreed with a nod. "If they don't acknowledge it then maybe it's not there. Bit of a short-sighted approach to problem solving." He sighed and rolled his eyes, then placed his elbow on the table to steady his chin on the palm of his hand, mustering Kazuo curiously as he talked about being too interested in the happenings around Hogwarts to allow himself to be pulled from school.

Ruka himself hadn't really tried to keep up with all the things going on around the Castle, had tried to stay away from the things he didn't understand, but he'd still heard the whispers, had still been around for some of the dangers lurking around every possible corner. "I don't think it sounds crazy," he told Kazuo seriously, continuing to tap a steady One, Two, Three against the table. "There's so much... Something's always happening and nobody has any idea why or how. It's not like I'm not curious as well." He hummed as he studied Kazuo's expression for a moment. The desire for answers was not something he thought foolish in the slightest. On the contrary, Ruka found it admirable in a way; Kazuo had drive, ambition, the firm belief that some things were important enough to quench any fear or doubt. There was something dangerous about that, and Ruka had always liked danger.

Danger without any reason to face it. Climbing trees too frail to hold him, searching the lake for magical creatures without knowing how to swim, reaching into flames he knew were going to burn him. His own lack of self-preservation was not a result of thirsting for answers, it was just there, unreasonable, impulsive. Some things he just threw himself into head-first, others he ran from like a coward. Most of his decisions were made at the drop of a hat, based on whatever he felt like doing at that moment without giving it more thought than that. He had always admired people like Jack and Kazuo, who looked at a puzzle from all angles to solve it, unlike him who aggressively tried out piece after piece until one fit.

He blinked his eyes back into focus as Kazuo kept talking, nodded quietly before letting out a soft chuckle. "Interesting," he repeated. It wasn't the first time he had heard that, though it always came as a vague surprise to him. "Guess we have that in common." He smiled at Kazuo's obviously delight over their gift swap, letting his hand drop to lie on the table, next to his rolled up parchment, palm up and fingers curled inward. "I like interesting people too."
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~Hell is other people~ - Jean Paul Sartre

Stamina: 7 ~ Evasion: 9 ~ Strength: 4 ~ Wisdom: 12 ~ Arcane Power: 6 ~ Accuracy: 7
22 May 2021, 06:28
The Fire Fox  PV Ruka 
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Kazuo was taken a bit aback by Ruka’s enthusiasm, not really expecting the level of excitement he was exhibiting for what Kazuo had thought of as a casual offer. It also hinged on parents agreeing and that would probably be the harder sell, especially for Ruka and Jack. Their parents had never met Kazuo or his family, were muggles so would know practically nothing about them. He already knew his mother would be happy to meet anyone he decided to bring around so convincing her that they should be allowed to go to Tokyo wouldn’t be that hard at all. With Ruka’s excited question hanging over him, he nodded firmly. “If you could get your parents to agree, yeah. If they wanted to meet my parents or whatever, I can ask my mom… Oh but you’re going back to Wales after school ends. Is that far from London? Or is it like a trip from Tokyo to Kyoto?” Of course he would make a reference of distance that would make no sense to someone who didn’t know Japan. Who wouldn’t know the distance from Tokyo to Kyoto? He sighed then clarified. “Like, five hours drive or so?”

His mind occupied with the sudden logistics of how to make his spur of the moment invitation into a real roadtrip, he gave Ruka only a half-hum at his response about the dangers of quiet ones. Having been a quiet one for most of the school year, he certainly knew the truth of Ruka’s words but though he enjoyed talking to certain people, he wasn’t a chatterer by any means and his words were, more often than not, carefully chosen. “Worry more about Jack, he talks twice as much as I do,” He retorted, sticking out his tongue.

The lull that fell between them as Ruka considered cranes and wishes was a comfortable one, the pause of thoughtful conversation rather than a lull of boredom. Yet Ruka’s comment on his wish drew a mixed reaction from him. “Maybe, for some.” He ceded the point, frowning a bit. He didn’t think about it that way because he didn’t have the kinds of connections Ruka or others did. He had always been independent, had always been a loner. Partly due to his family situation but partly because he had always had more of an interest in watching people than in getting close to them. You cannot lose what you never had to begin with… It was this general sentiment that had drawn him to Jack, seeing how the other also tried to distance himself. “I suppose it’s hard to see it as lonely if…" He paused, reconsidering his words. "Well, if you value the experiences more than the sentiment." He finished and it was a truth but it wasn't what he had initially been about to say. Ruka was too easy to talk to.

"How Gryffindor of you," Kazuo teased when Ruka revealed his own wish and he smiled. "Honestly though, I've seen the people you seem to care about and I'm not sure the gods could grant your wish. Some of them seem quite happy to throw themselves straight into harm's way. You have a hell of a job to do, protector."

He considered Ruka’s sad smile and quiet demeanour, wondering what the older boy had been through to make him so determined to protect those he cared about. It reminded him that, compared to many of the kids here, he had been very privileged. The blank look on Ruka’s face when he described what he thought to be a common experience further reinforced that point and also made him wonder which part of it was unrelatable to the older boy. As Ruka learned more about Kazuo’s family, about where he came from and the kind of life he lived, would he grow resentful? The thought came unbidden and was thoroughly unwelcome. Did it matter? It wasn’t as if he had chosen his circumstances. It wouldn’t be the first time someone was resentful. Why would that thought cross his mind now? He pushed the stray thoughts away as Ruka continued speaking.

He admitted to himself that he was a bit relieved that Ruka didn’t think it was crazy that he wanted to stay, to find out the truth. He was more than self aware enough to know that most people would think there was something wrong with him so to find someone who understood even a small bit of how he felt was enticing. He chuckled when Ruka admitted to being curious as well. “Well that’s good because between me and Jack, I doubt you’d be able to avoid all the dangerous mysteries. He seems to also lack any sense of self-preservation. More even than me.” He joked though the knowledge that Ruka might very well be a partner in crime brought a shine of excitement to his eyes.

“Do you know Oscar Wilde, Ruka?” He asked, leaning forward as he considered the older boy. “You probably do, that’s a stupid question… Have you ever read anything by him?” Realistically, Oscar Wilde was not the sort of thing most kids would choose to read so it wouldn’t have surprised Kazuo if Ruka hadn’t. It also probably seemed like a strange question but it did have a purpose that was related to the conversation. “There is a quote of his that I am very fond of. It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious. I aspire to surround myself with charming people.” Kazuo’s lips curved upward in a smirk.

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@Ruka Burnett-Tân

Don't confuse my attitude with my personality. My personality is who I am; my attitude depends on who you are.
22 May 2021, 09:42
The Fire Fox  PV Ruka 
@Kazuo Shimada
Ruka grinned brightly as Kazuo nodded his confirmation. He didn't think there was going to be much of a problem in convincing their parents to let them travel, as long as there was some kind of adult supervision. He had found Jack's parents - his parents - to be quite happy about letting them make new experiences, and wasn't visiting other countries and cultures one of the most important experiences to make?

Slightly distracted by the thought of how to best approach the matter - maybe he would send the Burnetts a letter to bring up the idea already - Ruka let out a questioning hum when Kazuo seemed to have asked him something. The distance between Tokyo and Kyoto? He couldn't say he had even the faintest idea, but he did acknowledge with an amused smile that the two words were anagrams of each other. He doubted it mattered, however.

"Oh, Cardiff to London," he said with a thoughtful hum. "A couple of hours on the train. We went to London over the summer, it's not all that far, really." Admittedly, Ruka hadn't particularly liked London with its large crowds of people pressing into dim and dirty underground trains but he decided it might be worth going back for the sake of meeting Kazuo's parents and getting to travel to Japan with them. As long as they didn't insist on travelling on the tube. "I don't think they'd mind letting us come along once they met you and your parents. I'll send them an owl, see what they think." He smiled, nodding determinedly before laughing at the way Kazuo stuck out his tongue at him with an observation of just how talkative Jack truly was.

"I worry about him plenty," Ruka pointed out, and while his voice was light and full of humour, his expression darkened just a little, smile faltering and eyes moving rapidly before locking onto a spot above Kazuo's right shoulder. It took him a moment before he could regain eye contact, and it was in time to see the frown on the other boy's face as he considered Ruka's statement.

Watching Kazuo's reactions intently, Ruka leaned forward, just a bit, as if getting a closer look would help him figure out exactly what the boy in front of him was made of. "I'd expect the sentiment to pile up over time," he pointed out quietly. "Once you've experienced everything, wouldn't that be all that's left?" He wondered, for a fleeting second, if Kazuo would mourn the loss of a parent. Would he move on, know how to handle the pain? Would the thrill of a new experience outweigh any emotions that might come with it? He quickly lowered his gaze to stare at the table, blinking watery eyes until the sting behind them had vanished and he felt secure enough to look up again. "With so many years in an immortal life... I would think it's only a matter of time until you do find the sentiment you value enough for it to break you eventually."

He blinked again, found that his eyes had turned dry again, and managed to laugh at Kazuo's observation that his wish had been a very Gryffindor thing to say. "I know I can't save everyone," he admitted quietly. He was painfully aware of that fact even. "But I'll be damned if I don't try. With or without divine intervention." The thought put a grim smile on his face but he let it smooth out into something more neutral again as the conversation moved on. It was pleasant even where they touched sensitive topics; there were no hiccups, no uncomfortable drawn out silences. Ruka could see why Jack might like Kazuo. He found himself liking his company as well.

"He'd strongly object to that," Ruka pointed out with a laugh as Kazuo commented on Jack's lack of self preservation. "If you asked him he'd claim to be the only one who does have any of it." It was funny to hear Kazuo's observation as Ruka himself had found himself oftentimes wondering how someone who claimed to value self-preservation as much as Jack could show so many self-destructive tendencies. Not that Jack seemed to see it that way at all. His mind was too warped in his own ideologies and the lies he told himself so often that they had started to ring true to him. "I warn you, I'm not the best person to count on to save you guys from yourselves," he said with a smile and a chuckle. No, he couldn't guarantee that he would intervene, but he could guarantee being there when he was needed. He had already learned the hard way that protection didn't work from afar, and he wasn't going to make that same mistake twice.

With a twinge of surprise, Ruka's eyes lit up when Kazuo mentioned Oscar Wilde. For a second he thought the other boy was joking, had possibly heard from Jack about just how familiar he was with Wilde's works, but the question seemed genuine enough. Instead of answering, Ruka tilted his head from side to side as he considered Kazuo's words. "Most people are tedious to me," he admitted, then smirked as he stumbled into a quote of his own. "There are only two kinds of people who are really fascinating. People who know absolutely everything, and people who know absolutely nothing." He hummed to himself as he tapped two fingers against his lips in a thoughtful manner. "I don't think that's quite true. I don't think people who know everything are fascinating at all. It's the ones that long to know everything I'm intrigued by. Those are the ones I aspire to surround myself with." He smiled, tilting his chin up a little. "Lucky for you, you seem to fall into that category. Lucky for me, I can be quite charming when I want to be." He grinned and winked, leaning back in his seat, his posture relaxing.

"I think you and I are gonna get along just fine, Kaz."

~Hell is other people~ - Jean Paul Sartre

Stamina: 7 ~ Evasion: 9 ~ Strength: 4 ~ Wisdom: 12 ~ Arcane Power: 6 ~ Accuracy: 7
25 May 2021, 22:15
The Fire Fox  PV Ruka 
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He hadn't expected it to turn so quickly into a mini planning session but the more he and Ruka talked about it, the more the idea grew on him. It was so easy for the rest of them, they were all so similar and so close. Shared roots, shared culture, shared languages. While he found it fascinating to learn about the UK now that he was here, and he could find some things about the human experience to be universal regardless of culture, it was difficult to share his experiences when they were so far away from where those experiences could be found. He had been trying, with small things, but the idea of being able to show Jack and Ruka firsthand was so much more exciting. “Oh, that’s not too far. I thought maybe it was farther." His brow furrowed in thought. "The UK is smaller than I thought it was." A couple hours wasn't very far at all and if the Burnetts didn't want to make the trip, he could probably convince his parents to go meet them in Cardiff instead. He gazed back at Ruka with hopefulness. "You really think they won't mind? Japan is quite a bit further away than London." He knew he shouldn't get his hopes up but he couldn't entirely stop the growing sense of excitement, the mental list of things he could show them, places they could go… "What would you want to see? Or do?"

Kazuo caught the way Ruka seemed to look away at mention of Jack and worry, the way his smile faltered. It made him wonder, briefly, if Ruka wasn't used to worrying about others. Was that what it was like to have siblings? Even adopted ones? Should I feel the same way about Selim? His expression turned thoughtful. He didn't know how to feel about any of them but it was hard to imagine worrying about them when he was just as likely, if not more, to throw himself into bad situations.That was why he kept his distance from people, though, wasn’t it? He tilted his head slightly as Ruka continued, speaking on sentiment, considering the older boy’s words, testing them against his own perceptions. “Sentiment is hollow. It’s clinging to the past instead of moving toward the future.” He murmured quietly after a moment. “For as long as the world turns, there will be something new to learn, something new to experience. Isn’t that the point of living? Why let sentiment hold you back? Maybe I would be lonely. Maybe I would lose people I care about but I might lose them anyway, even if I’m not immortal. Everything that lives has to die someday. 踊る阿呆に見る阿呆、同じ阿呆なら踊らな損々.” He spoke the Japanese words with a half-smile. “We’re fools whether we dance or not, so we may as well dance.” He translated the proverb for Ruka. “I master my emotions, they do not master me. Death is sad but it isn’t the end.”

He didn’t know if his words would make sense to Ruka, didn’t know how the other viewed life and death. Growing up in Japan, raised to follow the onmyodo path which had deep ties to Shinto and Buddhism, everything was cyclical. Death was an ending but it wasn’t the end. “I admire your conviction.” He continued after Ruka had spoken of his own wish and Jack’s awful tendency to throw himself into the middle of things. “And I admire Jack’s unfailing devotion to his ‘not-friends’. It’s interesting how much alike you are but also very different.” Then he added with a grin. “I’ll do my best not to end up in any position that requires saving.”

His eyes shone with delight when Ruka not only seemed to know Oscar Wilde but also returned his quote with another. He laughed, a genuine ring of amusement in it as Ruka bestowed upon him a compliment that made him want to preen. It was not often that his dangerous curiosity earned him praise. More often it only brought him stern reprimands or warnings from adults and confusion from his peers. “I’ve noticed.” He replied with a slight smirk, eyes narrowing a bit. “Your charm seems to draw all sorts of people to you.” He remembered the few times he had seen Ruka before Winter Break, how other students would flock to him. How he suspected most of the students at the hockey game had come because of Ruka, not for the game itself. He rested his cheek against his palm, smirk widening. “Is it intentional or instinctual?”

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@Ruka Burnett-Tân

Don't confuse my attitude with my personality. My personality is who I am; my attitude depends on who you are.
26 May 2021, 11:46
The Fire Fox  PV Ruka 
@Kazuo Shimada
Kazuo seemed surprised at the information that Wales and London weren't all that far apart, at least not by train. It was understandable; Ruka himself was constantly in awe at how fast one could get from one place to another. Growing up, just the small town they had spent most of their time in had seemed too big to ever figure out to him. "I think it's worth asking about," he told the other boy, not wanting to confirm anything, but the hopeful look in Kazuo's eyes sparked a determination in him that only fuelled his own excitement. "I don't see why they wouldn't let us, though. If they get to meet your parents and feel like we're in safe hands... Jack would love it too, I'm sure." He grinned, nodding along with his words. He didn't want reality to end up disappointing him, but he allowed himself to be hopeful nonetheless. "I'll write to them and see what they think, then we can arrange everything else." Humming thoughtfully when asked what he would want to do in Tokyo, Ruka tilted his head to the side. "You said you used to visit a cat cafe," he pointed out, adoration filling forest green eyes. He'd been to one of those, back in London, but the small, dingy place housing four old cats sleeping on their comically large cat trees was probably nothing in comparison to the magic that Japan seemed to have to offer. "I'd want to go there! And I want to see all your favourite places. And... What kind of animals are there in Japan?" Thoughts of visiting the zoo on his birthday flashed behind his eyes and he wondered if Japan had any animal related activities to offer, aside from cat cafes.

Sobering up a bit again as they talked about sentiment, loneliness and immortality, Ruka's eyes grew clouded for a moment. Something about Kazuo's initial words felt wrong, as hollow as he claimed sentiment to be. He thought of a wry smile, a bitter tone, disapproval leading into hope. For a second Ruka considered not mentioning it, but Kazuo was easy to talk to, maybe a bit too easy, and they were bound on a level that actively worked against keeping up any walls and filters, so he talked anyway.

"And yet you miss home," he pointed out quietly, scratching one short fingernail across the ridges in the table wood. "A place that's still there, that you could always return to. What would it feel like if it just vanished? Gone, from one day to the next, and the only thing that remains is a memory you can never quite capture, until you can barely tell if you actually still remember it, or if you just don't want to admit that you've forgotten." Reflexively he reached up to draw the flame shaped pendant of his necklace that lay against his chest into his hand and gave it a tight squeeze as if drawing strength from it. "What if you have to live with that feeling, over and over again, forever?" He shook his head slowly, taking a deep breath. He couldn't imagine it, didn't want to imagine it either. Immortality seemed like a nightmare to him where Kazuo praised it like a dream come true.

As Kazuo spoke in a foreign language, Ruka tried to mouth along to the sound of the words but he could barely understand where one word ended and the other began, so he focused on the translation instead, a glassy look in his eyes. It awoke memories inside him that he had swallowed down, had suppressed over and over. The words sounded so much like the ones his father used to imprint on him with every new burn or cut, every cold and hungry night. Keep smiling, keep laughing, keep dancing. No room for tears, no time for breaks.

Though, what Kazuo said didn't sound as harsh to him, was maybe even hopeful, encouraging. They all danced and fell, and the world kept moving on around them, regardless of whether they got up again or not. For a moment Ruka felt small and insignificant.

Looking at Kazuo with furrowed brows, Ruka considered his words for a moment, gaze unwavering as he searched the other boy's face for something he couldn't name. "I keep meeting people who think they have figured out how to master their emotions," he said, tone as empty as his gaze as he thought of Flash's broken masks, Willow's heaved breaths, Jack's panicked tears. "And I keep seeing them break." He shook his head for a moment and ran both hands through his messy hair. "You can try to tame a wild animal, but you can never snuff out its instincts completely. You're all trying to put a leash on a wolf just to act surprised when it turns around to bite you once it's had enough." He hummed quietly. "You all seem to forget that a leash works both ways. Once you've put it on your emotions, they can master you the same way you think you've mastered them. Control is an illusion." They had already established how averse Ruka was towards illusions so he decided not to delve further into it.

Instead he offered a smile to Kazuo's words about Ruka's conviction and Jack's dedication. The term "non-friends" elicited a laugh from him. "I'd appreciate that," he admitted with a grin that only widened at Kazuo's apparent recognition of the quote he had used to answer with.

The question that followed it took him aback for a moment as he considered it. He wouldn't really have thought of himself as charming enough to make people flock to him as Kazuo put it. He knew how to be charming, certainly, knew when to smile and nod, knew how most people liked theatrics, liked to be entertained, liked to be the centre of attention when given the chance. What they liked the most was to be the centre of attention to someone who was already everybody else's centre of attention. People liked to feel special, Ruka himself was no exception.

"I don't exactly intend on being charming most of the time these days," he said honestly, shaking his head lightly as he met Kazuo's widening smirk with a small smile. "I know how to be because... because the more charming you are, the more people pay you." A valuable life lesson. A law of those who had nothing, one that Flash liked to play with for reasons Ruka couldn't bring himself to agree with. In the hands of the poor a tool of necessity, in the hands of those already well off a treasure map to power and influence far beyond mere survival. "I can be charming because at the end of the day, 'charming' is the only thing that survives out there when you have nothing else to give. 'Charming' gets you food when you're hungry, and a blanket when it's cold." He smiled, a hint of melancholy in his eyes. "But I feel like you know a thing or two about being charming yourself, don't you?"
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~Hell is other people~ - Jean Paul Sartre

Stamina: 7 ~ Evasion: 9 ~ Strength: 4 ~ Wisdom: 12 ~ Arcane Power: 6 ~ Accuracy: 7