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Fandom Final Fantasy: The Age of Ophiuchus [Closed]

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Lucyfer

I Could Tip You Like A Vintage Wine
They were on the right track! Didymus was relieved by that, and considered the situation, “Well, probably best to try an office space or something first,” he said, “since you have connections, anyways.” How far those connections were going to go, was soon to be tested, “I’m sure I can find a trading post,” it couldn’t be far from the sign.

He continued forward, noting the warehouses, the ships, and eventually, noting the little building that clearly served as the front for their base of operations in Aerilon. There was a little window that was open to the public, and a bell.

Didymus rang the bell, and awkwardly wondered if he’d need to give Kikiti a boost to talk to the people who showed up. The window was above her head. Well, they’d figure that out eventually. It didn’t take too long for a woman to approach, smiling, although it faltered a bit at the sight of him. She didn’t even see Kikiti, “Can I help you?” she was clearly expecting nothing good from the conversation, even if her tone remained polite.

“Yeah, uh, we were hoping to book passage on one of your boats.”

The woman sighed, “Let me guess, to Rozari? I’m sorry, we’re not transporting refuges, we’re a business of profit.”

Well, apparently news had spread here about the Arkidian occupation if they were already having a refuge issue. Didymus wasn’t sure how to respond, except, “No, uh – Kikiti?” Help. It was definitely time for her to help.
 

Arcanist

One Espresso Depresso
Office space it was! Kikiti followed along, glad they had found their base of operations eventually. Though, the challenge hadn't quite ended here, for they still needed to talk to whoever was in charge and convince them to sail with them.

They approached a window that Kikiti's smile had faltered at. Of course, none of the windows here would be at her height. Didymus had to ring the bell to summon someone to the window, of course, for she couldn't do it herself. She knew there were never any windows made for Lalafell her height, but it didn't make it any better trying to simply deal with it either. She waited, eventually hearing a voice, but of course, seeing nobody.

As Didymus asked about passage on one of their boats with the woman, she stood on her tip-toes, straining to get a look through the window at her. The conversation continued as if she wasn't even there, obviously, because the woman hadn't seen her. She got closer to the window, reaching her hands up to the windowsill and trying to pat it as if that would get the woman's attention. No such luck.

Just as she had refused passage to the 'refugees', Didymus turned to her for help. Kikiti stepped back and called loudly, "Yeah, excuse me! Down here!"

It took a moment, but the woman eventually stretched herself further across to get a view off the source of the voice on the other side. She squinted for a moment at the Lalafell, clearly trying to make out what age this small girl actually was. She sighed again. "Look, I understand you must be desperate to get to Rozari, but just because you have a little sister doesn't mean--"

"Hey!" Kikiti pouted, folding her arms over, which arguably didn't help her not be perceived as a younger sister to Didymus. "I'll have you know I'm sixteen!"

"Sixteen?" The woman looked confused for a moment before she raised an eyebrow, thoughtful for a moment. "Wait, wait...Lalafell, right?"

Technically, Kikiti wanted to reply, but she just smiled. It was a perfect way to transition onto what she was going to say next. "Yeah, that's right. My mom's name is Sosola, and then my dad is Marden Tochu," she said casually, just dropping the name in there.

The woman paused, staring at Kikiti for a moment, like that name she had dropped was supposed to mean something. Kikiti stared back, with that smile still on her face, though, she was beginning to wonder now if she had gotten the right company. Did her father even work with them at all?

"Oh, Marden," the woman laughed. "We just called him Mardy for short. How's he doing? Last I heard of him was that he had run off with a Lalafell woman. I can see that worked out pretty well for him."

Kikiti gave her something of a proud smile that said, 'Of course it did!' Though, she could understand her doubts over...such a relationship. "Yeah, we did. My brother here and a couple of others are looking to get over to Rozari, since he's over there right now doing business. He told us you were just the trading company to come to and that you'd help us out. Said you were the best one he had worked with."
 

Lucyfer

I Could Tip You Like A Vintage Wine
‘Wait we’re still siblings?’ Didymus couldn’t help but wonder after Kikiti claimed to be sixteen, and indicated she was lalafell. He wondered how believable it was that one got more in the way of human height, and the other got more in the way of lalafell. It didn’t seem to be confusing the woman at the office, so Didymus decided he’d roll with it.

“And we’re not looking to be useless to your ship, either. We can pay, and we can offer services. My sister is great at sewing, and I’m a pretty good cook,” Didymus offered, “so we can help the crew out. We’ll even help with cleaning up if those things are already covered.”

The woman seemed to consider them a bit more seriously, and asked, “How many are you total?”

“Four of us,” he said, “the other two aren’t siblings, it's just me and Kikiti,” he’d never pass Reva off on being related, “just some business partners we’re working with who joined us for the trip; with the change of things here in Ucantis, they needed to see our dad as soon as possible to make new arrangements.”

“Well…,” she seemed to consider, “let me go take a look at our schedule real quick, all right? We might have some space for four extra hands somewhere.”

Didymus beamed, “Thank you!” And with that, the woman turned from the window and walked further into the office to go take a look at something. Didymus looked away from her and gave that smile to Kikiti, throwing her a ‘thumbs up’ gesture to signal his glee with her assistance in all of this. It was working!
 

Arcanist

One Espresso Depresso
Didymus, thankfully to Kikiti, had played along with her sibling schtick. Not only did he throw in their other two companions as contacts of Marden Tochu but also mentioned how the two of them were able to do some jobs for them on the ship as well so that they weren't just paying passengers per se.

As the woman walked away, Kikiti turned to Didymus and gave him a grin of his own. She definitely was working, and with that extra boost from Didymus, they were sure to grab some sort of passage on this ship. They'd be on their way to Rozari in no time!

The woman returned with some rolled parchment, clearly part of the schedule she was talking about. "So, the next ship we have going out to Rozari would be tomorrow morning. So, if you don't mind waiting until then, we could take the four of you onboard."

It wasn't the most ideal situation, but it was better than not procuring any sort of passage. Kikiti nodded and smiled, "We'll be able to make tomorrow morning."

The woman smiled at the two of them and nodded. "Great." From there, she explained how much it would be for the four of them. It was cheaper actually, given how they were going to pay for it in other ways. She also explained where their vessel would be docked and what time they would be leaving at, so not to miss it.

Both parties were on good terms then after that, and Kikiti and Didymus could finally go back to Reva and Cleon with some good news. It was well-needed after their long trip here.

"I'd say that's a job well done," Kikiti said with a smile as she turned to Didymus. "I mean, we couldn't get one today...but at least we wouldn't be waiting for another week or more." They had a bit of time to waste between now and then...and she knew that Didymus had other matters he wanted to attend to here. "If you want, we can grab some of that salt you've been dreaming off for a few days."
 

Lucyfer

I Could Tip You Like A Vintage Wine
Tomorrow morning wasn’t much of a wait, and Didymus considered the amount of gil it was going to cost to get there. Helping out with the crew was netting them a significantly lower fare, and they were able to pay for it, but Didymus internally cringed at the loss of gil. They had so little now, and they weren’t making up any gil, either. Even this trip wouldn’t pay them, despite services rendered.

Kikiti’s name was the one put on the list to hold their spot, though Didymus was tempted to give the names of their companions – Clyde and Vera. He was using that if Cleon continued to dilly-dally about giving a name for them to use. ‘I probably need a more lalafell sounding name.’ He could talk with Kikiti about that on the way back to the camp, at least.

For now, the situation was handled.

He gave a smirk and a nod at that, “Yeah – let’s see how much salt is going for here,” or maybe he could just steal it. If they had more water flasks, he wouldn’t mind just getting a bunch of ocean water and boiling it off to leave him with salt, but he supposed they could find out if it was cheap anywhere. “Should be able to find some cheap fish, too. Hopefully.”

He dreamt of fish with honeyed carrots in the moment, and sighed as he realized it was an impossibility unless he stole these things. Which Kikiti would notice and get mad at him for. He couldn’t really hide it when he got back to the camp, after all. “Any fish you don’t like?” He knew sometimes fish was hit-or-miss with people.

He knew a lot who didn’t like mussel varieties, though he wasn’t planning on that.

He should also figure something out for Reva.
 

Arcanist

One Espresso Depresso
Kikiti nodded at that and smiled. She was in quite an optimistic mood after their win - or what she wanted to see as her win, at the very least. Sure, the gil was going to be a problem...but they'd find another way to make it, right?

...or steal it, perhaps, in Didymus' case.

Anyway, that was something to be discussed another time.

For now, all she could do was answer Didymus' next question on her preference of fish. She hummed, thinking for a moment. "Not that I can think off the top of my--oh, no, wait!" She paused, looking to Didymus, "Eel. It's all slimy. And it has weird eyes." She gave a shudder at the very thought of it. She doubted they could afford eel, but it was good for future preference.

"I'm hoping Cleon's tastes aren't too expensive..." Kikiti murmured as she began walking in the direction of the markets. He wondered if Cleon ate a lot of fancy fish. He probably did. He sounded like he ate a lot of fancy food.

~***~

"Krieger, what the hell's your problem?"

"It's the fish, boss," the man gagged, standing at the edge of the pier, gripping his stomach. "I can't stand the smell...had a bad dose of fish once...never the same for me since...even the smell...urk...!" He lurched forward, retching.

Jagger groaned, shaking her head. "Alright, just...go that way, yeah? I'll keep an eye out around here." She watched Krieger put an arm over his nose and mouth, practically running out of the market. "What a wimp..." She sighed, putting her hands behind her head as she paused at a fish stall, staring at an anchovy with its weird beady fish eye.

Jagger grabbed Didymus' letter a few days prior. Of course, the damn Moogle refused to give the location of where he actually sent the letter from. Something about sender-confidentiality. Though, rather than running straight to her employer, she had taken the time to read over it first herself. She was glad she did, for when she read Gemini on that letter, something in her ran cold. If that meant what she thought it meant, then it was clear Didymus was another one of these people with THE 'Zodiacs' she had heard Zariel and Lixue harp on about.

She had only got him involved with all of this to bust his out of jail. Not the Zodiac shit. Even she hadn't expected herself to get involved in that until they found out about that marking. Hell, she thought it was a birthmark. She didn't ask to be dragged into it, but she knew that Zariel knew the money would keep her around long enough to do whatever it was that she needed to do with them.

Goddamnit, how could she not notice Didymus' marking before?

Nevertheless, Jagger told them about the letter Didymus sent. How it was coded, how there were three Zodiacs together on the run, this...CLIDE, suspiciously put in all capital letters, that they were meeting. She didn't give a shit about the 'Libra' with them, but listing Didymus as a Gemini put a target on his back that he didn't need. Knowing it was a cry for help, Jagger was to be sent out there to seize the three Zodiacs and bring Didymus back himself to grab his pay, while more was looked into this CLIDE. Lixue was quick to point out it was an anagram.

She could have sworn the man's kink was to show off his smarts of his.

But that wasn't her concern. Her role was to grab the Zodiacs, bring back Didymus, while the rest of them dealt with the political and shady dealings, and what have you. She was the muscle, so she hadn't been too concerned about the rest of things.

Didymus though. Jagger felt some odd connection to him. Pity from busting his ass out of jail years back? Juno always seemed to have a soft spot for him, something Jagger hadn't understood all that well at first. She wondered if Juno was why she was suddenly so protective of him.
 

Lucyfer

I Could Tip You Like A Vintage Wine
Eel. Didymus nodded, committing it to memory. Not that he’d be seeking eel out, anyways. He was thinking of just some standard fish – bouss, salna, or other sorts of things. “Eel can be pretty tasty raw,” Didymus noted, though he imagined that was only going to get a disgusted look from Kikiti. Really, that was half the motivation in even saying it – but he wasn’t wrong! In the right sauce, with some rice, raw eel was delectable.

“Cleon probably likes caviar,” which caused Didymus’s nose to wrinkle. “It’s not even that good, I don’t know why rich people like it,” he’d tried it, but it really just tasted like buttered salt water, and that was disgusting to him.

They were entering the market then, which was, of course, full of fish, though there was a healthy dose of other goods from abroad. His eyes skimmed the offerings, and listed prices. Fish would be secondary, salt was what he really wanted, and he found a stall that seemed to be operating on selling spices and herbs, so he was quick to head that way, “Hey! How much for a pouch of salt?”

“One gil,” the lady at the stall said. Salt really was too ridiculously common, and enough people around here knew how to get it themselves.

“Okay, I definitely want that, and uh…,” he knew he shouldn’t, but all of this! “Is there any dill? Or some lemnge zest? Or—” his words caught in his throat as he swore he saw a familiar figure running away from the market with his arm over his face, “Ya know what, just the salt, actually. We’re in a bit of a hurry.”

‘There’s no way that was Krieger.’

But…maybe it was possible. Maybe Jagger figured where he was going and assumed they’d head to a port?

‘Then why are you RUNNING?!’

Totally because he couldn’t be caught with Kikiti.

And totally because he would find a way to sneak back and talk with her. Definitely.
 

Arcanist

One Espresso Depresso
Didymus thought right. Kikiti grimaced at the thought, shaking her head with an audible shiver. "Ugh, no, no no! It's so slippery and gross and-bleugh!" She flapped her arms a little, almost as if the very fish was crawling up her back. She was beginning to think that Didymus was doing this on purpose.

Eagerly moving onto the next topic, Kikiti giggled at Didymus' own disgust. It seemed even he had his own misgivings over some types of food. Interesting to see, considering the man did nothing but rave about it. But she couldn't agree nor disagree with him on the matter of caviar. "I've never had it...which I suppose is telling if mostly rich people eat it," she murmured, rubbing her head.

Perhaps if they got back to Ucantis, Cleon would provide her with some to let her taste it, and see if it was as disgusting as Didymus implied it was.

As Didymus naturally drifted towards a stall selling spices and herbs, looking to grab some salt. Kikiti, however, decided to drift towards another stall that was selling...some fishing equipment. An interesting - or perhaps smart - place to do it. She wondered if that would have been useful for their travels, though, she supposed if they weren't by lakes all that often...

...and Reva had Leviathan that could easily help them catch fish, should they so need it...

She was caught up in her thoughts, back to Didymus as she browsed the wares on display. A few people had approached or wandered near the stall, apparently interested as well.

Jagger had wandered away from the stall with the weird anchovy fish eyeing her and down through the market again. Some people had stared at her as she walked down, and she almost had been tempted to give them a glare in return to see their reaction, though resisted. She wondered if Aerilon got many sellswords or mercenaries passing through. Then again, Aerilon didn't seem to be that kind of port.

She continued on, minding her own business, scanning her eyes over several passing heads...and then stopped. Some stalls down from her, stood a man who bore the very same likeness of Didymus. In fact, squinting at him, she could discern it was Didymus! If Didymus was here, then their Zodiac bearers weren't too far behind. She smirked, rubbing her hands together. But she had to play it cool. Twelve knew where the others had been.

...but the ram often led with the head.

Jagger started walking again. Right towards the stall. She, of course, had no notion of the Lalafell being one of the Zodiac bearers, nor could she even see a Lalafell, surrounded by those other people at the stall she was browsing at. She approached, and with an inclination of her shoulder, bumped hers into Didymus' as she passed. She did turn, however, saying with a slight smirk, "Oh, my bad." Her eyes, importantly though, moved to a dark alley further down outside the market. Whether he could make it now or not though would be the question.

Would he really put off a dear friend such as her?
 

Lucyfer

I Could Tip You Like A Vintage Wine
It was Krieger.

That became obvious as Didymus saw the unmistakable blonde in the crowd. ‘Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.’ The word was on repeat in his head that he hadn’t noticed Kikiti leave his side, so when he looked for her after denying the other spices and just paying for the salt, he didn’t immediately see her. ‘Fuck.’

And then Jagger bumped him, and he heard her words, and followed her gaze to the alley, his own eyes too-wide, as if he was caught doing something terrible. He couldn’t have explained his fear if asked. Wasn’t this what he wanted? Back-up? Help?

He should find Kikiti, though!

‘Oh wait, there she is.’ He saw her at another stall, examining other things. Well, if she thought that was okay, he could probably get away with saying he’d just gone to another stall to look at some things, and that would sound right, right? Sure, he was going to go with that, Kikiti wasn’t looking his way. He shoved the salt into a pocket and turned to head towards that alley that Jagger had already made her way towards.

He slipped in, and around another corner that took them out of sight of the main market road, but still in the dark of the alley. He then turned to her, “By the twelve, Jagger, how did you find me?” He asked in one of those whispers that were, still, somehow, close to shouting, then realized something, “Oh – uh – if we get seen – you’re my sister. I mentioned I had a sister I wrote a letter to.” A quick cover, just in case.

They had to be on their feet in this business, and Jagger had to be aware of some things right off.

“But seriously, how? I told you we were going to Elcid!” In Rozari!
 

Arcanist

One Espresso Depresso
Jagger, of course, had been waiting for him. It was a little risky doing that in the public eye, but boy, she hadn't been able to help herself. Regardless, she knew he wouldn’t have been able to keep her hanging. Lo and behold, he turned the corner, and she pushed herself up from the wall she had been leaning against with a grin.

Though, honestly, she was slightly disappointed at how little faith Didymus seemed to have in thinking she could locate them. She was no spy or amazing tracker, but she, like any other, would have sense in thinking of the range of travel options that one would have while on the run.

“Oh, please, you guys really were going to keep running on foot? Most fugitives grab some sort of vessel to escape somewhere eventually,” Jagger pointed out in that same low tone, folding her arms with that fiendish smirk of hers. “Aerilon is a hotspot port. I didn’t know if you guys had gotten here before me, so I figured I’d check first. But hey, if you’re still here...” She chuckled a little, punching him lightly on the shoulder. “I got real lucky.”

Man, the payout for this job was going to be pretty sweet.

“Sister, huh?” Jagger

“Oh, yeah, and Elcid,” Jagger grinned, leaning up against the wall again. “The others were having a hoot figuring that out. I doubt it’ll take them too long to figure out who it is,” she shrugged. By then, they’d probably have the three Zodiac bearers all nestled in with them back in the Imperial capital anyway. She wondered how much it would matter then.

“Anyway, what’s the low down? The prince a snivelling little shit? Who’s Libra? Is the bodyguard...?” She started wiggling her eyebrows, and crudely, pushing up her own chest with an, “Eh? Eh?”
 

Lucyfer

I Could Tip You Like A Vintage Wine
“They grabbed some chocobos,” Didymus found himself saying as Jagger insinuated that going ‘on foot’ was not the usual way. She wasn’t wrong, but he wasn’t sure why he was being defensive, or sulking. He wanted them to be caught! This was great! He still kept that sulking scowl on his face and brushed off her punch even when her arm left.

She did get real lucky to find the port they headed towards. He gave a nod about ‘sister’, but his frown only deepened as she asked about Libra, the Prince, and the Bodyguard. He rolled his eyes a bit at her insinuations, “Nuh uh, first you tell me about this Zodiac thing that’s going on – you know about it, don’t you? You’re all chummy with the Empress and everyone, right?”

She’d insinuated as much, and he’d gotten the mist bomb from the Empress, so clearly, Jagger was up there. Jagger knew about these marks. “Why do they want me?” He made it personal, rather than lingering on Libra. Rather than lingering on anyone else. This was now about him, and he had to be convinced to go along with this game.

He felt oddly powerful for that.

Even if Jagger could also lay his ass flat in a fair fight.

He wasn’t hoping to find out though – he just wanted some answers as to what was up with this situation. ‘I mean, if it’s bad for me….’ That was a good reason to help the others, right? Wait, no. What was he thinking? ‘Help yourself, by helping them. Right.’ He needed to stop caring.

The prince was a sniveling little shit.

Who tried to understand.

And Kikiti was…okay he liked Kikiti, she was the kid sister he never wanted.
 

Arcanist

One Espresso Depresso
Something was up with the kid. Well, usually Didymus wasn’t super receptive to her antics, the way she treated him sometimes like he was a kid especially. But it was odd. She figured he’d have been more excited, maybe even more relieved to see her. He was the one who cried for help, wasn’t he? And here she was, answering that call, only to get the cold shoulder.

Ugh, Jagger hoped he wasn’t sympathising with any of them. Twelve forbid, that only made both of their jobs harder.

Worse yet, now he was asking questions pertaining to the Zodiacs. She sighed, rubbing the back of her neck. “Something like that,” she mumbled. She guessed if she was able to speak with her, her brother, and their lapdog--sorry, scientist--on a regular basis, then she was rather chummy with them.

She had an idea of what was going on. Sort of. And Didymus knew it. Which only made it harder for Jagger to try and explain it.

Twelve, why did he have to make it so damn difficult? Why couldn’t he just do his job?

Jagger just groaned, looking up past the narrow alleyway and to the sky. “Ugh, you’re gonna make me go through it all?” She heaved an exasperated sigh, rubbing her head. “Listen, I get why you’re worried, but they don’t even know that they want yo--” Ohh shit. No, rewind, back it up.

Fuck.

Jagger licked her lips for a moment before she sighed, rubbing her forehead as she explained, “I forgot to mention your, uh...involvement.” She replied honestly. Semi-honestly. She didn’t mention it, yes. But she remembered he was a fucking Gemini alright.

She could cover her tracks if, when, it came up again. It’s not like she went scouring every part of Diddy to look for some magical mark anyway. She could bullshit if things went south.

Things were already heading that way.
 

Lucyfer

I Could Tip You Like A Vintage Wine
Didymus kept his eyes narrowed on her, arms crossing over his chest as Jagger began explaining. Which wasn’t much of an explanation. He waited as she adjusted herself. Her own nerves were obvious, which was definitely not helping him feel any more confident about this situation. ‘Come on, Jagger.’

Her words, though – admitting she hadn’t told them about him – raised all the alarms in his head.

This was a bad thing, wasn’t it?

They were going to do bad things to Cleon and Reva, sure – but now the thought of himself and Kikiti getting wrapped up in this made it so much worse and his eyes widened as his brows raised. His arms fell to his side and he stepped towards her, “What do you mean you didn’t tell them? Why wouldn’t you?” There was a panic in his voice, all nerves, as he wondered exactly how bad this was.

“Jagger come on! They’re going to figure it out! If you’re sending me to my death the least you can do is tell me!” His fists clenched at his side. He knew Jagger was pretty, well, amoral – but Juno had liked her, Juno had trusted her, so that had to mean there was more to her than her tough front.

There had to be someone in there who gave a shit, right? ‘You’ve been in this business for how long, and you still think thieves have honor?’ Okay, he was being stupid again, Jagger probably didn’t care at all, but he still wanted to get something out of her!

“Or is something going to happen to you, ‘cause you didn’t tell them before?” He sneered at the selfish part of it. If he couldn’t get through by sympathy, maybe he could get through by anger and guilt.
 

Arcanist

One Espresso Depresso
This wasn’t good.

Any attempts to do a good thing - or maybe it was selfishness on her part - were backfiring on her. Now he was panicked, thinking they were going to bring a guillotine down on his damn head.

Of course it would seem that way to him. He hadn’t seen what she had seen or heard. He wouldn’t have known it wasn’t like that.

"Diddy, cool it!” Jagger hissed, stepping forward to him as well. “No one’s sending anyone to their deaths! It’s gonna be fine!” She didn’t know that though, for sure. About everything being fine. From what she knew, everything could go to shit pretty quickly if they didn’t round up everyone that Zariel needed for what she had planned. It would be then she would worry about her and Diddy’s head.

But then he went there. He only went and played on how selfish she apparently was. Well, she was, but the last thing she wanted was Didymus getting wrapped up in all of this.

But it riled her. It riled her that he didn’t think better of her, even though he hadn’t any reason to with what she was refusing to tell him. “Don’t you put this on me,” Jagger growled, gesturing herself with a sudden viciousness. “I didn’t even know you had a mark until you went and put it in that letter!”

She wished he had never mentioned it. Jagger wasn’t going to tell him before this, not if he hadn’t told her at first, but she couldn’t just let that pettiness get in the way of things. If she was to keep on side at all, she had to tell him, reassure him.

Make herself seem like a victim.

“Fine, you want the truth? I wanted to give you a fucking choice in what’s coming, okay? Because I certainly didn’t get one,” Jagger started, feeling a raging, emotional fire practically burning from her stomach, threatening to rise further to the surface. “Because you and me? We’re not so different. I--!”

“DEE-DEE!! Where did you go?!”

Jagger was completely thrown off her tirade, her big reveal, by the high squeak - one that sounded eerily similar to Lilia, she believed - that passed by the alley. She was surprised by how loud it was, given it came and went. She paused, looking at Didymus, confused before realisation kicked in, and the nickname finally registered with her.
 

Lucyfer

I Could Tip You Like A Vintage Wine
Didymus did not, in fact, cool it, but held his ground even as Jagger approached and glared her down, though she didn’t back up either. She was always headstrong, and Diddy was usually the one to flinch away from her first. Only, it wasn’t usually this serious, there wasn’t usually a threat hanging over him like this. Sure, stealing from the Empire was bad, but this?

He didn’t know what this was.

At least he got to her, though, and she started to get into it, started to explain – only to be cut off.

As realization dawned on her about the name, realization hit Didymus, too, about what Jagger was going to say. “You, too?” It was said quietly, and his brows furrowed. He glanced away a moment, in the direction of Kikiti’s voice, before he looked back at Jagger.

“I…look, you don’t know what’s going on enough, and I don’t either. Let me go. You never found me. I’ll get in touch with you again in Rozari. You find out what’s going on. If you need an out, I’ll get you an out,” he offered, hoping to bargain in the moment before Kikiti inadvertently stumbled on him.

Given, they had a cover for it if she did – Didymus’s sister, tracking him down after the letter – but neither of them likely wanted that fall. Well, Jagger might. Great excuse to see where their camp was if she played up being his sister. “If things are good, I can always tell you where we are, and you can help me. If things are bad, you have me as an excuse to go looking, and then we figure it out, right?”

By the twelve, he hoped this worked.
 

Arcanist

One Espresso Depresso
Oh, Twelve, just as she was about to get it off her chest. An interruption, the squeaky voice, swooped in to save her from doing that. Though, it was easy for Didymus to put two-and-two together, to figure out she was one of them. She would have blabbed it anyway, though, perhaps it was good when that interruption came as it did.

Though, Jagger was intrigued by why Didymus was running around with a small child. She was going to have to fight a five-year-old with a Zodiac, wasn’t she?

God, it’d be like punching Lilia in the face. She could punch anyone but a kid? There were lines to be drawn when it came to them.

Unless they were annoying little shits, like the ones back in Prumoor.

Didymus put forward a proposition, a bargain for the both of them. It was risky, very risky, to put her head on the line like that. The only guarantee to keep it, however, was that marking of hers. The Arkidians needed her.

Or well, her Zodiac. Whatever it was.

“Shit, Diddy,” Jagger folded her arms, smirking a little. “Expecting me to double-cross my employers?” If the corners of her lips could curl any further, they would. “But damn. I guess I’ll take you up on it,” she said. “I’d be rude not to extend the same courtesies. If you get tired of being on the run with your buddies here,” she jibed, folding her arms, “then you let me sort something out for ya.”

For Juno’s sake, just because she liked him. Jagger kind of liked him too, she guessed.

Damn the sentimentality.

Though, before any handshake, nod, or a quick runoff could be executed, someone stepped into the light outside of the alleyway. It was hard to see their expression against the harsh brightness of the day but Jagger hadn’t flinched. She simply smiled as the tiny child came rushing forward.

“Didymus! Don’t you dare go running off like that! I’ve been running around this market looking for you everywhere!” Kikiti fumed, fists clenched and ready to throw hands, though, noticed the woman standing beside him. It seemed as if she was clueless as to their conversation. Though it was odd, the two of them standing in such a dark alley, she had to note. “Who’s this?” She asked, turning back to Didymus.

Jagger turned to who she believed was simply a child and gave her a friendly smile, bending over a little to look down at her. Already the look of disgust on the kid’s face made her want to throw her out of the alley, but she resisted with all her might.

“I’m Diddy’s bigggg sister, Jagger,” she explained, watching Kikiti’s face soften upon the recognition. She figured there was no point giving a fake name, not if she believed Diddy had made up the story of her being his sister to the kid.
 

Lucyfer

I Could Tip You Like A Vintage Wine
Given how close Kikiti had been to them, it wasn’t a surprise to Didymus that she ended up venturing into the alley and finding them. Perhaps she heard his voice, if not his words, and ventured further to see if she had heard correctly. Didymus put on an anxious smile as she found them, “I’m sorry, Kikiti, there wasn’t time to explain,” he said, as Jagger crouched down to introduce herself.

‘Oh dear….’

“Jagger, this is Kikiti, she’s 16 and a lalafell-human,” he figured he should add that part, this time, rather than just call her a lalafell. He also thought that might straighten Jagger up with regards to her behavior, before Kikiti slapped her. “I don’t know how she found me. I was trying to keep her from worrying with that letter but it didn’t work.” He sighed.

Jagger knew otherwise, of course, but this was the lie he had to tell, so this was the lie that Jagger had to play along with for everything to make sense. “I’m guessing you weren’t back home in Escander then, were you?” Another lie – to be his sister, she had to assume Escander. Didymus hadn’t lied about his heritage in joining the group.

This was going to get tricky now.

He couldn’t help but fiddle a moment with the bracelet of his real sister. It brought him little comfort in the moment. He could imagine her judging him harshly for this lie. And Jagger had just agreed to go along with his nonsense, too!
 

Arcanist

One Espresso Depresso
Kikiti looked to Didymus upon his explanation. ’This better be good,’ she couldn't help but think. Very few got a pass when they did something like this. Not too many people crouched down or pat her head and got away with it. Though, if Jagger was truly as ignorant of the fact, perhaps she would get a pass.

This once.

Jagger paused and looked to Didymus. ’Oh.’ Well, shit, that was embarrassing. She could have sworn Kikiti looked like a kid. Most Lalafell did, with their height, and their button noses, and those big ears and--

Wait, how did a human and a Lalafell--

Those were questions for later. Or for Lixue, maybe.

Jagger straightened up, cleared her throat, and gave her an apologetic smile. “Sorry about that, Kikiti. Trust little bro here to keep me right.”

Kikiti did give her something of a subdued glare but ultimately had little choice but to forgive her. “It’s fine...happens a lot as it is…” She mumbled afterwards. She couldn’t really stay angry at Didymus’ sister. Especially not when her sister had come all the way here to no doubt check on him.

Oddly convenient. Then again, Didymus mentioned his sister travelled. She wondered if she travelled in the other Imperial occupied nations at all.

Jagger shook her head at Didymus, folding her arms, “Nope. Had to get away from the...country, for a bit.” She held off on calling it a shithole. Sure, everyone called it a capitalist dungheap. Even the ones who lived in Escander called it that, but young ears and first impressions and all that. She wrapped an arm around Didymus’ shoulders - goddamn, she would enjoy this - and pulled him closer, before tugging on his cheek.

“I have what we call a sister’s intuition,” Jagger chuckled, glancing to Kikiti with a grin. “Never doubt the power we have to find our brothers~.” That wasn’t a lie. She was very resourceful at finding people. “

“I wouldn’t know,” Kikiti shook her head, “I don’t have any siblings.”

Interesting. Jagger let go of Didymus’ cheek and smiled. “You don’t want ‘em anyway. I asked our mom to return him when the novelty of having him as a brother wore off,” she teased.
 
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Lucyfer

I Could Tip You Like A Vintage Wine
Didymus winced as Jagger wrapped an arm around him and tugged on his cheek. He had several regrets, all of them directly tied to ever pretending he had living sisters, right now. He didn’t think the wince would be too surprising, though, or his audible groan as he tried to push away from Jagger while she explained about her intuition.

“I agree. Don’t have siblings,” Didymus grumbled to Kikiti, “they’re more trouble than they’re worth. If you have kids, let them be an only child.” Didymus didn’t think much about kids or having kids. He was half-convinced he’d just end up with a squad of orphans he begrudgingly adopted, unofficially, of course.

And they’d commit crimes for him.

Anyways, Jagger was just wanting to make sure I was safe,” he sighed, “I know she’s not entirely convinced. I was trying to convince her,” he rolled his eyes a bit, but let a faint smile show. Fond. Affectionate.

Sincere, in a way, too. “Do you think our – uh – companions would be upset if I introduced her?” This way she’d know what they looked like, at any rate. And she’d owe him for introducing her to the viera.

A little bit, anyways.
 

Arcanist

One Espresso Depresso
Jagger was grinning ear-to-ear like a coerl in its element. To play around like this with Didymus was probably the best thing she had gotten to do all week - bar smashing in some Ucantis-born skulls, of course, but that was a much grosser, heavier pleasure than this. The more he tried to pull away, the harder she only seemed to tug. Man, this was more fun than she had intended it to be.

Kikiti couldn't help but crack a smile at the two of them, and she did giggle as she said, "Okay, okay. I guess I'll keep that in mind." In truth, she always wanted a younger sibling, though, apparently, one was enough of a handful according to her parents.

She didn’t think she was that much of a bother.

“Well, I suppose you’ve got all your limbs, so you at least look okay,” Jagger joked, returning the sibling affection.

Ugh, she forgot how icky this kind of thing could be.

Jagger did pay more mind to Didymus when he mentioned her meeting his ‘companions’. No doubt the Viera was included in that group. She had to keep herself from exposing a wicked grin. “Oh, I’d love to meet them. Don’t worry,” she held a hand up, and put the other on her chest, “solemnly swear to behave myself.”

Kind of.

Kikiti cocked her head for a moment, thoughtful on the matter. Perhaps Cleon would have been more open to the idea than Reva. But she couldn’t just comment on why they would be so adamant not to have someone else be introduced to them.

“Well...you know how our companions are...erm, solitary beings,” she put, though added as she turned to Jagger. “That’s not to say I’m not okay with you joining us. I’d hate to leave you on your own in the city...” There was nothing worse than exclusion, and it was the last thing she wanted to do.

“Oh, don’t you worry,” Jagger reassured her, trying not to seem incredibly eager to see the Viera--and the prince. Yeah, sure. He was the golden ticket here after all...ahem. “I won’t bother you guys all that much. Like I said, on my best behaviour. Plus, I’d love to meet Diddy’s friends. It’s so nice to see him make some~.”

Ouch.
 

Lucyfer

I Could Tip You Like A Vintage Wine
‘I really hate you sometimes, Jagger.’ Didymus wanted FREEDOM, but Jagger was giving him none, and he had to relent a bit lest it seem too, well, much. Kikiti might not have siblings herself, but she’d no doubt seen plenty of them. Most siblings learned to just begrudgingly deal with the antics of their worse-half. Didymus would have to accept his defeat here, like any irritated younger brother.

But he didn’t have to be happy.

“I know,” Didymus sighed, “I just know she won’t get on her way until I can convince her I’m fine and not being threatened or that I’m in good hands,” he sounded exasperated as he said it, “I was trying to convince her of it before you showed up so she wouldn’t be a pain.” But then Kikiti showed up, so he figured it was just best to speak to her. “You’re not actually planning to join us, right?”

She did have better things to do, and she’d better remember that, damn her.

She would just pop in, make sure her brother was in good hands, and then leave.

‘You should really be hoping for the opposite.’

He didn’t know that for sure…but if they had to save Jagger due to this Zodiac nonsense, wouldn’t it be good if the others at least knew her face? Probably. Did he want it to come to that? He didn’t know. He really didn’t know. He knew he didn’t trust people like Zariel, and Jagger had to know enough not to trust people like Zariel, so she’d get to the bottom of this and figure out what was really up.
 

Arcanist

One Espresso Depresso
They deserved some sort of reward for the tremendous job the both of them were playing in their sibling roles. Didymus was playing the irate younger brother, her the protective, but ultimately, the loveable older sister. It was perfect. And it seemed this Kikiti was drawn into it pretty well.

Unless she had a good poker face. In which case, they had a problem.

“And he’s right,” Jagger pointed out with a grin. “I can’t get on my own way if I don’t know my little brother is safe for sure.”

Kikiti’s face scrunched in thought for a moment, before she asked, “Why don’t you just travel with Didymus then? Wouldn’t that be easier?”

“Please, the two of us on the road together? I’m sure I’d drive him insane,” Jagger laughed. It was the truth, in a lot of senses. As for Didymus’ next question, she put on a frown. “You can’t expect me to leave without seeing who else you’re trying with. I gotta make sure they’re feeding you! And they’re nice to you!”

It would make a nice change from how much of a bother she could be to Diddy.

Like now.

And anyway, not only would she get an eyeful of a hubba hubba Viera, but she’d get a look at crybaby prince, see what he looked like too. At least then she’d recognise Pisces, Cancer, and Libra for future reference. Keep your friends close, your enemies closer, and your suspicious employer and her lackeys even closer.

Jagger looked back to Kikiti with a pout and two hands on her waist. “You agree, right, Kikiti? Not that I don’t think you guys are being terrible to him, but it’d be nice to meet who he’s travelling with!”

Kikiti hesitated, looking between the pouting Jagger and Didymus. She was sure Reva would have some words about it...and not only that but she was sure she didn’t really know the details of their situation. Otherwise, she would have been much more worried about her brother’s situation. She finally looked to Didymus and shrugged, “I mean...it should be fine, right?”
 

Lucyfer

I Could Tip You Like A Vintage Wine
Jagger would absolutely drive him insane if they had to deal with each other on a boat. Not to mention she’d also probably drive Reva insane. Maybe Cleon. She’d at least hurt Cleon’s feelings a few times, and that would annoy everyone because Cleon would then annoy everyone about it. “I’m the one feeding them,” he grumbled, but wouldn’t say more on that.

Although he did realize he still didn’t grab any cheap fish.

Or dill.

“I don’t know,” Didymus sighed, “I think one of our companions won’t be happy – but maybe you can help butter her up a bit. She’s vegetarian, and things are a bit scarce in the wild. I was thinking of making up a good meal of some bass, with honeyed carrots, maybe add a bit of a citrusy rice side dish – but we’re tight on funds. I know I can get the fish on my own, but not much else…so there’s not as much for her to eat.”

Not that Reva ever complained….

He was hoping the thought of a good meal, and making the viera happy, might tug on Jagger’s purse-strings enough for her to part with some for a meal, and buy her way into meeting them all, and putting her in their good graces. Or, at least, better graces.

Kikiti’s look might help; he knew she was desperate for rice and mentioning it might put on that ‘puppy dog’ look again. Jagger couldn’t refuse that, right? ‘Come on, let’s eat good for one night at least!’
 

Arcanist

One Espresso Depresso
As Didymus had predicted, Kikiti’s face brightened at the prospect of eating rice for dinner. Ever since he mentioned it the other night, rice had haunted her dreams and even every waking thought. She would have hated to ask his sister to dive into her own purse to provide what was currently such a luxury for them, but it was a luxury she would forever be grateful for.

And she made sure to show that hopefulness on in those big brown beady eyes of hers.

Oh, shit, puppy dog eyes. Jagger could practically see the hope shining out of the Lalafell-Human’s eyes. Damn, how could a sixteen-year-old get to her as easily as a five-year-old? Probably because the two were the same size. She shot a look to Didymus after he said his piece about buttering up their vegetarian ‘friend’, giving a list of what he wanted to be on the menu.

He was looking charity. Out of her pocket.

’Son of a…’

“...of course,” Jagger forced a smile, a chuckle, all the while staring at Didymus with eyes that said that he owed her. Big time. She turned to Kikiti, still forcing that smile, though, softening her eyes, and commented, “Diddy leeches off me a lot. Another reason you should be glad to have siblings. They always run to you for help.” The explanation was a subtle jab at Didymus.

Though, she was happy to help the man, judging by her running all the way here for him.

He just had to pick out of her pocket, didn’t he?
 

Lucyfer

I Could Tip You Like A Vintage Wine
Didymus kept the wicked grin off of his lips as he could see this was working on Jagger. She didn’t want it to be, but the power of Kikiti’s puppy dog eyes was intense, and Diddy knew it would be. He couldn’t throw a thumbs up at Kikiti, of course. She wouldn’t know the game she was playing and she didn’t need to be tipped off, either. Best keep this in consideration as a big sister thing.

Just as Didymus wouldn’t argue too much about running to her for help. He just shrugged his shoulders, “Sometimes the pockets aren’t that deep,” Jagger knew what he did for a living, and so did Kikiti. If Kikiti was allowing him to steal, he wouldn’t need Jagger’s help. Alas, she wasn’t, and she was inclined to make a scene if he did steal something and didn’t immediately return it.

Damn her.

‘Besides I know you get paid enough.’ Jagger worked for, literally, the biggest buyer in all of Hyune.

She could part with some gil and easily have it reimbursed.

“I saw where to get some of the spices and ingredients, so just follow me, we don’t need too much. There was some dill where I got the salt which is great on the bass, and then we just have to find some lemnge for the zest and juices….” He was already getting excited about it just talking about it. “You won’t regret this, Jagger!” She ought to know that, though. He was sure he’d cooked at least for Juno before and she probably stole a bite or two. He wasn’t actually sure if he’d cooked for Jagger.

Probably.

He didn’t keep track of all the people he’d fed.
 

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