Gotta Start SomewhereStarted by Hien Tran at Apr 06, 2019 2:16 am
Einmanudur 6, 76
Wow. Kassandros just didn't know when to quit, did he? By this point, Hien wasn't really trying not too look as annoyed as he felt, anymore. Kassandros could just get over it, if it bothered him, because at this moment, Hien didn't care. He might later. Certainly, his parents would have a few words for him, here, about how one behaves in another's house, but currently, Hien gave precisely no fucks about any of it. Kassandros wasn't exactly being kind to him, either. It wasn't like Hien was going to suddenly become a champion for slave rights out of nowhere. He had no intention of letting any of this change anything, because it didn't need to. And maybe some would say that was the wrong way of looking at, and thinking about it, but the thing was that Hien didn't bloody care. The only thing that really mattered in this situation was how Vinh felt about it, and it wasn't like Vinh was here to ask.
Hien's jaw set, slightly, before it relaxed again. "I guess that says some things about them, doesn't it," he said. Despite being worded as a question, it wasn't toned as one. "It can't be that bad. So maybe their masters don't pay much attention to them, oh well, big deal." And maybe, in that situation, if they really thought being ignored was that terrible, then that was really on them, wasn't it? Because that meant they were much needier than they really had any right to be. Hien had never considered Vinh to be particularly needy. Maybe things had changed since they were sixteen, but he didn't - it wasn't like Vinh had suddenly become someone else, just because they were older, now.
He did kind of have to wonder, what sorts of people they both were, now. Because, of course, it did stand to reason that they really weren't the same people they'd been, the last time they were in contact with each other. And maybe the fear of that, the fear that Vinh was someone Hien didn't know anymore, now,maybe that was overriding his sense. Hien always had been stubborn. Maybe it shouldn't really be surprising to anyone, that knew anything about him, that he was being so stubborn now. If he pretended everything was the same long and insistently enough, maybe it'd be true. If he clung to the Vinh that he knew hard enough, maybe that Vinh would never leave, or become someone he didn't know anymore.
And maybe what scared him the most, was that Kassandros was probably right, and there wasn't much Hien could do to change that. He didn't want to think too hard about it. Because if he stopped, or slowed down, enough to realize what it was that he was running from, maybe he'd change his mind, and decide it wasn't worth it to try.
This was almost like talking to a brick wall. Kassandros did have to wonder how much longer Hien was going to tolerate this conversation before he walked away. As it was, the blond was fairly surprised, that he'd managed to make it this far without walking out on him. Maybe there was some kind of hope for him because whether he knew it or not, he wasn't completely rejecting everything Kassandros said. It was just difficult to handle, especially for someone as pampered and spoilt as Hien Tran was. Kassandros understood, at least in theory. He knew what it was to feel like your entire life was falling apart because what you thought to be true and real just flat wasn't anymore. And it wasn't Hien's fault, but outright denial of the entire situation certainly wasn't helping matters any.
Denying that it happened did not make it not have happened, and maybe that in and of itself would be hurtful to Vinh. Because whether Hien liked it or not, these were things that Vinh had lived through, things that he'd experienced and that had profoundly affected him, and probably would for the rest of his life. It was almost as if denying Vinh had ever happened.
Kassandros could not make him understand that.
"And yet," Kassandros said, "this still is not Jihon." Slavery itself fundamentally worked differently, here. Given House Essair were kind to their slaves, and it was difficult to tell, here, who was a slave and who was not, he supposed Hien wouldn't really understand that slavery in Dalmasca was a much bigger deal than they liked to pretend. Dalmascans were, on the whole, terrible to their slaves. Public slaves had something of a reprieve, in that they did not technically belong to any one individual, but to the state. That meant they were government property, and the government did not generally like people screwing with what was theirs. If all you'd seen was House Essair, however, you could easily be led to believe things were different. And all Hien really knew was how things were in Jihon. But Dalmasca was not Jihon.
"Things work a good deal differently, here, Felix," Kassandros went on. "Perhaps things aren't that bad in Jihon. Maybe it's not that bad to be a slave, there. Here, it kills, figuratively and otherwise. And if it doesn't kill, it certainly makes many wish it would." He knew many slaves that had on too many occasions wished it had simply killed them. But fate wasn't so kind if that was a type of kindness, and perhaps in some ways, it was. Death existed for a reason, just as life did, and there was a purpose to both.
That whole Felix thing really was going to get on his last nerve. On the other hand, if he admitted to that, he might sort of be letting Kassandros win, and Hien wasn't terribly interested in doing that. (Yes, he was stubborn. He'd heard that many times in his life.) By now, it was entirely possible that Kassandros was arguing merely for the sake of arguing, and because, at this point, he really wasn't sure how to handle any of this information, and maybe it was just too much too quickly. About this time, he should likely be considering walking away, but he did want to see this argument to the end. If Kassandros had any other useful bits of information about finding his brother, then yes, he did want to know, and preferably sometime before he turned thirty. It wasn't like he was going to tell Kassandros that.
He had no idea how this was supposed to be helping him find his brother, but he was starting to get the impression that Kassandros wasn't trying to be terribly helpful, at least, not at the moment. While frustrating, Hien was trying not to fall to that level. He was sure that was intended to annoy him, and while it did, he didn't want this asshole getting a rise out of him. Besides, it seemed like a waste of time. It wasn't as if getting upset about it was going to make anything any better. Actually, it was probably merely going to make everything that much worse, and he was already having a hard time thinking straight. Maybe this was the point that was his limit, whether he liked it or not.
"I don't see how this conversation is helping me find Vinh," he said, shifting his weight again, more in annoyance, this time. "If you've got any other tips or anything, I'm listening, but otherwise, maybe we're done here." There wasn't much else to say. Kassandros seemed to think he understood this all better than Hien did, but Hien called bullshit on that one. He was Vinh's twin brother. Why would some silly Dalmascan know more about his twin brother than Hien did? The idea was ridiculous and ludicrous, quite frankly, and Hien had no reason to be humoring the guy right now, and listening even the small amount that he was. He still believed, very firmly, that between the two of them, he and Vinh could figure this all out, and maybe this grating child didn't need to be any part of it. This whole thing was really between himself and his brother. Kassandros may be, ostensibly, being kind to them, by allowing them to shelter with his house, and also helping them find each other, none of this was really any of his business.
Maybe that was what annoyed him the most. That not only was this child trying to tell him how to handle his own brother, but that he was sticking his nose where it didn't belong in the first place. If one continually stuck their nose into business that was not theirs, they'd eventually have problems, and could lose quite a bit to their own nosiness. Hien hadn't mentioned this, just yet, but he'd been thinking it for several minutes now. And just where did Kassandros get off, speaking to him like this? If they were in Jihon, Kassandros probably would've lost his tongue by now.
This conversation really wasn't going very well, was it? He knew that the moment they started talking to each other, but he'd hoped, somewhere along the way, Hien would've started shutting his mouth and opening his ears. On the other hand, it was perhaps too soon to expect that from the Jihonese man. This did not preclude Hien ever listening to him, it just perhaps meant that it'd take some time before he did. Many things took a bit of time before they happened, and Kassandros knew that. He could be a patient individual when he wanted to be, but he was a little concerned that Hien would take far too long to adjust to the idea, and end up hurting Vinh in the interim.
Kassandros wasn't around to cause them more pain. Dalmasca had done that enough, in his opinion, and maybe nobody could really save everyone from all their pains, Kassandros could at least try and see to it that they didn't come across any more of them, or at least as few as he could manage to protect them from. Because maybe it didn't make up for everything they went through, in Dalmasca, he did hope that it eased the hurt, some. He hoped that it reminded them that not everyone in the world was that bad, and that light could be found even in Dalmasca. Given how dark and terrible Dalmasca could be, it was very easy to forget. It was very easy to forget that not everything in the world hurt, and Kassandros didn't want to free them unto the world with that kind of weight still clinging to their shoulders.
"I'm sure," Kassandros answered, clasping his hands together on his desk. No, he didn't imagine Hien understood much of this conversation. Kassandros could only hope that he'd understand it better later, but the seeds had been planted. Whether they grew and bloomed or not, he supposed that was up to Hien. Most likely, they'd start to, whether he wanted them to or not. Kassandros understood this entire situation a bit better than he did, apparently, and mostly, Kassandros was struck by the fact that even an older individual, from a nation where slavery was not as bad as it was in Dalmasca, did not understand to the level he needed to. Changing the world, it turned out, was going to be quite the process.
"Do you really think I'm jumping at the chance to help you find your brother," he said, "so you can just go and hurt him some more with your ignorance? Because honestly, I'm not." Actually, if Kassandros had his way, they'd never find each other again, but he also knew that, even if he seemed to hate him, Kassandros never could hate Cygnus. Occasionally truly evil he might've been, Cygnus was still his brother, and Kassandros did still love him. Perhaps not the things he did or the words he spoke, but him, for sure. It was a difficult moral quandary.
"Oh please," Hien said, snorting softly. "You talk like my brother's some sort of a weak Dalmascan." There weren't many things, if he remembered rightly, that could hurt Vinh's feelings. Unless, of course, there were many things that could, and he'd simply never said anything about it. But why would Vinh hide something like that from him? It didn't make sense to Hien. It wasn't like Hien ever hid those sorts of things from Vinh, and it was hard to imagine that they'd both had things that they hadn't shared with the other. Hien didn't want to believe in a history like that. If he couldn't be himself with his twin brother, then, who could he?
No, that was a little too heavy a thought process to follow, right now. Hien's eyebrows furrowed together, for a moment, but then he let that thought go. He didn't want to think about it, right now. Perhaps, he didn't want to think about it ever.
He shook his head, more to himself. "Vinh's tougher than that," he said. And he did believe that. He didn't remember there being much Vinh couldn't handle when they were kids, and he had a hard time believing that anything Dalmasca could've thrown at him was that much worse. "And I don't see how other peoples' inability to deal with something that isn't even that bad is my problem." Who cared how other people reacted to this kind of thing? Hien wasn't here for other people. The only thing he cared about was Vinh, and if he had to burn through all of Dalmasca to find him and bring him home, then, Kirinyaga willing, he would. There wasn't much Hien wouldn't do for his brother. Starting a war with Dalmasca sounded like a great idea to him.
Hien wasn't even sure why they were allied with Dalmasca in the first place. All Dalmasca had ever done was bring them misery. With occasional slaves and foodstuffs. Their grievances, no matter how small, incidental insults, and continued military presence on their lands, it was all starting to add up, and Hien could guess that, even if he didn't find it prudent to attack their Dalmascan neighbors, someday, someone would. Dalmasca was pushing their boundaries and limitations, and sooner or later, everyone's patience was going to wane thin.
He had to wonder, by now, what Kassandros even knew about the real world. His words were occasionally often somewhat naive. What'd he know about how the world works, that Hien didn't? Nothing, that was probably what.
Kassandros couldn't help the very undignified snort that he immediately gave in response to that. "Oh, really?" he asked, sounding rather surprised. He probably had no idea what he was saying. On the one hand, Kassandros felt like he should be annoyed, on behalf of his fellow countrymen, even if only because Dalmasca had birthed some of the strongest people he'd ever had the pleasure to meet, Livia Asheron toward the top of the list. For that matter, his mother was pretty damned strong, too, now that he knew what he knew. Anyone lesser might've fallen apart years ago, and she'd not only kept going but kept going for eleven years. That was no small feat.
Dalmasca did not have a habit of creating weaklings, even if only because it was so terrible to them. Dalmasca gave you no choices; you either bucked the fuck up, or you broke, and a good number of Dalmascans had decided to do the former. Kassandros wasn't so certain he could say the same, for those of other nations. One good thing about living in a dystopian nightmare, it did have a way of weeding out the weak, and very quickly.
"You know, Felix," Kassandros went on, "most slaves in Dalmasca are, in fact, Macenian. Have you ever gotten into a fight with a Macenian? I wouldn't call them terribly weak." Certainly, he'd nearly been killed by a Macenian a few times over the last year or so. "Almost killed me plenty of times, that's for damned sure, and that's just physical fights. Slavery is a very real, tangible issue, Felix, and it leaves very real, tangible scars behind. You need to know how to deal with them, and I'm not terribly interested in facilitating your reunion if you cannot accept that there will be things you do not understand about him, and what he's been through. You no longer know where Vinh has been." Unfortunately, in this instance, they had grown apart, merely by virtue of growing in different places. The Vinh that Hien knew was not the Vinh that existed, now, and the sooner he accepted this reality, the better. Still, Kassandros thought that he may take a good deal of time before he did accept it. Kassandros almost had to feel sorry for him, but on the other hand, it wasn't really his problem.
For his own sake, Kassandros hoped that he started recognising that his life, and Vinh's, was different now. Nothing could really make any of this okay, but some of it could get better if he was willing to work toward it being better. First, he had to start listening. Kassandros was very aware he wasn't, but maybe if he kept planting the seeds, sooner or later, something would click. He could decide to ignore it all he wanted, it was still there, and still a reality he'd have to face sooner or later. Ah, Kassandros should also borrow Axelius at some point. But then, Lycaon was here, and Axelius had discovered this fact on his own. Perhaps that was unnecessary. Eventually, the pink-haired blood fighter would come by, and notice there was a new addition to the house.
It wasn't like House Essair was big. Perhaps it was bigger than some, but not by a whole lot.
Was that so? Hien made a face, staring at the other like he wasn't entirely sure if he was being serious or not. Quite truthfully, Hien didn't really care about the particulars of Dalmascan slavery demographics. They didn't make a damned bit of difference to him, nor, for that matter, did the Jihonese ones, and Hien saw precisely no reason to change this fact of reality, either. None of it was terribly important, and it wasn't as if Hien had some sort of interest in fighting the system. As far as he was concerned, slavery existed for a reason. Hell, his own life had been a bit easier than it might've otherwise through slavery's existence, and he didn't have any interest in changing that. It wasn't that terrible.
By now, though, Hien really had no idea why they were still talking. No, being fair about it, they were still talking because Hien hadn't walked away like he'd thought he should a while ago. He didn't get it. Whatever it was Kassandros was trying to impress on him was lost in translation, and quite bluntly, Hien had precisely zero reason to be listening to anything the Dalmascan said, anyway. He was his junior, and Hien still had to wonder what he knew about anything.
"Fine," Hien decided, standing upright and moving toward the door. "I don't need your help, then. I didn't come here to be lectured by a child. I'll do it myself." If Kassandros didn't want to stop being so patronizing, Hien didn't have to stick around for it. With that, he opened the door, and shuffled out into the hallway. He'd said to check the ports. Given Jihon was a series of islands, it made the most sense. Airships didn't follow the same rules as water ships, but on the other hand, it didn't terribly matter, either. There weren't many airships out this way, and Hien didn't expect Vinh to have ended up on one.
And the rest of this conversation could just, disappear. Hien had no use for it. It did occur to him, as he stalked down the hallway, and then down the stairs, he had no idea how to get to the ports from here. He'd figure it out.
That went well.
Being fair, Kassandros didn't expect anything else. That did annoy him, that bit about being lectured by a child, but he supposed, to Hien, Kassandros was a child. Actually, technically, he supposed he was still a child in general, but it was very easy to forget that when he'd been running a house on his own for so long. He supposed it didn't matter, but he had to wonder when he'd started sounding like an old man. Probably a good long time ago. It was hard to be naive and innocent when you knew as much as he always had.
Well, what now? He had to wonder that, watching Hien stalk out the door. That conversation was a bust and the chances of him discussing the subject with him again were somewhat slim. Unless, by some miracle, he extricated his head from his own ass at some point, that wasn't going to work. The only other thing he could think to do was warn Vinh that it was liable to be a problem. (Would he be alive for that? Maybe he should mention Vinh to Icarus or their mother. The last thing he wanted was for him to get lost somewhere in there between now and Kassandros dying.)
Unfortunately for Hien, though... Kassandros had found Vinh first. So no, he wasn't going to be doing anything himself. Whatever made him feel better, he supposed.