Time keeps on ticking. Daniel left the feast not long after Gabrielle ended her Time effect and the first few people started to leave afterward. He was a man on a mission, desperately wanting to check in on his young friend. Time passed, the night growing later, and eventually he found himself with the desire to roam again. This time, he has his violin in tow as he searches and discovers the Chantry castle.
“If only I had more time,” He muses softly, smirking at his own remark. To slow down time, to go on a grand adventure to look into every nook and cranny. But there are more important things to be concerned with, more pressing matters in life. He sighs and travels on, looking for a room to play in. Something with decent acoustics and out of the way of others.
He’s in and out for a while, always knocking and waiting before he peeks his head in a room. You can never tell what’s someone has taken up as a bedroom/suite and what is just another empty room. It’s in this instance, on the other side of a door, that he knocks and waits for an answer before just stepping into the room that Aaron may have taken up residence in or has just gone to discover himself.
Aaron looks over, surprised to see Daniel here. Then a smile plays over his face. With Will there’s a certain awkwardness that comes from one of them feeling much more connected than the other, but with Daniel? They’ve been lovers in this timeline, and connected in the Starlight Passage before that. With Daniel he knows the feelings are genuine.
“Hi Daniel. Come looking for me again?”
“Oh Aaron!” Daniel exclaims softly. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt.” The feelings are genuinely mutual, judging by shy yet pleased smile that blossoms on his face. “Hmmm…not exactly, but I cannot say that I’m disappointed to find you. I was looking for somewhere to play. I can only imagine that there must be some grand hall with the best acoustics around this place, somewhere.” He holds up the violin sheepishly, then pauses. Maybe rethinking his plans. “Do you mind if I come in?”
“You can play in here,” Aaron smiles. “It looks unoccupied. It’s not like I have any belongings to put anywhere, anyway.” He cocks his head. “Want to spend the night?”
“Straight to the point, huh?” Daniel asks with a laugh, his tone warm and lilting. The Ecstatic steps into the room, nudging the door with his hip(as his hands are occupied by violin). “I would like that. Yes. Thank you.” He doesn’t bring the violin up to his chin right away, but steps in closer to Aaron. “Speaking of the whole…no belongings thing…how are you holding up?”
“Well I’m usually not with strangers. But we know each other and this is our last night before everything goes to shit. Again.” Daniel wasn’t the only one who died on Saturn.
He steps closer as Daniel does, laying his hands on the mage’s shoulders. He looks like he wants to kiss him, but he’s waiting to read the other Ecstatic’s body language.
“I’m holding up okay. This isn’t really the right time to go Ikea shopping. The relationships are the weird part.”
“Yeah, that is true.” Daniel agrees. “It’s been a roller coaster of shit since the Starlight Passage…” He pauses. “Sorry about that. I’m glad…I’m glad you are okay, though. After the Passage. After Saturn. It’s a lot of shit to deal with as quickly as you did.”
Daniel doesn’t pull away from Aaron’s touch, nor does he tense up in any obvious way. In fact, he makes eye contact with the Ecstatic mage, and licks his lower lip slowly.
“No, I suppose it isn’t. Maybe after all the shit has been flushed away.” He says. “Do you want to talk about it at all? I’m more than happy to listen.”
Instead of responding, Aaron leans in to kiss Daniel. He’s quite a bit taller, and he knows how to use his height and mass to make somebody feel good. He pulls back gently. “Talking good. Touch good,” He answers. Usually he’s more… flippant than this, but the threat of their impending death has him more tender and needing to connect.
“Once this is all over, I want to figure out how to reconnect to this world. I’ve aged, and the people I love don’t even remember me.”
Daniel pushes up to his toes into the kiss, his arms reaching up to wrap around Aaron’s neck. He’s careful of the violin and bow in his hands as he does it. He’s not trying to take out an eye or knock him over the head with the instrument. “Mmmn…yes. I agree.” He breaths.
Daniel leans his head forward against Aaron’s chest after the kiss ends. “Sometimes it’s just a matter of rebuilding those relationships…though I can understand why you might not want to do that. I know some people, if you are looking for a fresh start.” He pauses, warring with himself as he decides on his words. Aaron will feel a momentary tension that bleeds out of his shoulders before he speaks again. “I can introduce you, if you like…” If he has the chance.
“Introduce me to who?” Aaron asks quizically. It seems like the chantry, at this point, is a veritable Who’s Who of Traditionalists and Technocrats. What’s it missing, an Akashic Brother? Some Technocratic Conventions, perhaps? A werewolf?
“Part of the problem is the temporal slipping through the damage to time. In one loop, I was closer to your age in the late 90s. In the last one, I was the right age for ’92, but your birthdate moved back to keep you the same age relative to the year. The Tellurian is losing pieces and forgetting details when it resets itself. Like, what happened to the Son of Ether who built this place?” Marc Hudson, a Canadian. Unlike Davey, not someone Daniel ever met. “He was around before. Did the Tellurian just forget him, or did you just never meet him? Canada and America are both countries of millions.”
“Valid point,” Daniel replies. He pulls away from Aaron for a more comfortable face-to-face conversation. “I can’t imagine everyone is going to want to live in a castle, though. There will probably be a few small communities out there, spread around to Awaken sleepers or just help the other communities they live in.”
He frowns as Aaron talks about the temporal distortions. “I wish I could say I have some insight into it. You have more knowledge of past loops than I do, though the Tellurian forgetting details is likely. It’s also likely that some of those people were erased by Kal at some point, or that the Tellurian has just given up on bringing them together as it didn’t work last time. It created ”/characters/america-anders" class=“wiki-content-link”>America, after all, who’s to say it’s not intelligent enough to know how to try something new with different people." Daniel pauses. “The Time distortions are a problem, though. If we manage to do what we’re planning and then try to start the healing process…well, what does that even mean? Make the Tellurian remember? I remember when we looked back in the Starlight Passage and found the moment when Gabirelle died—is it like that? A small wound in Time that needs a band aid.” His brows furrow in thought. “Plus…where does one even start?”
“Yeah. In the future.” Except for a few Technocrats like Charlotte who’ve chosen to see their families, no one wants to leave the castle-chantry and Gabrielle’s protection tonight.
“We can’t do more than speculate right now, and I’d rather not.” He pulls Daniel tighter, needing the contact, and holds onto him. “Thank you for getting me. Is ”/characters/jianyu-zheung" class=“wiki-content-link”>Jianyu okay now?"
Leaving the sanctuary of Gabrielle’s protection does seem like an insane idea. “Exactly.” He agrees softly. “There’s going to be a lot of rebuilding. It’d be good if we helped…” Seeing as they are partially responsible for it.
Daniel lets out a deep sigh of contentment, his arms sliding up behind Aaron’s back. The violin, presses against him gently. “Okay. Sorry. I get carried away about it.” He says softly. “It’s a failing of mine, to want to know everything.” His tarot reading really wasn’t that far off at all. “You are welcome. I couldn’t let you stay there forever.”
He pauses, thinking about Jianyu and their conversation. “I think so. For now.” Another soft sigh escapes him. “He says he is. He described the experience like existing in purgatory. Once he let go and it stopped attacking, it was just a quiet, sad place of shadows of memories and people. He said he talked to the shadow of you that still exists there.”
Aaron pulls away slightly. The violin is getting kind of annoying where it is. His mouth works. “You know, I think I interacted with Jianyu before you came to rescue me. I remember I taught him Tarot. He seemed bored. His captivity worked differently than mine.” Aaron, like Gabrielle, could dream. Jianyu just wandered without rest. At least it wasn’t too subjectively long, from his perspective.
Daniel looks down at his hands, realising the violin is indeed still there. “Ah. Sorry.” He murmurs. “You did. He told me about you teaching him Tarot, and showed me what he’s learned since.” He moves toward a table to set the violin and bow down. It’s his baby, and he did truly intend to play it at some point. “That’s what he said, that it was boring.” He smirks.
“How much of your captivity do you remember? If you don’t mind me asking, of course.” He pauses. “How did you open up your mind to the other loops?”
“Two different events,” Aaron replies. He takes a seat on the bed, allowing Daniel the opportunity to join him.
“We knew about the Time Devourer, though its connection to Will’s Network wasn’t immediately apparent. As a cabal we had explored more in the mysteries of time than the Network itself. You seemed to do the reverse, but we also didn’t have a ”/characters/katerina-kate-vasilyeva" class=“wiki-content-link”>Kate to hold Will back." He shrugs.
“We also knew about the Starlight Passage. It wasn’t tainted back then. I tried to use it, alone, to accomplish what would normally take a Master of Time. ”/characters/johann-erdo-an" class=“wiki-content-link”>Johann wouldn’t accompany me, tried to talk me out of it. He wasn’t there when Kal appeared."
“Gabrielle defended me. I mean, of course I knew Will’s mom. She was definitely cooler than my mom and I didn’t just think that because I was 16. She’s the one who told me about condoms since my parents weren’t going to say the s-word. She’d made dinner for me and Sonia before, she was generally involved when we needed an adult but let us do our thing otherwise. None of us had any idea she was a mage, yet alone an Archmage.”
“A lot of what happened didn’t make any sense to me, but at the end Kal defeated her before trapping me in a pillar of salt like her. I couldn’t directly interact but the Passage could play with my memories, if I was awake. I was rarely awake. Asleep I could dream…” He trails off there.
“My mind opened to a past loop—not sure if the one right before—where we knew each other. When I used the power at the center of the Passage. I didn’t have time to absorb more than one life before Kal interfered. Maybe I could have gained knowledge of the others, but the Tellurian showed me how the Archmage was resetting events to trigger the Cataclysm. That was a much more distracting priority.” His head tilts. “I’m not sure Kal even triggered the Cataclysm. I think once he had Gabrielle he just used the Passage to jump back so he could have one last loop to tie up his other loose ends. ”/characters/joshua" class=“wiki-content-link”>Joshua. Kite. The Daughters. Us."
There is a moment of hesitation in Daniel as he joins Aaron on the bed. He wants to say something, but he struggles internally with it. It’s after a deep breath that he finally speaks.
“You tried to use it with me, do you remember that? That was your past loop self, I think. I was hesitant about it, but the appeal of starting over when we were right on the cusp of everything was too great.” Daniel admits. Judging by how is focus is on the wall ahead rather than on Aaron himself, those events have been plaguing him for some time. “Kite, Juanita and Kouame were using it as a test, I’m sure. I failed that test, and you were lost to the Passage.” He turns toward Aaron, blue eyes bright and searching. “So sorry about that.”
“She worked in the background then? She must’ve, right? Guiding you all along without interfering or giving herself away. Trying to give you the opportunity to solve it since they had failed before?” He reaches over, gently lying his hand atop of Aaron’s. “Why did you decide to loop time back around again? What did you discover that made you want to do it?” He pauses. “What did you dream?”
So full of questions. Aaron has his complete attention though. Daniel listens raptly, engrossed in learning Aaron’s version of events. His eyes change in intensity as a thought dawns on him. “You don’t think he’d do the same thing again if he realises things aren’t going his way, do you?”
“Vaguely. I’m not sure ‘when’ that happened.” He looks at Daniel. “And you saved me. I’m not too concerned if you didn’t succeed at some attempt I don’t even remember.”
“I don’t see why he would trigger the loop. He’s a Batini. Maybe doing it once was subtle but this time he already HAS what he wants. Why go back? The longer he leaves things the way they are the harder it would be even for someone like Gabrielle to change it—and unlike Kal, Gabrielle will listen to her son on this, her husband’s experience. The only fact I think that proves is that Kal’s agenda is for things to end with the Cataclysm, not to never loop at all. If he were really a function of Time’s immune system he would have long ago settled on whatever would do the least damage to the timelines, and his actions have done the most.”
He smiles. “My dreams were pretty fun. Kind of epic too. And yeah, Gabrielle always made sure we had the information we needed without being the one to decide for us what to do with it.”
Daniel’s cheeks turn pink. “I’d say Jianyu and America did more of the saving. I was just persistent and obstinate about finding you. I led the way.” He locks eyes with Aaron. “Regardless, I’m glad you are here.”
“Yes, but why did he loop last time, when he trapped you and Gabrielle? He would’ve had all the control the cause the Cataclysm then, too, wouldn’t he have?” Daniel asks. “And why is he still so bent on killing all of is if that’s the case? His cataclysm is over, we aren’t looping, the world will need to be rebuilt in a lot of places. If he doesn’t have the upper hand and he sees that we might manage to trap him, don’t you think he’d do anything to stop it?” Someone thinks too much.
“Oh? That’s good.” He laughs. “I was worried that someplace like that would have made them horrible.”
“Maybe Kite or Joshua was too close to interfering. I don’t know, I kind of missed that part.” Aaron sounds like he’s tired of talking about it.
“I’m going to have good dreams tonight, too,” He smiles at the Ecstatic, his intentions plain.
Daniel lets out a soft huff of frustration, but he lets the subject drop. His curiosity will never be sated. The frustration doesn’t last long. Instead his eyebrows arch up on his head as the subject changes. “Oh?” He asks softly. “Well…I’d love to share those dreams with you.” He lifts an arm to drape over Aaron’s shoulder. “Show me what sort of dreams you had in mind.”