What: Ziggy tells her what he knows, well, most of it.
When: After leaving the Durandal
The trip back to Second Miltia didn't take very long. Within a short amount of time, he had arrived home. One thing that he had lost since he had the operation was any ether abilities. So he was sure that Juli was going to see injuries on his fist where he had punched the pavement. He wasn't able to move the fingers on his left hand very well. With an apprehensive sigh, he unlocked the door and went inside, putting the bag of belongings he had retrieved from the Durandal in a corner. He'd tend to those later. There were more important things to deal with now. Still, he couldn't fight off the sinking feeling in his stomach.
She was inside, reading some lengthy paper and smoking. "Take your shoes off," she said, without even looking up.
"Right." He looked up, and noticed that she was taking part in that awful habit again. He sighed, as he kicked off his shoes. He didn't even feel like doing it properly, nor did he have the willpower to even make a remark about her smoking. Instead, he walked up to her and wrapped his arms around her from behind, his heart aching.
"Mm, what is this for?"
He took a deep breath and bit his lip. What could he say to her? He had pondered it a million times since he had heard the news from Maria. Now that he was actually there, he didn't know what to say. an 'I'm sorry' just didn't seem to cut it, nor did it seem appropriate. Instead, he settled with an unsteady "I know."
"You know what?" She put out her cigarette and put aside her papers.
"I know about Yuriev." He said, hesitantly. "I saw Maria while I was away, and she told me." He was covering his left hand with his right, hoping she wouldn't see.
"What about him?"
"...What he did to you."
"...What, exactly? He did an awful lot of things to me."
He swallowed hard. "...An awful lot?" He was both angry and heartbroken, but over all of this time, he became an expert at hiding his emotions.
He let go over her and moved so he was facing her. Then, he took her hands in his. "Please tell me. I want to know what that bastard did to you."
She sighed. "No, you don't."
"Juli." He looked her in the eyes. "I want to know. I think if I'm marrying you, I have a right to know who's..." He couldn't even say the words he had in mind. The thought made him feel sick. "...hurt you in the past."
She looked away. "Are you absolutely certain?"
He nodded at her. "Yes."
She took a deep breath. "He treated my daughter. He and my ex-husband agreed on a...price for his services. The price happened to be my services."
Her words hit him hard. Not only had it been Yuriev, but Joachim too? Ziggy swallowed and stared at her, his eyes telling the shock he was feeling. "...And Joachim? He just let him?"
"No one crossed Yuriev. No one."
He sighed, thinking of Maria. What would Juli do if she knew what Maria's plans were? Could he tell her? He decided maybe it was best to wait. "Juli... I don't care what would happen, I'd never let anyone use you like that." He reached up and touched her cheek with his left hand. The shock of the situation made him forget about the result of his earlier outburst.
"It's all right," she said. "He never got what he wanted out of me."
"...How many times did he...?" He didn't even want to think about it, but he wanted to know.
"I lost count."
He frowned and then wrapped his arms around her again. It was almost too much to believe. "If he ever tries to lay a hand on you again, I'll..." He knew he was alive, it was just a matter of when and where he'd appear.
"It doesn't matter, really. It's over now. I got rid of every trace of him."
"...He's still alive." He told her, uneasily.
"He won't want me anymore. The purpose he groomed me for is no longer necessary."
"I hope you're right." He told her, uneasily. "I don't want any of you to be put in danger. I'd..." He suddenly cringed as a sharp pain shot up his arm. "Aggh...!"
She sighed. "What'd you go and do to yourself?"
"It's nothing." He shook his head.
"It's not nothing."
"I just scratched myself earlier, It's nothing big." He covered his hand with the other and then backed away. "Anyway, I got my things from the Durandal. So..."
"No, you didn't. Let me see that, I'm a doctor."
He sighed, and then tried to evaluate the situation. He could either show her, and get it over with, or he could run and find MOMO who had plenty of ether skills. She could make it go away before she could notice. However, he didn't want to worry or scare MOMO. He looked down, realizing it was probably best to go with the later. Reluctantly, he held out his hand for her to see.
"What in hell did you do?" she asked. "I'm going to have to bandage this up."
"I... I punched the ground a few times." He was about to tell her why, but he decided it might not be a good idea.
"Why would you go and do something stupid like that?" She stood and went to get a towel. "You didn't even bother to clean it."
"I washed it off before I left." He told her. "It must've opened up again." Once again, he was avoiding the question.
"I don't see why you go and do things like this. You need to take better care of yourself." She settled back down and took his hand in hers, cleaning the wound.
He cringed when she touched it. "I... wasn't thinking when she told me. I was angry."
"I know." He had always been an expert at remaining calm, but when something hit close to him, he didn't know how to react. "I'll try to be careful. I'm sorry."
"The past is the past. Even if Yuriev is still alive, I never gave birth to his child. He has nothing he could want from me anymore."
He nodded. "Just... know that I don't think of you any less because of this."
"Mm. Then you're a horrid judge of character."
He looked at her, almost hurt. "If you had no choice in the matter, then... it's not your fault."
She shrugged, looking intently at the wound. "I'm still not sure I made the right choice, when it was all said and done. Maybe I never should have had an abortion. Maybe I should have refused to sleep with him. I should have run away--a million things."
"...an Abortion?" He had no idea that's what she was talking about. It was one thing after another.
"It's a long story. You don't want to hear it."
He shook his head. "Maybe... another time. I'm not sure how much more I can take right now." His head was spinning and he felt sick.
"Good, because that's a story I'm not proud of."
He still couldn't believe any of it. He knew that he loved her, but he just didn't want to think about the situation anymore that day. "I... I don't know what to say."
"Then forget about it."
He looked at her, eyes widening slightly. "...How can I?"
She sighed. "I suppose that's an impossible request."
"I'm... not feeling so well right now." He admitted. "I'm not angry with you, but I'm not sure how to take all of this."
"All right." Neither was she, reliving it. "Maybe you should go and rest."
"I will." He looked down at his hand. "...As soon as you're done."
"I need to bandage this."
He nodded at her. "Right." Then, his expression changed to a more thoughtful one. "Juli...?"
"Hm?" She leaned closer, getting a good look at the wound. "Jesus, you did a number on this."
"...I know." He averted his gaze before responding again. "Does my being here help you?"
"Of course it does."
"Does it... take away the pain?" He met her eyes again, kind of shyly.
She cocked her head to the side and smiled. "It never goes away completely. But it helps."
He nodded understandingly. "I feel the same way."
"I'm glad. At least we've got that much."
"Then, I'm happy to be here." He gave her a small, but warm smile.
She returned it, and left. When she returned, she was carrying something small and white. "All right, give me your hand so I can fix you up."
He held it out for her, hoping that it would be over soon. Even though he had hurt himself countless times in the past, he wasn't used to feeling pain in the new body he had. Every sensation was much more intense than what he was used to.
"Hold still." She started wrapping the fingers. "Trust me, there's worse pain than this."
"I know, I've... ow!" He cringed, but didn't pull his hand away. "I'm not usually this susceptible to... aggh..."
"Careful! Stop moving around so damn much."
"I'm sorry, I'm not trying to... agh!" He felt ridiculous. "I probably look like an overgrown baby right now." He added, mumbling under his breath.
"It's fine. It's been so long since I had a baby, I don't mind having another one." She smiled. "Now keep still."
His eyes grew wide. "What...?! Wait a minute! Ouch!"
"Quiet down. Talking makes it worse. People will think I'm beating you."
"Who's going to hear? MOMO? She can... ouch, already hear us, I'm sure. She's a-- Not so hard! Observational Realian, you know."
"Just calm down. I'm almost finished."
"I am calm, when am I not... damn it that hurt, Juli."
"Sorry." She ripped off a length of the bandage. "There, you're as good as new."
He sighed in relief and held his now tender hand. Then, he looked at her and smirked. "You know, you made me forget about everything that had happened today. I don't feel as bad anymore."
"I'm glad. But stop hitting things."
He nodded. "I'll try not to, but... there's something else that I'd like to hit."
"...Oh God." She laughed. "I thought you didn't feel well."
"I'm not." He smirked at her. "I'm going to hit the sack."
"I hate you," she said, taking up her papers again. "Get out of here."
He leaned in and kissed her on the cheek. "I love you too." Then, he stood up and walked towards the hallway leading to the bedroom. Before he got too far, he turned around and looked at her. "Thanks for the maintenance."
"Oh, shut up."
He grinned at her before turning around. "I'll see you later."