In Vein, it seemed like too many things were dyed some shade of red—the miasma and the mists gave the sky an orange-red tinge, coupled with the menacing eyes of the hordes of Lost and the shine of the Blood Springs, made the ruins of the city feel like a giant wounded creature, permanently scarred and bleeding out from the thorns that stabbed through the skeletons of buildings.
Maybe that’s what made Mariya’s eyes stand out to him, being bright blue like the clear skies of the Frozen Ridge, but unlike the piercing, unearthly color of the Queen’s eyes. When they first met in the underground tunnels, he had watched in amazement as she revitalized a mistle, and how the soft light it gave off made her eyes stand out in the gloom.
And maybe it was the BOR parasites that made them look that way, but he liked to imagine that when she was human, her eyes had been exactly the same.
Yakumo told him repeatedly that he was in deep; so deep that it was painful just to watch him gaze longingly from his desk across home base to where Mariya was speaking to Io on the couches.
“I am not pining.” Louis said firmly, pointedly continuing to read from his book rather than looking up at his friend. He turned the page, even though he wasn’t sure how many of the words he has actually absorbed, “Don’t you have something better to do?”
“Nope.” He could practically hear the grin in the other’s voice, “Besides, Louis, I think this is pretty important.”
“I consider her a reliable ally, a trusted friend, and I admire her skill and her ability to purify mistles and Blood Springs.” Glancing up from his book, he could see Yakumo didn’t believe him.
“Besides,” Louis continued, giving in and setting his reading aside, “We’re still in the middle of our mission, and each place we investigate is more dangerous than the last.”
“Then it’s better to savor the present while we still can. Not letting yourself feel things as some sort of punishment isn’t a trait to be admired, you know.”
“I don’t—anyways, even with the Vestige she discovered in the Cathedral, she’s still missing the majority of her memories. I don’t want to assume anything simply because I was one of the first friendly Revenants she met after reawakening.”
“If that’s what you’re worried about,” Yakumo said drily, “Then I think Io has you beat there. Besides, it’s not like Mariya would let someone take advantage of her; she’s got a pretty good head on her shoulders. If she doesn’t want anything like that, she’ll let you know right up front.”
When Louis didn’t reply, he raised an eyebrow and glanced over his shoulder. Mariya had left Io’s side to join Mia on the balcony, where the shorter Revenant had poured them both cups of tea for the two of them to drink. The sunlight filtering through the clouds and mist caught her profile, and Louis didn’t register Yakumo speaking again, until the other snapped his fingers right by his ear. The sour look on his face only made Yakumo chuckle, stepping back as he lightly swatted the offending hand away.
“Not a word, Yakumo. Not one word.”
‘Wouldn’t dream of it.”
Just from his tone, Louis knew he hadn’t heard the last of this from him, but whatever retort he was going to make flew from his mind when Mariya caught his glance in her direction and smiled, the corners of her blue eyes crinkling with the expression.
“Louis, you are in deep.”
“I heard you the first five times or so you said that.”