In another part of the residential area, Evolet could be seen walking with Yunuen on their way back from the Regulars Training Ring. Her Lighthouse was in visible mode, since Yunuen kept buying her stuff here and there so she had to constantly put them into her Lighthouse unless she was going to bring them by hand. She stopped him eventually when she realized the weirded out stares of the Regulars, reprimanding him for splurging too much and attracting attention.
Yunuen could only laugh heartily at her intervention, mentally glaring and cursing at every Regular’s stares he could find directed at Evolet who realized none of their intentions. Though he quickly settled down momentarily as he observed the girl who was glancing around here and there in search of her yearly gift to Khun. His thoughts began to drift off as he nodded proudly at the girl beside him, pleased with her achievements and how she asserted her own standing at FUG within a short amount of time. He would've never imagined that she would change so much since the first time he unofficially met her in that forsaken place. A part of it was undoubtedly thanks to Bam, which Yunuen was eternally grateful for. While Bam doesn't know how Evolet had been in the past, it didn't change the fact that she was able to stand like this because of Bam.
But if Yunuen had to admit, there was still a lingering fear in the depths of his heart. He was deathly terrified of the possibility that Evolet might become like that once more. He knew what she had been subjected to from the very beginning and stood by her through it all, cherishing her like no other did. He was aware of the nightmares haunting her, the relentless attempts to break Evolet. Despite that she kept forging on as if there wasn't anything bothering her. Perhaps it was the fact that Evolet was strong in her own way, but Yunuen deeply adored and respected her for that. And he couldn't bear the thought of her returning to her former state and the precious smile she was wearing right now gone without a trace.
"Hm? What is it, Yunuen-san?" Evolet asked him serenely, seemingly without a worry in the world.
"You won't break your promise, right?"
She had blinked in confusion for a moment before the question sunk into her mind. Her smile morphed into something more knowing, as if trying to reassure him. "Don't worry, Yunuen-san. I won't break my promise. I don't think I can afford that now, especially if I want to keep FUG at bay. Besides… I don't know how I can explain it to Bam if that happens."
Almost on impulse, Yunuen breathed a sigh of relief at her assurance. If she said so then he’ll believe it. As long as that smile of her remained, like a beacon of light that he can’t help but gravitate towards. He’ll do anything to protect her, as long as she’s happy. She was his lighthouse, leading him in the dark so he won’t lose his path. Losing her would mean him plunging into the cold darkness again, and he wanted to avoid that at all costs.
“By the way, Little One. Slayer Karaka is also on this floor. He insisted on following Jinsung no matter what.”
Evolet’s eyes narrowed the slightest bit at the newfound information, contemplating how she should move about with this situation. "The Elders haven't taken it out have they?"
Yunuen shook his head at the question, confirming that the Elders haven't made any big moves against her. Though if they did, Yunuen would be the first one to strike before they can even a single hair on her. She considerably settled down at the confirmation, deeming that she won't need to pull any strings if Karaka only came by himself without the backing of an Elder. If Karaka didn't make a move then she'll also stay put, as simple as that. Evolet could only smile warmly at Yunuen as he kept buying things on his own accord for her, though if he kept that up then her Lighthouse would be filled to the brim in no time at all. A thought that she's been thinking of lately suddenly popped into her mind.
"Ah, Yunuen-san. I've been meaning to ask but… is there a double meaning in "going out"?"
As if that very sentence was a trigger, Yunuen laughed awkwardly as he froze in his spot. His teal eyes started glancing everywhere, avoiding Evolet's curious gaze as he asked her, "Why do you ask?"
"Sometimes there are people who ask me about it and I can’t help but feel exasperated… or maybe disappointed at the answer I gave them so I was just thinking…”
In all honesty, Evolet was expecting Yunuen to suddenly tell her that there was actually a hidden meaning behind it or another explanation. Contrary to her expectations, he suddenly broke out in laughter before ruffling her hair slightly. “Nope, you don’t need to worry about it. There’s no hidden meaning or anything to it. Maybe you’re just thinking too much, hm?”
Although there was still a part of her that was still curious, she heeded his words anyway and pushed the thought to the back of her mind. She surely didn’t notice how Yunuen was hiding his expression from her, a smirk etched on his face as an imaginary pair of devil horns sprouted in the midst of his light blue hair. While he did say that the current Evolet was because of Bam, it didn’t mean that he was going to give sweet, pure, innocent Little Eve away so easily. He cackled like a maniac inside his train of thoughts, nodding proudly at his feat. Seeing how Evolet was still somewhat reluctant about it, Yunuen gave one last push.
"Little One, how would you like some hot chocolate?"
The girl blinked up at him, most likely taken aback by the sudden invitation. "But you already bought me so much stuff today… I don't think–"
Yunuen cut her words off, a finger swishing in the air playfully as if telling her she was wrong. "You deserve every single bit of it, okay?"
She had a troubled look on her face, lips pursed lightly that clearly showed her confusion. But it was erased soon enough, melting into a soft smile that reached to the very bottom of Yunuen's heart.
"At the cafe-resto?"
"Yep, they keep complaining lately because they miss you. You know how to deal with them the best, not me." Yunuen answered playfully.
Soft giggles spilled out of Evolet at his declaration, knowing how the employees could get a little out of hand. It has been quite a while since she visited them, she supposed. Inwardly, Yunuen was grinning wickedly with the successful diversion.
When Evolet arrived back home, she was greeted by the sight of Jinsung and Hwaryun sitting on the sofa while telling stories about Bam. She smiled amusedly at the sight, guessing that Wangnan and the others must’ve been sitting there for hours since it was Jinsung who was storytelling. Wangnan screamed out her name as if she was their saviour, catching the room’s occupants’ attention.
Jinsung was the first one to react after Wangnan’s scream, lifting Evolet from her waist as he twirled her around in greeting before putting her down. She only laughed at the sudden greeting, returning the action rather calmly by giving him a box of pocky and reprimanding him to stop smoking. Wincing a little, Jinsung tried to play it off by offering a packet of cookies he specifically bought for these occasions. As per usual, Evolet's blue-violet eyes lit up in wonder as she took the cookies happily.
'Ah, he's bribing her.' Wangnan thought, dumbfounded by the situation as his eyebrow twitched in disbelief.
Said girl didn't realize it at all, already munching on a cookie slowly like a hamster. Jinsung had the audacity to pat her head while she ate the cookie, a flowery aura behind him as he enjoyed the adorable display. It stopped when Evolet's eyes roamed around the room, head tilting up as she asked Jinsung about Bam's whereabouts. It was only then that Jinsung realized that Bam was nowhere to be seen. He should've noticed earlier to be honest, since there was no way he wouldn't be interrupted after greeting Evolet in that manner. Bam was quite a jealous person after all, even if the person himself didn't realize it. Hwaryun told them that Bam had sneaked out since Jinsung kept telling “stupid things”. Goseng had told him that Bam would usually be at the roof.
“All right! Then I’ll go see Viole. You coming, Eve?”
“I’ll be there in a moment. I need to put some stuff in the room first. Yunuen-san went overboard with his shopping… again.”
Jinsung could only shake his head exasperatedly at that, watching as Evolet retreated to her and Bam’s room before he headed to the roof. Evolet narrowed her eyes the slightest bit after storing all of the excess items Yunuen bought. Closing the door securely, she headed to the kitchen where she knew Yihwa was conversing with Arkraptor. The groceries she brought along earlier were put into the fridge before she sat down beside Arkraptor, staring straight at Yihwa with a sharp glint.
“Yeon-san, I’d very much appreciate it if you don’t think too lowly of Viole nor insult him.” Yihwa stiffened at the accusation, her gaze meeting cold blue-violet ones that seemed to glow red ever so slightly with blatant rage. Before she had the chance to say anything, Evolet continued speaking.
“I am perfectly aware of what you spoke about with that woman you met up with today along with how you spoke of Viole in the karaoke place, and I can’t say I am pleased with how you spoke of the team. I could care less if you were from the Yeon family or no. Status aside, currently you are a part of the team by your own choice and I’d rather like it if you act like a respectable team member instead of talking lowly of us behind our back. You are free to leave the team if you are so confident about it as how you told that woman.”
Hands gripped tight, Yihwa didn’t dare to say a thing towards Evolet who was staring down at her. There was a suffocating tension in the kitchen that sourced from Evolet, frowning deeply with eyes that screamed of distaste to say the least. The air in the room was tense, as if the Shinsu was steadily getting denser. Arkraptor who wasn’t a target of the confrontation also froze up and didn’t dare to make a sound at the deafening silence.
It reminded him of that mock test incident where the opposite team had angered her by insulting Viole. Being one of the unfortunate people who witnessed the event first-hand, he knew that the current pressure was considerably much less than what she displayed during the battle and there wasn’t any bloodlust. That didn’t mean that it wasn’t threatening either, it was evident from Yihwa and Arkraptor’s tense posture at the moment.
It was a wrong move from Yihwa’s part. Simply because the typical Evolet was gentle and caring of them, it didn’t mean they were exempted from her wrath if they incur it. Evolet was the last person Yihwa wanted to catch wind of her conversation, because she was the one in charge of Yihwa’s flame training which was slowly getting better under her guidance. She could potentially lose the only clue to her flame control if Evolet chose to kick her out of the team.
“Please think over what you’ve done today. I expect no repeat of this incident and a change of attitude. Keep this in your mind, Yeon-san. All of us are climbing the Tower for something and undoubtedly hurt some people along the way. Don’t act as if you are a saint alone in the team members. We all have our reasons for climbing, and that applies for Viole too. You don’t know a thing about his suffering.”
The Shinsu condensation went down drastically as Evolet stood up and walked out of the kitchen, leaving Yihwa and Arkraptor alone. To Yihwa’s immense relief, Evolet didn’t mention anything about expulsion from the team or stopping her training, The two occupants of the kitchen gradually relaxed, the tension in their body melting away with time. Yihwa was still considerably shaken up, breathing irregularly as she attempted to calm her nerves. She should tone herself down for a while, just to be safe.
Meanwhile, Jinsung had wasted no time to head upstairs. Just as Goseng informed, Bam was indeed at the roof staring dazedly at the sky. A gust of wind blew their way, momentarily uncovering the golden orbs hidden behind locks of hair. Who knows what he might be thinking of while gazing at the blue horizon like that. Bam turned around at the call of his name, those brilliant eyes covered once more.
“Your new teammates seem fun, congratulations. I’ll talk to Mirchea. There might be some complaints, but they won’t be able to do anything much with Eve around. It might sound weird, but I’ve wished for you to be happy since the first time I met you six years ago. I don’t know what you think of me saying that… considering I’m the one forcing you to live a life that you don’t want. But be happy, as Viole.”
Bam couldn’t say anything to that, opting to stay silent for a while until the door opened signalling Evolet's presence. Almost immediately, Bam perked up at her arrival and already rushed towards her to hug her. Evolet automatically welcomed the hug with open arms, fully expecting it since it's become their habit of some sort where Bam would always hug her upon return even though she wasn't gone for long and vice versa. Inhaling the sweet intoxicating scent of lavender, Bam could feel himself relax as he sagged his body and let Evolet support his weight. Jinsung sighed fondly at the sight, all the while shaking his head slightly out of exasperation.
The deafening silence enveloped the proximity of the house, the fake Shinsu night sky providing its comfort is darkness. Evolet's footsteps resounded clearly as she went up the stairs and opened the roof door. Jinsung was leaning on the railings, huffing out some smoke from his cigarette. Instinctively, Evolet scrunched up her nose at that until Jinsung sheepishly put out his smoke.
"Viole is already asleep?"
"Yeah, he looked a little… happier after that talk with Wangnan-san and Yeon-san earlier."
"... You picked a good team for him, didn't you?" Jinsung seemed to be grateful about it.
But Evolet could only shake her head on that. "I didn't do anything. It was already set in stone from the very start. I simply went along with it."
"You're doing a great job protecting him. They're getting annoyed with all of your interferences stacking up against them."
Jinsung gave a fond smile, ruffling her hair affectionately. The Anima could only smile softly, rather amused by his words as she nodded appreciatively.
"Still, they're making trouble for you aren't they? You'll be in danger if they decided to take the big guns out."
Evolet's smile turned into a frown at his spot-on perception. She was also aware of it. While none of the Slayers have made a move against her at this moment, the Elders have slowly started testing the waters. She won't do anything… yet. But the moment they dare to make a move against Bam…
Jinsung chuckled shakily at the toe curling smirk Evolet was showing, no doubt already devising a few plans to "mess" with the Elders if they crossed the line. At the very least he didn't need to worry too much at the moment. He has no doubt that it will spell trouble for Evolet if the Elders decided to just throw everything down the drain and use that as a leverage, but he's rather more terrified for the Elders currently if that Cheshire grin was anything to go by.
"Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned… was it?"
"Did you say something, Jinsung-san?"
"... No, not a thing."