'Hi, this is Emily.'
'Ask Emily if you have any doubts!!!'
Khun didn't know what he was doing, hoping for something from baseless rumors of the other Regulars. But his hands moved to enter the familiar name anyway.
'The 25th Bam'
Cobalt blue eyes were fixed on the screen, wide open in disbelief at the unreliable information. He didn't waste a single second to ask again.
'I don't know.'
He considerably slumped down at that, expectations burnt to ashes at the response. By the end of it he was asking the question to a mere device that had no proven credibility after all. It was to be expected. But he found himself still curious, prodding around the topic for a little while.
'Who told you he's alive?
'Do you wonder?'
'That'll cost one dollar!'
Khun could feel the veins in his forehead bulging annoyedly at the response. He was extremely tempted to drive a knife to the small device, but decided against it and put it on the table. He tapped the device repeatedly, pondering who would make such an idiotic joke. He was aware that Shibisu’s team wouldn’t do anything akin to that. That brought up the question of who knew about Bam other than them. His keen gaze was trained on the screen, seemingly contemplating about something as his fingers nimbly moved to type.
‘System Database: E̶m̶p̶t̶y̶’
The screen started glitching, a flickering error as the colors in between kept switching and showing various codes before it ultimately shut down. Khun didn't seem to be surprised by it, eyes narrowing at the somewhat familiar incident. He had attempted to search up Evolet's information during his climb only to come up with blanks as his Lighthouse screen glitched, not a single data about the girl. As if it was either her data didn't exist or was kept under tight wraps.
An exhausted sigh escaped his lips as he slicked his hair back. Top that off with the Slayer Nominee Partner that Shibisu told him who sounded all too similar with the girl he met on the Floor of Tests, you have an extremely curious Khun Aguero Agnis who was questioning Evolet's true identity.
He remembers the girl vividly, the sweet relaxing scent of lavender and mesmerizing blue-violet eyes that stared into the very being of himself with a piercing curious gaze. There was no animosity that he was used to from others. Not even a single ounce of wariness towards him, simply an innocent gaze that was too trusting of him.
But as he stared deeper into those very same eyes, he saw himself reflected. The looks of someone who had been broken and pieced together. Yet at the same time he could see the overly familiar gaze of Maria in her. The eyes that screamed of innocence, care, and gentle love who was accepting of the world. His interest was already piqued when he first peered into her eyes that reflected both his and Maria's personality.
And then there was Bam who Evolet seemed to cherish deeply but was chasing Rachel instead. The boy who Princess Yuri lent her Black March to. Someone who didn't look like he could snag a rabbit yet somehow proved to be strong in his own way. Bam reminded him of the past, back when he was fully dedicated to making Maria a princess. The golden eyes that knew no doubt. He recognized that look in Evolet's eyes when he said Rachel was Bam's rules. The same expression he had when he was abandoned by Maria and exiled from his house.
There were many things that didn't add up with Evolet, he discovered along the way. Like she managed to be in the same testing area with Bam when they knew each other. Or how Bam was rather clueless of the Tower's basic information, yet Evolet was well-versed in it. He recalled that moment when she coaxed him to snap out of his overthinking in the middle of the test with a calming tone that soothed him.
She was observant, noticing the smallest details around her surroundings well and kept information in her mind which was something Khun appreciated deeply. Khun didn't know for sure what kind of connection she had with Hansung, but he doubted it was a pleasant one either. Nevertheless it didn't change the fact that she had a questionable network. Khun didn't know who else she had connections with.
He wasn’t fond of Hansung, and would rather avoid mingling with him. You would think two intelligent minds would get along nicely with each other. Despite their somewhat similar view on life, Khun despised him with a passion because Hansung antagonized him. Or rather, he simply loathes him because of how easy Hansung seems to see through his life. The sly blond had asked him if he wanted to protect those eyes that knew no doubt while motioning towards Bam.
It was a fair point that he made. While he didn't know for sure if he wanted to protect those eyes, he didn't want anyone else to go through the same pain that he did. Then his gaze had wandered to Evolet’s blue-violet orbs, eyeing the very same innocence that Bam had yet outlined with hurt and anguish that were carefully masked with a caring gaze that knew too much of everything. Yet it was exactly because she was aware that it pained her more.
He's seen how she treated and looked at Bam as if he was her whole world, cherishing him to no ends. It was quite obvious that she'll go to any lengths just to protect Bam, especially with such intense bloodlust she showed to Anaak when she threatened Bam. Evolet was powerful for a Regular in the Floor of Tests. With fast reflexes, she would put up those shields that couldn't be broken by normal Regulars and protect them from any incoming danger. All in all she was a capable support. And it made him curious about her background. After all, a strong Regular wouldn't just pop up out of nowhere do they?
Then Khun witnessed first-hand how she controlled the Shinsu density with ease, summoning a Shinheuh that took out their opponents in one sweep. Anima was a rare talent in the Tower, decided solely by their natural affinity and couldn't be trained. It sent shivers down his spine, excited of the possibilities that she could attain in the future. The perfect definition of an interesting and powerful ally to climb the Tower with, his mind supplied. But then he reminisced how he laid his head on her lap during that very same test. His pride was slightly injured when she showed a lack of reaction he was hoping for.
He hasn't forgotten the look of pure terror she displayed when Bam leapt off the throne to protect Rachel instead. The Shinsu lashed out of Bam in a vibrant golden color, as if he was Shinsu itself. It spoke of power, leaving a deep gash on the staff wielder's eyes who attacked them. Yet Evolet didn't hesitate the slightest bit before jumping into that light. He recognized how the Shinsu dwindled as she leapt in, gradually reducing itself and revealing Bam safe in her arms with both of them unconscious. He wondered why she had leapt into that Shinsu without thinking twice for her safety and how she did it.
While she was unconscious, he was the one who watched over her. Pondering over who she could be as she slept soundly and recovered soothly. He was fascinated by the both of them, his interests piqued even further as he came to know them better. When she woke up, he could see that Bam was still her priority from how she inquired about his condition with a worried look on her face. It didn’t escape his notice how she felt guilty and blamed herself for not being able to protect Bam properly. So he sighed, telling her to not mind it too much without even knowing why he did so.
She revealed the fact that she had sealed Bam’s Shinsu, even if temporarily. It interested him, not knowing that it was possible to seal someone’s Shinsu in actuality. Though there were a few requirements to be met for it to happen from what she had explained. The action seemed to take a toll on her, noting how the brilliant blue-violet orbs were glazed over and unfocused afterwards. He had to call her name a few times before she finally regained her focus.
He was simply prodding around the topic, somewhat interrogating her about said requirements for the seal. He asked her if Bam trusted him with her life from the conditions she put up. She had answered his query hesitantly. But then she suddenly drops it on him that she would trust her life with both Bam and him.
Khun had thought it was foolish originally. They haven’t known each other for long, yet she gave her trust to him so easily. He wasn’t someone to be trusted, and he was aware of that. After all, what kind of Regular would offer their trust to a Khun so blindly? They had their reputation for being cold-hearted schemers for a reason. He could feel his throat parching from her reply, not understanding how she could give such an answer to him. He found himself asking Why, for a reason behind her faith in him.
And she told him that he was kind, a gentle smile directed to him with dazed eyes. His breath hitched as he stared at her with pure disbelief. Kind was by no means a word he would associate with anyone from his family. Yet this girl sitting in front of him told otherwise without a second thought, just as Maria did to him.
She had stated it so confidently, as if it was the only obvious truth. He found himself conflicted from her reply, not sure how he should react to it as his mind insistently reminded him of the past with Maria. Evolet turned to him, eyes filled with childish wonder as she spoke about the Baang she just made. She was painfully and strikingly similar to Maria yet so different from her.
He didn't notice when his thoughts drifted off or how Evolet watched him with a worried gaze. She called him several times before he finally snapped out of it and… promptly blushed from Evolet's close proximity. At least she immediately pulled back when she saw that he was back to normal. The more he stuck by her side, the more curious he became. Just like now, he pondered when she had made a contract with the Administrator. There were still many things surrounding her that remained as a mystery to Khun and he wanted to figure it all out.
It was evident that Evolet didn't like Rachel to say the least. She didn't bother to listen to their conversation, looking rather agitated at the new arrival. He noticed how Rachel's eyes wandered to the Baang Evolet crafted earlier, marveling over the power it radiated. It was only after a glare from Evolet that Rachel finally backed off from the sphere, opting to ask for the chocolate bars by its side. The blonde was a greedy one, Khun presumed.
His mind was wondering why Evolet seemed to be unfriendly, perhaps more toward Rachel; but he allowed Rachel to take the chocolate bars nonetheless since it would be rude to refuse. When Rachel was about to exit the room, Evolet said; "I hope whatever is on top of the Tower is much more worthy than Bam." The blonde stiffened up at that, scurrying out of the room without a single word.
Evolet revealed to him that she hadn't wanted to climb the Tower, how she would have to leave Bam's side if she did. A promise that she had to fulfill no matter what. She said that it was enough to stay by Bam's side before, though something had changed. It only struck up more questions within himself. What promise was it that she couldn't afford to break, where was she going, who did she promise to, what had changed. The barrages of questions wouldn't stop but he pushed down the urge to ask her.
She told him that nothing would change even if she left. Because Bam would always put Rachel first and foremost. He inwardly didn't agree with her, thinking that it would have quite an impact on Bam from what he witnessed first-hand during the time they spent.
She asked him to keep it a secret from Bam, telling him that she didn't want to burden Bam with the information. Her feelings were told to him, how she was somewhat jealous of how Bam thought of Rachel and she wished that she had met Bam first. He just stared at her. He couldn’t grasp what's going through her mind and yet at the same time he understands, it's so confusing. When he inquired her feelings for Bam, she had frozen with a look of someone who's seen a ghost. Worry clouded his mind as she rushed out of the room, his questions left unanswered.
Khun realized how Evolet somehow knew of many things. A knowing smile or a mischievous grin as she spoke of what others wouldn't know until the moment it finally clicks. All of it was fascinating to him and he was slowly being pulled to her without being aware of it.
She was beautiful, he admitted to himself when he saw her dressed up by Endorsi. He could see she wasn't the type to enjoy shopping or dressing up excessively, going by how she avoided Endorsi like a plague whenever she tried to doll her up. And he silently thought it was somewhat adorable. He was still grateful Anaak had kneed Shibisu first instead of him.
Crafting a Lighthouse was no easy feat, yet she did it without any apparent difficulties to his surprise. He received the gift of a Lighthouse, white in color and much advanced than the basic ones Lero Ro gave out. A farewell gift, a promise to come back, a reminder of her and a method to track her should it come to it. She was amazing, capable, talented, and he wouldn't have it any other way. He attempted every possible method he could think of to find her, but it was as if she never existed in the first place because he couldn't find a single data about her. By the end of it, he still couldn't find a Shinsu string user no matter how hard he searched along his climb during those years.
Still, she was fully intent on leaving. A farewell with a kiss full of prayers on Bam's forehead as she saw him walk away unknowing of what's about to happen. Khun approached her, who was smiling so soft and waving Bam off. Her smile became resigned when he asked if she was going to leave Bam without a single word. He thought that expression didn't suit her, stepping up to give her a hug of comfort that he had no idea how to do.
Physical affection wasn't a concept he grew up with. Living in the Khun family meant he couldn't show any weaknesses lest he wanted to be found dead the next morning. There wasn't such a thing as a normal physical affection in their so-called family. Each gesture would have their hidden meaning. A pat on the shoulder was a reminder of responsibilities and the consequences if he failed to do so. Brief hugs that held no affection but instead a knife to his back.
Even how Maria caressed his cheek so "lovingly" meant that she was counting on him. He was still undeniably naive back then, swayed by a little show of fake affectionate gestures. But this was the first time he initiated anything of his own and he admitted it wasn't suffocating like it usually would be. There weren't any expectations or hidden meanings, only gratefulness from Evolet that had brought about a warmth in his chest that he couldn't comprehend.
He focused his gaze on afar, telling her that he would track her down if she didn't return. Because that's what he would've done if he was in Bam's shoes. Blue-violet orbs widened in surprise, but it morphed into a relieved laugh soon enough. It sounded soothing to him, a voice he could seemingly listen to forever. She hugged him back so tenderly, for a moment he wondered which of them was comforting the other even with her gripping the back of his shirt like a lifeline. She separated the hug, looking better than before as if some of her burden lessened.
He looked at her with curiosity as she matched their palms and intertwined their fingers. She closed her eyes, muttering something under her breath that Khun couldn't catch. And their hands started glowing ever so slightly. It was a weird sensation, he thought. Oddly enough making him warm in the core, a soothing sensation that he wouldn't mind doing again as a small sincere smile etched itself on his face. The glow slowly faded, and Evolet also took a step back.
She told him that it was a good luck charm. Humming in confirmation, Khun took out the blue bandanna that had his family logo out of his hair and tied it on Evolet's left wrist. It was by no means a real good luck charm, but he supposed it would serve well for a good luck wish instead. Her lips curled up into a soft smile, and he abruptly froze up as she pecked his cheek before going off without a word.
He could feel his cheeks heating up, hands moving to touch the spot Evolet just kissed. There was a pleasant feeling in his chest that he didn't know of. Cobalt blue eyes were locked at her departing back, still so many mysteries with her left unsolved to Khun. But just this once, he decided it would be fine to believe in Evolet until she returned. No one noticed the loss of his blue bandanna, nor did they ask.
He told Bam of the news after the test, watching from the sidelines as Bam mulled over it brokenhearted. He was curious about his decision, thinking that he would've chosen to chase Evolet like what Khun had thought instead of what Evolet had said. Because he's seen how Bam looked at Evolet and how he admitted that he was truly fortunate to have the girl by his side.
When Bam came and decided that he would take Rachel up the Tower, Khun silently thought how Evolet's assumption had been spot on. Because Bam did choose Rachel first and foremost instead of her. It seems like her little hunch was right yet again. His hatred for Rachel intensified even more after that.
He wordlessly mused that if he was Bam, he would've picked Evolet over and over again no matter how many times. But regardless of Bam's decision, he'll support the brunette up the Tower if he wished so, as long as those eyes stayed the same way without doubt. He wanted to protect what he had lost but Bam still had. The white Lighthouse she gave floated beside him in invisible mode as he glanced at it. Perhaps he'll tell Bam he had a way to track Evolet down in the far future.
Yet he failed to protect those innocent golden eyes. It was truly an ironic thing, he contemplated as he eyed Rachel with animosity swirling in sharp cobalt blue eyes. Bam chased after her which made him lose Evolet, and in return Rachel had pushed him down an abyss. The blonde spoke of lies, keeping up a facade of someone who lost a dear friend.
She was the girl who caused him to lose two of his precious friends. One gone, dead, never to be found again while the other missing because of a promise she made should she go into the Tower. The murderer of his best friend. And he was bringing up that very same girl to push down at the very end of their climb, a job befitting him as the cruelest. For once, Khun deemed that Evolet was wrong. Because he wasn’t kind at all. Otherwise he couldn’t have taken on the role of the cruelest.
His mind couldn't help but think where Evolet was, what she was doing and how much stronger she's grown. By the time he met her again, both will have already spent time without each other. Had she changed a lot or was she still the same? He was still curious about her. The very same Lighthouse was still beside him, as trusty as it could be for an item. Letters were stacked up on his table, all accompanied by gifts from Evolet who's never missed a single year. Khun let out a sigh at the enigma called Evolet who he was still unable to figure out fully. He stared at the device’s screen that lit up once more, functioning normally as if the glitch earlier didn’t occur.
Blue-violet eyes and the scent of lavender haunted his thoughts, eager to meet the girl once more. Little did he know, the Shinsu strings around him were already shifting, intertwining their paths to meet again in the near future in the most unexpected way for him. He silently promised to himself. That if he found her this time, he would properly protect those blue-violet eyes so he wouldn't lose them as he did those golden ones no matter what the cost.