"Good luck Svalinn, you'll need it."
Right after saying that, the Guide took the bags of groceries from Evolet's hands before practically shoving Khun and her into the nearest empty room. The door closed resoundingly, the duo left unknowing how Hwaryun smirked as she shut the door and went to distract the others. Evolet blinked confusedly at the shut door, wondering why Hwaryun had suddenly done that. Almost reluctantly, she turned to Khun who hasn't said a thing since they entered the room. He hadn't moved from the spot, staring at Evolet with a thinking look.
“Uhm… Are you… by any chance angry at me, Khun-san?”
Evolet began to assume the worst when Khun didn’t answer. Her mind was already conjuring up various reasons behind his presumed anger. It wasn’t anything surprising considering all she’s done… or rather not done during the long period they were separated. She didn't offer him any sort of detailed explanation behind her disappearance nor Bam’s apparent death. It didn’t help that she knew about the two hired Regulars in his team but didn’t say it outrightly and instead implied it in a roundabout way. She even tried to play it off when Khun called her out in the Hand of Arlene, look where that got them. She doesn’t know what she’s supposed to do if Khun suddenly said he hated her for it.
Her hand unconsciously gripped her forearm, starting to get anxious from a lack of answer. She didn’t dare to look at Khun anymore, keeping her head down as her thoughts swirled chaotically in her mind. There was a heavy feeling in her chest, the unease from the silence spiking drastically as her eyes zoned out gradually.
Contrary to whatever possible explanations that Evolet thought, Khun was rather thinking where she had gone earlier without telling him. While Arkraptor did inform him that she headed to the grocery store, Evolet herself just disappeared without saying a single thing to Khun. He couldn’t help but get somewhat edgy when she did that, especially after he just met her again after 7 years since their separation on the Floor of Tests.
He snapped out of his thoughts with a sigh, only realizing how Evolet had gone silent too. It didn’t take long for Khun to notice that Evolet had a terrifyingly blank look in her eyes, gripping her arm tight enough that it left a bruise. Evolet felt like her hearing was muddled momentarily, unable to comprehend how Khun was calling out her name while trying to loosen the hold on her forearm.
“..ve- Eve!” Said girl slowly blinked into awareness, watching confusedly as Khun breathed a sigh of relief when those blue-violet regained their shine. She smiled apologetically at him, adorning a sheepish look as the anxiousness from earlier was hidden away.
"I'm sorry, Khun-san… I'm probably just a little tired, so please don't worry about it. FUG's internal affairs' been a mess lately and there were too many documents that needed revisions along with the replies for the report so I haven't been able to get a decent rest…" She answered meekly, releasing her grip on her forearm before trying to cover it up with her sleeves.
Khun frowned at the action, eyes raking over Evolet's small figure as he spotted the eyebags she had despite her otherwise pristine clothing. He caressed her cheek lightly, cobalt blue eyes narrowed as his thumb grazed the dark circles under her eyes. It reminded him all too well of Hwaryun's words.
“Eve, when was the last time you slept?” He asked suspiciously.
“What do you mean, Khun-san? I was sleeping when-”
“Let me rephrase that. How long have you not slept in a bed properly?”
The smile on her face turned awkward as she avoided his peering gaze. How was she even supposed to tell him that she's only been sleeping for a grand total of 30-ish minutes for the past four days. Aside from the appearance of the eyebags that she can't control, Evolet thought that she seemed like usual so she didn't find any trouble with it. She's had worse before anyway.
Undoubtedly, Khun wasn't the slightest bit satisfied with her lack of reply. The silence provided him a clear answer and he chided himself for not noticing her condition sooner. He ignored the small yelp of surprise coming from Evolet as her blue-violet eyes widened when Khun placed his arms around her back and knees before scooping her up. She spluttered at the actions, hiding her full on blushing face in her hands as she mumbled incoherently.
This was a point that Bam was yet to discover. It's actually a rather easy feat to make Evolet flustered. All you had to do was to show an affectionate gesture that she wouldn't expect. Why was there never such a scene with Bam, you ask? The answer to that would be because Evolet knew every crook and nook of how Bam functions, as such for Bam to surprise Evolet would be an impossible feat unless he adapted with a completely new way of thinking or he got a suggestion from someone else.
He laid Evolet gently on the bed, ignoring the half-hearted protests as he covered her eyes with his palm and told her to sleep. She struggled to take his hand off her eyes, trying to lift it to no avail since she didn't use any real force behind it. So instead she opted to lay still, though one of her hands rested on top of Khun's that was still covering her eyes. Khun couldn't help but let out a soft smirk when he saw the small pout on Evolet's lips, her cheeks still lightly dusted pink from when he carried her out of the blue.
"At least stay with me until I fall asleep then, Khun-san?"
It brought about a sense of satisfaction to him when her pout morphed into a smile from a single word he uttered. Putting one of her Lighthouses on visible mode, Evolet pulled out a flash disc after rummaging blindly for a while. Khun took it amusedly, seeing how Evolet was flashing him an expectant smile though he still couldn't see her eyes. He was pleasantly surprised and somewhat taken aback when he plugged the flash disc. It was a compilation of Sweet and Sour training data along with their stats with complete strength and weaknesses, even fields to be improved and its methods.
The data was a work of art for a Lightbearer like Khun who appreciated neatly organized information that was easy to digest. He let out a satisfied hum, nodding to himself before realizing Evolet couldn't see him doing that because he was still covering her eyes. There were still quite a few factors Khun needed to think about. He may have declared to the team that they'll win the Workshop Battle, but there was a slight hesitation lingering in him. After all, his pride aside, he was still dealing with FUG.
His usual team members weren't there either, and he'll have to hide from Shibisu's team if he decided to go. There were a lot of risks in his still yet formed plan, and Khun wasn't the one to roll with uncertainty. His gaze trailed to Evolet who laid still, chest rising up and down rhythmically in a calm manner as she slowly drifted to sleep.
"Eve… what are you going to do once we succeed winning the Workshop Battle and win Bam's freedom?"
He had asked it out of the blue, fully on impulse from his curiosity that sparked when he saw the file. Evolet was already half-asleep by the time he asked that, answering in a somewhat slurred voice as the lack of sleep finally crashed down on her.
"Need to… take care of promise with FUG…"
A part of him wondered if Evolet would accidentally spill her thoughts truthfully in her incoherent state as he continued speaking. "What exactly is your promise?"
To his dismay, Evolet grumbled and shifted slightly while somewhat attempting to take off his hand of her eyes. It was clear that she wasn't using her strength, but it was also a sign for Khun to back down from his probing question. Which he did with a small sigh as he replaced it with one last question.
"Then… what would you do if you didn't have that promise?"
At this point Evolet was already far gone in her fit of sleepiness, only managing a small mumble that left too big of an impact on Khun.
"Climb the Tower… with everyone…"
And all he could hear was the soft breathing of Evolet in the otherwise silent room. He retracted his palm from her eyes, seeing how she already fell asleep. All the while frowning, he brushed away Evolet's bangs tenderly as to not wake her up. She seemed to take to his presence, letting out a content sigh as she sought his hand and held it dearly once she found it. Khun could only find it as an odd thing, watching confusedly as Evolet snuggled to his hand.
It was debatable if he could even trust Evolet, considering that she was also in FUG. Yet her actions speak otherwise. He wouldn't be surprised if she told him that she's been staying up for a whole week with how easy she fell asleep. Someone from FUG wouldn't show such a vulnerable side to a member of the Ten Great Families anyway.
Nor could he imagine Bam as a FUG member either, remembering how innocent and caring the golden eyed boy was. Evolet as a FUG member was somehow more believable, seeing how she was perfectly capable of threatening without hesitation and her skilled moves even on the Floor or Tests. Though then again it was a rather common thing between the Regulars.
He already promised himself that he'll keep Evolet by his side no matter what this time. And now he's found another one of the jewels that he's lost because of the blonde traitor. He knew the two were a set that he shouldn't and couldn't separate, especially how Evolet was utterly adamant on protecting Bam regardless of the cost. Honestly, Rak would've been the one fit for the job to convince him to let go of his hesitations. The words Evolet mumbled out were wreaking havoc in his mind, a part of his conscience commanding him to find ways so that they could bring down FUG and let both Bam and Evolet climb the Tower freely.
From what Hwaryun had told him, Khun could safely assume that Evolet was already working hard to free Bam from FUG. Which meant he had to support her didn't he? And then after that he'll work out a way to bring Evolet with them away from FUG. Everything will be done step by step, just as patient as how he had planned to bring Rachel to the top then push her down. Except this time he couldn't allow his plans to be foiled because it involved two people who held much importance in his life. As if reading his mind unconsciously in her sleep, Evolet squeezed his hand gently which Khun could only shake his head at. His decision was set in stone now.
He'll make sure FUG regrets everything.
Khun took that sentence back soon enough. He was putting up a smile at the front, but inwardly he was lamenting his short visioned decision after seeing the team's prowess on his own. The data Evolet provided was accurate and he was grateful for it. That just made it worse since he only had too little of a time to make them top notch teammates by the end of this month.
He was massaging his forehead that was pounding from a headache, picking up the soothing cup of Evolet's signature lavender tea that Khun has become more or less addicted to during his stay. The Anima who brewed the tea was standing a distance away from him on the other side of the backyard, Shinsu floating around her as she taught Wangnan a new technique.
"Arkraptor… was it? What do you think of Eve?" Khun asked casually to the man standing beside him, curious of what the team thought of Evolet.
"Are you asking my opinion as a team member? Or is it as a man?" His cobalt blue eyes narrowed dangerously at Arkraptor who was still donning a nonchalant look, a silent threat that allowed Arkraptor to deduce the bluenette's feelings. It's been going on for days now. All of the members would try their best to not leave Evolet with Khun alone, though they always seem to fail somehow whenever Khun got sick of it and intervened. They were hellbent on shipping the purplette with Viole instead of Khun.
Arkraptor scoffed lightly, shaking his head to show Khun that he was only joking. Though Khun took it rather seriously. He coughed to shake off the awkwardness, answering Khun's question.
"Well… you're undoubtedly the better leader compared to Eve. Before you came, we functioned as a team without an apparent leader that centered around Viole and Eve. But… unlike you, she's the one who keeps the team in line. All of us know that she's the one to rely on and she keeps the group together. All of the plans were discussed with her, and she'll show us how we can improve it along with techniques that'll fit into the plan to make it better."
"Everything in the group goes through her and she takes care of it all. We're all aware she's crucial to the team, she said it was her job as the Defender. Not only to protect the team in battle, but also to ensure we're always safe regardless of the situation. She's in charge of more or less everything in the team."
Khun was still in the middle of processing the information he got from Arkraptor when a crash suddenly resounded. There was the swishing of wind as he blinked confusedly. The next thing he knew Evolet passed him in a hurry, gliding on the ground at high speed with the help of Shinsu coating her feet as she chased Wangnan who went over speed.
"WANGNAN-SAN!!! SHINSU! LOWER YOUR SHINSU OUTPUTTTTT!!!" The Defender screamed in panic, watching as Wangnan speeded up even more with a gleeful scream before he crashed to the wall. The team could only sigh simultaneously, used to these kinds of displays.
"Doesn't mean we always listen to her though." Arkraptor added helpfully to Khun. It only added to his list of headaches as the Lightbearer groaned.
Bonus scene (A few nights before the Hand of Arlene incident):
Bam stared disapprovingly at the enlarged white Lighthouse in their room, sulking at the fact that Evolet was still working endlessly inside her Lighthouse. All the while pouting, he entered the Lighthouse silently since Evolet had set her Lighthouses to give more or less full authority to him. The Anima didn’t even notice him, too engrossed on the screen and the stacks of papers around as her fingers continued to dance across the keyboard.
He came up behind her, casually dropping himself down and letting his full weight sunk on her back. Evolet made a surprised noise, turning her head backwards. She let out a small whine, one of her eyes fluttered close as Bam peppered small kisses all around it. She stopped typing momentarily, pressing a finger to Bam's lips to keep him in place as she smiled exasperatedly when she saw the grin on his expression.
"Bam… you can go ahead and sleep first if you're already tired. I have some urgent documents I have to take care of before I sleep."
Quite obviously, Bam wasn't the least happy about the news. The brunette frowned, leaning in closer to the screen to see the files she needed to work on. Codes, symbols, various signatures and too many complicated words. He couldn't understand a thing on the screen. And Evolet only laughed fondly at him, knowing him all too well that she could guess he didn't get anything from his observation.
Bam slumped down at that, pouting even harder when Evolet only released a fond sigh before going back to her work. He wasn't going to have none of it, not unless he was going to sleep with her by his side as usual. Plopping his chin on her head, Bam wrapped his arms around Evolet’s neck loosely. He had planned to help her finish up her work, but that plan has just been thrown out of the window once he figured he couldn’t understand a thing.
His golden gaze was trained on the screen, watching as Evolet smoothly typed whatever it is that she needed to do without a single delay that you’d expect her to be done in a jiffy. But Bam was all too familiar with this situation. When Evolet said “some” and “urgent documents” in the same sentence, he knew it wasn’t going to end well.
It wouldn’t be the first time she pulled an all nighter for it, and Bam doubted it’ll be the last. Sometimes he wondered why FUG had so many complicated procedures, but if he was the one who owned it then he would exempt Evolet from every single one of it and dump it on someone else just so that he can sleep in until late with her.
He released his hold around her, frowning when he still didn’t catch her attention even as he did. Bam was jealous of the Lighthouse screen that was hogging all her attention, that’s what. He wanted all of her attention only focused on him as selfish as that was of him.
So instead he plopped himself down on the makeshift Shinsu bench she was sitting on, shifting around until his head ended on her lap. He internally smiled, aware how she was staring at him questioningly now. He turned around, hiding a gleeful grin behind his pout as he pulled one of her hands down and placed it on his head.
And Bam could feel all his jealousness from earlier melting away when she smiled at him. Leaning down to place a gentle kiss on his forehead before he turned to her stomach instead in a desperate attempt to hide his furiously blushing face. If only she knew what her little actions do to him. She only let out a soft laugh, patting his head affectionately and eliciting a content purr out of him.
“The bed is comfier you know.” Bam would beg to differ with her statement if he wasn’t already too cozy in her lap with her fingers running through his hair. There was still a faint typing sound in the background, and Bam could tell that she was still working on the documents. He wanted to protest so that she’ll stop working and instead just sleep with him. But his eyes were already drooping, being lulled to sleep by the soft humming Evolet was doing and the feeling of her fingers threading through his brunette locks. He couldn’t even utter a single word before he fell asleep.
Evolet stifled a chuckle when she saw Bam was already fast asleep. Almost teasingly, she lifted her hand away from his head and watched amusedly as Bam frowned in his sleep, a hand grabbing around in the air mindlessly in search of the missing sensation of her fingers. She stared at Bam in mirth, smiling playfully as he immediately gripped her hand tightly once it was in his reach without any intention of letting go.
She stopped typing, the paperworks abandoned momentarily as she exited the Lighthouse. Carefully maneuvering her hands supporting his back and legs without releasing his grip, she carefully carried the sleeping brunette to the bed. Bam didn’t waste any time snuggling into the crook of her neck, letting go of her hand to instead snake his arms around Evolet’s neck instead. Making himself comfortable in her hold without a single shame in his sleep.
Evolet was now standing beside the bed, staring at it as a single question crossed her mind. How was she supposed to put Bam on the bed when he wasn’t even releasing his grip? She leaned down carefully, setting him on the edge of the bed as she kneeled awkwardly on the floor beside him. She waited for a while before trying to pry his hands around her neck only for it to have the opposite effect she was hoping for. In her attempt to loosen his hold, he instead pulled her even closer abruptly. Evolet’s balance slipped at the perfect time, falling to the bed and trajectory too close to Bam’s awaiting lips.
She quickly put a hand in the middle, as to prevent any u̶n̶wanted accident. Her palm was the only thing separating their lips, and she couldn’t find it in her to move from her spot. Bam was oblivious to all of this happening, already too deep in sleep. But if he was awake, then he would’ve seen Evolet’s face painted in a brilliant shade of red that made her look like a ripe tomato. Her knees already went lax long ago, the only thing supporting her was the bed frame otherwise she would’ve fallen to the floor.
Watching him carefully, Evolet slowly backed up as far as she could within his arms and lowered her palm. She pressed her forehead to his, releasing a shaky breath with a fully flustered expression. Granted, she knew that Bam didn’t do it on purpose. That doesn’t mean she was any less embarrassed though. In the end she couldn’t even get Bam off of her. Releasing a resigned sigh, Evolet carefully moved him closer to the center of the bed before climbing in and settling down in his hug. She’ll continue her work another day. FUG can always wait if Bam needs her anyway.