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 Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join)

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LeolaniLiaMay
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PostSubject: Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join)   Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join) I_icon_minitimeMay 11th 2016, 1:00 am

Time Setting: Flashback, approximately July of canon equivalent to 2015, last summer

To put things perfectly bluntly, Rin was sick and fucking tired of running around this blasted school chasing dead-end leads for her cousin. Too many times she heard such things as he was simply "missing," and received no other useful information besides which. Occasionally, she would catch snippets of his personality, colorfully painted in poor lighting, but things that were, nonetheless, helpful in discerning, at the very least, what kind of person people at least thought the Toromaki-weapon to be. It wasn't pretty, by any means --- a cocky, self-righteous, know-it-all orphan that continuously felt the need to remind everyone around him that he was superior in every aspect, aside from the rather blatant detail that he had yet to consume even a single soul --- but it at least exposed her to ideas that were quickly becoming expectations.

The poor boy didn't know what he was in for.

Still, she was becoming even more determined to locate him with each passing day, perhaps even more so by the minute. At present, however, food was taking precedence, as she needed to fill her fridge with such in order to survive, and there was little point in her attempting to hire staff for something as small as a loft apartment when there was such a high likelihood of her staying at the DC branch estate in the near future. Of course, since there was currently no hint of where said other Toromaki would be, she wasn't entirely positive as to what the inner conditions of said estate were. From her initial arrival at Death City, she had instinctively bee-lined to the mansion, quickly finding that not only did the door go regularly unanswered, but the grounds themselves were left to ruin and what she could see seemed desolate and abandoned. Rin had already begun her search, remotely, for possible staff, if only for the estate grounds, but would make no official move without directly communicating with Ace himself first. By this point, she was half tempted to hire someone just to make sure he hadn't been buried on the property.

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PostSubject: Re: Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join)   Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join) I_icon_minitimeMay 11th 2016, 1:25 am

Ace reached the town market in a glum daze. He looked up and pondered going into Chupa Cabra's. He hadn't been there in a while. The girls didn't exactly hate him, although he was impartial to that anyways. It was more the fact that the barkeeps knew and recognized him, and didn't bother trying to cheer him up with words when they knew alcohol did the trick much better. Of course, attention from the opposite gender that's neither forced nor negative isn't exactly a downside. In the end, he decided against it. He didn't have enough money from his allowances to go drinking. Rather than a bar, Ace settled on a small stand selling oriental food.

It was no secret that Ace was partial towards Asian food. He'd grown up on it, after all, and it reminded him of his past in a good way. Thankfully, Death City was sure to cater to all the different cultures of the world, since its inhabitants came from all stretches of the world.

"Two Dangos and a can of Pork and Red Bean Soup, please." He requested, before being handed two wooden sticks, each with three dumplings, and a small, reddish can. In exchange, the silver-haired boy handed over a voucher and nodded in appreciation, then promptly left in no particular rush. Eventually, he ended up sitting on a bench, attempting to enjoy his meal in silence.
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PostSubject: Re: Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join)   Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join) I_icon_minitimeMay 11th 2016, 1:32 am

Silence was not, by any means, what he received.

She meant well, a fact that anyone that knew her would be quick to point out. However, no one here knew her, most actually had only had scattered conversations involving, almost singularly, her cousin. As a result, she merely looked absolutely insane, suddenly stomping over to the other silver-haired young adult, and suddenly shouting, "Ace Toromaki!" The tone and pitch she used were baffling and conflicting, somewhere between an excitable wail and a scolding reprimand, but the point came across nonetheless; the girl had, very clearly, been looking for him for a rather extended period of time --- over a month, now, to be precise.

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PostSubject: Re: Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join)   Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join) I_icon_minitimeMay 11th 2016, 1:42 am

At the sound of his name, Ace shouted in exclamation. If it had been just any random girl stomping and shouting at him from across the town square, he would have ignored them until they became a nuisance. However, this wasn't just any random girl.

Oh shit, it's her! How did she find me?

Ace leaped from his sitting position, dumpling still half-way chewed, and landed on the backrest of the bench. This is bad, this is bad!, he thought, swallowing loudly. "O-oh, hey... Rin... funny running into you here." His voice was nervous and frightened, almost as though he'd encountered a potential enemy he knew he couldn't beat. I knew after Chris found me, she would be searching too, but I didn't think it'd be so soon!
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PostSubject: Re: Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join)   Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join) I_icon_minitimeMay 11th 2016, 1:49 am

Her arms folded across her breast, fingers tapping away impatiently at each elbow, amethyst eyes narrowing slowly at him as she stood not three feet from his strange position. "Funny?" she inquired, voice like a melody on a chord that played at heartstrings and tugged at paranoia-level fear, "Is 'funny' the term that you would use to describe a month's worth of searching, being told, repeatedly that your family is dead, kidnapped, traitorous, or merely just missing and then finding the one member that you absolutely know is alive just casually sitting in the center of the market chewing on a cheap, vendor dumpling?" There was a patience to this girl that was quickly wearing thin, giving way to an irrationality found in brashness and protective panic. "Where have you been, Toromaki?"

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PostSubject: Re: Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join)   Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join) I_icon_minitimeMay 11th 2016, 2:12 am

Ace sighed and quickly dropped, the bench between him and his cousin. He stood at a sloppy attention stance, offering an awkward stare. Man am I dead meat or what? At least with Chris all I had to do was beat the shit out of him. How do I get HER to leave me alone? "W-well to be fair, my family branch's money was confiscated, so all I get is an allowance from the DWMA, so I can only really afford cheap things like street food." The boy backed up, motioning with his food-filled hands. "A-and I'm a Weapon, so I spend most of my time on missions or training. It's not like I'm avoiding you or anything, I just haven't been in the city that much, that's all." A nervous chuckle escaped his lips. Even his rough, wolf-like voice was comparable to that of a small child, avoiding a bully.

"Is Ace in another relationship or something? It's like Sarah all over again. The Shinigami heir was on his way to pick up dinner when he spotted the awkward scene playing out. After his sister's disappearance, Arusa didn't bother with Ace much, but he still payed attention to him, and Ace's last relationship looked just about as insane as whatever this was.
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PostSubject: Re: Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join)   Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join) I_icon_minitimeMay 11th 2016, 2:19 am

"Training?" She demanded, not allowing him the headway he had stolen, stepping up and over the bench, dropping on the other side in a single, fluid motion that seemed not to have even hardly made her knees bend at the landing. "On missions?" The tone was sharper, now, more clipped and insistent and all but commanding, he long legs carrying her to catch up to the clearly panicked weapon, "You lie worse than you live, Ace. I've been told by multiple sources over the passed month that you have consumed not a single soul and have, besides which, been otherwise MIA up until recently. Which, by the way, we are going to talk about." Her hand reached out, suddenly, the bandages beginning to glow as her temper slowly gave into feeding soul power to him, though her fingers were at the boy's ear, deftly preventing him from escaping. "So try again. Where have you been?"

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PostSubject: Re: Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join)   Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join) I_icon_minitimeMay 11th 2016, 2:35 am

"I-I'm sorry, alright?" Ace trembled in fear. At the sound of those words, anyone who knew Ace probably would have expected the entire world to come to an end right there. The fact that this random girl who hasn't even gotten actual screen time yet was making him to stand paralyzed in fear, just made things so much worse. "You see, there's this Kishin Egg on the loose that's really strong, and even one of the school's strongest Death Scythes couldn't eliminate him, so I've been trying to locate him, because I think he's planning something."

After a moment, Ace regained his composure a bit, retaliating over what was much more urgent: his pride. "And the only reason I've failed to gather any souls is because all of my partners up until now have been incapable of wielding me. That or they've died on the job. I can't afford to waste my time with incapable Meisters, so therefore I can't afford to actually go on missions that might yield souls. I've come to the conclusion that only a Witch has the power to control me, and there's no way in hell I'd ever allow myself, Ace Toromaki, to be domineered by a Witch."
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PostSubject: Re: Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join)   Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join) I_icon_minitimeMay 11th 2016, 11:08 am

Somewhere, across from the vendor areas, a young teen's ears suddenly caught wind of the conversation, her attention tugged over to the scene. Slowly, adrenaline pumped through her veins, her face heating up in a combination of fear and embarrassment over such, and she found herself backing into any sort of corner she could find. Bumping into another patron, she heard the silver boy confirming her fears, shouting his name back at the strange newcomer that looked so much like him. Without a word or reason, the girl darted off, purple hair trailing behind her like a banner, making it fairly clear to anyone who had been exposed to either party just what had happened.

She released his ear, then, watching him with a leveled, stubborn expression. "What is this 'witch' thing that everyone keeps talking about?" The question was one merely thought aloud, though she surely would not turn down it's answer. "Never mind that, though, if this matter is so pressing then why WOULDN'T you try to find me, or else stop avoiding me?" There was something raw to her voice, now, though nonetheless indistinguishable: pain, perhaps, disappointment, but laced with the fury she'd been holding to. "We're going back to the Estate, Ace." Rin did not offer him so much as a glimpse of a chance to argue, or even escape, gripping his ear once more, tighter, and dragging him in the direction that she knew to be right, having practically paced from the mansion multiple times trying to locate him.

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PostSubject: Re: Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join)   Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join) I_icon_minitimeMay 11th 2016, 7:43 pm

"Ace thought to answer his cousin's air-headed question, but feared that his way of answering may only upset her more, plus he was more absorbed in the rest of the conversation than he was in something as trivial as the education of Witch Hunting. It was useless to argue his point further, he knew. The conversation was over for the most part. He had been questioned, his answer was heard, he received a grace period to clarify or make up for any lies, and the outcome was decided. Even if Rin was going to continue speaking, any further attempts to continue the argument would come off as rude if an answer wasn't strictly requested. Of course, Ace could do without the ear pulling.

The Weapon scowled in pain as he struggled to catch up to his oppressor. Now that he was keeping up, Ace walked normally, in hopes that Rin would release him. Meanwhile he gobbled down another dumpling, chewed for a second, then swallowed. "H-hey... Why did you come looking for me, anyways?" It wasn't like Ace sent out a post card to all of his family members, so why the hell were they all showing up like this? Next thing he knew, there'd be a showdown between him and Dante in the middle of the city."

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PostSubject: Re: Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join)   Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join) I_icon_minitimeMay 11th 2016, 8:10 pm

She eased up on his ear, her hand moving to grip his sleeve, eyes forward. "Because I heard," the words were simple, far quieter, but still solid, firm in her speech. "They told me about the Academy, and what happened," casually, almost, she gestured ahead of them, signalling her reference of the estate, "I'm here, and you left the estate to rot. What kind of Toromaki let's their mansion fall to rubble?" Her amethyst eyes fell on him, then, watching him as they walked. They were family, and though he was nowhere near the Toromaki's level of perfection, she felt a fierce, uncontrollable amount of loyalty towards the boy, older or otherwise. She would never describe it as pity, for the sake of sparing his pride or otherwise, but such was still, at least in part, the case. Ace would never admit it, but there was an obvious pull about the man that signaled his need for help, for people in one aspect or another, and she was strongly feeling the need to be one of those people. By this point, the elder cousin already lacked the choice; as a woman amongst the Toromakis, she would be the head of the household, and she was more than willing to pull her strings to reinstate his branch of the clan.

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PostSubject: Re: Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join)   Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join) I_icon_minitimeMay 11th 2016, 8:25 pm

Ace's expression went dark as they neared the manor. His feet began to drag just a bit more, and his tone was returning to that which was normal for him. "I guess you're right, Rin. After what happened, I couldn't bring myself to change anything." The boy bit his lip, and didn't dare meet the gaze of the heir to the Washington Family Branch. As far as the family was concerned, Ace WAS technically above her in the hierarchy. He was head of his branch now, and she was soon-to-be head of her branch. Unfortunately for him, not only did Rin obviously not see it this way, but she, who's blood was not tainted by the Weapon gene, was also genetically superior to him in the family's eyes. If that alone wasn't enough, her being a lady of the Toromaki name meant that she had the power to simply take over Ace's branch without any opposition. The Toromaki clan had always been Matriarchal, meaning Ace was powerless to oppose his younger cousin if she decided to become the mistress of the Death City Family Branch.

"But that doesn't mean that I'm incapable. I'm not the same weak little kid that you remember."
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PostSubject: Re: Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join)   Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join) I_icon_minitimeMay 11th 2016, 8:34 pm

"Then prove it." She said, stopping right outside the manor doors, pointing at the lock, her eyes stony and serious, locked on his with a power and authority unbecoming of the rest of society's view of a woman. Toromaki's weren't the rest of society. They were a league of their own, and she was not about to bow to their graces. No, like any true Toromaki, she would make the world bow to her own. "Show me what you've done, and tell me what you plan to do about it."

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PostSubject: Re: Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join)   Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join) I_icon_minitimeMay 11th 2016, 9:11 pm

Ace nodded slowly. His eyes closed for a moment, and he scoured his mind for memories on how he should behave. He wasn't talking to some weak tramp bossing him around like Sarah. Rin was his superior for all intents and purposes. After a pause, Ace bowed, one arm firmly against his back, and the other gently thrown across his chest, reaching up to the opposite shoulder.

"Yes, Lady Rin." It couldn't be helped. Ace winced on the inside. Rin had a special place in his heart, yes, but this was not something he was used to. He hoped he wouldn't have to get used to it. Or.... did he? This wasn't a situation he really liked, but... it was Rin. He wasn't alone anymore, and he didn't have a reason to distance himself from her.

Ace rose, standing up straight and proper for the first time in a while. His hand gripped the doorknob and he shoved the rotting, oaken door open, revealing the tattered insides of the Death City Family Branch estate. Windows shattered, floorboards uplifted, paintings ruined, walls crumbling, doors unhinged, memories ruined. There was silence, as Ace prepared for what was to come, and as Rin took in the horror that had become of the once-lavish home. After the pause, Ace immediately began moving through the living room, talking in such a way that one could never expect of him.

"All of the floorboards need to be replaced excluding the tile in the kitchen, of course, and the ceiling beams need to be reinforced. Every first floor window needs new glass, as well as two of the second floor windows. The hearth is fine, just a tad dirty. All new furniture, of course. The stairs could be remodeled. They're outdated in style, and not in the good way. The kitchen appliances should be upgraded to electric ones, since the gas lines have been ruined, and every single bathroom needs to be completely replaced. All of the bedrooms have been untouched, though they all need to be refurnished. Every book in the library has been confiscated, and the ballroom's lights have all burnt out. The dining hall roof has caved in, and needs to be cleared out before it can be appraised."
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PostSubject: Re: Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join)   Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join) I_icon_minitimeMay 11th 2016, 9:25 pm

Horror was certainly the proper word for the place, as well as the way that she took it all in. Saving face, however, was nearly second nature to her, and she did precisely that as he began listing off the necessities of the rotting home. He was right on all accounts, a fact that she was both loathe and sad to admit, but this was Ace Toromaki, not a proper Toromaki by any means, but the master of the estate was in further shambles than the man himself seemed to be in. Silently, she tallied off all the things that would be needed, bringing up, mentally, the list of workers she had been narrowing down, pushing aside the maids and butlers lists for the time being in favor of the construction workers. Electricians, plumbers, and various other specialty workers would apparently have to be added to the mix, but it was something that she was more than willing to offer. This was, of course, not to be done for free or without justifiable reason; heiress or not, such a move could not be preformed without due cause. Her actions and kindness would be treated as a loan, a kick starter to provide the broken boy with a round trip ticket to the life that he was supposed to lead, but oh, he would be paying her back --- Toromaki honor alone would ensure that.

Even with the tallies making marks along the inner lining of her skull, Rin followed dutifully and silently behind her elder cousin, watching with an impartial, objective eye everything he pointed out to her, ever gesture that he offered. Even after all of these years, his training held firm. Forced as it may be, and she knew him well enough to be able to detect such, he was still very much the proper heir of the estate, just rusted and rough around the edges. The estate, as she suspected, hadn't been the only thing left to ruin, but she'd be damned if she didn't do everything left in her power to turn that all around.

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PostSubject: Re: Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join)   Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join) I_icon_minitimeMay 11th 2016, 9:43 pm

After pushing through the ballroom, Ace exited the manor through the back door, and into the back courtyard. Essentially a barren wasteland, complete with ruined statues, dead everything, and way more open space than anyone should be comfortable with, given that the whole place looked like a scene from a horror film. The lavish patio's tiling was cracked and in pieces. The black, iron gates were rusted.

"I believe this needs no elaboration. The entire yard is desolate. New turf, new architecture, new everything. It would be a simpler task to just remove the yard altogether." Now that they were, for the most part, finished, Ace turned to face his cousin, stern and prepared for the long conversation that was likely to come. "Should I change into a more appropriate attire? I have a pair of my father's raiment still preserved."
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PostSubject: Re: Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join)   Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join) I_icon_minitimeMay 11th 2016, 9:53 pm

"First," she began, eyes haughty, seeming to look above him, almost down on him, despite her being shorter of stature, "you must introduce yourself properly. I can make arrangements in a heartbeat to have everything restored, but such restorations must be made in the name of the estate's proprietor, not the heiress to a separate branch of the clan." Her eyes challenged him in ways he was unaccustomed to, daring him to fight, but not her, not her words --- who had become. Everything about her, based on their respective raisings, screamed of perfection, a light so extremely out of place in this desolate wasteland that had been left in shambles without a true heir having actually been named. She was an anomaly, a peculiarity that was out of place in the one place of this city that she actually belonged. That, they both knew, was wrong, something to be changed, an error to be remedied at the earliest convenience.

That change began and ended with Ace Toromaki.

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PostSubject: Re: Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join)   Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join) I_icon_minitimeMay 11th 2016, 10:20 pm

"No," Ace thought for a moment, looking in on himself with a little bit of relief. She had definitely grown up, but she was definitely the same old Rin. "first, we both know you've been waiting for this just as much as I have." He stepped forward, eyes closed, and wrapped both his arms around the smaller girl. The boy held her in an embrace; one that he'd long forgotten the feel of. It was no lazy, forced act like most of Ace's affections. The truth was, Ace needed Rin more than he wanted to admit, and no matter how she acted she WAS still his little cousin.
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PostSubject: Re: Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join)   Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join) I_icon_minitimeMay 11th 2016, 10:26 pm

A stiffness struck her form initially, his actions catching her off-guard. Soon, the steely lines of her face gave way to the tenderness found in her heart. Sighing softly, almost inaudibly, she relaxed in his arms. Raising her own, she slid them around his form, face pressing against his chest in a manner packed with both comfort and familiarity, a calm reassurance to everything she was as she returned the embrace. From her lips came a soft, nervous laugh, and she shook her head against him, clinging just slightly tighter after several moments, "Stupid Ace," she whispered.

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PostSubject: Re: Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join)   Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join) I_icon_minitimeMay 11th 2016, 11:08 pm

Ace's eyes remained shut. This feeling was right. It felt like being home. Like he really wasn't alone right now. It brought him back to when he and Rin first met. That memory was the root of the tree that cradled Ace and Rin's love.

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~A young Ace left alone in the Washington Family Branch estate, as his parents conducted important business. He was told that he had a cousin here. A girl only a few years younger than him by the name of Rin.

His small hands shoved open an elaborate door adorned with beautiful decorations, to reveal a mostly empty room with only a young, silver-haired girl within.

Her teary eyes shone like precious gems under the night sky, as they seemed to dance around beneath her swaying, silky bangs. She'd be a lovely creature to behold had she not been in such an unbecoming state.

"Why are you crying?" The older boy knelt beside her, trying to make eye contact.~


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LeolaniLiaMay
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PostSubject: Re: Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join)   Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join) I_icon_minitimeMay 11th 2016, 11:20 pm

She remembered, like he did, remembered the reasoning behind their strange, yet endlessly comfortable bond. Rin knew where his mind would go, in all of this, knew that he was fully aware of the reasonings behind her arrival in the city, her stubborn resilience in finding him, her current unwillingness to let him continue the way he had been going.

~Amethyst met amber in those moments, flooded despite the porcelain face that held them. Words held back from answering, an innocent stare meeting the question.

Silence. Silence in the moments of summing up one another, silence in the stillness in between.

"I'm lonely." Quiet, timid admittance to the reality she didn't want to face.

"Why don't I have anyone to play with? Where are my brothers and sisters?"

"Do I not get any?"~

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PostSubject: Re: Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join)   Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join) I_icon_minitimeMay 11th 2016, 11:37 pm

~"You don't have any?" He asked as the girl replied with a nervous head shake.

The boy chuckled happily and brushed away the girl's bangs.

"Well then I'll just be your big brother." He stood and extended a hand to her.

"You're a Toromaki too, so you shouldn't ever be sad. A smile looks much better on us, because we're the ones that carry the world on our backs." His grin widened.

"Just like how you look better when your hair isn't all in your face."~
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PostSubject: Re: Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join)   Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join) I_icon_minitimeMay 11th 2016, 11:39 pm

A smile looks much better on us, because we're the ones that carry the world on our backs. The quote was one that had followed her throughout her life, a simple, childish reminder to keep her chin up and her head held high. How silly it was, or their family would think it to be, that the perfect daughter learned from the imperfect son. She cared not; he was a Toromaki, same as her, and had been there when no one else was. Bonds like that did not break easily, nor would they willingly tear. Time had not rotted the hinges, only strengthened the bolts.

~She had taken his hand, pushing the hair away and brushing the tears free in the same fluid motion, sniffling a final time as she fought to beam at him. Soon enough, the smile became genuine.

"I'm Rin," she had said. The voice was strong, her tiny body an easy backdrop to build onto for a wonderful, astonishing lady. Someday, they all knew, she would be exactly that.

Amethyst flashed, powerful, lifetimes beyond the body that held him, locked in a trance with his amber depths.

"Who are you, big brother?"~

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PostSubject: Re: Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join)   Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join) I_icon_minitimeMay 12th 2016, 12:17 am

~"I'm Ace." His voice was enthusiastic. Righteous, even. A tone that would carry Rin through the rest of her life. Ringing in her ears, even though he wasn't there.

"Ace Toromaki. And I'm going to be the light that banishes all of the darkness! Then the darkness will never reach you again, Rin." The young boy's promise echoed in time, reverberating between Ace and Rin's hearts~

Ace released his cousin, and brushed her bangs aside with a hand. "You really do look better when your forehead is showing. Makes it easier to see those eyes of yours."
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PostSubject: Re: Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join)   Aces & Queens (Private; Ace & I, PM to join) I_icon_minitimeMay 12th 2016, 10:04 am

"And you look better without bedhead," she spoke back, casually running her hand through her own silver locks, forcing the bangs to tangle with the length and thus stay at least a little better put. It had been a long while since she'd heard anyone say that, as most people didn't even bother to give her any sort of suggestions or orders, nowadays. By all rights, she was already grown in the Clan's eyes, set to inherit a branch all her own. Only Ace ever really bothered to say it, anyway; that was part of where the comfort of it stayed, the only reason she listened. "It's been a while, hasn't it?"

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