“So… Are you in a rush to get home? Do you have kids or…?”
This was a surprising question, but also a loaded one. There was no good answer he could give. If it ever came out that he was part of AVALANCHE then his answer would put others in danger.
“No rush, but I do prefer soft bread.”
Those words rang strangely to him in his usual bassy monotone. It was a childish habit Leonhardt never outgrew. Something about crunchy bread didn’t feel right, granted he wouldn’t say no to food if he was hungry.
“And I haven’t found someone to start a family with.”
It was strange to speak about himself. While not being a direct answer, it was still a fact about himself. Leonhardt found it distracting, the thought of starting a family, now that he’s chosen to wage war against Shin-Ra. It would be selfish of him to put someone else in danger, and anchor them to him with a child. He did not have a place in a world without Shin-Ra.
“Oh. That’s nice.” Autumn nodded as he answered the first part of her question and then continued to volunteer his preference on bread. “I like a little crunch personally.”
He followed that up with a more satisfying answer but his voice was low and flat and with the hood still up it was hard to get a read on his feelings about it. “Neither have I. Too busy with my career... I guess.”
The train came to a stop and several of the people around them disembarked. Hardly anyone boarded the train at this stop so they had a little more space to breathe now but Autumn didn’t move away.
Leon asked if she had any more questions and Autumn wondered if he was very annoyed with her constant yapping. She realized that she was starting to sound like a reporter conducting an interview. “About a million! Where you live? What do you do for fun?- Sorry!"
Autumn raised her palms face out in front of her chest and gave an apologetic smile, "I don’t want to invade your privacy or make you uncomfortable. I just get excited when I meet new people… Is there anything you want to know about me?”
The speakers came to life over the muffled ambient noise of the trains, the automated messages signaling its arrival, the stop before his. Leomhardt braced himself against the standing rail he was holding to remain upright. For a moment, an intrusive thought invaded his mind and wondered what he would do if the pole became dislodged from the compartment.
The most of the compartment emptied, and he felt he could breathe more. Surprisingly, there were no new occupants stepping onto the train. A small blessing in Leonhardt’s eyes. Within a minute, the train was on its way again.
“About a million! Where you live? What do you do for fun?- Sorry!"
Now he’d done it. He expected this, but now he’d done it. Leonhardt had opened the flood gates. She threw out two questions before stopping herself. Sooner than he’d thought if he was honest.
"I don’t want to invade your privacy or make you uncomfortable. I just get excited when I meet new people… Is there anything you want to know about me?”
“You’re fine. Do you enjoy being a Turk?”
A probing question, but a mostly innocent one on the surface. He turned and faced her directly, his eyes emitting a slight, dim glow under the shadow of his hood, the telltale sign of mako exposure, of a SOLDIER.
His face sat neutral, holding no real expression, but it was clear his gaze was focused. While Leonhardt did blink like all others, the intervals between them seemed to last a bit longer than most would consider comfortable.
Post by Autumn Nevada on Apr 28, 2020 20:35:23 GMT
He turned to face her and Autumn got her first really good look at the man. His mako blue eyes were fixed on hers and she could tell there was more to his question than simply passing the time. Autumn was in the business of letting people hear what they wanted to hear. Leon wanted to know the truth... or he thought he did. She hesitated for a moment, lost in his gaze and feeling as if he might see beyond hers and into her soul.
Do you enjoy being a Turk? Autumn couldn’t remember anyone asking her that question before. She didn’t even remember deciding to become one. It was the path that was set before her and she was good at it. She thought of her grandfather, her uncle, her whole family. They were Shin-Ra. The company was all encompassing and she wouldn’t have been able to avoid it even if she’d wanted to. She wanted to make her parents proud and she was doing that. Even at the expense of her own happiness.
Her gaze drifted to a place just over his shoulder as she did her best to compartmentalize the hurt she’d inflicted upon other people’s families. “I told you before… It’s not so bad.”
Autumn stumbled back to an empty seat and opened the little cupcake box. It was cute. A swirl of cream cheese with a little half strawberry on top. She unwrapped the cupcake and stuffed almost half of it into her mouth in a single bite.
There was a moments of deafening silence between the two as their eyes met, a hesitation, or what Leonhardt assumed was an attempt at a hesitation. Something felt off. Maybe this was too personal of a question? Eventually, the answer came, but for a small moment he saw her eyes deviate, slightly but surely.
“I told you before… It’s not so bad.”
The sound returned to the world, and for those who listened, Leonhardt’s voice seemed to hold the smallest hint of disappointment in its monotony. He turned his head to look out the window, taking Autumn’s sitting and consumption of a cupcake as the end of their conversation. She was distracting herself, or maybe this was as good an opportunity for to eat her sweets. It was fine.
Leonhardt would watch the world pass by in silence, with the occasional mastication of cupcake eating to keep him from getting too lost in his own head.
Autumn sat there glowering into her cupcakes for a couple minutes feeling irritated. Who did this guy think he was? He didn’t have the right to make her feel guilty for being successful and yet somehow that disappointed look had her second guessing herself.
The box of cupcakes sat abandoned on the seat next to her as she stood to confront him.
Her tone was more forceful than before, her words direct, but her eyes pleading. She really wanted to understand where he was coming from but it felt like first contact with an alien race. She just didn't get it. “Who are you, really? Do you have some kind of problem with me?”
The silence had become more prevalent now that the chewing had stopped. Leonhardt was still staring out the window, thoughts drifting further into the future, and what would likely need to be done after his plan for Shin-Ra had come to fruition. It was all a headache, but someone had to think about it.
A slight jostle from the train was enough to bring him back to the present. He recognized the scenery, where the train was, and released the upright railing to grab hold of the cross bar in front of the door, mimicking a few others on the opposite end of the car. It was almost time for him to disembark.
“Who are you, really? Do you have some kind of problem with me?”
The questions came from behind as the woman suddenly stood. She was angry, but Leonhardt felt there was something else under her tone.
“Ms. Autumn, everyday we are given an infinite number of choices: to walk the line expected of us, or to step off it; to do new things, or settle into the comfort of routine. We often succeed in convincing ourselves that we do not have the luxury of a choice, but that in and of itself is a choice. And in that boundless, terrifying freedom, I have found that it is far better to be satisfied than successful.”
As Leonhardt finished speaking, the speakers buzzed to life again, audible yet unintelligible, over the sound of shifting, slowing metal as the brakes activated, decelerating the train and eventually coming to a full stop in the Sector 7 station.
“I enjoyed speaking with you, Ms. Autumn. I hope we can converse again.”
He released the rail as he spoke giving a wave as he stepped through the doors others would use as their entrance, a dance as old as the trains have ran.
Autumn listened to his advice in silence, her jaw clenching as he neared the end. That was some idealistic rebel rhetoric he was spewing and it wasn’t for her. She didn’t like some of the underhanded tactics she’d been a part of but he didn’t understand just how much she had to lose by breaking with tradition.
“Mhm…” She nodded as he said his goodbyes. Her stomach dropped and she wasn’t sure it had anything to do with the train slowing at the station. Autumn was beginning to think that their paths would cross again soon enough.
She backed into her seat as he disembarked from the train and she put the box of cupcakes in her lap. Autumn stared out the window for the remainder of her journey. A strange image crossed her mind of herself walking away with the sun on her shoulders and the city of Midgar far in the background. It was a bittersweet daydream but nothing more.