02/18/21 - Silence Thy Old Mentality

Note- Heheyito and Lorcan played by Langston


“I can hardly believe these people have the audacity to put a price tag on these…”

Such were the muted grumbles of the elderly Dunesfolk standing around the Ebony Stalls. He was picking at a bunch of grapes that he had the misfortune of being married to, by his decision to buy this particular snack. Each bite invited a furrowing of his brow and a frown behind his neat, white beard. Yet, he didn't seem to have the heart to protest vocally against the fruit peddler. He wasn't even very hungry. The grapes and the occasional person shopping were merely a pastime activity. The man had somewhere to be at a certain hour, but his lack of familiarity with long journeys had brought him to Gridania a bit too early…


Pipino strode below the beautiful concave ceiling and rich dark wooded embrace of the Ebony stalls, always feeling rather at ease in these comparatively sparsely populated markets in comparison to the busy-ness of Ul'dah's hallowed stalls. It also helped that one did not need nearly the amount of cunning to fetch a fair price here. As it turned out, the artist was on a bit of a mission for Langston. He showed up at home with this monstrous crate of tomatoes of all things and now he had this strange potato and tomato project going on. Something related to that journal again.

Nevertheless, so it was that she found herself perusing a stall for soil. He had mentioned needing to get some, and, well, surely she could handle getting a bag of it home on her own, yes? It would show that she cared about his mission even though she sometimes worried to the extent he had been placing store in its ancient wisdom, but she would support the bits of it that harmed no one.

The bag was a little heavier than she anticipated, but she hefted it atop her shoulder with a bit of a grimace as she headed toward the northern exit to hopefully make her way home. She just needed to make it a little farther!

Her eyes and ears caught on the elderly man grumbling away, but she decided to just keep on moving. The bag was heavy!


The old man spotted Pipino and raised an eyebrow. If there was anything that seemed out of place to him, it was this spectacle wearing, blue-haired woman. Her movement and mannerisms gave off the aura of the desert; it was unmistakable. So, where were her servants? He could see none. The money she offered came from her own purse; that much was clear. But, there was no one around to carry her purchase, and it was such a large bag, too! Considering he had nothing better to do, he walked towards the struggling woman, having a slight advantage in speed since he was unburdened.

“Pardon me, young lady.” he said, with a firm voice. “You must be far from home. Do you intend to carry that sack of soil all on your own?”


She was quite surprised to hear the man she intended to ignore suddenly speak to her. Wondering if she had tempted fate by making the slightest of eye contact, she hefted the sack of soil to adjust her grip on it. She smiled in a polite sort of way with her expression bearing and betraying the slight suspicion of someone who felt like they were about to be mugged by an innocent looking elderly person after having grown up being told that every stranger is potentially out to pick your pockets.

“Ah - y-yes, actually. I do intend to do such a thing. You need not worry all that much. I reside in the Lavender beds not far from here. I simply need to get it to the ferry and … well, up the rather large hill, but I promise, I am a bit stronger than I likely appear!” Her voice was only a little bit strained from the heavy burden as she tried to pass that off as the full truth. “I do thank you for your concern, however.”


“You live around here?” he asked, folding his arms. “I could have bet my remaining years that you were a child of Ul'dah. In fact, I still think that may be the case… you're about as cautious as one.” He raised his hands as if it would be enough to claim his innocence in this situation. Empty-handed, unarmed. Old. The man figured it would be enough. “I am quite used to your types. Very well, if you will not permit me to take it from you, then at least allow me to accompany you on your journey home.” He began to smirk as he danced between polite and casual. “Should you happen to push yourself too far and snap an ankle, I will be able to assist you. In return, you can assist me in navigating this foreign place. I happen to be on my way to these 'Lavender Beds'. A fair exchange, no?”


Pipino looked to the elderly gentleman and while it was certainly very tempting to pawn off her baggage on another soul, she felt like she had already committed to the task. Plus what kind of young, able-bodied person burdens the elderly with such a task? It did not sit well with her principles. She chanced the effort to switch the bag to her other shoulder, deciding in the moment.

“Well, I suppose it would do me no good to refuse the company, especially if we are headed the same direction. I could imagine me saying good-bye only to end up seeing you at the ferry when I undoubtedly make it there after you, burdened as I am,” she jokes with a polite laugh. “I think I can manage to help you find your way. I suppose Ul'dah being a circle means if you keep walking, you eventually find where you are meant to be so it can be detrimental if you make a wrong turn here. A happy circumstance that we are at least headed to the same area! That being said, I do feel we better be off soon before my stamina fails me. As much as I enjoy these markets in terms of atmosphere, my shoulders do not get any broader by the minute.”

She begins to walk, taking the initiative. “And by the by, you are correct. It seems you have a keen eye for spotting Ul'dahns. I must say I am rather impressed. My skintone is a bit fairer than most so I usually feel like I blend in quite well under the shade of the trees here. To think I could be found out so easily… Not that I mind much, of course. But am I truly that obvious?”


“Perhaps not to the average person.” he answered, placing his hands behind his back as they walked in tandem. “However, I worked among them for quite some time. Their lessons in etiquette hardly differ from one another. All their mannerisms blend together in a certain way, and that blend was apparent in you, until you seceded from your lady-like throne upon lifting that sack of soil all on your own.” The man scoffed. “Getting the menial tasks done on your own is rather surprising for one of yours.”

“Then again, trying to assist you out of nowhere seems to be my dusty mind slipping into old habits. We would dare not leave the wealthy any sort of labor, lest we invite their ire. So, naturally, I took it upon myself to approach you in a hurry. Laughable as it may be that you would be cautious around me, I can understand.”


“Ah, well, to be fair, I am suspicious of most. As it may not surprise your sharp senses, I lived a bit of a sheltered life seated on that throne of mine. However, it has been nice having a bit of respite from the drudgery of propriety, if you will forgive my utter privilege in even saying such a thing. I assure you it is not out of novelty that I wish to do such work on my own, but rather out of necessity now. To speak plainly, it is a life I prefer as easy the other might have been to the outside eye.”

She gestures up to the sign above them as they make it further along the path. “You see the symbol of the ship just above us? The docks are just ahead a few hundred falms. Do you do well with traveling by boat? It is not a very far trip, but enough to perhaps create unease in an easily disturbed constitution.”


The old man scratched his white beard briefly with a slight frown. “You know… I couldn't say.” he answered. “I have only been on a boat once or twice, and the rides were quite brief. But, I will say that I did not become successful because of a weak stomach!”

He looked to his side to observe Pipino. She was hauling that sack of soil, alright. The slight tremble of her arms, the heightened color in her face… it was all too familiar. He let out a small chuckle, paying no mind to how it may be perceived. “I made a good deal of coin during my prime.” he said. “But we never became enraptured in Monetarist culture, not really. My son, however, was obsessed with it… in but a short year, he flipped his physique around and was eventually married. Once he got a taste of what it was like to be rich, he set forth all his efforts on increasing his wealth. Today, it has become his undoing, which has become a problem for him, and a pain for us.”

“…Oh, but I'm rambling.” he said, shaking his head. “Back to what you were saying. I know not the intricacies of how children of the elite are raised and treated. It must have been quite foul if you decided to leave of your own accord. Certainly, it doesn't seem to agree with my blood. I was pushed out of it, while the rest of my family has taken to it in radically different ways.”


She hums in consideration as she sees the long fairly strep downward slope approaching to the docks.

“Perhaps foul is not quite the right word for it. It certainly has advantages. I usually liken it to a masquerade. It is a bit suffocating, being around so many others yet around no one of substance. It is all airs, platitudes, and masks, a dance carefully danced to look one's best yet never look one's truth. That, and my parents were so absorbed in it all that our relationship suffers. A person becomes a commodity rather than a soul.”

She stops before the big hill, trying to figure the best way down with the added weight as the momentum of descending would be difficult to fight with it.

“Will you be alright going down? I could lend you an arm but I cannot promise I will not be a bit top heavy myself!”


“Hah! Sympathy for the elderly, is it?” said the man, brimming with arrogance. “Allow me to remove the mask you have perceived, then!” The old man relaxed his pose and shook off his wrists. Though his steps were more careful heading down the hill, he made it to the pier without a single visible ache, nor audible groan. A quick glance at him, however, would betray his heightened rate of breathing, more out of fear of slipping rather than exhaustion.

He caught his breath after a moment, smiling brightly as if he were either really proud of himself or really trying hard to impress her. “The gods never blessed me with a daughter, but I would dare not treat her as a commodity. The way you're stuck with that soil, however… it seems you've traded your worth from a prize to a laborer! Who put you up to this, anyway? An employer?”


She smiles and laughs. “Well, my eye is clearly not as keen is yours in seeing the hidden facts of a person, apparently!” She carefully makes her own way down, having adjusted the sack once again to the other shoulder beforehand. Her voice betrayed the amount of effort she had to expend not to just fall forward and roll down the hill, leaning back as her feet tried to tread the path much to quickly. She did make it to the bottom with no incident as well, but seemed flushed more of the lack of grace required to manage such a feat.

“Ah, well… no one put me up to exactly. My husband started some rather adventurous gardening project recently and he had mentioned needing to get it. I was hoping to surprise him with it. He works so hard for us all, it would be nice to at least check one thing off his to-do list as a thoughtful gesture. I often feel as if I do not do enough to support the more practical needs of house and home so when I see an opportunity, well, I tend to insist on taking it if I feel it is within my power.”


“Being a supportive wife, eh? I see…” He closed his eyes and smiled softly. “Reminds me of my own, gods rest her soul. Always with her eyes over my shoulder, curious as to whatever I was doing, forever with water or fruit at the ready. I was so absorbed in my work on some days. I wish I…”

The old man stopped himself this time, realizing it was getting far too personal. This woman probably didn't want to be lectured on what a good wife is. “You ought to knock some sense into your husband. I can understand doing a few errands, but it is clear he isn't giving you the right level of attention if you're off breaking your back for his sake!”

His attention turned to the ferryman, then back to Pipino. “Speaking of… You are not carrying that sack onto the boat on your own. If you insist on your duty, then at least allow me to help you carry it on board. We will take it from both ends.”


She gives him a soft smile as he talks about his own wife, supportively and politely listening. Though Pipino did not have the opportunity to interact with too many of her own relatives, she certainly was familiar with respecting one's elders even so. Besides, it was clear from her expression she thought the sentiment to be rather sweet. She let it pass though, not exactly wanting to dig into deep reminiscing with a stranger or have him cling on to her journey too long.

“Ah, he has plenty of sense,” she says, bending with her knees and letting the sack gratefully fall to the ground with much less control than she was hoping she might have over it. Thankfully the sack was sturdy and didn't burst. She stretched a bit, rolling her shoulders and reaching up a gloved hand to rub at the space between her arm and her neck soothingly. “Truthfully, he often has more sense than I do. I always say he keeps me grounded. He would not dare to ask this of me. I would say perhaps this might be an example of my own lack of sense! However, fortuitous it seems to be that I have a found a kind soul that can help me out of my folly. I would be remiss to deny your assistance!”


“Full glad am I that you are able to have such a strong union with him.” he said, moving towards the sack and grabbing it by one end. Their combined efforts were able to heft the soil onto the ferry with no problem at all. He took a seat at one end and sighed, looking upward towards the sky.

The sun broke through the leaves and then down to his eyes. It was quite a sight for him. The beams of light never looked so well defined as they did breaking through The Black Shroud. Beneath him was water in abundance, obviously, that gently guided the beams down beneath the rippling surface. “I can see why my grandson has become so taken with this place.” he said. “It teems with life, more so than Thanalan, for sure. He liked being around people, so that's what made him stomach the desert for so long. Now that the boy is married, I suppose he no longer craves the crowds, unless he is working.”


She smiles taking in everything with fresh eyes again as she could feel his appreciation.

“Yes, beautiful, is it not? I was always rather taken with it. I am an artist and the verdant greenery as well as the way the light comes down from the trees as it does… the colors just are something the eye wishes to devour. That is not to say Thanalan does not have its own beauty to it, but it certainly is a little simpler to capture. I always enjoyed the challenge here.”

She giggles to herself for a moment thinking on the thought. “There do seem to be an awful lot of us children of Thanalan who end up running away to hide in the boughs of the forest it seems. My husband, for one, and a good friend of mine. All of us seem to have fled to find shelter here. Perhaps it is simply the convenience of ending up with a lot less sand in a lot less places!”


“Is that right?” he asked with a smirk. “Had I known this place would end up being the getaway of nobles, I would have come a lot sooner! Alas, I could only go so far.” He folded his arms and nodded. “Since you live here, you must know the area quite well, yes? I will at least need a touch of guidance to get to my destination. He calls it 'The Blossom and Blade'. Are you familiar with such an establishment, young lady?”


It only took an instant for her easily, smiling demeanor and poise to fall into a state of confusion as the words 'Blossom and Blade' came from the elderly man's lips. She pause and looked to him, blinking for a moment as she processed whether those were indeed the words he spoke. The coincidence was too strong and it rattled her.

“A-ah! I… well, forgive my surprise but… ah… it really is a strange coincidence but… well, I actually… um… I live there, so I think I should be able to help you quite well, in fact. Have you business with the proprietor?”


“You live there?” he asked, narrowing his eyes. “With your husband, I assume? Are they taking boarders, now? This establishment must be far larger than I thought…”


She sensed danger within that expression that might as well have been a glare, but it could hardly be avoided now. “Well… n-no. I am married to the proprietor.” She coughed lightly. “….Langston Clevers?” she added in a rising tone that sounded like a question, as if asking permission to reveal the fact.


The old man blinked slowly but never averted his gaze. “My eyes must be failing me… because I recall Scorching Orchard being of a far darker complexion.” he finally said after a period of silence. “Either that, or… you are the one called Pipino. In which case, well…” He stood from his seat and let out a heavy huff from his nostrils. He rolled up his sleeves and looked upon the water. Of course, his grand aspirations came to a halt upon realizing the futility of the situation. “If I knew where I had to swim to, I'd dart across this river and shatter his knees, like I promised!”


She wilted quickly, a proud and cheery bloom dragged out into the harsh rays of the sun after enjoying a bit too much time in the shade. Her complexion flushed as she pieced together the final pieces. This man was Langston's grandfather and there could be no doubting that fact.

“Your eyes do not fail you, and…. yes, I am Pipino Pino. I… am not precisely sure what to say or assure you. But…. it is a true pleasure to meet you, at least.” She swallowed a lump that felt as if it were the size of a boulder down her throat as she made a bit of a show of adjusting her glasses, her anxious habit making itself known for the first time in their interaction. “I have heard much about you and…. well… I suppose I had hoped we might meet under more… um… arranged circumstances at least?”

She twists her hands in her lap, looking down at them, shoulders drawing in as she continues to shrink.


The old man let out another huff. It seemed that she was able to identify who he was, as well. “Yes, I am sure he has told you much and more about me.” he said, turning to her quiet and nervous self. “Heheyito Momoyito is my name, in case he left that detail out. Now, have you a reason to be so sullen? Are you the source of the divorce?” He seemed more bewildered and lost than angry, though his harshness felt like it was being cut away by her demeanor.


“Divorce…?” Her looked up in a panicked sort of way as if she were out of the loop about something before she pieced together his logic and lowered her head once again. She closed her eyes and shook her head, wanting to die over and over again in this exact moment. He didn't tell him. She didn't necessarily blame him but he could of at least told her he was planning on having him visit! How could he leave her so unprepared?

“Well, it… I do admit is… it a bit complicated. There was no divorce, happily. Mymarriage… it is on the rather… symbolic side when you get into the details of it all.”


“You… blasted kids…” he said, followed by a sigh. He resigned to his seat and folded his arms once more, shaking his head as his own brain played a sort of mental tennis to figure out what was even happening, here. “It's always something…”

Heheyito spent the remained of the ferry grumbling to himself about this or that. At the very least, he figured that reprimanding the woman wasn't going to help matters much at all. “…He mentioned something like this to me, some time ago. To be frank, I've no time to understand the intricacies of your relationship with the boy. If you ask me, he's just asking for trouble. That being said, I cannot dissuade him at all. He told me that he loves you.” Another sigh escaped him. “Are you happy?”


“Yes, of course,” she attempts to say with more conviction, nodding. “To speak rather plainly, I would have to be to make such compromises, would I not? It is definitely not something I ever saw for myself or my future. But… this is… just how it ended up in the end. I would be lying if I said I was satisfied with all the aspects and dynamics, but I think that is just about a part of any marriage in the end, is it not?”


“I wish you both the best of luck, then.” he said before reaching down to take the sack from the boat. “Though, should your dissatisfaction grow, I would hope that you would vocalize your thoughts. The boy can be a fool.” This time, he lifted up the soil on his own, stepping onto the dock in the Beds just fine. “How much do you know of his familial affairs?”


Pipino moved to reach for the sack but he had snatched it away before she even had a chance causing her to jog a few steps to catch up with him, watching him carefully for signs of fatigue.

“I will let him know, you have my word.” She assured him as she walked in tandem with him now, guiding him along the very familiar trail that led to home.

“I know quite a bit. Fraught relations with most except you and his mother due to things stemming mostly from his father. More details than that, for certain, but I assume I need not retell the tales to you of all people.”


“That's why I am here.” he said. “If you think things are fraught now, they are about to get much worse.” He let out a deep sigh and set the soil upon the ground. “Whew! Okay… I am just about done trying to impress you. Let's see the strength of youth once more.”


She laughs lightly, squatting down in an elegant way that only someone like Pipino could manage to make look graceful as she lifts the sack back up placing it back on her shoulder farthest from Heheyito's position as to not block her view.

“Impress me you have! Our home is rather a ways up the hill so it is probably best. This is the part of the journey I find the most harrowing.”

She takes a deep breath and releases it in a cathartic way.

“And yes, we are expecting some… Tumultuous days moving forward. We dealt with unpleasantness from my own parents already, yet I imagine the situation is a little more involved this time. More players in the game, as it were.” She pauses and swiftly corrects herselfninna self-conscious way, afraid of awakening his wrath. “N-not to trivialize the situation by likening it to a game of course.”


“Color me surprised.” he said as he stretched his arm. “I didn't think you would be involved. The boy prefers to do things alone. Moreover, I've no clue as to why you would even want to be involved, considering your role as a second wife… Whatever that means, I would assume such heavy matters were not your concern.”

Heheyito didn't say much more as they hiked up the hill, eventually reaching the front of Langston's home and business. He seemed completely reluctant to divulge any information to Pipino at all, considering it was a private matter, one that he did not deem appropriate to share to her. Indeed, he was only prepared to meet his grandson, great-grandson, and Orchard.


She bristled a bit at that label and sat with it a moment, chewing on it, trying it on, shrugging it off, wrapping herself in it and casting it aside. Part of her wanted to stand proudly and defend her position, while another voice called for her to simply let this stubborn old man have his misunderstandings.

“And when your dear wife had hardship, would you let her flounder on her own, or would you lend a hand?” She asks a bit stiffly. “I am afraid you assume wrongly. Despite lack of an official document and the happenstance of timing, a second wife is no different than a first. We have no hierarchy here. His family is my own just as much as it is Orchard's. Despite what others may think, I am not playing at being a wife. I am not a pretend one that can be waved away as something additional. I am at his side and that is where I shall remain, come what may.”

Her tone took on that stubborn tone it did when she was fully immersed in conviction, and her face flushed, her very body knowing she was taking a risk by making her feelings plain.


A fierce gaze shot out from the old man's dark eyes, as if he supposedly had the right to be offended by her words. He raised his hand, ready to wave his finger in her face before the door swung open.

“What's all this, now!?”

At the doorway stood Langston and Lorcan. The toddler, of course, threw caution to the wind and waddled towards Pipino after a loud declaration of a single syllable - “Pi!” Langston walked to her as well, receiving the hefty sack of soil. “You didn't have to do all this, queen.” he said, setting the sack down to lean on the fence. Finally, he turned his attention to Heheyito, offering him a deep sigh. “You're a little far from home, Grandfather…”

“And you're more than a little lax, boy!” he said, redirecting his wrath. “What're you doing out here, taking it easy?”

“I'm taking a siesta.” replied Langston. “A nice break to soothe my nerves and spend time with my son. It was going pretty well until I spotted you in quite the disrespectful stance, and towards my wife, of all people. There wouldn't be any sort of good reason for that, now, would there?” The old man narrowed his eyes at his grandson. Langston ignored the glare, turning to Pino for the answers, instead.


She had stepped back as the older man raised his hand, her own expression betraying shock that he would dare lecture her, a grown woman, about her life, but she was saved by Langston and the Twelvesent presence of Lorry, the diffuser of all awkward disagreements. She allowed him to take the soil gratefully and she gave him a kiss on the cheek, perhaps with a bit of petty energy just to underline the permanence of her presence in their family.

She crouched down to smooth Lorry's hair and give him a hug before releasing him with a watchful eye so he could take care of whatever important toddler business needed to be attended to in the yard.

Pushing herself to her feet with a sigh, she mustered an apologetic smile for him as she rolled her shoulders, glad to be no longer burdened by the heavy load.

“I was simply clarifying some misunderstandings about the nature of our family is all.”


“Again.” said Langston firmly, now returning a stern look to his grandfather. “Well? Do you feel like a fool yet, Grandfather? Or do you need me to carry her, Lorry, and the soil all at once and back into the house for you to be convinced?”

The old man let out a huff from his nostrils and peered over to Lorcan. The toddler paused in place from his aimless running and pointed at Heheyito. “Pa!” he yelled, keeping his finger outstretched. Suddenly, the child blew a raspberry and started giggling to himself as if he had heard the most clever joke, laughing as he sat himself on the grass. This only annoyed Heheyito further, but he just bottled it up, as he was wont to do.

“I can feel the love today.” said the old man sarcastically. “For your sake, I'll state my business and then I will be out of yours. I've come to warn you about your brother.”


Pipino moved back to Langston’s to side to lend a supportive hand to the small of his back, assuring him with a simple touch that whatever the news may be, she would be there to help him work through it.

“A warning? Surely Totoyito is not scheming anything deserving of such ominous treatment…”


“It is not a scheme of his own machinations. Rather, it is merely money, and how familial connections tend to work, especially when one does not declare their severance of ties.” said Heheyito. “Ilyigu Selayigu is still the son of Nanavele Momovele. As such, they intend to use that fact to put you into a monetary dispute.”

Langston's face grew serious, but he was hardly surprised. “I had a feeling…” he said, moving closer to Pipino. “Why spring a reunion on me now, after so much time has passed… So, what is it? Has my father been involved in something or other, earning him some fat sum of debt?”

“Indeed, specifically on his manor. His business in housing has plummeted and he was borrowing money from some man or another… A shame that he couldn't get ahold of it all to pay it back. Suddenly out of options, he has turned to his sons and father to help him. I, of course, refused. I had that luxury, due to his decision to cut me loose. You may not find it so easy.”


Her brows furrowed and she shook her head in disapproval. “This endless chase for wealth… I have grown weary of it.” She sighs. “What do they expect Langston to do about it then? Foot his bills? Work for him? He is a grown man who has not lived within the benefit of the squandered wealth in quite some time. Family or no, is it not his seeds sown or his debt to pay.”


“It's true. You would normally not be beholden to such debts. However, he did take some of the money under your name.”

Langston's eyes widened. It was a piercing stare of violet and ice.

“Your inheritance…” he explained. “Part of that gaudy manor was owed to you. You were too impulsive, boy. Left too quick. Part of the money owed is yours. However… you have been absent for quite some time. Therefore, there may be some forgery involved, somewhere. They're going to attempt to appeal to your better nature. Either assist them, or pin your father with the crime of falsifying documents.”

Langston huffed. “They're not making this a very hard choice. They're stupid if they think my departure made me soft.”


She frowns, looking to Langston's expression to read his reception of this development, looking to him with a bit of worry.

“Well of course not. But… How awful… I cannot believe their gall. To pretend to want reconciliation for such a purpose…”

She shakes her head as she sighs. “Awful. It is like they have their hearts plucked from them and had them replaced with a solid piece of gold.” She looks up to him. “You do intend to fight this, yes? Just recently you managed to straighten out the business of your birth… To think they would pick such a fight again, to push you to another such dispute…”


“But of course, Pino. They'll not receive a single tin piece from me. Neither my father or Ul'dah.” declared Langston.

“So you say, boy.” said Heheyito. “But it may take more than gumption and righteous rage.” The old man took a few steps towards Pipino, giving her a weak stare. In fact, he couldn't really bare to look at her straight in the eye for very long. A faint sign of a frown painted his face before he turned about face. “Good day to you.” was all he said before walking away. Langston folded his arms, merely laughing to himself.


Pipino gazed at the man, expecting him to give her some last chiding remark judging from where there conversation had been left off before, but instead she was left with his cryptic frown. The expression caught her off guard and her own slackened into a ponderous one. “Good day,” she offered politely, her voice soft and hesitant as she was processing many things emotionally still as if the thoughts were distracting her from her social skills.

She watched him leave before turning more properly to Langston now.

“Well…. what an unexpected meeting. I did not know we were expecting such illustrious company.” She spoke wearily, but not accusatorily, simply finding the whole interaction a puzzling happenstance.


“I wish I knew.” he said, shaking his head. “You saw him though, right? He's acting like a child. Spitting all those words so recklessly… once he realized he was wrong, he had nothing much to say. Right in that moment, he wanted to apologize, but was too stubborn or proud to do it.” He sucked his teeth, clearly annoyed by many things at this point. “I hate it when he gets like that.”

Langston approached his wife and hugged her tight, which prompted his son to run up and hug his leg. “I… I'm not entirely sure what to do…” he said, suddenly sounding weak.


Pipino nestled into him, sliding a hand up to stroke his back in a comforting sort of way. She was quiet for the moment, a mind calculating and trying to find the right words or a comforting solution. It took longer than she thought it might before she began to speak again, her words muffled partially by his shirt.

“I do not think anyone would. It is a despicable circumstance…. But… I suppose we simply look to find the next right step and attempt not to think of it all at once. Do you intend to solve this legally or diplomatically?”


“I'll be going in prepared for both.” he said, breaking the embrace. “If they can be civil, I'll try to find a way to fix it. If not, well… I'm in the position of power, for once.” Langston crouched to scoop up his son, looking at him with a weak smile. “Guess you'll have to come with me, too.”

“I'll be headed over there within the next few days. Not on my brother's say so. I grow tired of playing nice with him, especially since the situation has changed.”


She clasps her hands infront of her, fiddling anxiously with the tips of her gloves as she pouts over the impossible situation, watching Langston and Lorry with a look of fraught concern, bearing her own share of the familial burden as well.

“Right, of course… I would expect no less. The longer we afford them, the more calculated they will be.” She strides to the door at last to open it for him, moving forward feeling somewhat cathartic as if she were stepping out of the problem altogether. “…Am I going on this journey as well then?”


Langston let out a restrained sigh. He looked to his own feet as if the answer had fallen to the floor somewhere. After a moment, his gaze returned to his wife before the door. It was a relief to see the inside, even though he was only out here for a moment. But his heart sought out the safety of home.

“When I first told you about this, you insisted on coming along.” he answered. “That was before it was looking this messy. I don't blame you if you'd rather keep away from this. It's a mess, and it'll be messier if my father decides to sling some foul words your way.”


“I can take them should he decide to. My concern is whether you can allow me to take them. I will be there in a heartbeat if you wish it,” she starts, holding onto the door handle as if she were gripping it for life out on the ocean, that impassioned tension taking hold of her. “If you think me being there will make things worse in some way, then say the world and I shall stay. But, to be quite frank, is it not a bit silly to hide me away? We must face the music of our choices at some point. That goes for the both of us.”


Langston's lips curled into a smile. “I only asked because I figured you may have wanted to stay behind. Shame on me for forgetting who I was talking to. Yes, you can come with me.”

“Wait, no. I want you there, at my side.”

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