Phara was being uncharacteristically quiet.
It was weird.
The female tiefling was lazily leaning over the wooden panel separating the front of the wagon from the cart itself, her tail lightly swishing over the dirty floor. But, she was completely silent; usually, Phara chattered on about anything and everything she could think of, even if Lados didn’t respond to everything she said.
Lados didn’t like this.
His grip tightened on the reins guiding the horses - he felt concerned , almost, and he couldn’t really figure out why. Lados almost never feels concerned for anyone, he’s never had a reason to. He never gets close enough to care but it seems maybe he’s accidentally broken that unspoken rule of his. He grit his teeth, turning over the options he has in his head.
Talk to Phara, make small talk and get her to do her usual rambling.
Or, ask her what’s up.
Lados frowned deeply, the golden sclera of his eyes slits as he thought to himself. Several minutes passed before he made any sort of statement or anything. Probably not exactly a good thing but it wasn’t like the male could do a whole lot here. Eventually, he cleared his throat and spoke, making sure his voice was as even as it could possibly be. (It always was.)
“What’s with you?” He inquired, keeping his gaze straight ahead.
Phara glanced at him, her stare burning into his back. “What do you mean, Blueberry?”
“I.. imagine you probably know what I mean.” He raised his eyebrows, looking back for just a moment.
Her tail noticeably stopped swishing. “I’m just thinking, Lados. Are you for real concerned or some shit?”
“You’re being quiet.”
“... I don’t like it. It’s weird.”
“ And ?”
“ And -” (Gods, fuck her.) “- I’m not used to it. I don’t like it. I’d rather you ramble on about something rather than stay silent, unless you’re asleep.”
“Oh, so you do care ‘bout me,” Phara drawled. (He could hear the wink in her tone.)
He scowled. “Eldath, no - I didn’t say that. I-”
“Yeah, yeah, whatever. Anywho, man, do you really want me to talk about something?”
Lados was silent. No response.
“.. Ah. I getcha. Well…” Phara could be heard shifting, her hand now brushing the empty spot beside Lados. “I was just thinking a lot, ‘bout how I used to be. To act, I mean? I didn’t always act so… uh.”
“Open?” Lados supplied.
“Please, I’m far from being an open person, I’m just not as bad as you.” She snorted. “Anyways… I’m just a lot friendlier, I guess. I used to be really, I guess, angry? All the time. I was a ruthless bitch. I was a captain of a ship for a while y’know? Anyone who crossed my path, that I didn’t like, they disappeared one way or another.
“But I, uh,” her voice faltered, but she continued on. For some reason, Phara’s hesitation tugged at Lados’s heart, “I kinda had an epiphany at some point and just kinda. Left the ship. Or, rather, I let my crew overthrow me. It was deserved, though I was at sea for days on a really small rowboat. I think I went.. A little crazy or something.”
“.. Crazy like how?” Lados asked, cautious.
“I had hallucinations. All there was to drink was a half-filled waterskin and when that eventually ran out, I just didn’t drink anything because the saltwater made everything so much worse since it dehydrated me more. I didn’t have any food, either. So all that happened was I would sleep near constantly and have fever dreams, and when I was awake I just. Screamed a lot. I couldn’t think.”
Lados frowned to himself, now turned around. (He trusted the horses to keep going along the road.) “How the fuck did you manage to make it back?”
“Well, I almost didn’t.” Phara chuckled, a dry, hollow sound. He hated it. “At some point, my boat finally hit the shore, ‘n’ some old couple picked me up, let me rest up in their cabin for a while.”
She paused, smiling now. It didn’t reach her eyes. For an odd reason Lados couldn’t gleam, it made him feel sad, almost.
“I still remember where it was. I should see how they are.”
There was a long, uncomfortable silence. Phara picked at the wooden panels that they both sat upon, her ears drooped down. Her expression was clearly carefully crafted, a blank look with no light entering her lavender eyes.
Lados cleared his throat. “Are you okay?”
She let out a deep sigh. “I mean, I guess. Lot of trauma can come from the kinda shit I did, and the kinda shit that used to happen to me. After a certain point, Zavari just kinda wasn’t… there. So he couldn’t stop me from making all those bad choices and getting into dangerous situations.”
Lados averted his gaze, staring down at the road now. He honestly didn’t know how to respond. He wasn’t used to anyone being this open with him, even Phara. (Who, as of late, had been wearing her heart on her sleeve.) He chewed a little bit on his bottom lip, his tail wrapping around his leg just slightly - he was trying to squash down any anxiety. Eventually, Phara spoke again, her hand finding its way to Lados’s hair, delicately brushing her fingers through the coarse thickness.
“Sometimes I wonder how my life would have been if I didn’t get so captivated by the life of a criminal,” she murmured. “Or if Zavari and I had stayed in that little port town.”
Lados was frozen, feeling her fingers softly graze his scalp. He forced himself to take in a breath after a few minutes (His lungs burned.) and relaxed his position, albeit being difficult. His jaw was tensed though, his sharp (Inhuman.) teeth grinding against each other. The male tielfing wouldn’t lie, Phara’s gentle touches were nice and - despite the tension he instinctively felt - it was a little relaxing. He shifted away a little bit though, regardless.
She stopped after a few minutes. Phara drew her hand back, running it a few times through her own hair. As Lados turned to look at her, Phara’s expression was thoughtful, though the bags under her eyes were more prominent than ever.
“Go to sleep.”
She stared at him, her eyes unfocused. “Why?”
“You’re tired.” He frowned at her, turning back around.
Phara huffed a loud sigh. “And? So what?”
“Go to sleep.” Lados scowled now.
“Don’t tell me what to do,” He could hear the snarl in her voice.
“I’m not trying to tell you-”
“Uh huh. Whatever, captain, I’ll certainly listen to you,” she snapped, her words dripping with thinly veiled malice.
“Phara-” Lados faced her, the other tiefling’s back to him as she curled up on her threadbare blanket. Her tail was curled up around her ankle.
“Shut up,” Phara growled, starting to mumble to herself.
Lados scowled, looking ahead of the road now. He didn’t understand what he did and frankly, maybe it didn’t matter. He was going to mess up at some point anyways. Phara was quite volatile.