Jul. 17th, 2009 09:28 am
symbolism_egg: (Protective Rhode ; 365daysafter)
[personal profile] symbolism_egg
Summary: Rhode wants to make a trade for Jasdero's ribbons.
Prompt: 015. Worn
Disclaimer: The D. Gray-man series and characters do not belong to me.

The length of ribbon in her fingers was worn. At its darkest it was no longer black, and it frayed into grayish threads.

“It’s an old friend’s,” said Rhode.

But Jasdero thought it was an ugly ribbon. “Don’t want it,” he said, even if it had belonged to one of her friends.

“Take it. Then trade me yours.” The old thing lay folded and dangling in her small, dark hand. Her hands moved, and she held a drooping bow up to the side of Jasdero’s head, where his bright black ribbons were tied.

She was only after Jasdero’s ribbons, wasn’t she.

He leaned away.

“Take it!”

He leaned farther. “No!”

“Jaaasdero. You don’t know the stories this ribbon has come through. Why, its wearer stepped off a cannon-scarred sailing ship the likes of which has not been used in half a century, a ship that had spread plague at every port it put into. Don’t give me that look. It’s nothing that would dare harm a Noah, and anyway that was a long time ago.” She twined the ribbon all through her fingers, admiring it, but although her eyes seemed set on the distance of memory, her mouth was set in a bored little frown. Her eyelids drooped, and she blinked sleepily.

Jasdero watched her with wide, innocent golden eyes. “Still don’t want it,” he said.

“I cleaned out the blood myself after the musketeer shot—”

This memory may have been about shooting, but Jasdero had had enough. He wasn’t trading the pretty ribbons in his hair for stories and tales, someone else’s memories. Whoever they were, they’d been gone a long time. Jasdero could feel Devit growing restless in their room. He was probably sitting on his bed, still, trying to sew new pants. Impatient for his twin. Jasdero bounded down the long hallway with his pistol held ready.

Rhode put the ribbon in her pocket and found Tiki. He was pulling an ace of hearts out of his sleeve. When he saw her, he slipped it back.

“I’m not playing with you,” he said. With his thumb, he flipped through the stack of playing cards on the tea table beside him.

“I’m not a little girl, Tiki,” said Rhode, her voice teasing, her eyes hard. “Besides, I’m tired.” She fell to a sitting position on the floor, her legs crossed and her skirt rumpled. “Jasdero wouldn’t take my ribbon,” she pouted.

“The hand-me-down?” asked Tiki. He hadn’t recognized the ribbon she’d raised up to him that morning as she told, pleased and proud, of how she’d recovered it from an old cedar box, and remembered its origins when she saw it.

Rhode nodded. “That one.”

“Maybe he’ll change his mind,” said Tiki. A reasonable hope, considering the capricious, easily diverted mind of the youngest. (Or was Devit the youngest? Oh well, they were born on the same day, and their minds were like one mind now, so it didn’t matter.)

“I’ll change it for him if he doesn’t,” said Rhode, and yawned wide.

She was capricious, but not easily diverted.

Jasdero lay in tangled sheets that night, thinking maybe he should have taken the ribbon. After all, Rhode usually demanded presents instead of giving them, at least to Jasdero. She might get angry. She might not be his friend anymore.

But he didn’t want old, frayed ribbons when he had nice new ones. Sure, he had enough ribbons to fill his drawer, but that didn’t mean Rhode could have any. She probably had hundreds. Thousands. An amount lots higher than Jasdero had time to count.

He wondered how many had belonged to old members of the family, and if the beribboned members of the family had been on sailing ships or raiding expeditions or hunting trips. He slipped into dreams rich with the scent of gunpowder, pitch, and sea air, the creak of sailing ships and the flapping of sails in his ears as the heat of a century-old sun beat down on him.

He woke up the next morning with the cheerful resolve to change ribbons with Rhode.

“What’re you so happy about?” asked Devit with the usual challenge in his voice, although his mind reflected his twin’s cheerfulness. He was lounging on his bed, brushing his hair in lazy strokes.

“Rhode’s gonna give me a ribbon!” said Jasdero, affixing his own. The black, and—he fished two more from the drawer—the lavender he sometimes wore on special occasions. Maybe Rhode wanted that color. Only the best for her, after all.

“Oh? What kinda ribbon?”

“Ugly ribbon.”

“What!? Why’re you excited about that?” Devit sighted along his pistol to aim straight at the steel ring and ribbons on the side of his twin brother’s head. When Jasdero moved, flashes of lavender showed from the other side of the black ribbons.

“It’s old,” said Jasdero by way of explanation. “Dero decided to give her these.” And with his index finger and his pistol he pointed at the ribbons hanging on either side of his head.

Devit rose and put a hand on his hip. “No way is she doing anything but trying to get her hands on your ribbon. She’s tricking you.”

Jasdero reflected on this with his head tilted. The likelihood was high. But after his past night’s dreams, he wanted that ribbon. Of course he would never wear something so shabby, but he could keep it in a drawer as—as a memento. If he wanted her old ribbons and she wanted his new ones, what was the harm in a trade? Besides, he had so many. Folded neatly in his drawer were countless sleek black ribbons, a few more fine lavender ribbons, a handful of bright reddish ribbons….

“It’ll be Devit’s ribbon too, hee!” he said, grinning widely.

“I don’t want some ugly old ribbon,” scowled Devit.

Jasdero shrugged. If he had it, it would be Devit’s too, no matter if he didn’t want it.

Jasdero hurried along to Rhode’s room. Devit was with him. “It was on a pirate ship, and people died,” Jasdero told Devit as they walked, since he hadn’t shared the ribbon’s merits yet. “And sometimes the people wearing it died!”

“You’re not going to wear it, are you?” asked Devit.

“’Course not!” said Jasdero with a shriek of laughter.

“D’you think maybe it’s cursed? We could tie it around Tiki’s neck and find out for sure,” said Devit, looking suddenly enthusiastic.

“No! Tiki can’t have it. Rhode’s giving it to Dero,” answered Jasdero, and felt his twin’s sour mood return.

Rhode wasn’t in her bedroom, but she was in the nearest sitting room. She sat on one end of a settee with her legs drawn up and her pleated skirt bunched up around her thighs. She had a thick volume, bound in scuffed red leather, on her lap. She was using the frayed ribbon as a bookmark. When the twins entered the doorway, she drew it out and closed the book with one of her fingers in it to mark her place. “Have you made up your mind, or do you want to hear more? Once the former owner of this ribbon wore it on an exploration of an ancient jungle. That story has knife fights, leopards, cannibalism, and all sorts of danger. The party even reached a pagan temple where half the people who’d survived the rest were killed horribly in human sacrifice.” Although her words promised an exciting tale, Rhode sounded as if they bored her.

“Dero’s decided! Let’s trade!” announced Jasdero.

Devit smacked him on the head with his empty hand. “Don’t be an idiot! That’s the worst ribbon I’ve ever seen—it oughtta be on a scrap heap. She did trick you.”

“Did not,” Rhode said lazily. “If he wants it, let him have it. And let me have the new one.”

Jasdero rubbed his head as Devit marched up and snatched at the ribbon. Rhode clutched it close to her chest. She said, “No. It’s an heirloom.”

“It’s junk!”

Rhode flung the book at his head, though it took some effort with her thin arms. Devit ducked, and the book arched through the air with its pages fluttering. Jasdero lunged forward to catch it. He nearly wrenched the cover off, but he reached it before it hit the floor, then held it by one corner and regarded it in confusion.

“Thank you, Jasdero, that book’s quite old and rare,” said Rhode as if she hadn’t just thrown it across the room, and although Jasdero’s manner of catching it had done more damage than an uninterrupted fall would have.

Jasdero flopped the book open and face-down onto an end table in a way that wrinkled half the pages. “Hee! Dero wants his ribbon,” he told Rhode and Devit.

“It’s a stupid ribbon,” said Devit.

He and Jasdero stared each other in the eye.

“Go sew!” shrieked Jasdero, and prodded Devit towards the door with his pistol.

“Fine! Like I fucking care,” said Devit, and stalked off.

“It’s a very exciting story,” said Rhode as she sat more properly with her legs over the edge of settee. Jasdero fell into a sitting position beside her. She leaned to whisper in his ear: “Although I made up the bit about the temple to make it more interesting.”

Jasdero giggled. “Which color?” he asked, flipping the ribbons on one side of his head with his fingers.


He undid them. She slipped them into her pocket, out of sight. “I’ll keep them so long they’ll look like this,” she said, and motioned for Jasdero to turn his head. He suffered her to gather his hair and tying it back into a ponytail with the old, worn ribbon.

“Hee! Devit’s angry,” he said.

“Isn’t he always angry?” Rhode said wryly. She stroked the smooth blonde of his hair and got away with it. “We made a good trade, Jasdero. You get this ribbon and all its history, and I get your new ones,” she reassured him.

“We did?” he asked, twisting his head to look back at her with worry-wide eyes.

“Ye-es. You see, even if you and Devit get yourselves killed tomorrow, I’ll still be here with your ribbons.” She gave a slow smile. “Maybe I’ll even be here a hundred years from now. And when one of my new brothers or sisters ask me why I have such an old and dirty ribbon, I’ll say, ‘This belonged to the Noah Jasdevi, who was—were—the incarnation of Bonds once, long ago. There were two of them that time, you see.’”

“Heehee! What else will you say about Jasdevi?” Jasdero turned to face Rhode, and lay against the back of the settee as if about to fall asleep.

“I’ll tell them that one had lovely blond hair, and the other one was black-haired. I’ll tell them that you were inseparable. ‘Jasdero and Devit carried matching pistols and ran wild wherever they pleased. The fought those filthy Exorcists, because this was back in the old times when there were still Exorcists and the only world was corrupt. Once their near-encounter with an Exorcist General was too much for them, and left them with an unbelievable amount of debt at the age of 17.’”

“Tell them Jasdevi fought vampires!”

“I will. I’ll tell them you adopted a pet chicken, too, and raised it with loving care.”

This soothed Jasdero’s ire over the remark about debt. He slid away and stood fingering the faded ribbon in his bright hair.

“Thanks, Rhode!” he called as he ran out to return to Devit. He was already pulling the ribbon out to free his hair from the ponytail.

Devit was lying on his back in bed, biting his lip and looking utterly bored. Jasdero sidled into the room. “There you are,” said Devit.

Jasdero dropped the ribbon into the drawer, to one side of the others. “Don’t throw it out, Devit!” he warned.

Devit gave an exaggerated sigh, but said, “Yeah, I won’t.” Being linked, they knew it to be true, and Jasdero was satisfied. Devit’s ill-tempered mood could not long withstand such good humor on Jasdero’s part. He was soon up from his bed and proposing a morning of using Edo’s Akuma for target practice, a proposal to which Jasdero readily agreed. A minute after the twins set out, they had forgotten the ribbon entirely in light of all the day’s possibilities stretching before them.

Rhode had not forgotten. She was still in the sitting room, which had no windows and was untouched by sun, where she was tying untidy bows in her hair with Jasdero’s ribbons. Not much different from any other ribbons, she thought, but at least they’re less shabby. She tightened a black bow and thought of Jasdero and Devit, so young and foolish and new to the world despite their inheritance, and smiled.

Sometimes Jasdero’s fingers found the old ribbon by accident. He would pull it from its place and stare at it without recognition for some time—until his eyes lit up as he remembered who’d given it to him. He would run his thumb along the worn length of ribbon, delighting in its antiquity.

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