I swat my hand at the running water and adjust the handles a little so that it’s not quite so hot. Once it’s a temperature that suits me, I set to work on the monumental task of getting all of Krystoff’s hair wet. He tilts his head and adjusts accordingly, and I realize, ah, part of the appeal of taking care of him like this is because it’s fun to see him so docile. I don’t want to think deeply on what that says about him, or me for that matter.
As I run my hands across the frankly astonishing amount of hair he has, I notice him relaxing incrementally, releasing tension I didn’t even realize he was carrying. I guess he’s in pain, so it’s to be expected. It makes me glad I offered to do this one small thing for him.
JUN: Can I ask you something?
KRYSTOFF: Of course.
JUN: Do we have some kind of…
Don’t say Vulcan mind link. He won’t know what that is. Call it literally anything else.
JUN: Psychic… connection?
KRYSTOFF: How so do you mean?
JUN: I sensed you both of the times you were in danger. I don’t know how else to put it. I felt this intense unease, like I just instinctively knew something was happening.
KRYSTOFF: Ah. It’s possible I was subconsciously seeking you out. Searching for the closest source of concentrated energy.
This answer leaves me feeling bereft for some reason, so I make quick work of herding my attention back to the task at hand.
KRYSTOFF: Hum. Feels like my tooth is back already.
JUN: You weren’t kidding about healing quickly. Do I augment your powers by much?
KRYSTOFF: You do, but I think you’re special because you’re human. My past human attendants were all potent sources of energy as well, compared to other types.
JUN: What’s so special about humans?
KRYSTOFF: I’m half human. I think my abilities respond better to others like me.
JUN: Now, wait a second. You’ve called me a gross, smelly, weird human a hundred times, and yet you’re telling me now that you’re human too??
KRYSTOFF: Half human. On my mother’s side. But she died when I was born, which is why I haven’t mentioned her.
I get an intrusive thought about swirlying him in the sink.
JUN: Damn, you’re so annoying! All this important information you’ve just withheld for half the year when it would have explained so much if you’d just told me from the beginning…
JUN: Half human, he says like it’s nothing! Why do you get to just drop that on me like it’s nothing!!
KRYSTOFF: I-I didn’t really think it mat—
JUN: And then on top of all that, you have the gall to talk about my energy like I’m just your… little personal stock of Red Bull…
KRYSTOFF: Oh, come now, you’re better than a nasty energy drink. Give yourself some credit.
JUN: OH, AND NOW I GUESS YOU KNOW WHAT RED BULL IS. That’s fine!!
KRYSTOFF: …I thought you weren’t angry at me, but now I’m getting some mixed signals.
JUN: I think maybe I hadn’t processed it yet. I’m angry now.
KRYSTOFF: Ack, stop—!
I scrub shampoo over-enthusiastically into his mess of hair and ignore his complaints about how I should be doing it.
I don’t know why this of all things is the straw that broke the camel’s back, but I feel like something physically snapped inside of my head. Awful, tiresome little Krystoff is an enigma for half a year until he randomly decides to just be vulnerable. I’m not a friend to trust and share things with, I’m just his pet bird in a cage nearby overhearing his inner monologue. It feels like he thinks truly nothing of me. It pisses me off.
JUN: Stupid, prissy…
KRYSTOFF: Jun, I really am sorry. I’m sorry, okay, so please stop pulling my hair…
JUN: Stupid, annoying, stupid…
JUN: I came to Duen to have a clean slate and be a better version of myself, but I just went right back to getting invested in people who use me. Why did I come here at all?
JUN: All I’m good at is creating negative energy and wiping your face for you. That’s so fucking stupid. What a joke. But it makes sense, and I hate that so much.
Despite my frustration, all I can feel is immense, unfathomable relief that his brother didn’t succeed in ripping him open this time. Relief that he is still here with me, infuriating and safe. I’m no doubt weirding him out with this uncharacteristic outburst, but I can’t help it. I just feel so overcome by different emotions, and anger feels like the perfect center-point.
KRYSTOFF: Jun, please don’t be upset. I—I don’t know how to be comforting. That’s never been something anyone’s expected of me.
KRYSTOFF: …I also have my head in a sink and I don’t feel like I can have a normal conversation with you like this.
JUN: Yeah, you’re right, haha. I’m sorry.
KRYSTOFF: It’s okay.
I wipe my face with my elbow and finish working the clots of blood out of his hair. Less vengefully this time. It’s hard to stay mad when we’re in such a silly situation right now. I’ve got a beaten up demon covered in shampoo. I can’t take myself so seriously when I really step outside of myself like that.