Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Transcending trust.

“I... don't know, Okani. It's not like Nicole to just be out of contact like this. Not when you know where she is, at least.”
“You sound like you don't trust her.”

Sinikka glanced up from giving her foot a well-earned massage after a day spent in wedge heels, and met her brother's eyes. A second later she looked away. Despite the fact that they'd both inherited the characteristic Hakatain blue eyes from their father, Verin had always had more ice in his gaze somehow. Some quality that made him a hard man to make eye contact with, even for her.

“I love her like a sister, you know that.” she said, swearing for the umpteenth time to spend some of her now-bottomless funds on a pair of bespoke boots that actually fit properly.
“Same way you love Meera?” Verin asked.

This was enough to cause her to glare at her older brother, and somewhere behind the outrage she allowed herself a flare of hot triumph as he was the one to look away this time, chagrined.

“It's Meera every time.” she said, firmly. “You know THAT, too.”
“Nicole isn't Meera, Shenane.” Verin said, mildly.

She made a disgusted noise “Thank our ancestors for that. I don't think I could cope with having two sisters like that.”
“Don't dodge the subject with flippancy, please. Do you trust her?”
“Nicole? I... I don't know, Okani.. I really don't.”
“Why not?” He rose to his feet and began walking slow circles around the office. The question had been mellow, calm and entirely reasonable, but Sinikka restrained the urge to flinch as if he had shouted it. She covered with indignation.

“Why...? Hasn't the single most important piece of advice you've tried to drill into me for surviving and thriving as a pod pilot been that you can't trust anyone?
“Do you trust me?”
“Why me and not her?”
“Because you're my Okani and she's... family. There's a difference. We both know that.”

Muscles played around Verin's face and jaw as he took a sharp breath through his nose.
“Don't bring Him into this.” he said.
“Why not? Sure, I love Nicole like a sister, but I loved.... him... like a brother, and look where that got us. Just because I love somebody doesn't mean I trust them.”
“But you trust me.”
“Do you trust me?”
“Do you trust Nicole?”

Verin didn't answer. Instead he picked an item of crystalline material up off his workbench – some small piece of art that he was doubtless creating – and turned it contemplatively back and forth with the light shining through it.

“Verin? Do you trust her?”

He set the item down and instead busied himself pouring a vodka, still silent.

Okani... ukaki peloisorete vaito hido?” Sinikka asked. She pulled her bare feet up onto her chair and hugged her knees, sharing his insecurity.

Verin took a deep breath, then knocked the vodka back with a shaking hand.

Nei sa.” he said at last.

“Do you want to trust her, then?”
“I want to trust a lot of people. People I love as friends and colleagues, people I'm quite certain will never, ever betray me. My Rakkai is one of them.”
“But you don't.”

Verin's hand produced a rasping sound as he ran it through the whiskers of his chin, and the even shorter hair at his temples. “It'd hardly be advice worth giving if it wasn't mostly the grim truth..."

He drummed his fingers on the workbench for a few seconds. "Yes, I'm afraid to answer your question. But the answer is yes, I do trust her. Even if... no, especially if there's a part of me that says I shouldn't.”
“Right. Because it's not trust if you don't have that little nagging doubt, is it?”
“No. I suppose it isn't.”
“I don't have that nagging doubt about you.” Sinikka told him. “So I guess that means I don't trust you.”

Verin finally barked his monosyllabic laugh. “Hah! Well, in that case I don't trust you either, Shenane.
“Damn straight. Pour me a vodka?”

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