What are Friends For?

Ravello - Bosch Apartment

At the top floor of the Ravello, this loft apartment is everything an artist could ask for. Spacious, open, with high ceilings and numerous windows and skylights which not only fill the room with natural light, but give it an open and airy feeling, the sky within easy reach. With the exception of the bathroom, the entire space is open with no walls. To the left of the entrance is a large kitchen done in silver-shot black marble with stainless steel appliances and a large floating counter dividing it from the rest of the apartment with stools along the far side for casual dining. Just past that is a dining table, large enough for six to sit comfortably, made out of warm chestnut wood with copper inset details. To the right of center is a raised platform 'room', the bedroom, with pillars at the two corners that jut out from the wall, heavy yet translucent curtains separating the sleeping area from the rest of the apartment. The bed dominates the space, with dressers flanking it and the bathroom leading off to one side. The rest of the apartment is free to be whatever one wants. At the moment there are a few comfortable couches and chairs by the bedroom area with an entertainment center for music and viewing pleasures. The rest has been blanketed in canvas dropcloths, a myriad of rolling carts and tables covered with paint tubes and pots, brushes, jars of mineral spirits, and a variety of other artist tools and utensils. Canvases are stacked up against a wall and a work in progress dominates the interior wall that is free of windows.

It's not terrible late in the evening, in fact, it's hardly evening at all, when the doorbell announces a visitor at the door to the apartment. Outside, Paige is patiently waiting, two large paper bags in hand, looking very much as though she did a grocery run before she decided to come over. But the smells coming from the bags are a clear indication that whatever it is is both pre-cooked and spicy. And apparently, given the way she's dressed, in a casual jersey summer dress and comfortable sandals, this is certainly not intended to be a 'big thing'. Unless the big thing is a major pig out. But…that remains to be seen, as she waits herself, to see if the apartment's owner is even home.

There is a voice from inside, muffled that calls out, "Just a minute!" but it takes a little while before the door opens. His left arm is still in a cast, but the bruises have finally faded away leaving Hugo looking better than he has in awhile. It seems going shirtless is easier than putting one on, and since there's no one here but himself, well, that's what Paige gets. Also loose sweatpants, because trying to put jeans on one handed is pretty much impossible. "Paige," he greets with a smile, stepping back to allow her to come in if she would like. "What a nice surprise…" He sniffsniffs then, blue eyes dropping down to the brown bags before rising again, his smile becoming wider as he asks, "You brought dinner?"

Paige was just shifting the bags in her arms to make the hot spots on her arms, well…less hot, as Hugo got to the door. Hey, at least he won't be getting cold food, which…is never good for business. Unless it's early in the morning. The once over he gets once the door opens is thorough, as if she were checking off a list in her head, but the smile belies anything else, "Well, I thought you might like a night off from slaving over a stove. I wasn't sure what you were in the mood for, and I couldn't decide myself, so I brought Thai," she offers with a rustle of the bag in her left arm, "and Korean," with a shrug of the right. "I hope they didn't put you on a special diet when they let you out." But she does step inside, looking back into the hallway, before she waits for the door to be closed behind her.

He smirks ever so slightly as Paige checks him out, wondering if she's admiring his physique, is appalled by his dress, or merely making sure he hasn't gained any new injuries since last she saw him. Probably, knowing Paige, the latter. Hugo leans in, sniffing appreciatively before leaning back to let her pass through, his gaze likewise lingering in the hall behind her before he closes it. "MmmmMm, Thai and Korean. Sounds like heaven. As you can see," he notes, gesturing to the nearly pristine kitchen, "I haven't been doing a whole heck of a lot of cooking. Mostly lots and lots of take out." Ordered before dark. Thank goodness it's summer! Padding barefoot to the kitchen he rumbles, "Sorry about my casual dress. I never realized how difficult getting oneself dressed with just one hand would be. As a result, sweatpants rule my world right now." He can at least open some cupboards to pull down plates and such.

As for Paige, well, she doesn't seem in the least embarrassed to have been caught looking. But whatever it is she saw, it seems to satisfy her, as she step into the apartment proper, moving instantly towards the kitchen. Yes, she may have come over unannounced, and she may have come bearing gifts, but she's still a stranger in his home, and doesn't have any desire to be a nosey nancy, "I can imagine working doesn't leave you much time for cooking." That's something she knows a lot about, "But you don't have to apologize. I can't imagine it's very easy to get dressed with a broken wing." The bags are set down on the counter, and Paige turns to pulling containers out of the bags while you handle the plates and such, as though that were the most natural thing in the world, "You look so much better than the last time I saw you."

"Well, when you're an artist, you have the freedom to choose your own hours. I love cooking, but right now it's more of a frustration than a pleasure. Shopping one handed, cooking one handed, cleaning one handed. It all just… smacks of effort." The moment is almost cozy, the two of them working together to get dinner 'ready' as if they had been doing so for years, conversation light and easy. "Yeah, the raccoon look really doesn't do anything for me," Hugo concurs with a small smile as he opens up a drawer and asks, "You prefer silverware or chopsticks?" He pulls out both before turning smoothly and reaching up again to get some glasses, muscles flexing at the small motions as he places them next to Paige and holds there for a moment, slightly behind her and to the left, studying her profile as she pulls out the cartons of food before taking a breath and turning toward the fridge. "What would you like to drink? I'm having iced tea. No alcohol till I'm off the meds. Doctor's orders. But you should feel free if you'd like some wine or a beer?"

"Yes, I've heard that's a perk," comes Paige's answer, her words filled with equal parts amusement and that tartness that always seems to find its way into her humor. It doesn't take too long, to get everything out on the counter, including two large styrofoam bowls of soup from the Korean side, "You should have called me sooner, then, it's not as if I've had anything to do at my place besides sitting around watches old reruns of M*A*S*H." Paige doesn't look around, and so misses the once over she gets herself, her expressions and her mannerisms are, as are her words, light and easy, comfortable, as she folds the bags neatly, sending her answer back instead, "Chopsticks." Turning back just in that moment after you turn away to the fridge, "Iced tea is fine. I don't drink, actually."

Smirking, Hugo is pleased that her tartness is back. That's the Paige he knows and… ummm… likes. He studies her quietly again as he pours them both a glass of iced tea, handing hers off before he asks, "So, you're taking some time off from work then?" Or just making sure she's safely home by dark? "I've been watching a lot of Netflix myself. Dexter though, not M*A*S*H." The silverware is put back as Hugo opts for chopsticks as well, asking, "What's your pleasure? Dining table? Or couch?" It looks like Hugo's been using the couch in front of the TV more than the table, a pillow and blanket there, the low table before it bearing a glass and plate from lunch no doubt as well as a book and some remotes.

"Been working from home, actually. I don't usually go into an office if I can help it." The glass is accepted with a, "Thank you," before she sets it aside, to make your plate, pointing out this and that. A couple of rice dishes, assorted meats, noodley things, kalbi, which must be her favorite, before there's an extra portion of that, and of course the soup. Korean, spicy, filled with a variety of seafood and vegetables. "Just point to what you want, and I'll make a plate for you, and I can bring the extra containers over once you're settled. Oh, couch." It hasn't escaped her that he seems to be a bit more comfortable there, and who can blame him. "I've never seen that show, to tell you the truth."

Chuckling Hugo makes a production of pointing his chopsticks to every single thing she has gotten. There are things that he knows that he likes, but he also likes trying something new, expanding his repertoire of tastes. Leaning in he brushes his lips over her cheek in an affectionate display before rumbling, "You're a godsend," and carrying their drinks carefully over to the table, one tucked between his arm and his chest, the other in his right hand. "It's a good show," he calls over his shoulder. "Dark and twisted, but surprisingly funny and human. It's weird, but for a serial killer, Dexter is oddly likeable…" After he's put down the glasses he comes back over to Paige in order to help carry other things to the living room area. They haven't brought it up yet, but now that they're both home, Hugo finds himself asking, "So…. how are you doing? Still staying with your 'uncle'?"

Laughter accompanies the 'selection', but dutifully, as promised, Paige puts out a little bit of everything, which, of course, means that your plate ends up looking like a family style platter at a buffet. She uses a spare plate for the appetizers. Not that she minds. Surprise, at the kiss, and, yes, some color rises on her cheeks, but she seems to think better of commenting, instead turning to carrying your plate to the table in front of the couch, picking up the lunch dishes on her way back to the kitchen, "Well, I don't know about godsend, but I'm certainly always only a phone call away." Back in the kitchen, she sets out a plate for herself, before she carries the soup back into the living room. One final trip back to the couch, "I'm not sure there's enough space for all the containers. Just let me know when you need a refill, and I'll bring them out one at a time." Rather than settle in to eat herself, she takes a few minutes to wash up the dishes from lunch and make sure the containers are all closed again, "Go ahead and tuck in, I'll be over shortly. No, I'm back at my house. But it's not far from his, so I suppose I can run over there whenever I need to."

Shrugging Hugo murmurs, "I guess I'm kinda used to doing for myself. I'm bad about calling people for help, even when I need it. But thanks. For the offer. It's good to know that if I change my mind, or smarten up some, that I have someone to call when I need to." Hugo sits on the floor to eat, comfortably propping his casted arm upon a large pillow, the distance between his mouth and the food much less than if he were awkwardly leaning over it, his legs folded beneath the legs of the table. He eats slowly, trying each item and savoring its flavor before moving on to the next. "Did you want to watch something?" he calls up from in front of the couch, "or just chat?" He takes a sip from his iced tea and waits for Paige to rejoin him before asking, "So. Are things okay? Nothing's happened… since the accident, I mean." He's already apologized to Paige, for getting her involved in this whole mess in the first place. But he knows Tareq and can't help but be worried for both her and himself.

"Well, then I'll just have to invite myself over at regular intervals to make sure you haven't fallen down in the shower, or starved from using up the last of the bread. or gotten yourself tangled in a new pair of pants." Bossy, no, but determined to make sure he's taken care of. Yes, that's more to the point. Paige settles in herself, joining you on the floor, tucking her dress down discretely, before she sets into the meal with her usual fervor, "I don't mind either way. if you want to put on something or not. I'm a guest in your house." Once she's found a happy medium with the food and the soup, she continues, "No, nothing's happened. I've been just fine. I mean, trying not to go out at night, of course, but other than that, it's been alright. Better once you woke up."

He chuckles softly at the idea of being tangled up in a pair of pants. That scenario has happened on occasion, but not under the current conditions, though those situations did involve a pretty girl. "Good to know that you'll be looking out for me," he notes, clinking his glass against hers before taking another sip. His head tilts as he listens, reaching out to pop the cap off of the medication that the doctor gave him, popping down a pill in the hopes that it will make the burgeoning headache that is coming on go away. "Yeah, that's me too," Hugo admits. "I'm not the hermit type ordinarily, but what with the arm and the not knowing, seems easier to stay inside and at night definitely safer." He smiles softly at her confession, his gaze warming as he asks, "Oh? You were worried, huh?" He leans slightly, bumping Paige's left arm with his right in a teasing gesture.

"I'm doing everything that I can to keep you safe." And that's said as if it were the most natural thing in the world. No different than if she were saying she's picking up the mail for you, or doing the grocery shopping. It simple is. A sip of her iced tea, before she watches you take the medication, "Pain still bothering you? I know a trick for that." A quirk of her lips, before she laughs outright, nudging you back, in answer to the teasing, "Of course I was. The doctors wouldn't tell me hardly anything, I seemed to always miss your sister. And once they discharged me, it was nearly impossible to sneak in to see you. And then you were having so much trouble remembering. I was afraid I would find out the worst."

That causes Hugo to pause, a slice of carrot and noodles lowering back down to his plate before he turns to look at the woman sitting next to him. "Paige. Don't take this the wrong way. I appreciate what you did for me, what you've done for me. But by doing so you put your own life at risk. And that …. that isn't okay for me. It's not your job to keep me safe. It's your job to keep yourself safe. Please… please don't do anything… rash. Don't do anything that would endanger yourself on my behalf. Okay?" He's deadly serious for a change, Hugo's blue eyes almost gray with worry and concern now. Putting down his chopsticks, he rubs at his forehead, closing his eyes as he murmurs, "Yeah. Some. Doc said I would have some nasty headaches for a while. He wasn't kidding." The one that's coming on is a doozy it seems. His eyes flicker open as he gives Paige a crooked smile. "Well, that's standard for a head injury and the induced coma bit didn't help much. Still, they released me with a clean bill of health. Looks like all my marbles are still in place, more or less. Just a bit rattled is all."

Paige turns, once she catches the change in Hugo's tone, her face suddenly just as serious, "Hugo. I am not now, nor do I have any intention of doing anything rash. But what's done is done. I can't take it back, and I wouldn't want to even if I could. I stand by what I did, whatever may come of it for good or ill. But for good or ill, we're bound together, you and I. And what happens to one of us affects the other now. So whatever I do for myself, my extension I do for you too." her own meal set aside for the time being, Paige lifts her hands, gently brushing yours away from your head, "Here, let me." Her touch is light, butterfly soft, as she kneels up, turning her body so that she can move more easily, soothing heat following the touch of her fingertips, as she traces light circles along your forehead, back into your hairline.

She can sense the relief in him at her words, the edge of worry fading away from his eyes as Paige assures him that she won't do anything rash or risk herself. At her touch, his hand drops away to rest on his thigh, eyes fluttering shut as she gently strokes over his brow and into his hair. The warmth that flows from her fingertips is indeed soothing and combined with the simple affection that comes from being touched by another person, comforting. Without realizing it, Hugo leans into Paige's caress, a deep sigh feathering past his lips. After a few quiet moments he rumbles, "I think you missed your calling. You should have become a masseuse. With magic hands like these you could make a fortune…"

Paige seems quite content to take her time, moving as you do, working her way back from forehead into your hairline and around the back. Pretty much exactly what a masseuse would do, only without having you lying down to begin with. There's an ease to her movements, a comfort in the way she touches you, that has everything to do with Paige just being used to taking care of people, a side effect, perhaps, of growing up in a place where community was paramount, rather than the distance that big city living brings. "No pun intended. Though," she offers, as she works her way around to the back of your head, "I'm not certain I'd have such a large client base."

"MmmMMmm, are you kidding? People would be knocking down your doors for appointments…" He lets his head drop forward, utterly trusting as Paige runs her fingers through his hair, massaging his scalp and the back of his neck. If he were a cat, Hugo would most certainly be purring. Eventually his head raises up again, eyes opening slowly to study Paige's face. "Delicious food, a massage, you're spoiling me rotten," he notes with a lazy smile. With almost any one else, Hugo would take this to the next level. Lean in and kiss her, woo her, seduce her. But with Paige he hesitates. This would be more than just a fling for her he suspects. And that's not something he's sure he can take on. He's already hurt her once, he doesn't want to be responsible for hurting her again. Still, his eyes drop to her lips for a lingering moment as he considers kissing them before they lift again to her eyes.

"When they could actually find me at my door. You know how erratic my schedule would be. Who would want to wait three or four months for a massage?" Paige keeps the pace slow, allowing your head to fall to her shoulder as she works, taking the time she needs to do what she can for you, "Isn't that what friends do? Or should I have just left the bags at the door." Once Hugo lifts his head back up, Paige's hands have already moved to the side of his neck, trailing down along the tops of his shoulders, "When you finish eating, I can do the rest." Clearly, getting a good meal in him is a priority. And no, the direction of his eyes isn't lost on the woman, but Paige is respectful enough not to do anything inappropriate.

Chuckling softly Hugo rumbles into her shoulder, "Well, that's why it would be your calling, as in your new career. Cause yeah, if you were still doing what you're currently doing, probably wouldn't work out very well." His head turns from side to side as he notes, "No, definitely better that you came than left food at my door." He ponders her question for a moment before nodding in agreement. "I guess I don't have very many friends at the moment. Not close ones at any rate." Since she doesn't seem to have any inclination of wanting to be kissed, Hugo lets the urge fade away, rubbing his right hand on the fabric of his sweatpants before picking up his chopsticks again. "The rest?" he asks, a seductively teasing light coming into his eyes now that the moment has passed. "My goodness, Paige, I had no idea you were that good a friend…" He takes up a piece of kalbi and scarfs it down, nodding toward her own plate to indicate that she should likewise enjoy her food as well before it gets cold.

Paige is nothing, if not a good read of people's responses, and when Hugo sits back, so does she, taking a moment to rub her hands together, before she retrieves her chopsticks, settling back into the meal, "But I like what I'm doing now, mostly. It'd be a shame to step away from it when the team is doing so well." And it's nice to be wanted for something, even if it is a kooky something. "Neither do I. I mean, one or two, but mostly, I just have people I work with, and that's about it. My uncle says I have to go out and take chances and live my life before I get as old and worn out as he is, but…I suppose I just never seem to get around to it." Laughter, at the last, her tone, matching the equally teasing light in her eyes, "No, you didn't. But if you want those bruises to get better, well…" And then it's quiet, and the rest of the food on her plate. Yes, comfortable.

"Well, so long as you enjoy what you're doing, that's the most important part." He eats, listens, and ponders her words for a while before noting, "I have friends back in NY, but I think more often than not I have acquaintance friends and painting subjects. I like to get close to people, to know who they are, what makes them tick, but I'm not as big on sharing myself I guess. Or letting people do things for me. Not without there being a price." He takes a bite and chews it before replying, "Your uncle is right. But getting out doesn't necessarily mean you connect with people either. That takes a different sort of effort, though I suppose it all depends on where you go and who you meet." They're a perfect example. Two people that should have never met, easily could have never met save by strange accident and now here they are, eating together like best friends. Life is mighty strange sometimes. Amusement and mischief still dance in his eyes as Hugo thinks that more than just his bruises will enjoy what Paige has in mind, but he bites his tongue rather than let that one slip.

"Now you're starting to sound like me. I…don't usually make it a habit to really open up to people. They see who they want to see, or who they need to see. But most of my life, most of who and what I am," Paige pauses, reaching over to steal one of the last pieces of kalbi that she put out, the rest still in the covered tray, "Just isn't really fit for public consumption. It's hard…having to always be something other than what you are, keeping yourself away and outside. But I don't regret my choices, and I have to think that the sacrifice is for the good." It doesn't take terribly long, to finish the last bit of beef, and Paige grabs a napkin to wipe her hands before she starts to clean up. As if it's just her way to keep things neat and orderly. "No, it doesn't. But sometimes you connect with people you never expected to. And sometimes…the people you thought you were close to turn out to be less than what you thought." Paige flashes a smile, as she unfolds herself from the floor, beginning to clear away everything that's now empty, leaving behind the rest, as you're still eating, "So what have you been doing while you're waiting for your arm to heal? Still managing to paint at all?"

Puzzled by her statement, Hugo notes, "You're totally fit for public consumption. And private consumption, for that matter. I realize that hiding your talents is a tricky business, but I think I'm proof positive that there are people out there who are fabulous and cool about things they don't necessarily understand." Did he just compliment himself as well as Paige? Probably. Hugo finishes everything on his plate and though he fully intends to enjoy seconds or leftovers, he's too intrigued by what Paige meant by 'the rest' to indulge in more food now. While Paige cleans up, Hugo manages to carefully extricate himself from his position on the floor, nodding to her question as he settles himself on the couch. "I can't paint for as long as I'm used to, but I'm putting in at least a few hours each day on painting. The cast is heavy though. Messes with my balance and gets uncomfortable if I don't have something to support it."

"Thank you for the compliment. I suppose the trick is finding those people. I mean," Paige continues, as she clears away the dinner dishes and returns the now leftovers to the kitchen, leaving them to cool, until they're safe to refrigerate, on the countertop, "There's no way to know until you actually say it. And once you say it, it's sort of impossible to take it back." From there, it's short work to take care of the odds and ends and wash the dishes, picking back up the conversation over the sound of water and clinking china, "Didn't they give you a sling? I would think that would alleviate some of the weight of it. Though I suppose you probably end up with your neck hurting instead of your arm." With the last dish put away, and her hands washed and dried, Paige steps back out towards the living room. "Is the couch comfortable enough for you to lie down on?"

"That is true. There are many things I don't tell people for fear that they will think less of me or not like me any more. They're the sort of things that shouldn't make a difference in my opinion, but they do." Since the whole arm has been casted, it's straight versus the usual sort that can fit into a sling. Hugo shrugs with one shoulder noting, "They could have put a support that pressed against my torso, but I declined it. Seemed like it would be more bothersome and annoying than letting it just hang free." As she returns, Hugo's eyes lift up as he asks curiously, "On my front or on my back?" The couch is deep, soft without being mushy, and indeed Hugo has crashed on it occasionally when it was late at night and he had dozed off, or when company that didn't care for sharing came to visit.

"I can't imagine what you could tell someone that would make them think any less of you. Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever met anyone who didn't think highly of yo— Oh wait, one, but he's mostly dead, so." Clearly, in Paige's mind, Michael doesn't really count. "You'd think in this day and age they could have come up with a better system than that. Who wants to walk around looking like half of an extra from the Thriller video?" Paige pauses, hands twisting her hair up into a knot at the base of her head, securing it with a band from around her wrist, not but a few steps from the couch, looking it, and you over, "On your front. If you scooch in a bit. Can you manage that with the cast?"

One brow lifts at her commentary, as she tries to deduce how and who might not think highly of him, wondering just which 'mostly dead' person dislikes him. Tareq? Perhaps, but for someone who dislikes him, he certainly has gone to a lot of trouble to procure him. But then pride has little to do with preference. But she loses him, his head tilting in bemusement as he asks, "Wait, a better system than what? And how does someone look like half of an extra zombie??" At her command he shifts about, carefully draping his left arm off the side of the couch, a pillow moved to make that doable. With the rest of him prone he mumbles into a pillow, "Like this?"

"I think your meds are kicking in." Paige waits until you've settled yourself, before she perches on the edge of the couch, rubbing her hands together, and no, not like Mr. Miyagi either. "I meant, I can't imagine why they haven't come up with a better system for supporting your cast than a brace on your chest. I sort of pictured it keeping your arm stretched out in front of you, like the dancers in that old video." A moment, to gather herself, before Paige's hands settle on the top of your back, almost exactly where she left off. Again, that soothing warmth that sinks down into your muscles, "Just like that is fine. You tell me if I do something to hurt you."

"Ohhhhhh," Hugo rumbles at her explanation, his head tilting to one side to look at her as he accuses, "Wait, you said I was looking much better! Now you're telling me I look like an extra from the cast of Thriller? That doesn't sound better. And if by my meds are working you mean my headache is going away then, yes. But other than that my brain is still perfectly functional…" Well, mostly functional, but she doesn't need to know that. Facing forward again he mumbles, "It's more off to one side than forward when they use the side brace … but I think that's for more serious breaks. But yeah, had to keep it straight…" But his words trail off as she starts to massage her back with her unnaturally warm fingers, a small appreciative groan escaping him.

"Oh, well, that would be so much better. Then you'd look like half a penguin." Again, Paige takes her time, working her way along your shoulders and upper back, even down along the arm that is uncasted, settling in on your hand. A painter, like an inker, needs their hands, "Did you want me to put something on for you to watch, or something to listen to in the background?" It's not quite a day spa, but it's the best she can come up with on such short notice. As for the woman herself, she seems comfortable enough. "Honestly, you look fine, Hugo. Not one hundred percent, but no one's expecting you to. In a few weeks, you'll be right as rain."

He laughs softly at that image and softly mumbles "Whaaaa-waa-waaa-waaa-waa", just like the old-school Batman and Robin TV version of the Penguin would laugh, albeit slightly more muffled. As her hands move over him, Hugo sighs and relaxes, mumbling, "No… thank you though. This is marvelous. Your magic … is this level of control usual?" Of course Hugo is used to his sister's abilities, which run wild and rampant, whether she wants them to or not. Sure, she can turn it toward her own use, but it's like a tap that never turns off. She can divert it, redirect it, but she can never truly just make it stop. Hugo doesn't fully understand what it is that Paige can do, but it's clearly a very different sort of talent than Josephine's.

"I think it depends on the witch, really." Finishing with the arm, Paige returns to your back, paying special attention to the places where the bruises are fading, "I was born into a family where they discovered my talent early. So I was trained from a young age, taught spells, taught how to feel the magic and how to use it properly. A witch who doesn't have that, when they first manifest their abilities, they might well have no idea what they are, much less how to control their power. But it's not something that's always flowing, like a stream. Well, not really. The stream is there, but I'm not always standing in it. Like your painting. The ability to paint is always inside of you, but it doesn't come out until you pick up a brush. But you can always feel it there, waiting, the potential of it." She's about halfway down your back now, almost to the small of it, "And because this, creating heat, or making light, elemental magic…isn't my special affinity, I have to be exceedingly careful in how I use it."

There's another soft chuckle as Hugo rumbles, "Gosh. Way to go there, instilling great confidence in your abilities. Remind me never to get you angry when you're doing this…." His voice is warm and teasing though. Yawning he stretches beneath her touch slowly, like a cat, murmuring, "So it's a talent but also a skill. One that takes practice to make perfect." His head turns slightly, but his eyes are now closed as he asks, "What is your specialty then? What sort of magic can you do?"

"These simple magics I've been doing since I was a child. So you don't need to worry. But I've rarely lost control when I'm angry." Other times…well, we won't go there. "Yes. It's a talent for me, that I work and practice at, like a skill. But you don't have to be born a witch to learn to use magic. It just takes much more work. Many of the things I can do, I could teach you, for example. It just wouldn't come as easily to you as it does to me. Again, like your painting. You have a natural talent. You work to perfect it, but your art comes more easily to you than to others who learned not by natural inclination, but by careful study and application." A pause, "Turn over and I'll show you." She's finished the back anyway.

It's a good thing Paige told Hugo to lie down on his front, because those ideas he was entertaining earlier keep cropping up again and again. But it would be much too awkward to roll over and try to put them into effect. More likely he's brain the poor woman upside the head with his cast. Very not romantic, that. Her words intrigue him, eyes flickering open as he asks, "Really? Now that's interesting. Other … abilities that I know of. You're either born with them or you aren't. If you aren't, well, there's no learning them." He goes still for a moment before bracing his right arm against the couch and pushing upwards, moving with care not to jostle his left arm as he seats himself and then turns toward Paige, his gaze curious now to see what she is going to show him exactly.

Paige moves back, making room for you to sit up. She slips off of the couch, kneeling back up on the floor. Once you're settled, she folds her hands in her lap. "Yes, magic is very different in that way. It's available to anyone who has enough time and energy and patience. And willingness to accept that their power isn't infinite. It's tiring, and you can burn yourself out." As Paige speaks, the soft sounds of a cello fill the room, as if the instrument were being played right here in the room, despite the fact that, well, clearly, they're quite alone in the apartment.

His head lifts, peering about, as music fills the room, blinking rapidly before turning to stare at Paige. "Ohhhhhkay, that's pretty freaky. How can you just make music play? I can understand being able to create heat or mess with nature … that makes a kind of sense to me. But how are you making something out of nothing??" He's not freaked out now any more than he was in the hospital when she told him what happened, what she did, but there is still the moment of adjustment, the surprise and strangeness that comes before acceptance.

The music continues, soft, and slow and sweet, like rain in the fall on wet leaves, which might be as much the music as the smell of the forest that crops up to join it. The hint of pine, the crispness of smoke from burning leaves, that subtle scent that isn't a scent that tells you that snow is coming. You can even taste it, peppermint, and cocoa, the perfect sort of fireside hot chocolate. "I'm not making the music. Or the fall or the chocolate. Not really." Paige remains where she is, everything she's doing soft, subtle.

The more elements she adds into the mix, the more mildly freaked out Hugo becomes, though he does his best not to show it. "So what is it you're doing then?" he asks uncertainly, sitting quite still and looking around. "I can hear music, smell pine and smoke, taste flavors of things that I didn't eat or drink …. the only thing that hasn't changed is the room, what I see." Which makes something click for Hugo. Hear, smell, taste … only touch and see haven't been affected. Yet." Blue eyes lock onto Paige's face as Hugo rumbles, "You're inside my head. Making me experience these things that aren't actually here…." In truth? This is a rather unnerving thought. It's bad enough to grow up with a sister that could hear your thoughts. But to know that someone could enter your mind, put things there that aren't actually there? That is a frightening level of power.

"Illusion is the most powerful, and the most difficult magic to master. It's also the one that comes with the most responsibility. My great-grandmother's journals taught me that. My family taught me that." The music fades, the smells, the sounds, fade, flicker out like a switch, replaced by only Paige, now beautifully blonde and dressed in bright red, rather than the soft lavender she came in with. "Not in your head…exactly. But it's not completely inaccurate either. The spell encourages you to accept what it wants you to believe. But your mind can choose to accept the illusion or not. The more resistant you are the more I have to work." A shake of her head, and she's Paige again, no more or less than the woman who walked through the door, and briefly, just for what feels like an instant, the sensation of lips on your cheek. Like goodbye, like…I'm sorry. Perhaps to match the expression on her face, as she sets her hands on her knees, and rises from the floor. Quiet, resigned. This is the Paige that isn't fit for public consumption.

He sits there, a trifle stunned by the experience, frowning as Paige is replaced by some blond in red. His hand lifts to his cheek at the phantom touch, eyes lifting up to hers as she stands up before him, bemusement coloring Hugo's features. "It's …. it's such an incredible power. But I can't help but wonder at why it exists, what it's purpose is. Or maybe that's just stupid of me. Childish. That magic has a specific purpose and use." Hugo can sadly think of many ways that one might be able to use this ability, but none of them are good ones. The question then becomes, does that negativity reflect more upon the man or the magic? His eyes lift again, questions in them as he asks, "What do you use it for?"

"It's not childish, or stupid," Paige offers, as she settles back onto the couch, hands refolding in her lap. "My family believes that all magic was created as a means to help and protect yourself and those around you. I can use two of the…branches, if you will. Illusion and elemental. My aunt is skilled in protection magic. She makes clothing, mostly, but can make necklaces and such and imbue them with protective magic." Paige lifts a hand, indicating the necklace and matching earrings she's wearing. "This necklace, these earrings have a spell on them which will cause them to glow faintly if danger is near me. The fourth branch is warding. Much like the…protection you have here in your home? The way that a vampire cannot enter without your permission, and they are ejected from the house if you rescind that invitation? In a way that is very much like a naturally occurring ward, keyed to a vampire's being, their essence. A witch who can create wards can wield magic very much like that. Witches working together can do even more powerful magic. All of it can be misused, of course, like any talent. But I use it to protect the people I care about, the people around me."

He listens, quietly, absorbing everything that she tells him, his gaze touching on her necklace and earrings, her face, but for the most part he stares at the floor as he listens and processes her words. It's a lot to take in. It's a lot for her to share. After she's done, Hugo is just quiet for a while before his gaze finally lifts. Reaching out his good hand, he lays it upon hers, murmuring, "Thank you. For trusting me with this. For telling me. I know it couldn't have been easy for you." It was certainly a risk. And in some ways Hugo is not certain he wants to know it all. A small crooked smile touches his lips as he remembers suddenly, his eyes lifting to hers as he rumbles, "We were going to your place. You were going to tell me about all the things that went bump in the night. The night of the accident. That's where we were going." He honestly didn't remember until now. Smirking a little he muses, "I think that conversation is going to have to wait a bit longer. I think my brain is full for one night…"

This is why Paige rarely shares her secrets with anyone. Because she can't ever tell what she'll be like on the other side of the revelation. What the person she's opening herself up to will be like. But there is a smile, a faint one, as Hugo sets his hand on her, and she turns her over, to take his, "Thank you for listening. For not hating me. Or being afraid of me." Even if she knows he probably does both, in some way or another. And she does meat his eyes, her own expression open, honest, touched by sadness, perhaps, and perhaps a bit of regret, for the stealing of his innocence. Because it's no less than that. What she's shown him can't be unseen, unfelt, untasted. "Yes, that's exactly where we were going. I thought…well, it's not important what I thought. It can wait, until you're ready." She looks down to your good hand, and then back up, "Your full brain probably needs some rest."

Hate? Not even close. Fear? Maybe just a hint, but more of the power than Paige. He trusts her, she can see that in his eyes with ease. His fingers squeeze hers as he rumbles, "Don't know why you'd think that would make me hate you. And it's, well, you. You saved my life. You brought me dinner. Don't see the point of being afraid of you. It's not your nature to turn on someone, least not without cause." He smirks and then chuckles, noting, "Yes, indeed. A full stomach and a full brain. Need to digest before you serve me up any more."

It's good to hear the words. It's better to see them in his eyes. If nothing else, it does put Paige more at ease. And this time, when she gets to her feet, it's with a purpose, "No, I wouldn't. And I would never turn on you, Hugo." And to be honest, until Tareq is dead, even if she ever wanted to, she's bound not to. "I don't think I have anything pressing planned to share with you for the next long while. The world has waited for years. It can keep on waiting. Come, off to bed. I'll take care of cleaning up."

Chuckling softly, Hugo rises and up notes drolly, "That's usually my line. Though I generally leave the cleaning up till the morning." His gaze flickers to the windows, the sky dark with a few stars shining, though most are lost due to the city lights. "You want to spend the night?" And then realizing how that sounds he continues, "You know, just cause the sun has set and all. Totally honorable offer, I promise. Besides," he notes, wiggling the fingers of his left arm. "Can't do much with this huge thing on." He picks up his ice tea and walks back to the kitchen, stealing another piece of kalbi from the box and eating it with his fingers as he starts to put the extra food into the fridge. "Never let it be said I didn't clean up after myself," he calls out lightly. Just takes him a bit longer now.

Paige works with you, allowing you to wander off, as she picks up the remainders from the living room, turning over the refrigerator duties to you while she cleans dishes and wipes down the counters, all of which is easier for her and less stressful than you, "I'm sure you won't mind sharing it." A frown, as she looks back towards the night outside. Silence, considering, before she finally nods, "Yes. I'd rather not go back out there tonight." She finishes with the cleanup, turning back to help with the last, if you need it, "You've never given me any reason to doubt your intentions." She does take the time to finish her tea though, before she rinses out the glass, "Or your cleanliness." And that tone returns to her voice, teasing, playful.

Nodding in approval, Hugo notes, "Good. But to be safe, one of us should probably take the couch. Don't trust myself to not either accidentally bash you with my cast or kiss you, so that would probably be the safer way to go." There. No reason to doubt his intentions at all. He pours himself another glass of tea and notes pragmatically, "It's still early, if you'd care to watch movie or something…"

"I'm fairly certain that I'd survive both of those possibilities. I survived Milton Jeffries in seventh grade." Paige flashes a smile, as she heads back towards the living room, "Of course, he had a bike and he kept trying to run me over to get me to go to the dance with him, but hey. He certainly had the most determination of any of the handful of suitors I've had in my life." Paige settles back onto the couch, "I call dibs on the couch. But I'll let you pick the movie."

"That's a unique choice for trying to win a girl over. I'll have to remember that next time I'm going to a dance and the girl of choice is being reluctant," Hugo notes with a smirk, following after Paige. "If you feel up to the risk, the bed is certainly big enough for two. Hell, it could probably comfortably sleep four. Just wanted to know what you might be up against is all. Full disclosure." He wishes he could flop down on the couch as he would normally, but instead Hugo carefully lowers himself into place and slips a pillow beneath his arm. "God. Can't wait to get this thing off," he grouses, reaching over for the remote and flicking the TV on, accessing the Tivo guide and flipping through the movies listed there first, looking for something that would appeal to Paige. "Oooooh," he can't help but tease, "Look, it's Bewitched!"

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