A/N: Mm. Yes, I know, a new fic, I'm insane, I've already got one original fic and two fanfics on the go--well, what can I say? Ideas seize me and don't let go.
As with all my fics, this one will not be updated regularly, though, also as with all of my (ongoing) fics, it will eventually be updated. Regardless: I hope that you enjoy what you find, good reader!
He stood there, mouth gaping open with shock, his normal good looks obscured by dirt and blood.
I sighed and rolled my eyes. "I guess that never occurred to you, huh, kid?"
His name was Darian—the Daysider version of my own name, Darius. There's an Unaffiliate version of the same name, Dariol. It's actually quite rare for there to be a name with three different versions out there. Most names have one version spanning all three sides, like Harry or Bob. Some names belong solely to one side—Silas, for example, is very much a Nightsider name, whereas Gryffon can only have been given his name by Daysider parents. That's not to say that Gryffon is a Daysider—kids do grow up different from their parents, after all—but in most cases, Gryffon would have changed his name. (Though not, I admit, always. If Gryffon is tough enough, he can get away with keeping his name.)
"But," said Darian, looking confused, "I thought that you had to chose to become a Nighsider! I—isn't everyone born a Daysider?"
I rolled my eyes again—hey, it was a good way to express my exasperation. "No," I said, enunciating slowly. "Everyone is born neutral—a Dawnsider or Dusksider, if you will."
He looked—if it was possible—even more confused. "But neutrals are Unaffiliate."
"Ah," I said, pleased. Maybe he wasn't a complete dunderhead after all.
Look, I'm trying to be optimistic, okay?
"A common misconception—common because it's not exactly a misconception. Yes, the Unaffiliates are neutral—but they grow into becoming Unaffiliate, just like other people grow into becoming Daysiders and Nightsiders."
"But—" he objected.
I rolled my eyes again. At this rate, they were going to fall out of my head from excessive rolling, but there was just something so goddamned aggravating about the young Daysider.
"Let me guess," I interjected dryly, "you're going to bring up the Count of Bankfer, yeah?"
He nodded triumphantly. "See? I knew you were lying! Dirty Nightsi—"
I rolled my eyes. Again.
Ouch, that hurt.
"Come on, even you don't believe yourself. Yes, technically—and that's a big technically—the Count is a Daysider, but he has to fight ever bit of his being every single day to stay that way. Our nature, along with our experiences, shapes who we are. And who we are shapes—can you guess what it shapes, Daysider?"
He scowled at me. "My name is Darian."
"I see," I said dryly. "Whereas I, a mere unworthy Nightsider, am not deemed to be worthy of the privilege of being called my own name. Oh, noble lord, forgive me."
He flushed. "That…wasn't what I meant. What is your name, anyway?"
"Curious now, are we?" I considered it. It probably couldn't do any harm—the name he probably knew me under certainly wasn't my own. "All right, then. It's Darius."
Now, he just looked surprised. "Huh. You know, that's the—"
"Same as yours. Yes, I know, though I'm surprised that you do."
He scowled at me. "What's that supposed to mean?"
I shrugged. "No offence, kid, but considering you didn't even know the basics of Sides. I bet they didn't teach you that at school, anyway."
He nodded reluctantly. "You're right, they didn't. My mother was a follower of the Old Ways."
At this, I choked. It came, as you might be able to tell, as quite the shock. "Your mother," I said, once I got my breath back, "was a follower of the Old Ways? And you were going to call me a dirty Nightsider? Guras, man."
He shrugged defensively. "I didn't say that I was a follower of the Old Ways, just that my mother was."
I shook my head. "Even so, Daysider."
He winced. "Yeah, all right. I'm sorry."
I shook my head. "It's not me you need to apologize to. It's Franol, Jakor and the rest."
He looked at me sceptically. "You know the gods of the Old Ways?"
This time, it was my turn to shrug—though, of course, I did it in a suitably mysterious fashion, not defensively at all. "It helps to know things."
His look never wavered. "That's not exactly common knowledge, though."
It was, I decided, time to get this conversation away from myself. "It doesn't matter. But hey—you never answered my question."
Now he looked confused again. I decided quickly that confusion suited him much better than any other expression I'd seen on him—like, say, scepticism—and immediately decided to do my best to keep him that ways for as long as possible.
"What question?" he queried.
I sighed. Again. It was a miracle I wasn't rolling my eyes. "What does who we are shape, Darian?" I repeated slowly. (I decided, this time round, not to call him Daysider. It wasn't worth the fuss.)
This time, he rolled his eyes. I was impressed. "Let me guess," he drawled slowly, "our Sides."
I couldn't help the first thought that passed through my head—he can drawl?—though I'm pretty sure I managed to keep it off my face.
"Yes," I agreed, "exactly. Our natures and experiences shape us, and the more powerful the experience, the more strong the shaping—and as everyone knows, Nighsiders' strength lies in deception. And, let me assure you, the Count is a master of Deception."
Now he looked affronted, something that was almost as good as confused. "The Count is a straightforward and honest man," he declared almost huffily.
I tried not to roll my eyes. Really, I did. But it was so difficult…
"No," I corrected near-impatiently, "the Count prefers to be honest and straightforward because he's grown up learning that that's how the 'good people' are. However, considering he was kidnapped and tortured for six months and managed not to give anything away, I think we can safely award him the title of Master Bullshitter."
He conceded reluctantly. "Yeah, I guess."
I exhaled with relief. "Good. You understand. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to be going…"
"What? No, you can't go!"
I stopped and stared at him. "What the hell do you mean, I can't go?"
"You're under arrest!"
My stare had distinct overtones of disbelief. "Who's going to stop me?"
He looked around, seeming to realize that his comrades were no longer there to support him. Unfortunately, that didn't seem to stop him. "I will!"
This was patently ridiculous, and I snorted. "You're bleeding like a stuck pig, if I'm not much mistaken your arm there is broken, we're in a Nightsider part of town—and you think you can stop me? Daysider, you're delusional."
He flushed angrily. "I'll get you!"
"Possibly," I conceded. "You've certainly had more luck than anyone else so far. But if you do, it won't be today."
He frowned thoughtfully. "What do you mean, I've had more luck than anyone so far?"
I winced. Had I actually let that slip? Clearly, I wasn't as fine as I thought I was.
"I've never even heard of you before today," he continued. "We were trying to break in to a meeting between…"
It was time, I judged hastily, for me to make a speedy exit. I barely heard his last words as I headed quickly for the exit…
"Good Guras, Nightsider! You're the Trickster!"