|Dahlia § Elena (verveine) wrote in doorslogs,|
@ 2012-07-03 15:45:00
|Entry tags:||elena gilbert, stefan salvatore|
Who: Cotton and Dahlia
What: A case of mistaken identity
Where: Cotton's apartment
Warnings/Rating: Making out type things
The phone call with Dahlia was frustrating, although for reasons that Cotton could only define as his own. Had he been the one to contact her originally? It was a question that plagued him, although one that he knew he could remedy by simply reading over the journals once more. Somehow, it was easier to ignore. To neglect the truth which would only pass through the pages like a pane of glass and wound him further with the shattered remnants of what he'd once been. Not just an ADA or a husband, but a man who was now only closer resembling a ghost as the days progressed. Summer ensured that the days were longer, the sun rose far too early and extremely late. It gave him far too much time to lament the disgusting eternity that was becoming his life.
He spent the evening getting drunk. Such things were not always usual, but lately they were more and more frequent. Cotton preferred to smoke weed because it still let him focus on work, which was the healthiest thing to focus on at times like these. He'd taken Owen's approach ever since arriving to Las Vegas. Papers and photographs were tacked to the walls in between his erratic scrawls of pencil lead. Although he worked for only one firm, they knew who he was and what he'd done.. they gave him very little paperwork to handle on the best of days. So Cotton took his time digging into the cases of other firms, computers had never been difficult to navigate for him, and in time that was what lined his walls. Police reports and ordinances, confessions, dictations, courtroom citations, and enough work from the mob to keep him busy. So what if he hopped between rivals and toyed with the cases of the Irish, the Italians, and the casino elite?
Paperwork was spread across his bed, and its thick pages met with a sprinkle of bourbon as he took a swig while skimming things over. Little words here and there would jump from the pages at him, enough to stir a smile long forgotten. Anything to trigger a memory of his love, a single word and he could see it. The way her dilated eyes would light up and her eyebrows would pop or knit with regular confusion, and later just hesitation. The way she swept her hair back with a bow-clad hand while playing the violin, and the way she'd scrunch her dress far past her knees in excitement or nerves.
And what if that was all he had left? This suffering. Cotton could see a counselor or a therapist certainly, but why would he? Her memory was all he had now, and even if it would kill him.. it didn't matter. He'd have always died for her, for his Owen. There were regrets, of course, but how could he throw them away? How could he neglect the heart that mourns her and replace it with some fruitless shell of acceptance and bullshit -- Cotton's stomach growled. Running a hand across his eyes, he divested his attention away from the papers on his bed and considered the last time he ate. Perhaps the night before? The phone book offered a multitude of delivery options, but his vegetarian palate had him sticking with the tradition of vegetable lo mein. Perhaps it was the liquor or his disinterest in hitting the city streets, but Cotton found the escort pages. He thumbed through them randomly before settling. Another swig of the bottle and a punch of the numbers into his phone. His only request was that she be blond, he'd work with whatever else.
Dahlia was not an impulsive woman. Her mother had taught her, very early on in life, that impulse only led to failure, and her mother knew that better than most. The woman had spent the early part of her lifetime chasing down leads with abandon, and the latter years chasing the same leads with meticulous care. It was the meticulous care mother than Dahlia had been born to, the woman with a schedule for everything and a dogged, blinders-on determination to solve a case that could never be solved. Dahlia was not an impulsive woman, but she logged into the National Police Database, and she started looking for Cotton Kent's last known address. It was tempting to dig deeper, to print out papers and photos and his entire past, to pin him to her wall and add to the already enormous lists she had about him, but she had a goal, and she was not the type of woman to deviate from a predetermined path, as that would be impulsive.
Address acquired, Dahlia dressed in a no-nonsense pair of utilitarian jeans, and she slipped a LAPD sweatshirt over her head, over a wifebeater, even in the unforgiving Las Vegas heat; her mother had also taught her that showing skin was asking for trouble. Her riotous curls were untamed in a plain black band, scraped away from her face and somehow making her look paler for their absence, an illusion compounded by the complete lack of cosmetics on her face. She grabbed her keys and left her LVPD badge on the counter, which could be considered impulsive if she had not already determined it was simply practical; she was going to a home with drugs on the premises.
The taxi ride to Cotton's apartment was uneventful, mainly because Dahlia did not actually deign to speak to the driver. Her mind was processing the aspects of her earlier conversation with the man she was currently to pay an unrequested visit to. She knew he was utilizing illegal substances, and she told herself this was the sole reason for her visit. It had nothing to do with anger, because she did not experience anger. Anger, as her mother had taught her, only clouded rationality, and Dahlia was always rational. Mr. Kent required intervention and, as she had no knowledge of his acquaintances, she would be remiss if she did not attempt to help.
She paid the taxi driver, after taking the time to figure the appropriate tip down to the cent, and then she calmly walked up to Cotton's door and knocked. The knock was precise, not hurried, not anxious, high on the wood, and with her body positioned off-center of the peep hole, so he could not see who was there prior to opening, not beyond the unintended view of a stray, blonde ringlet or two.
"Idiots," he hissed through a cloud of weed smoke, reaching over to simultaneously deposit the roach in its ashtray and also lower the volume on his remote. CSPAN ran constantly for him, it was equal parts comedy and ridiculous drama, but perhaps that was just the lawyer in him. Forever amused by the debunked rational and shotty investigation of others. How could they not see what he saw? The clues and obvious legalities that slipped beneath the noses of men with degrees that could easily rival his. Cotton looked them all up, the heads of local firms. Some from Yale, Princeton, Oxford, even one from Harvard that he had to smirk at a bit off hand. Cotton took great amusement out of dissecting that man's files. He worked as much on everyone else's files as he did his own, because again, his firm didn't give him very much to handle at once. Black sharpie ink scratched through some typed words and underlined others. Margins were littered with the names of case references, names and numbers that his memory somehow held onto even as Owen continued to slip away. He'd fax the pages from an out of town Kinkos in the morning, he decided upon taking a new swig of bourbon and squinting at the television screen. The Supreme Court today was so boring, Cotton flopped back against the bed with a squeak of springs.. considering briefly whether or not the flailing status of his field was enough to kill himself over.
Then the knock. He honestly expected the Chinese food to be more prompt than the hooker, and either way, they weren't likely to judge the herbal smoke wafting through his sparsely furnished apartment. The items of furniture that he had brought with him were curious, and did not seem to match the price range of this particular apartment building. They were some of the items that Owen had left behind. Polished mahogany and vintage details, things that could alternately make him smile or weep.
"Come in," he shouted toward the door while carefully hopping off of the mattress without disturbing any of his papered piled, and collecting his wallet from the dresser.
The sound of his voice and the indication that she should enter the premises made it fairly evident that he was expecting someone to arrive. Politeness dictated that she somehow make him aware that she was not the person he was awaiting, but then she would possibly lose the opportunity to enter. And she had been, technically, given access to the premises, as he'd given his consent. Whether it would stand up in a court of law or not, that was questionable, but this was not a case, and she was not a lawyer. In fact, like move police, she had very little faith in the country's legal system. She did what she did, terminating the most egregious criminals without due process, for that very reason.
She opened the door with a turn of the knob and a hand extended across the wood, very much like an officer entering a potentially dangerous scene would. The smell of the marijuana hit her nose immediately as she entered, and she managed a very large inhale before realizing that she should hold her breath. Dahlia had never been drunk, and she had never been stoned, and the sweet fog burnt her throat and made her cough. Still, she entered the gray tinted room, and she blinked her eyes owlishly as she took in the strange collection of unexpected furniture pieces.
She did not speak or make herself known in any other way, not beyond the door closing behind her, and she blinked again, as if that would clear her head. She reached behind her for a light, looking for some level of stronger illumination as she awaited his exit from the bedroom.
"I only have a twenty, I don't need change, just.. " As he crossed the threshold of the bedroom, Cotton must have seemed liked a man who had been at work all day. He had not, but there was the tendency for continuance in formal dress. He was slacks and a wifebeater, navy suspenders holding said slacks at an appropriate level on his ever narrowing hips. Owen would be disappointed in him. In their days he'd been a man of health and juicing, jogging every morning and Bikram yoga every evening until times got tough and demanded more of his hours. Still, he'd been a beacon of health then, the man had glowed where now he practically waned. The lack of physical exercise had not softened his body, but rather narrowed it, as his nutrients now consisted of sparing doses of take out food and higher ounces of liquor. He hesitated in rounding the doorway, catching the glimpse of her pale hair first. Definitely not the Cantonese man who normally delivered his food.
"Oh, I.. thought you.." Even a little fucked up, he could navigate her state of dress. Not a hooker, not by a long shot. Not with that sweatshirt, and he kind of froze for a second even if his eyesight in the dim room couldn't make out the letters on her sweatshirt. She wouldn't find the lightswitch on that side of the wall, it was far off. She would need to navigate to one of the Tiffany lamps that Owen's mother had left to her on the nearest side tables, and if that happened so be it but now.. now Cotton saw her squinting eyes. It should have been the first clue, Owen always saw best in the dark. But the dark offered him every lie he wanted. Any deviation in bone structure or eye color was taken away like a tablecloth by a magician, leaving only the beauty of so much glass. Any glass and tableware he wanted. Any vision of Owen he wanted. It definitely helped that he was stoned.
"God.." Whether he was praising her, his deity, or begging for forgiveness, who could say, but Cotton stumbled forward. One step, two, down on one knee still a few paces before her while reaching for her leg. Owen would never wear such pants, but he reached desperately for her calf regardless, a half gasp caught in his throat and a lifetime of anguish in his eyes when he looked up at her in the darkness. "Come back to me. I love you, I've always loved you. You are my heart and my soul and I-" Tears were spilling now, blame the bourbon. "-If I took you for granted or you feel I underappreciated you, know this. I would sooner underappreciated my own body than have to live another day without you, Owen. .. Come back to me." This now, this was a beg. This was a man on the noose ready to fall, this was a man with a gun in his mouth, this was a beg for a return to life. Come back, bring him back to himself, dear god.
His mention of not possessing change made it immediately obvious that he was expecting delivery of some nature. The time suggested that the delivery was nutritional in nature, and Dahlia felt an easing of the modicum of guilt she felt at accepting the invitation that was not intended for her. Food delivery was not personal, and therefore the invasion was not as severe. She watched him approach, cornflower blue squinting in the darkness, and she realized this was the first time she'd been in the home of a male member of the species without it being related to a crime scene. The darkness added a strange layer of intimacy to the unfamiliar setting, and she immediately thought of all of her mother's cautionary words about men and their intentions. But these thoughts were derailed by his realization that she was not who he believed she was. She began to prepare her argument for entering, began to cultivate her excuses and determine her rebuttals, but then his expression changed, and she could not find the light with her fingertips.
Calling upon a deity was not what she expected. In fact, she had found very little evidence to support him having a belief in a higher power at all. It was only shock that kept her from retreating when he approached, and further shock that kept her stationary when he dropped onto one knee. She knew this was the traditional marriage proposal pose, but she had no idea how it pertained to this particular situation and, for a moment, she wondered if he'd suffered an injury. With this belief in mind, she crouched down in as he reached for her calf, prepared to offer consolation and the assurance of imminent medical care. But then the request that she return was uttered, and she blinked rapidly, certain she had walked into the wrong apartment, or that she was suddenly not herself. Dahlia had never inspired passion in anyone, and she certainly had never been loved, and the tears spilling over his cheeks made her feel that flush of romance that haunted teenage girls.
She missed the other woman's name amidst all the declarations and, perhaps, had she not been such an awkward virgin she would have reacted differently. But as it was, being the recipient of such heated adoration left her breathless, and she stammered and did not push him away. "You have not taken me for granted," she muttered, remembering that phrase particularly and, unfortunately, only adding to the case of mistaken identities that would be apropos for a work of Shakespeare.
All he could do when she did not pull away was press his cheek against her knee, he very nearly wept like a child but sucked it up in one hard sniff. The begging continued, words lost against the fabric of her pant leg. "I love you, please.." A hard swallow, the endless ache years between them. His hands fell to the carpet for a clutch of that fabric rather than at her, he did not deserve to touch her after what he'd put her through, after the choices he'd forced her into. "Don't leave me," he pleaded against her knee, and then with a tilt of his head, her thigh. There was nothing of aggression in the movement, only despair. "Don't, whatever you want of me, whatever you've ever wanted.. I am yours, I have always been yours." He sniffed, stoned and oblivious to the lack of her perfume. That vanilla that Owen had taken on as a memory of her mother's. "Please..."
He found her hips with his hands and pulled her a down a bit more to his level, if only so he could rest his weeping eyes against her shoulder. "I love you, I love you.." On repeat it was all he said when his fingers squeezed tighter and he tilted his cheek against her cottoned shoulder so that his mouth was nearer her ear, words muffled by her loose hair. "Have you forgotten me? Have you moved on? Tell me.." The words lacked anger, just further pleading in the demand for truth. Always the lawyer, always the truth with him. "I will die right here at your feet, just tell me!"
She watched it all with a strange sense of detachment, as if it was all happening to someone else and she was merely an observer of this strange tableau. But his hands thrilled in a way that seemed entirely irrational. Now, Dahlia knew all about the science of attraction, the effect of touch on the human body and the effect of endorphins on the brain. Attraction, desire, lust, they were all scientific inevitabilities to her, things created in the human body to ensure reproduction and continuation of the species. The same phenomenon existed in every member of the animal world, and in numerous other species, such as plants and insects. It was science, and there was no true thing that could be labeled as love or even desire. They were chemicals, reacting to each other in the predetermined way, and nothing more.
And knowing all of that was well and good, but actually being touched in an intimate capacity was different than anything in a book, and no amount of research could have prepared her for the sensation of his his cheek against her thigh, or his hands on her hips. She knelt in front of him then, when he tugged her down, and she glanced over at his head on her shoulder with a growing sense of disbelief. She was really here, in this apartment, and this was truly happening. She had long since forgotten to refrain from inhaling the marijuana smoke, because this entire situation was too overwhelming to consider thinking of anything outside of it.
She did not smell like vanilla. She smelled like permanent marker, and she smelled like coffee, and she smelled of ennui and unadorned things. His breath fanned her hair, and she lifted her fingers to touch his cheek, then to cup the back of his head, and she wondered at the thrill that came from declarations that made no sense to her. He did not repeat the woman's name, and he said nothing that seemed entirely out of context. "I have not forgotten you," she said, because she had not. They had only recently spoken, hadn't they? "But I believe your declarations of love are untrue, and I do not believe dying will do anything to prove them further."
"Untrue?" Oh, he would have choked on razors then and there if God himself would only spill them to spare him such an utterance. "You doubt me?" He sought her out in the dark with his dilated eyes, a lift of his head and a frantic search of black eating away at gray-green irises. "Your hair is.." He lifted a hesitant hand, almost afraid that this was some dream that would disintegrate the moment he touched her just so, but when his fingertips brushed her curls, she did not turn to ash. His sigh of gratitude and pleasure could not have been greater than if he'd just achieved some form of climax. ".. like I remember, like platinum and doves, and God.." Another beg when he dropped his cheek to her shoulder, "Don't make me a poet, you know I can't do it.." Even if words in the courtroom were his forte, his throne, with her he was wordless. "From the moment I saw you.. do you remember?" He breathed against her hair and his breath was toxic with Maui herbs and local bourbon. "You undid me. Your pale skin and your eyes.. God, your eyes.. the way you pulled at your hem so nervously, I've never in my life wanted to die for anything more than another glimpse of that. Just once." His cheek nuzzled some of her hair out of the way so that his mouth could be closer to her skin, his lips hot against her ear. "From the moment I saw you, I knew there was nothing else for me but this..what else could satiate me but another glimpse of your hand?" His lips brushed her ear, soft, hesitant, and oh so wanting. "Tell me.. tell me why you're here, why you came now?"
Of course she doubted him. It would be scientifically unsound not to doubt him. He had no basis for the feelings he declared, no knowledge of her person to allow for that level of caring. She knew he reminded him of someone, of some unknown woman with a man's name, but that didn't explain this level of declaration. But she had no experience in these matters, and she had never studied the emotional aspect of foreplay that led up to the sex act in human mammals. Perhaps this was normal, and she was simply unaware of it. "My hair has not changed since our last encounter," she assured him. She did not recall undoing him; she recalled him flirting with the teller and setting up a later assignation. "I undid you?" she asked incredulously, uncertainty and perhaps the root of hope in the question. She closed her eyes when he nuzzled her hair, and she gasped without realizing the sound was emanating from her person. His lips against her ear earned him a strangled whimper, the sound wound up surprise and unexpected tingling that she did not understand the genesis of. "Because I was concerned about you," she replied easily to his question, to his query, and she sighed as his words made his lips brush more surely against her ear. Scientifically, this made no sense, but that logic did nothing to slow her rapidly beating heart or the way her breathing had increased speed and become shallower.
Did she undo him? "With every move you made," he assured her, and as an officer she must have known the truth when she heard it. This was nothing but the truth, this was his hand on the bible, his hand in her hair. He'd never been rough with Owen, he never would, Cotton just gently skimmed that pristine blond back from her shoulder when he licked gently at her ear lobe. "I'm concerned about you," he whispered. His hands were hesitant as a virgin's, as if it had been so long, but with Owen it had. Those palms found her shoulders and skimmed with a trembling, nervous pace down the front of her sweatshirt's fabric, finding the familiar hints of breasts beneath. Even if his hands only rested there for a moment, fingertips begging to reclaim the memory of the sounds she made when he'd roll her nipples between the pads of his fingers. "..About what you've been doing," he announced finally after digging loose a breath from the well of his heart. "Are you in danger?" And now, then, with this most important question of all, he found her nipples despite the thick cloud of cotton she wore. He stroked, remembering, lips on her throat.. which didn't smell like her throat. It made him pause, but not hesitate. It had been years, how could he really remember?
Dahlia, it seemed, was not immune. Despite the cautionary words of her mother and her practical understanding of the body's reactions to stimuli, she was not immune. His statement that she undid him with every move she made was a kind of wonderlust that she had never experienced as a girl. When normal teenagers were lusting over boys and girls, Dahlia had kept her nose in her books and prepared for the future her mother intended for her. Now, she reacted like those teenagers from all those years past. "There is no need to be concerned about me," she assured him, her voice breathless and sounding like it belonged to someone else entirely, someone who believed in the impossible heat that was suffusing her face just then. Her breath caught at the feel of his hands over the fabric of the sweatshirt, and her own fingers remained frozen in the denim of her jeans, were they had gathered fabric at her outer thigh and held it captive, an anchor. "I am not. No one knows my past," she assured him unthinkingly, too lost in the completely unfamiliar feel of her nipples being rolled between his fingers beneath the fabric. She wore no bra, and only a utilitarian wifebeater beneath the grey of the sweatshirt, and her breath was a jerky thing in her throat, a whimper, a plea, permission, all in one simple sound given as she tipped her head to the side to allow his mouth more access to her throat.
"Thank God for that," he whispered against the musical throb of her artery, skimming his lips up to the edge of her jaw. His hands had years ago been so hesitant with her, but he knew what she liked, and she felt like his once again. He saw no reason to not slip his hands down to the final band of her sweatshirt and then up beneath it. The ribbed fabric of the wifebeater made him pause, but stoned - again - he neglected to account for anything other than the truth he was developing for himself with every moment. Owen would not wear this, perhaps even the breasts were different if he could remember properly. Cotton pushed beneath the wifebeater and palmed her breasts with alternating scrapes of his fingertips. Dear God, was he too drunk to do anything more than this? If so, it was surely the saddest joke in the history of time, but Cotton refused to think on himself now when he brushed her jaw with a new kiss. All herb and bourbon on his breath. "Are you angry with me?" A pinch then to those sensitive parts of her, to distill the truth from her in the way a husband knew he could. If he had his mouth between her legs, she'd give him every detail he wanted to know. She was his courtroom, and he paced her torso wildly with his hands. "Honestly, tell me.. are you?"
There was something entirely unscientific about the sensation of someone's hands sliding intimately over her body, beneath her clothing, and Dahlia registered that fact for a fleeting moment as his hands snuck beneath the wifebeater no-nonsense fabric. Her breasts were small, not requiring a bra in most instances, and she had not anticipated this interaction when she left the house. As a result, the palming of her nipples left them hard, and she pressed against the touch with unknowing wantonness, her body demanding more of this thing she had been denied during the entire course of her existence. She attempted to think about his query as his mouth trailed along her jaw, leaving tingling behind, despite the knowledge that there were no truly significant nerve-endings there. When he pinched her nipples between his fingers, however, he stole any rational, well-thought out response from her, and she shook her head against the lips that kissed. "No," she managed, and it was a close thing, because she was lost between a cry and whimper at the pinching of his fingers on that virgin flesh. "No," she repeated, all eloquence lost as her nails dug into the denim at her hips more tightly, seeking sanity in the hold on dark fabric.
"No?" In the dark, he had to ask again. Not even to hear her correctly, but just to hear her say it once more, or maybe make that sound once more. The one he found in her when he rolled the small buds of her nipples between fingers that were never calloused from hard labor, only smoothed by keyboards and highlighter ink. Even so, it wasn't quite right, and in the haze of smoke and drink, he couldn't fully accept the lie for what it was. The pitch of her voice, which was something only heard in his dreams these days, had it always been like this? Always so uncertain? "I'm sorry for what I did, I only ask that you forgive me." The scruff of his jaw hadn't seen a razor in days and it was rough against the side of her neck when he nuzzled his cheek there to taste her earlobe again before bringing his lips across her cheek in order to seek out her mouth. "Forgive me?" The wifebeater and sweatshirt were still confusing him, and he neglected her breasts for a moment to tug at the fabric. Lifting it perhaps in intention of baring her more to his liking, where he could lay her out on the floor and worship at the moon carve of her skin for the rest of the evening. But this was all wrong, it wasn't the strangely cherished recall of a matronly wrap dress or struggling elegance in navy blue. "What is this?" He blinked away from her mouth to try and ascertain the clothing, dark or not.
"No," she repeated, and she had no rational notion what she was saying no to, not any longer, but her mind determined it was the appropriate response without any added input from her. The demand for forgiveness was easier to rationalize, even with the pinch and rub of his fingers, and she blamed it on the teller, his betrayal at the bank, his behavior. There was a list on her wall that illustrated clearly all the things he could possibly apologize for, so this question was answered readily and with less confusion. "Yes, I forgive you," she assured him, her body quickening at the feel of his rough jaw against her cheek while his mouth found her earlobe. "Oh, God," she whispered, though she was not a religious person. Like many members of the scientific community, Dahlia had no belief in a higher power, and she gasped as soon as the senseless words had escaped his lips. But then he was asking about her... clothing? "My clothing?" she asked, the confusion coming through in her voice above all things. "They are the items I put on before I left the house to come here," she said, and her voice sounded strange to her own ears, husky and uneven with the rush of blood in her ears.
"You live here?" The question was sudden with the demand of a man that refused to believe in beauty and now it was staring at him with those wide eyes that whispered they'd been here all along, silly. "How?" He would have seen her, heard of her, found her. On their knees, the weight of him pushed her toward the closed door until it was a wall at her back and his hands dove beneath the hem of her sweatshirt in order to find her hips, to dig his fingers into the waistband of jeans. Jeans? Still it made no sense, and he flinched against the realization that was dawning. No, he wouldn't accept it. He needed another drink or another toke, something to take away this coherency that was forming even when Cotton brought his palm to her thigh and coursed that hand up between her clothed legs while still so desperately trying to read her expression. Jeans? He couldn't even feel her, but he pressed with thumb and palm and the scrape of his hand to draw the truth from her.. even if it was all unfolding and unraveling and he was already knowing although he did not want to know. "...Dahlia?"
The question about her residence seemed unnecessary, even to Dahlia's fogged mind. Where else would she live? There was nowhere close enough to make a commute in any way practical. "Yes. Not in this building, but in the area," she explained, though her voice said she was having trouble understanding the line of questioning, given the situation. How? That question made no sense whatsoever. How did anyone live anywhere? But his hands were on her hips, and thought was somehow, suddenly unimportant in favor of the previously unknown sensation of hands on bones she had, until that moment, considered entirely utilitarian. His hand on her thigh, over the denim, somehow felt like flame, and when that same hand slid up between her thighs she was certain he could feel the heat from her body through the thick, unforgiving fabric. She moaned, the sound entirely foreign to her own ears, a sound never previously uttered, and she tugged, hard and insistent, at the fabric at her hips to keep from touching him, unsure of the rules in regards to returning the caress. His question, her name, took a moment longer to register than it normally would have, and she nodded before she made any audible reply. A nod. "Yes?" As if her name was merely a precursor, something utter prior to his true, intended question, and no comprehension of the mistaken identity as of yet.
There was a knock from the other side of the door at her back and it interrupted what might have been an explosion from him -- Dahlia, fucking Dahlia. "Go away!" He shouted against the wood and there was no argument which meant that it was probably the delivery man and not the hooker. In the silence that weighed between them then, with his hand still wedged up tight between the denim clutch of her thighs, Cotton could hear the retreat of steps down the hall outside and he said nothing still. Part of him wanted to laugh, and if it wasn't so agonizing, he might have. But there wasn't strength enough for that, not after the way he'd wept against her knee and the way she'd let him slide his hands over her body with the shivers of femininity that he'd grown so familiar with, Owen or no Owen. "What are you playing at?" This time, when he spoke, it was a demand that broke the lovers pleading right in two. This was the discovery of a lover with a slit wrist in a bathtub, this was clawing at his heart and he didn't deserve whatever the fuck she was doing to his head. A hand found her shoulder while the other remained between her legs, and he pushed her back against the door, crowding closer. Needing to know, "You accuse me of games, and you come here and.." He took a hard inhale and tilted the dark crown of his head to regard her body, all rumpled sweatshirt and shuddering only moments before against the grip of his hands on her breasts, the skim of his knuckles demanding a familiarity that she would never bring him in full.
The moment he took to yell at the delivery man was enough to bring some semblance of sanity rushing back in, like pent up water behind a dam that splintered. But his hand was still between her thighs, and the semblance of sanity that she managed was not strong enough to entirely chase away the effects of that hand, to chase away the manner in which her body still tingled, still went hot-damp, still reacted to ministrations he withdrew. "I am playing no game," she assured him. "I merely-" Merely what? "I merely came to check on you, since I knew you had been engaged in activities involving illegal, toxic substances during our interaction," she managed, her hips rocking forward against his hand between her legs, even as his other hand found her shoulder and crowded her against the door. "I did not instigate this encounter. You made declarations-" She cut herself off there, not because she gained any sort of understanding that he believed her to be another woman, but because she could not recall any man in her life looking at her as he did when he bowed his head to take in her rumpled state. She did not yet understand the magnitude of his error, and she thought simply that he had returned to his senses and realized they were on a course that was bound for sexual intercourse, a realization brought by the knock of the delivery man, and not brought by her own inability to be the woman he still yearned for.
He didn't raise his head, not when the rock of her hips came once more against the palm of his hand. Cotton watched the spread of those denim legs in the dark, and he had to wonder if he even had what to took to do something like this with her. He wanted to, of course, he could feel the heat radiating off of her when his palm gave another rough scrape against the apex of her thighs in total curiosity. The blasphemy of it was absolutely shameful and in that moment he dropped his head against her shoulder again. Mouth nowhere near her ear when he sighed, "What the hell do you want from me?" Why was she doing this? Torturing him with her very presence.
The question was entirely unexpected, and Dahlia had no predetermined answer for it, since she had not initiated this interaction. "I do not understand," she said simply, noting that his hand had not moved, and perhaps this was a normal reaction prior to consummation of the sex act. "You initiated this interaction," she said, giving voice to her thoughts. She was distracted by the continued presence of his hand and, perhaps, she wantonly rubbed against his fingers once, in search of something she had never experienced. Life with her mother had not included privacy or acceptance of the masturbatory act. And, after getting caught attempting climax in the shower when she was very young, she'd never been brave enough to try again, not even in her adulthood.
The woman made his head ache, and after the confusion that whispered like curls of smoke through the logic of her very tone, Cotton drew away from her. He pushed up from his knees and shrugged out of his suspenders for room to breathe if nothing else. For some time it must have seemed like he had nothing else to say on the subject at all, that their conversation was finished as far as he was concerned. Although what he was truly concerned about was the thought that toyed with the notion of things having only just begun. What the hell was wrong with him? Vanishing into his bedroom, Cotton scaled the side of his bed in bare feet and navigated the stacks of work - nine-tenths of which was not even his own responsibility - as he sought out the partially smoked joint from its long dead smolder in the ashtray. He lit its blackened end with the sulphur hiss of a struck match and took a hard breath through clenched teeth while he unfastened the clasps of his suspenders from dark trousers. At this point he'd consider just paying the en route hooker to push Dahlia out of his apartment, just have them both leave. Her very presence made him manic, and he paced the chaos that was his bedroom for a couple of deep hits that burned his lungs and left him coughing until he finally emerged. Joint wedged defiantly on the corner of his mouth, "So you've come to what? Arrest me?" Her mention of interest in his illegal substances was not forgotten, although nothing about the last five minutes was forgotten at all. All that pacing had also given time to slay the beginnings of his erection, of which he was plenty thankful.
She was left alone when he vanished into the room, and the space between them brought all the clarity that had been chased away by his mouth and hands. She slid her palms over the sweatshirt, smoothing it down and brushing away the memory of his fingers beneath it, and she touched a hand to her jaw, to her ear. She did not touch the jeans, did not allow her hands to travel to the spot that was still warm and moist between her thighs. This was a mistake. Coming to this place was a mistake. She was on her feet within seconds, and she tried to logic with herself as she sought the door knob. It was the marijuana, that sweet fog on the air, and nothing more. She had no interest in Cotton Kent, and certainly no desire to be touched by him, or by any other man. Lust was a distraction that was not necessary in her life, and sexual experience was better off left unexperienced. She had no desire to wed, to procreate, and these things were the only reasons to involve herself in an emotional relationship based on socially created fallacies. By the time he returned, with his joint and his pacing, she had already begun to turn the doorknob, and it was his question that stopped her from pulling the door open. "No. I have no interest in arresting you. As I have told you, I am a crime scene investigator, not an officer. It was a mistake to trouble you, and I can only assume I was effected by the disparate amount of intoxicated air within this closed apartment. If you will excuse me." The only thing that belied the distanced calm of her words was the way her hand attempted to ruck the fabric of her jeans at her outer thigh with growing franticness. She pulled open the door. "Good evening."
"I didn't realize that crime scene investigators made house calls," he countered with no intention of stopping her on her way out the door. Dahlia Graves was more than free to leave his apartment and his life entirely. That damn journal, he glanced over at where it sat on an end table, safely bound and closed. He'd set the thing on fire if he wasn't so certain that it would only show up in his mail the very next day. "Or are you here to investigate the scene of a crime?" He glanced around with a dramatic shrug that said he found her excuses for coming here completely unfounded and practically a lie. "I have no doubts that you are a professional in your chosen field," which hinted at a bit of respect for her chosen profession even as he shifted about the entryway with the familiar drama of the courtroom beginning to work its way back into his tone and interest. "So tell me what you see.." Dropping the spent joint into the open mouth of a long dead coffee cup, he pursued her with those dark slacks sagging on narrow hips with the lack of their earlier accessories, extending a hand in gesture of the foyer like some ringmaster. "Because you are the one that accuses me of bringing emotion into a situation that calls for none and yet you show up on my doorstep completely unannounced.. out of what, concern of my well being?"
She had the door open by now, but Cotton was near enough because he was edging this shark tank to get the final word in before Dahlia stormed off. No, a woman like her would not storm. She would walk off at a slow and dead-eyed pace, working the scientific method out in her head like someone with OCD might count their steps. There was another blond on the other side of the door. Her dress was clingwrap silver and her heels were clear, sky-high things usually meant for a certain kind of stage. Talk about bad timing. Frowning, Cotton pulled a couple of twenties out of his back pocket and tossed them out the door to the woman who seemed befuddled but ultimately shrugged when he shut the door in her face a moment later. Cotton had lost the taste for company this evening, and he was still tending to Ms. Graves and her extremely unsound argument. "You're lying to yourself." Oh, and he's the one so full of deception? "If the smoke in this apartment affected you, you'd have made request for a sandwich and some reggae music, not begged when my hands were on you." Because while she might not have had much to say during the incident in question, her body had been extremely responsive, and it begged.
She had no true justification for her presence there, none beyond a strangely sentimental concern for his wellbeing that was founded in nothing truly logical or scientific. "I have informed you of my reason for coming," she finally managed, offering no further clarity on a situation that could not possibly be clarified. His question about crime scene investigation made her look past him, at the apartment, and the request to inform him of what she saw was easier to focus on than his subsequent query about her motives. "I see the apartment of a man who has fallen into depression and disrepair. You are self-destructive, engaging in random sexual encounters and habitual drug usage. You have given up on a future in your field of work, though you are not entirely willing to walk away from it, even if your reduced state does not allow for the level of work you desire. But the field still interests you, and so you take a menial job there to remain close to the subject."
She turned to leave, after having made her proclamation, but the blonde woman's presence stopped her, and she looked over the woman in her dress and heels. She remained silent as Cotton paid the woman, and she would have refrained from mentioning her, had Cotton not made the accusation about her begging, and then her cornflower blue eyes gleamed with annoyance. "And you hire prostitutes that resemble your wife, because she left you for reasons I have not yet determined." She felt guilty the moment the words escaped her lips, a fact which showed prominently on her pale, unexceptional features. She hesitated a moment, as if she could take it back if she thought on it long enough. But there was no drinking the words back in, and she merely stared at him a moment longer before retreating into the hall in a graceless lurch, and then slamming the door behind herself.
It was the argument Cotton enjoyed because it was the argument that brought back all the fire and remembrance of what had once been. The Golden Boy of the Golden Gate and later Seattle, and it wasn't even the minor fame that went with such things. The dinner tables that awaited or the endless Commissioner parties and event galas that begged his invitation in the form of card and call.. because he'd rarely attended such things. Not that he found other people so plebeian and menial, but social activity - while a crucial demand of the day - had always been more of a strain on him than a pleasure. Of course that was before Owen and before the fall and before everything that came after, and while this disagreement pleased him as much as the sudden snap of irritation in her eyes.. Cotton was not expecting the next words that came out of her mouth. He kind of froze as if she'd confused him, but there was no confusion despite the knit in his brow. He was weighing her, and the guilt that spasmed across her countenance was nothing compared to what ran razors through his heart. To hear it out loud, to get so fucked up that he could pretend that woman outside with her dress and her heels was anything close to Owen, to get so high that he'd thought even momentarily that this robot was her sweet return. The door slammed behind Dahlia, and it felt like a blink because he didn't even really notice her leaving. He stood alone and quiet by the door for a long time, listening for her steps although he didn't know why. Perhaps to see if she'd storm after all and surprise him.
But Cotton Kent did not like surprises, he liked facts that could be spun from fiction and unraveled into lies with a twirl of his finger. He preached that he appreciated justice and the truth, and while it was true.. a court of law was never really about what was true. It was about what could be made true, what cases could be relied on to build the lie into more and more until the whole world was a spool of yarn in your hands, easily turned into complicated ladders or castles or muddled balls of nothing but string. Simple, nothing string. It was all an act, always had been, his entire life, and he knew that even more now when he rested his cheek against the closed door and exhaled deeply. Something to calm his nerves, which the herb had begun to coax, but the lingering bourbon still fed something angry in him that had everything to do with Dahlia's truths and nothing to do with Dahlia. When Cotton stalked back into the papered recesses of his bedroom, the door slammed so hard it nearly executed the hinges. The resounding, "FUCK! echoed like shame through the empty, unhealthy apartment.