|Dante "Inferno" Zaragoza - Death'll find you... (xolotl) wrote in repose,|
@ 2020-02-04 10:17:00
|Entry tags:||*log, dante zaragoza, hector zaragoza, leena bertolini|
[Log: Dante/Hector/Leena - Part 1 of 2 - COMPLETE]
Who: Dante & Leena (References/Mentions of Hector)
When: BACKDATED:Dec 8th
Where: Repose - Dante’s new place
Ratings/Warnings: language. Always language.
|What had she done?|
Why had she done this?
The moment the chat and dinner plans had been completed her mind had started to race. It wasn’t inherently bad but it had potential to be problematic. What if Artemis was a plant from Spider? What if Artemis knew Inferno was Dante? What if this was all some elaborate guise to murder Hector before her very eyes as revenge for all the damage she’d done to Spider’s organization?
Fuck, what if her dad liked Leena? What would she tell him when she moved away from Repose and likely never contacted anyone here again? It would be safer for them if she broke contact after she left. No way to backtrack connections and hurt someone later, no way to blackmail, no way to…
But what if her father and Leena kept in contact?
Could she really break contact with Artemis after the other was trying so very hard to reach out and connect while carrying the belief of being damaged goods and the psychological social repercussions it would cause if Dante dropped her like a hot potato and...
The problem with having access to the data she did, the abilities she did, the way her brain worked…
Forty different possibilities, responses and end outcomes had already been calculated before she’d gone to bed that night after agreeing to host the dinner on the date of her father’s choice. Why the hell did Leena even want to meet her father? While Dante would never deny that Hector was a great man who deserved all the attention and love that might come his way… This whole thing seemed super fucking strange too.
Had Leena figured out she was Inferno?
That…. Shouldn’t have been likely. It was statistically unlikely. Inferno was taller, moved differently because of the gear weight and distribution, spoke in short terse statements and even when they’d chatted online Dante had assured her responses remained as short and lacking in details as possible. None of her skin should have shown the two times they’d run into each other either.
Obsessing over those details - while her mind wanted to solve the mystery that was before it desperately - wasn’t going to get her fucking anywhere. It was an endless series of dead-ends without solutions and while her brain desperately kept trying to grab for answers, for solutions, for reasonable tangible outcomes that she could bank on… There was no point.
Instead she could plan for what was supposed to happen.
The time between when plans had been made and the actual night of the event had been spent cleaning, organizing, decorating, upgrading and installing new tech into the house. Maybe she shouldn’t have been running twelve to eighteen hour days for the entire time but it felt like there was just never enough time. Between the shop and finishing moving and the house and…. Attempting to do anything that wasn’t those things? There just weren’t enough hours in the day. Having today off had been a relief but that hadn’t meant Dante wasn’t tense.
What was the outcome of the night going to be?
The menu had been carefully planned out. Snack foods of sliced jicama, mango and strawberries had been laid out with two different chocolate dipping sauces - one milk, one dark - for starters. There was a salad to follow and then Chili Rellenos with extra meat - that was American enough, right? - and finally a Tres Leches cake with a strawberry compote drizzled over the freshly sliced strawberries that would top the cake. The fucking compote had taken all morning and even part of the afternoon to boil down and left the house smelling first of strawberries before any of the other scents from cooking might creep about.
But at least that had been all she’d really needed to worry about.
Decorating had gone surprisingly fast. It had been a testament to how desperate Dante was to have a space that was really hers all over again. While the outside of the three bedroom, two bath, two car garage house was only minimally decorated - a welcome mat in binary that read ‘welcome’ if one could read the code, a wreath on the door for the upcoming holidays - the inside was a completely different story. Upon entering the house anyone would immediately be struck by five things, the first of which being how colorful the inside of the house was. Each room had been painted with a color that may have been unexpected but still worked well with the furniture and other decorations. Each item in any room popped a new color into existence in such a way to compliment the other colors that surrounded it. Art and plants seemed almost strategically placed so that the eye could always be caught on or admiring Out of gravity something throughout the house if it was thprint by Lora Zombie hanging in the kitchen with her mexican honeysuckle or the framed centered print of
Black lips that hung in the living room that was complemented by the living chocolate cosmos plant there was always something else to look at. Maybe it was another painting or a tiny figurine hiding in the plant pot, or perhaps it was the newest electronic she’d started to disassemble but stopped half way through to start cooking that had been left on the living room coffee table or many of what felt like a million other tiny details that had seemed aptly organized around the house that would catch one’s eye.
Which the organization of the house alone was another thing to marvel at. It was clearly meticulously looked after with a place for everything laid out. Not everything was in its place - a house lived in was a house worth keeping - when company would arrive but that was hardly a concern. She lived here, it was her house, if they had issues with some electronics repair mess they could get the hell out. Yet, if time was taken to meander about to really look over things it would be easy to find a small altar like table in a tucked away corner of the living room with an old picture of a woman, two candles, a couple small trinkets and fresh cut chocolate cosmos laid in front of the picture.
Maybe they’d want a tour of the place, maybe they wouldn’t, but Dante wasn’t about to offer up showing her bedroom, the basement, attic and garage unless she absolutely had to. Between the fact that she hadn’t finished unpacking and the fact that there were sensitive materials hidden in all of that? Yeah, not going there seemed like the best bet in the world. The basement was going to be her workshop and really that was only about half set up, the attic would be her gear storage, the garage would just be a mess and her bedroom? Well… That just… That just felt a little too personal to take anyone near any time soon. If it was needed she would but…
The thought was cast out as the front doorbell rang.
“Fuck.” Dante cursed under her breath as the compote was given a final quick stir with her ladle. Was it that late already? A quick glance was cast to the nearest clock. Fuck.
There wasn’t time to ditch her apron and instead Dante would bound to the door - dressed only slightly nicer than normal and fully garbed in her cooking apron - to pull the front door open and greet her guest.
“¡Hola! ¿Cómo estás?” And it didn’t really matter who was at the door since Leena had asked for Spanish lessons - which was still fucking weird - and Hector well… Dante was going to talk to him in Spanish every second of every day possible considering how few other people spoke it around here.
It was, perhaps, her mother's influence that made her leap to dinner with Dante and Hector, unthinking of any consequences, but perhaps she should have been following their conversation. It was only after the comment about tricking that she had and found that Dante had already located her dad. Her interference was unneeded, and even as she had wanted to back out, give father and daughter time to see each other catch up, whatever it was that families did, but no. Now here she was.
And Dante hadn't even let her back out. If it had been Damian, he would have told her fine, to go lick her wounds in private, or something like that, but Dante had refused to let her leave. No one did that.
No one that she knew of and no one that she could recall in her still spotty memory.
It rubbed up against her insides and left her feeling hot, and angry, and a little bit dangerous. Reckless maybe? She didn't have a name for it, though perhaps it was something lingering from her newfound time in the suit. A feeling that was still present, lurking under her rib cage.
It had influenced tonight's outfit. (Well, that and trolling through her old wardrobe. She had never bought a pair of leather pants while she'd been living in Repose.)
There was no hum of a car, nor roar of a motorcycle to announce her arrival -- she walked up as she tended to walk everywhere in Repose. Prancing from one foot to the other, her boots making very little sound on the doorstep and rang the doorbell.
She heard Dante -- or assumed it was Dante -- running for the door and yep, there she was in her Starry Night apron. She blinked, then one eyebrow rose up. She was -- she was -- cute. And for someone like Dante who was firmly hot in Leena's head, it was a little disconcerting. But only for a moment cause this was the woman who had not let her back up, who even threatened her with chasing if she tried -- and Leena hated being chased.
Or she did. But Dante had flirted, and flirted, and fought and -- "Hola," she replied as she entered the house and surged into Dante's space. "Who the fuck do you think you are? Not allowing me to leave, threatening to chase me down if I do?" And yeah, that feeling was electric under her skin, and it was all too easy to reach out and grab her by the hair if she allowed it, but her own hands weren't raised to strike.
There was a passive rolling of hands that would invite Leena into the space with a warm and welcoming smile. “Come in, come in.” Her voice easily encouraged Leena and a glance was taken over the other woman’s shoulder for any other newcomers. While she may have plenty of reservations about tonight it didn’t mean that it couldn’t go well too. It was a possibility in the statistical analysis of simulated situations she’d been running through her head since the agreement. In fact, if she just kept smiling and kept trying to-
What the fuck?
As Leena surged forward - unexpected, not calculated for - Dante shifted backwards, one foot falling firmly to plant behind her and sure up her stance in case Leena tried to bowl her over.
Dante couldn’t help but react.
A hand snapped up to snatch Leena’s wrist out of the air and turn the arm outwards - leaving both her own and Leena’s wrist and forearm pointed towards the ceiling and was held in a way to not hurt either of them - and her other hand raised in defense but not to strike or harm.
“What the actual fuck, Leena?!” Was all she’d manage to growl under her breath - a mix of surprise, confusion and defensiveness - for a moment before a hand would move to rest against Leena’s upper chest to stop any movement between them but the elbow wasn’t locked out and if pushed would easily fold between them.
Her goal wasn't to bowl Dante over, but the look in her eyes said she would have made the attempt if that was what she wanted. It wasn't, and the grabbing of her wrist didn't make her any calmer. She rotated it in an attempt to break the hold, and when that failed she did her second option and pulled her arm back and down, tucking it behind the small of her back.
No one would do it unless they wanted very close quarters, but it wasn't even a good one for fighting, not with one arm behind oneself. It was very good for only one thing, and that was bringing them closer, even with Dante's arm folded between them.
"You," she growled, full on rumble, enough to make a Jag a little jealous. Dante came in with her accent, and her Spanish, and her kindness, and her fucking sense of humor and unwillingness to back the fuck down -- even now, and Leena let out a little choked off whimper as her free hand came up to cup the side of her face. Gentle almost, with a sweep of her thumb before she kept on pushing, 'cause she was good at that.
There was too much she'd lost already and she wasn't going to say she lost this too, not without at least a test beyond a panicked reaction after a kiss she hadn't expected.
The last thing Dante was expecting was to be pulled forward. She’d braced for being pushed into, for being slammed against and had calculated her stance, where her hands were and everything else based off of that assumption. That was why when Leena pulled, Dante went with which resulted in her arm being half wrapped around Leena’s body in the process. Her grip tightened - not enough to hurt, but more than she’d allowed it to tighten on Leena’s hand or arm before - while her brain made full sense of all the signals. There were so many variables to calculate and-
This positioning didn’t make sense for aggression.
Having the verbal finger pointed at her - that tone, there was something in that tone - but that whimper? Oh. That wasn’t missed. Defensiveness started falling out of her muscles but didn’t disappear. However, there was still a hesitancy, a sort of lingering uncertainty, and eyes shifted seeming to try to assess Leena and the hand that was now touching her face as quickly as possible. The thumb stroking across her face? It slowed her down, it took her off guard but the confusion it also brought about… Wasn’t safe to have right now.
Or was it?
Dante couldn’t help how her breathing picked up, how her heartbeat suddenly felt just a bit faster, how she’d instantly noticed how Leena smelled and… Oh. She liked that.
“Use your words.” Was the breathily whispered positive encouragement - trying to help coax Leena along to where she may want to be - while her tone held promise and lacked fear. Yet, even with that promising aspect behind it, Dante wouldn’t budge forward or back - standing firmly in place against whatever the other woman may try - but at the same time wouldn’t attempt to hamper Leena from moving any more than she already was.
Deeper than the tingling aggression in her skin was -- had she just been ready to do that? She blinked, face to face with Dante and sighed, cause words. Words got her in more than enough trouble with this woman, words that were honest if self depreciating, words meant to help that led to tricks, words that got her hyped up past fight and into some other arena that she couldn't name.
Her face pinched and she leaned forward slowly, eyes closing to rest their foreheads together. Her hand shifted from her face to her shoulder, but thee touch was still light, far too gentle to be considered a fight.
Words. Dante needed words, and she huffed out a little, cracked laugh. "My words are shit." At least that was honest, but she half expected a demand for more, or Dante's laughter, or the sting of not-right-why-do-you-always-do-this-Hele
The walls went up as if she could keep the panic aside, stay in some semblance of control, but she was already drawing back, pushing against her arm to be released right the fuck now a little desperate keen working up out of her throat. "Let go, letgo letgo!"
“That’s okay.” The words were intentionally meant to sound soothing. She was trying to deescalate a situation she hadn’t even fucking known was escalated in the first damn place. “Mine too.” Was tacked on quickly in attempts to ease the mood further and Leena ought to know that Dante fucked up her words regularly. At this point Dante was pretty sure Leena had easily witnessed it on the public forums at least two or three times. “Great thing about being alive? Means we get to keep trying.” Her voice remained low, breathy a bit as this was… this was close… this was…. The feel of Leena’s forehead seemed to be the final signal, the gentle touch helped, and any remaining defensiveness was finally, fully lost from her stance.
As soon as the first ‘let go’ was out of Leena’s mouth Dante’s hands were instantly - with an incredible speed - off of Leena’s body and raised into the air with palms open and facing Leena held at chest height. The hands up intended to let the other woman know she was not a threat, that she was not going to move to fight that she….
“Leena, can I hug you?” Quickly followed by. “I can keep talking.”
In the scorecard between Leena and the universe, the universe kept winning, Leena sitting at 0, and the speed at which Dante's hands were off her meant that the next breath came a little easier as she backed up, and kept backing up, stopped only by the wall at her back. That much distance and there was still that feeling crawling over her, panic and her own inability to stop fucking things up.
And then Dante asked for a hug, and her whole body twisted with it because no. And that wasn't what she was supposed to say. There was supposed to be-- Dante wasn't even lying, and there wasn't pity in her eyes, nor need in her voice. It didn't echo of things that brought greater pain, and her face twisted into confusion. "Buh?" Was the only sound that came out of her on an exhale.
She shook her head because no, she didn't want to be touched, but the very things she was prepped for weren't coming either. Dante wasn't moving wasn't advancing, but staying there with her hands up in that universal gesture of surrender. She took a step to the side, then another, then several quick ones, pacing like a cat, unsure.
But there wasn't a threat and she stilled again, hands at her sides as her breaths came too fast, her whole body prepped to bolt at the second that Dante came too close, but she nodded fast, jolty. "Talk."
Hands remained up where Leena could see them, easily visible and Dante - other than taking a very slow step or two back if it looked like Leena needed it and only after giving a signal that she was about to move - stayed stalk still. She had told the other woman long ago to tell her where the boundaries were and that they would instantly be respected as long as Leena wasn’t going to hurt herself. Which right now…? That was… Well, nothing bad had happened yet.
“No hugging, understood.” Was out of her mouth as fast as her brain had processed Leena’s rejection of the proposed action and the new request earned a low ‘mm-hm’ as her brain clicked away.
“If you’re hungry there’s cut fruit in the kitchen. Strawberries, mango and Jicama - which isn’t a fruit - but none of that’s in season so I picked out the best ones I could find.” Why the fuck was that the first thing out of her mouth? At least she had plenty of experience with keeping calm and reasonable in tense interactions. “Chocolate dipping sauces too.” Why self? Why?! “But dinner is still cooking. I made chille rellenos for dinner but if that’s not good we can just order out and I can toss that in the fridge.” She wanted to shrug her shoulders so bad but the movement was repressed as she remained still and her hands were kept visible.
“There’s Tres Leches cake for dessert with a strawberry sauce…. compote more really but like…. That’s just some asshole trying to make ‘strawberry sauce sound fancy.” Make it normal, treat her normal. Everything’s okay. She needs normal. “And sorry about the phone being taken apart on the coffee table. I found one broken and wanted to see if I could challenge myself with its repair. It’s pretty busted up. The screen’s fucked on it. Not sure I can save it.” The words were all true. A beat. “I’ve heard focusing on your breathing helps.” Quickly was followed with. “I can count for breathing in and out if it would help?” This time a question because maybe that didn’t work for Leena.
“There’s salad too.” A beat as her brain was racing through the variables here. “And no lesson on oils to come with it.” They’d already had that talk and Dante had not only gone over vehicle oil oils but also cooking oils and machine oils as well. She hadn’t been kidding when she’d said there was going to be a lesson on oils.
“I’m thinking of posting this video for the shop that I did on repairing and replacing rear drum and shoe brake sets.” This had some lingering thoughtfulness behind the words. “I’m just not sure if I should edit the video up first or not. Never really been good at that.” Which video editing for YouTube? Yeah, she didn’t have any experience with that but she’d leave the fact that she had plenty of other video editing experience elsewhere alone.
“If there’s anything you need, if you can vocalize it, please let me know.” She was being nice, she was using nice language, she was…. Why did this feel vaguely similar to a network chat they’d already had? Something about wanting Leena to be comfortable and feel respected and how she’d supposedly gotten that and…
“I was listening to the news earlier and I think I found another bar I want to check out. Need to go take a look at It’s reviews first though, ask around about it.” This was thoughtful as well but still she didn’t move. Eyes kept checking in on Leena though, trying to adjust to what she might need, trying to gauge if there were any more puzzle pieces she could put together to fix exactly what the hell was happening right here, right now.
Fuck all tonight.
“But that’s for another night.” The thoughts were dismissed. “I’m considering hosting a housewarming party.” There was a faint smile. “I know it’s kinda a weird looking house and I don’t know a lot of people here but I think I know enough that we could have a good time.” Include her, talk about the future, other things. Remind her there’s more out there than what’s in her head right now. “I’ve never really been in a place to be a host though so it’s kinda weird, right?” A pause before she quickly started again. “Plus is it weird to have people over to your house before the housewarming party? I’ve never had a house to have a housewarming in and I feel like I know how none of this works.” It was a passive train of thought, an honest one, a pure series of connected considerations but it was words and words had been what Leena said she needed so words were what Dante would deliver.
Dante started with -- with fruit and not fruit. Strawberries were definitely not in season, which meant it was down to whatever she could find and fruit was -- it was easier to concentrate on. It wasn't tied up in emotions and baggage cause it was fucking fruit and if that destroyed her then she was already up shit creek.
Outwardly, she only blinked, as stock still as Dante was as her words passed over her, through her ears without abrading her nerves. It wasn't nonsense, and it wasn't the pandering that people usually did when they weren't sure what to say. No, she was going, and it made sense in a train of consciousness way, but this train was just carrying her along, she wasn't participating yet in it as she worked her breaths in and out of her lungs. In, out, steady.
On salad she started to focus again, and there was a ghost of a smile at oils. The lesson on oil had covered a variety of oils, and she knew machine oils, and motor oil, but Dante had been thorough in a way that hurt her brain a little. She blinked. Nodded at the bit about the youtube video, but words weren't out yet. They were still locked up behind her teeth, but her tongue did come out to wet her lips.
They didn't taste like anything. She blinked at Dante again, watching, wary but her shoulders weren't kissing her ears anymore, and she was no longer bouncing from toe to toe as if prepping to bolt. It took her another moment to be aware of wetness, and her gaze finally left Dante as she reached up to touch just under her nose where blood was starting to leak. She sighed, and it seemed to say "'Again?'. She pressed her finger there and finally looked back, resigned to yes, this was the facts of her shithole life.
"Where…?" Her voice cracked on it, and there were no more words to suggest what she might be looking for, though it was most likely a bathroom.
Where Leena thought bathroom, Dante thought - stop the blood - and that was what finally caused her to start to move with a passive “tissues, shit.” muttered under her breath but it was only starting to shift before she caught herself and stopped moving again, with hands still up.
“Can I move?” Which was quickly followed with. “I don’t know where the tissues are but you can use my apron.” The apron didn’t matter, it was a thing. Leena was a person and people would always matter more than things and that would easily reflect in her voice, along with a clear desire to help reflected in her eyes.
The question got one of those slow blinks, confusion in the tilt of her head before she nodded. Tissues, moving, a sink, something. Something that wasn't her apron though, because she made a little objecting noise at the suggestion and shook her head, smearing blood along her finger.
It was bad enough that she was standing her house, after nearly having attacked her and had a panic attack that she didn't need to go bleeding all over her pretty apron too. Though she was desperately trying not to think about the former before she did end up sprinting out and disappearing into the night, never to be seen nor heard from again.
"Bath--" she tried to say, but the consonants on the end softened and she did a little frustrated fidget. "Bathroom." That was clearer, or so she hoped as she pinched her nostrils shut to keep from getting her blood everywhere.
“Hush.” Dante completely, gently, ignored the rejection of the apron as both of her hands began to move. One reached behind herself to untie the bow that kept the apron snug around her body while the other hand reached down, bunching up a collection of the material in her hand. A foot was placed forward - as if going to slowly move towards stepping slowly closer - but the movement stopped entirely as Leena tried to speak again and Dante wanted to assure the other woman had the space she needed.
“We don’t need blood getting on your clothing.” She’d gently encourage Leena before trying to step forward again with the apron still hung around her neck but with one hand offering up the bunched up bit to dab at Leena’s nose but not following through on the action yet.
“There’s plenty of ways to get blood out of an apron.” A soft, gentle and encouraging smile was offered, a final attempt to get Leena to accept her help to begin to gently wipe at the blood.
“And if it doesn’t come out, you’re more important anyway.”
She didn't say that it wouldn't be the first time that she got blood on her clothing. But she wasn't wearing black -- good for hiding a multitude of things, no, she had to be wearing something with colors and blood was going to show up bright and clear on it.
Frowning around her hand, because she knew it wasn't easy to get blood out of cloth, she regarded that slow creep forward with wary eyes. Leena stood her ground though, half unwilling to take it when her eyes widened at that last bit. No one said shit like that to her, except maybe Sadie. They might have meant it, the sentiment weaved between vowels and consonants, but this was different.
"Fuck," she mumbled and finally took the offered bunched up apron to dab at her nose. "Still need a bathroom," she said as best she could, words slurred and softened with the apron shoved up against her nose. What she probably needed was to sit down and tilt her head back, let the blood drain the back of her throat. "Dante," she said with another one of those fidgety steps. If not the bathroom, the kitchen, or out back, somewhere to minimize her getting blood everywhere.
Only once Leena had taken up the apron would Dante signal to the other woman that she was going to slip out of it. With a dip of her head, and a hand grabbing at the thin strap of material around her neck she easily slipped the apron and left the material in Leena’s hands. There was a moment as she seemed to freeze up - assessing - before reality kicked back in.
“Right, fuck, of course, sorry.” A hand shifted, moving to reach out to touch Leena so that she could guide the other woman before the hand stopped, hanging between them in the air. “Can I… touch you…?” If given a yes she’d gently take Leena’s upper arm, if given a no she’d respect that too before beginning to direct them back to the bathroom.
“Apron saves you staining my floors anyway.” It was an easy joke to make - most of the floors were hardwood - and she offered a sympathetic smile briefly. “Should have some cotton balls in the closet in there. Pretty sure those are best for removing nail polish but…” A half shrug was given with the bathroom in easy sight. “If you plug up a nostril with them sure there’ll be no blood getting out.” It might have been a trick she’d used a few times.
“Can I get you anything?” Dante would use the words as a passive check if the other woman needed anything else, and if nothing was needed? Well, she’d simply return to the kitchen and leave Leena in the bathroom for now.
The question didn't receive a flinch, but she wasn't sure -- yes? No? That Dante even wanted to touch at this point was a bit of a surprise, and she took too long deciding that it might as well have been a no written in flashing lights that were missing half the bulbs.
"Nasal rocket," she muttered at the cotton balls. That had almost happened once, but as soon as she was in after following Dante through the house she went searching for them so she could save as much of her apron as possible. Nevermind that she could, theoretically, buy like half a dozen to replace them. It was Dante's, and not hers, to ruin.
Grabbing a ball, she shoved it up one nostril and another up the other before jamming the apron under cold water. It'd help, right? She heard that somewhere. It took her a moment to realize that she was alone again, Dante having gone off somewhere. "Fuck," she muttered, leaving the apron under the running water as she sat down heavily on the toilet lid. What even was her life anymore?
Exhaling heavily, she pulled out the cotton balls and tipped her head back instead, as if staring at the ceiling would help anything. It didn't, and she swallowed as copper leaked over thee back of her tongue and down the back of her throat. This was it. This was her life. Aggression, and panic attacks, and ruining things that belonged to pretty girls with a side of nosebleeds. She laughed, harsh and depreciating, but she didn't leave, not until she tasted no more blood and could wash the stain of red off her face and hands.
The water off the apron was running clear, and she squeezed as much water out of it before staring at the bathroom door. If the room had a window that would have been an option but -- no. Taking a deep breath, apron in hand, she emerged like the condemned going to their death to find Dante.
There were half a dozen things she wanted to say, that she should say. About how she should go, to give Hector her apologies for not staying, and what came out was, "Sorry for ruining blood."
The time was watched carefully. Every second that ticked by was noted as she’d connected to a stopwatch app in her head and sent it barreling off into counting the seconds. one, two, three, four… if she got up to 1,200 seconds she’d go check on Leena. Twenty minutes should be more than enough for anyone to take care of a bloody nose. Calming down from whatever the fuck had just fucking happened though?
Tea. Tea was calming.
Shit did she have tea right now? With the move and everything the fuck else going on.
Did Leena even like tea? With as much as Dante knew of Leena and Artemis she was starting to realize that Leena left as many informational holes when it came to answering personal questions as she did.
Tea though. That had her moving. Did she have a kettle? It’s not unpacked. Fuck me. A pot would do and one was quickly retrieved before being filled with water and put on the stove to heat. From here it was easy to begin tearing apart her own cabinets - she had to have some fucking tea around here somewhere - to find what she was looking for. In the wake of her destruction of the organizational system of her cabinets, with one knee up on the counter as she reached for a top shelf was how Leena would find her. The ceilings in the house were surprisingly high. Easily eight to ten feet up and the top shelf - even at her height - wasn’t something fully reached without a little help.
....five hundred fifty-six, five hundred fifty-seven, five hundred fifty-eight…..
A box of Tension Tamer tea came down with her as she intentionally slipped off the counter. There was a face made at the now messy counters before she’d sigh and turn to-
“Oh!” An unsure smile was offered to Leena but the broken sentence earned a look of confusion before the look in her eyes changed to deducing what was going on.
“Don’t stress, I can always order another, or it gets a one of a kind Leena B. color splash.” This smile would be more gentle while also less concerned at the same time. With her free hand she’d take the apron back before pausing with the apron in one hand and the box of Tension Tamer tea bags in the other.
“Um. Do you drink tea?” And insert an awkward apologetic smile here because well, this was awkard as fuck.
“I also have cocoa.”
As soon as the puzzle piece words came out of her mouth, she closed her eyes and counted to ten to stop herself from turning around and walking right out the front door. That was still a possibility though. An idea? Definitely a good one. Like walk out, forget this ever happened, maybe she could blame it on some town based insanity or an evil doppleganger.
Seven. Eight. She breathed out, and breathed in again on nine through ten because calming breaths. Deep breaths. Maybe she should run back to the center and express that she was obviously still completely fucked because she couldn't interact with another human being without turning it to shit like she was driven by the universe to do so.
"Uh-h-h yeah," she said brokenly, eyes opening back up. "Kinda-- sorry about everything. Not kinda. Definitely. Including the splash I didn't mean to give you. I rinsed it out, so I'm -- I'm thinking it hasn't set and if you wash it now it'll probably be alright," she rambled. "And if it's-- if it's not, I can find you a new one. Get you a-- a replacement one, yeah, since I ruined this one--" and she managed to shut up when Dante took the apron back.
Only now she had no idea what to do with her hands and it showed, because they went everywhere -- a wild gesticulation in the air, her hair, the back of her neck, her hips, and then finally she wound her arm around her body like that would help.
"Um-- I, yeah? But like-- I should go. I should go," she repeated with a nod. "Cause I-- I am so not good at any of this. Like at all. Please see the last like 15 minutes or whatever and you should have a nice dinner with your dad without some freak show inviting herself into it like a third wheel and making the night horrible."
Fuck, did she just say all of that?
Dante would watch, patiently listening and processing what was going on in front of her without moving or saying a word, letting Leena get it out at first.
“Hey Leena.” Her voice was gentle, her eyes had softened with care. “You told me you were damaged. I still invited you into my car, invited you out to smash some fucker’s teeth in, brought you to my house.” Eyes tried to catch the other woman’s. “A little damage has never scared me, never will.” These words were gentle in a way that they were trying to express understanding, express that this wasn’t an issue, express that if someone had been hurt? That was never a problem with her.
“I don’t care about the apron.” She’d intentionally make a show of dropping it on the floor to make a point, and then step on it and remain standing there atop her apron in the middle of the kitchen looking back at Leena. “I care about making you some tea if you want it so that you can maybe feel a little better right now. When my dad gets here we’ll eat. Hopefully, you won’t hate my cooking and then you’ll feel a little better too because you’ll have some food in your stomach, and who doesn’t feel better after a bite to eat, right?” It seemed simple enough for the time. Admittedly, they’d need to talk later about a couple things but...
“Freak show?” Oh that sounded displeased and the look she leveled at Leena wasn’t much happier. “No. That’s not gonna cut it here.” A hand raised, leveling at Leena as her index finger pointed at the other woman but Dante remained not moving from her spot atop the apron otherwise. “You’re never calling yourself that again, got it?” And every single word was dead serious. “You have fucking damage Leena, it makes us react differently to shit and sometimes those reactions are hard on others but….” She’d been picking up some fight in her tone but it wouldn’t be aimed at Leena and the drop of ‘us’ was only realized after the word had slipped her mouth. Fuck. However, the tone died away as she began to speak again. “It’s a nightmare when it’s your own head.” And those words were spoken from someone who knew what a nightmare the mind could be and her tone made that clear. There was a heavy huff of breath released and her shoulders relaxed from the brief bought of anger brought on by Leena calling herself a freak show.
“Honestly, the only thing you fucked up was not asking me if you could pull my hair before trying and I know next time you’ll get consent first.” The words were honest but spoken with just a touch of humor before she’d raise the partially full box of tension tamer and give it a slight shake to rattle the tea bags around within it. “Now, take a seat because the tea bag will take a little bit to soak.” The words were more an invite than command and Dante would turn, frowning at the partially messy counters before moving to retrieve a mug from the cupboard.
Sometimes gentleness threatened to abrade. An unexpected behavior that was not like the knives that she tended to aim inward, and now they almost did, until they didn't. Maybe it was because her hands were numb -- and she knew what was happening, and jammed them into her pockets. The words felt like words, like comfort aimed at her, but some damage was beyond healing by words and it would take more than them to calm some of her rough edges.
But for now, it was enough for her to realize what was going on. She blinked, watching the apron be stepped on, and bit back her impulse to say that Dante didn't have to do that, do this. But apparently Dante had as much brakes as she did, cause she wasn't stopping, she just kept going, and that was something that Leena could feel way down into her bones, whether they were calcium or granite.
The insistence that certain words not be repeated again though? That was met with a wall in Leena's eyes. Did the words help? They didn't hurt. But nor could they heal. Like her broken mind, it would take time and perhaps a wish to speed things up. But she could hear the heavy weight of experience in them. Another time, later, she'd ask, but now wasn't it. "Alright," she finally said quietly, but it wasn't an agreement to never say it, only to not say it within Dante's earshot.
"Tea," she agreed. The humor kept the words from stinging as deeply as they should. She should have known better, but there's a blindspot in her knowledge. A place she can't see, can't understand, and she nodded in agreement. "Alright," she repeated and sat down in one of the chairs around the table, the dark gray arms curving around her shoulders in a way that was more comforting than others.
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