you can't hide your lyin' eyes Who: Mercy, Nate, and Daniel. What: Mercy goes running to Nate for comfort after getting hit in the face, and everything devolves from there. Where: Nate's apartment, then Daniel's apartment, then the Pax Letale parking lot. When: Backdated like woah to Dec. 9 and immediately following this thread.
One hand still lightly resting over her injured eye, Mercy stomped through the lobby toward the elevators. She jabbed the call button ten times, and then at least had the grace to wait every fifteen seconds before jabbing it again, impatient for the car to arrive and carry her away. She glanced over her shoulder twice, those movements separated by thirty seconds each, to see if the other girls were making their way inside. It was clear she wanted to be gone before they appeared, her good eye welling with tears that were making the other sting all the worse.
Then there was a ding, and she was being carried upward toward the floor she shared with Nate. Mercy curled herself into a corner, her one eye watching the numbers flick by—despite only being four floors, her foot tapped the tile impatiently until the doors dinged open again.
Then it was a beeline for Nate's apartment—not her own, no, she needed someone to cry to, to get sympathy from, because though her eye was tendable, her ego was far worse bruised—pulling her keys from a pocket. It was slightly more complicated to open the door with one hand, and then with a half-closed eye, but she managed it, and barged right into the space without knocking. Why would she ever not be able to?
"Nate," she whined, crossing into the kitchen space to dig through his freezer for a cold pack of peas or some frozen meat to put on her face. "Nate, do you have a first aid kit? It's not as bad as what happened with the chili, but I got hit in the face. Nate? Nate, where are you, it hurts!"
There was a moment where Nate was not entirely certain he would respond at all. He shifted his weight from one foot to the other, staring out his bedroom door into the apartment beyond, torn between going to her empty handed and taking the strange gift that had been left hanging from his doorknob. She was clearly in some kind of distress and perhaps now was not the time, but he had already put this off too long. Unable to make a final decision, Nate stuffed the dainty underwear into the pocket of his jeans, and shuffled out to find his sister.
"Hit in the face with what?" he asked, craning his neck around as he looked for her. He found her in the kitchen, rummaging through his freezer. "I do have a first aid kit, but it's in the bathroom. Want me to get it?" He tipped his head as he looked at her, anxious to confirm she did in fact still have both eyes. "Move your hand," he demanded, as he walked up to her, one hand outstretched toward her face. "Lemme see…"
Leaving the door open, she stepped back and let her brother manhandle her for a moment; her head tilted back, showing the growing purple-black bruise around her eye. The other welled with tears for the best dramatic effect.
"A snowball," she answered, "maybe with rocks in it, I don't know, but it hurts and I think I need an ice pack, Nate, I don't want it to fall out again." One hand reached up to wrap fingers around his wrist beseechingly, her neediness on full display.
"It's not gonna fall out."
Even as he said it, with his fingertips pressing lightly beneath the darkening bruise, Nate found he wasn't entirely sure. It had happened so easily, so utterly without warning before, after all, and the Halloween party and the still-falling snow it was difficult to entirely dismiss her fears. He narrowed his eyes and focused on studying her face, assessing the damage done to it. After a moment he was satisfied it was only minimal.
"You're fine," he said. "They got you good but it's just a bruise. I got an ice pack in the freezer. In the back, I think…"
He pulled away from her, drifting off toward the kitchen and the aforementioned freezer. Mercy remained where he'd left her, one hand drifting back up toward her injured eye.
"God, I bet I'm gonna need a fucking eye patch, I don't want to look like a goddamn pirate, Nate, why does this always happen to—" Her eyes trailed down his back as he was turned away from her, spying a bulge in his pants pocket. From it a tiny bit of lace could be seen, a fabric she did not see often about her brother's person. Brows furrowing, she stepped forward and plucked it up and out, eyes going wide at the revelation.
"Why do you have women's underwear in your pock—" The question left unfinished, her confusion only heightened as she realized who the owner of said underwear was. Her cheeks reddened, thankfully partially hidden due to the cold outside that had already drawn forth a blush.
"Why do you have my underwear?!" She hissed, balling the garment up in her fist.
"I was gonna ask you that." He turned from the freezer, cold pack in hand. It looked like a small pillow, a bundle of fabric with rice inside. With one hand he held out the cold pack; with the other, he dangled the underwear at her, the cloth pinched between forefinger and thumb. "Found them on my doorknob, like this is a dorm or something. There was even a note." Once his burdens were safely in her hands, Nate moved to a nearby kitchen drawer, where he withdrew a small handwritten note. In a moment he handed that, too, to his sister. In Daniel's sharp scrawl it read, Heard a lot about you, NATE. She wants you to have these.
"You want to tell me what mess you've dragged me into this time?"
"I didn't—" Mercy swallowed the words and the anxiety she felt bubbling up from within. Rather than go for the ice pack, she grabbed at her underwear, stuffing them into the waistband of her sweatpants since she was sans pockets at that moment.
"I'm going to kill him," she muttered, reaching for the ice pack. Her next words were more audible, meant for Nate's hearing. "It's not a big deal, OK? Did... No one else saw, right?" Panic underlined her words, the ice pack numbingly cold as she pressed it to her eye.
He shook his head. "Not as far as I know, anyway. Seriously though, how'd you get a boyfriend mad at me? I thought I'd been pretty good, letting you have your social life or whatever here… I mean I know I've been keeping an eye on you, but I thought I'd kept it pretty low key. Your love life is your business, or it should be, anyway…"
"He's not my boyfriend—" she started, taking a few steps back until she bumped into a cupboard. "It was one thing, one time, and... And... We'd been drinking so I might have given him the wrong idea..." The memory of what had exactly transpired was seared into her memory, keeping her face a steady red.
"But it's not anything you need to worry about..."
"Obviously it is." Nate folded his arms over his chest, still firmly in the way of her escape from the kitchen. He wagged his chin in her direction. "That face says it is. The fact that I had your underwear hanging from my door says it is. So what happened, Mercy? I need to go have a talk with this guy? What kind of 'wrong idea' gets that kind of reaction?"
"No!" The ice pack came down, her wounded eye thrust open as she bodily denied his offer of a 'talking to'. Her mouth gaped, hand grasping the ice pack. "I just... I made a mistake. We were drinking, and I might have just... Said your name at... A bad moment." Her voice kept folding in on itself the more she said, her body likewise shrinking.
It was Nate's turn to blush. His full lips parted, but for a moment no sound save a soft breath came out. He raised his hands, palms out toward her, as though he might ward off this uncomfortable truth. Too easily the memory of their shared cemetery dream returned in all its graphic detail. No sooner had he shaken that thought than he recalled the Halloween party, and the way they had referred to one another, then, in decidedly non-sibling terms. Those slips could not bleed into everyday life. They simply could not allow it.
"Why?" He slid his hands over his close-cropped hair. "OK. You were drinking. I get that. But… Jesus, Mercy… this… were you really drunk? I mean…"
"It doesn't have to be a big deal, all right?" Her voice went low, even though they were the only two in the apartment. "No, I wasn't that drunk. But it doesn't have to mean anything. OK? I know it won't go anywhere." She stayed in the middle of the kitchen, gravitating toward him but taking no further step.
"Won't… wait, what does that mean?" His hands fell to his sides. Open shock showed on his face, in his wide eyes, as he struggled to process what she had said. "What is it? No, wait. Don't tell me that. You were drunk and this place has been weird as hell and it's starting to get to you. That's all that was. So you just explain that to this guy and get him off my back and everything will be cool. Right?"
Mercy wilted, and stepped back against the cupboard, raising the ice pack back to her eye.
She nodded, her other hand rising to cup the edge of the counter.
"Yeah, don't worry about it. I'm gonna go take care of it right now." Her voice sounded on the edge of tears, but she kept it carefully held back. And it was that, more than anything, that brought him back to himself. His shoulders slumped.
"No, I... " He moved closer to her. He hesitated only briefly before reaching out to her, taking her hands loosely in his own. "I'm sorry, Mercy. You know I love you, right? I do. But I don't know how to deal with what it sounds like you're saying. The dreams, the party, the snow... and now this? Yell at me or something, OK? But don't do… this. Don't get sad at me, babygirl." He squeezed her fingers tightly, bending down to catch her gaze with his own. "Talk to me. I promise I won't freak out this time. Probably. So c'mon. What's going on with you?"
It would have been simple to accept that handhold, to let it all spill out and tell him everything. But the other Mercy, the one who didn't care for Nathaniel's initial reaction, snatched her hand back and sidled away from him.
"You don't get to decide how I feel! I don't have to spell out shit for you if you can't figure it out. I said I'd take care of it, all right?" Her voice stayed low, except it took on a hissing tone. She leaned into each syllable, throwing them all in his face. "I came here for one fucking thing, Nate, and you couldn't even handle that. Instead you're skulking around with my underwear. What's that mean, huh?!"
"I—wait. Don't turn this around on me." He dropped her hands, bowing up in response to her own squared posture. He could not hide the heat that rose to his cheeks, but he could distract them both from it. One finger jabbed at her chest. "I'm not on trial here. You're the one bringin' my name up in bed. What am I supposed to tell this guy? That… ugh. It was just a dream, Mercy. It didn't mean anything. Why are you still hung up on it?!"
"I'm not hung up on some dream, Nathaniel!" She screamed at him, her body blown forward by the force of her voice.
"Fuck you, and don't worry a drop about Daniel, I'm going to go castrate him right now." Rather than give him room to reply, she rushed past him toward the door, flinging it open to strike the wall. Then she disappeared into the hall; it was faster to merely take the stairs, than to give him any presumption of a reply by waiting for the elevator (also taking some of the steam out of her dramatic exit, too).
They were only two floors above Daniel's apartment, which, in her haste and anger, Mercy descended to with speed; then she was outside of 209, beating the door with one small fist while the other still held the ice pack she'd helped herself to upon leaving Nathaniel's apartment.
"You fucker! Daniel, you had so better be home, open this fucking door now!"
Daniel was in fact home, though he paused just inside the door, peering out the peephole at his injured and infuriated visitor. His hand was on the lock, ready to turn it. It was a foolish inclination, though he saw no real alternative. This was not his first time dealing with a guest in such a state; he knew better than to think it would be his last. And at any rate, he thought, he did have it coming.
"Mercy," he said, swinging the door wide to reveal himself in all his bare-chested, barefoot, pyjama-bottomed glory. He made a show of bowing as he gestured her inside. "You wanna—"
Before he had the opportunity to complete his invitation, Mercy's unladen hand struck his face. Clearly, she was more than fine having this out in the hallway. Daniel straightened up after one stunned instant. His face stung, the imprint of her hand drawn in deep red lines on his tawny skin.
"What the fuck is your problem?" She half-hissed, half-screeched. "My underwear? On his doorknob? Are you retarded?!"
"Hey," Daniel snapped. "Watch the fuckin' slurs, huh? I'm sorry you're pissed your boyfriend found out. Maybe you should'a remembered my name while we were fuckin'. Or hey, just go for the usual 'god,' that's cool too. But don't even—"
Too late he saw the bruise circling one thick-lashed eye. He stopped mid-sentence, his mouth falling open. He stretched out one hand toward he, though he did not touch. "Wait, did he do this?"
His meaning was clear, but Mercy had zero desire to disabuse him of the notion that his practical joke had resulted in physical violence on her person.
"Oh, so now you give a fuck? Fuck you! And he's not my boyfriend," she hissed in reply, sidling closer into Daniel's personal space as she looked about to hit him again. He straightened up, looming over her as much as he could, ready to meet whatever was to come. "Why are you so fucking immature?! It was one fucking thing, and now you have to go and do this, you fucking idiot?"
"Oh it's complicated," he said. "You know how that goes, right?"
He left the door swinging wide and retreated deeper into the apartment. Grabbing the first shirt he found—a worn long-sleeve draped over the back of the sofa—Daniel tugged on at least that much clothing and started back out the door again. His bare feet moved with purpose across the carpeted floor, heading for the elevator and her presumed abuser above.
"Wait," Mercy stammered, confused by his sudden exit. She turned tail, leaving his apartment door wide open, and followed, standing between him and the elevator bank. "Where the fuck do you think you're going? We're not done here!"
He jabbed the elevator call button, glancing only briefly to her over his shoulder. "I'm going to have a chat with your boyfriend," he said. "This motherfucker has a problem he can take it up with me. Go back to my place, or yours, and put some ice on your face and you can keep screamin' at me when I get back."
"Oh my god, he didn't hit me," she replied hotly, her eyes rolling. She wedged herself between him and the elevators again, this time attempting to shove his larger form backward; she didn't make much progress, but her point was more than well made. "Don't fucking make this worse with some completely unnecessary white knighting, after you already fucked this up."
"I—" Daniel's brows shot up; his mouth hung open, his words sputtering to nothing. He found them again soon enough. The elevator doors slid open behind Mercy. The paused there, holding for a time, then slid closed again. "I fucked this up? I was just havin' fun, same as you. You made shit complicated. You made a fuckin' fool outta me and Nate, whoever the fuck he is to you. How is this my fault?"
"Are you fucking shitting me right now?" Mercy shot back, incredulous. She shook her head, unable to make heads or tails of what he was saying. "I'm sorry if your fucking manhood is wounded but when the fuck does that give you permission to go throwing my underwear around like it's a fucking football?!"
"I didn't throw them. I delicately placed them on Nate's doorknob. I even included a nice little note. Footballs don't come with notes." He folded his arms across his chest, puffing up, further squaring his shoulders. Worst of all, perhaps, was his maddening little smirk, as though he was for some inexplicable reason proud of himself.
"Don't fuckin' flatter yourself. You didn't wound me. But hey, you didn't want Nate to find out about us, maybe you should've remembered my fuckin' name, yeah?"
One of Mercy's eyes started to spasm in the corner, and her face turned a deeper shade of red that spoke more to her anger as it dissipated her embarrassment. Foolishly, Daniel laughed at the worsening of her expression.
"What fucking world do you live in," she finally hissed, her hands in fists at her sides. It was quickly becoming clear that they could both spend all day here, trading insults, neither gaining an inch in the other's direction. Other tactics were starting to present themselves in Mercy's mind, and she was eager to grasp them.
"Fine," she suddenly said, as if giving in. "Just stay the fuck away from me, and stay the fuck away from Nate. And if I left anything else in your apartment, just throw it away," she finished, turning and hitting the elevator call button. The doors dinged open cheerily, as though the machine gave no regard for the argument happening just outside of it.
"Be glad to," Daniel said, unfazed by her sudden capitulation. He took a step back, arms still crossed, his chin still raised, smug satisfaction still written on his face. "We done here? 'Cause I got a lot of work left to do, but I don't like turnin' my back on crazy."
Mercy's brows climbed her forehead, her head bobbing a little in incredulity. Her hooded eyes and pursed lips promised that there'd be a retribution for him to deal with at a later time, but she gave no response in that moment; instead, she merely tapped the fourth floor button, letting the doors close on Daniel and his final words.
The car rose, taking her to her floor, where Nate's door was mercifully closed. She avoided it and him, instead going to her own apartment. Inside, she changed out of her wet sweat clothes, exchanging them for jeans, a t-shirt, heavier outwear, and fresh sneakers. Medicine went around her wounded eye, followed by makeup that at least gave her the pretense of normalcy; anyone looking closer would immediately see that there was an off color, but she didn't intend on giving anyone long enough to do so. Then she went to the kitchen and grabbed what looked like a hammer, used for tenderizing meat.
That was sandwiched inside the inner layer of her coats, between it and her shirt, zipped up and hidden out of sight but for an odd bulge on her right side. Mercy headed back downstairs, carefully eyeing the lobby, glad that it was empty of everyone including the concierge. She exited the building, heading outside for the parking lot. Her steps were slow, casual, in no hurry to be where she wanted to be, which didn't take long since Daniel parked close.
Later, she might have said it was a random passing thought that had come to her while leaving for work. But her actions were completely premeditated as she pulled the tenderizer from her jacket and walked up alongside the car. Her first point of contact was the side view mirror, which hit the ground with a crunch. Driver side window and the windshield both smashed beautifully, glass flying everywhere inside the car, over the nice, leather seats that she was sure Daniel was oh so proud of. Pulling the driver's side door open, she pulled the corner of the tenderizer along the seat, over the backrest, and the headrest; long, claw-like markings marring the interior as much as the rest of the vehicle.
She scraped the side of the tenderizer along the driver and backseat doors, long lines that she almost wished said her name instead of simple waves. She punctured one back tire with a thrust, and then smashed the back windshield as well. Dents, scratches, and more flocked to the car's bright blue exterior, which made the wounds all the more visible as she thoroughly and utterly decimated Daniel's prized possession.
By the time she was done, the car could barely have been worse off if it had gone through a compactor. For a moment, Mercy considered dropping the tenderizer inside the car like a farewell kiss, but instead took it with her to drop in a dumpster behind the building. It seemed unlikely anyone would look there for such a thing, and she'd noted that there were no cameras in the Pax Letale parking lot—just in the lobby and the hallways of the building itself, presumably to protect the tenants from each other instead of an outside threat.
Job done, Mercy made her way down the block toward the beach, the heat immediately rounding on her as she was away from the snow and ice that strangely crowded her apartment complex. It was time to get a smoothie or something equally nice as a treat for a job well done.