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He was reassuring her, but she got the impression he was trying not to get too nervous himself. He was trying too hard to assure her it would be fine for it just to be her nerves. Of course she was pretty anxious too. Melina nodded,”Sure. Yeah, you just better hope I don’t puke.”
Melinda teased before going off to set the table. She set places for Leena and Charlie, even though she was expecting them to come in later. Her and Rin were up pretty early.
Not only were Leena and Charlie awake by the time breakfast was being served, they were even more prepared than Melinda was. Melinda still needed a bit more prep time before being ready to just walk out the door. She supposed they were more used to it, this wasn’t their first time doing dangerous stuff like this.
“Morning.” She greeted them and set down the forks in place by each plate. She stopped and looked up when she noticed Leena’s odd pause. She was pretty happy to be considered part of the family, really, but that odd pause after made her wonder what Leena meant.
Melinda sort of smiled and sat down. This really wasn’t the sort of thing she expected out of life either. Not that she would complain about it, most of the time so far it wasn’t so bad. Especially once the worst of the homesickness and missing her friends had passed. “Yeah, well, I’ve never been great at staying out of trouble anyway.”
Melinda ate and listened more than talked. Her mind kept wandering to their plan, and the things she still had to do. So once she’d eaten as much as her agitated stomach would let her she excused herself to go finish getting ready. She just wouldn’t be able to sit around and wait, she needed something to do.
She got dressed for the mission in the fireproof suit, or theoretically fireproof. Charlie would occasionally remind her that while so far it was standing up to the heat, it was initially designed for the kind of heat [i normal] humans might be exposed to for prolonged periods. Her power was largely uncharted territory for the material.
There was no point in putting her hair up. Nothing that worked could actually stand up to the heat, it always ended up a melted mess that had to be painstakingly melted [i out] of her hair. Or in one case cut, which was about the time she decided it wasn’t worth it to keep trying. If fire powers were being used her hair was going to stay down, and there was no way they would get through the mission without her having to use her powers.
Rin was greeted by a sweet voice and he smiled down at Melinda when she leaned against his arm.
"It's about an hour ride. I figure we get a good breakfast in now, and we'll be fine come time to kick ass." He kissed her forehead. "Wouldn't want you to get hungry in the middle of the mission." He teased, stirring a couple things. "Although I did think about bringing snacks..." He smirked down at her before laughing.
"I also figured if I fill you up, you wont have any room for anxiety." He lifted his hand to her cheek and stroked it with his thumb, giving her a gentle smile. "Hey... You know we're going to be fine, right?" He pulled his hand away and tapped her chin reassuringly. "It's gunna be a cakewalk." He kissed her forehead once more.
"Now, if you'd be so kind as to set the table?" He shooed her out of the kitchen politely so he could finish his work.
He meant what he said to her, however, he realized he was mostly trying to convince himself. It's what he'd been doing since dinner. He was also keeping himself distracted for as long as possible, as to keep himself from thinking about possibilities he [i could not] let happen.
Melinda being the main point of all of his anxieties.
He bounced between some of the dishes in order to keep things from burning, and began dishing out other things into other dishes to be placed on the table. At this point, Charlie and Leena came into the dining room, fully dressed for a mission, like a couple of spies, and eyeing the two of them. Rin eyed them back.
"...You guys are way early."
"...We couldn't sleep much." Leena said as she walked over to start picking up the dishes and bringing them to the table. "Not that I don't have faith in you guys. I guess I just have jitters... My kids are--" Leena paused her words as she set the things in her hands down on the table, and Rin's activeness paused slightly, the conversation they had yesterday coming to mind in relation to her choice of words.
"...Well, you get the idea." Charlie grinned towards Melinda. "You're practically family now. We care about the both of you. We never thought that... Rin would ever have to see action like this once we got out, let alone his girlfriend." Charlie shrugged, his smile a little saddened.
"...The apple never falls far from the tree." Rin muttered to himself, finishing scooping the remnants of breakfast onto plates and sticking the dirty dishes in the sink. He turned with platters in hand and a grin. "Ah, well, maybe it runs in my genes." He shrugged. His parents rolled their eyes, and he made to put the plating in the center of the table.
Rin promptly sat down next to Melinda when she sat, and Charlie and Leena sat across. He realized, even in the middle of their talking while eating, that they made him more nervous than he made himself, and he did his best not to let it show, paying more attention to his plate of food than his thoughts.
It wasn’t until after Rin came back that Melinda was finally able to fall asleep. Eventually. She woke up to the sound of the alarm, sort of. It took her a minute to think about actually making any move to get up, because it was so comfortable in bed.
“Morning,” Melinda mumbled. She was usually a morning person, but yesterday had tired her out enough that she was feeling a bit sluggish this morning.
“Yeah.” Kicking ass sounded good. First she had to get out of bed. Rin was already ahead of her there, and on his way out before she could sit up,”Mhmm.”
She didn’t want to take too long. Melinda pushed herself up and got out of bed stretching. Her shoulders still ached when she moved them, but she could move them. It would be annoying, but manageable. Melinda dug through for something to wear and got her hair in a ponytail before she finally emerged from the bedroom.
Right away the smell of breakfast cooking hit her. Rin was busy already. She wandered into the kitchen,”Smells good. I’m not going to be getting away with a light breakfast, am I?”
Melinda went up to him and leaned on his arm while getting a look at what he was cooking. This was going to be a serious breakfast, which made sense for such a serious day. Just thinking about it made her a little anxious.
Rin exited the chamber after a time, finally being able to stretch his arm around. There was still some resistance, but it was a relief, none the less. Charlie patted him on the shoulder with a grin.
"Don't worry about tomorrow... We're gunna do just fine."
"...Yeah." Rin's worry was still in the back of his mind, however, especially with the way he reacted towards Melinda's fall. Would he trust himself to remain calm? He felt Charlie's hand on his shoulder tighten, and he pulled himself from his thoughts to look at him.
"We've taken all the measures. We've been training for this... You'll do just fine." Rin nodded before Charlie sent him off. He pulled open the bedroom door with a sigh and looked over to Melinda.
"...Can't sleep?" He grinned. "I kinda figured. You nervous?" He closed the door before lying in bed next to her. "...Me, too." He sighed before pulling her close.
"...But, I think as long as you're with me, we'll be alright." The last part trailed off as he snuggled closer to her. "...Get some sleep." He reached over her to hit the alarm, turning it on, then settled back into their cuddling position, shutting his eyes tightly as he listened to her breath, willing himself to ignore his nerves and go to sleep.
Rin snapped his eyes opened to the blaring of the clock in his ears. He looked down slightly, but could barely see his partner, as it was still pitch dark in the room. He reached up and smacked away the sound before sighing. He laid there a while, contemplating the day before Melinda began to move.
"Mornin', hot stuff." He mused, running a hand through her hair and kissing her forehead. "Let's kick some ass." He grinned before laughing. He then forced himself to sit up, even though every nerve wanted him to stay in bed, and began shuffling towards the end, where their dresser was. He rummaged around until he found a shirt suitable for going out into the world of the living, throwing it on before making his way to the bathroom.
He flicked on the light, regretting it immediately, but wanting to check on the damage he caused himself. Looking it over, it had lessened from yesterday, thanks to the chamber, mostly greens and some blues, but nothing worse than that. He lifted his arms up, checking his mobility.
He sighed, relieved. At least he'd be able to utilize all of his strengths today. He returned to the room and smiled at his girlfriend.
"I'm gunna see if anyone's up yet, and maybe start breakfast. Take you're time." He nodded before going out into the hall and down the way. He could feel his stomach grumbling as he approached the kitchen. Interestingly enough, he was the first one up.
He decided then, he was going to make pancakes. They had a big day ahead of them, and it called for a big breakfast.
Eggs, bacon, sausage, and hash browns came out of the fridge as well, and Rin began to cultivate his feast, waiting for everyone else to emerge from their slumbers.
Melinda had never thought to question the “chamber bed” much before. It was about as mysterious to her as just about everything else in the lab. It helped relieve a lot of the aches from training and that was good enough for her. It wasn’t good enough to get rid of them entirely though, and when she was done and stretched she still felt some of the ache in her back.
She wasn’t going to let it bother her too much, and it certainly wasn’t going to get in the way of their mission tomorrow. “Thanks, Charlie. Guess I better rest up for tomorrow.”
Going on the mission with little to no sleep wasn’t going to help, but damn she was nervous about it. She’d been nervous for ages about the idea of breaking [i into] one of their facilities, the type of place she hoped they’d never end up. At the same time Melinda was pretty thrilled about the idea of busting some people [i out] of there and helping them. Tonight it wasn’t going to be easy to sleep, but she would try.
She waved to Charlie on her way out and passed by Rin on his way in. She flashed a smile at him,”Hey. Your turn now. I’m headed to bed, see you there. No staying up and not sleeping.”
Then she was off to the bedroom to do just what she said and try to get some sleep, and hoped Rin would do the same. He’d been pretty distracted and busy, but he still needed his sleep before something as big as tomorrow. Even once she laid down she was still wide awake for a while, going over things in her head for tomorrow. Whatever the details ended up being, she knew that things were going to change because after their big mission the people who had done this to them were going to [i know] that Rin and Melinda weren’t just elusive test subjects on the run. They’d see them as a threat.
The rest of the dinner went by smoothly, where they were mostly making conversation with Mel, and making fun of Rin for being a snotty nosed brat when he was young.
Which was definitely not true, he claimed.
Rin helped his Mom clean up while his Dad led Melinda to the lab to make use of the "chamber bed" as he liked to call it. It was a strange device that, somehow, soothed bruises, and eased muscle tension. His dad had a way with inventions, and while Rin understood a fair amount of science, he couldn't discern how the hell the thing managed to work.
Probably shouldn't question something that works, though.
"So," Leena said as she finished packing up the dishwasher, "Have you popped the question yet?" Rin damn near choked on his own saliva as he fumbled with the cup in his hand., trying to to break it in the sink.
"Do what now?" He said, completely befuddled as he turned to his mom, who was grinning mad at him.
"Oh, c'mon, you really haven't?" Rin's face lit up like fireworks.
"I... I haven't even been thinking about that!" He said louder than he meant to and turned his attention back to ferociously scrub the cup in his hand. "Jeez, Mom, are you insane? You, of all people, asking me that..."
"...You know, if this mission goes south, you might not--"
"It wont." Rin interrupted, handing her the glass. She took it gently and he reached for the next dish. "Outside of our sessions, I have been training on my own... Learning other things, Relearning things i used to be taught that I never thought I'd need... Until now." He finished a plate and stuck it into a bin to dry off. "The first one is going to be the easiest. At this point, they wont be expecting... [i anything] like us to happen. It's after this that I..." He trailed off, putting his focus on the dishes. Leena patted his back with a grin and he looked up to her.
"...Why don't you talk to her, after this?" He blinked as the blush came crawling back, and she laughed. "Not necessarily about [i that], but some reassurance, maybe."
"...She knows?" He seemed confused.
"I know. [i We] know. But... it's always nice to hear it." Rin stared at her for a moment before smiling, a sigh of relief escaping him.
"Alright, great and powerful Oz." He teased. She gently socked his arm before booting him away from the dishes.
"Now, go get your turn. We got a big day ahead of us tomorrow, and I can't have you slackin'."
"Yes, Ma'am." He grinned, drying his hands off before heading in that direction.
Melinda loved the little affectionate gestures. She was genuinely happy when she took her seat. As long as Rin seemed fine, she figured everything would be fine. It wasn’t really hard to make her happy.
The food looked as good as it smelled to her. Chicken, vegetables, potatoes, and bread. It didn’t get much more comforting than that. Rin always served her first, which was something that simultaneously embarrassed her, but she sort of liked it anyway. His parents gave her a good opportunity to laugh and forget all that though.
“I won’t let them burn~” Melinda teased,”I bet you were cute. You’re still cute.”
She nudged him with her elbow, ignoring the little twinge her shoulder gave at the movement,”Any piece is fine, I’ll eat anything.”
His parents teased about old pictures, and while she’d love to see them she’d never really pushed. It wasn’t fair really, since there wasn’t any way for him to see [i her] old embarrassing pictures the way things were now. She just teased and let it drop. Because thinking too much about old pictures eventually made her think about her friends and family and the pictures they had of her, and that was a sure way to make her mope.
Melinda entered the kitchen only to give him a quick peck and some affectionate head rubbing, messing up his hair more than it was. He laughed gently, swatting her hand away playfully before running his fingers through his hair, pulling it back in an almost styled manner.
When had it gotten so easy to style? ... And so long!? His fingers then trailed down his face, running along the beard that had been forming for a better part of a year. Did he seem unkempt? Slacking, maybe? Melinda grinned at him no matter how he looked, and that was extremely comforting... But he felt like a caveman, even though there was hardly any hair on his face that hadn't been well kept and groomed. He pulled away to distract himself, running a thumb over Mel's cheek as he grinned.
He'd think about that later.
"Hn?" Leena perked, realizing she'd been asked a question. "Oh, no, dear, you just sit. It's almost finished. Darling, will you set the table?" She motioned to Rin's dad, who had been standing on in the corner of the kitchen, halfway unnoticed until now. Rin raised an eyebrow. Why had he been so antisocial all of the sudden? ...Also, how long had he been standing there?
Rin got a little flustered as his dad agreed, pulling out the silverware and plates, red barely dusting his cheeks and nose. He was sure his Dad had witness there little spat of flirting just a moment ago. He didn't know why, but he didnt want anyone else to share in their little moments, even if they [i were] family. It wasn't really pride, either. He loved having her by his side. What was it then? He fidgeted and readjusted in his seat to look elsewhere, seemingly more relaxed... He hoped.
"Here we are!" Leena said, putting the done food in the middle of their table. It looked like roasted chicken with various vegetables surrounding it. Mashed potatoes and bread with butter were placed next to it, and all of the smells wafted straight at Rin. His mouth literally watered, but he remained calm. He looked to Melinda and grinned.
"You first. What piece would you like?" He was referring to the chicken, or course. In his house, which he was accustomed to at this point, the guest always got the first pick of meat. So, of course, Rin didn't hesitate to ask, which gained a chuckle from Leena.
"My, you are [i definitely] my child." She mused.
"What? It's only right..." Rin trailed off, and both the parents laughed at him. Rin grinned at them.
"Maybe after this, we'll get those old pictures of Rin out, like we talked about..." Rin's face became white and his smile dropped.
"NO." He said flatly, to which they laughed. "No, I swear, I will burn them if you try to dig them out, I told you."
"But you were such a cute child!"
"oh my god, I have [i these] parents..." Rin put his head in his hands as they laughed at him gently.
Melinda felt a little better, though she hoped Rin wasn’t going to just hide his sulking later. He was in more of a hurry than she was. She took her time, letting the water soothe her. One really nice thing about water. It didn’t burn. If she started to heat up it would just steam and help cool her down.
She’d rarely indulged in long showers before her powers. Now it was rare for her to rush through one. Even though dinner sounded good. Once she was out of the water though it was a rush to dry off and get dressed. An occasionally painful rush, when she made the wrong sort of move and tweaked or bumped her shoulders. She grit her teeth. The mission tomorrow couldn’t be delayed, they’d just have to push through this. It was an annoyance, but it wasn’t like either of them had any broken bones.
Grin and bear it. Melinda followed the smell of food with a bounce in her step. If he was going to try and be cheerful, she damn well was going to be cheerful too. “That smells great, Leena. Do you need any help finishing up?”
She was talking to Leena, but went right to Rin and gave him a quick peck on the cheek and affectionately rubbed the back of his head. She liked messing up his hair.
He stared down at her for a while before grinning, giving her a chaste kiss on her forehead. "Of course. i'm sorry." He cradled her face in his hands, giving her a soft smile as he caressed her cheeks with his thumb. "Not very becoming of a knight, is it?" He kissed her gently.
"Let me sulk a little. I'll be back to my perky self in no time." He grinned before turning to the shower head. "Alright. Let's get this over with. [i I'm so hungry]." He groaned, reaching for his soap.
Rin walked into the kitchen, since he was first out of the shower, and Leena was there, already cooking something up. The kitchen smelled like heaven, and his stomach confirmed that he wanted to devour it, no matter what.
"Dinner will be ready in a few minutes." She said from the stove, stirring and tossing various things.
"Looks like a five course meal over there." He mused, sitting at the dining table not far. "So what are you cooking for everyone else?"
"Very funny, child." She grinned over her shoulder at him. "How's your back?"
"Bruised to all hell. Sore, too. What can you expect from a wall?" He laughed, rubbing his neck tenderly.
"Similar." He sighed. "I gave her the exact thing i was trying to avoid."
"Hey, you did your best." Leena said, fully turning to him for a moment. "Don't go blaming yourself. What had to be done was done. You both did well." She turned back to her cooking.
"Yeah..." And thus ended the conversation on that topic.
Rin awaited Melinda to enter the dining hall.
She hated seeing that look on his face. She knew he was looking at the bruise because he had that look that made her feel awful. Melinda felt terrible about making him worry like that. She let her head hang and allowed him look, and willed herself to pretend it was fine.
Melinda felt the cool weight of his head on hers, just heavy enough to feel solid but not so heavy her shoulder protested. He was being especially gentle with her. Part of her wanted to let him a little, but at the same time it was irritating. She was irritated she’d gotten them both hurt like this, and all he was worried about was her. When she felt his hand she squeezed it, wanting to comfort him and make herself feel better.
“Don’t.” Melinda sighed, not moving. How could he feel so close but distant at the same time? “It’s not your fault. If it’s anyone’s, it’s mine.”
She couldn’t stand the feeling of distance anymore, even if she had to face that look of his. Melinda turned around. Her hands went to his cheeks, and she breathed in sharply when her shoulders shot with pain. She didn’t let it stop her from meeting his eyes, forcing him to look at her as much as she was forcing herself to face him. “So you fuss over me if you want, but don’t you dare think it’s your fault somehow. I’m the idiot that went out the fucking window. If you hadn’t helped and got yourself hurt too, I’d be in worse shape hitting the ground.”
His forehead was cool against hers, but she liked the feel of it. It felt closer. She didn’t like anything that felt like they were putting stupid distance between each other, trying to avoid each other. Especially since they usually had so little time between training and sleeping. “If you keep making that face…” She scrunched her nose a little, managing a genuine smile,”I can’t kiss a face like that very well, can I? So better shape up.”
He laughed slightly about the shower temperature. "I've learned where we both like it." He mused.
But when he saw the bruising on her, the pain of guilt was stricken across his face. He pulled at her shoulder a bit, getting her to turn around so he could see it better. Really, it looked a lot like his bruise; Purples and greens decorated her shoulders and back, a lot like his.
He could have cried, he was so mad at himself.
How could he let her get so damaged? He tried to protect her, and yet, as it would seem, only made it worse. He leaned his head against the back of hers, careful not to upset her sore muscles, or his. He wanted to just stay like that forever, sulking, wanting to say how sorry he was for the rest of his existence.
If she never forgave him, he would deserve it.
"...Mel." He said quietly, his arm trailing down hers before he took her hand. He kept her back to him, however. "I'm Sorry, I..." And he said nothing else. Couldn't think of anything else [i to] say, really. He would just have to take her to the chamber and hope for the best. Same with him.
Leena was going to have a [i hay day] when she saw these.
Melinda gave him a little smile. He was always so encouraging. She just hoped he was right and that she would do alright when it really counted. “Maybe I’m just nervous.”
There was the hope in her head that if she could prove herself out there she’d feel better, more confident. She followed him into the room and shut the door behind them. She saw the bruise on him and frowned, biting her lip. That did not look good. It clearly hurt too. “Honey. Ah, geeze.”
His finger on her cheek managed to shut her up effortlessly. She felt really bad about the bruise though. That was her fault. She covered her face with her hand and just stood there until she heard the water running. He was just going to keep going like it was nothing, wasn’t he?
She exhaled and stripped out of her suit carefully. It still hurt when she had to move any part of her back and shoulders. Especially the shoulder that had the worst of the bruising. She could see a bit of it wrapping around her shoulder and arm, and feel the rest of it. It was huge, she was sure of it. Mel groaned. The timing was awful. Any other time, it would just be an annoyance for a few days while training. Tomorrow mattered too much.
If she got too evasive and he found out it’d be a bigger deal. And he would find out. There was no way she could suddenly keep that much skin covered and not make it stupidly obvious she was hiding something. When not training, it was mostly tank tops for her. With all her options for hiding the bruise thought of and eliminated she went into the bathroom, deciding to try and pretend it looked worse than it felt.
Might have been true even. She took a look in the mirror and winced. That was a horrible shade of purple. It was all purple and red. It certainly hurt, but it looked bad too. Trying to keep things light she commented,”I guess we have matching bruises.”
[i Yep], she thought to herself as she got into the shower,[i Just stay casual and pretend like it doesn’t hurt.] “You didn’t leave the water freezing again, did you?”
He was guilty of leaving it too cold on accident, and she was just as guilty of sometimes leaving it to scalding.
He raised an eyebrow at her at her comment. "Are you implying you don't always look good?" He smirked slightly. "That would be a blatant lie." He mused. He took her hand in his and lead them out of the training grounds and into the main portion of the house. She piped up with a question, one she'd asked a few times before.
Actually, more than a few. She'd asked nearly every day. It's quite possible that she'd ask on the day as well, in the middle of their mission. He looked down at her and grinned.
"I guess the [i real] question is... Why do you think you're not ready?" He squeezed her hand gently. "You've been doing great here. My parents talk about how fast of a learner you are. Even I've seen your improvement." He gave her a genuine smile. "I think you'll be great, no matter what."
They made it to the room in little to no time, and he immediately stripped his shirt, his muscles aching against the motion. In fact, they nearly kept him from doing said action. He winced slightly, hissing as he pulled the shirt from his biceps. He attempted to peer over his back, but his neck creaked and ached horridly, he could barely turn all the way.
"That wall must've really done a number on me." He said gently, not really directing it at anyone. He couldn't see his back, after all. It could've just been sore. He flung the shirt towards the hamper they had acquired in the last year, going towards the dresser and attempting to lean down to the last drawer. No good.
He shot back up with a groan.
"Okay... Shower first then." He said, heading for the bathroom. He trailed a finger along her cheek before making his way in, immediately prepping the water warmth and curtain. He took a few steps back to look into the mirror.
He couldn't tell if it was a lot of bruising, or just one big one, but it was purples and greens.
"Aye." He grimaced. Shower, food, chamber. The compression chamber would get rid of most of that bruising, and the hot water would sooth his muscles, and that would help for tomorrow. He couldn't help but wonder if that was going to put a damper on their mission.
However, he remembered that in [i this] particular instance of training, he did not use his powers. At least, not to do what he [i could] do with them, if he needed to. He just prayed it would be enough to be there when it mattered most.
He looked towards the door for a moment, Mel on his mind. Reoccurring nightmares for the recent, upcoming event had kept him awake at night, stalking the hall just outside of the room at 3 or 4 in the morning. He did not want to think about what would happen if he was truly out of commission for tomorrow.
He stripped the rest of his clothing before getting in the shower.
Melinda looked between them. So he’d thrown his mom to catch her. And Leena wasn’t happy about it. His parents were cute though. Melinda liked how they got along. Rin was right about having things to do. They needed to be ready for tomorrow.
She hesitated. Change. Which meant he’d probably get a good look at her shoulders, likely before she could. He was going to get suspicious if she tried too hard to avoid it. She decided to just deal with it and play it off like it wasn’t so bad. If she tried too hard to not let him see and he saw anyway, it’d seem like a bigger deal.
“Yeah. It’d be dumb to get food on this before tomorrow. Got to look good, right?”
Melinda gave his hand an affectionate squeeze before starting toward their shared room. She glanced over at him. He said not to worry, but she was getting really antsy,”Hey, you really think I’m ready for this?”
She’d gotten really good with the stealth, sneaking around, and generally pretty good at dodging and getting around fast. Compared with these three though she was the least experienced. And physically the weakest, though she frequently reminded herself she also had the fire ability that none of the rest of them did to help make up for that. She knew she wasn’t the smartest either, a lot of the scientific and technology stuff went over her head a bit even after attempts at study.
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