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[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat There was a very quick, very easy answer to that. But he bit back on speaking once more. Turning his attention to her and looking into her eyes, those large fiery eyes that had been quite captivating from the first time they met, he was critical of his words before they had even been spoken. He wanted to say yes. He could promise her that in an electrical heartbeat. But was he saying that because she wanted to hear it? Because he truly meant it? Because it was the easiest and most logical answer?
Dante was clearly in two minds of whether his choices were his own or if he was acting to his set parameters. That was the crux of this whole issue to begin with. Where did he stop being a machine and where did he become a living being? And that was a philosophical conundrum he would not find an answer to. Perhaps he was just over analysing this.
Perhaps his quick answer was the right one. And the reason he came to it so readily was because he did not need time to think it through. Looking into her eyes as his hand slipped down to her back to keep her close, there wasn't really anything else to think of. He had spent seconds in this silent connection with her but it felt much longer. And in that loss of time awareness, he had his answer.[+royalblue “I promise Rhea. I love you.”]
In his silence, Rhea wasn’t entirely sure she was getting through to him. They had been on completely different pages for a while now, so she couldn’t say one way or another. But eventually he shifted and his hand moved up her side. Perhaps she should have pulled away so that she could remain standing on her own, but she did not. The woman followed his guiding hand as it brought them closer together. Sat on him not so differently from the girls he was cradling, she allowed herself to relax against him. Having comfort in being with him like this was something she missed dearly.
All that came after that was a single question, but that was enough to make her feel heavy with burden. It was her turn to be silent. She thought about it and she knew what she wanted, but whether or not it was the right thing was harder to distinguish. Knowing that she could not stay quiet forever without that becoming her answer, she lifted her head from his shoulder to look him in those brilliant golden eyes. [+lightcoral “I don’t know…”] It reiterated her thoughts, but conveyed where she was currently at mentally. [+lightcoral “I have missed you so much these last few days I could hardly stand it, but…”] But jumping straight back to how things used to be after he admitted that he thought he would be better off without there to love him was difficult, even if the feelings were there.
Brow furrowing as she struggled, Rhea wanted to focus on the positive. Things like knowing that Dante regretted doing what he did, and that if he was asking her to stay with him now, it meant that he had reevaluated the situation in favor of them being together. It was hopeful, but there was still that tiny bit of doubt in her, doubt she wanted to clear up. [+lightcoral “I want to, more than anything I want to… but I want you to tell me one thing.”] Rhea planned to limit herself to just that so she could keep things concise. [+lightcoral “Can you promise me that you will come to me if something starts to bother you?”] She knew she couldn’t make him promise to never leave her again, that would be stupid. But she wanted assurance that if something like this came about again, they could talk to one another and try to work it out. She wanted to be able to help him though things like this, especially now that he seemed to be more in tune with his emotions. [+lightcoral “If you can tell me that then I will stay with you as long as you want me.”] A lofty promise as there was no way to control every aspect of that, but the sentiment rang true.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Her movements were.. not expected, to say the least. Dante had been thinking it would be the end of the conversation with him telling her little more than he was struggling to manage things, because just what kind of help could she offer? He saw no solution. So when she stood he assumed it was to leave him to wallow and take no further part in his pity party.
She instead circled around his back, coming to stand before him and without a word said she pulled him towards her. He was caught between standing and remaining seated but her hands brushing through his hair and cradling his head to her chest – a light sound from his horn clinking to her crystal – kept him in his chair. Rather than lean over the crystals he scooted forward in his seat, opening his legs either side her small frame to better press against her warm figure. As she spoke there were points for him to make contradictions and arguments against what she said but he found himself remaining silent. It was one of the rare times Dante had been able to keep his opinion to himself. To say anything would be to rehash his argument and that would only exasperate her further.
Instead he waited. Listening to her chest reverberate with her words. Her skin flared with warmth despite the sunlight he had been sitting in. Her hands held him tightly but not pinning him to her. His right hand, not cradling the crystals, placed itself upon her hip, though soon it moved up and around her back. In a similar silent fashion as she had he moved her with him as he sat back into his seat, pulling her down to sit on his right thigh and then on further to rest her against him and her head to his shoulder. Now left cradling the three of them he ran his cool cerulean fingers along the woman's arm up to her cheek, thumb stroking along the warm pink skin.
[+royalblue “Will you stay with me?”] The question was whispered to her given how close she was. In a way it was three questions in one, relating to the past and their relationship, the future and the crew, and the present on that warm balcony. He had nothing else left to ask her as nothing else seemed all too important as he held her.
For him to do a one eighty and apologize was about the last thing that Rhea expected, but there it was. She barely believed her ears. If it weren’t for the expression pasted on his face and change in basic mannerisms she would have thought she had misheard him. There was a break for her take a moment and accept reality before he went on with a little more explanation. He was delving a little deeper into his inner workings and emotions.
Listening to it all, there was a lot to take in. She didn’t know what to say, but she did know that unlike the last time her at his bedside, she couldn’t hold back in her want to comfort him. Perhaps it was inappropriate given what all had transpired, but the petite woman stood from her chair. There was but a moment’s hesitation before she took the few steps to bring them together and wrapped her arms around him. The action brought his head to her chest, something only really possible because he was sitting. Her arms cradled his head gently, hyper aware of his injuries even if they seemed to have been taken care of. She stayed like this for a little bit before speaking.
[+lightcoral “It is okay to struggle…”] That might have seemed like a terrible comment, but it was the truth. [+lightcoral “Like you said, you just barely got these feelings a decade ago. They are not going to be easy to sort, or control for that matter, that is just a fact of life. We all go through it.”] It was something most beings struggled with. [+lightcoral “I mean, I’ve been alive for over a century and a half, feelings intact the whole time, and I still struggle to reign in my own emotions… just look at these last few days.”] There were plenty of examples there and she wasn’t exactly proud of it. [+lightcoral "It is hard, because sometimes they aren't logical. And they make you say things you don't really mean, or do things that you know you shouldn't..."] Looking back, there were definitely a few words she wished she could take back. In that regard she was the same as Dante.
[+lightcoral “I just want you to remember that you are not alone. It is okay to ask for help, even if we can’t exactly fix what you are feeling or why, there is something to be said about solidarity with others.”] As it was, she did not touch on the subject of their relationship. If she got too close to that, Rhea knew she was bound to start crying again. And for now she just wanted to focus on Dante and his needs.
[+lightcoral “I am sorry too, it was selfish of me to force you to deal with all this after it was clear that you did not want to feel anything… I just… I couldn’t go on knowing that you were alive in the world and only a shadow of who you were meant to be.”] It was hard to think about, and even harder to admit. She did not want to think that she was wrong in this, but he was right that it was egotistical and she had to address it. [+lightcoral “It’s just, what is the point of being alive, if you aren’t really [I alive].”] He had said it himself, everything on that little processing chip was in essence him. Without it he really was just a robot.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Activating shame mode. He was a walking, talking contradiction and she was right to be frustrated at him for saying both sides of an argument leaving her with no middle ground to comfort him from. She was battling a raging river whilst subsequently the ground beneath her fell away. And in that moment he felt rather sheepish, gaze turning away from her.[+royalblue “I'm sorry..”]
There was more to add but for a little time that was all he felt was right to say. Anything more would have been him speaking without thinking and this moment called for the latter quite a lot more than the former. Composed enough, he decided to start small.[+royalblue “I'm struggling to order these emotions lately, to.. make sense of them as they come up without logical reason. They are just.. there.”] He was not accustomed to such changes so fast. Before Rhea had arrived, emotions could be swapped out at his choosing. And yet lately, he had been unable to make the transitions so smoothly. All of it stemmed from a single point.
[+royalblue “Back on the ship, when we first kissed, several emotions came out that I did not think possible. My creators gave me set parameters and things were organised.”] A robots peaceful-zen came about when things were organised, in their placed, and uniform.[+royalblue “I felt, what I can only describe from anecdotal data, as love. Not a caring love like with the twins,”] his hands lifted the light crystals a little at their mention,[+royalblue “but a romantic love. And in equal parts it thrilled and amazed me.”] It was a wonderful feeling to be in love but the risks were always there – and Kashia had driven them home after their stay in the villa.[+royalblue “After you and the girls died in the villa, I was left.. in truth.. I was scared. Scared to lose you permanently. Everyone on the ship, but you especially. I made a.. stupid, stupid snap decision when I saw that picture of you and Sephora, and I regretted it the moment I said it."] He was talking of the moment he had broken up with her in a cold and to the point manner.[+royalblue "I couldn't reconcile the emotions and feelings so I cut them out. That was why I gave you the persona chip..”]
It was all still entirely muddled up and not the least bit sane, but it was his only way of unravelling what was going on. She understood him more than the others did and so she deserved this deeper explanation.[+royalblue “I'm just.. struggling.”] He took a deep breath following that quiet final admission, lifting one hand up to move the covering on the crystals a little bit and allow more of the warm sunlight in.
Rhea didn’t know what she expected in coming here, but it certainly wasn’t this. It was so contradictory. He had just finished throwing all his feelings at her and now he was saying that he was nothing more than a computer, it was fake and it didn’t matter. She let out a long sigh trying to keep it all in. [+lightcoral “Dante…”] Finally she turned to look at him, a rather serious expression on her face. [+lightcoral “Do you want me to consider you as a person, or do you not?”]
Lifting her glasses up she rubbed at her eyes. She did not wait for an answer, because it would probably be similar to the one he just gave her. [+lightcoral “Just a minute ago you were saying you were angry because you felt like I did not consider you enough… I don’t know about you, but that sounds like real and honest emotion to me, one that you decided to share of your own accord.”] Rhea didn’t even know why she was trying, whether or not that came through in her voice, she didn’t know. [+lightcoral “If that isn’t enough to make you more than an imposter, then I don’t think I’ve met many who meet your standards.”]
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Dante shook his head at how little she said and he looked away once more. Given she would not look at him as they talked he saw little point in trying for a deeper conversation. She was passive aggressive in his eyes. She disliked anyone disagreeing with her viewpoint and when he came up with valid arguments she would circumnavigate it all or throw his own argument back at him with slight deviations to make him regret ever saying anything.
Chuckling at her concise question he looked down on the crystals in his arms, thinking of his response and finding the right words to correctly convey his humour.[+royalblue “You are asking a computer to think freely. To have a conscience and self-worth and desire.”] Granted he had already stated he wanted to be free, to not go back to servitude, but he had thought of that.[+royalblue “I can make mock scenarios and say them aloud; I am thirsty, I am hungry, I want this,”] he clutched at the crystals a little tighter,[+royalblue “or I want you.”] His voice dropped a decibel but he did not pause for her to speak.
[+royalblue “They are all programs, bios software, algorithms and probability indexes. And that is what I was trying to tell you on the ship.. albeit in the worst way imaginable but hey, I’m a fancy calculator on legs so give me a break.”] Another short chuckle as he chastised himself and let out a deep sigh.[+royalblue “In truth I am and always will be a servant. I can fool myself, but all my decisions are made for others, made for what I think they need or want from me. I am unable to think freely and I know that.. because I do not have an answer to your question Rhea.”]
She wanted to point out the fact that he had assaulted Jax. That yes, it was hurting them by proximity; that his anger being directed at them was indeed unjust and unwarranted, but Rhea kept silent. Perhaps it was part of the falling apart, but she was beginning to care less and less about having his see things her way. She simply wanted things to be put back as they should be.
Again, she let him finish his thoughts before coming out with any of her own. Her tail was flicking ever so slightly beneath her cloak, irritated at having her words bent in such a way. She still failed to see his link to selfishness anywhere in what she had said. She had agreed with him, she had been coming to terms with the things he wanted and why, then he exploded. But once again, it wasn’t important. If he had not reflected on the part he played in all this by now, then he probably never would.
[+lightcoral “Alright, I see why you are upset.”] It was all mainly reiterated from the night before, she had heard it once before and she still did not agree with it, but by this point Rhea did not feel it safe nor comfortable to voice her own opinions. [+lightcoral “So, what do you want to do?”] She put emphasis on the want verb. If he wanted to be heard and have agency over himself, then at the very least she could give him that.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Dante listened though from his body language it seemed he was ignoring her once more. He was very good at keeping still. Shame that could not be a vocation. Still he made subtle movements to show he was listening to her, twitches of his pointed ears a prime one.
So she felt he was projecting his anger at her on the rest of the crew? Interesting.[+royalblue “You think my anger at you is a detrimental factor toward my crew by virtue of them being close to it. But do you think my anger is unjust? Is my anger unwarranted?”] These were rhetorical questions but he paused a moment to take a breath and released a deep sigh.[+royalblue “It stems from you becoming irate at me for expressing my concern for you, and for voicing my own weaknesses.”]
Now he opened his eyes and turned his head, gaze looking over her as she sat facing out with him. With her hood down it was quite nice to see her out in natural lighting. Regardless of his emotional state he could see her as attractive and beautiful and find something peaceful in looking on her curving jawline, smooth cheeks, the glasses that frame bright eyes. His emotions were fickle things and one of those emotions still cared about her. It was as she said, not so simple to ignore how one felt about someone even through all the arguments.
[+royalblue “I was angered that you admonished me for wanting to show my worry and concern for you, that it was inappropriate for me to do that. And yet you are here because of your worry and concern for me, for the others. And atop that, when I share my weakness with you I am made to feel that I am acting in a selfish manner. Yet you do not see the hypocrisy in that by putting the persona chip back in me.”] There were no questions, no queries or arguments to be made to her. Rather he wanted his side of this issue to be out just as she had given hers.
Rhea let him have his time, even though she thought it a spiteful thing to do. In the meantime, she pulled her hood back so that they would properly be able to see one another. It was vacant enough up in this area, and they were facing in a way that it would probably be okay. If not, she didn’t really care, at least for the time being.
When he did get it out, the woman looked up at him expectantly. She had no idea what it was that he wanted to hear; he probably didn’t even know, but she was not here to argue with him any more. Rhea was going to attempt to keep this as placated as possible now that she was well rested enough to regulate herself better. [+lightcoral “Dante, you are making this very difficult.”] It was a bit of warning that she did not appreciate his sass.
The woman took in a deep breath as she looked back out over the veranda. It was a rather pretty view for being in such an out of the way location. Her gaze stayed there as she continued to speak. [+lightcoral “Just because something is right, does not always mean you should say it.”] She was clearly speaking of herself. Rhea didn’t want to lie to try and fix this, she was bad at it and it was liable to make the situation worse in the long run. But this, her words currently, were true in her own mind if nothing else. [+lightcoral “I think much of what I said before was… unnecessary. It made things worse when they did not need to be, and that is why I am sorry.”] Whether he believed her or not, that was on him. [+lightcoral “And I am here to tell you that both because it is right, and because I think you are taking your anger at me out of the others. Before I came, you seemed to be happy with your ship and the crew inside, I think that feeling was genuine and I do not want you to throw it away.”] Despite everything, she really did still want the best for Dante. [+lightcoral “If I am wrong, and you really have always felt captive to the things you did for them, tell me and I will leave it be, but based off what I have seen, I do not think that is that case.”]
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Upstairs the balcony was a good deal warmer than the lower levels. Bathed in the golden glow of the nearest sun those up here were more tranquil and mellow than the boisterous crown beneath. They were more focused on relaxing and any conversation was had in hushed tones, not wanting to disturb the others around them. From a fan fitted near the doorway a cooling breeze was created and made this a very wonderful spot to sit and rest.
Rhea was right to be confused why a man who enjoyed the cold would be up here but there he was sat alone at the furthest table from the entryway. Sat with the chair turned toward the dome of the station and the sun beyond, he had his eyes closed and his hair swayed slowly with the occasional breeze. In his arms, still in the same cover Rhea had placed them in earlier, sat the two crystals. They were similarly bathed in the suns warmth and rest against his chest as he sat back in his seat.
The arrival of someone beside him did not startle him nor did he open his eyes to look across. It was clear who would come after him yet the voice that came and her tone was decidedly more mellow and humble than he had thought. Allowing for the words to linger, to mull over how he would react – which was a bastardly thing to do – Dante eventually spoke,[+royalblue “In my many years, I have come to find apologies stem from one of two beginnings; a belief that it just the social thing to do in a particular occasion, or to simply draw an apology from the other party in a reciprocal gesture. Neither is meant as a genuine acknowledgement of wrongdoing.”] He was a smart arse at the best of times, insufferable the rest.
The lines about his eyes were a touch darker but almost shimmering in the sunlight, blood vessels carrying his nanitic-blood close to the surface. The cracking effect was just all the more obvious, not to mention that amalgamated plating of metal at his horn that had reaffixed it in place – the work of the small flame haired woman.[+royalblue “Why you are really here? You are too intelligent to come here simply to apologise, especially when you do not mean it.”] To Dante she could lie and deny her apology was fake but he understood her enough to know that she would not see anything she had done as wrong. She was in the right and it was an apology of circumstances.
Having gone through the first area pretty thoroughly, Rhea was ready to move on to the next. She thought it less likely Dante would be there, as he always seemed to have more of an affinity for the cold. However, looking back that may have been another farce to give up the appearance of a more organic being. She was not sure, but as she was making her way to the stairs tucked to the side, she caught a familiar face. D12’s master came zipping out. The look on her face showed that she wasn’t stopping for anything, so the Pyrenian did not even try. For her, seeing the woman at all was enough of a marker to send her in the right direction.
Coming up at her own pace, there was a shift in the lighting to something more natural. It was easier on her eyes, so Rhea did not mind in the least. The excess warmth was also welcoming to her, but it seemed to drive away other patrons. This area was not so densely populated as the others. A perfect place for business deals by men who wished not to be overheard. Scanning over her red eyes did indeed fall over the figure of Dante. At the sight alone, Rhea began to feel more nervous. All the things that could go wrong ran rampant in her head. But she stepped forward anyway; she had made up her mind despite all the potential issues that could arise. Taking up the empty seat next to him at the table, most likely the one recently vacated by the roboticist, she kept her eyes to herself.
Opening her mouth just to close it again, Rhea when through this cycle more than once before managing anything out. But it came in its time and genuinely so too. [+lightcoral “I am sorry.”] She would use this to test the waters for now and wait to elaborate later. It was important to know if he was going to be receptive to her at all, or become a brick wall that all her attempts would bounce off of.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Following the route through the station and heading across to the far side Rhea would come close to the edge and the dome that ensured everyone within stayed safe from the radiator and vacuum of space. On this side the sun shone brightly. It was not enough to blind or burn, but it did heat the area better and therefore there were many balconies and spots for people to sit and enjoy themselves. This was why two businesses had set up to serve patrons drinks whilst they relaxed.
The one she entered first used the blue light as a means of having both the bright sun and a darker inner sanctum. People could choose to drink in the darkness downstairs or the light upstairs. But tucked away in a stairwell towards the back was a smaller and more secluded platform. Most people did not like to use it as it faced the sun and cosmos directly and therefore was a touch too bright – but it was an ideal place for a cold synthetic being, with two crystalline beings that required heat, to be.
If that had not been enough of a hint to Rhea, the red-headed woman – her demure size setting her apart from the other louder people in the building – came walking down the stairwell with a bag of belongings tucked over her shoulder. Looking about swiftly she turned to a side entrance, marching out with her head down and the door slamming shut behind her. She did not wish to stop and chat it seemed.
Rhea knew things were going a little too well. She did suppose she could hang out around here, maybe in the corner, in hopes that they would come back and she would intercept Dante before he ran off to do whatever it was he was planning. As she was thinking about this and other possibilities, D12 ended up doing its own thing. That was just as well by her, so long as the stand in shop keep didn’t ask her to leave right away. But it turned out the robot was proving to be much more helpful than she anticipated. By the end of it, she had another lead to follow, but it came along with something worrying. From the sounds of it, Dante really was trying to run off. That or send everyone else off.
The woman brought her attention back to the helper just long enough to thank it for its assistance and she was out and headed into the direction of the bar. She wasn’t exactly sure how much she wanted to deal with a drunken Dante, but with any luck he hadn’t managed to get too shitfaced in the less than an hour he had been there… if he was there at all.
It took a little bit longer, but Rhea kept off the main roads as much as she could. She stuck out a great deal all covered up like she was. With fewer people on this path, there was less chance at being seen and caught, but she also ran the risk of looking even more suspicious to those she did come across. There was no winning. Especially when she made it to the outer reaches of the station. This was where she needed to ask around to get directions to the drinking establishment. She did so discretely. Turned out there were two in the area, neither was particularly upscale. They both sounded to be the types of places that Dante could be found… she was going to have to guess.
Making the executive decision to simply go to the closer of the two, the short woman walked into a somewhat rowdy looking mess of a place. People were loud, but no one seemed to be belligerent. The lights were dim and set to a muted blue. It made it a little difficult for her to see. And what was worse was that it cast everyone in that same pale cerulean that Dante was known for. Walking around, she tried her best not to stare at any one person for too long, crystal forbid she start something she was not prepared to finish.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat To be fair to Rhea she did let the mechanoid go on for near to a minute before even her legendary patience – you had to have such to deal with Dante – finally gave out and she had to force the ‘bot to reveal where the duo had gone. It was likely if she had not stopped it, the construct would have continued to flatter Dante with superlatives that went far above what the synth man deserved. Thankfully she spoke up.
[+4286f4 “I am afraid I do not know ma’am. I was only called from the backroom when the owner advised she needed to go out.”] That blank and basic face looked across at Rhea as it delivered the news she would not want to hear. Though again it tilted its head and from the look of frustration that seemed to arise on the woman’s face it found itself searching its memory banks.
Turning away from her it drew a plug-in cable from its side and jacked into a monitor nearby the counter. Lost for a moment it stood still before returning seconds later, heavy metallic feet stomping as it turned back to Rhea.[+4286f4 “I have investigated the security footage,”] rather clever and sneaky for a basic-bot,[+4286f4 “and my master made mention of a drinking establishment that is located on the far side of station. I cannot be sure that is where they are heading however, as it was intermingled with talk of star crafts and payments for travel.”] It started well, now it was troubling.
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