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It was a little difficult to listen to his hypothetical apology, especially given the subject matter around it. What all had he gone through? And on the converse side, what had he put others through? Rhea found that she didn’t actually want to know all the details. It was enough to see that it haunted him and that he was still learning. Even for one as inquisitive as she, there were just some things she’d rather left unknown.
But the thought passed quickly, as Dante got to the point. It was surprising. After all this talk of protecting others and self-sacrifice, it was strange to see him put this sort of wall around himself. Rhea did not think it was an altogether bad thing. She would very much like to see him care for himself more, to see how important he is in the eyes of others. So that he might stop trying to run into danger at every turn, at the very least. However, there was a bitterness to it, which made this pill hard to swallow.
[+lightcoral “Then… I guess this is different.”] It mattered very little how she saw the world when what his choice really boiled down to was his own view. [+lightcoral “As someone who has been there… for me it was worth it… for the right person.”] There had to be a connection, a spark, she wouldn’t be willing to go through that for just anyone. [+lightcoral “So, I suppose what this really means is that I wasn’t enough to be worth the risk.”] There was that feeling of inadequacy again, but at least this time she felt she might be able to grasp a sense of closure. She knew [I why] he did all this now, and for her that counted for something.
Not really able to hold back any longer, she wiped at her eyes. It wasn’t an uncontrollable sobbing like she had endured a few days prior, but it was still a display of her feelings. [+lightcoral “I can live with this… I mean, obviously I have to.”] She laughed lightly. Rhea wasn’t about to try and force someone into a relationship with her when he didn’t really want it… well he wanted it, but for some people that wasn’t enough. [+lightcoral “But it is an answer that I cannot be mad at.”] It was more than a systematic list or pros and cons that he weighed back and forth; it was genuine feeling. And she would not hold it against him. At least, not like she would have. This wouldn’t change the fact that she would eventually leave, but it would make his presence easier to endure in the meantime.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat [+royalblue “And if you know of the pain to come, of the displeasure, the agony, the suffering, you willingly walk into that? If you know as a certainty that with love comes loss, with hope comes the dashing blow and with equal parts they will cancel the other out, then I cannot begin to understand why someone would willingly give themselves to this.”] The conversation had expanded upon her mentioning of ending it all, of shattering her core so that she did not return. It was a thought he had considered with the twins to save them any more suffering in their new lives.
But this was not about death and what it could do for emotions. This was about what he had done, why he had done it, whether he was justified.[+royalblue “ I understand you dislike how I went about things and I can apologise for doing so in a very callous and cruel manner. Like I say, I have never had a consensual relationship before, so I have no history in breaking up with someone. But..”] There it was. That hesitation he often gave when about to go into something personal. Dante was becoming more famous for his hesitations and pauses than he was for his life before the twins.
Yet at this moment, looking on her and seeing that slight smile she had that was almost non-existent, the stoppage in his words only lasted a few seconds. Taking a deep breath to compose the fears and emotions beginning to rise up he let out slowly.[+royalblue “I say I did it to protect you from sadness, from pain, stop what happened with Sephora from happening with me. But in truth I did it for myself. I heard how you reacted, I listened to how you talked of her and what she meant to you and it.. scared me. I did not want to feel that same way should anything happen to you. I did not want to go through that loss, to experience what you did.”] Honesty, at last.
/ 1y 102d 18h 25m 46s
[+lightcoral “Because that feeling is worth it… to be wanted and loved by another is a wonderful experience. I don’t want to forget how that feels... I think it would be a demerit to Sephora’s memory to cut myself off and throw away any chance at companionship just because she died. It’s like saying that my time with her would have been better spent elsewhere. To not allow myself to have that again would be the same as saying I regretted what I had before, and I can never do that.”] There was plenty Rhea regretted, but never that. [+lightcoral “I know it will not be the same for each and every person, but that is what is true for me.”] It might not have even been what was right for her in her past life, but for the Rhea she was here and now, this was how she felt.
Taking in a long, slow breath, she held it for a moment before letting it out in a similar manner. [+lightcoral “… by that line of thinking,”] she refered to his idea of her being a child who kept reaching for the stove. [+lightcoral “I might as well end it all to avoid all potential hurt. Why keep living if there is a chance I might end up in pain? Would it be better to shatter my core so that I save my next iteration from something that could potentially leave her heartbroken?”] It was a series of rhetorical questions, because she already had the answer. [+lightcoral “No, that would be absurd. Life is more than just avoiding things that hurt. At least, for me it is.”] Her lips turned up into a melancholy smile. She was trying to be positive, even if she didn’t feel all that hopeful herself.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Though she spoke without end for a few minutes, he listened intently. Staring up at the ceiling he could have found himself drifting to sleep to the sound of her voice – if he felt sleep was at all necessary any more. If the crew knew he was not a real being then would there be any need to keep up the ruse? Would he need to keep eating? Sleeping? Limiting himself before them? He was able to think of this whilst listening to her, simultaneously keeping both narratives going in his mind until she asked him what his opinion was.
Did he have an opinion? Being without emotions had given him back his objectivity and the ability to look on things from a neutral standpoint. But at the same time he doubted every single thing he was thinking. Everything seemed a doubt now.[+royalblue “In some parts I do understand, yet in similar parts I do not.”] Things were never so black and white were they? It was never so simple as to be sure of everything, not when emotions were concerned.
[+royalblue “I understand that one can have the same great feelings for multiple people as they can for a single being but I cannot comprehend just why someone would subject themselves to such torment.”] It really was something he could not fathom, the confusion evident in his voice though his face retained that forlorn and supressed look.[+royalblue “Why, having lost Sephora and by your own words felt ‘devastated’, would you seek love anew? It is like the child who touches the hot stove and repeats the action despite the pain.”] His gaze came back to her now and he looked on her wanting to know much more of that aspect.
Rhea flinched as he brought up her past lover. She was hoping this was not a conversation they needed to have, but apparently it was necessary. Sitting back, she allowed him to finish his thoughts before interjecting with a response. It would be a shame to interrupt him as he finally felt like he could get this off his chest. But soon, the time did come. [+lightcoral “It’s no wonder you didn’t want to talk about all this.”] She sighed, revisiting the thought on how she and Kashia were going to have a very long and very serious talk after this. [+lightcoral “While it is true that I was devastated when Sephora died, I can say with full confidence, that it was worth it. When it was all said and done, every moment of joy, love, and laughter outweighed my grief.”] She knew without hesitation that she would do it all again if it meant she could have just one more minute with the woman, but she also realized now was not the time to mention something like that. The dead were dead, so it wasn’t a sentiment that would ever matter.
[+lightcoral “Soul mates do not exist, you find someone you enjoy, and you put in the effort to love them through your differences and whatever comes… You have to realize that Kashia is looking back on what Sephora and I had through rose-colored glasses. She’s never even met the woman. I can tell you with all certainty we had our fair share of problems, but we worked on it and found solutions together...”] That went doubly for them in the beginning. Rhea was practically a different person back then than she was now. [+lightcoral “And that picture you saw, if it is the one I think it is, you should know that I was barely twenty-four there. I was carefree and didn’t have a worry in the world, besides whether my father was going to let me get the degree I wanted if I decided to go to university.”] It was a far cry from where she was now, running from the Termani and trying to scrounge together enough proof that they murdered the Pyrenians to get where they are. [+lightcoral “Yes, I was happy, but that happiness did not solely come from her.”] Sometimes how you felt was a product of what was happening around you. Like now how she felt so shitty she could give up on everything. It was a convergence of so many different variables, many out of her, or Dante’s, control.
[+lightcoral “You cannot replace Sephora. No one can, just like no one will ever be able to replace you. You and she are your own individual people, and the loves I have for you reflect that. You cannot compare the two.”] Well he could, but she didn’t think that he should. It was apple and oranges, or however that saying went.
She felt like she had talked so much that she had nearly sucked all the air out of the room, but they were all things she felt needed to be said. However, there was one more thing. Rhea needed to know if all these feelings were reaching him. [+lightcoral “Does that make sense?”] It might have been weird to ask, seeing as all of this was variable and based in emotion, but she wanted to know if her opinion on all of this was getting through to him.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Even in his freshly rejuvenated state Dante could tell Rhea was holding back. She had shown she had a sharp tongue in their previous arguments but perhaps his calmer and more demure approach to this one had set her off on a new path. Rather than them arguing aloud and berating one another they each understood the other was tired of that back and forth and had settled more for diplomacy. Whether it worked was another thing.
When she caught herself it had been noticeable, along with her hand lifting up. In truth he had wanted to hear her say it, to feel her hand. But now was not the time for that.[+royalblue “I did not mean to choose for you. I just didn’t want to hurt you like Sephora.”] It was perhaps a little cruel to bring up the woman but it was truthful that she was the reasoning behind this chain of events.[+royalblue “I know you told me about her early on, and Atlas, but until I saw that picture I did not understand what you meant about her being so important to you. I saw that smile.. I’d never seen you smile like [i that] before.”]
He pulled his gaze away from her rather than catch her gaze and have emotions overwhelm them both. If they had to have this talk then it needed to be free of tears. If she cried now he would give in at a moment notice. Thankfully she did not know her advantage.[+royalblue “Kashia said you were soulmates. I have never been in a relationship before, not a voluntary one at least, but I know I did not wish to compete with someone like that. The comparisons between me and her and whether she did X or Y better, made you happier, made you feel more loved. I did not want to diminish her memory or her meaning to you by trying to replace her.”] Again it was selfish but that was that.
/ 1y 102d 23h 59m 26s
Speaking of himself in the first person was enough for Rhea to confirm that Dante really was back. Falling back to her seat, she came back from leaning over him. He did not yell, she could hear that he was not happy, but at the very least he was not angry… yet. Perhaps this could be the civil conversation she had wanted in the beginning, but she was not going to hold her breath. Rhea still very much doubted it.
[+lightcoral “I won’t say that I don’t understand, because to some extent I do…”] She was able to put herself in his shoes. His actions came from a want to keep someone from harm, she had been there before, but that did not excuse his actions in her mind. [+lightcoral “…but that is not something you get to decide, Dante. I am an adult; I can choose what is best for me. I do not need someone else, much less someone who was supposed to be my partner and equal, to do it for me.”] It was her fate and she wanted to have a say in it, not to be treated like a child who did not know any better. He was not her father.
As chiding as all of that may have seemed, Rhea kept a soft tone through it all. It was difficult not to just throw her feelings at him while she was this tired, but she held it back. His admittance of distain for not having control helped to some degree. At least he was being honest now. [+lightcoral “I know, lo-“] She caught both her tongue and her hand, as she was about to bring it up and run her fingers through his hair in a gesture of intimate comfort. [+lightcoral “I know.”] Rhea left it at that.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat The period between him ‘leaving’ and ‘returning’ was only a minute at most. Although his breathing began quite soon after it had stopped, the obvious tell-tale signs that Dante had come back, the one with all emotions and associated faults, were the subtle movements of his body. Before he had been very rigid and straight yet now his fingers relaxed and his body moved a fraction in the ways a living person would. Part of his personality was to mimic such small movements that no-one would notice until they were no longer there and so here they came back.
Lying on the bed, rather uncomfortable as his body’s nervous system began to report back on even the smallest of data, he eyes relaxed and his face sagged just a touch to leave him looking rather sorrowful. Yes, most definitely his emotions were back. Her greeting was not met with any response from him and he took a deep breath in to release it slowly. Letting the silence sit for a moment he eventually changed his view to that of the white haired woman at his side, silhouetted against the ceiling lights as she leaned over to confirm he was fine.
[+royalblue “It has been a few centuries since my last shut down.. nearly a decade since I turned on my persona chip.. I still dislike both experiences.”] His inflections and cold way of speaking were back too though he spoke slowly and forlornly. He had indeed been trying to avoid all of this, yet less than a week later and here he was back to where he had been.[+royalblue “I apologise for not explaining things to you. I thought it best I not tell you what I am, and that you would be better off without me.”] He retained the thoughts of Synth Dante and the regret was evident that such secrets had come out when ‘he’ wasn’t in control.[+royalblue “I hate not having control..”] He said almost as an afterthought that slipped out.
Watching him as he gave his reply, he brought up many a past moment that proved her words to be false. And honestly, she knew it wasn’t entirely true when she said it, but that did not mean it hurt any less. [+lightcoral “I know…”] That same lonely longing stayed persistent in her voice. [+lightcoral “But it still wasn’t enough.”] Taking in a deep breath, she tried to stave off any more tears. Rhea did not want to be sobbing again by the time he was back to himself. Though, it really did not help that he brought up the girls.
She had looked away for a moment; another attempt to stay calm, but when she looked back Rhea noticed he had stopped breathing again. Straightening in her chair, she mildly panicked. Was this a part of the chip coming back into place, or was he shutting down again. All of her focus went to him to look for anything that might give her reason to believe it was one or the other. It wasn’t long before she caught sight of his blinking and was able to relax again. At least, relax as much as one could in the calm before the storm.
Continuing to watch him, she waited what felt like an eternity for his feigned functions to come back online. It was shortly after he started breathing again that she allowed herself to believe that things were back as they should be. [+lightcoral “Welcome back, Dante.”] As sardonic as those words could have been, there was a genuine sense of salutations in them. She was relieved that he was still alive in the world, even if it was seemingly falling apart around her.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Dante would have shook his head to disagree with her but again – rather large hole in his head where his nanites could fall out. Given they were rather precious now that he had no more vials remaining, it was best he kept still and focus more on his words than responding in motions to her.
[+royalblue “You misunderstand then if you believe he did not trust you.”] From what she said, she seemed to have the understanding that he did not share his feelings or open up to her through lack of belief in her. It could not really be further from the truth.[+royalblue “He took you with him to meet Elias. Brought you on the dangerous mission that followed. Gave you oversight of the twins, the most important beings in his life, his own children.”] He was making a very good case if he said so himself.[+royalblue “He fights to control his logic and think more with the personality so that you are more at ease, but a decade of freedom is nothing compared to near four centuries of servitude.”]
He was not sure what she knew of his past, but given they were on Fensome he had an inkling of who they had gotten to agree to help him and that woman would not be so easy with holding back on information. She was trustworthy but had a mouth like a drunken sailor.
[+royalblue “He is stubborn.. he is difficult.. but he trusted only you with his literal life..”] His voice stagnated and returned to that robotic and monotone state from earlier as the chip was being rebuilt, requiring him to power down to base systems so that the personality could be reloaded. It took only a few minutes but for now he was laying back staring up blankly, breathing ceased though his eyes blinked occasionally to denote he was still 'alive'.
One of her main brows rose at the comment. So his questions were inappropriate, were they? Rhea got the feeling that he did not mean it in that sense, but it did help lighten her mood just a touch. Of all the many things he could be curious about, even in this state he found them to be best unspoken. It sparked curiosity in her, but this was one she would let die. An unusual choice for her, but not impossible, clearly.
The roseate woman had thought that would be the end of it for now, but he went on. Instead of an inquiry, he had something to share with her. Bringing her head back up, she looked to him once more and nodded to signal for him to go ahead. Then she listened. It was a rather sentimental bit, especially for someone who couldn’t truly feel that sentiment yet.
After a moments pause to collect her thoughts for a response; Rhea spoke. Her voice still wasn’t at full volume, but it was enough to be heard as close as they were. [+lightcoral “I do not dislike him, in fact, I love him quite dearly.”] Enough time had not passed to put an end to that, and as it was, she wasn’t sure if the attachment would ever completely dissolve. She had the tendency to hold onto people. Dante would likely be no different. [+lightcoral “I know there are times when these things have to be learned. Contrary to your belief, not everyone starts out naturally empathetic to others… I would have been there to help him, as someone to open up to and similar bare my chest back, if only he would have trusted me enough to do so...”] In fact there was more than one moment she had called on him to try just that and it came to nothing, or close to it. In fact, the latest time ended with their break up. [+lightcoral “But he has to have a will to learn. And that is not something I can teach.”] Somewhere along the way her expression changed to something more forlorn. There was a consuming sense of loneliness in her chest.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Dante had quite some respect for her when she refused to ask any more prying questions of him whilst in the state he was. It was a very interesting choice given she could have the answers to burning questions or learn of his past, his secrets, what he would not dare tell of his own free will. But she respected the fact he was not truly himself and therefore any answer would be like coercing an innocent bystander to say they are guilty. A noble gesture.
In return he did the same.[+royalblue “I will stave any questions for him to ask should he wish. I would not want to make the situation any worse by asking inappropriate questions of you.”] That said he had so many he wanted to ask that in the time remaining it would not be enough to ask let alone hear her response. Instead he watched her quietly for a few brief moments before looking down on his arm, seeing how it had been carefully wrapped.
[+royalblue “I would like to make a statement however, knowing he will perhaps be too prideful to say this aloud.”] Dante was indeed stubbornly proud and that was a large part for why he put up so many walls to anyone around him learning more. It was always business and professional manners, oh so rarely was it personal.
[+royalblue “He will be sorry that he cannot be what you want him to be. But that you should understand he is not like you or the others. He does not have the innate ability of living beings to recognise and respond to feelings in a certain manner. Whilst he can have emotions, he is has to learn everything through trial and error and observation of others and his past tutors of love, of caring, of being open and honest – they were not the best to learn from. You may dislike the man he is now but he would wish you to understand why he is this way.”]
/ 1y 103d 14h 10m 28s
In the grand scheme of things five minutes seemed like nothing at all. [+lightcoral “We waited days for you to wake back up, a few minutes should be nothing at all.”] Her voice was quiet, reminiscent of the last few days and how dreadful they had been. Though she almost wished it would take a little bit longer so that she could have more time to let everything sink in a little better. A lot of what she was doing right now was very knee-jerk in terms of reactions.
She shook her head at his offer. [+lightcoral “It means very little to be told anything when you lack most the inhibitions to keep your secrets.”] Rhea did not think that was completely true. Like before, he still wanted to keep certain things under wraps, but after everything it still did not feel right to drag every dark detail out of him. It was manipulative, and she would avoid it for the time being. Even if she had already been quite a terror.
Leaning back some, she let her head fall back so she could look at the ceiling. What came from her mouth were more tired ramblings to fill the void than anything else. [+lightcoral “What about you? Any questions he was dying to ask, but just couldn’t bring himself to say? Might be your last chance for answers as well.”] Might as well give him an equal chance to round out that data base, it would probably make him better at trying to predict her future reactions and save them some of this drama.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Such an interesting woman. One minute she was leaving to avoid the fallout of giving back emotions to a man who was not capable of utilizing and understanding them. The next she was marking back in to sit down beside him and professing she was ready to be shouted at. There was no logical way to look on her and try to fathom how to approach her in conversation. Anything he said was quickly attacked and he was not given any leeway in his responses.
So this is what it felt like to argue against an impossible being? To debate someone who did not debate but merely spoke at you? If it could be related to a feeling it would be frustrating. From her posture to the tone she took it was all but screaming her displeasure at this entire situation. He wondered how much stemmed from her distaste at how he had broken up with her and how much was attributed to him right here and now in his cynical mode.
Unknowing to him she was quite frankly running on her reserves. No sleep, emotional pulled this way and that, having to deal with being blamed for everything or consoled and praised by Tera and Jax respectively. Now she had the man she loved back but he was a blunt and emotionless arsehole and it all began with him feeling inadequate because her niece had told him she had had her soul mate and lost her long in her past. And that was cutting out many other minor details too.
[+royalblue “I expect given my nanites need time to get my systems operating at peak efficiency before they can begin to reconstruct the chip, that it will be a further five minutes and seventeen seconds before it is completed.”] A short time that would stretch to hours given the animosity and resentment she felt for being forced to stay – even if it was her choice.[+royalblue “Would you like to ask me anything before that occurs? You stated you have learned much more in a few days than a few months given my openness to answering your questions. Once he regains control, you may be without answers once more.”]
/ 1y 103d 15h 38m 42s
Given that she did not expect everything that had happened here to magically be expunged from his memory, Rhea nodded. Dante was going to know every detail of what she had said. All the more reason she was sure he would be done with her. She had been the one to decide that he should basically suffer right along side her, though the choice was a little more nuanced than that.
She sighed. [+lightcoral “If it doesn’t matter either way if I am here or not, there would be no reason to tell me this.”] He said he did not want her to leave on false pretense, but she very much did not believe that. Dante’s whole life was built on false pretense, and even as he was now he was trying to keep it that way. Just because he couldn’t process emotions right now didn’t mean he didn’t have an agenda. Still, she would let him have this one. [+lightcoral “Fine… I will stay. Then you can yell at me all you like when you are feeling yourself again. It’s only fair, I suppose.”] Tera had her turn, why not let Dante have a go too?
The petite woman hadn’t even made it to the door before she was turning around to come back to the seat. Placing herself firmly there she crossed her legs and readied herself for a wait. Very tired features fell back to his illuminated golden eyes. After this she was going to need some sleep. More than the four hours she had managed scattered across the last couple of days. [+lightcoral “Do you have a time estimate for this?”] It wasn’t that she was trying to hurry it along, Rhea just wanted to know what she was in for.
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