Descartes looked at her for a long moment with those fierce eyes of unforgiving slate without speaking a single word, seemingly lost in deep thought that had nothing to do with how she looked but rather what was hidden so deep inside her.
There are many sides to a person, Cadenza, he began, his voice calm but adamant. You can be both a lover and a killer. A liar and a saint. He paused. A loyal and a traitor. Anyone who claims to be only one thing is putting on a mask and lying to themselves. Would you rather you knew one side of me? The fake one? The one that pretends to be everything but is nothing? Would you be more sure of trusting that person?
He closed the distance between them with his eyes never shifting from her. You're not the only one who despises themselves despises what they are.
He tipped her chin up so she could meet his eyes which were still burning fiercely but now full of emotion. You've been hurt. You've been abandoned. You've been left to pick up the pieces. And I'm the one who shattered what you had. He paused for a moment, gazing deeply into her abyssal pools of blue as if searching for her very soul. We shattered it. Why, Cadenza? What does it mean?
Her face grew very dark--as if a stormcloud were brewing right there between her eyes, in the furrow of her brow, the strain in her temples. She wanted to shout at him, yell, throw things--anything to let it out. When he called her out for hating herself, she wanted to smack the teeth out of his mouth for saying the words she so strongly avoided dwelling on herself. A deep, biting hunger for the liquor that had numbed that old pain rose in her gut and she forced it down, knowing she couldn't go there now. She had others that needed her--her family, and that kept her going. She had little ones now, growing in her, to care for each day. Even if their dad had been chased away for a while.
Left without her usual comfort of lies, all she could do was let the bitterness pour out. She did not tear her chin away from his grasp, but rather let her blazing eyes stay square on his, and her voice was scathing when she spoke, "It means we're both ♥♥♥♥-ups, Descartes. We have no idea what we want. We just act first and then when it all goes to hell after we scramble to live through the consequences. Scum like us can't be happy. We destroy things. As much as I try to deny it, I have to get used to it. Things can work out for a while, but some chance will always present itself for someone like us to screw it up and bring ourselves back down to the gutter where we live. Basura. That's us."
Descartes met her gaze without flinching the storm brewing behind hers mirrored and contested by the icy fire burning behind his. The tension in the air was almost palpable and sparks of raw emotion seemed just about ready to erupt between them and set everything aflame. Her magic simmered just below the surface and his vampiric power threatened to break free of his control.
Yes we are ♥♥♥♥-ups, he began harshly. Yes we make mistakes terrible mistakes but that's what being alive means!. What we want what we search for, Cadenza is happiness. We know what we want but we don't know how to reach it! We lose our way trying.
He leaned even closer to her so that their noses almost touched, his hand slipping away from her chin to cup her cheek as he kept her gaze locked with his. If you feel like you almost had happiness within your grasp but let it slide through your fingers, then ask yourself - was it truly the happiness you thought it was? Or just another mistake...?
His voice suddenly grew in intensity and his other gripped her arm as if to shake her. But I will not believe that we cannot be happy! If that's the case we might as well kill ourselves end this pointless suffering that only leads to more pain! But you have children now, Cadenza people who rely on you! That alone should be proof enough for you proof that you can actually be happy.
The air stilled for a moment with quiet until his voice broke it once more, only this time his voice was gentle and supportive almost soothing, like that of a close friend or a lover. We just need to heal, Cadenza... And that won't happen until we let out all the pain the pain, and hurt, and misery we strive so hard to keep hidden deep inside us - everything that holds us back. Until we forgive ourselves...
If Cadenza felt anything--anything at all during his speech, it did not show save for the barest flickers in the unreadable blue-black darkness of her eyes. Her expression stayed locked in that pained grimace, that scathing frown, before she turned harshly away from his hands, so abruptly and definitely that she may as well have teared them away from her cheek and arm. Her teeth ground together for a moment and she bowed her head before her voice grated out in a low, steady tone.
"You are far too close, Descartes. Don't risk it again."
She didn't need to put extra emphasis into it to make it a threat, and it wasn't one--simply a statement of fact, as if she were stating a law of nature. Come that close again without her permission and there would be a consequence. She did not need to illustrate it with a vulgar description. It spoke for itself.
Furious and conflicted thoughts were brewing in her head as she stepped away, ones she did not feel altogether comfortable facing. The temperature of the room for a moment seemed to cool and the shadows retreat in on themselves as she stewed, one hand grasping her arm with tense knuckles just about where he had held it, the skin still showing a slight flush from the pressure of his fingertips, under her tan. She then began to speak again without transition or segway into her thoughts, just voicing them aloud.
"I thought I could be happy with Rain... or at least as close as I ever deserved, after all I've done in my life... far more than just our mistake. I could have been happy with what we had, I really wanted to believe that... he was a good man. One of the best I've known. Or maybe I just needed to believe that too... he was caring, and gentle, and finding that for real in a person is rare... he had been willing to risk his life before for me, without asking anything in return... could anyone hope to ask for better than that? Certainly not with the kind of life I live... we've spoken since then... there's a chance... but I know we'll never be quite the same..."
Suddenly, she began to feel very, very tired. Tired of this conversation, tired of... of feeling, feeling like this. This kind of stress wasn't good for a pregnant woman, she thought. She just wanted to curl up and rest and get away from this man... was that cowardice? Or just being smart enough to let the fight drop for another day? She didn't know, but she didn't give a damn anymore. She'd just had enough of arguing.
"I'm sorry to have invited you in here just to argue with you..." she offered half-heartedly, looking back up at him. The weariness, unlike her emotions before, was very clear in her gaze.
The icy fire in his eyes slowly died away until they returned to their impassive grey. The hurt he felt at her words of warning was absent from his expression. Part of him was convinced she would never get to know what he really felt for her how much he truly cared about her. He had ruined whatever chance he had of ever being close to her with a single kiss. And for that chance he had given up what little happiness he had managed to find for himself. If Cadenza wanted nothing to do with him anymore then there was nothing left in the world for him to yearn after. He would return to her embrace, but he would never truly be happy without her.
That's all I wanted to say Cadenza, he began solemnly, meeting her eyes. That's everything. Every thought I've had about what happened then.
His voice softened something in her eyes told him that their confrontation had upset her more than she allowed herself to let on. ...I didn't mean to upset you, he continued, concern in his eyes. Whatever happened between us... I still wish you well. With everything.
He took a few steps back and cast his gaze to the side, away from those mesmerizing pools of blue. That's all I wanted to do. Im sorry you misjudged my intentions.
The vampire looked back up at her with unwavering resolve. I will go now, like I said I would.
"...Descartes... can't we just... move on from then...? Don't go like this... It's not worth either of us regretting things any more... it's gotten us nowhere," the woman gazed for a moment back at the orchids on the table. "Not many people would have cared enough to say all you did just now... to be as honest as you just were... That's a valuable thing in a friend... even if we argue, I'd... I'd like to be able to call you one again... Maybe I need someone to straighten me out once in a while," she looked back at him, the slightest trace of humor in her eyes, the hint of a smile. "Would you be that person for me...? Por favor?"
Descartes' eyes widened for a moment at the sudden change in her attitude but then he smiled warmly, the smile reaching his eyes and making them light up with unexpected joy. Maybe just maybe he hadn't lost her yet. Perhaps there was just the faintest sliver of hope that what they once had was not completely lost and that they could still be together as friends. He had missed being bathed in the light she exuded from her being cold and sharp with dark shadows at the corners, but bright and brilliant all the same. It made him feel like a better person.
The vampire looked brightly into her eyes and the elation he felt was plainly obvious in his expression. Her words touched somewhere deep inside him that was normally cold and barren a place that only she seemed able to fill adequately. Whether their relationship would ever move beyond friendship he did not know but it didn't matter to him at the very least he could be close to her once more. He took a step towards Cadenza and took her hand his, still looking into those brilliant pools of blue.
Of course... he said softly. Whenever you need me... Always. He brought her hand to his lips and gave it a soft kiss, before gently releasing it and meeting her eyes again. I don't want to lose you, Cadenza. I really am so sorry... Moving on from that mistake... giving our friendship another chance... that would make me extremely happy...
His eyes lit up like dawn coming after a long desert night. Warmth and the promise of tomorrow, of a new day, came into being in those eyes, just like the dawn. She watched the smile form there, more than on his lips. Eyes could tell you so many things. He could hide a lot from her, but not in those eyes of his. He hadn't practiced lying with them enough--he was still fairly young for a vampire, and charm, not deception, was his game. Whatever words he might speak, his eyes told the true story. It didn't hurt that they were also pleasant to watch.
Cadenza's lips quirked into a smile as he took her hand and kissed it--you can take the Frenchman out of France, but... she laughed a little mentally, letting him finish the small gesture. Typical, but it had its own charm in a way. He was all French manners and style, or at least a man who was wrapped up in and protected by those things. She was more interested in getting to know the person under that fine veneer, but that didn't mean she had to begrudge him his habits. She was pretty sure she had more than a few from the mixed Hispanic and European cultures she called her own.
The whole time, his eyes rarely strayed from hers.
I don't want to lose you, Cadenza. I really am so sorry... Moving on from that mistake... giving our friendship another chance... that would make me extremely happy...
It was true, wasn't it? She could see his need to make her believe, his earlier heartache, his wish to have a friend reflected in the cool bluish gray of his gaze. There was something vulnerable in it, sincere, something that had just began daring to hope. Somehow, in that moment, she got the impression that those eyes had been ones that had expressed crushed hope far more often than one would have liked. Had their newly repaired attempts for friendship helped to build the kind of bond gypsy magic thrived on, the kind that tied a gypsy to the emotions of the ones they cared for? That was the kind of thing tribes and families had been built on, had grown strong together from. Had it been responsible for that flash of insight now?
Or is it just that he looked kind of... almost pitiful before... there's sort of a soft center to him, when most vamps I've come across have just been harder and meaner and more bent on surviving underneath their first tough layer. Like there's something wounded in him. I don't know... But I know he cares...
"Then... consider it behind us... There's way too much going on in my life these days for me to cling to old mistakes, old baggage..." for a moment, her hand went subconsciously to her stomach, not yet swelled with pregnancy, but where she knew two young little hearts beat, "I'm... I'm about to bring two new little lives into the world a while from now and their mae shouldn't be burdened down by those kinds of things, when she could be making stronger friendships instead..." this time when she smiled, it was radiant, filled with the glow of motherhood, proud and happy.
The smile lighting up his face only widened as she assured him everything that had happened between them was now behind them and they could move on. Their meeting had indeed gone much better than he ever could have expected and for the first time since he'd left Eliza he felt a sliver of happiness. Except this time with Cadenza that sliver of happiness had the hope of turning into something much more than he'd felt ever since he had left her...
But just then she said something else he would never have expected and his eyes widened in shock for a long moment as the information sunk in. His first instinct was to wonder whether the babies were his and he almost panicked before quickly realising they couldn't have been his. By then however he'd had enough time to truly take in what she had said and finally understood why their meeting had gone the way it had and why she had come to forgive him. The smile returned to his face but this time it was tinged with sadness as the guilt at having broken up her wedding returned a tenfold. She was pregnant expecting twins no less and at the same time alone with a broken home. And it was completely his fault.
Descartes glanced at her abdomen which was not yet swollen to show her for what she was and when he looked up his smile was bright and vivid once more, if not as brilliant or radiant as before. He would drown his own pains and regrets until he could face them and simply be happy for her now.
I'm so happy for you... His gaze moved to her abdomen then met her bright blue eyes once more with a hint of uncertainty behind his own. ...Can I feel...? He hesitated a moment then gently rested his hand against her stomach before she could reply. He knew there would be nothing to feel yet but the gesture felt extremely important to him for some reason he couldn't quite place. The strip of skin exposed between her shirt and her low-riding shorts felt warm and moist to the touch he couldn't help but want to feel more of her but quickly suppressed the urge.
There was something sentimental in his expression as he felt her flat tummy, like the wonder of a child, wanting to discover new life on their own. She had stiffened at first when the long, cool fingers touched her, on instinct, but when they moved nowhere else, innocently stroking that one spot in awe, she spared a glance at his face. It had been a little while since a man had touched her that gently, demanding nothing of her. She almost didn't remember what it felt like.
Light goosebumps travelled up her neck and upper arms and she fought them down, feeling silly for such a reaction to so small a touch. But she couldn't help but watch his eyes a little longer, and she let him finish feeling her stomach on his own instead of pushing him away. I wonder if this is how he looks when he finds something beautiful he wants to paint...
"Sorry, it's... still too soon for there to be a bump or for them to kick... but in a few months..." the gypsy began, then trailed off when she realized what she was suggesting. An open invitation to visit again and feel when the bump was there and big enough. The idea surprised her, but somehow, it didn't displease her. She looked up at her friend again and didn't bother trying to clarify it or qualify it or take it back.
Cadenza looked up as his fingers caressed her stomach and for an instant their eyes met. Something passed between them during that brief gaze and he couldn't help but smile as they shared what seemed to be a moment of understanding. His hand moved away just as she began to speak and he couldn't help but be caught off-guard of what she had so casually suggested without really realising it, and his expression took on a note of surprise for a moment.
Cadenza's words came unexpected but they struck somewhere deep inside him and he couldn't help but smile warmly as the surprise waned. Cool grey eyes met her deep blue ones and he dared reach up to gently cup her cheek as he looked deeply into those into those infinite pools. I'll visit you again... he began, voice full of emotion and more heated than one would expect from a friend. I promise...
Slowly he leaned in and hesitated a moment as his lips hovered over hers, before closing the distance and meeting them with a tender kiss.
She'd felt close to him in the moment before, but when he kissed her she stiffened, as memories flashed back, brought back by his smell, his touch. Whispers in a church, tears, an argument, a punch. All things she had promised to put behind them. And beyond all that, a voice that came with a memory of pleading green eyes.
"Eliza, we need to go!"
"I won't leave without him... he wouldn't leave me!"
"Eliza! The building won't stand for much longer, come on! If he's out there he can take care of himself!"
"You don't understand... I love him... he's a part of me... he's not like the others... And I won't just leave him to be hurt or worse while I run away..."
"Th... that's... I... I understand how you feel, but..."
"No, Cadenza... if I make it out without him... it would mean nothing... I won't have anything without him... I know you might not trust vampires, and you might have good reason not to... but... please... save him... just give him a chance."
It all went through her head in less than a few breaths, and his lips were still on hers, mouthing softly, hoping to feel hers return it, as if needing her to, his cool hand still cradling her cheek. The spark she had felt the first time was there, the little embers of a fire that could be. She'd been burned before, but as much as it could hurt, she knew it could also clear away the old feelings too, to start anew. Cleanse, instead of scar. She wasn't sure what to make of this between them, this complicated little friendship, but she could at least enjoy the moment. It did feel good. He didn't push too far, but she could feel the affection behind it.
Gently, she leaned a little into the kiss for a moment and let her fingers touch Dessie's long hair. He smelled still of too much cologne, and something in her mind clicked and began to wonder if it had been put on just for her, not to seduce her, but possibly by a nervous man who really cared about how she felt about him, and wanted to be at his best when he asked for her forgiveness that day. He'd never smiled so wide as when she assured him they could be friends again. Did their connection really mean so much to him? Maybe there was something far more sensitive behind the charming front than she ever realized.
She let the embrace linger a little longer before breaking it off, and stepping back a bit, taking his hand from her cheek to hold in her bandaged ones. She gave it a little squeeze and then smiled at him kindly, and said, "Hasta luego, Descartes... I'll see you again sometime, friend. Thank you for visiting me and the little ones today..."
The kiss was warm and tender and everything he could have hoped to wish for. It made everything he had gone through to reach this moment every broken heart, every trace of guilt and regret, doubt and uncertainty seem worth it. Their previous kiss had been shared in secret and fear of being caught and it hadn't been nearly as warm and meaningful as this felt to him. Sometimes he thought maybe he had wanted too much and in the process ended up throwing away what he did have for nothing, but right now he felt happy with Cadenza in his arms and their lips locked in an affectionate kiss.
Almost hesitantly he parted from her and drew back just far enough to look into her deep oceans of blue as she held his hand in both of hers. His lips parted with the intent of saying 'You're beautiful' but instead he looked at her as if in a trance for a moment as he failed to figure her out fully. She was quite the mysterious woman but that only added to her charm and made him long for her warm embrace once more. His lips curled into a smile of genuine affection once more and he slid a gentle hand through her raven hair as he continued looking into those breathtaking blue eyes.
Next time we meet... please call me Jean... he whispered softly. He gave her another smile and then without waiting for a reply he turned to go with that light featherstep stride of his that was halfway between vampiric grace and suave Casanova. And just like that, he was gone.