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Room 312, Wednesday evening
The photos on the open door are all neatly labeled: "Tony with Zack." "Tony with Tahiri." "Tony with Geoffrey." "Tony with..." And so on. He really was an adorable tiger cub.

That was the most normal part of Dinah's week, too. Dares. Closed captioning. Sparring. And oh yes and yay, today's DAtDA class after lunch at the Diner, talking to Cal.

The door was open, and Camille had a new feather wand to play with while Dinah thought and waited for someone.

[waiting on one, but open before... And subject is now NFB, though okay to say Cal was here.]

So, Dinah had asked Cal to come by to...talk, and so there he was, feeling pretty nervous. It was unavoidable to feel that way when a girl wanted to talk. He didn't even think he'd been back long enough for talks to start coming into play.

Even if everything did seem cool at the diner. That didn't mean anything. He'd lived the majority of his life pretending everything was cool.

He knocked on the doorframe before peeking in. "Dinah?"

Dinah looked up, and smiled. "Hey. Come on in. Um. Shut the door, that's probably a good idea."

Why had she thought this was a good idea, again? Ack.

Oh, God. Door shutting was going to be involved. Talking plus door shutting was a definite drop in the wrong direction.

So help him if this was going to start out with Cal, I know we were pretty good friends before, but...

He closed the door behind him as he shuffled a little into the room, dropping on a free space at the edge of her bed.

"Cat's gotten big," he noted.

Not at all a diversion. Really!

"She has." Dinah was still smiling, but now biting her lip. She stroked Camille's fur, trying to think how to start, when Cal was standing there looking like he expected bad news, so... "It's not bad news," she blurted out. "At least, I don't think so? I just. I had a question to ask. And you don't have to answer it, and maybe it's none of my business, but I don't want to screw up, and..."

Ahh, Dinah-babble. Hello again. There you are!

Cal might appreciated the return of the Dinah-babble if he hadn't felt like he was walking into a sort of execution. And, despite the promise of it not being bad news, questions understandably made him nervous. Things were much simpler without questions.

"Well, now I have to know what it is no matter what," he said.

"Okay." Dinah took a breath.

Then grabbed a pillow to put over her face.

Then took another breath and put it down. "Handcuffs." Gulp. "You liked those?"

She could always throw herself out the window if she was wrong, right?

Excuse me. You mean she could defenestrate herself.

Cal, meanwhile, was too busy gaping at the moment.

"That is what you wanted to ask me?"

Dinah said, "Okay, that's it. I'm going out the window." And started heading over there. She could walk on air. She could climb to the roof! What the heck had she been thinking?

"No, no, no!" Cal didn't know whether to laugh or not, but he did know that he was going to go and reach for Dinah and pull her back.

"I'm just...surprised, that's all."

"You can forget I asked?" Dinah begged, resisting for a second, then letting him tug her back, still not looking at his face. Look, the New Gotham skyline poster. That's cool, right? "Really. That was... way out of line. You know? I mean. People don't ask that! People wonder, but they don't ask!"

Actually, she had no idea what 'people' did, but she had a feeling she just ... should not have done that, so, obviously, mistake. She blew out a breath and closed her eyes, feeling her face glow red.

Cal didn't know what he was thinking...except probably that he wasn't thinking at all, because when he pulled her back, he found himself moving to draw her in really close, his chest to her back, and wrap her arms around her.

If she'd let him. If she didn't realize what he was doing and try to spare him feelings by avoiding it. Or not spare him feelings and freak out.

"N...no," he said. "It's...a good question. You really want to know?"

A hug. A hug like this was nice, because nobody had to look at anybody's face while they were talking. And Cal wasn't much for touching, either, or at least, not before, and... Dinah cut off the babble in her own brain to relax back into the embrace, and swallow hard. Then nodded. "Yes." And after a second. "It wasn't.. I wasn't just asking because I was curious. I swear." And reached up to cling to one of the arms around her.

Cal ducked his head a little, so that his hair fell forward again, retreating behind it like he was fourteen again, but he rested his chin lightly on Dinah's shoulder. She didn't move away, but did she really ask just because she was curious, and that was it? If that was the case, the answer he wanted to say, the really true answer, that the only part he liked about it was the closeness to her through the whole thing, would just wind up embarrassing him.

So he wasn't sure what to say.

"No," bubbled up after a moment. "I didn't. Not really. Makes me feel...nervous."

Dinah sighed, not sure if that was relief or disappointment there, because if he had, that would have been scary and new, but now that he hadn't... she kind of wondered if she was a freak for wondering. And if the whole thing in Vampire World had just permanently warped her mind, that that was what she'd thought of.

She closed her eyes, hanging on tighter to his arm. Warm. Safe. Nice, actually, and... "I..." She cleared her throat. "There was. Weirdness. This summer." And oh god oh god this was embarrassing. "Sort of close to sex. It left me kind of-- confused." A ragged sigh, and she leaned her head back against Cal. "Sorry."

Dinah did remember that she was talking to a hermaphrodite about sex being weird and confusing, right?

But still, as she leaned back, his tightened his arms around her. "You okay?"

He knew how some of his own experiences had been, before coming here, and if what Dinah experienced was even a quarter as terrible as some of it...He wouldn't say he sympathized; so much of him went sort of dead about all of it. But he did know that he didn't like it at all that someone like Dinah would have to be put through anything like that.

"Yeah. Mostly." She didn't feel like turning around, didn't want to explain too much more. But Cal deserved to understand at least how that had lead to this. Dinah tightened her hold on his arms, and said, "I didn't get raped, or anything. I just ... ended up in a situation. Where I kinda had to..." Oh, did she even want to explain this? "Um." Could she? Giving up, she said, "The telepathy, I think, I liked something, I wouldn't usually like, but I don't know. So I just... think about stuff. Now."

Really clear there. Right. At least he hadn't let go of her yet?

And here was thinking that at least she hadn't left yet. But he worried that she might want to, and was torn between his own urge to cling and his wanting to just loosen his arms a little to make her more comfortable.

He'd decided as soon as he managed to figure some of what she'd just said out.

He knew what he was thinking, of course, but whether or not that was right...

"And about how...maybe...it might...be a little...freakish?"

Dinah finally got the nerve to turn around without letting go, and muttered, "You know, I hate that word." She finally looked him in the face, and said, voice more bewildered than anything else, "Tony and Karla said it's not weird if everyone's okay with it. Or wrong. But I don't even know if it was me or the guy. Stupid telepathy." She swallowed. "And I saw, in 'Dite's shop, when you had on the handcuffs, or I thought I saw, and I didn't... It didn't feel weird, or wrong, but I don't know..."

Right. Window over there. She could just stare at it now, instead of Cal, that would work, right?

When Dinah turned around, everything seemed to stop for Cal, and he wasn't even sure if he was hearing what she was saying because the beating of his heart had gotten so loud that it drummed in his ears as a wave of helplessness mingled with gratitude overtook him. His hand moved, hoovering without any clue as to what they should do now that she was facing him, but they were still close and he still didn't know what Dinah was talking about but he had an idea, and...

The fingers of one hand brushed her tips of her hair; it was contact, but only a small step, since he was too nervous to take anything bigger.

"It...maybe...'s not so much what sometimes as it is..." He swallowed. "Who."


"What?" Dinah blinked. And really looked at Cal. Okay. So. He didn't think she was a freak? And... "Oh."

Right. She was officially oblivious. Clueless. But maybe that was okay too. "Oh." And smile, and smile, and smile. Because, hi. It was Cal. And it wasn't like she hadn't thought about this off and on for ages, anyway.

Edited at 2009-09-17 04:03 am (UTC)

Cal winced a little bit when Dinah actually looked at him, his eyes instantly, awkwardly flitting away, but he could still see that smile grow, and his face blushed brightly. "I...I mean," he faltered, biting his lip, wanting to move his hand but knowing that if he did, it would be a cop out. "It's all so...personal. Individual. Stuff."

Not totally sure what to do next, Dinah reached up for his hand, if he was willing to let her take it. "It is. It... just happens, suddenly, there's. Stuff." She let out a breath. "Thank you for not calling me crazy. Or lying."

And she wanted to kiss him, or reach out further, or speak in his mind, but... still not sure enough, for that. Since Cal still was looking away.

"Well," Cal said, wanting to look back at Dinah but unable to, so instead he just squeezed her hand. "You are crazy. But not about this. And..." He hesitated. "I did lie. Kind of. Well, more like a not whole truth-telling..."

Dinah blinked, and laced her fingers with his, peering into his face. "About what? There's been-- okay, we're being way inarticulate. Lots of stuff almost-said." She took a breath. "If you don't want to say, you don't have to." She grinned a little. "Crazy, but not delusional, is maybe progress enough."

See, now, there was the problem. Given the option to not say anything, Cal was too tempted to take it and flee and maybe forget anything ever happened.

He was battling with the part of him that argued that so much more could happen if he just said it, but the thought of more happening turned his stomach unpleasantly. He'd been through two girlfriends and it suddenly felt like he'd lost any progress he'd actually made with the idea of people accepting him.

So he just focused on their fingers, laced together. "Crazy, not delusional, is excellent progress," he said, complimenting.

Dinah sighed and rested her forehead against his, not sure what was going on, exactly, but fairly certain what it wasn't, now. Which was a relief. And maybe that told her all she needed to know about herself and stuff like handcuffs or restraints. Maybe it was the person she was with, and not the accessories.

And, Cal, apparently... hunh. She smiled, and slid her fingers through his again, lazily. "Later's good. If there's more to say."

"Later," Cal agreed, and he would have nodded if it weren't for the fact that he didn't really want to move his forehead away from Dinah's. He just closed his eyes a moment and told himself he needed to slow down. But all the while he was telling himself that, he was also reminding himself that he'd never slowed down before.

...but look at all that happened before, too.

?

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