Vandrad chastised her firmly, and rightly, for continuing to hide the obvious from her instead of letting him work his magic to heal the wound. Though his tone wasn’t without compassion, he sternly ordered her to knock it off and to calm down, and for once she didn’t argue with him. How could she? He was right. She was being a fucking moron. And so she’d relented, if shamefully, and let him do his thing. His other hand hovered over the injury and she felt his energy seep into it, coaxing the metallic cells to quicken their regrowth even more than they usually would on their own until the flesh began to knit itself back together before their eyes. All the while, Mercury knew he was probably inspecting the wound for more than just medical purposes, though he kept his face fairly straight.
Not that she was looking at him anyway. The silence was killing her, which was probably what had prompted her to give him some kind of an explanation. She needed to say something, but she didn’t know what to tell him. A large part of her wanted to believe and trust that he wasn’t going to look down on her for not being human. After all, he’d already come into contact with other non human beings like Beira and expressed a neutral, if not accepting stance on them. But this was different. By both Vandrad’s own accounts, and his mother’s, Mercury was the first person in a long time that he’d shown any genuine interest or care for since he was a young boy. He had never trusted anyone before her on a deeply personal level, and she couldn’t help but feel like this secrecy of her heritage would be viewed as a betrayal of some kind, particularly given their past intimacies.
Mercury apologized, knowing that he would understand everything that was encompassed with the two small words without having to list them all in detail, though truthfully he deserved specificity from her. Unfortunately, she couldn’t bring herself to list out all of her wrong doings. The amount of shame that overwhelmed her wouldn’t allow her the strength to do so, no matter what she thought him entitled to. At first when he spoke up and affirmed that she did have to be sorry, she sank a little lower where she sat, her head hanging with all the more dejection as she emotionally numbed herself for the ire that was sure to come her way. And it did come, though not in the guise she had been expecting. Instead of chewing her out for all the lies and secrets she’d been keeping, he gave her grief over letting herself be injured in such a stupid way, particularly when he’d been working his ass off for the last several months to have that particular honor.
It was a statement that had a two fold result. On the one hand, she understood his intent behind the approach. It was his way of brushing off the revelation of her heritage to inform her that he wasn’t perturbed by the knowledge that she wasn’t human. She wasn’t entirely sure if he was doing that because it was true, or just for her sake to keep her from freaking out again. Mercury liked to think it was the former, but her anxiety was making it difficult to think clearly which was what brought her to the second result: frustration. It was mild, but it was there, whether she meant it to be or not. Brushing the matter aside and almost making light of it wasn’t necessarily out of the norm for either of them, but what was out of the norm was her being this vulnerable. Couldn’t he see how difficult this was for her? In a way, it almost hurt more that he wasn’t acknowledging it for as big a deal as she felt it was, to the point where she didn’t even take the bait to quip back at his suggestion that he should spank her.
There was a brief moment where she struggled with an intense wave of mixed emotions, straining to settle herself down on some chosen state of how she truly felt. And then, like before, a lot of it simply just… died off, leaving her more in a state of emotional numbness than anything else. By then, her flesh had closed up completely and while there was still a bit of internal repairs to make, her body could finish it off on its own from there. There wasn’t even a scar, despite the fact that there probably should have been one for an injury that big, even with magical healing. But the pink skin that showed beneath the rip on her jumpsuit was as flawless as a newborn babe’s, as clean as the rest of her body was, save for the one on the back of her neck.
She was left in a state of almost morose resignation before he finally offered his hand to her and suggested that they leave. Her sad emerald gaze flicked softly over to the extended limb, looking at it without taking it right away. Despite everything, Mercury was at least somewhat comforted in the fact that he was still willing to act like everything was the same as before. Plus, she couldn’t deny that a shower sounded like an absolute dream. Mercury had already been longing for the facilities back at the guild even before they’d run into the forgemaster. Now that she’d actually gotten injured, and her suit was sticky with the grease that acted as her blood, all she wanted to do was soak in a bathtub until kingdom come and forget that this whole day had even happened.
From the corner of her eyes she could see the soft smirk on his face, though she still couldn’t quite bring herself to actually look at him or even really talk. Finally, Mercury just nodded gently and took the offered hand, her grip on it not as sure as it had been in times in the past. She held it only as long as it took for him to help her onto her feet, with only a slight wince to betray that her wound was, at the least, a little tight still. After that she picked up Mercy and slid it back in its holster before walking silently beside him back to the doorway that led them back to her room. Once they had returned to the small, blissfully cooler space, Mercury pulled her energy back into her body that had been keeping the portal open, and it closed behind them, the parts of the pyramid reconnecting to one another and leaving the artifact intact once more.
It was only then that she finally found her voice, sounding more confident than she felt even if it was still on the quiet side. “Do you want to get cleaned up too?” she asked. “I can have your gear cleaned if you want. In the meantime we probably have a guest robe you can use, or I can probably find some spare clothes for you if needed.” If he decided he wanted to shower as well, and that he would appreciate a change of clothes so he wouldn’t have to go back into his gear that was currently grimy and covered in his blood, she would buzz down to the receptionist and ask Lyvia to have a set of spare clothes in Vandrad’s size left outside of her door. Then, she slowly slipped out of her jumpsuit and rolled it up tightly so the evidence of her wound was buried deep inside the rest of the fabric. Rather than put it in her laundry basket, she shoved it in a corner behind some other things where it wasn’t easily noticeable.
The rest of herself she covered with an emerald colored silk robe that only covered up to about halfway down her thighs before grabbing her toiletries bag and leading the way to the bathroom. It was a space as comforting and luxurious as the rest of the guild, though not in a flashy way. Since it was a shared bathroom for only the aces of Silver Wolf, it sported a small handful of sinks and individual shower and toilet stalls. There was a table laid out with fresh and neatly folded towels, as well as clean and generic white cotton robes. There was also a basket with some neutrally scented cleaning products for use. She would offer him to use whatever he wanted between that stuff and what she had, though most of Mercury’s stuff was a bit on the girly, frilly side.
Once that was sorted, she ambled into one of the shower stalls, closing the door behind her and stripping back down to nothing. Her robe she hung on a hook that had been placed for such things before turning on the water to a luke warm setting and stepping under the flow. The stalls themselves were larger than the average shower, still on the luxurious end of design, but not so big as to be overkill. Dark tiles like stones wrapped around the space from floor to ceiling with a drain at the center of the space for the water to run out, and a wide showerhead fed water from high up on the wall with various available settings for water pressure preference.
Despite the fact that there was a stone seat in the corner where she set her showering items, Mercury elected to sit on the floor for a few minutes before even starting any cleaning. With her knees tucked up to her chest and her face against her knees, she wrapped her arms around the back of her head and just sat there for a couple long minutes, wrestling with her emotions and her anxiety. Just like before, when she was no longer in the prince’s direct sight she immersed herself fully in the uncertainty that plagued her, allowing herself to feel all the guilt and the sorrow and the trepidation that was pulling her apart.
What was she going to do? Vandrad would have questions after this, and she knew she would have to give him some answers. Or, more to the point, that she wanted to give him answers. How had they reached this point? Mercury was never supposed to get close enough to anyone to let them find out that she was different, and any who found out were to be executed, but she couldn’t do that. Not to Vandrad. The thought alone made her heart feel like it was being ripped in two and set a pit in her stomach the likes of which she’d never felt before. She didn’t want to kill him. Not after all this, not when he meant so much to her. If she took his life, she’d just be alone again… right when she was starting to get used to and appreciate having someone real in her life.
But that wouldn’t matter. Even if he accepted her for what she was, it wasn’t going to stop their relationship from changing anyway. Even if it was just in small ways, things were doing to be different now. How could it not be? There was no way he would treat her the same after this, even if it wasn’t a conscious choice. Not that it really mattered when she didn’t even really know what their relationship was in the first place. They were friends, close friends, confidants, allies, partners… and sometimes more. Or at least, twice it had been more. Mercury hadn’t expected anything more to happen again in that respect as the first two times had already been out of place enough, but there had been the odd time here or there when she had thought back to those moments fondly and ruminated on how it wouldn’t be so bad if it happened again. But her days of daydreaming were gone, now, and she only had herself to blame for letting him get this close in the first place.
Eventually, she found the energy to stand back up and actually clean herself, getting the sweat and grime out of her hair and off of her body. Mercury wanted to sit in that shower forever and ignore the problems that would surely lay on the other side of the stall door, but she couldn’t ignore her fate forever. So she scrubbed herself down at a pace only slightly slower than what she normally did before shutting off the water, drying her body off and slipping back into the robe. She collected her things and met Vandrad back in the communal area of the bathroom. Once he was ready, she took them back to her room without even bothering to dry her hair, which he’d know she always took the time to do after having observed her daily shower routines while in Bellum.
If he’d requested it, a pair of fresh and neutral clothes in his sizes would be set outside her door by the time they got back. When they returned to the room, Mercury set her things down and looked around for a brief moment. Aside from the chair at her desk, the only real sitting space was her bed, so she gently sat down on the edge and scooted herself back into the alcove a bit, leaving plenty of room on the other side in case he didn’t want to sit on the chair. Mercury still hadn’t really looked at him once since she’d gotten injured, and while her emotions were wrangled back into some semblance of control since her momentary breakdown in the shower, all the negative emotions still lingered beneath the numb surface of her mind. She sat with her feet up on the bed, knees slightly bent with her hands tucked beneath them, unsure of what to say or do and still scared of the incoming conversation.
“Are you hungry?” she asked him dumbly. “Or thirsty? I don’t really have much in here, but I can have something brought up from the kitchen…”