Analysis was a game. This was a game, for them both. And for once, Anemone was faced with a real intellectual partner, someone shoe could face against. This was new, this experience was rare - for despite how trussed and pretty he was made to be, a perfect doll, there was a sharpness that cut through the porcelain facade. Danger. Behind the veil was something poisonous, deadly. He kept it carefully hidden, close to the surface but far enough that most wouldn’t see it. But she did, she saw it, because she herself was dangerous. She recognized it well, saw it in his eyes. She was being pried open, parts were being examined under a careful eye. What do you see? She gave him a show. Something dangerous with sharp teeth and a pretty face. She bared her mind for him, just to see what he would make of it. The monster, the girl, the pretty parts, the ugly parts. What do you see?
She of course returned the favour. Needles pricked, she found little holes in the veil and pried her way inside, removing the layered lie slowly, slowly. She knew one thing of politicians; one thing that was true of all of them, without fail: they were actors. Not very good, most of them, but this appeared to be an exception. He had such a perfect porcelain face, right down to his expression, he knew how to make himself seem pleasant. But it was still just a mask. The smile underneath it was grotesque and wide with keenness. For what, she wasn’t sure. She didn’t know. Danger, all she knew was that there was danger in this man, danger that he kept well-hidden. If his true nature was known, he would probably be as shackled as she was. That was the feeling that she got, looking into those sharp eyes. Those mirrors. But she had to wonder, just what was it that he was after? Why was he here, and what was his goal? He was situated perfectly to do so much - either damage or good, or perhaps both. After all, no true good could be done without making sacrifices. In truth there really was no “good”. Everyone ended up covered with red and regrets, nightmares and twisted realizations. What was “good” to one person, one group, was hell for another. The Coralians were bad, that was what the world was led to believe. Thanks to Dewey, that was what they saw. “Good”, then, was destroying them. But if they knew the truth, then killing Dewey would be “good” wouldn’t it?
The very idea that anyone represented good or bad was far too simplistic and naive. Instead, they represented action and inaction. She wasn’t sure what form it would take yet, but the danger in front of her represented action. He was the kind that wasn’t afraid of consequences. It was that realization that - to her own surprise and...shame - brought a brief flicker of fear, a spark of envy. He was more than she was. He did not fear the consequences his actions - whatever they may be - might hold. That fear didn’t exist within him. He had...a scheming mind, one that...was surveying the board before him. It was why he dared engage their game, why he was willing to press for more, to peel at her mind and to let her in. The question was what he saw in her; a pawn, she hoped not. No, she was sure not - if he was any good at picking her apart he’d see more than that. She knew he saw more than that. A bishop, perhaps? Or a rook? A Queen….
Wouldn’t that be something.
Whatever he did see, it was enough for him to willingly give her pieces of himself. It was by no accident, that sudden sharpness showing through, he had shown her the dagger he wielded - a brief glimpse, something for her to look into. She clung to it - even if her fingers would bleed, she would cling to that small glimpse, because it gave her so much more to work with, so much more to uncover and read and dive deep into. She could get lost, she was almost sure of it, inside his psyche. He had such an excellently crafted mask, he’d...been crafting it for a long time, she was sure. That was why it was so perfect.
But she was just as much an expert at breaking masks. His was harder, she would admit, it was taking much longer to find a way inside. Why he’d revealed a part of himself to her….it was an invitation. But an invitation for what, she wasn’t sure yet. Maybe she would learn. The information itself, while valuable in its own right, exposing the blotches of ink on that perfect form, was of lesser importance - what became apparent to her was the intent, the question was why he had revealed his face.
Information for later. She would learn. She had a feeling.
He asked her, then, he asked her if she was special. He asked….if she was special. Her response….well, she wondered what he would make of it. She took a risk, announcing quite blatantly her state of being, displaying her shackles in a practiced little dance. And she could see that he was enamoured with it, had swallowed the little performance wholly. Though exactly what he’d gained from it, that was yet to be learned. She had given him as much as he had offered her, honest truths spoken in pretty metaphors. She gave the expected response, bowing as he spoke praise to her little show. The smile on her lips was catlike and wide with sharp teeth and a quiet, deadly excitement. The tone he’d used was so gentle and sweet, she might snap it in half with her teeth if she tried. It was a pure sound, an innocent sound, the kind that belonged to one who hadn’t yet been drenched in blood. It was not his voice.
She was almost sure of it, that he knew the colour red as well as she did. Perhaps not in the same manner, but she was sure of it, that he…
It was a struggle, a genuine battle with herself to keep the grin from growing wider, the blood from pumping faster, the excitement from boiling over. She’d entered a dangerous place in her mind, one that teetered on the edge. He was deadly in more ways than one, exciting the dark things inside her to the surface. She was good for them, for the whitecoats. She kept those parts in check and acted as expected - a good girl, for them. But here, now, she was flirting with danger and he….enticed it forth. For her own dignity she...kept the excitement to herself, visible only in her eyes. She’d let him see, at least. Her lips did curl into a smile of sorts but it was far more modest, a simpler expression that didn’t match those eyes at all. She gave a little nod, bouncing ever so slightly in her seat, kicking her legs outward. ”Ding ding ding~” she breathed airily, clasping her hands in her lap with a soft, equally airy little giggle. ”They don’t deserve a dancer like me. They really don’t know the first thing about me. But a girl has to make do with what she’s got….” She gave a heavy, woeful sigh. Overdramatized, of course - it was all a show, but the words were true nonetheless. They didn’t know who, or what, she was. They didn’t understand theEND. And because they didn’t understand, they were truly wasting her potential. And theEND’s, too. Idiots, all of them.
Was he wasting his potential, coming here? Absolutely.
Her gaze flickered once, flickered back to him. He was continuing the metaphor, this little game of theirs; she really was impressed at that, usually people - even the intelligent ones - told her to cut it out, to stop being so dramatic. But then again...he’d had an understanding for that show of hers. He was more like her. He was a showman too. She gave a slight incline of her head, a slight notch up of her smile, fingers lacing together now as she crossed one leg over the other. She liked how he talked now. He knew, he understood. That was the irony then, that one in a position of visible wealth and power was...just as much caged as she. If not perhaps more, because he was in the public eye, no? ”The world never stops. It just becomes darker when they close the lid. They can’t see it so they don’t understand that her world exists, or what it means. And…” She turned her gaze away for a moment, up toward seemingly nothing at all. ”...they won’t notice, but those toy boxes wear slowly, don’t they? One day...it won’t close all the way. And that’s when they’ll see.”
That was flowery even for her. What was meant by it...well, there were a few angles, she wanted to know which he would take. Would he see the cry for release, a blatant desire to leave? Perhaps would he see the threat - that’s when they’ll see - against those who made her confines? There was more, but that part she kept to herself. The box wearing down, wearing with exhaustion. Routine was bad for the mind, for her mind. It was a slow poison, a slower death. She clung to what she could within herself so as to stay Anemone, so as not to fade into the bleak monotony that they placed her in. She couldn’t let go. And perhaps he…he was the key. His danger was just beneath the surface.
And he’d given her something, something that might tell her more. Who are you? What are you? The things she had found inside his mind begged those questions and….the particular words he spoke just now, of fear...to be properly feared...he painted himself onto a canvas for her, in bold colours. She still needed to paint in the details herself, but he was giving her more, giving her pieces. She chased the angle hungrily, she wanted to know more. She tilted her head, letting her hair fall over her eyes for a moment, raising one hand slowly to pull the curtain aside with a little smile that grew across her lips ever more. She didn’t answer with words, there was no need. If she feared him, would she not cower? There was only a bright and dangerous gleam in her eyes. For a while that was all she gave him, that gleaming little stare and a smile. Finally, though, she sat upright, hands clasped in her lap, head raising high, eyes closing lightly - she was uncharacteristically proper now, her voice pitched high and airy. ”You shouldn’t say such things. You almost sound like you want to be feared. That’s dangerous talk, you know.”
The facade broke almost instantly, the smile was back, her posture resuming a slight slouch. She leaned forward slowly, eyeing him up and down as she whispered her next words. ”There’s something ugly inside you. But there’s something ugly inside us all.” She did not deny fear, but she did not proclaim it, either. Only that there was...something to be feared. That no one was true and pure. Such a human being didn’t exist. She proclaimed it herself, that there was hatred in the world, so much hatred, without reason, without purpose. But he was speaking again, and she listened, soaked his words. He had her undivided attention, something incredibly rare. Not even D..he ever earned that from her. He spoke wise and strategic words, strategic more than wise. Fear, a quick solution - he wasn’t wrong. But she had seen fear used to take a world into the palm of one man’s hand. But just then, just as soon as she thought she’d grasped something, he pulled it away, doubled back. It was real, she knew it was real - he was a strategist of a kind, had seen a war, she was sure of it. He had given her enough for now, she supposed, enough to work with.
Then perhaps it was time for her to offer something to him. Not because she felt it was owed, she simply wanted to know what he would do with it.
Anemone - the true, inside Anemone - sat up. She didn’t sit with regal posture, nor the catlike posture that was ready to pounce. She simply...sat, head lowered, a small frown in place, eyes staring forward, staring into the past. The voice that came forward was lower than the one she’d been using before, was smaller. It was the voice of a teenage girl. And she only spoke two words-
Oh, she knew. She had known that Dewey was going to fail. Because the Gekkostate had something that he didn’t. They had Eureka, and she had something that Anemone didn’t. ...No, that was a lie. She’d had it, and maybe...if she’d kept it alive, then Dewey could have won. But she’d killed that thing, the one thing that could have made them victorious. Not that she’d cared then, she was just going through the motions. It didn’t matter who won. But she knew...all it took was a push. An emotion. A feeling. And an empire could, and would, fall with ease. She turned her head to look at him, the mask of the cat returning. Who would she rather fight for…? She sat back, bouncing just slightly, that smile returning to her face.
”If I had to choose to fight for anyone, it would be someone I love. So I guess that means respect, doesn’t it?” Perhaps too honest, but he deserved that at least. It didn’t tell him much. Not really. She leaned forward, tilting her head. ”Or, I suppose, if the one I love were gone, then I would fight for whoever can get me revenge. Maybe, then, it’s fear.” In the end, the intent was what mattered. Why she fought, that was the deciding factor. She leaned back, eyeing him with a curious little gaze. ”And what about-”
The sentence never did finish. It was then that she heard the loud blaring of alarms.