"There, all better."
"Thanks." Jeanette stepped back and exhaled quickly. "Everything else still in place."
"Loveliest I've seen ye yet."
The dancer smiled and spun in a small circle. The dress, a flowy number the shaded through the spectrum of greens and blues, swished around her legs. "I'm nervous. Can you believe that? I haven't been nervous around Logan in years!"
"Aye, but years ago ye werena this person, and ye hadn't been through so much. Ye might as well be starting over in some capacity." Hydra patted Jeanette's shoulder and smiled comfortingly. "See if maybe, it doesn't stick. Perhaps yer done playing tag, and tha's why yer nervous."
Jeanette bit her lip and clutched her purse tighter. "I guess."
The tromping of feet from the main stair pulled the women's attention outside the kitchen. "I can con officers out of tickets, information out of targets, and candy from babies, and I'm losing it now?" "Stop worrying, Logan. Jeanette's already seen you make an ass of yourself." "You're not helping Daniel."
"See?" whispered Hydra, leaning down conspiratorially from her perch on the kitchen counter. "He's got it as bad as ye do. Just relax. Be…cool, and it'll go splendid."
Jeanette grinned back and shook herself, just once, as though trying to shed excess energy. "Alright. Wish me luck!" Bounding over to the door, she paused and shot a glance back over her shoulder. "Oh, and don't you two get up to anything, kay? Daniel's got work tomorrow."
Hydra gaped after the other women, trying to fight down a blush that wouldn't quite go. The sound of laughter and more talking echoed down the smaller hall to the kitchen, before the front door opened and thudded closed. Footsteps, only one pair this time, made their way back away from the main entrance.
She took a breath as Daniel made his way into the kitchen, hoping the blush was gone by now. She smiled at him, smaller than the one she'd used on Jeanette to bolster confidence. The Summer grinned back, wrapping his arms around her waist.
"Lad…" Daniel laughed as the blush crept back up Hydra's cheeks. The last week had been different, for all of them. A story from her childhood stole through her mind, long forgotten and ignored. Something about light and love fixing anything, even the impossible. She opened her mouth to repeat it, but stopped as another pair of lips caught her own.
Closing her eyes, Hydra wrapped her arms around Daniel's shoulders, pulling him closer. Another story flit through, this one simpler, but just as happy. Running her fingers threw short cropped hair, Hydra pulled back, enjoying the soft smile on Daniel's face. She pulled a hand forward to trace subtle cheeks bones, feeling her own smile fade as she did so.
Daniel hadn't changed much in his time in Arcadia. He still looked human, Mask or no. Watching her ice blue skin trace his pinker tones, she could feel doubt creeping back in. Daniel, eyes closed, hummed and leaned into her hand, oblivious to her turmoil. Drudging up a smile, she thumped his shoulder and slid past him off the counter. "We should go check on Rose."
Trying not to walk to fast, Hydra moved through the kitchen and into the hall outside. She could imagine Daniel's face, confused, maybe a little hurt. It was incredibly girly, pulling a stunt like that, but what was she supposed to say? Sorry you fell for a freak?
Lost in thought, she hadn't heard him catch up, the hand on her arm catching her by surprise. The Spring stopped, turning to look behind her.
"Hydra? What's wrong?"
Hydra opened her mouth to speak, looking down to buy time. Eyes traced the distinct line between skin colors. The longer she thought about it, the worse she felt. Daniel could be human if he wanted. He looked the part, and all his abilities were just enhanced version of what humans could actually do, from what she'd seen anyways. But she wasn't human anymore, and was teetering towards being less so each day.
She was almost as surprised as Daniel. "Sorry for what?"
"For…heh, I guess for being me." Looking up, Hydra found his eyes with her own. "Yer so…normal, Daniel. You could be anyone, do anything. But I showed up, and I talk funny, I cannae remember things, I don't even know my own name." Courage failing, she looked back down at her other hand, just as blue and a looking exceptionally translucent all of the sudden. "Look at me," she whispered.
"I am." Daniel tugged her closer, spinning her to face a mirror hanging in the small hallway. "Look."
Hydra did. In the mirror was her reflection, but not the real one anymore. This girl was too young, with light brown hair and piercing green eyes. This was her from so many years back. Human her. Normal her.
"I don't know this girl." Hydra blinked, finding Daniel's eyes in the reflection. He looked almost the same as if she'd turned around, but his face was set in a determined line now. The confusion from earlier had vanished entirely. Daniel's hands traced up to hold her shoulders. "I've never met this person, Hydra, and I never will."
Turning her around, Daniel dropped his gaze to her face. "I've never known any other version of you, Hydra. As far as I'm concerned, this is what you look like. Blue skin, red eyes, black hair, pointed ears. You may not have changed on the inside, but this outside, this is what I know. This you is who I love. Not the child from Scotland. I love the woman that fell through the Delaware Hedge." The frown had softened, gaze unshuttered and honest. "Don't think yourself a monster, Hydra, because I never will."
Hydra stared, trying desperately to blink back the beginnings of tears. Tilting forward, she buried her head in Daniel's chest, muffling quiet sobs against his shirt. Strong arms wrapped around her, holding her close as the man holding her whispered reassuring phrases into her hair.
The minutes dragged by, but finally the tears slowed and she trusted herself to step back. Wiping furiously at her cheeks, Hydra laughed. "I dinna think this is what Jeanette was worried about when she said to behave."
Daniel snagged a tissue from a nearby box and held it out, brushing her hair back with his other hand. "Maybe, but it was important. You can't go thinking of yourself as less just because you look exceptionally different from some of us. I mean, look at the others. Grinderban is a tree, and what's her name, Kite? She a bird for Pete's sake! And King Notch," Daniel made a face and Hydra laughed, "he looks like a robot. A walking, talking, cranky old robot. Around here, we're the freaks."
"You're gorgeous Daniel."
Hydra punched him in the arm, trying to look put out and failing as he laughed. "I get it, lad. I was being thick. It'll take some getting used to, but I should come around."
"I'll remind you all you need. I'm not going anywhere."
Tucking the tissue into her pocket, Hydra looked down the hall. "We really should check on Rose. I know dinner was only an hour ago, but I think she looks forward to your visits. Proof yer all still alive and well."
Hydra slid her hand into Daniel's, looking away, but this time from sudden shyness instead of disgust. She led the way down the hall to Rose's room, cracking the door so they could look inside.
Rose sat a corner today, feet pulled up close to her and pressed together. She was flapping her knees gently up and down, head cocked to one side.
"Rose?" Daniel called. The Winter didn't react.
"Not as active as I'd like, but at least she's not in obvious discomfort. No monsters or other demons to scream at or try to run from." Hydra shot a smile at the other woman for good measure before closing the door. "We can stick our noses in in another hour or so, I suppose. Logan and Jeanette will hopefully be out late enjoying themselves!"
Hydra squeaked as she was swept off her feet, grabbing Daniel as he settled her in his arms.
"What are ye doing?"
"Well, I'm all for continuing what we started in the kitchen. I was having fun before you got all thoughtful and over-concerned."
Hydra slapped his shoulder, but without much heart. "And ye need ta pick me up to do tha?"
"No, but I don't really intend to stand in front of my ex's room and make-out like a couple of teenagers."
"No," Hydra agreed, "we should find a couch. Be civilized adults about this."
"Right, but we hardly need wait until we get there to continue."
Exhaling a laugh, Hydra leaned up, Daniel meeting her halfway.