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by: Matthew Cox
#11900
(Title translation: the die has been cast)

May 16th

0700

Matt paced the gym mats like a penned up big cat. He had too much energy and not enough focus. All of the katas and exercises he normally did weren't stimulating enough mentally or physically. He couldn't force himself to slow down and hit the precision marks.

Maybe he should do a gymnastic routine. That helped him focus usually and it required strength and speed. With that in mind, Matt headed up into the rafters and began doing a basic routine of flips and bar routines, alternating using the beams as a high bar and as a pommel horse.

After a few minutes of gymnastics work, he heard Cora come out of hiding. She went to the gym area and began her routine. Matt said nothing, but slowed his own routine. It wouldn't do to slip and fall on top of her. His transition and slowing took him into yoga, so he did his advanced stretches just for the hell of the challenge. They were hard for him on the level ground, but Scorpion pose on a four inch wide steel beam three stories up? Hah. Interesting challenge.
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by: Coraline Larson
#11901
Cora emerged from the depths of the greenhouse and listened carefully for any sign of Matt. It had been three days since the accident with the Cereus pollen. Three of the longest, most awkward days she could honestly remember. They hadn't spoken much since their flora-fueled makeout session, hell they'd barely been in the same room together, and Cora wasn't certain she was ready to be now either.

When she heard Matt up in the rafters she sighed but figured it was safe enough to come down and use the gym herself. She hadn't done her daily capoeira workout or her tai chi meditation either; she needed to. Dammit.

With a sigh she descended the stairs and padded quietly over to the mats to begin her stretching and capoeira routine.
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by: Matthew Cox
#11902
After a few warming stretches Cora turned on her music (a lively traditional Brazilian beat) and began the steps of her capoeira routine. She easily breezed through the beginners and intermediate movements, reveling in the freedom of movement and the rhythm flowing through her, tension melting out if her as she moved gracefully. Matt paused in his one handed balance to watch Cora. She was so graceful, beautiful really...

It was time to end the awkwardness. There were two ways out: back out and recant their revelation from three days ago, or go through it and accept the fact they were attracted to each other. Matt took a deep. Death and made the plunge, metaphorically and literally. He rolled from the rafters to the floor, landing heavily in a crouch.

Slowly, Matt stood and paced over to Cora, then adopted a sparring stance without a word of invitation.
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by: Coraline Larson
#11903
From her slow handspring pose Cora flipped to her feet when he landed with a loud thud on the mats. She wasn't sure of his intentions until he took up a sparring stance, and even then Cora wondered at the sanity of indulging him. They hadn't sparred together since the disastrous time right after his capture when he had dislocated her hip; Cora really wasn't looking forward to a repeat performance.

Biting her lip thoughtfully she decided to ignore his request to spar and simply continued her own routine, arching her back and twisting her body into a complex one-handed pose with her knees bent toward her stomach and ankles crossed. Slowly, Cora replaced her raised hand on the ground and shifted her weight evenly onto both hands. Still in rhythm, she straightened her bent legs straight up into a classic handstand, then bent at the waist to bring her legs completely parallel with her body, her knees almost resting on her nose.
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by: Matthew Cox
#11904
"Hm..."

Matt smirked and rolled back, planting his hands behind him and kicking up to mirror her pose before slowly extending his legs. When she dropped to the jack-knifed handstand, he chuckled.

"Okay, that one I've not seen before...your flexibility is inhumanly good."


There was a note of admiration in his tone as he complimented her and tried to follow her movements with varying success.
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by: Coraline Larson
#11905
She sighed heavily but resisted the urge to drop her poses and hide in the greenhouse again. She had been enjoying her workout, dammit.

"What are you doing, Cox?" she sighed in annoyance. She watched as he released the pose and rolled in a controlled fashion to his knees, setting his hands in his lap.

"I don't like this awkward tension. We used to work out in the same vicinity with no problem. Now...after the greenhouse, you hardly look at me. I thought if I joined you in something you enjoyed, we could start to bond again."

"Bond? I'm not sure I'd call being accidentally poisoned with an aphrodisiac, bonding,"
she retorted, not wavering in her routine.

Letting out her breath gently, Cora gracefully stretched her legs back to vertical then further, arching into a full back-bend. She arched to stretch her back as far as possible, then used her core and her legs to bring herself to a standing position again. She huffed lightly and turned around to face him, not knowing what else to say.
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by: Matthew Cox
#11906
Matt shook his head and sighed. He negated her recollection of events.

"Before that. When you were showing me your plants and telling me about them...when you grabbed my hand and showed me the Cobra Lilies. When we were having a conversation that made us both happy...I want to go back to that. Not this suspicion, this fear, this....this will we won't we, the questions...I'm tired of questions, Cora. Just...tired. I need a friend."

He didn't have anyone else...
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by: Coraline Larson
#11907
That made her pause.

Cora sighed, the hostility and suspicion melting out of her stance as she considered his words. It had been... surprisingly nice to feel a connection with someone like when they were talking.

Cora couldn't remember ever just talking like that to someone about herself. Even with Teague she had avoided talking about things she enjoyed; hell, he didn't even know she had a greenhouse. With Matt... he seemed to see her better than anyone had ever taken the chance to try. Maybe she owed it to him to try again...

"... I'm sorry," she murmured.

"...me too."

He kept his head down and eyes averted from her, the picture of apologetic penance.

Well, this wasn't awkward at all, was it?

Rolling her head back she cracked her neck absently and stretched, trying to release her tension with a long exhale. Ok... now what?

"Look... I..." she trailed off, hesitating to open up again. He had practically run away from her in the greenhouse when she had been open with him before, and that was before the pollen incident. She wasn't sure she wanted to go through that shut down again. It hurt, dammit.

"... I don't know what I'm supposed to say," she finally managed to spit out. "I... I don't know how to have a friend..."
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by: Matthew Cox
#11908
Her vulnerability spoke more to him than the words themselves. It told of a willingness to try, a trust in him to confess, a blossoming of hope.

"That's okay," he reassured. "I don't, really, either. I've had maybe three, four close friends to entire life and I still haven't figured out the 'how' yet."

He stood and cautiously approached her, not wanting to spook either of them. He extended a hand, palm up.

"Can we explore it together?"
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by: Coraline Larson
#11909
She tensed as he stood and padded toward her, eyeing him warily more out of habit than any actual hesitation. He was serious about being friends, wasn't he? Cora sighed and consciously relaxed her stance, and tentatively took his offered hand.

"... sure.." she answered, surprised by her own answer it seemed.
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by: Matthew Cox
#11910
Why did her tenseness bother him so much? In fact, it hurt. If he were to read into the expression of wariness in her face, he'd guess that she didn't trust him or that she was scared of him.

"Why are you so tense around me?"

He asked gently, tone betraying his own emotional state. With her hand in his, he took a half step closer and began to trace his thumb over the back of her hand. Matt felt his stance growing soft and open to her.

Ugh, this close, he could pick up so many scents off of her, all of them intriguing and attention grabbing.
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by: Coraline Larson
#11911
"It's... habit, I guess," she answered, feeling more than a little out of her element. "I wasn't exaggerating when I said I don't know how to have a friend... The last friend I had, I ended up hurting very badly," Cora added softly, thinking of Teague.

She looked down at her hand held gently in his, savoring the soft caress on the back of her hand. It felt... nice. Comforting, even. Her stiff posture slowly relaxed.
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by: Matthew Cox
#11912
Habit? Had he been that bad?

Dumping the dishes down the stairs at three in the morning, breaking everything she owned at least once, attacking her chair and work space in an attempt to intimidate her, referring to her as derogatory slurs, threatening her life and well being, having temper fits, getting slovenly drunk and hitting on her, destroying her kitchen, awkwardly abandoning a conversation right when she starts to open up, making out with her...

Jesus, he was a terrible person.

"Y'know, thinking back, I haven't given you much reason to be comfortable around me. I'm not a good person, and I'm sorry."

He took another half step forward and reached out to brush her jaw with his fingertips.
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by: Coraline Larson
#11913
She jumped a little when his fingers brushed her jaw, her eyes flicking up to his face in surprise. She frowned slightly when he apologized.

"It's not like I haven't earned your hostility. I don't think that makes you not a good person. I actually think it might make you a sane one," she added, smirking a little.
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by: Matthew Cox
#11914
A chortle escaped him.

"Sane? I don't know the meaning of that word..."

As quickly as the smile on his face had grown, it disappeared again. The serious expression replacing it was kind, though.

"I've been thinking about what you've said about your motivations. That I'd be dead if you'd followed your orders instead of putting me under the curse."

He swallowed and continued.

"I don't want to die. And you've been kind; you've not used the ability to order me about like a puppet even though you could have made your life easier and more predictable with it. That leaves me one conclusion: you've been genuine about wanting to help me. So...thank you..."

He leaned in and brushed a kiss on the back of her hand.

"I think I'm done fighting..."
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