2010-01-29: Putting It All On The Table


Rashmi_icon.jpg Dallas_icon.jpg

Summary: Late night snacks turn into a war of words.

Date: January 29, 2010.

Log Title Putting It All On The Table

Rating: PG.

Xavier Mansion - Kitchen

This kitchen was designed to feed large numbers of people, and looks it with its bright white walls and stainless steel appliances. The stove, refrigerator, and dishwasher are all larger than normal. There is an island with stools around it for people to sit and eat around along with a table for twelve by the windows in back. Along the wall is a hole in the wall looking into the dining room so food can be passed back and fourth. Anything you want to cook or eat in the kitchen you will find the food and supplies to do so.

Dallas is fresh in from his trip to city. His old school letter jacket is draped off the back of a chair and his shirt is ripped and bloodied a bit but his expression is downright cheerful. He's making a large sandwich, rummaging in the fridge for various veggies to go with rather generous slabs of roast beef placed on the bread. Lettuce, pickle, carrot chips, onion slices, well more of a salad on an open face sandwich really. After piling on the food, he shakes a bottle of vinaigrette and douses the whole mess with it before adding a pair of olives. Apparently his culinary tastes don't run to the sophisticated. Given the time of night the halls are dark and the kitchen quiet.

And yet, there's *always* at least one other student to haunt the halls at night. Humming quietly under her breath, Rashmi bumps the door open with her hip, an open volume of the Black Cauldron held in one hand. Her eyes lift at the sight of movement at the counter, and stride and voice cut off as though slashed away. As the kitchen door thumps quietly closed, Rashmi stands stock still, eyes fixed on the junior athlete, face unreadable.

Dallas looks over his shoulder at her. His expression goes from genuinely happy to neutral and self-contained. He nods at Rashmi and then obviously considers taking his plate and heading elsewhere before his brows narrow and his jaw sets belligerently. He was here first and he's not leaving. He nods to Rashmi and then gets himself a glass, getting ready to pour himself some milk. He doesn't say anything just yet. After securing the milk he thumps the plate and glass down on the table and prepares to sit.

Rashmi's eyes narrow, back teeth pressing together at the set of Dallas' face. The athlete gets a curt nod in return, skirt swishing over her ankles as she strides to the refrigerator, a bag of baby carrots, a good-sized potato, and a wrapped half-pound of stewing beef retrieved from the fridge, followed by a stick of butter. It could almost seem as if Dallas wasn't even there as she goes about her preparations… if one were to ignore the nearly-subzero air about the young redhead that owes nothing to temperature.

Dallas tucks in with a fork, eating methodically, if not exactly enjoying the food at the moment. He arches his eyebrows as she goes to cook a late dinner but he takes a sip of milk and just watches for the moment. His gaze is thoughtful and not at all shy, almost as though he's daring her to say something about it.

Rashmi works precisely and thoroughly, her back turned to Dallas at nearly every opportunity. Two pots of water put on to boil, beef sliced, potato peeled, carrots chopped, and the rest of the kitchen pointedly, thoroughly ignored.

Dallas tucks away half his meal and then sits back a moment to give it time to digest. He folds his hands over his stomach, wincing faintly as the punctures and scratches gained earlier pull and sting at the motion. He still watches, not saying anything. After a few moments, his school issued cell phone beeps as he gets an email and he pulls it out, grins widely, rolls his eyes and starts thumbing a reply. He murmurs, in a low, amused voice, "Yea, right."

There's an errant flick of the end of Rashmi's braid, as she starts to show interest in Dallas' email… but resolutely she turns back to the stove, peeling open what looks like a small, yellow chocolate bar, breaking squares off to drop into the smaller pot. Rice is fetched next, measured out and poured into the larger pot. Not a word, yet.

Dallas message delivered and digital honor apparently served, Dallas puts the phone on the table in front of him and still smiling faintly, goes back to watching Rashmi cook. He leans his elbows on the table (rude!) and props his chin up with his hands, apparently finding the domestic spectacle fascinating.

And so it goes, for at least half an hour; Rashmi working at the stove, reading her book by the light beneath the microwave when her attention isn't needed. At one point, she lifts the lid of the smaller pot, and the rich, buttery scent of masala sauce fills the kitchen. Once all is prepared to her satisfaction, she turns toward the cupboards, fetching a pair of bowls. Into one, she scoops a large-sized portion of rice, in short order slathered in golden, stew-like sauce. A much smaller portion is put in the other bowl, stove turned off and lids replaced before the redhead turns, almost absent-mindedly dropping the sample bowl and its in front of Dallas as she storms past, hackles all but visibly raised.

Dallas peers suspiciously at the bowl, having long since finished his own dinner and yet still hanging around. He sniffs at it and arches an eyebrow, with the thought processes almost visible as subtitles. 'It looks and smells okay and we watched her cook it. Might be worth risking.' Her obviously brusque mannerisms cause him to grin faintly and finally, he breaks the silence. His tone is suspiciously innocent and even as he says, "Hm. I guess it works for people about like it works for dogs."

"Since you seemed to be so interested in watching me make it," Rashmi's frosty tone crackles from behind her hair as she seats herself at the table, "it only seemed fair to allow you to have some. Civility. You should try it sometime."

Dallas nods and says, "Thanks." He waits until Rashmi tries hers, though. After a moment he says, "And I didn't notice myself being rude to you." He points that out with a casual, neutral tone. "Though I guess standards vary."

"It was only a matter of time," Rashmi replies, jabbing at her food. "If you couldn't restrain yourself when Robyn was so sick, it'd be stupid to expect you to do any better on your own."

Dallas lifts his eyebrows even higher. "Haven't noticed you being Robyn's biggest friend either. Are you taking offense for him now?" The tone is still not combative, just mildly curious. He shrugs and says, "Robyn doesn't have a problem with me as far as I know. And I was with him this afternoon."

There's a sharp clink of her fork on the plate for a moment, food sampled and judged cooked well enough. "…So he's back? That's good; I'll have to give him his present late." There's another moment of silence, and her head bows, a heavy sigh escaping her. "…I don't know how you and Lucas can stay angry like this," she murmurs. "It's so *tiring…*"

Dallas samples the food in front of him and says, "I'm not angry, Rashmi." He taps the bowl with his fork. "Nice." And then after a minute, "I don't know what's going with Lucas. I don't want to know." He sits back a little and watches her expression for a long moment. "I'm just not the kind of person who decides that everything is okay because a couple of days go by." He shrugs. "If that works for you, fine. But somebody has to keep watching."
"Really… I'm sorry, Dallas, but I'm having trouble believing that…" Shaking her head she looks over her shoulder, brows deeply furrowed. "'Selling you out?' 'Short on closing my mouth?' That's you being charming, is it? Hmp… no *wonder* you can't get a date…"

Dallas shrugs and sighs, his expression going still and hard. "Do you want to have this conversation, Rashmi? I mean /really/ want to have this out?" He pushes away his bowl and just watches her. "I'm willing to just hang back and wait for things to go the way we all know they're going to go. No sense fighting until the fighting starts. But if you want to go there, I'm fine with that, too."

Rashmi immediately turns around in her chair, legs crossed, bowl placed into her lap. "You know what? Yes. Yes, I do, Dallas. It's a *much* better idea than the first one I had, calling you out in the Danger Room. But I hadn't even *begun* to consider I could find a way to corner you when you're not beating on something."
Dallas gives Rashmi a faintly amused look. He finishes off his milk and says, "OK. So, what exactly have I done to you?" He keeps his tone conversational and calm, only the fact that he's spinning his telephone around with one hand betraying nervous energy.

Rashmi tosses a lock of hair from her face, lips thinning. "All right… let's start with the big one, then. I'm still willing to give you credit for being smarter than you generally act, these days… so. I'll *assume* you know that nonsense about 'selling you out' was a lie. And yet you said it anyway. *Why?* What did I *ever* do to you to deserve that?"

Dallas leans forward. "I don't see it that way. You /did/ put Lucas ahead of all of us. In the cages. Back here. And even now, after he killed Coyote. You /did/ sell us out and bring him back here for your own reasons and he /did/ kill one of us. How am I wrong about that?" His tone is low and intense and utterly merciless as he stares at her unflinchingly.

"Well, full points for your brilliant deduction," Rashmi shoots back, tone scathing. "And had you bothered to think for one moment that if there *was* some way to fix the people that had been taken over, they'd need someone to fix to *prove* it? Or that if I'd been able to bring *James* back first, I would have? Or—Oh wait, I'm sorry… You weren't *there* when Coyote died! You have *no* *idea* what happened! I bet that the brilliant *detective* even thinks I probably *pushed* her into the fire or something! After all, you're *psychic,* aren't you! *You* know *everything!*"

Dallas shrugs and folds his arms across his chest. "You did exactly what you said you were going to do, back in the cages. All the yelling at me in the world and pretending that I'm saying something that didn't happen isn't going to change that. Things are pretty simple from where I sit. But I can understand not wanting to face up to that."

"….Excuse me?" Two words, and for all their softness, there's an undercurrent of outrage lurking beneath.

Dallas continues in exactly the same tone, "You said you were going to put your 'hope' ahead of everything else and bring Lucas back no matter what it took. Well, you did that. And somebody else paid for it. And other people will pay for it eventually, when he goes bad again." He shrugs and says, "It's as much my fault as yours. I didn't stop him when he called me out. But unlike you, I'm willing to accept my responsibility and do what I can to be ready for the next time. All three of us killed Coyote. He might have been the one who used his powers but you and me put in the place where he could do it."

Rashmi shakes her head quietly. "You still don't understand," she says, closing her eyes. "Yeah… I know it's my fault Coyote died… And I doubt I'll ever be able to let that go. …But you know what? You *are* full of it if you think it's going to happen again with Lucas." Her eyes open, and a deep frown tugs at her mouth. "Honestly? Right now I wonder if *you're* the one to worry about."

Dallas shrugs and he finally lets a little anger show. "Yeah. Because /I'm/ the one who has been killing people. That makes sense." His tone is sharp and harsh at that. "Think with something north of the panty line for a minute. Just a minute. Even now when it's too late. Can you try that, Rashmi? Or maybe drop the Princess Paragon self-image for just a second and admit that you don't know /what/ Lucas is going to do because you don't know /what/ he's capable of. I've seen it first hand, up close and personal. Not something you can shrug away as an accident to make it okay to keep chasing him. So yea, I know you've been trying to campaign for Lucas and trying to make me look bad. Word gets around. But when the next body hits the floor and it's /your/ boyfriend standing over it? What excuses are you going to make then?"

The question startles a laugh out of Rashmi, frank disbelief in her eyes. "Making you *look* bad? Oh for… *Why* would I even *want* to do that? You're practically a grown man, Dallas, you're *fully* capable of making a jerk of *yourself.* And against all belief, *if* Lucas does end up killing someone else? I'll be the *last* person to make excuses, because then I'll know he did it *himself* for a change. But, what about you? I've not heard a *single* teacher voice the slightest doubt that Lucas will even *hurt* anyone else if he has any choice… And both you and I know that Jono is the *last* one to pull any punches. But, no. No, that's not *good* enough for you. No no, *you* have to be stronger, better, harder, because Lucas is going to kill someone and you're the *only one* who can see it… Think about that for a second, Dallas. Say it out loud. Listen to yourself for a change. What does that *really* sound like?"

Dallas shrugs and says, "It sounds like I'm the only one paying attention." He gives her a pointed look and says, "And you shifted the conversation again rather than admit that /I/ haven't killed anybody and you don't have any right to suggest that I would. I know you like to think you're already a lawyer or whatever, but you should probably at least /try/ to stay somewhere close to the truth. You aren't going to convince me that I'm wrong or crazy for not just forgetting and acting like everything is just peachy."

Rashmi crosses her arms. "I wouldn't think I'd *have* to state the obvious, Dallas. I'm not going to accuse you of hurting anyone unless I have proof, or even a reasonable suspicion. Which, you'll note, I haven't. That should *say* something, even to you." Shaking her head, she takes another bite of her food, as though forcing herself to remember its presence. "…I *don't* think anyone should forget what happened. And I *definitely* don't think everyone's peachy. Lord, Robyn *lied* to me about going to visit *family!* Like he'd *forgotten* what he'd told me about them before! If that's not proof we're all a little broken over all this, I don't know *what* is."

Dallas shrugs. "Be less 'broken' and be more ready. That's what I'm trying to do. The rest of this stuff is self-indulgence other than for Robyn. It doesn't matter what you feel or what you say. What matters is what you're doing. And what you're doing is playing politics and coddling your boyfriend rather than acting like somebody who deserves to be here."

"What I'm *doing,* Dallas, is trying to help hold everyone together." Leaning forward in her chair, she clasps her hands together. "What *you're* doing is shutting everyone out, being as selfish as you say I'm doing, because you think *you're* going to save the whole school and be the hero and get a pat on the back, maybe a medal. Or whatever," she says, shrugging. "I haven't been able to see past this crap armor you've been yanking up. But I can guess a few things…" She looks up, eyes pained. "Maybe I'm wrong… But I guess I'll never know until you tell me. ….So. Want to find out?"

Dallas rolls his eyes. "I'm not doing anything of the sort, Rashmi. I'm just not bleeding on other people." He takes a deep breath and says, "As for anything else, whatever you're guessing, I don't know why on earth you think I'd give you more ammo to use against me when you're already not somebody I trust or who is on my side. Seriously, I know you have a low opinion of me, but I'm not just straight up /stupid/."

Rashmi shakes her head. "I don't have a low opinion of you, Dallas… I never have. I'm just not about to call someone out for being stupid if it means keeping other people from getting hurt. Besides… I'd think you'd *love* to have the chance to tell me how wrong I am… So let's see. I'm going to *guess* that whatever happened before you were thrown into the cage hurt you. I mean like, *hurt* you, on the inside, where you thought no one could ever reach. I'm going to guess that you looked at yourself, after… and saw how badly you got hurt… and started getting desperate that no one else ever know, ever see, because then what kind of a man are you..?"

Dallas scowls and stands up. "Keep guessing." His voice is cold and detached at that. "As for me, I'm just going to keep my eye on the ball." With the ball in this case being a deathwatch on when Lucas is going to strike next, apparently. His expression is guarded to the point of being almost unreadable, other than his eyes being narrowed and glittering almost maliciously, as though he's furious but bound and determined not to let her see that. Maybe more time in drama class and less in sports would have helped pull that off. He shakes his head and says, "I'd ask you to keep that kind of crap to yourself but I know better. Painting me that way makes you and Lucas into victims. So, you know, good job." That last is a little more bitter than he thinks, probably. "Thanks for the snack. Good night." He grabs his phone and starts to walk out, stiff posture and tight gait suggesting his frame of mind.

"If I'm so wrong, Dallas, why are you so mad at me?" Rashmi settles back in her chair, watching Dallas' back with very clear concern. "It doesn't help, does it? Ripping the wounds open, making them bleed over and over again just when they start to heal? You think maybe they'll get numb, turn into scars, make you tougher… But they won't, Dallas… They'll never heal right, unless you get help. Unless you find someone you can trust, who'll tell you it's okay to hurt, it's okay to be scared and angry and want to cry… And the one who hurt you? Someone's walking around this school right now, wearing his face… Who could blame you?"

Dallas stops and turns back to Rashmi and there is naked anger in his expression and voice as he says, "Stop that. Stop thinking you know me. Stop saying stuff that you /think/ is true like it is! Jesus Christ, you preaching, prying…." He swallows the harsh words he was about use. He continues, quietly but savagely, "Save your pity and your damn TV head shrinking for yourself and Lucas. Keep it and /yourself/ the hell away from me." And with that he does leave, seething with outrage and anger.

Rashmi's face tightens as the door swings closed behind Dallas. "I don't pity you, Dallas," she whispers to her half-eaten food. "I just hope you get help before you hurt yourself…"

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