Had Gabriela even the slightest inclination that Phoebe was even remotely impressed with the performance that was being played it may have comforted her, and soothed her badly beaten ego. But she could not fathom such a thought crossing the green-eyed woman’s mind -- in the first place, because she had no inclination that she was being read so closely. Of course she had her suspicions at the onset of this strange interaction, but the sheer impossibility of being recognized or targeted here, in the middle of nowhere simply prevented her from following that particular thread. It was foolish, of course, given all that she had gone through during her short time as a human, when her true identity was supposedly all but eradicated. However, her mind was cloudy and even with her best attempts, she could not focus and could not connect even the most obvious of points. And in the second place, it was difficult for Gabriela to imagine her own words as falsehoods when she herself could not remember the truth.
More than anguish or hurt, her sudden outburst seemed to stem from a nervous frustration.
It was impossibly hard to not be in control.
But there was one thing she could control, one thing that at least within her perception of the world, was immediate and all consuming. She could not abide by being the source of such worry and concern, not from this woman, not from a complete stranger who had come been out enjoying a nice stroll, minding her own business, and having a perfectly perfect life. It was not her right and not her place to put other people out. And so it was that she felt pangs of guilt and torture when she dared to glance up at Phoebe’s face and when she saw the delicate cut of apprehension on the bohemian beauty’s face.
Immediately she wanted to take it back, she wanted to beg to take it all back and to apologize again. True enough that she wanted the end of the world, and to silence Phoebe and see her eyes close forevermore, just like every other living being that inhabited Valucre, and even beyond -- but it was not for lack of love. Rather, her distress at the state of the world was due to an overabundance of love. And she loathed herself for putting the woman in any position that would cause distress.
Golden eyes lifted the regard for Phoebe, and she saw the expression -- a troubling thoughtfulness that she mistook for deep sympathy and concern. Her brows pinched and she swallowed back a fist-sized lump in her throat. Gabriela lied badly, but Phoebe -- she was a masterpiece, and so the former queen became more and more entangled in her own feelings for the woman.
It just wasn’t fair to do that to other people. It wasn’t fair or right, or just...to come into people’s lives and do this, whatever this was. As a vampyre, her appearance had been so carefully crafted through generations of breeding to be the most devastating predatory force to humans. She was beautiful, she appeared delicate -- childlike, with her big eyes, her small frame, her very aura. Everything about her was meant to disarm and attract. It was a blessing when it came to hunting humans, a trade in which she had never participated, and a curse in a land like this where she was far from top predator, and all of her strengths turned her into a target. But what did any of that mean now that she was just a human. A ridiculously lovely human, small and pathetically built to survive against basic elements, much less the malice of the world. She had lost her strength and her speed, and most importantly -- the authority her very presence once commanded. And every person whom she had crossed, every poor soul who saw her and saw a damsel in need of rescue -- they all ended up dead.
So it wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair now to appear weak, or out of sorts -- even if she was, and to turn her parasitic eyes on this particular creature. It wasn’t right, not when she didn’t know what happened, or why, or how.
A door slammed shut but Gabriela did not move a muscle. It would seem, perhaps, an uncanny reaction -- to lack a reaction -- when, but a moment ago, she had been so worked up. She was too inwardly turned to have noticed.
Phoebe’s voice did what the slamming door failed to do. It brought her back.
“You’re going to wear that pretty hard in an hour or so, you know- unless you’ve got a spare liver in there or something, which… I’m just going to assume you don’t, but…”
“Liver?” Gabriela tilted her head, like a bird. It took her half a second to realize what the woman was implying, yet another of those things she had never had to worry about in her previous life. But for the sake of not appearing completely dense, she cracked a weak smile and tried to salvage herself from deeper suspicions, “...oh, yeah.”
A sprinkle of color crossed her face when Phoebe’s hands settled, palm up, on the table between them, and her long fingers wiggled and the rings on those fingers glinted as they caught the light. Gabriela couldn’t be certain it was an invitation, but it sure felt like one and for some reason it caused her to warm and grow somewhat bashful. She wanted to extend her own hands and place them there, in the safety of those lovely pianist fingers and to be encased within those silver rings. But she couldn’t move.
“Look, I don’t know how shit your day has been, or your year, or your life…”
Gabriela sat and listened. She didn’t sink into her own mind, and refused to let the rising tides of anxiety pull her away. This moment was important. These words were valuable. She listened, and inclined closer.
“...but am I going to sit around and mope over it.”
Somehow, someway, while Phoebe spoke of her woes and troubles with a gentleman, Gabriela had leaned so far forward that her elbow had come to rest on the table, and from there, somehow and someway, her small hand had landed in the green-eyed woman’s clasp. Now she felt the squeeze, and it was a thrill because Phoebe was so warm, and so soft, and the metal of her rings felt cool and hard in comparison, and Gabriela could not stop focusing on it, or on the words, or on the shape that the woman’s lips made as she spoke the words.
She saw everything and felt everything.
“No. I’m going to reconcile my books, find equity, and balance, again.. All of which require that I act. You’ve got to act, Isabella, balance your scales - take back what’s yours. What do you want? If you could have anything, what would you have? It’s all possible, you know - every bit of it - so let’s figure it out.”
Has temptation ever been this soft? Had it ever come this gentle and this delicate? No -- it was always rough and demanding, it was insisted on complete surrender. Temptation, at the devil’s behest, was a hard and ugly thing.
The smell of apples caused her eyes to flutter and close for a moment. Her mouth, which moments ago had been bone-dry, was suddenly overflowing with anticipation. And that’s when she realized that the Serpent in the garden had never been a male -- no, that surely was a mistake in translation, or perhaps a purposeful misinterpretation. But the truth of it was here before her now. She thought of devils and angels alike, and how they were without gender, but had always been presented as male -- at least him, the father of lies. But no, that was all wrong. Here was the true Serpent, and here was true temptation, and it came in the shape of a beautiful woman with green eyes.
“You don’t want me to get what I want, believe me… No one does.”
And it was more than she had ever said on the matter, more than she had uttered to Roen, more than she had admitted to those who swore fidelity to her, more than she perhaps had ever admitted aloud. Moreover, the power that these spoken words had given her caused her to recoil from the touch, and to thus, pull her hands away and set them once more on her lap under the table.
“I mean to say, I want to go home…” there, that wasn’t so much a lie as not a specification of the truth. Home, her true home, was the cool darkness of his realm. And she wanted that not just for herself, but for everyone.
“I don’t think anyone would be happy if I went back home, besides it just being impossible…”