by Samy 'Mash' Merchi
Roberto 'Sunspot' Da Costa
Danielle 'Mirage' Moonstar
1) This material is not used for monetary profit in any manner. It is done solely for enjoyment purposes, and as homage to the great stories and characters of Marvel Comics Group
2) All the characters, events, and locations portrayed within are recognized as property of Marvel Comics Group should they so wish.
3) This story has been written
by Samy Merchi. Any commentary in the form of compliments or
critique is welcomed, and eagerly hoped for. So go ahead and drop
me a line telling me what you thought, okay? It'll make my day. ;)
I love you? I'm not sure.
For I've never in my life felt like this,
so how can I tell what this sensation is?
I just know that I want to be close to you,
especially tonight, when I'm so blue.
Maybe I'm using you, as a crutch?
But I swear, you're not just a notch
in my belt. You mean something,
and if you meant to me no more than a fling,
then why -- why? -- do I feel in my heart
when you're gone, it's as if a part
of me were missing...
I want to be kissing
you. Of that, I'm sure.
To my yearning,
you're the cure."
-- (Samy 'Geesh, I suck at poetry' Merchi 1998)
Happy Valentine's Day 1998 to everyone!
May Love always prevail.
"Really??" A wide grin came to Roberto Da Costa's lips at the reply, and he could hardly restrain himself from letting the sudden excitement inside him flare to the surface, transform his skin into obsidian black, and literally leap dozens of meters up thru the roof and into the air, propelled by his solar powers.
Roberto bit his lip, and his right hand absently fingered the middle finger of the other hand, the finger which felt oddly empty for some reason. That, however, wasn't the reason for his nervousness. It was February 14th, and he was standing alone, silent, in a hotel corridor. X-Force -- consisting of himself, James Proudstar, Theresa Rourke Cassidy, Tabitha Smith and Dani Moonstar -- had chosen to stay in this place overnight, on their trek thru the North American continent.
None of them really knew where they were headed. None of them really -wanted- to know where they were headed. All that really mattered to any of them was the company. The destination didn't matter. Just the getting there part did. And they all were enjoying their lives like they hadn't been for a long time.
However, they had one little problem. The same problem with plagues practically every human being, to one extent or another. Money. With the exception of Roberto, none of X-Force had any sizeable sums of cash tucked away anywhere -- and Roberto's access to the assets of his worldwide conglomerate Da Costa International had been frozen by a rival claim to the company and the money.
They had been living off Dani's meager savings for a while now, and Roberto didn't like it. The man should support the woman, not the other way around. He was rich, he was powerful, he was...male. He should take care of everything.
But he couldn't. He simply...couldn't. And that tore at him. Not only being supported by a female, but being supported by someone who knew him. Someone who had always been there for him. Someone who was one of his oldest, dearest friends.
A knock interrupted his thoughts, and it took him a few seconds to realize that it had been he who had knocked. He quickly swallowed, and took a deep breath. He felt like a teenager, like the twelve-year-old he had been when he had first asked Juliana out. He actually shivered. He couldn't remember shivering in almost a decade. And it wasn't of the cold, either. His solar powers always kept away the cold. His eyes closed for a brief moment.
Then he heard the door open. It was the door to the room X-Force had rented for the night, in the hotel. All five of them stayed in the same room -- they had gotten used to accomodating themselves in one room during the time they had been roaming the United States following their ditching their so-called 'leader' Cable.
Just now Roberto realized that they were all probably in the room. He had made sure to awaken early, before anyone else did. He knew who usually woke up first, and around what time, and he had by willpower alone stayed half-awake the whole night, to be able to wake up before any of them did, without having to resort to an alarm clock which would surely catch their notice.
He had been gone for more than a few hours, and had left a note on the table saying that he had 'personal business' to take care of. That was all he put on the note. Just so they wouldn't worry. All else was his business, and his business alone.
Until now, anyway. He had now returned from the 'personal business' he had been conducting, and he was nervous. Roberto Da Costa was never nervous. Or, at least, he never admitted it. And he didn't now, either. As the door opened, he quickly put on his normal, cocky and carefree expression, and waited to see which of his teammates would open the door.
"Bobby?" Tabitha asked as her face appeared in the crack of the door, which then opened further. "Where've you..." She then paused, seeing the bouquet of bright red roses in his hand, and her eyes widened for a moment. Then, a smile came onto her lips, wide. "For me? You shouldn't have..."
Roberto grinned a bit, and shook his head. "-These- aren't for you", he said, but produced from beside the bouquet a separately-wrapped rose, which he took with his left hand from the right hand holding the flowers, and handed towards Tabitha. "-This- is for you. Happy Valentine's Day", he said, and leaned in to give Tabitha a brief, light kiss on the cheek.
Tabitha actually blushed a bit at the kiss -- or at the rose, which her hand unconsciously accepted? No one had ever given her flowers -- well, a flower -- before. Not even Sam. And what was the rest of the bouquet for? What was going on? Her curiosity was most certainly perked, and she took a step back, looking into Roberto's eyes with a raised eyebrow. "Thanks. I think." She smiled a bit. "Where were you?"
"Me?" Roberto asked, faking a bit of modesty and surprise at Tabitha's expressed interest in his doings. "I thought I left a note. I was taking care of personal business." A teasing grin, showing clearly that he wasn't going to kiss and tell. He stepped in the door, and took a look around the room.
Closing the door behind Roberto, Tabitha made an announcement. "Behold, the prodigal son hath returned!" she smirked. "And with flowers. You might want to look out, Jimmy, I think he's coming after you."
"Huh?" Dani peeked out of the bathroom, her hand continuing to move over and over thru her long, black hair with the brush, untangling it.
"Flowers?" Theresa asked, sitting on the corner of the bed, putting aside the road map she had been studying to turn her head towards Roberto's entrance. "Oh, those are -beautiful-!" she said with her bright Irish smile.
Jimmy was staring out the window of the hotel, down to the streets some dozen stories below, and turned to look over his shoulder as Tabitha's loud voice snapped him from his thoughts. "Sorry, Bobby", he grinned, playing along to Tabitha's game. "I'm on the rebound. I don't need another relationship right now."
Roberto gave Tabitha a brief, playful smack on the butt as retribution for the joke, and she jumped a bit with an "eep!", almost, but not quite, dropping the rose. "In your dreams, Proudstar", Roberto then continued, and turned towards Siryn, producing another separately-wrapped rose, and repeated the procedure he had performed with Tabitha, handing the rose to Terry, and leaning in to give her a light kiss on the cheek with a "Happy Valentine's Day, Theresa."
Then, the room went silent. Dani had stopped brushing her hair, and stood in the doorway to the bathroom, her expression not having reached all the way to dumbfounded, but certainly stunned, as Roberto stood there, having given both of the other girls on the team roses, and still having a bouquet left. No one disturbed the silence. Not Theresa. Not Jimmy. Not even Tabitha. For once, she knew when to keep her mouth shut.
"Who are those flowers for, 'Berto?" Dani asked after the silence had persisted for longer than anyone would have expected. She used her distant and detached leader tone, trying to conceal the hopes inside -- desperately trying to silence them so she wouldn't be disappointed. As she knew she would be. As she -thought- she would be.
For a very brief, fleeting moment, Roberto actually looked awkward. Then, he glanced back towards the door, and after that returned his eyes onto Dani. "Can I have a word with you?" he asked, and Jimmy could have almost sworn that his sharp eyes picked up Roberto's adam's apple moving as if he were swallowing. "Outside?" Roberto added, nodding his head towards the door.
Dani seemed hesitant. Her lips parted a bit, but she didn't know what to say. Briefly, she looked to Jimmy, and then her eyes went back to Roberto...but she still didn't know how to answer, as if the English language had fled her mind. So she just nodded, quickly -- but not too quickly -- and put the brush down, starting towards the door.
In silence, Roberto opened the door for Dani, and waited for her to step outside, into the hallway, before he followed her, and closed the door behind them both. He was fairly certain that Tabitha would attempt to eavesdrop on them thru the door, but he also overestimated his other teammates' morality, thinking they would stop her from doing that. In fact, Theresa and Jimmy joined Tabitha, their ears pressed against the wooden door, trying to listen in to what was happening in the hallway.
"These are for you", Roberto said, handing the bouquet towards Dani, and she took them, more instinctively than by choice, and didn't notice how her hands went to hold the flowers against her heart. Not that Roberto noticed, either. His eyes were on hers. "Happy Valentine's Day." He didn't lean in to give Dani a kiss, though. He was afraid that a kiss between the two of them could mean more than he presumed it did to Tabitha or Theresa.
"Oh", was what Dani managed to initially say, and she swallowed lightly, before his eyes went down to the roses she held against her chest, and dipped her head to breathe in their scent. An almost-serene smile came to her lips. "They smell wonderful, 'Berto", she half-whispered. "Thank you."
Then came the obligatory, awkward silence. Her eyes rose to look back into his, and he couldn't turn his own gaze away from hers. Suddenly, the three dozen different ways he had practiced during the morning to ask her, had disappeared like a mountain lion into the wilderness. He hadn't ever felt like this. Not even when he asked Juliana out for the first time. He was something then. A football hero, the son of one of Brazil's richest men... What was he now? Nothing.
"Why?" Dani asked with a tentative tone, after long moments of quiet. The question was serious, just like her face. Neither her tone nor her expression betrayed the fact that she was scared. Scared to death. Of what? Of her hopes and dreams coming true. Roberto was caught off-guard by the question, and it showed on his face. "I..." he started, and again noticed he was shivering. Shivering so much Dani probably noticed it. Damn it! He was like a little schoolboy... Why now, why with her? He should never even have considered this... "Because..." He sighed lightly, and broke the eye contact -- maybe words would come more easily if he wasn't looking at her. "I l...care about you", he quickly said. "And... I suppose I wanted you to know just... well, how much."
Quietly, Dani listened, keeping her eyes on Roberto's face even as he looked away. "I care about you too, 'Berto", she replied. "We've been thru Hel together." She smiled faintly at the pun she made, but the amusement was fleeting, as she remembered the seriousness of the situation. She didn't want to think there was anything more to this. She didn't want to open herself up for being hurt. She didn't want to... "So was that all?" she asked quickly, and turned back towards the door, ready to go back inside.
"No!" Roberto said suddenly, and before he realized it himself, his hand went to Dani's shoulder, to hold her from going anywhere. His touch was electric, and Dani felt her body shiver at the touch. Quickly, cynically, she convinced herself to think that it was an effect of Roberto's powers, rather than to allow herself to think anything else.
Her face turned towards the door already, away from Roberto, Dani was able to bite her lip without showing it to him. Her eyes closed. What did he want? -Why- did he want whatever he wanted?? Her head bowed downwards a bit, and were her eyes open, she would have inspected the floor. "What?" Dani almost snapped, her nerves standing a bit on edge -- this situation was getting to her.
"I..." Roberto started, and noticed Dani's tone. Quickly, his hand came off her shoulder, and he turned around, to look down the hallway, his back to Dani. "I'm sorry", he said quietly. Of what, he didn't really know himself. All he knew was that Dani was suddenly angry, and it seemed to be because of him.
Dani sighed a bit, and put a few fingers to her forehead. "It's okay, 'Berto", she muttered. "But whatever you have to say, just spill it, or I'm going back inside." There was a finality to her tone. It wasn't that she was really angry -- but she was afraid. And she wanted to escape.
"Will you be my Valentine?"
Exactly what Dani had expected.
Exactly what she had been so afraid of.
"'Berto... I'm not sure that's a good idea..." she began, her shoulders sagging a bit. But without even being aware of it, she was almost crushing the roses against her chest.
Finally, Roberto turned around. The battle had begun -- he had said what he needed to say. Now, it was just a matter of winning. A Da Costa never gave up. He got started, that was all he needed. Now he would not give up. "Why not, Dani?" he demanded. "I care about you. You care about me. What is there to stop us??"
A slight tingle in her eyes. Dani knew she was going to cry. She tried to calm down, hold the tears back. There was nothing to cry about! Or that's what she tried telling herself. "We're friends, 'Berto... Leave it at that, okay??" The urgency in her voice became more obvious by every word.
Roberto replaced his hand on Dani's shoulder, and turned her around, to face him. "Maybe I will, Dani", he said determinedly. "I am not attempting to seduce you, to get in bed with you." He paused for a moment. "All I am asking is for you to go out with me tonight. Spend some time with me. Just the two of us, without the others." Another pause, and when he continued, his voice was soft. "Would that be such a bad thing?"
"No, it..." Dani sighed, and shook her head, before managing to get herself under control a bit, and opened her eyes, meeting Roberto's gaze. "I -know- you, Roberto Da Costa. You can't spend two -minutes- alone with a girl without trying to seduce them. Let alone a couple of hours."
"Dani... I just want to -spend time with you-. I -want- to spend time with you." His tone was as honest as it ever had been. "Please say yes. Please?" Begging. If Roberto had realized what he was doing... Well... Maybe he wouldn't have done it. Maybe he would have. Begging was something that didn't belong in the vocabulary of a Da Costa. They didn't beg. At any cost? Well...
Yet another sigh. Dani tried to turn away, but her shoulder was held fast by Roberto, and she could only turn part of the way, her left side towards him. Maybe Roberto didn't know, but she knew. If they went out, it -would- end up as more than just 'spending time together'. Because she -wanted- it to end up as more. But it would end up with her hurt, and she didn't want to be hurt. It was a matter of which she wanted more. The night ending up as 'more'...or not being hurt.
"Dani?" Roberto asked, when her lips stayed together in silence.
"Ten bucks says the Ice Queen says no!"
"You're on, Tab!"
"Hush, th' both o' ye! I want t' hear what she says!"
Slowly, Dani turned around, back to face Roberto. Why did he have to do this? She knew perfectly well that she wasn't anything like Gosamyr...or Tabitha or Theresa, for that matter... She wasn't special. And he was making her feel special. And she didn't want that to ever end... But there was no way that someone like Roberto could want her... It would end. After tonight. After a week. After a month... But it would end. And she didn't want it to end. It was better just to accept that from the start, and not let it even begin. Right?
Her lips parted, to give her answer.
"Are you -sure- it looks okay??" Dani asked nervously, twisting this way and that to futilely attempt to see her dress from every possible angle. She didn't know -where- Roberto had gotten the dark red, glittering satin dress, and she didn't know -what- money he had used to get it...but she knew one thing -- It looked gorgeous on her. The problem was, she had never worn anything like this. Even at the Hellfire Ball when Shan had left, she had worn traditional Cheyenne garb. She didn't know the first thing about dresses...and Roberto had brought him one. She wanted so hard to please him, that it was worrying her. She never ever would have done this for -any- man... Or so she had thought. If men wouldn't accept her for who she was, they could go to Hell.
So why was she wearing this dress, feeling totally out-of-place -- for a man?
"It looks -perfect-, girl!" Tabitha smiled as she circled Dani, looking her over from all the angles she herself couldn't bend to. "You're going to knock the pants off Bobby in that get-up..." Tabitha smirked a bit. "Which brings up a question -- Where -are- you two gonna spend the night? 'Cuz -I'm- not giving up the bed!" she grinned.
Dani blushed a deep red as her eyes went to Tabitha. "I, uh, we, but..." she started, then she began nervously adjusting the shoulder straps of the dress. "...I mean, this...uh...night, we're... It's not -like- that, Tabitha!" she managed to get out. "We're just friends!"
A sarcastic chuckle. "Right", Tabitha replied. "And I'm just Sam's 'sister'", she commented.
"Play nice, Tabitha", Theresa said in a reprimanding tone, as she was sitting on the edge of the bed, watching Dani get prepared for her night out. "Ye have a good time, Dani, an' don't let him get ye drunk", she smiled, trying to cover up her own yearning for alcohol. She hadn't had a drink in over a year, and just the thought of going out... Well, it was enough to get her all fidgety, her adrenaline levels up a bit. She needed to get out and get drunk so bad...
Tabitha shrugged a bit, and put on a mock-pout face for a while, before she suddenly seemed to remember something. "Oh!" she said, and quickly went to her rucksack, starting to rummage thru it. "Hang on a moment, I've got something for you, Dani..." she muttered, while tossing pieces of clothing here and there from the sack. "Ah!" she exclaimed after a moment. "Just the thing for the independent woman of 2000", she smiled, as she pulled out a few gold-foiled circles. "In case Bobby doesn't come prepared."
If it was possible for Dani to turn an ever deeper shade of red, then that's what happened when Tabitha pulled out the condoms. "Tabitha!" she said loudly, before remembering the boys were in the bathroom, and that Jimmy's enhanced hearing could probably pick up everything they were saying. "Put those things away!" she whispered, hoping Jimmy wasn't paying attention.
Tabitha shook her head. "Nah unh", she said, stepping over to Dani and starting to stuff the condoms into Dani's purse. "Relying on the guy is just not in anymore, Dani. Get with the program, girl -- you need to be safe."
Blinking a few times, Theresa looked at Tabitha. "Tabitha -- why d' ye have those with ye?" she asked, lifting an eyebrow. "I thought ye an' Sam were still together?" A slightly scolding tone, already presuming things.
"Not that it's any of your business", Tabitha hmphed, as she looked to Theresa "but yeah, Sam and me are still together. I'm making sure if he ever comes visit, we won't have to waste time going shopping." She paused a bit, giving a triumphant smirk to Theresa, who, as Tabitha had guessed, was already thinking that she was cheating on Sam. "Or in case we break up", she then added, just to jab at Theresa's so-called 'high morality'.
Theresa flushed lightly, and quickly turned the attention back to Dani. "So, d' ye know where ye're goin'?" she asked, trying to turn the topic to other things.
When the discussion had shifted to Tabitha's condom-ownership, Dani had forgotten about the ones Tabitha had stuffed in her purse -- perhaps fortunately -- and left them there. "No, I haven't got a clue", Dani replied. "I think he's taking me somewhere fancy..." She bit her lip lightly. "I..." She turned away, as if to look at the mirror, but her head was bowed. She didn't say anything for a moment. What the hell was she going to do? How was she going to get thru the night? She didn't know the first thing about fancy restaurants or theaters or anything like that! But... For Roberto... Maybe she could try... She just hoped she wouldn't mess everything up and look like a complete idiot to him...
"You okay, Dani?" Tabitha asked in a concerned tone, and tilted her head, silent for a moment. "I'm sure Bobby isn't going to rape you or anything..." she offered. "Just, like, be sure to say no if you don't feel like it... He's smart, he can take a hint..." Her tone was a bit hesitant, she wasn't sure what was wrong.
Dani turned around and shook her head. "It's okay..." she muttered, a bit weakly. "I'll be okay..." She took a deep breath, and took one more look at herself, at her dress. "Are you -sure- it looks okay?"
Her arm was wrapped around his, as he walked towards the restaurant entrance. He had gotten a tux from somewhere, and looked magnificent in it. She was wearing the red satin he had given her, and felt miserable in it.
"You okay, Dani?" Roberto asked, and lifted an eyebrow. He was concerned. He wasn't intentionally doing this to humiliate Dani, and if he only was aware of the fact that Dani felt so uncomfortable about the formality of the place they were going to, he would instantly have chosen another place. But Da Costas can be notoriously thick-headed in understanding that all people are not like them. So it was with Roberto. He simply did not realize the reason of Dani's discomfort. "Yeah", Dani replied with a brief nod, the nervousness of which eluded Roberto at the moment. "How about you?" she asked in return, to move the topic away from herself.
A faint grin. Roberto always was easy to trick, and so it was now as well. It didn't take much to make him think she was all right, and he responded to her question with a small shrug. "Honestly?" he asked. "I must confess, I am a little nervous. It is not every night that I get to go out with someone who looks even better than me." The sad part? He actually -is- that egotistical.
That seemed to lighten the mood a bit. Dani jabbed her elbow against Roberto's ribs, and they both chuckled a bit. Then, she proceeded to blush a bit at the compliment, and looked away to conceal it. "Keep that up, 'Berto, and I'm going to do more than just jab." "Promises, promises", he grinned, and opened the restaurant door, holding it open for her. "Does that mean I should have booked us a private room, too?" he kept on teasing. Then, he paused, as if remembering something. "Or did I already do that?" His eyes twinkled, laughing brightly.
Dani glared at Roberto a bit. "Keep dreaming, 'Berto", she said as she stepped into the lobby of the restaurant. Already, she was being hurt. She knew she shouldn't have accepted the offer, but it was too late to back out now. But she was -not- going to be just a damn one night stand for Roberto! And if he thought she was going to submit to being one, then he'd be in for a cold shower!
Roberto grinned still, not the least bit daunted by Dani's words, as he led the two of them to the Maitre D'. "Table for two by the name of Da Costa, please", he announced, proud to stand by this magnificent, stunning woman whom he had the privilege of calling his friend.
The Maitre D' lifted an eyebrow, and his eyes narrowed as he looked at Roberto. A few brief eyeblinks -- then the man asked, in a serious tone, "Roberto Da Costa?"
Roberto replied with a simple nod. "That is correct", he stated. "Is there a problem?"
A quick wave of his hand, and the Maitre D' had summoned another man to his side. A few quick whispers, and looks in Roberto's direction, caused the hot-blooded Latino to begin thinking something was wrong. "Excuse me, gentlemen?" he cleared his throat. "I believe we have a table reservation here?"
"We are full", the Maitre D' almost snapped, looking back to Roberto.
"What?? I called in the morning, and booked a table..."
"We are full!" the Maitre D' repeated. "Would you please leave."
Roberto's eyes narrowed in anger, he didn't notice Dani's arm curling a bit tighter around his, in a vain attempt to calm him down. "What happened to our reservations?" he asked sharply.
"They must have been lost somehow", the man made an excuse which was plain as day. "Please leave this estabilishment or I will be forced to call the police."
A dangerous snarl rose in Roberto's throat, and before anyone could do anything, black crackling energies surrounded him, and he turned fully obsidian-black -- a transformation Dani had seen hundreds and hundreds of times. Roberto's hand shot forward, and picked the Maitre D' up by the front of his shirt. "The truth", he growled. "Now!"
"'BERTO! ARE YOU CRAZY??" Dani snapped, and grabbed his shoulder, trying to break thru to him. "Put the man down, now!" she ordered, but in vain. Roberto did not even notice her words.
"You want the truth?" the Maitre D' asked in a venomous tone, glaring at Roberto. "Your kind is not wanted here, gene scum." Furious anger and contempt was evident in the man's eyes.
Hissed breathing passed between Roberto's lips. "So that's it", he said, and lifted the man a bit higher. "A mutant-hater. I should burn you into a pile of ashes here and now. The world would be better off without people like you." The tone was as venomous -- if not moreso -- as the Maitre D's.
Dani grabbed Roberto's chin, and forcibly turned his head around, to look at her. "We're going, 'Berto", she snapped. "Now! Let the man go! You're not...-him- anymore!" Dani shivered a bit, remembering the time when she had to be afraid every day in the MLF whether Roberto would kill her, if he found out she was working as a SHIELD plant. She was afraid that side of him would resurface. She was -horrified- that would happen. Because, if it happened again...maybe they couldn't get him back to normal again.
For a brief moment, Roberto's eyes flared, the white energy signature marred by a blood-red tint, and then he tossed the Maitre D' down, against a wall -just- hard enough not to break any bones. Then he put his arm around Dani's shoulders, and started walking out without another word.
As they exited the building, Dani sighed, and looked around her, up and down the street. Roberto had powered down, to avoid a chaos as people would see him. "Damn it", Dani muttered quietly to herself, avoiding looking at Roberto.
For a few moments, Roberto didn't say anything. After a while, he offered a "I'm sorry", and went silent, to wait for Dani's reaction. Unmoving. Afraid he had ruined the whole evening.
"'Berto... I thought... I thought..." She closed her eyes, and turned towards him, placing a light hand onto his chest. "I thought you had left...-him- behind..."
Roberto's eyes closed as well, as Dani brought up the topic of Reignfire. "I thought so too, Dani", he replied in a whisper. "But it looks like wherever I go, I can never escape myself."
"I'm afraid of him", Dani admitted, shivering visibly.
Unable to ignore Dani's shivering without doing something about it, Roberto hesitantly put his arms around her, to pull her up against him, to hold her. "He'll never hurt you, Dani", he said quietly, into her ear. "I swear to you, on my honor as a Da Costa -- I will never harm you." And they both knew that if anything was a vow that he would keep, it would be one made in his family's name. And she was reassured.
Dani silently pressed her face against Roberto's chest for a moment, and let him hold her, as she pushed her fears, her worries, towards the back of her head. "I'm sorry", she said now, in turn. "You should never have asked me..." Her tone went quiet, almost on the verge of breaking into tears. "I'm just not the kind of girl you need, 'Berto... I don't know anything about fancy restaurants or which fork goes with which food or anything like that..." she continued. Then, a brief sob, and she pushed herself away, turning away, starting to take a step away from Roberto. "I should never have accepted... I'm not the kind of girl you want..."
A firm hand grabbed Dani's shoulder, preventing her from taking one step away. At first, Roberto didn't know what to say, how to fix things that he just realized were so very wrong. But he knew one thing. He didn't want to let Danielle Moonstar go. That's why he acted. Now if he only knew what to say too, so he could speak to her. "'Berto..." Dani said, like a trapped bird. "Let me go! You don't want me, it's...-we're-..." She sighed, shaking her head, and tried to pull away, but Roberto was too strong. "This won't work, 'Berto. Let it go now, let -me- go, before you hurt me any more!"
Roberto's other hand grabbed Dani's other shoulder, and he pulled her back, turning her around to face him. "You're not going anywhere, Dani, until you listen to what I have to say", he said in an almost frighteningly level tone. "Then, if you still want to leave, I won't stop you."
Dani swallowed, and turned her head away. "What do you want to do, 'Berto? Tear the rest of my heart apart??" Her voice was a cry of anguish, but still, she held the littlest spark of hope within her heart, wishing to hear the words she wanted to hear.
"No", Roberto said sharply. "I want to fix it." He paused, and looked into her eyes. "Dani -- I'm sorry. I didn't think. I wanted to give you the very best, and I stupidly thought the best to you would be the same as the best means to me. I wanted to take you to the best restaurant in town, to enjoy some dinner -- I never understood you didn't want that." He sighed, and looked down for a brief moment. "I don't care if you don't know about table etiquette, I care about..." His eyes rose back up, to look into Dani's. "...-you-. I care about you, Dani. I was..." He bit his lip, hard. "I was afraid that if I couldn't give you the best, you would think of me as nothing..."
"Nothing??" Dani sighed. "I'm the 'nothing' here, 'Berto! You have it all! Money, power, women... I've never even had a boyfriend, dammit!" she said. "And I couldn't give a damn about what you can or can't give me! I l...care about you, with or without your damn money! Is that so hard to understand??"
"And I care about you, with or without knowledge of table etiquette, Dani", Roberto replied. "Maybe we both have been making stupid mistakes", he admitted quietly.
Dani's hand quietly rose, to place itself onto Roberto's cheek. "I don't give a damn about fancy restaurants, 'Berto. I'd be perfectly happy at a MacBurgers... As long as you were there."
Roberto smiled faintly, and mimicked Dani's gesture, placing a hand onto her cheek. "MacBurgers it is, then", he said in an almost ghost-light whisper.
"This feels good", Dani whispered, quietly. She was sitting on the roof of a thirty-story office building, her legs dangling over the edge of the roof, her head resting against the shoulder of Roberto Da Costa. There were a few bags of take-out fast food surrounding them, some of them were empty save for the litter stuffed back into them, and some were still full, the food in them being kept warm by Roberto's powers.
"This feels perfect", Roberto replied, his hand slowly, gently, stroking Danielle Moonstar's hair. They had sat there for hours now, content with just holding each other, enjoying the closeness of each others' bodies. It was past midnight, and the moon was full and high. Roberto smiled faintly, as he looked at it. "Moonstar", he mused, mostly to himself.
"Hm?" Dani asked, and cuddled a bit closer, her eyes following Roberto's, to watch the scarfaced but beautiful Luna. "Your name", Roberto smiled. "The moon..." he said, motioning with his free hand -- the one not perpetually stroking Dani's hair -- towards the moon. "And I draw my power from the star..." He chuckled lightly. "I need to formulate some kind of way to make it seem like our names symbolize the fact that we're meant to be together."
"That's stupid", Dani chuckled.
"Yeah." She smiled, nonetheless, and pressed her face against the side of his neck. "Where the hell did you get the money for tonight?" she suddenly asked, remembering what she had been wondering, on and off, for the whole night.
Roberto grinned a bit. "Ah", he said, and lifted his free left hand in front of his face, so he could look at the middle finger, and show it to you. "See that?" he asked.
"See what?" Dani asked in return. "It's your hand."
"It's my hand without the Da Costa family ring", he replied. "The diamond could have been bigger, but I got a lot of money out of it as it is", he commented. The ring had meant the world to him. It was a symbol of his family. And to a Da Costa, nothing is more important than family. Maybe that is why he sold it.
To start a new family.
Dani was perfectly aware of how much family meant to Roberto, and she closed her eyes, wincing a bit. "You did that...for me?" she asked, quietly.
"My family is gone", Roberto replied. "My father is dead. My mother will never really be a Da Costa. Continuing the family is up to me. Continuing the family traditions is up to me. I can do what I want with them." He paused, and looked seriously into Dani's eyes. "And you matter to me", he said, and then went on to say, in all honesty, "More than my family."
Dani's eyes moistened, and a tear rolled down her cheek. She was unable to say anything, unable to move to brush the tear away, her eyes locked on Roberto's, wanting to say how she felt, but too scared to say the words.
Roberto leaned close, to catch the teardrop with his lips, and kissed it away. Gently. Tenderly. He looked into Dani's eyes as well, and let silence persist for a few moments longer, to accentuate the sincerity in his voice. "I love you, Danielle Moonstar."
Dani's heart jumped, and she swallowed. First, she didn't know how to react. No one had ever told her that before. She had never felt like this towards anyone else. "And I..." she started quietly, then paused, trembling a bit. Could she say it? Silence. Serious expressions on both sides. And then, another tear rolled down her cheek, as she spoke. "I love you, Roberto Da Costa."
Their lips touched. The winds buffeting the rooftop did not make them shiver with cold, as Roberto's powers kept them ensheathed within a blanket of comfortably warm air. Instead, they shivered with the magic of the moment, as their arms slid around each other, to hold each other tightly, as they leaned into their first kiss. Not tentative. Not hesitant. Both of them gave their trust to the other, and did not hold back at all. Instead, the kiss was long and tender, filled with electricity, and as their lips finally parted after minutes, they could say nothing.
After about an hour of gentle kissing and hugging, Dani brought up the topic she did not want to bring up. Ever. "Should we be getting back to the others?" she asked quietly.
"I don't want to go", Roberto replied, in an equally quiet tone, as if worried about breaking the delicate moment into billions of little pieces. "Do you?"
Dani shook her head faintly. "I want to be here. With you."
"Let them sleep, then", said Roberto's voice, his face smiling, as it kissed her forehead, and pulled her body a bit tighter against his. "We'll go back in the morning, before they wake up."
Silent agreement was Dani's response, and she squeezed Roberto's hand tightly. "Happy Valentine's Night, 'Berto."
"Happy Valentine's Night, Dani", he replied, and kissed her again. And both of them knew this would last forever.
When the first rays of sun rose above the horizon, Roberto and Dani were still sitting on the edge of the rooftop, having done nothing but hold hands, kiss and cuddle all night, still awake. They watched the sky be painted in myriad shades of purples, oranges, reds, yellows and whites.
The sun was rising, heralding the beginning of something new, beautiful and warm.
And both of them cried because they loved each other.
- Samy Merchi 1998 email@example.com http://www.utu.fi/~samerc
"What we leave behind... is not as important as how we've lived. After all, Number One - we're only mortal."
"Speak for yourself, sir. I intend to live forever."
Star Trek: Generations
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