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To the Lap of Luxury
continued from Home Sweet Home

Aurora was lost in thought, not so much her life just in the world around her mostly. How her once large world had shrank so drastically. She used to move from place to place. Flitting around like butterflies wherever the fancy took them. And now she had a home. It felt like it was an anchor, maybe that was the problem.

Aurora's wallet beeped at her to indicate her stop was coming up and she stood up as the metro slowed in a posh neighborhood, though she was sure the metro detracted from it.

The sun was barely peeking it's head above the horizon now. It was getting light and she could see large condos all around. She whistled to herself. Diego was well off, or at least stayed at some place well off. She could only hope, not that money really mattered in the long run.

The building that she was lead up to was a rather tall white building, with the letters all in gold emblemized on the side of the marble facing the corner of the building. It was gorgeous.

A man at the door greeted her, he hadn't even bothered to ask her if she was here to see someone or not, he just opened the door.

Inside was exquisite as well. Marble and granite everywhere, chandeliers hung from the high ceilings. It was almost hotel quality, but Diego lived her - all the time she assumed. There was a front desk. The woman in a green uniform smiled at her. "Can I be of assistance ma'dam."

Aurora smiled. "Diego De La Cruz is expecting me."

She nodded "Of course, Ms. Durante." The woman nodded at the set of elevators. "First elevator on the right, all the way to the top. He's expecting you."

Even the elevator was posh, the rails were polished brass, no smudges in sight, Aurora imagined no children lived in this place. The wood paneling was gorgeously dark and had a hint of carving to them. The carpet was designed in an interesting pattern of reds. She couldn't tell exactly what it was supposed to mimic while standing on it.

The five floor rise in the elevator was quick and the ping at the top with the gush of the doors opening surprised Aurora. She almost went back down because she'd stood and stared in stunned silence as Diego's hand stopped the door before it closed completely.

Aurora grinned apologetically at him. "Sorry I was taking in the sights."
She looked down at the floor catching a hint of his clothing as she did. Everything he owned was exquisite. The white linen shirt and pants set off his tanned skin which made Aurora blush at having noticed. She looked up and past him. "You have lovely taste."

Edited by Aurora, Feb 24 2015, 02:55 PM.
His teeth flashed white as he gave her a wide smile. His hair was wet with droplets on his neck and the collar of his shirt saying he had just gotten out of the shower. He smelled clean and faintly of lavender. "Thank you Aurora. Please, come in,"
he said gesturing into his wide living room. She had never seen an elevator open up directly into someone's home before.

She smiled up at him, it was almost all she could do to walk past him as he held the elevator door. Aurora noticed more than she wanted him to know through the casually opened collar of his white linen shirt. Her eyes quickly fled from him to the apartment behind him. She knew the color in her cheeks were brighter but not from the cold outside. It was almost too warm now.

Aurora took in the elegant surroundings. Nothing Diego did was half way. The grand piano in the corner was a stark contrast to everything else in the room. The dark color brought it to full attention. She turned to smile at him. "My you do play a variety of instruments."
Aurora wondered what else he played. She almost wanted to hear him play now. But looking at him again made her mouth dry. He was a beautiful man.

Everything else in the apartment paled in comparison to Diego. She blushed and turned around looking at the kitchen and the living room. Everything in stark white of light greys, with only vague hints of color. There was not a speck of dust seen anywhere, and in this stark whiteness it would be noticeable.

Aurora started to pull off her coat, it was getting too warm in his apartment. And she was sure the temperature was right.

He reached out to help her remove her coat. "Please, let me."
He took it and hung it up before turning back to her. "It's cold out there. Would like something to drink?"

He kept drawing her attention, she smiled and nodded. Aurora tried to speak but her voice got lost at first. She licked her lips and tried again. "Sure. Coffee, if you have any."
She wasn't cold, but coffee made everything better.

He gave her a small smile and lifted an eyebrow. "You said you've had a rough morning. I have coffee....but I think you need something more."
His look was playfully mysterious. He padded on bare feet to his spotless kitchen, the black marble sharply contrasting the whites of the cabinets and walls.

Aurora followed Diego into the kitchen and watched him as he moved through his kitchen. It was an art form. She wondered if that's how she looked in the kitchen when she was on a roll. She doubted it. It smelled wonderful, and she wasn't sure that the vodka was necessary for first thing in the morning, but it fit her day. It would be relaxing, she had forgotten why she was here until that moment. Aria....

In short order, he had a pot brewing. Then, with a flick of an eye toward her he reached into a cabinet and pulled out a bottle of Godiva Chocolate infused Vodka. "It's called a Haute and Steamy. I first had one in New York City."
While the coffee brewed and filled the room with its aroma, he poured a single shot of the vodka into a snifter. Then he took the hot coffee and poured in enough to fill half of the glass and then swirled it. Finally, he added a dollop of whip cream and a light caramel drizzle over the top. He handed the hot drink to her. "Try it."
His look was insistent.

She took the cup from Diego with a smile and sipped at it. The bitter taste and the bite from the vodka worked well together in retrospect. She grinned up from the cup and looked up at him. "Heaven."
And she wasn't really exaggerating anything. The drink was wonderfully warm and hit every sense. He was extraordinary. She was in heaven almost literally.
Aurora sipped at the drink Diego had made her, and reveled in the fact that he'd made it for her bad morning. She didn't want to think about it not really, she just wanted to be in the moment. A gorgeous guy doting on her and only her, it made her smile with self importance. It must be how Nox felt all the time. Everyone always shining on him. Aurora sighed as she looked out into the living room.

The warm cup held close to her body as she tried to steal all of its warmth and comfort as Diego busied himself in the kitchen. She could watch him for what could be deemed forever but his house called to her. Aurora looked around the living room. Everything had it's place, everything was in order. He controlled every aspect of things, even the pillows on the couch looked perfectly placed. Like he spent hours a day just arranging things, but Aurora knew this kind of money and didn't see Diego doing any of that himself.

She wandered by the fireplace, a picture caught her eyes. A blond woman with a child that looked very much like a very young Diego. Her blue eyes stunning in the picture, almost like the picture was purposefully washed out so the blue eyes stood out. She couldn't help but recognize the resemblance. Aurora looked back at Diego as he moved gracefully through his kitchen. She wondered how much herself reminded him of his mother. At least that was who she thought the woman was. Why else keep an old picture of her on his mantle.

Aurora moved back to the kitchen and sat down at the bar overlooking his kitchen, out of his way but in a good place for conversation. She smiled at him. "What happened to your mother if you don't mind me asking?"
There was only one reason to keep an old picture up like that, and that meant a person had passed. She carried one of her parents for that same reason. She didn't think Nox had any sentimental values like that, he never talked about them.

His head swung around quickly at her question and the look in his eyes was fierce. But it was replaced so quickly that she could have imagined it. She saw small pain now in his face, as if a shadow had passed over him for a moment. "Ahh....yes. My mother. She was killed when I was 12."
He looked off into the distance for a moment. "She...well, it was bad. That's all I will say for now."

He dried the coffee pot with a dishrag instead of using the dishwasher and then carefully placed it in a cupboard. His counters were clear again of any sign of their drinks, except for the cup in her hand. His voice came as his back was to her. "And you? Are you a close and proper family?"
His question seemed odd.

Aurora shook her head. "Close once. But after my mother died, everything changed. My dad fell apart, drank himself to death. And my brother..."
Aurora sighed. "Nox and I drifted apart, he went one direction and I another but yet so tied together we couldn't break free of each other."
She realized that she was the one who held on to Nox, tried to keep them together, he'd been running away from her since he watched their mother be mauled by a hell hound. Aurora stared at the remains of her empty cup of heaven lost in the memories. The nightmares he'd had. The days watching their father fall farther and farther into a drunken stupor. And she had tried to hold it all together. And for what? For this. Her anger bubbled up inside, to be treated with little concern, for a whelp of a girl to take away the only family she had. Maybe she should just go back home, Nox be damned.

He was quietly listening, various emotions playing across his face. "Family is supposed to be a haven,"
he said bitterly. "But it can be hell on earth."

Aurora looked up from the coffee cup with tears threatening to fall but she smiled at him. "Ain't that the truth."
There was nothing left in her cup so she got up and took it to the sink and started to rinse it out. Watching only her hands she spoke softly. "And that's only half of my hell."
Aurora wasn't going to tell him the rest of her hell not in so many words, he already knew of her dilemma with her career choice, not the extent of it. But it too weighed heavily on her soul.

Someone was going to find out what she was sooner or later and then her own people, probably her own brother would hunt her down, kill her and make it look like some stupid accident. Aurora sighed. The cup was still not clean, she'd been standing there staring, watching the water fill the cup until it was flowing over her hands.

Hands reached around and took the cup from her. "Let me."
He washed the cup thoroughly and then took the towel and dried it completely. There was something methodical about how he did it all. It was his routine. The cup went back into the cupboard and he he wiped down the counter and the sink. It was pristine again.

He turned around and looked down at her, serious. "Escape from hell is possible, my dear. It can be painful."
That shadow passed across his face again. "But it is worth it."
And suddenly his face lit up with a smile. "Have you eaten? Are you hungry?"

Aurora smiled up at him, though she wasn't sure she could eat she nodded, but it didn't really answer his question so she spoke softly. "I've not eaten. I am hungry."
She wouldn't be rude, but she enjoyed watching him move around his kitchen and it was the change of topic that she had really wanted. She didn't want to sound like she was bragging either but she was proud of her own kitchen prowess too. Aurora was surprised when her words came out shyly, "I could help you."

His eyebrow quirked and a slight smile appeared. He said nothing for a moment and his eyes were hooded so she couldn't see what he was thinking. Finally, he spoke. "Perhaps..."

She grinned up at him and poked him gently in the chest. "I'll have you know I'm a pretty good cook."
But she turned on her heels and sat down in the bar stool she had occupied before. "But if you insist I'll just sit here like a good little girl and watch you make me breakfast."

His grin remained. "Sounds like a challenge."
He put the towel down and then sat himself. "Very well. I look forward to it."
He sat watching her expectantly.

Aurora grinned and shook her head. "You go challenge yourself mister. I'm sitting right here."
She felt like sticking her tongue out at him but she didn't.

He didn't smile at first. And then, "No. I would like to see what you can do."
His look became friendly. "You've peaked my interest."

"I never said ... "
Why was she being so defensive about this, she got up from the stool and smiled. "Fine. Can I look through your things or do you have something specific you want me to make you?"

Aurora could figure something out but she had to know what there was to work with. With a flourish of his hands to look through his things Aurora set to work. Looking at what ingredients she could use. Aurora took note of placement and cleanliness before she even started deciding what to make.
Aurora made toast and very artfully buttered it. She place the toast on a paper plate and handed it to Diego. " See? Told you I could cook!"
Aurora stuck her tongue out at him as she stepped away from the bar and started busying herself with pulling out flour, eggs and milk for the base of a crepe. It wasn't something she usually made, but it was fancy and fancy is what he deserved despite her prior humor. He looked at her flatly, his thoughts hidden in their depths, but said nothing. She pointedly ignored his reaction.

Aurora wasn't nearly as fluid as he had been in his kitchen, but everything was well placed and she didn't have to hunt and scavenge for much, it all seemed to be very logical.

There was probably too much batter for the two of them, but she thought she'd managed to get enough to fill even a growing man like Nox. He was always hungry. The thought of her brother interrupted her good mood and she pushed it away.

Aurora found frozen mixed fruit in the freezer and started to make a sauce from it. It wouldn't be nearly as good as fresh, but it would do and it would be sweeter. Aurora even scratch made whipping cream. It was easy with a mixer but she beat it by hand, it was more therapeutic this way.

By the time she was done she had two lovely fruit covered plates of crepes that she sat them down in front of Diego with a smile. He nodded smilingly at the plate and raised an eyebrow at her. "You had me worried there for a moment, I will confess. But this looks lovely."
He raised a fork and dug in, taking a bite. He chewed slowly, his eyes closed as if in ecstasy. He opened them and gave her a dazzling smile. "Wonderful."

Aurora smiled brightly at him, she knew she was a good cook, her mother had impressed upon her that the best way to a man's heart was through his stomach, and her father had adored her mother's cooking even if it was on an open camp fire cooking some rodent animal thing for dinner. "That's what you get for doubting me!"
She smiled playfully at him before taking a bit of her own crepe. It was pretty good, she would have preferred the fresh fruit, but it worked well.

They chatted idly about little things, Aurora's mind never really wandering away from him, he encompassed everything when she was around him. And that was fine with her, he was a bright spot in an otherwise drab world. And she wanted to hold on to that.

When they were both done Aurora took the plates and cleaned up what ever mess was left remaining. She shooed him away when he tried to take over. "I made the mess, I will clean it up. It'll be like I was never here."
She grinned up at him and pushed her hands against his chest to make him go away. It was playful and she was pretty sure he didn't like the idea too much, but it only showed in a passing moment of his expressions. Aurora had to pull herself away from him to clean up. She could still feel the electricity from touching him at her finger tips. She tried not to think too much about it, but she failed miserably at that.

She could feel him looking at her for a moment. Then "Very well. I will go get dressed."
She heard a smile in his voice. "I have an idea of where we can go."
He padded off around the counter and out into the main room on the way to the stairs to his room. His movements were economical and swift, not the frenzy of his cello playing.
Aurora was meticulous with the cleaning, everything was clean, dried and put away exactly where she found it. Thankfully she had a good memory. As she was putting away the last plate her wallet rang. Aurora glanced at the number and sent it directly to voice mail, she didn't want to talk to Nox. He probably found out what had happened, and Aria probably spun a lie that made it all Aurora's fault. Where the fault clearly lay with Aria - prying into her head like that had set her off.

Before she has a chance to wander farther away from the kitchen to check out the grand piano sitting in the far corner of the elegant living room, her phone rang again. This time she picked it up. "Go away Nox. I don't want to talk about it."
Aurora should have hung up but she didn't. Nox had let her yell at him.

Nox spoke softly like he was trying to keep his voice down, but she knew better, he was trying to contain his anger. He seemed to get a lot angrier now that he'd been spending time with Aria. "You used your power against Aria, Aurora. We can't do that. That makes us no better than the Atharim."

His words stung but Aurora was tired of him telling her what she could and couldn't do. She raised her voice, "You can't tell me what I can and cannot do, Nox. You are not my father."

Nox hung up the phone, he was angry, she could tell by the sound of his breathing. He had been fighting for whatever control he could muster. Aurora fought back the tears and threw her phone against the soft white couch and its beautiful pillows. It bounced softly against the cushions and fell gently to the floor. Aurora looked around frantically, she didn't want Diego to see her like this, to see her crying. She found the bathroom and closed the door quietly, she closed the lid to the facilities and sat down with her hands in her head and tried not to cry.
Nox woke up from a small nap, Aurora still wasn't home so he had decided to call her. It was just a matter of hearing her side of the story, he still couldn't believe she'd used her power against Aria. She did exactly what the Atharim claimed they would do, that the power would be used for things like that, out of control, that was bad. And that was what he was more upset about then the fact that she had attacked Aria outright.

He called her and went directly to voice mail after the first ring. Whatever she was doing she had her wallet with her. He gave her a few minutes before he called back. This time she answered yelling at him. It only fueled his anger.

He told her exactly what he thought of her abuse of the power, and she pretty much ignored it and claimed he was always telling her what to do. It was far from the truth, he never told her what to do, just made suggestions, and unlike her, he didn't expect her follow his words. She never had in the past. But her words made the fury rise and he knew even though Aria couldn't hear what he said from her room, she could feel everything he was so he hung up without another word.

Nox put his wallet in his pocket and went to the kitchen to get a bottle of water and then headed towards the gym, he had to punch the anger away, it was a better use of his energy anyway. But the moment he stepped into the gym's doorway his wallet rang. He pulled it open and didn't say anything as he answered the call, he just listened. He wasn't going to apologize and she was the one who called him, she knew he was there.

Silence from the other end was disenchanting, he sighed, "What do you want Aurora. Clearly you don't want to be civil about this."

A hard accented voice was on the other end. "Your sister is crying. All morning she had been upset because of you. And when I finally get her cheered up, you pull her down again."
His tone was sharp and whiplike.

Nox stopped dead in his tracks, who the hell was answering Aurora's phone. Nox wasn't sure whether to ask who this guy was or to take offense at the fact that he was blaming him for Aurora's moods. The latter won out. "Dude, I don't know who you are but I am not the cause of my sister's mood. She's the one who fucking attacked my friend. All I wanted was to know is why. So give my sister her phone and let me speak to her."

He heard a snort on the other end. "Your sister is in the bathroom crying. Be proud, cabrĂ³n. Big strong man with the harsh words."
The voice dripped sarcasm. "I'm sure she appreciates knowing where your loyalties lie."
The voice became firm. "Just leave her be."

Nox laughed. "Yeah, just like my sister to go running to some strange man for loving support. She can speak up for herself just fine. Why did you call me? To bitch at me? Tell me how bad a a brother I am. Why do you think I care what you think?"
Nox was not going to put up with some douche telling him how to treat his sister. Aurora had started this. She went off on Aria. She used her power in anger, everything she told him not to do.

Sarcastic laughter came from the other end. "You are quite defensive. I think you already know exactly what kind of brother you are."

Nox couldn't help but laugh. "You think you are being smart and calling me on my bluff. I know exactly what I am. And Aurora knows exactly what her brother is, she's not stupid. All I want is an explanation. She can go off on Aria for all care, Aria's a big girl she can take care of herself. I just want to know why Aurora did what she did. Because she goes off doing one thing and does something else that contradicts what she's said. I need to know why?"
Nox was sure this guy was a just looking out for his sister, but he was going about it the wrong way, and he couldn't even hear Aurora in the background, for all he knew she didn't even know he was talking to Nox. "So don't pretend you know me. Cause you have no clue who I am."

The voice became cold. "I neither know you nor care to know you. Your sister will speak to you when she chooses to. In the meantime, I suggest you consider the stress your sister must be under to get to the point of hiding in my bathroom crying after one conversation with you. Because that should be your real concern. That, and what I will do to you if you do it again."
The call clicked off.

This man had the audacity to threaten him. What the fuck? Nox put his wallet away and had even more reason to punch things now. He wished he knew who the hell that guy was.
Edited by Nox, Feb 27 2015, 02:13 PM.
Aurora lost track of time she had cried in the bathroom. She could hear Diego in the other room but she couldn't make out what he said. It didn't matter, he was on the phone with someone. None of her business.

She stood up and looked in the mirror, it was probably a good thing her make up was minimal this morning or she'd be a major mess, not just puffy looking and a little smeared. Aurora righted herself, smoothed her hair and took a deep breath before opening the door to the bathroom.

Diego was standing there looking angry. He wore something drastically different than he had been .His pajamas were were clean and crisp but he looked a little rumpled in them. Now he looked extremely dashing and mouth watering. The dark suit jacket, with nearly snake scaled like lapels, hugged his body over the blood red shirt. Aurora had no clue was material that shirt was made out of but she liked it. His tie matched and looked like the same material, same with the pocket square. Every bit of it flowed around him, was part of him. Aurora smiled at him. "Don't you look fantastic."
Aurora walked around him to get a look at all sides, the whole spin and turn thing just was not very manly. She stopped in front of him and looked up with a smile. "I think I'm under-dressed."

His eyes still radiated anger, but his words were soft. "Beauty is never under-dressed."
He raised an eyebrow. "Are you feeling better?"

Aurora blushed, "I am now."
She smiled up at him, "So where are you taking me?"

His cheeks still had a touch of red in them, but his mood calmed as he seemed to physically take control of himself. "Music speaks to our soul. A friend of mine owns a small place downtown. This afternoon, a Roma, Andrzej Gitano, will be playing some classical guitar from Castille."
He snorted. "In general, I prefer Spanish musicians to Roma- the music sounds more of home. But Gitano is truly gifted."

"Sounds lovely."
Aurora didn't really care, as long as Diego continued to keep her mind from her brother and his ... Aurora sighed, she wasn't going to think about them, not even in the slightest. She looked up at Diego and forced herself to smile, and feel happy about it. He still looked slightly angry at whoever had been on the phone, but she didn't want him to be angry. She reached up and touched his cheek, "We should leave the wallet's here. They seem to be causing trouble this morning."

He chuckled at her. "It sounds like an amputation. No wallet?"
But his eyes finally showed a smile. "Very well."

Aurora giggled, "If it's too much trouble, you don't have to. I know it's like cutting off a hand. But I will be leaving mine. My brother can call all he likes."

A shadow passed across his face and his narrowed eyes flicked to her wallet. His voice was hard. "It would be unfortunate if he tried to ruin your day any further."
He pulled his out and laid it on the side table. "We shall be primitives."
The color in his cheeks indicated his words were merely an attempt at humor.

Aurora laughed. "Primitives, I like that. Sadly we can't do without ALL technology, but without our wallets will be a good start."
Aurora didn't want to know why it would be unfortunate for Nox to ruin her day, she didn't really think on the comment at all other than to wonder why Diego had said it the way he had.

Aurora took Diego's hand and grabbed her coat with the other. "Since we don't have to be anywhere till this afternoon, I have something we can do together."
She looked up at him. "That is if you don't mind?"

He looked down at her, at her hand, and smiled. "More surprises? Yes. I would like that."

Aurora smiled happily. "Good then."
She held Diego's hand as she left his apartment and down in the elevator. He opened doors and pushed buttons and Aurora found that all it charming. Always a gentleman.

She headed for the metro and found one small problem, and laughed, "Without my wallet I have no way to ride the metro."
Her wallet was of course her life, it had her ID, her money, credit, everything lived on her wallet, which now sat in Diego's apartment.

She turned on her heels with a grin. "You mind walking? It's not too far."

He laughed at her. "Being primitive is hard isn't it?"
He touched his pocket. "I have cash. But I don't mind walking."
He quirked an eyebrow and said with a touch of humor, "Since this is your show, I do expect to be entertained, though."
His smile said that he was enjoying himself. Perhaps after the tension earlier, he felt relief now.

She laughed softly, "Oh so hard, with the excellent company."

Aurora walked back up to the street and found her bearings and started walking with Diego at her side, she held his hand, almost like she was afraid he'd leave. There were plenty of things to see in Moscow, but there was one thing she wanted to see before leaving. It was part of the geek in her, part Atharim.

They walked and chatted for about half a mile before the large white building rose into view. The State Darwin Museum was just something to kill time, but it was part of her curiosity that made her want to go in. She wondered if anything had changed with the exhibits over the years. After all evolution was all the time happening. The world moved on, it evolved everyday.

When she got to the small courtyard of concrete with a statue depicting the stages of man, Aurora looked up at Diego, "You game?"
She grinned up at him. "If not, there's an art museum a block that way."
She nodded her head in the appropriate direction.

His brow furrowed and then he nodded. "Only if you explain what things mean to you as you see them."
He shrugged. "In all honesty, I've never cared much for history beyond that of my own family. And science means little to me. But I am willing."

Aurora frowned slightly, "I don't want to bore you, so if you get bored tell me, okay?"
He nodded and smiled.

Aurora walked into the building with Diego holding the doors open and following her in. She glanced at the clock on the wall, and smiled. A tour was about to start. Perfect, she thought.

She hung back, but there was only one other person with them, an older man with a specticals and graying hair. The tour guide was a young man who looked utterly bored, he smiled when he saw Aurora standing behind the man. He pretty much ignored Diego standing just behind her. She didn't notice Diego's frown.

They followed him into the first exhibit. The tour guide started his spiel while looking directly at Aurora and gesturing emphatically, like he actually understood anything he was saying, but Aurora knew it was just a script. He was going on about the evolution of the critters in the north pole.

They moved through each exhibit with the tour guide using his knowledge as a way to flirt with Aurora. He never once took his eyes off Aurora, but he didn't seem to notice that she was almost always talking with Diego in hushed tones while she looked at the exhibits. Diego mostly grunted in response. She would look at the tour guide and he'd flash a bright smile and his eyes would light up. Aurora continued her conversation with Diego, telling him what she thought of the exhibits, and why she liked them. She even included her own insights into things. Diego appeared to shift back and forth between irritation at something and interest in her words.

It wasn't the science of it that was interesting. It was the concept of changing things through small modifications. It was how her power worked. She could manipulate a person's body in just the right way, could start their heart, or could stop it. Nearly everything she could do with her power had an equal and opposite reaction. She didn't say that exactly to Diego, but she was excited when talking to him.

At the end of the tour Diego spoke up. "I suppose I never really noticed such things. For as long as I can remember, everything in my life has been the same."
A shadow passed over his face and his eyes took on a look of irritation. "Well, for the most part. To be honest, I don't like change. Not much anyway. Things and people you come to depend on suddenly disappear or leave."
He said nothing after that brief burst. Instead, he looked about, as if reassessing what they had seen.

Aurora didn't really notice the tour guide come up to her...
Aurora hadn't noticed the tour guide come up behind her. He put his hand on her arm and Aurora turned to look at him. She didn't have time to respond to Diego. "Yes?"

The tour guide smiled sweetly at her, "So what do you think of the tour?"

She smiled at him. "It was nice. Thank you."

The guide looked at Diego with a smile that seemed teasing. To Aurora he went on, "Your friend looked like he was struggling to keep up." His smile meant to say he was just teasing. He touched Aurora's arm lightly. He was practiced at this, as if bantering with his charges was old hat to him.

To Diego, he said, "I hope we didn't bore you." He winked at Aurora playfully. Then his look became more relaxed. Seemed his usual pattern or banter he did with people. "Actually, if there is more you'd like to see of the museum, we do have some exhibits that are currently closed but that I'd be willing to show you." He looked at Diego. "To both of you."

She looked at Diego and saw that his face was stone. "Maybe another time."
The guide laughed, as if to dispel the tension in the air.

"Oh come on. I don't mind. We have some really great stuff." He took her arm, as if to steer her in that direction. He probably hoped Diego would follow after them. Aurora took a step because she felt like she was being dragged, but she tried to stay in her place.

Suddenly Aurora's arm jerked forward but it wasn't the guide pulling her along. He had been standing next to her, pulling, and then the next thing she knew, he was on the ground and Diego stood over him and grabbed him by the collar and pulled his face up so they were inches apart. The look on Diego's face was ferocious. "What the hell do you think you are doing!?"
he yelled. People who'd been milling about in museum stopped to look as his voice echoed in the now silence.

Diego looked like he had more words but they wouldn't come out. The look of rage was enough, as the guide's wide eyes tried to take up his whole face and his adam's apple bobbed up and down with repeated swallowing. "Forgive me, please. I was only just trying to..." His eyes pleadingly went to Aurora's and then back to Diego's fierce gaze.

Aurora was shocked by Diego's reaction. She put a hand on his arm, "Diego, it's okay, we can go now."
She looked up at the clock on the wall. "We'll be late to your buddy's show if we don't leave soon."
She hoped that he'd come, and just leave it alone, it wasn't worth it, the kid didn't mean anything.

Her hand on his arm felt nothing but iron. His face swung to her and she stepped back for a moment. It softened almost immediately. He let go with a flourish that pushed the kid back and stood, breathing and straightening his jacket.

"I apologize, my dear."
His voice was breathy as if he were catching it. "The fool went too far. It is not his place to push you like that."
His eyes flicked down to the guide trying to get up and move away at the same time. Conversation in the gallery seemed to grow and it was soon filled with whispers.

Diego surveyed the room and a slight smile curved his lips. The smiled grew into a dazzling one that showed teeth and he put his hand out to Aurora, dipping his head. "I do apologize, my dear. You must forgive me."
He held out his arm. "You are of course correct. Shall we?"

Aurora smiled and took his arm. "We shall. I look forward to seeing your friend play."

They took the metro to the coffee shop in which Diego's friend was playing. It was cozy like the one they'd met in. Aurora wondered how many coffeeshops he himself had played in. The show hadn't started yet when they arrived, his friend was still setting up.

They took a seat off to the side, it was quiet but they had a good view of the stage area so they could watch his friend play. Unlike the shop they'd met in this one was just a bunch of tables seated everywhere, it also seemed to have electrical outlets and wired ports for the internet, the place was probably built in the early 2000s and hadn't been renovated in a long time. The decor was nice, and the coffee smelled great.

A woman in a sweet little blue uniform, not exactly like you'd see in a regular diner, but it was similar, came over and took their order. "What can I start you all off with?"

Aurora smiled, "I'll have a black coffee."

Diego voice was smooth and gentle. "Cafe' latte', please. But no whipped cream. Nor cinnamon. Nor pumpkin spice. Nor anything else the barrista decides to show off with. Thank you."
After the girl left, he smiled at Aurora by way of explanation. "They always try to ruin the simplist of things. But the original is the best."

"That's why I ask for black."
She grinned at him.

It wasn't long before Andrzej Gitano took the mic and started his own introduction. He explained what he was going to play, Aurora didn't understand half of it, but she wasn't musically inclined, Nox had more of a tendancy towards the arts than she did. Her leanings were always the more studious, the arts were like games, things only the slackers did. It was funny growing up when her brother was off learning how to dance to impress the girls she was playing games that she'd created on her computer. It was just the way it was.

When the drinks arrived the music had already begun. He was spirited as he played and Diego seemed swept up for a while. When things had quieted down, he spoke again. "Andrzej is not, properly, Spanish. He is Roma. You might know them as Gypsy. Generally speaking, not a very industrious people. More often than not, one makes sure to have a firm hand on their wallet when they are in the area."
His generalizations seemed not to bother him in the slightest. "But one cannot deny their abilities, musically. Andrzej is able to tap into something very..."
His voice trailed off for a moment, as he searched for the right word. Finally, "...that speaks of home, a cold fall day, the smells of Caparrones bubbling on the stove permeating the house. A simpler time."
He seemed wistful.

Aurora smiled as he looked lost in thought, "Your home sounds wonderful. Never had a place to call home."
They had the cabin in the Colorado rockies they frequented, but it was literally that a cabin in the woods. It wasn't home anymore than the dirty cheap motels they stayed at or the camping sites along their routes. That was the life of an American hunter. That was her life, and she missed it, but having her own bed to come home to had been good, though she wondered if it was really worth it in the end.

"You must have fond memories of your family in the kitchen if the music brings out specific smells to mind."
The sense of smell was powerful and she knew certain smells brought back all sorts of memories, not all of them good. The faint lingering smell of sulfur always brought back nightmares. And Aurora wasn't sure how Nox could stand the smell of beer, both brought back her worst nightmares - being left alone, her parents gone forever. The music playing seemed to haunt her now, the eiry beauty of the guitar being played, the soft voice singing words she couldn't understand fully. But it still spoke to her heart.

Aurora pulled herself out of her memories and smiled at Diego "Tell me of your mother. I saw the picture of you together on the mantle. You must have been close before her passing, you looked happy."

Strangely, a range of emotion played across his face before it settled on firmness. "She was my mother. My father loved her dearly. So did I. He provided the best for her. And we were happy for the time we were together."
He mouth drew down in distaste. "And then she was gone."
His eyes flicked to Andrzej and he was silent for a little while. The music continued to play softly, as if able to sneak into the secret places and lose what was hidden. Diego's eyes came back to hers. She saw pain in them. And something else. Something distant and fierce. "Some people do not appreciate the life they have."
His soft voice was a stark contrast. And then his eyes seemed to see her again, to wander about her face and the fierceness seemed to disappear. Or at least change. There was intensity still. But the distance was gone. Instead, there was wonder. "It really is quite amazing. You look just like her."

Aurora blushed slightly, she could feel the heat in her cheeks. Aurora wasn't exactly sure how to respond to that. Looking like someone's mother could be just as bad as looking like an ex-girlfriend. She smiled and changed the subject, "Are you close to your father?"

From the look on his face, the subject was more relaxing to him. Or at least less emotional. "Very much so. My father is Chief Legal Counsel to the Priveledge of DVII."
He laughed slightly. "Though I will confess there was some tension when I dropped out of law school in order to pursue music. It took some convincing, but in the end, it all worked out."
He looked at her. "And you? Why live in that warehouse? And why you live with your brother?"

Aurora laughed, "I can see how that could cause some tension. My brother and I share a certain..."
Aurora wasn't exactly sure how to say they shared a desire to experiment with their power, and they needed the room to do it. She smiled finding something that would work, "A certain flare for experiments. Space is required. When I couldn't remeber Nox or much of anything other than my own name,"
She smiled knowing that was going to cause another question to come up. But she continued with her first story, "Ironically a friend of Nox's took me out looking at places. Everything else was much nicer, but this kinda just said, Hey I can build whatever I need. When I found Nox again he kinda just moved in. I missed my brother, it was no big deal. I still miss him. Kinda hard to break the only connection we have left to our family."
She laughed, "And it's really hard to break the bond we've shared because we were born minutes apart."
As much as everyone else was drawn to Nox, so was she, she knew it had more to do with family ties than his nature, but even when he was being a prick, he was still her brother and she did love him deeply.

Aurora confided, "Nox has his moments, more off than on lately, but he's my brother. I can't change him, no matter how hard I try. He's a prick and a loveable goofball, but he's my only family left."

They chatted and mostly listened to the music of Andrzej's guitar. By the end of the second set Aurora was ready to stretch her legs. "I think I need to go for a walk, or I might find myself stuck here in this seat."
She yawned, though not from boredom, she hadn't slept well the night before for obvious reasons. "Or worse fall asleep on you."

He quirked an eyebrow and his smile became cat-like, but he said nothing. "A walk sounds fine."
He rose and helped her put her jacket on. She was aware of how close he was to her. Or perhaps he made himself more present. She wasn't sure. Strangely, he didn't give Andrzej a glance as they left.

Aurora found she liked being close to Deigo. She wrapped her hand in his and sort of leaned on him a little as they walked out. It was not something she would have done on any normal circumstance, but she wanted to be close to him. They walked and chatted about nothing in particular. It was a good end to a good day. It was still early but Aurora was getting tired, between the lack of sleep the night before and all the walking and events of the day she was ready for a nap. Diego walked her home. The Red Light District wasn't the greatest of places to be at night, but during the day it wasn't too bad. The same unsavory folks still sat outside leering and leching as they did, but it wasn't nearly so creepy.

About a block from the warehouse, a small blur darted out in front of them followed by a much larger black one. Aurora let out a small squeek as they startled her from her thoughts. It was only a second, but she noticed the frist was a small puppy with ragged fur, with its ribs sticking out, she could smell the crisp sent of freshly spilt blood. Aurora frowned. The larger creature, no, it was just a fat cat was chasing the puppy.

Aurora scrambled to the now poor cornered puppy and shooed away the larger cat, "Go away, you stupid cat. Pick on someone your own size."
Aurora had half a mind to zap the cat with her power and she would have if Deigo was standing watching her 10 feet away.

The puppy shook in her arms, it was so scared, but Aurora petted it softly and calmed and cooed at it. It was a slow walk but she found herself enthralled with the little brown puppy with floppy ears. She'd always wanted a pet as a child, but being on the road didn't cater to pets, much less children.

"Aurora, don't. The thing is dirty. And it probably has fleas. Just let it go. The cat won't hurt it."
She saw distaste on his mouth.

Aurora looked up and saw distaste on his mouth. "It's just a baby, it needs help."
Aurora scratched the puppy behind his ears. "Fleas and dirt are easy to take care of."
She started towards the warehouse.

She heard a sigh but nothing more. Aurora opened the door to the warehouse and found it empty. She smiled and turned to Deigo. "Would you like to come in?"
She scratched the puppy's head again and spoke softly in a sweet voice to it, "I know you do."

His voice was irritated as he followed her in. "Careful about the strays you let in. You never know what they bring."

Aurora nodded, "Nox would agree with you. I do have a habit of bringing strays home. I've brought his friends home with me without knowing it. It was actually rather funny."

Aurora headed to the sink and set the puppy down. "Let's get you cleaned up."
Aurora turned on the water and started to wash the puppy, it scratched and clawed trying to get away from the puppy, she had only thoughts of keeping herself from getting too wet. By the time she was throughly damp from the water the puppy shook off she remembered Deigo had followed her in. "Sorry about that, Would you like coffee, tea, water? Nox might have a beer or three in the fridge?"

He didn't say anything as he looked at her and then at the puppy. Finally, he shook his head and walked toward the fridge where he got himself a beer. The puppy was dried off and set off to explore the vast space. They were alone for the moment. Diego looked at her clothes, which were still damp, but said nothing. Instead, he looked around himself. "What kind of experiments do you do?"

Aurora laughed, but it was more to cover up that she really didn't want to talk about it, but she could tell him some things, "Nox has a propensity for playing with fire, you'll notice scorch marks everywhere."
Aurora waved her hand past a few recent experiments. "Mine aren't quite so voliltile. Light, sound, electricity."
Aurora continued in her head, healing Nox's stupid wounds. "Nox also has a gym and an obstacle course of sorts out there. For all he's worth, he's doing a pretty good job of making the warehouse liveable and usable."

Diego gave her a look. "You live with a fire bug?"
He shook his head again, but said nothing more. After a moment, his face softened again as he looked at her. His voice became warmer. "As I said, science does not interest me much."
A smile. "But I would be interested in seeing what you work on."

Aurora smiled, "My biggest experiments are software related. Nox and Aria really like some of it."
The pride rose in her voice, "And it is all pretty cool and useful. Excuse me while I grab a few things."

She slipped in to her room and grabbed her laptop and the test wallet, it was easier to show him some of the cooler things on that. "Come out here."
Aurora pulled over one of the folding chairs that now sat against the wall in the dojo and opened it for Deigo to sit down. Aurora sat on the ground a few feet in front of it.

The 3D rendering app was her latest project. There were already apps out there that made things holograms, Aurora needed it to parse data in specific ways. There were many apps that could do the same thing but it required multiple apps to parse data to a map, or to form connections automatically based on some search term or another. Her app was inclusive, one app to do it all. She sat down and explained the bare essense of it before she opened the interface. "This is a rendering of a trip into the underground here in Moscow. One of Nox's experiments. It shows all the locations they went. Everywhere. It shows height, depths. He marked places of interest."

She looked up at Deigo, "Imagine being able to take a trip through an art gallery and never actually set foot in the building, or to visit Paris without leaving the comfort of your own home."
Aurora stood up, then pulled the rendering and stretched it.

he said and she smiled.

It projected over her surroundings like they were in the tunnel. "The underground is kind boring. But see that rock over there. We can manipulate it virtually."
Aurora walked over to the rock and picked it up and threw it across the room. It landed in a pile and Aurora smiled. "If there was say something underneath it and it was captured by the camera, we'd be able to see it, but since he didn't pick it up the software just renders the best interpretation it can muster up. It's not perfect yet."

Diego looked around, the awe clear in his face. He walked around the "tunnel" and tentatively touched the "walls". He kept looking about as if trying to comprehend what he was seeing, then looked at her. "Very impressive. I can see why you need the room."

Aurora sat back down on the ground to start showing more things to Deigo and he joined her. He looked up at the ceilings. "You could recreate any place in the world,"
he said in wonder. From there, they moved to the couch and conversation alternated between what she did and where they might like to see. Time seemed to fly by. And to slow. Until Diego was looking into her eyes, his interest in her clear in their depths. Tenderly, he reached out a hand to touch her cheek. "So impressive. And so lovely."

Just then, the puppy ran up and jumped into Aurora's lap. "Well hi there."
Aurora smiled to hide the disappointment at the interruption and pet the puppy quickly but put it back down on the floor. "No. Not on the couch."
It yipped playfully and Aurora sighed, "Not now. Go play."

Aurora could see that it was clearly hungry and was still kinda sickly looking, but it was clean and looked happier. Aurora looked up and frowned at Deigo. "Sorry. I'll be right back."
The look of annoyance on his face was clear but Aurora picked up the puppy and grabbed some thawed meat from the fridge, whatever Nox intended to cook was going to the dog. She smiled at the vengence in the action as she grabbed a plate and put the meat on it and on the ground.

The puppy sniffed at the meat and tentatively licked it. But it was too big a hunk for its little jaws. "Sorry,"
she said, and got up to take the plate and cut the meat up into tiny pieces. When she put it down, the little dog started eating with gusto at first. Aurora returned to the couch and sat down. "Where were we?"

Whining caught her attention and the puppy was at her feet again. It looked so cute and helpless and her heart went out to it. She picked it up and began to cuddle with it, its tiny little heart beat racing, while she sneaked looks at Diego. His face was placid but the intensity was gone. "I'm sorry. I think he needs attention."

Diego smiled weakly. "I understand. Perhaps another night."
He stood as if to go.

Aurora stood with a frown, disappointment radiated through her being, but the puppy was helpless, everything else could wait. Aurora tucked the dog under her arm, "I'm sorry."
She put her hand on his chest. "I'll make it up to you."
She felt guilty and disappointed but mostly guilty.

Diego looked at her and shrugged, again with that weak smile, before looking down at the dog. "Ok."
He looked around. "Perhaps next time your brother will not drive you into the bathroom either. Not that I minded the excuse. You deserve better."
He leaned down and kissed her on the lips. The stir of the puppy kept it from being more than a brush. "Good night Aurora."
Something stirred inside Aurora but it was gone as he walked out the door.

Aurora lifted the puppy to her face, "Well you ruined that for me."
But he was too cute as he squirmed and looked down at her. Aurora snuggled the puppy to her chest. "Come one, let's get you all situated."

Edited by Aurora, Mar 10 2015, 03:47 PM.

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