[fic] Digital Devil Saga, "Important Things" Important Things Digital Devil Saga David/Jenna Not safe for work~. Spoilers up through the end of the Airport.
Jenna dressed formally for her job interview: a nice white suit, a hint of makeup, and she put her hair up.
Having heard it would be one-on-one, she was a bit surprised to get there and find several more candidates already waiting; there must have been a backlog of interviews or some hold-up along the way. She took her seat with a polite nod at the others, focussing her gaze after to the far wall; some would probably be her coworkers, so it was best to be polite, but she really did dislike working with others.
"Ah, excuse me, miss," one of the others said, leaning over to tap her elbow; she resisted the urge to jerk away and kept her face expressionless. "Sorry! Did I startle you? It's just that there's a form on the desk that we're supposed to fill out before we go in."
"I see," she said, and watched a few glances get slung her way at the depth of her voice. "Thank you."
"David," he said, and offered his hand with an easy smile. She took it, trying not to cringe. "My name's David."
"Jenna," she said. "Jenna Angel."
He didn't take the hint and reintroduce himself with his last name. "It's a pretty easy form, but I think they're using it for reference."
"Thank you again," she said firmly, and rose, fetching it, and sitting down, using one of the provided magazines to write on.
With an incredible lack of respect for professional distance, he leaned over to watch her write. "I hate the sort of questions they ask on these," he confided. "I mean, 'sex'? What is this, the 20th century? They're not going to pick based on whichever you pick, are they? It should be a completely unnecessary question for a professional interview."
Jenna, who had just been hesitating over that one with the distaste of long experience, checked 'female' and continued down the list. "Yes," she murmured distantly. "I agree."
David was called in a good half hour before she was; it was much to her surprise that he was sitting in the waiting area again when she finally came out again, after a gruelling discussion of her degree and previous employment fields that reminded her of nothing so much as her thesis defense.
"Ah, you're done," he said. "How did it go?"
Why would he care? "Well enough, I suppose," she said.
"I'm glad to hear that," he said, and smiled cheerfully. "Mine went pretty well too. Say, I was wondering--"
"Did you want to go for a coffee?"
Ah. She was being picked up. She hesitated. "I, ah--"
"Oh, unless your boyfriend is coming to pick you up--?"
"I don't have a boyfriend," she said, then frowned. Damn.
He beamed. "Well, then," he said. "Coffee?"
"I don't see why I should," she said, frankly. "Just because a woman goes out and shows her face in public doesn't mean that she's fair game to be picked up. This isn't, as you said, the twentieth century. A woman in the public sphere is a professional, not simply to be viewed as in a position of advantage for the patriarchy to take advantage of."
"Ouch," he said, smile not breaking.
"I doubt that you'd have been quite so eager to go to coffee with me if I were male," she added.
He winked. "You might be surprised," he said. "No hooks; you just seemed interesting."
"No thank you, 'David'," she said, flatly. "In my experience, what interests a man at first glance isn't something I'm quite comfortable in following up on. Good luck with the job." She turned her back on the last word, heading for the door.
"Okay," he said, a sigh in his voice. "And to you."
"My!" David said. "What a run of luck, huh?"
"Indeed," she said, letting her irritation sound in her voice.
The two of them -- and three others she vaguely recognized from the initial interview -- sat together in the meeting room, waiting for a HR agent to come in and show them around the place.
"No hard feelings about last time, please," he said. "You're right, I was trying to pick you up. Wrong of me; I should have gotten to know you first."
"As I doubt you'd have been interested in picking me up if you had," she put in, even more dryly.
He blinked, expression mild. "No," he said. "But because I'd like to get to know you."
"We're going to be working together for a while, I hope," he said. "I'd still like coffee sometime, but not if it makes you uncomfortable. Still, it'd be good to know each other's theories and work experiences to be able to delegate work appropriately, wouldn't you say?"
Jenna folded her hands on her knee, carefully. "I can't argue with that," she said. "But you should know now I'm not interested in a relationship."
"That's all right," he said. "A relationship's pretty secondary on my list, too. I just like to meet interesting people."
It was hard to maintain a stony offense in the face of that apologetic smile. "I see. I doubt you'll continue to think that."
"I'm not --" she hesitated; that had come out too rough and uncertain. A moment to breathe, and she continued, "There are complications. Most people prefer to keep their relations with me firmly professional, and I have grown to prefer that myself."
David hesitated a long moment. "Um," he said. "It's hard not to pry when you put it like that."
"Don't pry," she advised coolly.
"Okay," he said. "The Green Room serves a mean cup of coffee and cookies. Want to hit it up after our initiation?"
A sigh. "All right," she said. "When we have time."
That doesn't turn out to be for the next eight hours; instead they are immediately drafted into work, reading previous business the International Environmental Stablization Committee were involved with, reading proposals on how to deal with it, assigned long-term projects to produce their own proposals on what was happening to the world and how it might be changed. It wasn't until six that David found his way over to Jenna's desk and leaned on it. "Time's up," he said.
"Mm. I'm just going to finish this up," she said distractedly. "Let's reschedule."
"Or I could wait," he said. "I don't mind. Really."
She shrugged. "Do what you like."
He does, pulling up a chair across from hers, watching her as she steadily pretended to ignore him, his chin resting on one gloved hand.
Finally, she couldn't draw out the work any more and sighed, shutting down. "Well, then, coffee?"
"Right," he said. "Follow me."
The Green Room was a nice little place, half-below-ground, trees outside and comfortable seats. They ordered and paid separately, then slid into seats across from each other.
"Well, then," she said, and held the tea she'd chosen instead to her lips, watching him carefully. If he wanted to talk about business after all, she'd start him on that path; it was preferable. "Why did you come out to this strange little project, David?"
He laughed. "What, is it time for another job interview?" he said. "Should I tell you what I told them? That I graduated full of ideas and wanted to change the world?"
"Is that the truth?"
"Half of it," he said. He smiled. "I don't have that long, and I want to leave my mark on things."
She blinked. "Don't have that long."
"Ehh, I don't like to talk about it," he said, and tugged a glove off. "It's only started, but you know how these things go. So, if I find a cure, that's great, but I hope at least to help, speed things up. I won't be the last to get it, after all."
His finger tips had yellowed and hardened. Her hand slipped slightly on the tea and it splashed on her leg; she let out a faint hiss, but at least she'd worn a black skirt today to go along with her black turtleneck. "I -- I see. I'm sorry," she said, at a loss for words; she hadn't expected this out of it.
"Don't be," he said, still smiling. "Just bad luck. Many people suffer from it, anyway -- at least this gave me the kick in the rear I needed to do something with my degree. What about you?"
She concentrated on dabbing the damp spot on her skirt with a napkin to try to centre herself again; it was too honest, and she wanted to respond likewise.
But why not? Honesty deserved repayment, and at the least it would cut this whole thing off short instead of dragging it out. Still, she found herself hedging. "I'm not... exactly like other people," she said. "There's something about me that... is frequently used to define me. I want to change the world, yes. I want to discover the cure for the Cuvier Syndrome, and not just treat the symptoms -- I want to find the source of these sudden natural disasters and act on it; if I'm to be an abnormality, I'd rather be famous for something else and simply have my abnormality a footnote in the annals of history."
"Ah, you're the ambitious sort," he said.
"I suppose so," she said, taken aback. "That's an unusual response."
"Well," he said. "You're dancing around the issue, and you've already told me not to pry."
Despite herself, she smiled. "That's true."
"Not that I'm not curious," he said. "But after our disastrous first meeting, I'm determined to be a gentleman."
She took a sip of tea, eyelids mostly lowered. "I'm intersexed," she said.
There was that moment she'd come to expect from realizations or close-guesses; that blink, the shift of the eyes across her body as paradigm shifted. She smiled over her tea and closed her eyes.
"I wouldn't have expected it," David admitted. "I haven't been inadvertantly rude in terms of address or anything, have I?"
Startled again, she opened her eyes. "No, I'm female. Well -- identify female."
"Oh, good," he said. "So this is, what, a race to overcome that before it becomes too well known?"
"Something like that," she admitted cautiously, and glanced around, catching other tables looking away quickly. "Though I may already have given the game away."
"It's not their business what's in your pants," David said, and leaned back in his seat. "Nosy, aren't they?"
She bit her lower lip in a smile. "You're not quite as bad a guy as I originally thought," she said.
"Thanks," he said. "I think."
Several months later, she was crashing at his place regularly; they'd head off to his place -- nearer than hers -- to discuss the day's work and plan out new strategies; since they were both racing, he'd pointed out, they might as well trade off the baton. It sounded like a plan to her.
Still, she'd never intended to fall asleep over their plans once when he'd gotten up to put on a pot for tea; she woke some time later to the sound of a piano, rubbed at her eyes, padded out into the living room where David kept his piano.
He was murmuring words to himself as he played; she leaned against the doorframe and listened. A seven note scale; Indian music? But the words were recognizable for all of his murmuring, something about light and heaven.
"What's that?" she asked at a lull, and he jumped a bit, then turned with a smile.
"A song," he said. "A song to God -- I'm not really a religious sort, but if there is a God, I think our thoughts would reach him now and then."
"That makes it sound as if God were some sort of computer entity," she joked. "That you were sending some data."
"Maybe he is," he said, and leaned back, stretching out his arms, rubbing his hands. "I find the song relaxing, anyway. There's something missing, though."
She tilted her head. "Something missing? What?"
"If I knew, it wouldn't be missing," he said, and rose.
Jenna let it go. "I didn't know you'd played piano," she said. "You haven't before, even if you owned it."
"I can't play that well anymore," he said.
She bit the inside of her cheek. "It sounded fine to me."
"It hurts a bit," he said, and then shook his head at her, chuckling. "Worried?"
A shrug. "Maybe I am."
"Ah, don't say it with that look on your face," he said, and tucked some of her hair behind an ear. "It's hard enough having such a beautiful woman in my apartment. You'll make me want to seduce you."
She felt her cheeks colour, and a hint of a knee-jerk anger rose. "Oh, stop it, David."
"Why?" he asked. "Does it bother you?"
"You'll just make me want to be seduced," she said, trying and failing to match his flippantness. "And then we'll both end up disappointed."
He said, "Would we have to be? I'd like to spend my life with you. Well, not that it's much of a promise now," he said, and shrugged ruefully.
"David," she said, trying for sharp and coming out shocked. "I don't know what--"
"I love you," he said. "More than a little. I'm sorry if that's a burden to you."
Words failed her; she stared at him with silence building up behind her and an increasingly frantic feeling like she should be saying something. "Why?!" she demanded. It hadn't been what she'd wanted to say.
"Why wouldn't I?" he said. "You're beautiful, incredibly intelligent, philosophical, and you put up with me, which is more than a lot of people would."
"I'm also stubborn, cold, a freak of nature-- You can't want to do this, David," she said, and disliked at once how it sounded pleading.
"I'll be honest," he said. "I haven't pried. I don't know -- what you can do, what you can't, whether wanting you would be a burden on you. I didn't want to be nosy myself. I don't know what you -- have. But, Jenna, can't we just start this and see where it goes? If you can't or don't want to, we don't have to do anything. It just feels nice to say how I feel."
Jenna had to glance away. "It's not that I can't--"
"So you can?"
"I'm viable, if that's what you mean," she said, and her lips twisted. "Every part of my body works, like it or not."
"I don't mind."
"I do," she said.
His brows drew down, expression pained. "Ah," he said, softly. "I'm sorry. That is a trouble then, isn't it?"
Embarrassed, she had to turn away. "It's just how I am. I'm not exactly petty enough to resent it, but nor do I feel the need to enjoy it."
"It might be nice for you, to enjoy yourself a little," he said. "You're a wonderful person, Jenna, don't hold the little things so seriously."
"That's a fine thing, coming from you," she snapped. "You can't even take your own death seriously."
For a moment, there was no expression on his face at all, and then he was laughing, looking a bit embarrassed, rubbing at the back of his head. "Ah, that's true, isn't it?"
"Me too," he said. "I didn't mean to bother you."
"No, I know," she said. "David, I..."
She turned, kissed him; she didn't have to stretch much to do it. His lips were soft under hers, the hint of stubble on his upper lip and chin tickling her. "I don't really know what to do."
"You could stay here tonight," he said.
She hesitated a long moment. And then, "All right," she said. "All right."
They kissed for a long time while she tried to make up her mind; hated, contrarily, feeling so girly about how she couldn't decide what to do, finally murmured a half-resigned, "Okay," into his mouth.
"You don't have to, you know," he said. "If you feel like you have to, that's no good."
"I want to," she muttered, "Idiot."
They undressed each other unhurriedly; she was breathing slowly and deeply, trying to control her arousal; unable to do so fully so when his hand brushed the front of her panties her half-hard cock twitched, and he went, "Ah."
"...if you're going to expect me to apologize every time too," he told her very seriously, "then we might have problems."
"No, of course not."
"So don't," he said, and kissed her again. She sighed at him; he had this way of making her feel in the wrong that caught her off guard, and thought,
Fine, then. See how he does like it.
"Ah," he said, a moment later. "It's cute."
"I'll hit you."
He laughed and kissed her again, fisting it lightly. "Don't worry all the time," he said, wrapping his other arm around her, cuddling her to his chest as he stroked her, talking into her hair. "It breaks my heart, how sad you are and how you're always determined to stand on your own."
"David," she protested, her voice choked, hands spread against his chest. "Stop it, I don't know what you're talking about--"
"You're doing it again," he teased gently. "Hey, can I get you off like this?"
"Maybe it's selfish," he said softly, "but I want all of you, the parts you'll hide and the parts you won't," and his hand sped up, picked up a faint twist that made her breathing roughen as she buried her face against his shoulder. "The angry bits, the happy bits, the sad bits -- all of you--"
She came with a whimper, fingernails digging into his back, shaking through it in a rush that almost hurt, so when she drew in a long shuddering breath after her throat felt raw.
"You're so beautiful," he said, and licked his fingers clean, deepening the flush on her cheeks before he slid them down again, nudged them lower and further back. "Aha~"
Jenna squirmed faintly. "...David, it's not a major discovery, you don't need to sound so pleased with yourself.
"I'm pretty pleased with myself right now," he admitted, and she snorted at him, tried to pull herself together, shoved at his shoulder to roll him onto his back. "What?"
"Don't be so smug," she said, and put a pillow over his face.
Slowly she lifted the pillow, eyes artificially wide and mouth held very serious. "Did you have something to say?"
"Please don't suffocate me. Also, we're not done, are we--?"
"No," she said, and tossed the pillow to one side, sliding her hands to his shoulders and a leg over his waist. "I ... hope not."
She woke the next morning to the smell of food cooking, and stretched in the bed luxuriously, curling her toes back and arching her feet. There was a dream she'd been having that was still on the edge of her awareness, mixed with David's song from the night before.
"David?" she called sleepily.
"Oh, you're awake," he said, and showed up in the doorway wearing an apron and boxer shorts. "How do you like your eggs?"
"Scrambled, preferably." She pushed herself up, yawning a bit, dragging the sheet up over her breasts. "What was that song called?"
"It doesn't really have a name," he said. "Prayer, I guess. Why?"
"I'm not sure yet," she said. "I'll think about it." With a helpless shrug and a smile she dismissed it. "More importantly -- will breakfast be ready soon?"