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Rooftop Dance

Archivist note: This post is from an older recovered archive.

==The Chronicles of Scottie Melnik – A Rooftop Dance==

((Posted by Scottie Melnik on July 2, 2010))

I’d been puttering around my lab all day when I realized I’d asked Miss Namori over for dinner. Having nearly forgotten I put together a few sandwiches and put them out on the table. It was a sorry sight but it would have to do. In my excitement to hear about her tales in the Arabian lands I’d stopped by rather late last night. Inviting her to dinner, even one such as this, would have given me the perfect opportunity to do so.

As it turns out she didn’t seem to mind. We sat admiring the view and made the smallest of chit-chat before we finished. I offered a trip to the roof for a little moonlight dance. Dear friend that she was I knew she liked to dance and it’s a well-known pastime of mine as well. She accepted and I stopped by the radio in the lab, turning it up and leading her to the roof. From up there it dulcet tones of Radio Riel pleasantly soft and I held out my hand, ceremoniously requesting a dance with a smile.

She accepted, though distractedly for some reason, and we began to move to the music. I asked her how her trip had been. She smirked, “It was… interesting. I could breath there.” I laughed at this, enjoying having my friend’s charm and humor back. It was something I had missed and not really known it. I replied through the laugh, “How terrible!”

She off-handedly answered with “Since when is breathing terrible?” This caught me a bit off-guard as it didn’t quite sound like the happy-go-lucky young lady I’d known before. I arched an eyebrow and responded with a half-humorous, “Since you came to Babbage and learned how to breathe sparingly?”

She nodded and I looked down at her, she dropped her gaze immediately and continued, “You would have loved the desert though. Given you much to write about.”

It was then I realized I hadn’t seen her eyes all night, at least not directly. It was like she was avoiding them. I hoped she wasn’t in trouble of some sort and tried to catch a glimpse in hopes of reading something, anything, while engaging in our conversation.

“All of that sand? I’ll take soot any day. But I must admit it sounds fascinating.”

“It’d put some color in those moonlight cheeks of yours” she said with a devious smirk. “Perhaps even open up a new doorway to adventure. The elegance, the finery of the women, the… danger.” And with that she laughed, just a bit too interested in that last point, I thought. This didn’t sound like Bianca at all.

“Moonlight cheeks? Hmm, I do like it dark, but I don’t mind a bit of sun. And there are many fine women here. And danger, for that matter.” Why was I defending Babbage to Bianca, of all people? She loved it here as much as anyone. Or so I’d always thought.

Then I raised my eyes to the sky, thinking for a moment about what I’d heard of the Arabian lands and taking what she said into consideration, “Not that I would mind a change of scenery from time to time. But I hear it’s rather rough there for women.”

She laughed strangely, almost as if taunting me, “New Babbage is as dangerous as a new babe… but perhaps it will change.” And then she arched an eyebrow, “And no, not always… sometimes it’s the women you have to look out for. Those who have tasted blood…” She thought for a moment, “…and wouldn’t mind tasting it again.”

I cocked my head a bit at this comment, not sure which way to go. I went for the cop-out, “Interesting world, isn’t it?” And then I realized that this was my friend and perhaps she was reaching out for help, so I pushed, “And have you tasted blood, Bianca?”

She stopped dancing for a moment and gazed at me intently, a tone I had never heard of from Miss Bianca Namori prickling my ears as she plainly said, “No.”

I was finally gazing directly into her eyes and it was obvious she was lying. While I was starting to doubt I knew her anymore, this much I could tell. I studied her carefully and my own mood darkened. I took her hand and pulled close, swaying across the roof, nodding and playing along with the lie, “Okay.”

I took a chance and leaned close, whispering very softly, “There’s something different about you.”

She glided across the roof with me. For a moment I thought she was going to say something but merely let slip a sigh. It was just as much an answer as I wanted. I drew a breath and this time it was I who stopped our dance, gazing into her eyes once more.

“I keep my friends’ confidences. I always have and I always will.” She looked at me and smiled slightly, “Of course. I don’t think I said otherwise.”

I returned that slight smile, still holding her hand from the slow dance we were engaged in, squeezing it softly, reassuringly, “You didn’t have to. But I can see it; the struggle. Something is inside you and it wishes to come out.”

She looked at our joined hands and suddenly snatched it back forcibly, crossing her arms and eyeing me, “Perhaps it is merely a mood swing… women have those, do we not?” She cast her gaze toward the roof edge for a moment and then before I could respond said, “Merely a mood…”

I nodded quietly and extended my hand again offering her the choice to continue the dance. Once again I studied her face. This wasn’t quite the Bianca I knew at all. And whoever she now was, I was playing a game of chess with her and loosing spectacularly.

She accepted the offer and we began yet again, dancing slowly on the rooftop. I diplomatically agreed with her last comment, "They certainly do, I’ve known enough to know better."

She retorted with, “Then you can rest easy knowing I am no different than any other woman you’ve known…” and trailed off. She changed the topic quickly, “But enough about me, how are your books coming along.

I chuckled and replied to her first comment anyway, “None of the women I’ve known are like any woman I’ve known.” I switched gears with her just as quickly as she had, wishing to carry out the conversation and possibly draw whatever this poison was that seemed to infect her soul. It seemed the more I danced with her the more I was convinced that she was in trouble. “And I’ve suffered a setback on my newest book so I’ve had to start over completely.”

She switched with me though. “Ah, then you must have studied the in’s and out’s of many women then,” she said with a biting edge of sarcasm. I wasn’t used to this at all. I darkened further. How far would this go? Let’s find out.

“So of course, if I’m distracted I wouldn’t mind!” That pushed something. She stared back at me coldly, “I would be a dangerous distraction…”

I arched an eyebrow, my gaze hardening, “I think I’ve proven that I’m not one that runs from danger.”

She smirked a bit, “To me… you have yet to prove anything.” She held out her hand dauntingly, “Shall we dance?” I had to smile at this, taking her hand as she made an overly dramatic show of curtseying and pulled her back into the dance. Yes, something was certainly off. I sized her up physical prowess as we moved across the roof, suddenly realizing that I was fearful she may attack.

She danced loosely now, free of care. A smile flitted across her lips and I could feel a shiver run through her. I pulled her close, swaying to the quiet music and finally broke the deafening silence between us, deciding to push just a bit more…

“What you are is not all you are. Just as what I am is not all I am…”

She grinned at this, “We all have our secrets…” and her grin widened, “as well as skeletons. I woulnd’t expect any less from you, dear sir.”

I chuckled, twirling her around, “Fair enough, my dear. We all have our secrets. Some kill-“ and her body immediately locked up on this word, “and some are just a part of us.”

She whispered softly, “What a sweet death of the knowing…” I felt her stiffen in my arms and cocking my ear toward her, “Pardon?”

She looked up at me and grinned. She let her left hand caress the side of my face, brushing a few errant strands of hair away and offered me a smile that made my blood run cold, “Nothing… you worry too much, Mr. Melnik. Perhaps dancing is taking your mind away.”

Both of my eyes must have been round as saucers as she touched my face like that, something she’d never done before and something I surely wouldn’t have expected from a dear friend, no matter how strange she was acting, “Taking my mind from what?”

Again she smirked, that strange, knowing little smirk, “From the innocence of this

conversation we are having. I said nothing and you react as if I uttered something unholy.”
I shook my head, “I’m not familiar with the phrase is all…”

She replied snarkily, “I shall use plainer diction for a man of the tomes.”

I had to laugh at this, it kind of sounded like the old Bianca I knew, aside from the tone, “It’s not like I’ve read everything!” I cleared my throat, “And I really am a somewhat simple man. I know what I like and pursue it. And poetry has never been something I pursue.”

She pulled close to me and in a saucy whisper, “What is your current chase, Mr Melnik? To challenge the ‘Odyssey’? Or perhaps read a few fables?”

The tempo of the music slowed and we matched it, and I matched her. I pulled her close, wrapping an arm around her lower back, “My chase is for me to know, and I always shoot for the stars.” I noticed her smirk faded, not at the words but when my hand slipped around her back. My brow furrowed and I darkened, my mind turned. What had just changed?

She gave a stock answer of “Indeed,” her concentration on the mind games temporarily broken. I pushed ahead, “Everyone should always shoot for the stars, don’t you agree.”

That damned smirk came back, “Why waste a good bullet on those gasbags?” and then added “I agree with you completely.” We simultaneously changed to a waltz. I took her hand in mind again and slid the other up her back. She let out an audible sigh of relief as my hand move away from her hip. She knew I noticed and yet tried to cover it up with a soft little cough, “Blasted soot!”

She was hiding something. The idea that there was real physical danger screamed inside my head this time. Bianca, my dear friend, armed? Not a chance! Yet…

As we moved to the music I attempted to conceal the fact that my hand was now inching back down. I squeezed her hand gently and spoke to keep her distracted, “Yes, so much soot in the air-“

Her eyebrow arched as she suddenly backed away from me, looking slightly shocked, “Mr Melnik! We are indeed dear friends, but are you…” and she took another step back, oddly still holding my hand, “Getting fresh with my person?”

My jaw dropped and my eyes grew wide, realizing suddenly how this may have come across, “Oooh! Uh, no! Not at all! I swear!” If indeed this was just some harmless, or even more serious, flirting then I had just crossed a line. The thing was, I had no real proof or reasoning to believe that she was truly armed. Nothing beyond my own feelings about how strangely she had been acting.

She finally let my hand go, “Perhaps I should leave, I have worn out my welcome indeed.”

I could do nothing but sigh and nod, a wave of guilt crashing over me for having thought the worse and possibly jeopardized a wonderful friendship, “Um, yes, I suppose that would be the best. I offer my deepest apologies.” She nodded to me and I drew a breath, “Have a wonderful evening, Bianca.”

Then she smiled at me, a real smile this time, something I knew of the old her and held out her arms, “A parting hug amongst old friends?” That smile was just as off-putting as the others in that it was such a drastic change from the night in general. Eyeing her warily, I returned the smile anyway and stepped forward, wrapping my arms around her once again and hugging her tightly. Perhaps I was right or wrong, but I did wish to salvage this friendship in the case I was mistaken.

I released her and stepped back, but as my hands slid from her they dropped just a tad and I caught my finger on something sharp. Very sharp. I yelped in pain as blood was drawn from my finger. My eyes immediately darted to hers. “What the…?”

Her eyes lit up as they locked onto the blood, “Oh… you poor thing…” It was as if she was in a trance, not a hint of true worry in her voice, “You must have got caught on one of the flower pins on my dress…” That was no flower pin. It was the blade of a knife.

I cocked my head and watched her, moving my finger slowly to my lips, watching her eyes follow the sight of the blood hypnotically. She absently pulled a kerchief from her bodice and smiled, “Allow me.” I simply nodded and observed her taking my finger into the fabric and dab it lightly. Then she began to squeeze more from it, almost painful was her grip. Her eyes flashed with something almost animalistic.”Oh dear, must squeeze out any possible infections now don’t we?”

I growled at this, a bit of my own animal coming out, snatching my finger from her kerchief, “I think it’ll be fine.” She snapped from her trance and yet still followed my bleeding finger, “Indeed dear, indeed.”

I hid my finger from sight, “Quite enough.” She smiled almost normally once more, “I’ll show myself out.”

I had insisted I’d show her to the door. Once there I bade her farewell and walked back up to my lab. I made sure it was locked securely behind me and began writing everything down. My conclusion? I don’t know. I thought perhaps she was just fatigued from her journey, but that seemed less and less likely. Either something had happened to her over there or perhaps something happened to her long ago. Either way, I will try my best to keep watch on her.

Regardless, she’s still my friend and I’ll do what I can to protect her. Even from herself.

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