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Steel Cords

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Lexi sighs, slouching back against the couch, further burying herself in the pillows behind her. She was content there, basking in the almost noiseless atmosphere as her ears can clearly pick up the sound of the water running in the kitchen. Her grandmother was washing the dishes, having pushed Lexi out and forcing her to relax instead of lending her a hand - claiming she was more than capable of doing simple chores.

As the spectacled girl sits, she lets her eyes shut, fingers twisting and turning the rings on both her index fingers. A nervous habit of hers. She was restless, not having been there in Ohio for a very long time and though she loved her grandmother with all her heart, she felt awkward and out of place. She still required time to get the handle of things. After all, she did fly all the way from La Push, Washington.

Unfortunately, the flight made her groggy due to her fear of travel via plane, which meant that she had consumed a few sleeping pills. It helped a lot. It helped with this irrational fear. She expected for Death to be waiting around the corner, from behind a puffy cloud. She guesses it would be better to die that way; it was better to leave the world in your dreams than be awake - living through hell before death engulfs you.

She reopens her eyes, knee bouncing to the music that plays in her head. Scanning the room, her feet are unable stay still, so she plants them atop the coffee table. Finally, the nerves in her lower body are no longer twined. Lexi keeps herself busy, attention immediately finding the painting that hangs to the right of the box tv. 

She smirks to herself, knowing the secrets that only her family have kept away from the Quileute tribe. Pride swells deep within her chest and tugs on the strings of the Filipino side of her. No one from the Philippines needed to know what the painting was called, for it was painfully obvious.

A dark haired woman sat, perched on a chair with her dress cascading along her legs, facing away from a man as her arm lent on the balcony. The man wore traditional white, back facing the audience, seemingly having a burden on his mind as he stared outside, alone with his thoughts. They weren't facing each other, brooding in their own way. Sulking, you'd say. Tampuhan. That was the name of the painting.

Her eyes wander to what's underneath the replica of Juan Luna's painting. Lexi's eyes crinkle with amusement, finding that, yes, what a cliche indeed. The wooden piano was there; its bench already had leather cushions, but her grandmother insisted that there should be a blanket on it for more comfort. The piano that's never played. It's there, but family only ever go there out of curiosity or boredom. Lexi only ever went there for peace of mind back when she was only five or six, interested in the sounds after she'd press the keys, attempting to make music.

Whilst reminiscing, she completely forgets herself in reality, inattentive to the fact that her grandmother had finished washing the dishes and is now standing beside her, staring at her feet in disapproval.

"Wolfie." 

The uttered nickname jolts Lexi out of her haze as she stares up at her grandmother with her perfect hair and all, not a single strip of gray to be seen.

"Yes, Graham?"

"Anong sinabi ko sa iyo?" What did I tell you? She directs a raised eyebrow at the coffee table, lips pressed together into a tight line.

Lexi tilts her head to the side, putting effort into remembering just what has been said. "Um..."

Tilda shakes her head, amused at her granddaughter. Her absent mind was endearing, it reminded her of her husband, Edgar. They were both lovable, it was impossible not to love them. Which reminds her, she needed to write to him, ask how he was doing in the naval base in San Diego.

"Honey." Tilda directs her eyes at Lexi's socked feet, thankful that it wasn't shoes on her table.

"Huh?" Lexi blinks, tiredly scratching her head.

Tilda shakes her head once again, smiling before placing her hands under her granddaughter's calves and lifting her feet off the table and to the floor.

Lexi let's out an embarrassed chuckle, cursing the sleeping pills for making her so mentally incapable at the moment. "Sorry, po." The tan girl looks down at her lap, interlacing her fingers on her thighs.

"Okay lang, pero next time wala kang makukuhang mabilis na patawad." It's okay, but next time you're not going to be forgiven quickly

Lexi nods her head, knowing that she won't forget that particular rule anymore.

"Well kiddo, why don't you go upstairs and unpack? I'm sure you're excited to sleep in your room after that long trip."

"Actually Graham, iniisipan ko kung  puede akong maglakad-lakad para maging familiar ako sa neighborhood." Actually Graham, I was thinking if I could walk around so that I could be more familiar with the neighborhood. "Its been a long time." I nervously glance up at her, hoping she'll let me get a bit of fresh air. There's silence after that.

A smile slowly makes its way across her lips. "Why not? Go ahead. Mag-ingat ka lang." Just be careful.

"Okay, madali lang ako." I'll be quick. Getting up, Lexi gives her a hug, then proceeds to the door, making sure that her phone was in her right pocket, a turquoise handkerchief in her left in case her allergies started acting up again and that her lanyard was secured around her neck with her already duplicated keys on it.

Lexi waves a final goodbye before shutting the door and locking it. She pushes on the door five times, making sure that it isn't going to open. Then, five more times. Ten. The pressure of her fingers around the door knob causes them to whiten and it's enough evidence for Lexi that the door was sealed shut.

With that she finally descends down the stairs and doesn't look back.

 


 

 

She didn't go that far...well, at least she thinks she didn't go that far. Lexi was fairly certain that she was in Lima Heights considering that the houses were - to put it honestly - massive. Okay, maybe she had walked a little too far away from home. But truthfully, Lexi enjoyed walking. It was quiet and it gave her a generous amount of time to reflect. The quiet had calmed her racing mind and in turn it directed her feet to move on its own accord.

Lexi comes across an empty playground. There she takes a seat on a bench near the gigantic yellow slide, scoffing at just how long the slide should be to make these children happy.

She stares, entranced at the dawning sun; she can't help but think why her parents had sent her there. To Ohio of all places. Her parents didn't usually do things out of the ordinary, so transferring to a new state and a new school wasn't all that bad. Could it? But Lexi knew. She was a very intuitive person despite not knowing what Graham was referring to when she eyed her feet on the table. Anyways, she knew there was a reasonable explanation for this sudden change.

Lexi was thankful for the new start, this opportunity has given her a fresh identity almost. No one at her new school would know her, but she sure would be quite the loner. You see, she's different from other girls you may know. There's a reason why she never wants to go back to La Push. She left behind her cruel past of cruel people and cruel names. She never wants to go back. She doesn't understand why people can be so hostile and ignorant. Just because she was intersex, it didn't mean she was a freak. She just wanted to be loved like everyone else. She wanted a normal life. So saying mean names to her wasn't a normal life, it's just emotional abuse that burned more than acid. It was permanent. She never wants to go back.

She's dragged out of her thoughts by a quiet noise. Cautiously, she stands; hoping that the cement floor beneath her isn't actually wooden floorboards that squeak annoyingly.

She crouches beside the slide and peaks. And the sight instantly drives a painful jagged rock into her heart.

The blonde sits across the other side of the playground, under the metal bridge on a small backless bench, right there in front of the tic tac toe panel. Her attire consisted of a white dress that was underneath a light yellow cardigan.

Lexi takes a step back, not brave enough to go over there and comfort the blonde. Actually, she wasn't really brave. She's kind of a pussy that thinks she's brave, but she's really not. Comforting people wasn't really a skill of hers, it made her uncomfortable all together. It was her anxiety. She'd rather be holed up in her room than at a family party.

The blonde sniffles again and Lexi halts, frozen and mind brewing with definitive uncertainty.

Louder sniffles are released.

Lexi chooses.

With reluctant steps forward, Lexi slips out from behind the slide and her feet eventually begin to hurt from pausing so much in her movements. 

Sniffle.

Brushing around the plastic barrier, Lexi kneels on one leg as far away as she could in front of the girl, afraid that she might get punched. Silently, the spectacled girl inhales, gulping down the dryness of her throat as her legs tremble underneath her.

"M-Miss, are you alright?"

Lexi says it with so much softness that it can barely be heard.

Yet, the blonde still heard her. Her sobs have stopped and she quickly brushes the tears off her face with her forearm.

Lexi doesn't dare breathe when the blonde lowers her forearm from her face.

Hazel eyes stare back at her. Mesmerizing and elegant even if they were slightly red. Eyes were just staring back at her, pools of emotion flowing through them.

Hazel.

With each thumping moment that passes, the air in Lexi's lungs seem to constrict and the feeling in the pit of her stomach tightens. Like everything in her body has stopped working and the only thing that remained in order was her heart as blood continued to pump through it with confidence. It was as if there was something there. There was something that was connecting them, intertwining their lives together.

A steel cord.

A gust of wind blows through the playground, the simple touch against Lexi's ear makes it twitch and it breaks their eye contact.

Lexi doesn't notice her own movements, but her hand was already in her left pocket, venturing for the turquoise handkerchief. She hands it to the hazel eyed blonde with shyness that her ears were already burning.

The blonde mumbles a thank you as she starts wiping at the visible tears in her reddish eyes.

From Lexi's position on the ground, her eyes focused on delicate slumped shoulders and pouting lips. Glancing at the blonde's lips made Lexi self conscious  that it made her lick her chapped lips.

"Miss, are you alright?" Lexi repeats herself, louder and which much more confidence.

"Do I know you?" The blonde snaps, eyes going stone cold, the question was biting and it drop kicked Lexi's confidence lower than before. So much for bravery.

Lexi averts her eyes to the ground. "Um...no. I just wanted to see if you were okay."

The blonde's eyes soften, taken aback by her honesty.

"Diaz."

Her hand juts out, surprising Lexi. She didn't usually do hand shakes. Hell, she's never introduced herself to someone without her mother or her aunt doing it for her. It stuns her even more when the blonde actually takes her hand and gives it a firm shake, sending tingling nerves down her wrist.

"You're not going to tell me your first name?" Her voice comes out husky and she notices, coughing into her elbow.

"Just want to keep it simple for once." It's kinda a lie. She guesses it was a spur of the moment type of thing, but it was more of a salute to Tatay. Her grandfather. He doesn't like being told he's old so he made her and her sister call him that instead of Lolo. Same thing with Graham. If it wasn't that it was Nanay, not Lola.

A beat goes by and she doesn't return the given message.

"Aren't you going to tell me your name?"

"Why should I? You said it yourself. We should keep it simple. And the most simple thing to do is for me to not tell you my name." 

That stung.

And it showed on Lexi's face, her eyebrows furrowing.

"That's not fair. I told you my name. Plus, I don't want to be rude. I'm betting that you wouldn't like it if I referred to you as Barbie."

The dark haired girl adds. "I don't think that would be appropriate though." She shrugs. "It's more like an understatement. You're far too prettier than that plastic bitch." Lexi says absentmindedly and her eyes widen and she blushes. Shit, did she really just flirt? Fuck, it wasn't even classy too. 

Lexi is cautious when she chances a glance at the blonde, failing to contain her smile when she notices the bright red blush on the blonde's cheeks. Finally, Lexi actually did something right that didn't require for her to act like a different person.

"So, what's your name?"

She hesitates, glancing at the ground and gripping the handkerchief in her hand. When she glances back at Lexi, finding her with a genuine smile she smiles back.

"Quinn." The blonde breathes out.

Lexi's smile widens, pleased at the name. She's never heard of someone with that name other than Harley Quinn. But it was unique. It was her.

Lexi carefully rises, not wanting to jam her head into the metal bridge above them and she sits down next to Quinn. As far away as she could too. She still doesn't know this girl and Quinn still doesn't know her. For all she knows, Quinn might think she's a loose serial killer. She doesn't want to seem like a creep.

"Do you want to talk about it, Quinn?"

She shakes her head.

Lexi hangs her head in disappointment and she can't find anything useful to say.

Quinn rises slowly and out from under the metal bridge to avoid hitting her head. "I should probably get going."

Curious, Lexi checks the black watch on her right wrist. Oh man, she's been outside for an hour already? "Crap, me too." Lexi ducks her head as she walks out from under the hiding place. The duo awkwardly stands next to each other. Lexi notices their height difference, smirking now that she knows she has a height advantage over the blonde.

"So have a goodnight, I guess." This time Quinn is the one to initiate the hand shake, seemingly more calm than when Lexi had found her - eyes no longer red.

Lexi grasps her hand, enjoying the warmth that radiates onto her own skin. "Yeah, you too."

Neither let go, it's only when the wind stirs again that their hands unclasp and they slowly part ways, bidding each other an awkward goodbye as they go in opposite directions. Lexi waits until the other girl is gone and out of sight before she breaks into a sprint.

The last thought she has about Quinn is: Wow, she has beautiful eyes.