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all great changes are preceded by chaos

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‘What the fuck is this?’ Grace woke up to something hitting her face. She jerked upright, scanning the room for a threat. Finding none she looked back to Dani, as the words registered.

‘Ah,’ Grace said. She looked from the very pissed off woman in front of her, to the plastic bag in her hand. ‘That isn’t what it looks like-’

‘What the fuck, Grace? Drugs?’ She waved the small packet about. ‘You’re hiding drugs? What are you, a dealer?’

It went without saying, but Dani was pissed. Grace could see that, augments or not. The yelling was also a good clue. She sat upright and started to scan the room for her pants. She would feel a lot better about having this conversation if she was clothed.

‘Dani, let me explain-’ Pants procured, Grace holds her hands up in front of her. ‘It’s really not what you think.’

‘Really? Is it?’ Dani picked up Grace’s shirt, discarded on the floor last night, and threw it at her, her jacket soon following. ‘I want you out. I told you from the start, I don’t get involved with that stuff and I won’t date anyone who is either. It’s bad business and I don’t want it near my family.’

Grace pulled her shirt over her head, at a loss for something else to do, trying to think of what she could say right now that would get through to Dani. Telling her the truth, that was obvious, but Dani wouldn’t listen to that, not in this state. Dani was cursing at her now, rapidly and with words Grace didn’t recognise but could glean from the context of the words around them were being pretty rough on Grace’s character. That was fair. Maybe leaving would be the right call. She could regroup with Sarah and wait for Dani to cool off from this initial anger. Leaving her believing Grace was a drug dealer wasn’t ideal, but she was at a loss for a way to reveal the truth without sounding like she’d imbibed whatever it was Dani thought she had. ‘Oh hey sweetie, don’t worry, the drugs keep my robot parts working.’ That was the truth, and even Grace had to admit it was a hard reality to accept at times.

‘Out.’ Dani used two hands to heft Grace’s duffel bag at her chest, and she caught it, not bothering to feign a reaction to catching it. It weighed nothing to her. Across the room, Dani’s face was contorted with anger, betrayal, heartbreak. Grace wanted to wrap her in a hug, fall to her knees and apologise, do whatever Dani wanted so she could make it up to her. So she did.

She picked up the packet that had started this, slipping it into her pocket as Dani huffed. She stumbled out into the short hallway that connected onto the kitchen, Dani slamming the door behind her so fast it hit her. Both Ramos men were sat at the kitchen table, eying her with suspicion. Sound did carry a little bit in this apartment, a fact they all knew, and Dani hadn’t exactly been keeping her voice down when she started reaming into Grace. She kept the eye contact long enough to give a small nod. It was a ‘good morning’, a ‘yes I fucked up, I do deserve this yelling’, and ‘don’t worry I’m leaving’ all mixed into one. Out of the corner of her eye she saw the elder Ramos turn back to the newspaper in front of him, evidently deciding to keep out his daughter’s love life for the moment. Diego meanwhile was looking between Grace and the door that led to Dani.

Grace located her boots by the door, slipped them on and grabbed her hat off the hook. Opening the door, she turned back, giving a concerned Diego another short nod, before slipping out of the apartment. She was in no hurry as she made her way downstairs, a numbness setting in. She had fucked up, she knew that. Telling Dani was a variable she and Sarah had debated so often. It wasn’t a matter of if she needed to know, it was when. Time was of the essence and the sooner they got Dani ready the better. But telling her too soon had its own risks of sounding crazy, of pushing her away, and keeping her in the dark kept the shining light of innocence that Grace couldn’t bear to see extinguished. She’d seen what decades of terror and violence had done to a version of Grace that didn’t have the advantage of knowledge, of a protector who was prepared. She felt selfish in her choice, but being able to see Dani laugh freely, see softness curve her face and body, both free from scars that marked her as someone who had seen hell countless times and scraped by well enough to survive it each time? That was a freedom Grace wanted her to keep for as long as possible.

Making her way down the street from the Ramos’ building, she started running through the plans she and Sarah had come up with to introduce Dani to the oncoming realities of the world. It was time to bring one of them to fruition.