Actions

Work Header

I Wont Say I'm In Love

Work Text:

Dusa has to admit the Lounge feels a lot more like an actual lounge after Zagreus' many renovation requests. There are plush chairs and colourful rugs and carved tables, and it's nice to have a space like this in spite of all the…

...you know. Underworld blood and death and darkness stuff.

Typically, Dusa would see all the tables and chairs and think about cleaning them. More furniture means more nooks and crannies that collect dust. And more rugs means she's going to have to pull out that wretched steamer that needs opposable thumbs to work.

But after Miss Nyx's stern talking-to earlier, she's taking relaxing very seriously. Which probably isn't the point, but Dusa doesn't want to witness Miss Nyx's cold, quiet anger ever, ever again. If that means she pretends to ignore the small mountain of dust near the Wretched Broker's collection of nectar bottles, then so be it.

"Hey. Sorry I'm late."

Dusa whips up to see Megaera sliding into the chair next to her. She looks exhausted, tired bags under her eyes, so Dusa gestures to a shade as Meg rests her whip on the table with a heavy sigh.

"Tisiphone?" tsks Dusa understandingly.

"Yeah." She sighs again. "Did you know that the only word she knows to write is also 'murder'? Or 'murderer'? Alecto and I couldn't decipher her report at all, and she, obviously, didn't help. We spent the whole shift trying to decipher it before it was submitted to Lord Hades."

"Oh.” She's seen Lord Hades reading Tisiphone's reports, which could only mean... "Look, our drinks are here!"

Their order has always been the same. Meg gets the Ambrosia Indulgence, a very grown-up drink that's just fountain water and two strong hits of ambrosia with a big ice cube. Dusa's drink, on the other hand, is a Pom Passion, a bright pink drink with pomegranate and nectar and a cute little umbrella. She's not too fond of ambrosia - she's got work to do after this, and she could be qualified as a lightweight, given the fact that she doesn't have 'body mass' to stomach the drink.

"Cheers," says Meg, raising her glass. Dusa grips hers with a snaky tendril and mirrors the motion.

Oh, they've been doing this for how long now? Her new-found Relaxation Regimen means that she sees Meg more often, under the newly-built golden lighting of the lounge, no responsibilities but the clink of glass and the low murmur of shades talking as Orpheus plays another tune for them.

It's fun, Dusa has to admit. Megaera had frightened her terribly when they first met, so, so long ago, with her sharp eyes and even sharper whip. But they had bonded over their similar work ethic and drive, and Meg had opened up to her about feeling inadequate, a feeling Dusa knew -- and still knows -- too well. It had made her feel less insecure and a little braver, if someone as put-together as Megaera also felt the same way as she did. And Dusa had done her best to assure Meg that she was enough, and that she was doing enough.

It felt different. Nice. Usually Dusa's the one who needs reassurances.

"...anyway. Alecto said we should just give the reports to Lord Hades, because he hasn't raised the issue quite yet. The alternative is to probably file the report myself, which…"

"You don't need that extra work on your plate," chirps Dusa indignantly. "You have enough as is. I'm sure Lord Hades and Tisiphone have some sort of understanding. You deserve some time off."

Meg looks at her for a moment, golden eyes sharp and piercing. "Yeah. Yeah, you're right."

There's a beat. Meg keeps staring, and Dusa blinks.

"Is something wrong?"

"No, nothing." Meg stirs her drink, the clink of glass loud and restless. "Anyway. How has your day been?"

"Well-" Dusa takes a sip. "The same as usual. The rafters needed a second cleaning, so I did that. And then I decided to clean up the armory because you and Sir Achilles and Prince Zagreus have been working so hard, and I thought it would be nice. Miss Nyx had also asked for some help with dusting the shelves in the administrative chamber so I did that. And, well...you know the rest."

Meg is still staring at her, and the look is so intense that it runs Dusa's throat dry.

"Meg?"

"Nyx told us to take care of cleaning the armory, so that your workload was lifted," she says, voice soft and sharp all at once.

Dusa winces. "Well, you all seemed so busy, and I had some free time, so I thought I'd pitch in, you know? Make the room a little nicer for when you all come back."

“You don’t need the extra work on your plate, either.”

The blue-haired Fury watches her as she nervously takes another sip. “I, I know, but, um…”

“You can’t overwork yourself like last time. Miss Nyx will find out, and she’ll be furious.”

Dusa is well-aware. But Meg is watching her, all quiet anger and frowns, and it stresses her out.

“Oh, I-I know. It was just a one-off thing, since, you know, y-you guys deserve it! You’ve been working so hard to maintain security that I thought-”

“No.”

Her voice is cold and sharp.

“If you overwork yourself, she’ll make you leave again.”

Her fingers, so long and calloused from wielding her sharp whip, twitch along a sweating glass of golden drink.

“And if you leave…”

Meg swallows. Dusa’s throat is so dry.

“I need you here, with me.”

Her voice rasps at the end, and it sends shocks along Dusa's scalp, shivering along her ears.

Golden light strikes along a sharp jaw and a strong nose, and golden eyes dart to her and away again. Pink blush and pink lips and pink nailpolish on trembling hands. Everything is muffled now, clinking and music and chattering hidden behind a veil of water, need ringing in her ears.

Oh.

Oh, no.

Oh no, no, no .

"I-I-I should go," splutters Dusa, scrambling away from the table. "Th-Thanks for the drink! B-Bye!"

"Dusa!" Her voice hurts to hear. “Wait!”

But by then Dusa has already flown away.

-

After that conversation, Dusa avoids Meg as much as she can.

She's good at avoiding people. Dusa did that a lot, back when she was alive. It's a simple matter of hiding away in a place people don’t go to often. The perfect place is Lord Hades’ Room, but Dusa enjoys having a job, and friends, and, you know. Not being obliterated by the Lord of the Dead.

One good thing about being just a gorgon head is that she can fly up as high as the House of Hades will allow, all the way up to the rafters that gather dust and hell-hound fur. Dusa needs to clean them, after all. Nevermind that she already did two hours ago. And two hours before that. And another two hours before tha-

You know what? It doesn't matter. She's been tasked to keep the place clean and tidy, and that's what she's doing right now.

“Dusa.”

Dusa squeals, and bumps her head against a rafter, dislodging more dirt in the process. It flutters and settles on Miss Nyx’s starlight veil, who floats beside her.

“M-Miss Nyx! O-Oh d-dear, let me just wipe that off-”

Miss Nyx squints. If the unmoving face of Mother Night can squint, that is.

“This is the fourth time you’re cleaning the rafters today.”

Dusa’s getting big squint vibes.

“Please remember that you also have other duties to attend to. The East Hall and Lounge have not been attended to, yet.”

That’s because Meg’s been there all day. “Y-Yes, Miss Nyx. Once I’m done here, I’ll d-definitely get to that.” Which will be in 15 minutes, when Meg leaves for her shift.

Something...happens across Miss Nyx’s face, as steady as the night sky Dusa had once watched alone.

“It has been brought to my attention that I can be rather cold in my addressment of you,” she begins. “Zagreus and the Queen have informed me of such, and so I would like to make my intentions clear.”

“O-Okay?”

“You should not be here.”

“O-Oh.”

Tears start gathering in her eyes. Even in her death, she’s not wanted. Just her luck. Miss Nyx, watching her carefully, tilts her head like a confused bird.

“Why are you crying.”

“U-Um.” A snaky tendril wipes away a tear. “Th-The um. D-Dust.”

Miss Nyx looks at the rafters blankly, and then back at Dusa.

“We are dead. We cannot fall ill.”

“R-Right, u-um…”

"Have I said something wrong?"

"N-No?" Dusa's voice breaks.

Miss Nyx’s eye twitches.

“Allow me to clarify. You should not be here,” says Mother Night, waving at the rafters. “You should be in the lounge, with your friends.” She actually squints this time, pointed and sharp. “Relaxing.”

Dusa blinks, wet tears still on her cheeks.

“You are young. You have the rest of eternity to work, but that does not mean that Time is kind to us.”

Dusa swallows, hoping that Miss Nyx was just being her vague self. “I...I understand, Miss Nyx.”

“Good.” Her face stiffens back to a pale, unmoving expanse. A cold hand wipes her cheek, however, and Dusa can see a sparkle in her eyes. “Be more sure of yourself, my child.”

Oh, now she’s actually crying. Miss Nyx simply watches her blankly, hand still on her cheek. Dusa tries to keep it together in front of her, you know, direct superior. But it’s nice to hear the words, even if it’s from the woman who fired her by accident and told her that she shouldn’t be here by accident.

Suddenly, Miss Nyx sneezes.

That stops the tears, and Dusa blinks at the most powerful Goddess across the three realms.

“Uh, Miss Nyx?”

“It must be the dust.”

“I thought you said-”

“I must go.” And Mother Night vanishes in thin air, leaving a small candle of warmth in Dusa.

-

Having a job at the House of Hades, located at the deepest part of the Underworld beside the screaming dungeons of Tartarus, might not be any sane person’s dream. But it’s Dusa’s and she’ll be damned if she doesn’t work her butt off. Well, more damned than she already is.

There’s something about being appreciated for her own efforts that’s wonderful. Sure, her immediate boss fired her because she doesn’t know how to emote well. Sure, her top boss is the literal God of Death. Sure, her coworkers scream and thrash as their souls are continuously tormented. Sure, her salary isn’t exactly what it should be after taxes. Yes, there are taxes in the Underworld.

Dusa likes it anyway. She’s focused on her career for the sense of purpose it gives her. And she and Meg had bonded over that, over so many bottles of Pom Passion and Ambrosia Indulgence. Their meetings in the Lounge were moments of calm between their shifts.

And Meg would smile - a soft, sharp quirk of her lips that lasted for a few precious moments before darting away - at some juicy gossip about the newest shades. Every strong muscle along her broad shoulders would melt into a soft slump as she laughs - deep and reverberating and sending warm shocks through the tendrils of her hair-

That one tendril, holding a brush currently, snags on Cerberus’ crimson fur, and the hound barks.

“S-Sorry, Cerbie!”

One head whines, petulant and pouting. She pets him gently along the spot.

Continuing with her theme of hiding from Meg and stalling for time, she’s brushing Cerbie’s coat, which doesn’t technically need to be brushed but. Dusa has heard that most high-level work have bureaucratic speedbumps, and this is hers’.

Yes, that means hiding behind Cerbie’s butt and brushing the same three feet of crimson fur for hours, but, um. A gorgon’s got to do what a gorgon’s got to do?

Cerbie’s second head twists, trying to catch her eye.

“I said I’m sorry, what more do you want?”

The third head whips around, and he manages to snag her by one of her snake-hairs.

“Cerbieeee!”

Dusa is whipped forward and face-to-face with Lord Hades.

“Dusa,” he thunders. “What are you doing?”

“L-Lord Hades! Um, I’m just, um…brushing Cerbie- Cerberus. I’m brushing Cerberus, because, um, he’s shedding his w-winter coat right now.”

“The Underworld has no seasons.”

“Right. But, it’s, um,” Dusa racks her brain, “a trait from his surface-dwelling ancestors?”

Lord Hades looks at her.

Dusa looks back.

Lord Hades keeps looking.

Dusa prays that he banishes her to a nice part of the Tartarus dungeons.

Instead, Lord Hades mutters, “I hadn’t known that.”

Dusa blinks.

Lord Hades scowls at Cerbie. “Behave yourself now, hound. She’s attempting to…”

“Brush his winter coat,” whispers Dusa helpfully.

“Brush your winter coat,” finishes Lord Hades, voice booming with authority.

Cerbie whines, downcast, and throws her a betrayed expression. Oh, she’ll have to make it up to him with lots of treats and pets later.

“Dusa.”

“Y-Yes, Lord Hades?”

“I was not aware of Cerberus’ unique requirements, nor the difficulties in attending to them. I commend you on your dedication to your duty and to this house.”

“O-Oh.” Her cheeks heat up. She’s always been a sucker for praise. “It’s really no problem, Lord Hades. I like my job, a lot. So I don’t mind.”

“Hmm. If only a few other members of this house shared your work ethic,” grumbles Lord Hades.

“I can hear you, you know,” comes Zagreus’ voice from the West Hall. “Or did you forget about the Omnipotent God Voice-thing?”

"I thought a reminder was necessary." Lord Hades huffs, turning back to his papers. “Dismissed.”

Dusa scurries over to Cerberus’ side. All three heads look away, somehow.

“I’m sorry, boy,” she whispers.

Six soft, triangle ears droop in self-pity. Dusa sighs.

Quietly, so that Lord Hades can’t hear, she coos, “I’ll let you play in the Pool of Styx when he’s not here?”

Delighted, Cerbie perks up, and three sticky tongues drag along her face. Wet, smelly hell-hound drool drips down her hair and on nice marble. Great. More things for her to clean.

At least she might get a raise after this.

-

It’s not that she doesn’t like Meg, in fact, she really likes her.

Dusa thinks of strong arms and rough fingers.

She really, really likes Meg.

And that frightens her, because Dusa’s never been good with people. Certainly not in her life, and in her death, she’s only just okay at it. The Prince is really nice to her, giving her gifts and smiles whenever he isn’t rushing to break out of the Underworld. Cerbie had grabbed her by her hair and wrung her out the first time they had met, but he’s a sweet boy now that he knows that she’s not a ball. Mr Achilles is kind and polite, always offering to help her whenever she’s cleaning the West Hall.

No, the problem is that Dusa’s always had a bad track record with anything romance-related, and this is definitely that.

Speaking of Mr Achilles, there he is now, guarding the West Hall. And he's surrounded by Thanatos, Hypnos, and Prince Zagreus.

The Prince notices her first, and says, "Hey, Dusa! Why don't you join us?"

Mr Achilles smiles gently, Mr Hypnos waves sleepily, and Mr Thanatos glares angrily.

Dusa's fight-or-flight instincts kick in, but by then Zagreus is gently pushing her towards the crowd.

"Oh, we were just talking about you, Ms Dusa," says Achilles.

Maybe Dusa could fight her way out of this one.

"Well," says Hypnos. "We were talking about you and Meg."

She could take on Hypnos. Even without arms.

“M-Mr Hypnos, you must be m-mistaken, there’s n-no ‘Meg and I’, w-we’re just friends-”

“You’ve got to be shitting me,” growls Thanatos, and Dusa clamps her mouth shut. “ Friends ? Either you’re dense, or you don’t care about people’s feelings, and it had better be the first, for your own sake.”

Maybe the flight instinct would be a better option here. They say you can never cheat death but Dusa’s willing to try.

Luckily, Prince Zagreus says, “Easy, Than.” Unluckily, he throws his hand around Dusa’s head and holds her in place. “I’m sure Ms Dusa didn’t mean that.”

Thanatos scowls. Hypnos sleeps. Dusa wishes she was dead. More dead.

“If you don’t mind me prying-” but the Prince is going to pry anyway, “-what happened between you and Meg?”

“N-Nothing,” squeaks Dusa, very convincingly. “N-Nothing happened between us.”

Hypnos, apparently still sleeping, somehow says, “Totally. The same way nothing happened in Lord Hades’ chambers after the Queen’s return.”

“Hypnos, that’s my mother you’re talking about.”

“Haha, sorry. But like...we’re dead, not hard of hearing.”

Luckily, Thanatos puts a hand around Zagreus before he lunges. “Easy, Zag.” Unluckily, his other hand traps Dusa from drifting off silently. “Getting back to the point.”

“Wh-What was the p-point again...haha…?”

“Are you breaking my sister’s heart on purpose, or are you just a fool?”

“I-I’m a fool.”

“Don’t say that, Ms Dusa. You’re not a fool.”

“Yeah, you’re not a fool. Meg’s the fool for dumping you,” yawns Hypnos.

“Hypnos, Megaera is the one who was ‘dumped’ by Dusa.”

“I-I didn’t do a-anything like that-”

“-so you admit that you led her on?”

“Than, give her a second to breathe-”

“Mother Nyx and the Queen are also ‘doing nothing’, by the way.”

“Hypnos, are you serious -”

“Again, we may be dead but we can all see the hickeys-”

Distracted by their bickering, the boys don’t notice Dusa slip out of Thanatos’ grasp and drift away slowly. She bumps into someone and squeaks.

“Easy now, Ms Dusa. It’s me,” says Achilles. “Quietly, now.”

So she follows Achilles into a quiet corner in the West Hall, and the warrior sighs.

“They’re good lads individually, but together, they’re a bit...rowdy. I sometimes wonder if we are speaking the same language. I understand almost nothing they say.”

Dusa says nothing, even though Mr Achilles smiles at her gently.

“If you wish to speak about it, Ms Dusa, I am here to lend you a ear. But I understand if some things are too painful to talk about. Know that I simply wish to help you, as thanks for all of your assistance to me.”

“O-Oh…” sniffs Dusa. “I...Meg and I, we...she…”

Meg is so lovely, and Dusa’s…

“If you messed something up when you were alive, and that’s what got you into Tartarus, then you shouldn’t make the same mistake again, right?”

She shouldn’t. Meg deserves better than her.

Mr Achilles blinks.

“Oh, you want my advice- I don’t think I’m the right person-”

The legendary warrior of Greek shuffles his spear from one hand to the other, nervously scratching his neck.

Finally, Achilles says softly, “Fear is for the weak.”

Dusa stops herself from telling him that she’s the definition of weak - she’s just a floating head.

“Things that happened in the past weigh heavily in your heart for far longer than it is welcome,” he continues. “And sometimes, the weight of our past stops us from looking at the future with hope.”

Dusa has a lovely job, and she has good friends, and she has...

“There is always hope,” says Achilles. “There is always happiness. Even for the damned, like ourselves.”

Happiness feels like golden eyes smiling at her as she sips a Pom Passion, surrounded by the dim light and dull clinks of the Lounge.

Dusa swallows, and nods. “Thank you, Mr Achilles.”

“No problem, lass.”

And then they hear, just a few feet away-

“Hypnos, if you describe our mothers’ relationship as ‘MILF indulgence’ one more time --”

-

When Dusa walks into the Lounge, Meg is chatting with Prince Zagreus.

“U-Um, Meg?”

Golden eyes pierce through her sharply, and Dusa wonders how she's going to fix this when she's already messed things up. But Prince Zagreus smiles at her encouragingly, so she goes on.

“Do you have a m-minute?”

Before Meg can say anything, however, the Prince leaps out of his chair. “I’ll not bother the two of you.” Gleefully, he runs off.

As Meg watches her cooly, she can’t help but feel jealous of the fire-footed prince.

Now you want to speak to me? After avoiding me for three weeks?”

“I-I haven’t been-”

“I saw you hiding behind Cerberus.”

“O-Oh.”

“And in the rafters.”

Dusa swallows.

“And in the gardens.”

“I-I’m not allowed in there!”

Meg squints. “So you were in the rafters, then.”

“W-Well, I...yeah.”

Meg looks away, and Dusa nervously fiddles with a coaster on the table.

“I-I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have r-run away, that day.”

She needs to say this properly, for Meg’s sake, if nobody else’s. But there are some things she can’t speak out loud, some things she doesn’t want people to know about. She wishes that some of those things never even happened, because then this would be a lot easier.

“I’m not good at this,” she breathes at last. “I...Even when I was alive, I was bad at this. A-And I’m afraid that...I’ll mess things up again, with you. I don’t want to hurt you, Meg.”

The Fury looks at her then, eyes still sharp and cold.

“N-Not that you can’t take c-care of yourself, of course. You’re v-very strong, even more than Prince Zagreus.”

Meg chuckles, low and short. “I know I am.”

But she doesn’t continue, still watching Dusa carefully. Being under the tall woman’s gaze makes Dusa shuffle about. This is so hard, and Dusa’s never been good with people, much less someone she has feelings for.

Just then, a shade appears by the table, and places two glasses on coasters - a Pom Passion and Ambrosia Delight. Tears cloud her vision, but she looks away. Meg can’t see her cry.

“I’m not perfect, either. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in the past. And I don’t...I’m not good at feelings. But you-”

Meg clears her throat.

“You were the one who told me to follow my heart.”

Oh, she’s really crying now.

“Dusa.” Her voice is soft.

“Y-Yeah?” sniffs Dusa.

“I didn’t know the snakes cried, too. Here, take this tissue.”

“O-Oh.” The snakey tendril that accepts the tissue immediately wets it with tears. “Thank you.”

A rough thumb catches her cheek, wiping away the tears gently. Dusa watches Meg, wide-eyed and trembling.

“Are you sure? A-About me, about this, b-because…”

“I’m sure.” Meg’s eyes harden. “Are you sure?”

“No.” Dusa laughs nervously. “I don’t know what the Fates have in store for me.”

“We could ask Miss Nyx.”

“P-Please don’t.”

“I’ll ask Zagreus. She’d do it for him.”

“I don’t know if you’re joking.”

“Good.”

Dusa laughs, and this time, Meg smiles with her. She’s so lovely when she’s like this, and Dusa’s just...a floating gorgon head with nothing good attached to her name.

“May I kiss you?” breathes Meg, so close.

Dusa nods, and Meg’s full lips are against her own, rough and gentle all at once. Her entire head feels like it’s on fire, but Meg tastes sweeter than Nectar and warmer than Helios’ light, so she presses closer urgently. Meg runs her hair through Dusa's hair, a pleased hum sending a crackle through her scalp. Unaccustomed to the shiver of pleasure that shocks her, a snake nips at Meg's beautifully rough fingers.

Dusa springs back, spluttering, "O-Oh, I'm so sorry Meg-"

But Meg just chuckles, low and dark. "You know I like things rough."

Oh, dear.

“We can work up to it,” smiles Meg. “If you’re okay with that-”

“Y-Yes, I’m very okay with that,” says Dusa quickly.

Meg grins, and says, “What happened to all of that hesitation from earlier?”

Dusa swallows. “Actually. You do need to know something, b-before anything happens.”

Meg waits.

“I don’t clean underneath Lord Hades’ desk because his beard does it for me. I-It’s a waste of my time and he never leaves the d-desk anyway and so-”

Meg laughs and kisses her again.

Maybe there is some happiness for her still.