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When Life Gives You Roses

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I walk down the steps of the stairs carefully. After walking up, my mother visited to help me dress for dinner. It took a while for her to understand that I didn't want to wear something extremely formal, or too flashy. We eventually both decided that I should wear a forest green dress that had a high neck, which allows the back to fall completely open. The dress stopped right below my knees, allowing the similar colored heels to be shown off. She had pulled my hair into a neat bun, and used a curling iron to give the ends of my bands a bit of a curl. Although my heels aren't that high, I don't want to trip because one of the heels got snagged, or something of the sort. I step onto the open space separating the three sets of stairs leading in different directions.

"You didn't need to dress up for me, sweetheart." I hear. I snap my head up. I set my hard glare down the staircase in front of me. Standing here, with a suit jacket curled around his right arm, his left hand hanging by his side, is Dimitri. He's dressed in a off white dress shirt, black dress pants, and a green tie. His usually unruly, black hair is now a slicked back blond. The more I look over his attire, the more I think that my mother knew about this whole thing. Even though it was subtle, the main color of my attire matches his tie. I don't know what is going on, but I immediately dislike the whole scenario.

"I didn't. I dress for no one but myself." I bite back at him. He chuckles. I keep my head held high as I descend the stairs. "Why are you even here? Didn't you take what you wanted and left?"

When I see his face, I notice that it's scrunched up in confusion. I could swear that if you looked closely enough, you could see a hint of pain. I want to scoff at his display. I don't know why he is or would want to be here, but he is. Just what game is he playing? Just as I am about to step onto the the floor, I misstep, causing me to lose my balance. I fall forwards. I expected pain as my face hit the carpet, but, instead, I feel arms around my stomach and waist. I look up to see Dimitri smiling at me. He helps me stand upright. I cross my arms across my chest.

"Thank you." I mumble. I glance over at him to see him smiling widely. His harlequin green eyes are shining. It's starting to scare me a bit. He's never been like this before. It's like he's a changed person. I flick my eyes up to his forehead to see a small scar near his hairline. I bite my lip. I did that when I hit him, I'm sure. I look away.

"Nicole! Hey!" Dean calls from the top of the stairs. I smile at him. I see that his attire isn't much different that Dimitri's. The only difference is that he is wearing a deep brown tie that matches his eye color. He, too, has slicked his hair back. In his hand is a vibrant yellow daffodil. He walks down the steps, approaching Dimitri and I. Once he reaches us, he plants a kiss on my cheek and I giggle. He loops the flower's stem through the band that is hold my hair up. I gently touch one of the petals once he pulls away.

"Sorry it doesn't really match what you're wearing, but when I saw this daffodil, it reminded me of how beautiful you are. In the language of flowers, daffodils means inspiration and good fortune. And you give me both." He explains. My cheeks burn brightly at the thought.

"Thank you very much, Dean." I tell him. Dimitri clears his throat, grabbing our attention. I snap out of my daze and cough nervously. "Dean, this is Dimitri. Dimitri, this is Dean."

"It is nice to finally meet you." Dean says, offering his hand to Dimitri. He takes it, and they shake hands. I inwardly sigh in relief. At least there isn't a hostile atmosphere from either party.

"I'm going to go help my mother... decide how to set the table. You two get acquainted, or something." I mumbled. I pat Dean's arm and head into the dining area. I let out a shaking breath. I don't know what game Dimitri playing, if he's even playing one, but I don't like it one bit. He looks so... different. A calm air around him. He didn't smell like alcohol, nor did he look like some sort of thug. He looks like... A normal person. Someone you could bring home to your parents, and they would be pleased. I need to know what happened to him after I ran.

"Ahh, Nicole, honey! Can you help me choose what wine glasses to use? I want to use the perfect one, but I haven't a clue about Dean's preferences." My mother says, turning away from one of the many cupboards full of glass dishes. I step over to her and look at the my reflection in the spotless glass display. I can see that I've changed too. I no longer look like a lost child. I appear as a woman now. I tuck some hair behind my ear before looking at my mother.

"What happened that day? That day I ran away?" I ask her, my voice barely coming out as a whisper. As much as I want to know the events of that day, I also want to continue to run. Run back to my little house in the mountains, tend to my animals and crops. But I can't. I know I can't run forever.

"You needn't worry about the details before dinner." She replies. Her playful, adoring expression melts away, giving me a face that she only uses when she's at the hospital - Deadly serious. I hate when she uses it in family situations, but I also know that I need to press forwards.

"You invited Dimitri here for dinner, and he seems to be a completely different person! I deserve to know what happened to him!" I nearly yell. I need to calm down. Both Dean and Dimitri are in the next room, and I don't want them involved in this conversation. My mother looks at me, and, for a split second, she looked surprised. She sighs and crosses her arms over her chest.

"I will tell you, but you must promise not to lose your composure." She gives in. I simply nod, mentally preparing myself for whatever she has to say. "Dimitri, he... He wasn't hurt too badly. He merely had a few bruises, one crushed rib - but that didn't do any damage to his internal organs - and a rather sizeable gash on his forehead. As soon as I saw his name on the paperwork, I took him as my patient. He merely needed stitches and some rest. When he woke up, he didn't know who he was. He has retrograde amnesia."

My eyes widen as she tells me this. I didn't kill him, but I destroyed his memory. I bit my lip. "What did you do to him? Why is he a different person than before?"

"Retrograde amnesia is difficult concept, sweetie. Although there is a huge chance of that person eventually retaining their memories, there is also a chance that they never do. Dimitri still has yet to remember who he was, and I think that's for the better. He's a nice boy." She explains, "However, he does remember you, Nicole. Although his memories aren't 100 percent correct, he remembered me after a few days. After a few more days, he remembered you without me saying a word. And I promise I wasn't going to tell him anything. I knew that he hurt you. But as soon as I saw him tear up because of how he thinks he remembers treating you, I knew that he could change for the better. I helped him the whole time in recovery. He even stayed in this house for a while. He's a changed man."

"'How he thinks he remember treating you'? How does he remember treating me, mom? By consistently drinking and then taking it out on me? By using me to get whatever he wanted? By stealing from me?" I challenge her. Her eyes widen and she frowns.

"Do not tell him any of that. If you ruin all that he remembers now, he will break down and there's a chance he'll never recover. Sure, maybe his brain may have blocked out those exact memories, but he does remember that he didn't treat you fairly. And that is more than you'll get from any other man like the one he used to be."

I sigh. I know that she's right, but I just... Don't want to admit it. I can't do anything to make this worse for him, I know, but he must know that he has changed himself. Maybe it really is for the best. I reach into the cupboard and grab a simple wine glass.

"This one would be fine. Do you need anymore help setting up?" I ask, changing the subject. I glance at my mother to see that her serious look has faded away. She smiles as she grabs a few more of the same designed glass.

"No. That's all I needed," She tells me, "But if you could go get the boys, dinner's almost ready."

"Of course." I reply. I head towards the other room, hoping that the two aren't fighting or anything of the sort. However, as I walk through the entrance dividing the rooms, I could see them laughing together. I smile as I watch them. I could see Dean's muscles ripple through his dress shirt as he laughs. I sigh in content. I can't believe I was able to date him. His smile once his laughter died down was contagious.

"There's the woman of the hour!" Dimitri says once he notices me. I want to seize up and stand still, but I know I shouldn't. If I'm to move past all of this, I just need to relax. I wave them over.

"Come on! It's time for dinner!" I inform them.

"As long as it's not your mom's cooking!" Dimitri teases. Now it's my turn to giggle. Everyone in this house, but Dean, knew that my mom isn't the best cook. A 'I heard that!' came from the dining room, and I couldn't help but laugh. Comedic timing, I suppose. We walk back into the dining room and Dean lets out an audible 'Wow'.

"Will father be joining us tonight?" I ask as I take seat in the middle of the ridiculously huge dining table. Dean moves to sit next to me, still in his stupor. My mother sits across from him, and Dimitri sits next to her. I bit my lip softly. I don't know if I can handle sitting face-to-face with him, but I think I can at least try.

"No," My mother informs us, "He was called in for a new case, so he left earlier to get the details. He'll most likely spend the night at the office - like usual."

I nod thoughtfully. Moments afterwards, our appetizer of Caesar salad is presented to us. The tension soon dies down into a comfortable conversation. It feels... normal. Like we've been doing this for years. However, despite the calm atmosphere, I can't help but watch Dimitri's every move. The way his wrist moves as he uses his fork to pick up a lettuce leaf. The way his mouth curls up into a smirk whenever he has a joke to tell. The way a few strands of hair become unfolded against his forehead, resting against the pale skin of his. I'm also completely tuned out of the conversation before someone reaches in front of me, taking my barely touched plate. I blink. I mumble a thank you.

"Is everything alright, Nicole?" Dimitri asks, a concerned sparkle in his eyes. I nod.

"I just... Spaced out, I guess!" I say. I add an awkward laugh. Everyone decides to turn back to the conversation, although Dean did put a comforting hand on my knee. I smile. I just need to calm down and relax and not focus on the man in front of me. He's not the Dimitri I know, and that's fine. He's a new man. As soon as I can convince myself of that, I know I'll be fine. I can't, though. Even with a new appearance, I still see the man that used me. A new plate is put in front of me, but I can't focus on what's on it. I can only see the sincere smile of his face as he thanks the man who brought it to him. Only see the knife in his hand as he picks it up. Why does his need a knife? Why does he still have a smile of his face? What is he planning?

"Huh?" I snap out of it when Dean squeezes my knee before taking his hand back.

"I asked if you didn't like the idea of cannelloni for dinner?" Dean asks softly. I look down at my plate to see two perfectly rolled cannelloni, drizzled with marinara sauce. I could feel my cheek burn as I shake my head.

"I like them! Don't worry about it!" I answer. He raises an eyebrow, but decides to drop it. I grab my own knife and fork. I slowly cut into one of the ricotta filled pasta. It let out a bit a steam. Piping hot, I see. I stab the piece with my fork and take a bite of it. I smile. It's delicious, but that's to be expected. The cooks don't get paid for horrible food. I continue to cut off small pieces and eat them until the first roll is done.

"Are you not hungry, sweetheart?" I hear Dimitri ask. My eyes widen at that nickname. He had used it earlier too, when I was walking down the stairs. He used to call me that all the time. A sarcastic nickname. Does he even know what that name means to me? Does he know how much it hurts me? "If there's anything I could do, I would gladl-"

"Stop it! Okay? Stop it!" I yell as I stand. I couldn't handle it anymore. I didn't want to be in his presence for another second. I quickly walk out of the dining room, excusing myself from the meal. I walk out of the house all together, not bothering to put on a jacket. I instantly regret it. The bitter chill of Autumn was nipping at my shoulders and back. It didn't help that it was raining. I could feel my clothes getting soaked with each step, but I keep walking away.

"Nicole!" I hear. I don't stop or turn around. I didn't want anyone to follow me. I just need to be alone with my thoughts so I can figure this whole thing out. I can hear footsteps coming from behind me, splashing into the forming puddles. I could feel a hand on my shoulder and it squeezed gently. I turn to see Dean. His face was scrunched up with concern.

"What are you thinking? Going out dressed like that in the rain?" He asks. He drapes the suit jacket he must've brought with him around my shoulders. I turn to face him now. I can't help the tears that start to fall down my cheeks. He presses his lips against my forehead in a kiss before sweeping my wet bangs away from my frozen cheeks. He uses his thumb to wipe away some of my tears. I smile sadly at him. His hair has fallen back into a relaxed position and now stuck to his face, and you could see through his shirt. He pulls me into an embrace.

"It's going to be alright, Nicole." He promises before giving my hair a chaste kiss. I buried my face in the crook of his neck. I sob into the shoulder of his shirt. I know I'm ruining it, but I just need to let it out. He rubs my back. I didn't want him to see me like this, but I just don't know what to do anymore.

It takes a few more minutes, but my sobs finally die down into little sniffles. I slowly pull away. I smile at him. I thank him before kissing him on the cheek. Although I still don't know how to handle my feelings with Dimitri, I have definitely calmed down. I feel better, more lighter. Maybe all I needed was to cry, or maybe I just needed Dean. He looks into my eyes for a second before he gently takes my chin between his thumb and index finger. He leans closer to me and my eyes widen. Is this it? Our first kiss? It only takes a second for my questions to be answered. He presses his lips against mine, kissing me. I kiss him back, closing my eyes and melting into his touch. Every feeling of stress, or uneasiness, melts away as I relax into the kiss. He pulls away, smiling.

"That was worth the wait, if you ask me, my beautiful flower." He whispers. I could feel my cheek burn bright red as I nod. I want to tell him how amazing it was, but I find myself speechless. He lets go of my chin to hold my hand. "Let's go back, okay? You have me and we can take a break whenever you need it."

"Y... Yes. Right." I agree, brought out of my stupor. He grins before walking back to my parents' house. I follow, smiling at him. He's everything I've ever wanted, and so much more. However, I find that I can't focus my thoughts on him. I immediately find myself thinking about the dinner and Dimitri's face when I told him to stop. He looked like a little puppy I had just kicked. It hurt to see that look on his face, but I could feel, deep down, a bit of satisfaction. I shouldn't feel that way, but to know that I could inflict enough emotion in him to make that face, the same face I've made at him more times than I can count. I... Feel horrible for thinking about it like that. I can tell myself that I need to move on as many times as I want, but nothing will happen if I don't actually believe those words.

"Are you ready to go in?" Dean asks. I nod. I am going to start believing that now. That Dimitri is a changed man, and deserves a second chance. It may take a while to warm up to him, but, I swear, I will try! I open the door. My mother rushes over to me and hugs me. I blink.

"Mother! I'm all wet!" I tell her, laughing. She, too, is laughing once she pulls away. As much as she wants to scold me, I'm sure that she is happy to know that I'm back. Dimitri is standing near the entrance to the dining room, fiddling around with the button on his cuff of his shirt. I smile at him. "Everything is fine. I'm just having a hard time coping with being back home." I tell my mother, "I have to take a shower, and dry off. I'll show Dean one of the guest bathrooms."

As I walk towards the stairs, Dimitri finally looks up at me. I mouth him an apology before leading Dean up the stairs. He perks up a bit at this, and I can't help but smile. I take Dean down the same hallway as our rooms. "Alright! This bathroom is just two doors down and across from your room, in case you need to use it for other purposes. Have at it!"

"Thank you, my flower." Dean says. He gives me a quick kiss before walking into the bathroom. I giggle softly to myself. I walk back towards my room, planning on using the connected bathroom. Once I enter my room, I grab a set of pajamas and two towels before walking into the bathroom. I turn on the water. I'll just take a quick shower, then hop into bed and go to sleep.

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I walk into my room, my body wrapped up in a towel. I ruffle my hair with the other towel to help dry it. I perk up once I hear a knock at the door. "Come in!" I call, figuring it's just Dean or my mother. I blink as the door opens to reveal Dimitri. He's still dressed up from earlier, only his tie is gone and the top two buttons of his shirt are undone. Maybe he's staying the night? It is rather late in the evening. He opens his mouth before quickly closing it. Is he floundered by my state of dress? I lower the towel that was drying my hair as I look at him. His eyebrows are scrunched up, and he looks like he has a lot on his mind.

"Can we talk?"