I knew, before reading this, that Keiji and Dezh have a lot in common (besides using pain as a coping mechanism for emotions they don’t understand), but I didn’t realize just how much they are alike until now.
Putting the Keiji stuff under the cut, because it’s long…
See, this wouldn’t work with Dezh at all, at least not from a stranger. She could not give a single damn what strangers think of her. She’d just roll her eyes at them and keep going, unless she really did see that she was hurting someone she didn’t want to hurt.
About as well as it works for Dezh, though when she feels something other than anger, she either tries to drown it in physical pain and recklessness (driving like a madwoman in her piece of crap car on the most dangerous road she can find) or tries to turn it to anger. Failing that, she tries to get herself into ‘robot’ mode, which she can sometimes reach via the other routes. If none of this is a choice, she will dig her nails into her hands until she has blood flowing. If that isn’t enough, she will “accidentally” cut herself while screwing around with a knife or some other sharp object. The pain gives her focus—better pain you choose than pain that is thrust upon you, right?
Again, something they have in common. Between Bobby and the guy she lost her virginity to in high school—Ian, who made her think he liked her, then took her to a dance to get her in bed to win a bet (because everyone in school thought she was too “weird” to actually be convinced of such a thing and Ian took it as a challenge) and made it clear he used her—she has no reason to trust anyone actually gives a crap about her. Add to that her insecurities about Rebecca never being around when she was growing up, and she really doesn’t believe anyone could give a damn about her without some kind of ulterior motives, and if they do, they’ll just leave and not be there, anyway.
They are different in this. Dezh isn’t open and isn’t really friendly. She’s an abrasive hardass (on the outside), who has the tact of a sledgehammer to the face. Tina and Verda are her friends because they kept pushing until she let them in. She lets Verda take care of her and looks at him as a father figure, though she doesn’t really admit that to anyone (he knows). With Tina, she lets Tina yammer at her, without sharing too much, but when she drinks, she actually shares stuff with her. Somewhat, anyway.
Her only experience with sex and relationships is with Bobby and Ian, which sucks for her since they were both users, selfish, and never, er, pleasured her, so she has no clue how to behave in that capacity. She flirts like she does everything else: aggressively and in your face, but even that is rare because she’s not used to being strongly attracted to much of anyone (Mason is the only one who’s done that to her). She figures it’s safe—be aggressive, get some, and go on her merry way—but she has no bloody clue what she’s getting into, and how her deep need for physical affection (that she pretends isn’t there) will affect her when she’s finally with a guy she really enjoys herself with.
This is Dezh to a ‘t.’ She’s honestly surprised she’s still alive now, and she really wants to go out in a huge self-sacrifice saving people she cares for, because at least then her existence meant something. Had a purpose. When Murphy shows up in the parking lot, she offered to go with him if he’d let UB go and leave them alone, and she was ready to die for that, because she figured Murphy would kill no one else in Wayhaven and he’d disappear when she died and, therefore, not be a threat to UB. But she’s also a fighter, so when she woke up after he injected her, she got out of the bonds and escaped, ready to dance with death again at another time. A quote from her on the matter (when she actually opens up to someone about it):
“You know that feeling you get, when death is on your heels, snapping its jaws and so close it knows it has you? That moment when an eighteen-wheeler is barreling at you full speed and there’s nowhere to go… when there’s a gun pointed at your head and seemingly no way out… when you feel your car slip on a wet mountain road and see the abyss to your side ready to swallow you whole. That instant where time slows to a crawl because you know it’s about to end.” A small breath escaped her, and her words seemed to flow easier again. “It doesn’t make my heart beat faster or give me fear—I’ve never had that reaction to it—but in that moment I’m… free. I’m just me. Dancing with death. It’s the only real constant. A lover that never leaves, who’s ready to embrace every part of you forever. I never feel as alive, or as accepted, as when I’m a heartbeat from death.”
Pain is exactly what does it for her, too, though she uses it as a distraction and a way to regain control. She doesn’t use sex (she’s only been with Ian and Bobby, so far) yet. Once she hooks up with Mason, though? She’ll want it as rough as he’ll give it to her, with marks and pain. When she realizes she has fallen for him, though, she’s gonna fall apart on the inside while trying to pretend she’s just as uncommitted and uninterested in something more than getting laid as he is. Until she slips, anyway…
That’s why Dezh does it, too. Unless she’s trying to block out the pain she refuses to admit she has, in which case, she goes a bit nuts. It’s those times, she wants to find someone a lot bigger and stronger than her so they can really fight and beat the hell out of her and give her the pain she needs. And she won’t stop until she is too beaten up to move or unconscious (though when she wakes, she may want more). At those times, she wouldn’t want to spar with a friend, unless it’s a friend she knows is capable of effing her up even when she’s fighting with everything she’s got.
If Dezh was not in one of her own moods, she’d recognize it because she does the same thing. In which case (assuming she’s used to being around him at this point), she’d continue sparring but be controlled about it, and likely say to him, “What’s up your ass? See that prick, Bobby or something?” Don’t look for a gentle bedside manner from her, lol. You know, given how much they’re alike, she might actually find it easier to talk to him, because he’d get it.
And Wolfe wouldn’t mind pissing him off. She’s got a touch of Dezh’s death wish, but she turns softer quicker, and she’s the type to take in strays because taking care of people makes her feel better.
I did enjoy it! I love getting insight to other people’s characters, and the broken ones like Keiji are really interesting to me. I like complexities.
She’d learn to accept it, while still expecting to find out he’s just jerking her around (for a while, anyway, until she figured out he’s really her friend and not going anywhere… for now). The moment she actually one-arm hugged him or made some kind of affectionate gesture on her own would be the moment she completely trusts him (she won’t even do that with Tina, but has done it with Verda once, and Verda made no big deal of it).
I don’t think Nate would work, for several reasons. All the flirting is depending on the MC, and Nate would not respond well to her brand of flirting. As soon as she tried it and got his “I’d rather talk” stuff, she’d figure he wasn’t interested and forget about it.
I thought about the A route for her, but she’d give up on that as well, most likely. The only way it’d work is if she saw him as someone safe to flirt with because she knows he’d never act on it in a million years. Then she gets the fun, but she’d be eternally frustrated with wanting to be physical in some way and him running away constantly. I may try a playthrough where she goes for him, just to see how she reacts, though.
I actually considered Felix. Felix is fun, he’s pretty forward, and had I done the patrol scene with him instead of Mason, I think she’d have kept flirting with him. In the fic I’m writing, she’s becoming really good friends with Felix (and with Adam, actually) and getting used to his ways. I may try one with her romancing Felix, but she got protective of him pretty quickly and sees him like a little brother. One she can corrupt and drink with, lol.
But despite everything I said about Adam and Felix, she is just seriously drawn to Mason, not only because he has her lack of tact and is just as abrasive (if not more so, since she curbs it a bit around people she actually likes), but because deep down, she recognizes how dominant he is and, subconsciously, that really draws her in more. It’s what she needs, and craves, though she’d never admit it, since she’s a very dominating person by nature. And she’ll never make it easy for him—if someone wants her to submit, they’ll have to fight her every damn time and prove they deserve it and can handle it. In a way, she does the same dance with Adam as a friend—she won’t follow his lead just because he says he has it, he has to prove he’s right every single time and earn her agreement. Meh, it’s complicated and I could explain it, but I’ve already done TMI for her now.
@Celtic_Rune Just read Retrograde. Good fic. Poor Keiji.
@Meira_Litch I agree with Marla, but that path wouldn’t work to get through to Dezh at all, both because she wouldn’t take well to that method and because she’d be ready to defend Keiji as well (don’t screw with her sparring buddy!). She’d tell Marla to go fuck herself, then want to fight her when she was well enough to do so (and she wouldn’t wait long enough, because she’s Dezh). She’d also point out that doing what she and Keiji just did is part of training, one that’s necessary, because “If you can’t fight when you’re in pain and injured, then you aren’t worth shit in a real battle. You have to learn not to give up, and to keep going, no matter how bad it gets. And be willing to sacrifice it all. So don’t fucking judge us and leave him the hell alone!” And then she’d try to get up and stomp out, but end up crawling out, bleeding all over the place, lol.
@Mewsly But you know the first rule of fight club, right?
Tahir’s way would work way better with Dezh, at least once she started getting to know him. Bad cop doesn’t work on her if you don’t know her (really, neither does good cop, unless the good cop can convince her she’s hurting one of the few people she cares about). And yeah, going to her superior is the absolute wrong way to deal with it, lol. And a good way to make a complete enemy of her, permanently, and she’s not one you want as an enemy.