Last night had been a total shit show for the Initia. Austin couldn't remember the last time he had been that restless, and it showed today as he ventured through the short hallway, and into the bathroom to have a quick shower. His hair stood up straight on his head, giving a whole new meaning to bed head, and the bags under his eyes made him look more like a racc*** than a human.  Today happened to be a really huge deal for him. When the Initia had moved to the city, he immediately took his inner nerd to a new level and became CEO at DWD (Dire Wolf Digital), where he was scheduled to give a big speech and presentation tonight. As the senior game designer, and game play engineer, it was his job to present new games when they were finished being tested and so fourth.

After a year of hard work, he and his company had finally finished the nintendo suit; a suit made for all ages from adult to children to wear that interacted with the games made for it. Nervous was an understatement for how he felt to give a speech at tonight's presentation. He had memorized word for word all the things he wanted to say, but right now he was struggling to conjure up a single word of his speech. As he showered away the tension and sweat from last night, the Initia sang loudly while lathering up his hair. As a gamer, Austin was also a music junkie, it was rare to see him doing anything whatsoever without having music blasting in the background; and the games he played normally had the best music.

It was nearly an hour later when Austin finished his shower, sighing happily as he stepped out and wrapped a towel around himself. With the music still blaring, the Initia continued dancing his way around the bathroom while brushing his teeth, and then his hair; he always took care of his hygiene and often got made fun of for how in depth he'd went to make sure he always looked and smelled good. After finally finishing in the bathroom Austin trailed through to the spare bedroom he'd been sleeping in, dropping his towel in the bathroom floor, now standing nude as he rummaged through his suits. He had plenty. It came with the job he supposed. After he had given his last big presentation, Austin had bought himself several different high priced suits, it was probably one of the dew things he had spent a lot of money on, aside from his suits, Austin's money went on Thai take out and pot. Smoking weed just happened to keep him a little more calm than he would be without it, the anxiety issues he'd gained back at his home town, hadn't lessened when he moved to the city.

After picking two different suits from his closet, the Initia sighed, he assumed no amount of pot would calm him down tonight. While standing in front of the tall stand up mirror, trying to recite his speech to himself, he began to panic. Forgetting several different parts of his speech had sent him into a downward spiral, one that made him not want to go at all. He had never done well in the spot light, even if he did feel utterly proud of what all he had accomplished, he didn't like to be noticed like he would be tonight. Social anxiety was a bitch. "Okay Austin. You can do this." he stated, inhaling and exhaling a few times before trying once more. "Computer and video games are of the utmost importance as cultural assets, as a driving force for innovation, and as an economic factor. Tonight we proudly- - -". Austin cut off mid sentences and closed his eyes, taking a deep breath as anger washed over him.

He was still stuck, unable to finish, and he had been practicing this very speech for weeks now. Feeling slightly doomed, the Initia flopped back onto his bed, groaning into his pillow. He couldnt handle the stress, and frankly, he didn't wanna look like a fool in front of reporters, and dozens of other gaming nerds. Frantically he searched around the room for the paper he'd written his speech on, only to find the ink smeared due to something being spilled on it. "FUCKKKK" he yelled out; hearing a noise on the other side of the wall where Dakota slept. "Shit" he added, figuring he'd just woken her up.

For the past few months, Austin and Dakota had been learning to cohabit. Rarely Austin still spoke to Bradyn, every once in a while, he couldn’t help but call and check on him and while Austin was worried about the dark path he had turned down after leaving Dakota, he damn sure wouldn’t tell Dakota anything to hurt her. But, Bradyn had been drinking himself into comatosed like states;  the Initia shook his head, shrugging those thoughts away. Things with Dakota and Austin had gotten to a good place and bringing Bradyn up was just one of many things they said they wouldn’t do. Lately, he had noticed Dakota flirting with him, and he had to admit, for a female like Dakota to take notice to him, it swelled his ego. But it wasn’t one sided, he gave it right back to her, and loved every second they spent together. Their friendship was in a good place.

Austin had even stepped up in helping with house chores, especially making sure the place was tidy for her before she got off work every day. From doing the dishes, to taking out the trash, and even folding her laundry. He’d also helped her as much as he could with training herself to gain control of her powers, and lately, she’d been in a really food place with them, even though she still had a long road ahead of her, the two of them were off to a great start and Austin could rest easier at night, knowing she wasn’t as much of a danger to herself as she’d started out to be the first time she lost control in front of him.

The Initia smiled to himself, it was obvious that he now felt things for her beyond their friendship and he had made it pretty clear by how he treated her, that he had a huge crush on the Diviner; but he also respected the fact that she just couldn’t give herself to another right now. It didn’t mean that he didn’t hope for that every day however. Things had changed for them to say the least; Austin had ever learned how to cook a few good dishes, he and Dakota’s friendship were one of those where they cooked together and talked from sundown till dawn again. He was happy with where they were right now.  Still sitting in his bed with no clothes on, and knowing he most likely woke her up, Austin quickly slid some boxers on before walking out to see what the noise was. Plus, the panic was only growing within him.

Walking to Dakota’s room, Austin walked in since the door was opened. Whether she had just woken up was beyond his clouded mind as he bombarded her with his panicked jibber jabber “”Im not going.” he started and began pacing, using hand gestures as he continued on “Ive been pacticing a speech for weeks that i can’t seem to remember the most important parts of” he stated, and laughed at something that obviously wasn’t funny to him at all. “And on top of that, the one and only place i wrote it down at, is destroyed!” he added, running his hands over his face, and probably appeared as a mad man due to the lack of sleep he’d had lately, and the mood he was currently in.

“My life is over. I’m not going and my career is over” he finished off, but continued to pace back and fourth in front of her.  “I can’t believe this. Stupid stupid stupid” he ranted on and on and breathed heavily. “Yup. I can’t do this. I’m fucked” he expressed, shaking his head at how paranoid he felt right now about tonight.

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Life was definitely complicated. That was the conclusion she had come to recently. Last night she had been up til late mulling over the papers from her lawyer that had finally been filed though, she knew a month wasn’t very long to be looking into settling a divorce but she didn’t want to be connected to Bradyn any longer. She’d asked her friends and those she knew to use her maiden name, she was in the process of changing it all back on official and legal documents. She wanted to more affiliation with the man who had cheated on her, badmouthed her behind her back and then entirely stopped speaking to her. She knew now she deserved better than that and she wouldn’t settle for any less.

In the end she had curled up and set the documents on the bedside table, as Austin had told her, there wasn’t any rush to actually go through this part and she could wait until she was ready, part of her wanted to just get it out of the way, the other knew it would mean seeing him and no doubts getting in arguments over money and home ownership. She had laid awake for a while before she zoned in on the sound of Austin practicing his speech in the next room, his voice animated and clearly showing excitement for the product reveal. She’d gotten to see little parts of the project he was working on in the past month and it was actually really clever and interesting, there was far more to Austin than she ever used to believe.

And they had definitely become friends of sorts. She didn’t really know what to call it, housemates, friends or maybe even close friends. It had become evident in the time they were living together that Austin was sweet on her, she caught his lingering stares at times and the way he would blush and avert his gaze on occasion though with time he had gotten less and less awkward with her and they had fallen into a more comfortable but slightly flirtatious place. It wasn’t anything incriminating, she’d been pretty clear with him from day one she wasn’t looking for a relationship but it wasn’t like the brunette could deny how damn attractive he was either. Especially when he spent half his time around the house shirtless and flaunting his well toned and frankly gorgeous body.

It was a Saturday the next day so Dakota hadn’t set an alarm, she’d already prepped most of her classes for the next week or so, she always liked to be ahead of the game and have everything ready well in advance. Most weekends she spent reading the spellbook she had been given by Kaelyn and practicing her magic. She wasn’t in a great place yet, she still lost control at times and let her emotions get the better of her but she was getting better at reining it in and recognizing the signs of when she needed a break. She had learned some basic spells and been working with Austin to blow off a little steam too and she was proud of how far she had come and not having to resort to asking a diviner to block her powers again. \

She had gotten quite the abrupt awakening from her sleep when she heard Austin cursing from the other side of the wall though, she started awake, sitting up quickly as she adjusted to the light and blinked a few times glancing over at the clock. She’d actually managed to sleep in today which knowing what she was usually like was pretty impressive. It took her a moment to realize what had woken her up and she frowned. Austin had been getting more and more stressed over his speech lately, worrying that he wasn’t going to be able to pull it off. But she’d seen the way he completely fawned over his tech and the work he was doing with it and multiple times she had assured him he was going to do great and his work would speak for itself.

Sometimes it was little like talking to a brick wall with him though, she found, once he got something in his head it was pretty hard to get him to let it go. Still, she’d heard him rehearsing it enough times now that she knew mostly the whole thing and frankly, she thought it was a pretty convincing and professional speech, plus with a live demonstration of the device itself, there was no way the investors weren’t going to go for it. Austin had really stepped up since Bradyn had left and Kota had realized he was far smarter and driven than anyone seemed to give him credit for, he had asked her to teach him how to cook and since then the two of them cooked dinner together most evening, he was really improving.

And he was actually a really good person, she knew he called and talked to Bradyn a few times but he barely spoke about the other male because he knew how much it upset her, instead he would usually come up with silly stories about his day or he would make jokes. There was a running joke about her cooking because one evening she had forgotten about a chicken she put in the oven and when it came out it was black and burnt to a crisp and the two of them hadn’t managed to get the smell out of the house for at least 2 weeks afterward.

She raised her brows with concern as she heard him pacing around in his room and was just debating getting up to check on him before he came into her room, she didn’t really close the bedroom door, a habit she supposed after living with her husband for so long. Living with Austin was different, it was stupid conversations til stupid in the morning until she crashed because she had work the next day, a couple of days she’d even fallen asleep on the couch and he’d left a blanket over her because he didn’t want to wake her. She looked up, listening to his mini-meltdown while running a hand through her hair as she looked up at him, shirtless, again, but she was beginning to get used to that about him

She waited for him to finish before she pulled back the covers and smiled at him softly “Breathe” she instructed as she chuckled just a little but it quickly faded when she noticed how exhausted he looked and her eyes softened a little “Alright, firstly, I know that you know that speech because I’ve heard you run it through at least 20 times in the last few days alone” she assured him with a nod of her head. “Second, bring me the destroyed speech and let me see what I can salvage” she stated with a stern look, she was a teacher and she was sure she would have seen worse. “You can do this” she assured as she got to her feet to meet his eyes “You worked on this for months” she spoke and reached out her hands to run from his shoulders down his arms slowly.

“Breathe” she instructed breathing in and then slowly out and then repeated as she tried to get him to calm down “We have a few hours til you need to go, you can practice it on me” she nodded as she met his oceanic hues to try and figure out if she was getting through to him “Okay?” she spoke softly, she knew how important this was to him and how much he’d regret not going.

Deep down, Austin felt like shit for coming to Dakota about this. He knew she had spent her entire night reading stacks of papers she'd been given by her lawyer about the divorce her and Bradyn would soon be in court for. Her features displayed enough stress without Austin's mental breakdown adding to it, but still, he didn't know anyone better to go to for guidance; and if anyone could calm him down, it would be Dakota. Still though, he could only grimace each time he paced past her, seeing dark circled under her eyes. But, even if Austin had never been married, he understood the need to wanna disconnect from something or someone of your past that badly. Amonth was rather quick in his opinion and he could only hope she didn't regret anything she was doing to rid Bradyn of her life, either way, he stood good on his word, and he'd be there for her no matter what.

After he finished venting and having a nervous break down, Austin inhaled and folded his arms; one over the other, still nervously shifting from one foot to the other. The Initia's gaze caught her dark optics, for a moment, he was content just looking into her eyes, but after she told him to breathe, Austin inhaled and exhaled a couple times. Frankly, he felt like running his head through a brick wall right now. Her request for him to bring her his destroyed papers, caused Austin to grimace, but either way, he ran and retrieved them. The Initia was almost too embarrassed to hand them over though; he'd spilled drinks on them, and there was no shortage of dried up Thai food stuck to the paper "I was running on fumes. I ended up not really caring about cleaning my room and destroyed them. I sabotaged my career! oh my god Dakota, what am I gonna do?!" he questioned in a loud panicky tone once more, the ruined papers seeming to be some sort of trigger to his anxiety.

Austin found himself frozen in time when she spoke again though, it was true, like anything else she said to him, he had really worked hard for this, and had spent months doing so, but the way she ran her hands from his shoulders to crease of his elbow caused goose bumps to rise on his flesh, and he was almost sure the hairs on the back of his neck stood straight. Clearing his throat, the Initia inhaled once more, a feeble attempt at calming his breathing, not that it helped with the way she touched him; but with the fact that he had a huge crush on her, it wasn't too out of the way that something this simple sent him into a daze for a brief second before he could compose himself. "I just really never wanna live the life my father assured me that i'd have. I went out of my way and broke my neck to make sure I got exactly what I wanted career wise, I should be a little more reckless with something as important as a speech. I don't know whats wrong with me, ive given a few already, but tonight's is definitely way bigger.. and it's definitely the furthest the company has came" he expressed, eyeing her, astonished at just how beautiful she was even half awake right now.

Austin knew there would be a much larger crowd tonight than he'd seen at any of his previous presentation's and past presentations were by far not as advanced and epic as the new device he'd hand-made for gaming systems. Austin blew out another breath, giving a faint smile when Dakota told him to breathe once more. After following her technique, the Initia arched a brow at her, "I swear Kota, you're a sorceress; I don't know how you do it sometimes. I can be so damn impatient, when I set my mind on saying fuck it.. that's it for me, ill refuse and no one can get me out of that state of mind.. but right now I feel like at least attempting this speech" he stated, as she told him he could try it on her. With as little time as it'd been since he and Dakota had gotten close, he couldn't help but feel lucky, she was a good friend, and Austin had never had that with anyone but Bradyn, and there was a part of Bradyn that Austin had never known until it nearly broke Dakota. And, that part of Bradyn he despised. So even if he had Bradyn's friendship it still didn't feel as genuine as what he had built with Dakota so far.

"Okay" he then said, inhaling and exhaling one more time just because it felt good.  "Computer and video games are of the utmost importance as cultural assets, as a driving force for innovation, and as an economic factor. Tonight we proudly present our newest product, for people of all ages and body types; The Haptic Suit" he stated, before pausing. "Over here as you see, Mike is modeling the suit. It has Haptic simulations, real time simulations, weight and height simulation, user calibration profiles, a capillary system, a haptic library, and users can create custom animations with the haptic editor application, which to your luck, is pre-installed with the virtual reality glasses. Another plus about this suit, the charging process is pretty simple; here.." he paused and pointed to an empty space, since his partner to model the suit; Mikey, wasn't here right now "Here you'll see a usb jack, all you need is a USB cord, charging it is that easy!. I'd like to proudly say this suit has been the most amazing project ive done yet, and it wouldn't be possible without my team, but more importantly, it wouldn't be possible with people like you! Gamers from all over the world; the Haptic Suit!"

Austin finished, and arched a brow because after Dakota guided him into giving his speech and using it on her, it was a breeze. "I did it!" he then expressed like a child who had succeeded at riding their bike for the first time without training wheels "Oh my god, we did it Kota!" he stated joyfully once more while picking her up into a bear hug and spinning her before sitting her back down to her feet. Austin took no time in running through the house yelling 'I FUCKING DID IT. WOOOO!" before making his way back to her room, flashing her an ear to ear grin. His eyes lit up with a happiness that he had assumed vanished the moment he forgot the words to his speech. "Sorry. You know how I can get, but I definitely wasn't trying to dork out like that in front of you" he stated, blushing heavily at this point before chuckling and shaking his head.

After sitting on the edge of her bed, the Initia glanced at Dakota, holding his gaze "How are you though Kota, really?" he asked, while twiddling his thumbs. "I know you stayed up all night  last night, i caught glanced here and there of what you were reading the few times I walked past you to use the bathroom.. are you alright?" he asked, and he knew that that question was the most ignornat question in the world in some situations, he never understood why people asked it, when they knew good and well that the person they were asking, was far from okay. But, it had been hard to read her lately, she didn't cry as much during the night, and Austin didn't bring Bradyn up ever, so it was unknown how she felt about it lately. As his stomach began growling at him, the Initia chuckled; it was around this time of the evening where he and Dakota began discussing what they would cook for dinner. Austin had slacked off on the Thai food, due to how much he enjoyed learning how to cook; it was one of the many other things the two of them had started doing that he enjoyed very much. But, if all went well tonight, Austin had other plans in mind, rather than cooking at home.

Clearing his throat, the Initia glanced down to what he was wearing, realizing he may need her help for one more thing tonight. "I may need to borrow your expertise again before we go. I have three suits laid out, and no idea which one to wear" he said almost playfully, but she did have good taste, so Austin was confident that she'd pick the one he looked best in, for tonights events.

The brunette ran a hand through her hair as she blinked a few times and headed over to her bathroom just to splash some water on her face and attempt to wake herself up, by the time Austin came back with the paper she looked down at it and pursed her lips “Believe it or not, this isn’t the worst I’ve seen” she commented as she grabbed a pen off her desk and some paper and started writing down all the parts she could make out “Some parents are absolutely hopeless when it comes to getting their kids to do their homework” she commented as she looked up at him, she was staying as calm as she could and trying to reassure him that everything would be fine. She had found that was the best way to handle his panicking, when he was in a calm environment he was calm too. Thankfully, she was a very level headed person.

She hadn’t really thought much about the action to touch his shoulders but she was very aware of it afterward because of the way he froze as though his whole system stopped working for a moment. She stared back at him for a few moments before she dropped her hands knowing she had made her point, there was this sticking point between them lately. Kinda like there was a line between them and while both had thought about crossing it once or twice, they knew what it would mean so they kept standing on the line. “Hey you’re not your father okay?” she corrected him the moment he brought him up “You are witty and you are smart and everything he could only dream of being” she’d seen how hard he worked on all of this, even though most people thought he was wasting his life away, she understood him now. And she supposed she was pretty proud of how far he’d come “I’ve heard you go through that speech so many times and I know you know it” she assured him with an encouraging smile.

She was leading the way, showing him the breathing technique she had learned to help her cope with her powers, it was great as leveling your mind and helping you to think rationally, because that’s exactly what a lot of this was, irrationality. “Technically I’m a diviner” she responded quickly to his comment and laughed, she was still getting used to saying that and accepting that part of her but it was slowly coming with time. She could do some basic spells now and was able to get her powers under control much quicker than she used to. With time she was sure she would keep moving further. She looked up at him and shook her head a little “You’re right, you are stubborn, both a blessing and a curse” she teased with an amused expression “But you know you’ve got this” she assured giving him an assertive nod “You wouldn’t have practiced so hard if you didn’t” she was observant and she could tell how important this was to him and she didn’t intend on letting him give up over some nerves.

She sat back on the bed, her eyes watching him as he delivered the speech, she had written most of the parts she could read down for him but he didn’t seem to need it as he started from the top without looking at the papers. She listened keenly to his words, noting the enthusiasm in his voice and the way he held himself with a certain strength that wasn’t there before. She did laugh a little when he pointed out the invisible assistant and her eyes moved to the imaginary suit, she scrunched her nose but smiled anyway. She’d seen Austin testing the tech and it really spoke for itself, she was excited that people would get to try it out tonight and really be sold by the product itself. Once he was done, her eyes brightened and she clapped enthusiastically with a bright smile.

“Of course you did” she spoke proudly though she was caught off guard when he reached out to pull her up and then hugged her, she squeaked from the surprise of it and her laughed echoed off the walls of room, she got caught up in his excitement of it all and it made her realize quite how important this was to him. Things going well for this product could quite possibly change his entire life and that was huge, especially for someone who she got the feeling doubted his own worth and intelligence a lot. She was still laughing as he charged off down the halls shouting in his glee, she shook her head a little very entertained with the way he showed his emotions so openly, he was very different from Bradyn that way, always so expressive and full of life. “You were trying though” she teased with a laugh “It’s okay, it’s nice to see you happy, especially cause I’ve seen the toll of the stress a little” she smiled softly “How are you planning to celebrate when you crush it?” she winked with a smirk.

When he turned the subject around on her, she looked at him a little stunned for a little while not really sure what to say on the whole thing, they’d avoided talking about Bradyn as much as possible because the discussion just put them both down. She knew they were still friends and that Austin had seen him a few times. She expected Bradyn wasn’t happy about the fact Austin was still here or he had tried to use it to his advantage to keep tabs on her. She didn’t want to come between them or make Austin feel like he had to stop being his friend over what happened. “It’s” she spoke and bit her lip “Harder than I thought it would be, making it official you know” it wasn’t that it wasn’t what she wanted. She’d made it clear to Bradyn that what they had was over. She had been working in the last month to be ready to move past it “I’m not even sure why” she admitted as she looked up at him and grimaced “But with all the threats he’s been throwing around about the house and stuff, I think dealing with it through court is going to be the only way to deal with this” she shook her head “But today’s not about me” she spoke softly as she held out the rewritten speech notes she’d been writing out while he recited it “Just in case” she spoke softly.

She tilted her head to the side when he said he needed help to pick out a suit, Kota was still in her PJs, her hair up in a messy bun and no makeup. She was wide awake now and she had agreed to go to this thing with him for moral support, though she had no idea about anything technical. She figured she’d probably make the most of the free food they put out and cheer Austin on for his speech “What’s the boldest color you’ve got?” she asked as she raised to her feet “No black tie, you wanna come across as fun approachable so I’d go with something brighter, maybe a blue” she looked up at him and smiled, he always looked good in blue, it picked out the glacial colors of his hues.

If not for Kota's calm personality, Austin was sure he'd be laid out in her bedroom floor right now  with a heart attack. He was shocked to see her even attempt to make out what was on his long gone speech paper. As she sat there writing, Austin continued repeating her breathing techniques. Finally, after he had calmed himself, he watched her, unable to keep the smile on his face from widening to the point his jaws hurt. The Initia chuckled when she spoke about how hard it as to get kids in school to do their homework. "Oh man, I think i'd really lose my shit if I had to work around kids. I work around a bunch of gaming nerds, and they already grate on my nerves; kids would absolutely destroy me" he chuckled and shook his head.

Even though Dakota's touch tended to cripple Austin, it was something he secretly craved a little more every time it happened. The line was indeed something they tended to stand on top of lately, struggling not to fall one way or the other. Austin was happy with where they were, but the thrill of thinking there could be more, sometimes overwhelmed the Initia. Dakota was the type of female who could have you looking ahead of days, seeing better things. Even if she wasn't trying,  she was the kind of person who could probably hear Austin's heartbeat going crazy even when he tried to play it cool. It was the fact that she remained silent about small things like that, that gave Austin a bit of a rush. His gaze averted back to her when she spoke up, and quite stern at that "Thanks Kota. I guess my mind will always try to take me back to a place where I assume im no better than he was" he expressed, but he truly felt what she said, and it took her saying it for him to believe it.

He wasn't sure what type of spell she had on him, but whatever it was, it was fine by him. Austin listened, and shook his head when she began complimenting him. She'd been the first to do so. Bradyn had never been one to encourage Austin where it came to his dreams, instead he nagged at him over bar hopping and doing other worldly things that would make Austin more 'cool'. But, if being cool meant giving his dreams up of presenting the biggest and best of what the gaming world had to offer, then he'd remain un-cool for the rest of his time on earth. Dakota just happened to be one of very few who understood him. "Thanks Kota, I don't know if this would even happen without you. honestly, I find myself listening for these same words from parents, or just people in general i longed to have a relationship with years ago.. and while it fucks me up a little to know ill never have that, to have it from you gets me by" he admitted, and tore his gaze away from her with enough effort.

Austin then tilted his head, grinning at what she called herself, "Damn straight you are" he stated with a wink. It had taken a long time to see her find some comfort in the act that she was a Diviner, but this was new, to hear her calling herself what she was. He was definitely proud of her too, and how far she had came from the night she made a mess of her place when her powers got out of control. Austin chuckled, and shook his head "blah.. I guess you're right Kota. Lets do the damn thing" he expressed in a tone that indicated he was now cool with it, he now had it. But he wouldn't have been able to go through with this if it hadn't been for her. And that.. that scared the fuck out of him. Did that mean he wouldn't be able to function or that he wouldn't be okay if something happened and they ever parted ways? Damn it.

After the crazed Initia returned from sprinting through the house full of excitement, he chuckled. "It feels really good. Because yeah, it had been taking such a huge toll on me. So you can't imagine how much of a relief it was when I finally told you what it was I was doing, and where I am most of the nights I come home late" he stated before arching a brow at her question. Although he became riddled in fear that she'd say no, it didn't stop him. But instead of commenting on it right away, he decided he’d let her finish talking about how she was feeling now that her divorce was nearly finalized through court, that way he could come back with something that would take her mind off of it. So when she did finish, Austin smirked.

“Like I said the first time, and every time. It’s his loss. I was hoping for the way I celebrate though, that you’d join me.. I um” he started, but found himself stuck for a moment, and after scratching the back of his neck, grimacing a little as he gazed to the floor, he glanced back up at her almost bashfully before continuing. “I was hoping you would celebrate with me. It don’t have to be anything huge, but that’s the only thing I really wanna do. Hang with you, maybe have a couple drinks, what ya think?” he asked, and felt his heart nearly give out on him while waiting for an answer.

Now that he was sweating, and nervous as hell, he was thankful that she started talking about a suit for him to wear, which made him realize one thing in particular. She liked him in blue. Anytime before now, when the Initia wore blue, Dakota gave those longing gazes that made him wanna grab her up; inhaling to that thought alone, he nodded. And with giving himself just enough to change, and allowing Dakota the same amount of time, Austin returned, snazzed up and ready to get this evening started. “Ya know. I would have never brought your divorce up Kota. But I care about you. So it’s important to know you’re okay in the things you deal with as well. Its as big a deal to me as my night tonight seems to be to you” he expressed, while tucking his hands in his pockets, gazing at the door, wondering if it was safe to walk through yet.

"Enough of the heavy though, let me see you woman" he teased, but the big reveal with how he looked now compared to earlier, and knowing when she opened the door that she’d be changed as well, made his heart pound a little harder and his nerves again went a little haywire. But this time, it was a mixture of things, and mostly it was him still waiting for her to say yes or no to being the one to celebrate with him later.

Kota laughed, a lot of people how she managed to work with kids and not go insane, she wasn’t really sure of the answer but she found herself quite a patient person, kids just needed the right kind of support and then they were usually pretty sweet. Though she did teach middle schoolers and she might see things differently if she was working with teenagers “It’s not the kids that drive me insane so much as the parents” she pulled a face “You have no idea how entitled a person can be until you meet mothers of middle school children” it was frustrating as hell, she couldn’t give one child more attention than the others just because their mother shouted the loudest.

She definitely saw a lot of good in him throughout the time they had spent together the last month or so and it kinda made her a little mad at herself that she had never noticed how hard he was working before. She used to think he was just holed up in his room playing games most of the time and was definitely guilty of wondering a few times when he was going to get back on his feet. She hadn’t realized how close to that he already was and she definitely felt bad for judging him without truly knowing him. That had definitely changed now though and she saw the hard work he was doing clearly “You should give yourself more credit” she spoke softly and shrugged “Let more people see the hard work you do” he was pretty shy when it came to his passion but she didn’t see any reason to hide it away.

Then again, she had never really been a shy person, she was quite chatty and animated usually, though it had to be with the right people. Since getting married she had definitely lost a bit of her outgoing side but she hoped to be able to find it again, she certainly missed the person she used to be and Austin had reminded her of it the night she had sent Bradyn packing. Now her focus was on getting her life together and deciding the person she wanted to be, she had a fresh start of sorts and she didn’t intend on wasting it “Everyone needs someone in their corner sometimes” she explained in response to his thanks and smiled, he had been there for her on one of her worst days and in return she intended to do the same for him. That’s what it meant to be friends right “And of course it would, you’ve been working on this in secret for months” she could definitely respect and advocate for hard work.

She laughed at his response when she called herself a Diviner, still felt weird saying it but it was feeling like it made more and more sense to her every day and that seemed like a good place to start “Albeit a pretty terrible one but we can’t all be perfect right?” she teased with a shrug, she would continue to work on it in the months to come and eventually she hoped it would feel as natural and a part of her as every other detail she knew about herself. It seemed her pep talk was having the desired effect on him because she felt a sudden surge of renewed energy coming from him, honestly, she just thought he’d burned himself out a little from the constant practicing “That’s the spirit” she encouraged with a crinkly smile, it was nice to see the way they could give courage and confidence to one another.

She was still a little hazy on why he would want to hide such a significant and meaningful part of his life from the world but she supposed he just needed to time to build confidence in himself, he was a little awkward and rambled sometimes but she found overall he had really interesting and innovative thoughts and ideas and if he could make her believe in his product, someone who knew next to nothing about games, she was sure that others would follow. “So different from the first impression I got of you” she admitted with a slightly shy smile reaching up to play with a few strands of her dark hair “You’ve got to be pretty excited though right? It’s finally so close” she looked up at him and smiled, her work was rewarding most days but his was a massive build-up to one big product release.

She nodded a little, it was his loss, she was done blaming herself for his mistakes and his actions over the past month or so had only solidified her belief that she had done the right thing by asking him to leave. He had tried to reach out to her a few times but every time he had been trying to get something from her and it became evident quickly that he no longer cared. She was a little surprised when he said he wanted to celebrate with her and a slight blush appeared on his cheeks “I thought you’d have some after party with your execs planned” she admitted a little bluntly and then shook it off she smiled and placed a hand on his shoulder “You’ve got this okay, I believe in you” and she would be there all evening to see him flourish for herself and maybe help sweet talk a few of the investors if the chance presented itself.

Thankfully, she had pretty much whittled down her getting ready routine crazily over the past few years, she hopped into the shower and washed her hair before she stepped out and then blow dried it, styling it in her usual way and then doing he make up. She was a little nervous to go tonight knowing quite literally no one there and not really knowing what to expect but she was taking everything in stride so far. Eventually, she decided on a white chiffon material dress that she had gotten a few months back but not really had anything important enough to wear to, the dress was quite short but not so bad that she felt uncomfortable in it. She paired it with white heels and finished off her makeup with a natural lipstick.

By the time she heard him on the other side of the door she was just about ready, gathering the last few things she needed for the evening and putting them into her little bag. When she heard his voice she laughed as she glanced at herself in the mirror, it was the first time she had properly dressed up since her husband had cheated on her and honestly? She wanted to look stunning and like she was doing really well with her life and moving on. She nodded a little before she pushed open the door and looked up at him. Yes, the blue was a very good choice and of course it looked very good on him “Well don’t you look dapper” she teased with a smile “But somehow playful too” she teased as she tipped her head up to look him in the eye, she had been thinking about his offer and whether there was more to it than just a couple drinks, for now she would assume there wasn’t but it remained on her mind “When you crush the speech and get some great investors tonight, there’s a bottle of champagne in the fridge” she wiggled her brows a little suggestively and smiled “I’m ready when you are” she spoke softly knowing he absolutely shouldn’t be late for this night.

Austin chuckled, finding it amusing to hear about how things worked when being a teacher. But he smiled, it was sweet how invested Kota seemed. "Well from how i'm hearing it, even if you can't give one more attention than another, i'm sure they all love you to death" he expressed from his own point of view. The way he saw things, was that the students she did teach, were lucky to have her. Austin didn't know much, but he knew enough to know that most teachers were only there for a paycheck, half of them didn't even take the time needed to teach a kid something properly. A lot of people in todays generation were under-educated; and most had barely made it out of high school. Those who were on government assistance was a prime example of teachers slacking on their jobs.

Austin's gaze averted to the floor, he grimaced as she told him to give himself more credit. "I suppose you're right. It's always been so damn hard though. It's just that I know my father would be rolling over in his grave at me right now, and the things I chose to do with my life. He'd be much happier, and possibly smiling in the pits of hell if he thought i was a politician, or a crooked lawyer.. or even riddled with the ideas of how to start a war" Austin expressed. "I know he just wanted to make me a good leader, and he wanted me to take his place, I failed him, but I don't feel like ive failed myself, so I suppose what I did with my future was worth what my father would think of me" he stated, inhaling after giving a short speech. "Sorry" he said simply before chuckling, looking away from her shyly.

He ouldn't help but to look back over at her though when she responded to his thanks with what she had. Having her in his corner, was definitely something not expected, but it was also something he had grown attached too the last month or two. Without Dakota, he was sure he'd go through an identity crisis at this rate .. but then to say he wouldn't know who he is without her, was scary as fuck. A small voice echoed in his head telling him he may get hurt. But, it was a chance worth taking. Besides, it's not like she had dove forward saying she wanted him.

Austin shrugged and smirked when she said we couldn't all be perfect, "I don't know Kota, but if we could, you'd be the closest thing to it" he said cheekily, giving one of his normal flirty responses, but it usually came out much more corny than he intended, "Things always sound a little better in my head" he chuckled, hoping he hadn't started blushing again. It drove him crazy. "Oh you have no idea, well maybe you do from the crazy expressions on my face. But, yes i'm so freakin sotked! Ive waited for this for what seems like an eternity. Ive given small presentations here and there, but none with significance or importance, and none from my own invention in the gaming world" he expressed, grinning from ear to ear. "I'm just glad to have you there for support, it means a huge deal to me" he added, finding himself sounding more and more confident the more he spoke.

Austin placed his palm over her hand that rested on his shoulder when she gave him one more boost of confidence. He finally felt as prepared as he figured he could. "Ive got this" he repeated, giving her a pearly white grin. After the two of them were ready, and Austin waited behind her door, anticipation burning right through him, his jaw dropped as she revealed herself. "Damn" he said simply at first, clearing his throat, the Initia inhaled sharply. She'd left him speechless. As she told him he looked dapper, he could only shake his head, he hadn't seen her dressed up in quite a while. He coldn't lie, even when she was still married to Bradyn, and the two of them fixed up to go to expensive resturants in the past, Austin noticed her. "You look absolutely beautiful. You're definitely going to turn heads tonight" he resonded a little playfully, until the nagging feeling settled within him, making him think too much into his own statement. Somehow, he felt a sliver of jealousy course through him like a current of electricity.

Austin the listened, his gaze caught on her figure as she spoke, striking a deal he couldn't resist. "Fair enough, that motivates me just a little more too, so don't worry, ill definitely nail that speech now" he chuckled, but he couldn't think of nothing better than ending this whole thing with a bottle of champagne shared between him and Dakota. She had quickly became his closest friend. He still spoke to Bradyn here and there, but it was nothing like it used to be. Actually, it kind of hurt. But, Bradyn had decided on questioning why Austin still lived with Dakota, 'If i'm no longer there,then why are you?' he could still remember Bradyn's tone. It's something he would never bring up to Dakota, because honestly, she stood here before him looking beautiful, in control of her powers partially, and finally, she'd started to smile again. Fuck Bradyn, and every opinion he had, Austin thought silently. God he hated how Bradyn had made him feel though, for the fact that he stayed with Kota even when Bradyn had left.

Snapping out of thought, the Initia smiled. "I'm ready" he stated a little nervously. The time to his presentation was too close for comfort, but it also meant, the time to celebrate was almost here too; he'd get to know Dakota even more, and that was worth every minute of this evening. Austin wandered if they should take a cab, or if one of them should drive their own vehicles, with that, he looked to Dakota before fishing his keys out of his pocket. "So, who's driving?" he questioned, as he led himself to the door, stepping out first so Dakota could lock the apartment up behind them. "Are you nervous at all? I mean, you look gorgeous.. i'd be nervous to walk into a crowded place as big as this one, looking that good" he teased her, flashing a wink as he waited to head to the event. "Seriously though, you're sure you're okay to do this with me?" he asked, just to confirm that he cared about how she felt with doing something out of her comfort zone.

"

Kota smiled softly, she loved being a teacher, it was one of those things that really gave her purpose in life and made her feel like she was having some kind of positive effect on the world “I hope they do, all those kids deserve the best in life” she mused with a nod of her head, she had always been quite a maternal person which was why working with kids worked well for her. That’s why it had been so hard for her to be in the situation where her partner couldn’t have children and they had to search for other options. Of course, she had tried to be as supportive as she could but Bradyn wasn’t the only one affected by it all “Every kid does really, they’re gonna be the future one day so” she liked to think she could make her mark in teaching them understanding and compassion at a young age.

The dark-eyed diviner watched him as he talked about his father, it was clear that both of their parents had definitely made a long-lasting imprint on the two of their lives. Parents had the power to do that, they could make or break you quite literally. In their case, they both didn’t get the luck of the draw “Well at the end of the day, you are your own person and if you’re happy with the path you’ve chosen, why care for anyone else's?” she shrugged, her parents never wanted her to be a Diviner and went as far as to hide her own powers from her so she definitely got the whole disappointed parents thing, though hers were still alive to express their distaste “Well I personally think you’re doing great” she spoke softly, looking up at him through her lashes.

She knew the more time she spent with him the more complicated this became, they’d been walking this line for a while now. She knew he was holding back because of Bradyn, he was her reason too but it didn’t take away from the fact that she found herself attracted to her ex-husband’s best friend. She wasn’t even sure if they were still best friends, tried to avoid that topic as best she could. She knew she couldn’t do that forever and that this line they were walking was only going to stay intact for so long but right now she just didn’t want things to change, she enjoyed his company and she didn’t want to ruin anything between them or lose the only friend she felt she really had right now.

She laughed and scrunched up her nose a little when he called her close to perfect “That’s very sweet of you to say” she spoke as she looked up at him, an equally playful look in her eyes as she watched him “I’m not sure I’d wanna be perfect though, there’s something about messing up that makes you human, you know” she shrugged a little “Well I’m not human but you get the idea” she knew she was rambling a little but she sometimes found herself a little caught up and nervous around him. Especially when he was very casual about walking around the house without a shirt on. She could feel the energy coming off him in waves and it made her pretty excited for him “Seems like we make a habit of that” she teased with a laugh “Being there for each other, guess that makes us friends” she gasped dramatically as though that was a surprising admission and she shrugged a little with a laugh.

She couldn’t stop the smile that crept over her lips as she felt his hand against hers, they shared a few touches here and there, usually pretty short-lived because they’d be reminded of who was between them. Still, her heart fluttered just a little each time, something she hadn’t felt around anyone in a long time. It was strange, how someone who had quite literally been under her nose for months turned out to be someone who became pretty important to her. The moment she stepped out of the room she watched the way he reacted to the way he looked and a faint blush crept up on her lips as she looked back at him “Thanks” she spoke softly in response to his compliment, doing a little curtsey to show off the dress a little, it had been a long time since she’d really needed a reason to get dressed up a little and it was really nice “I’d say I just threw this on but I definitely had it picked out like three days in advance” she laughed softly before she reached up, a slight frown on her face as she straightened his tie, her eyes focused on getting it perfectly centered before she stepped back and smiled up at him “Perfect” she spoke and nodded her head slightly.

She nodded a little, it was strange, how their late night talks and eating Thai take out while watching TV became the highlight of a lot of her days. He had been supportive through her training and even let her practice a few spells on him such as a healing spell the time he cut his hand, she couldn’t really ask for a better friend, she felt like every time she stumbled a little he helped to pick her up “You’d better” she warned him with a playful wag of her finger when he spoke about nailing the speech, after all, he’d worked super hard on it and it would be a shame for him to trip now after putting so much effort into it. She felt like she was in a better place with her life, picking up the pieces her husband had decided to leave her in and figuring out who she was without him, she didn’t hate the person she was becoming, in fact, she was pretty reminiscent of the energetic and determined person she was in college.

“You’re ready” she repeated more confidently than he had spoken it, doing her best to instill that confidence over to him so he was ready to tackle anything. She wasn’t worried, from all the practice and how well she had seen him deliver the speech already, she knew he just needed to get out there and the rest would be history. When he asked who’s going to drive she pursed her lips in thought and then shrugged “I think a cab is the safest bet, you might want a couple of drinks to shake off the nerves and you know I’m only tagging along for the free drink and food” she teased with a laugh, of course that wasn’t true but she was trying to cheer him up and keep his mind off his nerves over the speech. When he asked her if she was nervous she looked up at him and smiled “A few weeks ago I got probably the worst news I could have had and I’m still standing, room full of people doesn’t really compare” though she blushed softly at the fact he was calling her gorgeous “Besides there will be plenty of girls half my age turning heads already” she laughed softly and grabbed a hold of his hand and pulled him towards the door.

“No more stalling or we’re going to be late” she insisted as she pulled out her phone with her free hand and called for a Uber to pick them up, slinging her bag over her shoulder as she did so. She didn’t even realize she was still holding onto his hand until she got to the end of the driveway and looked up at him for a moment and cleared her throat a little awkwardly before letting go “If tonight goes well, when are you hoping to launch the actual product?” he asked with raised brows wondering if things could go from 0-60 fast now.

Austin could listen to her voice for hours. They'd be in the most simple conversations ever, and still, Dakota found way's to make Austin's day so much brighter just by the things she said; even the way she spoke about the students she taught, made things a little brighter for him. The world definitely needed more of that passion, but Austin was convinced that there would never be anyone like Dakota, nothing even comparable. She was definitely a prize, but those were things he had yet to say to her; he was afraid mostly. He just hoped his cowardly ways, didn't cause him the opportunity he was dying for.

"With you teaching them, they're gonna make this world one hell of a future at that" the Initia stated, genuinely. He knew sometimes he came off a little extra, but everything he'd ever said, he definitely meant. Smiling, Austin for once decided to nod, and even agree with her when she complimented him; "I think i'm doing great too, Kota. It's just refreshing to hear someone else say it though" he added, unable to contain the jaw breaking smile on his face. Austin could admit, he felt that they were walking a line too, and that they'd gotten attached to a certain routine with each other, and had held back as much as possible out of fear that they'd lose this routine, and that eventually, each other. Dakota was well within her rights to have her guard up, but he also knew Bradyn was still a factor in why they were still walking such a fine line.

Truth be told, Austin did still care a great deal for the bastard; but they weren't nearly as close now, as they'd once been back when Bradyn and Dakota had first taken Austin in. Things were so much different now. But different was good. Austin loved the dramatic change in his and Kota's friendship, but this recent change, the one where he realized how much he actually liked her... wanted her even, scared the fuck out of him. All thoughts aside though, he still had tonight to get through, which would allow him to spend some alone time with her later, and that was enough for him for now at least. He was thrilled to know he'd have Dakota to himself, celebrating what he called a victory; his presentation was the world to him, and the fact that Dakota realized that, made her pretty special to him, because Bradyn was the exact opposite, and would have only mocked Austin if he'd known what Austin had really been up to all this time.

The Initia smiled faintly when she told him how sweet his comment was about her being close to perfect; and while her next comment stated that she'd never wanna be perfect, Austin couldn't help but notice how it lit her face up a little, the moment he'd said that to her. "I agree, I think if we were actually perfect, things would become boring, and flatline quickly. I imagine a perfect person acting similar to a robot" he chuckled, but that was true. Austin hadn't been far from being trained into that himself, if his father had, had his way with him he would have turned Austin into the 'perfect weapon' and Austin knew damn well what that life would have led to, he wouldn't have been the person he is today, instead, a robot.

Austin found himself smirking when she laughed. Her laugh always got to him a little; Dakota had seemed to forget how to smile, but the rare occasions that she did, simply melted him. “Exactly; and you may not be ‘human’ but you’re doing great with who you are. It’s about time woman” he joked, giving her a playful nudge. He laughed when she jokingly gasped, commenting how being there for each other must have made them friends, “Who would have thought?” he questioned as playfully, letting a small gasp escape his own lungs.  In the brief moment that his hand had touched hers, he caught the way she smiled just a little brighter than she had been that entire time. It often burnt right through him; knowing that someone still stood in the way of those simple touches being able to mean anything. But secretly, they meant a hell of a lot to Austin either way. Selfish maybe. But at this point, he didn’t mind considering himself selfish. 

Austin stuffed hands in his pockets, looking into her eyes as she adjusted his tie, only able to smile, and nothng else, again it’d felt like time stopped, but thankfully he was able to collect himself the moment she spoke and said ‘perfect’.. “Thanks Kota. Ive never.. Well, ive never been good at this sorta thing. Honestly, this would be a total bust for me without you. I’d have cut my tie into a million pieces, you saw how crooked i had it right?” he asked, chuckling. Watching her playfully wag her finger at him, Austin nodded. “Ive got this!” he then said a little louder than he had intended to, bt either way, he meant it. 

Even he felt as if he was in a great place with his life. It may have taken some time, and a lot of encouraging words from Dakota herself for him to realize it, but this moment was more emotional for him than one may have realized From the way he grew up, he never would have imagined doing the things he loved, like he was about to with this presentation, something that would have had him shunned by his own family, but then again, how good of a family were they? Dakota had been the only one to support him, and to tell him to go for it, aside from the others he worked around in the gaming building. 

Austin inhaled, for once though, he didn’t freeze when she grabbed his hand. He walked hand in hand with her, unable to let go at the end of the driveway. Austin knew she’d gotten lost in it too, especially when she finally let go herself. Austin sighed, probably a little more audible than he’d meant to be about it as he ran his hand across his face, stuffing the one she’d just let go of, back into his pocket before picking his gaze up from the ground, and gazing back to her. Flustered, he cleared his own throat. “If - If it all goes well, I plan to launch the actual suit sometime in the next month or two. It’s already built, but to have dozens more built just like it will take time. But, having one or two for now is the goal” he explained, chuckling at how he had started his sentence off with a small stutter. 

 The drive over gave Austin enough time to comment on something he hadn’t before they’d left. “By the way no female in that building will make this head of mine turn unles you happen to be standing behind me, where i’d have to turn around to look at you” he smirked. His tone was smooth, and confident this time. Most of the time, when flirting especially, Austin had a very corny / cheesy way about himself that only resulted in him being awkward as fuck. But, something about being by someone as amazing as Dakota, gave him a confidence he’d never had before now. It now that he felt his heart beating out of his chest, but regardless, he took the time to give Dakota a brief rundown, so she wouldn’t be lost during the time he was on stage. 

“When we get there, we can grab a few drinks first if you’d like.. And of course food, because ya know, your reason for going” he joked, poking his tongue out playfully. He knew she’d only been joking when she said it herself, but they wouldn’t be them without the constant picking and joking with one another. “There will be a speaker or two before me i’m assuming. But, I do have a table reserved for just us. It beats sitting at one of the larger tables, where you’d be stuck in a crowd of people that you don’t know, especially when i’m on stage.. Wouldn’t wanna put you in that situation. Gaming nerds can be a little.. Intense” he stated, chuckling “especially if you’re not use to these sorts of events” he added, before digging into his pocket, making sure he had his bowl packed, and his lighter handy. 

Most of the people there smoked pot as well. It wasn’t even an odd thing to smell it the moment you arrived at one of these events. And, it kept Austin’s nerves at bay. “I’m happy you’ll be there. In spite of all the bullshit you’ve endured, you’re doing better than you may think” he stated, giving her a gentle smile before leaning into her giving her a gentle nudge. The destination was coming up, and Austin couldn’t help but feel himself come unhinged a little. “Fuck.” he grumbled, but hopefully lowly enough to not sound like he was freaking out all over again. He was ready, but he was nervous again. “Can this night just fast forward to the part where we start celebrating?” he asked out loud, sounding a little too hopeful.

She gave a shy laugh when he complimented her work and she bowed her head a little “I hope so, I like to feel like we can all do a little to change the world for the better if we try” she admitted with a nod of her head “Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking” she joked and shrugged, who knew, maybe she was teaching the future president of the United States. She glanced up at him for a moment and gave him a genuine smile “It’s good to hear you say it” she admitted and nodded, it was nice to hear him show some confidence in his own work and the success he seemed to be finally getting a taste of. She was proud of him just seeing how far he’d come in the short time they’d been talking and she knew he’d put in significantly more before then too so she definitely understood how big of a deal all of it was for him.

Kota had spent most of her time adjusting to what life without Bradyn looked like, sometimes having Austin there made things easier, it reminded her that she wasn’t completely alone, there was a friendly voice in the house when she got home from work, there was bickering over what to watch on TV, she’d learned he liked horror movies a lot while they kinda scared the wits out of her, she usually distracted herself with marking while he watched them. They took turns doing the dishes and had even attempted to cook together a few times with varying results “Even better news, we might even have some of that cheesecake left in the fridge if you didn’t eat it behind my back” she laughed softly cursing the fact she often came to eat food only to discover he’d gotten there first.

She frowned as she thought about what a perfect person might be life, she kinda got the feeling they would feel annoying because they weren’t able to make mistakes and their personality would feel empty because they were too rounded and therefore didn’t have prominent features “Now you’re just reminding me of that movie where the AI robots decided everyone needed to die to save the planet” she shuddered because it was a somewhat scary thought to think about considering all the awful things people did to the planet and the truth there might be in it. “Thank god for having flaws hey?” she laughed gently and shook her head in amusement.

She gave him a mock playful eye roll as he told her it was about time, they had definitely had some pretty in-depth talks about what being a diviner really meant to her and in the process, they had also talked about what being an Initia meant to him. Neither of them seemed that deeply connected to their supernatural roots, she never knew her mother to know anything about her or be taught about the supernatural world and he spent most of his time trying to be as far from his father as he possibly could be. Still, they were figuring things out, determining who they were and trying to figure out where that placed them in the world, it was a slow, but to her, a very important process “Certainly not me” she played along with an amused shake of her head “But then there’s a lot of changes in my life I never expected” she admitted as she looked up at him, such as feeling….something for her ex-husband’s best friend for example.

She laughed as he talked about his tie, her eyes checking it over keenly, she was a little bit of a perfectionist when it came to things like that, she was the type of person who couldn’t leave a picture crooked or things out of order “Sometimes you just need another perspective” she commented with a laugh “Though shredding your tie may have made some pretty effective stress relief” she teased as she let him go. She believed in him, even if he was doubting himself “But no one is really good at this, self-confidence, it’s often like gold dust” she laughed and shook her head “But pretending you have it until it becomes real, that’s the key” she tapped against his shoulder encouragingly.

She had always been pretty confident when it came to work, even when she was fresh out of college and had just gotten into teaching she had been quite bold with her approach to the job and how she held herself, but a lot of it was on the spot confidence and there had definitely been times when she doubted herself or worried about how she may screw up these kids life if she let them down in any way. She definitely wasn’t perfect at it, that much was certain but she also wasn’t a quitter, which ironically was the reason she had stayed in what she knew was a failing marriage for such a long time. Eventually, though, she had to draw the line and say enough to the misery.

The way their hands intertwined probably should have felt strange or wrong given their circumstance but as she held onto him for just longer than she probably should have, something about it just felt right, the warmth of his skin comforting her and speaking words neither of them had the strength to say right now. She heard his sigh and released a soft breath of her own, she knew exactly what he was thinking, why was life so complicated and why did it always seem to be the things you shouldn’t do that you wanted to do the most. “The next month or two” she raised her brows surprised “that’s so soon” she exclaimed with a surprised look “Things are about to get majorly hectic for you then” she teased but laughed a little awkwardly and blushed slightly because she hadn’t missed his stuttering or how nervous he was acting which made her more nervous.

She climbed into the car and sat leaned against the window, her eyes on the streets outside as they drove by, the lights reflecting in her eyes as they moved, when she heard him speak about her turning his head she smiled shyly keeping her eyes on the door, he was getting braver with his flirting with her and despite his nerdy and sometimes really awkward demeanor, she actually really liked the banter they had going back and forth. She just wondered how long it could last until one of them fell head first over this tightrope they were walking “I’ll keep it in mind to stay behind you, gotta keep you on your toes after all” she laughed gently easing the awkward air with a bright smile “Though I believe if tonight goes well, more eyes should be on you” hers definitely would be, she really enjoyed watching him while he talked, there was a fire and passion in him that was hard to describe.

“You had me sold with food” she admitted with a light laugh “You should also make sure to get some networking in though, who knows who might decide to show up” she raised her brows excitedly knowing this could be an even bigger opportunity than he imagined if the right person took a shine to him. She gave him an appreciative smile when he said they had a table of their own though, she wasn’t sure how much bombardment from strangers she could take at once, after all. “Well I’ve watched you gaming a few times so I won’t be completely lost” she raised her brows and smiled “Unless they talk about one you don’t play but who knows, maybe I’ll surprise you with my new found gaming knowledge by the end of the day” she laughed, she had been playing a few games actually, mostly handheld console games but she wanted to see what Austin’s interest was.

She nudged back against his side at his compliment “I’ll be damned if a failed relationship is the end of me, been through too much for that” she laughed gently and shook her head amused as she looked out of the window again spotting the venue in the distance, she heard him cuss and laughed running her hand over the arm of his jacket a few times “Unfortunately not, but the faster you get out there and kill it, the faster that time comes” she laughed shaking her head a little, when the car pulled up she opened the door and climbed out, clutching her bag to her side and smoothing down her dress “I tell you, you have it so easy with formal clothing” she grumbled jealous he could just put on a jacket and a tie and call it quits.

She rounded the car which pulled off and tucked her arm around his as she looked at the entrance, she took a long breath and turned to smile up at him “Thanks for letting me be a part of this really important day for you” she spoke softly and reached up on her toes for a moment to press a soft kiss against his cheek and then she stepped back looking at him encouragingly “Make me but most importantly yourself proud” she nodded and then without another word she started to pull him towards the entrance to the hall.

Austin shrugged, giving back the same genuine smile that painted her own lips. "Wishful thinking or not, at least you're

 in the right head-space about it" he expressed, grinning from ear to ear. She loved her work as much as Austin loved his if that was possible; and she wasn't afraid to show it. The Initia then nodded in agreement when Dakota said it was good to hear him say what he had said, "It felt pretty good to say it too I guess. Never really thought I had it in me" he chuckled, "to speak with confidence that is" he then added, unable to contain the smile on his face; just to know that Dakota actually cared meant more to Austin than he could ever express. 

While the Diviner drifted away in thought, so did Austin; time had seemingly passed so fast that Austin was left to wonder just where the minutes had all went too. But, Dakota had grown on him as probably the most important person in his life now. That didn't go to say he no longer cared for Bradyn, because he did; in fact he still loved the dumbass, but Austin's care, and loyalty only extended so far to someone who'd broken and hurt someone he cared about even more than Bradyn. 

A smile graced the Initia's features though, because in the past few months, him and Dakota had certainly made new memories in her apartment. He had hoped all the late night conversations, the bickering about what movie to watch, the attempts at cooking a decent meal together, and just the new friendship in general, had replaced memories that broke her heart, with ones that allowed her to look into her future and know she wouldn't be sad forever. And, she had without a doubt progressed with her magic. Austin had never seen her so comfortable in her own skin, and a small part of him allowed his ego to swell, knowing he had helped her just a sliver. Of course, he credited her for the changes made, she had taken control of what she was, and now lived it more comfortably, and that meant a lot to him. 

The Initia's attention was drawn back to Dakota when she mentioned cheese-cake; his favorite dessert, and one that Kota fixed really well. He smirked, and shook his head at her comment about him eating it behind her back "Nah, this time I saved us a small piece.. sounds like it will come in handy. Nothing better than cheese-cake for a celebratory reason" he chuckled; and for a moment, let his oceanic optics settle on her warm chocolate gaze. Often he found himself just engrossed by Dakota, and he knew she had caught onto as much; at this point, he didn't care though. Checking her out by giving side glances had now turned into him full on staring at certain features of hers, even if she was looking. The silly, shy awkward ways about him had turned into more nonchalant flirtacious gestures; he was a little more smooth with his game now to say the least. 

Austin grimaced at the way she frowned, but he knew she was thinking about what he had said in depth; Dakota tended to do that when he spoke about serious matters. "It's okay, if the robots come for us, Ive got your back; they'll have to kill me to even lay a finger on you. I can be a scary dude when i'm mad" he stated, flashing her a playful wink; but his expression was deadpan. Through hell and high-water, the Initia would travel to make sure Dakota was safe. He didn't understand that yet, but he knew what he felt. Austin gave ger a gentle smile, but chuckled when she said 'certainly not me'. He still had tons of questions for Dakota, things he was just curious to know, but he knew so far that she had the same outlook on her parents that he had on his father, which wasn't nothing to smile about, and he knew how much Dakota loved teaching and working with kids; but the Initia felt like he was missing so much more. Dakota was just one of those very few people in the world, where you could look into her eyes, and see an entire universe waiting to be spilled out. There was definitely more to her than meets the eye. 

Looking down at her, he grinned, nodding in agreement "Sometimes. But, I think having your opinion is all ill ever need in this life" he chuckled, but it was true. So far, Dakota had gotten him through some pretty tough stuff, just by merely encouraging him and talking him through things. The slow breath Dakota released, let Austin know he wasn't alone in that moment, where he didn't wanna stop holding her hand, but still, he couldn't help but swallow roughly; this had became just a little painful for him, but he knew that if he ever got the chance, all the pain will have been worth it. Austin gave her a pouty look when she said it was so soon, for him to launch the actual gaming suit he was about to present "Tell me about it. Hectic is a sweet understatement, i'm freakin terrified" he chuckled, but meant it nonetheless. A part of him wanted to tell her to stop it, because it had now turned into a chain reaction, being nervous mae the other nervous until things got compeltely awkward for both of them, but admittedly, it was cute as fuck from his point of view. And, he absolutely loved it when she blushed. 

Austin chuckled when she said she'd stay behind him so she could keep him on his toes all night. Hell she did that when they were at home just lounging in their pj's. "As long as yours are" he added, letting her know the night would end just fine as long as her eyes were on him. Austin cared a lot more about the presentation than he did the hundreds of people who'd be applauding him, but the bonus to that, was knowing Dakota would be clapping for him. It certainly sent his confidence sailing. The Initia chuckled when she said he had her at food, and her cuteness about the things she was saying about gaming, caused his heart to skip a beat or two. He loved how she was able to take interest in the things that meant the most to him, just as he'd tried doing with the whole teaching thing, or to at least understand it a little so that she knew he cared. 

"Networking is a fantastic idea though, thanks Kota; cause truth be told, I would have likely walked on out the door the moment my presentation was given" he chuckled, leaving out the last part of what he wanted to say; the fact that he'd rather give his speech, a goodbye, and go on home to celebrate with Dakota, because truth be told, he was even more excited for that than he was his presentation, or perhaps equally excited but still. Austin nodded, smirking at what she'd said about a failed relationship "you have no idea how happy it makes me to hear you say that.. i mean when i walke din that night and saw how broken you were, I thought for sure, that no amount of time in the world would be enough to pick up the pieces. But, look at you now!" he expressed cheerfully, and genuinely smiling at her, admiring how resilient she was. 

Now that they were here, Austin was coming unhinged yet again; at least until Dakota got out. A smirk painted his lips when he saw how her dress had hiked up her legs a little, but just enough for him to have just realized that she had amazing legs. Thoughts of the forbidden now entering his mind, he felt as though nothing would pull him away if he continued thinking like this.. and god forbid he act on anything in his mind right now. Clearing his throat, the Initia chuckled "Clearly not, you saw how well I did with the tie" he chuckled jokingly, "But I completely understand, you females have to go above and beyond with formal wear" he added, smirking playfully. 

When Dakota looped her arm through his, all his fear and nervousness was gone; just like that. Looking over to her as he began walking, the Initia couldn't help but give her a happy smile, appreciating her words more than he could express. "I wouldn't have had this day turn out any other way, and honestly, I don't think I would have gotten through it without you, so thank you as well miss Mayfield, for being part of this really important day" he expressed, swallowing back the emotions he felt coursing through him right now. This was way bigger than Dakota probably realized, for her to be here. She had been the first and only person in his life to be there for him, through literally everything. Often times, the Initia wondered how it would feel to see family in the audience, or just to have them simply encourage and support him. That had never happened however, so to have Dakota at his side and be that very person; Austin spiraled with emotions. 

Austin's emotional spiral had stopped the moment she kissed his cheek, and with that, time had seemed to stop as well. Austin couldn't help himself, after she finished speaking, he returned the same gesture when he leaned forward to plant a gentle kiss on her cheek as well, whispering  "I plan on it". Austin led them from the entrance hall, to their table, where a bottle of champagne sat in a small silver bucket full of ice and two wine glasses filled to the brim with Chardonnay. "Help yourself on the refills, if we need more, ill snatch a bottle" he smirked, before speaking once more. "And when this is finished, we can grab a plate; your idea for networking was to appealing.. so ill do a bit of that, then we can head home and dig into that cheesecake. Sound like a plan to you?" he asked, grinning brightly, even though his chest heaved as his breathing became unsteady. 

The stage seemed so big now that he was about to stand on it, underneath a spotlight where dozens of people would be watching him. Some would be analyzing and hoping to point out mistakes, while others would be in awe of him, and the other few; bored with him. Austin had been given just enough time to chug the first glass of Chardonnay before  the person on stage finished their brief intro for tonights event, and called him to the stage. Looking to Dakota, Austin's expression probably seemed puzzling, a mixture of  confidence and fear both radiating from the Initia as he stood and adjusted his tie. Nodding to Dakota, as a way of letting her know he wasn't going to faint, Austin flashed her a wink before walking to the stage and taking the mic. "Hello  hello" the Initia spoke, smoothly and with a humble tone to his voice, while giving a pearly white grin to the audience who'd already started clapping for him. It thrilled him to see them clapping already, that meant they knew of him. 

"Where's my gamers at tonight?" he then asked, hearing one section of the room roar in applause and shouts; the gamers really got rowdy at these things, and while that made him ecstatic, he hoped it wouldn't frighten or make Dakota feel awkward. Looking down to his index cards, where he'd written bullet points after Dakota helped him, Austin's vision blurred, and his heart sped up at lightning speed "fuck" he said to himself. It was happening again, and it's not like Dakota could stand beside him and guide him through it this time. Letting his gaze train on her though, he inhaled, and exhaled, using her breathing techniques that she had showed him earlier, to help him calm down from a panic attack when he thought he had ruined his speech. Austin closed his eyes, not caring if the crowd noticed his minor freak out, but while he had his eyes closed, he let Dakota's words echo into his mind, the encouraging, supportive words she'd been giving him all along. As he re-opened his eyes, he nodded, looking out to her with his heart beating a hundred miles an hour. 

Rolling his eyes at the index cards, Austin wripped them, letting them rain down into the audience, with a smirk adorning hiis features "Fuck it right?". Thankfully that much got them to laugh and a few people clapped, before he began speaking from the heart, and the wits he had been blessed with "How many of you have played video games within the past month? Well we aren’t the only ones. 59% of Americans play video games. 48% of that being girls. Now how many of you have heard something along the lines of “video games are bad for you!” and “videos games rot your mind”? I know I have. There are countless reasons people are discouraged from playing games. Many people perceive that video games are a waste of time, they make a person socially isolated, and they rot your mind. But in reality, they are not what people think they are."

-- more speech here --

He continued for nearly 30 minutes, before Mike, his costume model walked out with the haptic suit on - - he'd given an entire speech on why video games were healthy for people rather than toxic, and then went into explaining the product he was launching; the haptic suit. Mike had modeled the suit out, showing every single function off, as he played a game using it himself, on an enormous screen behind Austin. Looking out to Dakota, knowing he was near the end of his presentation, Austin smiled "I have to say something before we wrap this up" he stated, knowing she'd likely feel singled out, and as though the spotlight was suddenly shining on her head, but to avoid making her feel extremely awkward, Austin didn't point to Dakota as he continued "When I was getting my speech ready, I had perfected it, but then I also destroyed it by accident, and in the middle of a panic attack, someone who means a lot to me helped me fix it, and helped me through one of the worse days ive had in a while as i prepared for endless hours for this very moment here; I don't think I would have been half as successful tonight with this presentation, if not for her. I gotta give a lot of thanks and credit to Dakota, she started out as a roommate that barely knew me, nor wanted to, and now, she's probably the best thing in my life" 

"With that being said, the line will be starting to try out the suit!" he announced, watching security gather people up to avoid a stampede. Austin could only imagine how she must have felt for the part of his speech that revolved around  Dakota only; he was ready to join her and find out if she wanted to kick his ass, but he decided to linger on stage long enough to allow the applause to simmer down. "Thank you!" he called out, simply thrilled with the turn out of his speech, hoping Dakota would be as well. 

It was fun, the way they both teased one another and joked around, she hadn’t laughed so much in a pretty long time but the things he came out with often had her scrunching up her face and fully laughing “My hero” she responded to his words about robots taking over the world, that damn movie had given her a few nightmares afterward “I still blame you for my lack of sleep, I keep picturing a world full of killer robots” she gave him a mock glare and then nudged him with her side. The two of them were still getting to know one another mostly, he was quite a reserved person to most but in the last month or so she had seen him really open up with his thoughts and feelings, it made her realize how much she tended to let other people just pass her by in the past few years and also made her wonder if she’d have more friends if that happened. Still, no point dwelling on missed opportunities, she was just going to make the most of the realization now.

She laughed a little at his cheesy lines and shrugged her shoulders “I think your own opinion is pretty important too” she reminded him with a slightly jesting smile, it was important to believe in what you were doing and trying to achieve, otherwise, you would probably never make it to your goals and would end up stuck doing the same thing day in and day out. She had seen his drive clearly the past few weeks though, he’d managed to keep his business pretty secret before then but once she found out about it, he’d really opened up about the work he was doing and what he hoped to bring to the world. She enjoyed just hearing him talk about it all, she might not always understand exactly what he was talking about when it came to the tech side of things but seeing someone so passionate and determined was pretty awe-inspiring, his pout made her laugh “Don’t look at me like that, you wanted this, you’ve got no one to blame but yourself” her tone was lighthearted because she knew exactly what he meant, he wanted it to go well so badly that he was making himself nervous.

The suggestion of networking was for his benefit more than her, she didn’t exactly have too much to bring to the table, though she was an expert at sounding like she knew what she was talking about and could probably have been an actress in a previous life “Well I’m sure people are going to have questions for you” she prompted with a gentle laugh “Especially because you’re not just covering the product but also the topic of gaming as a whole” she smiled softly remembering the little parts of his speech that she’d managed to catch when he was practicing along with the parts she had traced back onto the paper. His comments about him worrying she wouldn’t recover from losing her husband were founded, she glanced up to his gaze and gave a slight smile “I’ve been through my parents lying to me, finding out I was adopted and going through college and my first job entirely alone” she chuckled “I’ll be damned if a man is the end of me” she had given herself a good talking to and reminded herself that she had been through so much before she met Bradyn, by herself.

She did catch him staring at her for a few split seconds as she pulled down her dress which made her feel a little flustered, she wasn’t sure why she cared so much how she looked around him, he had seen her with mascara smudged all over her face and in PJs curled up on the couch already so it wasn’t like she would be fooling him with a pretty dress and a face of makeup and yet she still found herself very slightly nervous. Thankfully, he seemed to pick up on it and broke the silence between them answering her comment about formal wear “Well you just need more occasions to wear a tie, which I imagine tonight might give you” she teased knowing business meetings and presentations weren’t really jeans and t-shirt realm.

It was strange, being on the arm of someone who wasn’t her husband, it felt strange and new but not entirely wrong either, she didn’t know if it was too soon to feel that way but she often reminded herself that her marriage had been over before it was officially over and believing otherwise was probably just her deluding herself. Still….her husband’s best friend was probably the worst idea she could possibly have. When he called her Miss Mayfield she giggled softly “Well I’d rather be here with you than eating take out alone on the couch” she laughed a little “I feel like I need a pet or something to keep me company since you’re gonna be so busy with work” she had always wanted one actually but because Bradyn was allergic it was just kinda out of the question. She softened her expression and nodded a little “You’re welcome” she stated honestly as she met his oceanic gaze.

After she pressed her lips to his cheek, she just watched him for a moment, perhaps a little surprised by the forwardness of her own actions but also because a part of her wanted to know how he felt about it, she saw the way he froze before he leant in to return the gesture and when he pulled away she brushed her hand gently against her own cheek and smiled. That felt nice. She didn’t have long to take it in though because he was already leading them inside, her eyes moved around trying to take in the overwhelming amount of things going on, there was a stage and many tables set out, clearly designed for business networking and general mingling, she spotted a buffet off to the side of the room which she would definitely give more attention later. Taking a glass from on the table she lifted it to her lips before smiling “Sounds like a plan, especially the part when you finish the speech” she laughed softly and squeezed gently against his arm before watching him head off towards the stage.

She took a seat at the table before being joined by a few people who were looking for somewhere to sit, she didn’t mind sharing, besides she could definitely talk up the speech, she was in light conversation with them when the speech began and everyone quieted, she looked over at Austin and smiled encouragingly as he heard him start to speak, breaking out into a smile when she heard the roar of approval from the crowd when he called on them. He really looked in his element up there and it was kinda hard to believe he had ever been nervous about it because the moment he ripped up the notes and started talking everything just started to flow beautifully. She took a moment to glance around the room and every pair of eyes was on him, everyone enthralled by the way he held himself and the things he had to say, she was included among them.

The speech even managed to get to her and she wasn’t someone who was heavily involved in the gaming community, though she definitely felt convinced that she wanted to try playing more now and it had even given her a few ideas of how to better reach the kids in her class and make her classes more interesting and fun. Like the point he made many times in his speech, learning while having fun is a very good way to retain information and also improve mental agility. When the speech finished she joined the room in applauding, getting to her feet and holding up her glass in a semi toast as she managed to catch his gaze for just a moment. It was crazy, seeing how far he had come and how different he was when he was completely in his element like he seemed to be now that everyone was clapping and staring in awe at the demonstration they had put together.

She really didn’t expect him to bring her up at the end of the speech so she just kinda stood there staring back at him as he talked about her to the crowd, she could feel the heat rising in her cheeks as he essentially dedicated the speech to her and it made her laugh a little dropping her gaze for a moment before looking back to him with an effortless smile. Of course, she had only been supporting her the way he had done for her the past few weeks but it was nice to be reminded that she was important to someone. No, not even to someone. To him. She nodded a little and then raised her glass in a toast while she looked back at him, her eyes not leaving his and then she downed her drink.

Before long, a whole bunch of people were coming up to the stage to be the first to get to try and use the suit or ask Austin questions, she even noted a few formally clad executive type figures scribbling notes and suspected he might get a few investments offers coming his way. She decided to head back to the buffet table and grab a plate to eat because she knew the Initia would be caught up with questions and discussions for a while yet and she was absolutely starving. She loaded up a plate with lots of mini snacks and desserts before bringing it back to the table and chatting with the people who joined her table before for a little while, turned out the old guy was a long time collector and tech enthusiast and the younger male was looking for interesting new products to invest his inheritance into.

She chatted with them a while and even ended up giving one of Austin’s cards out to them both in case either had any questions of propositions for him but when she spotted the crowd finally clearing and the man of the hour himself emerged she excused herself with a kind smile. She crossed the room before she threw her arms around him in what could only be described as an aggressive hug “I kinda wanna kill you for singling me out but I can’t even be made when you totally killed it!” she exclaimed in an excited voice and laughed softly “Tell me everything, what were people saying? Did you get any feedback? Investors?” realizing she was totally bombarding him she quited and stepped back smiling softly as she waited to see what he had to say.

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