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Theodore     There are several seconds of recovery required, on Theodore's part, after Iris kisses his cheek. He watches her face as if more words hide there. Lifting one hand from hers to very gently fix a single stray hair on her head he seems to be able to continue, though it is in a hush of a whisper. "I am not asking you to be my woman. You are your own woman. I am not asking you to be my ward. You can take care of yourself. I am asking you to be my partner. My conspirator. My comrade. To be the person I can bring my vision to. To have that trust in me when you feel there is no one else you can tell." He pauses for just a moment before he adds. "That is all I ask. If more is considerable, let us consider it in time. Organic. Intrinsic. Natural."
Iris Lark Iris is leaned close to Theodore as he whispers to her. his cheek close to hers. "Teddy, you barely know me. Are you ..are you sure?" She turns slightly and she looks nervous, fidgeting as her fingers pull on her sleeves. "I- I want you to be sure, I don't want you to walk in here a few weeks from now and find out that whatever you think I am..isn't what I really am." She furrows her brow and takes a breath. "You've got honeyed words, you know that?"
Theodore     "Iris..." The way he says her name is reassurance rather than in scolding. He takes her right hand in his right-carefully easing her fingertips away from the sleeve they worry-and guides it to be palm up between them without hurting her wrist. "If I look down at your hand, I can tell a few things. From those, I can extrapolate. But can I know all of you from looking at your hand? No. Anyone that claims to is not a master of palmistry, but rather a grifter." He looks from her hand to her eyes. "I am no grifter. My tongue is not silver. My words are not honey. I just know what I saw, and it is enough for me to not need to know more to make this step."
Iris Lark Iris gazes at her hand and then up at Theodore. "You really think that we could.." She tries to think of a word and then shakes her head. "You can be happy with someone like me?" She furrows her brow and takes a small step back, not enough to make him think she's afraid or backing away, just putting a slight bit of distance between themm. "Okay, so..what does all this mean, exactly?"
Theodore     "I am not asking you to be with me. Walk with me sometime? Have a meal together? Maybe... have some target practice?" He smiles so broad and earnestly that it sesms to brighten the room. "Yes. These all sound splendid. But my happiness is a tertiary concern. El Dorado's safety is primary." His smile falters. "Am I making any sense at all? Is it not implicit what I think of you? That which I have not spouted overtly like some sort of drunken fool?" His mischievous grin plays at his lips.
Iris Lark Iris eyes Theodore, and she's tempted to say that she understands, but she doesn't really. "So you'll walk out with me sometimes, be friends?" She nods as she turns to straighten up her office. She puts things away, folds bandages, closes containers. "I think that would be splended, Teddy." She says, turning back to him once the smile is on her face. "I think El Dorado is happy to have you."
Theodore     "Friends," he agrees quietly, but as she turns away he closes the difference between them and-no soonee than she turns back with her sweet smile and sweeter words-he steps in fully to pull her into his embrace. The two inches difference in their height places his mouth naturally alongside her ear. "Until you decide that you would like more. Until then. I will wait."
Iris Lark Iris hugs Theodore back, and when he whispers to her, a pale pink blush colors her cheeks. "It's kind of you to give me a bit of space to get to know you. Ever since I was rescued, things have always happened so fast for me." She tilts her head down slightly and sighs. "Not that I don't think you're not a nice man, because you are, and you've made me smile since the first time I met you." One shoulder raises in a slight shrug. "For that, you'll always be dear to me."
Theodore     Theodore's duster has reinforced and padded shoulders that make a much better rest than his bony shoulder likely would. He holds Iris quietly for a few seconds before he retracts himself back far enough that he looks about ready to slow dance with her; trying to find her eyes. "Partners?"
Iris Lark "Partners." Iris agrees quietly, still not sure what she might be getting herself into. She steps back then, putting a bit of distance between them. "Teddy.." She begins, her brow furrowed. "How many partners do you have?" She asks, her head canted slightly to the side. She holds up both hands and lets out a soft chuckle. "Is that what you call all of your friends, is..what I'm asking."
Theodore     The distance does not sadden him, but her question makes him want to close it. The look on Theodore's face is one of sadness and confusion. "What?" he asks not because he could not hear her, but because he seems to not understand. The chuckle causes him to tilt his head and grin in spite of himself. "Uh...? Iris? It may be a little disadvantaging to admit this, but at this time you are my only friend. And if I had others?" He shakes his head. "They would not hear this. My confession. My plea. My affection." A single shake of a laugh moves his chest. "You are the only person I say this to, and the only woman I see as such. I..." He looks off to the side as he trails off. "I came in here and poured my heart out. I didn't expect reciprocation, but I never thought that my efforts would make me seem... practiced. Manipulative, even."
Iris Lark Iris gazes at Theodore as he speaks, and with every word she looks more and more mortified. "I didn't.." She takes a breath and as she lets it out the words come pouring out of her like vomit. "Teddy, I was only asking because I was confused. You poured your heart out, confused me! You say you want to be partners until I want more. Then you say friends." Her face crumples and she looks as if she might burst into tears. "I'm not good at this, I don't know what you want or what you're asking. I just want you to not disappear. Does that make sense?" Her eyes are wide as she tries to avoid a tear dropping from them, her shoulders trembling as she makes an attempt to suppress her emotions.
Theodore     "I... I'm...." Theodore, sweet and kind, momentarily looks like he wants to break something, but it passes so quickly it may as well have been imagined. His words make it clear that it was not directed at her, as does the apology and sadness in his eyes. "I'm not good at any of this either. I'm trying to be a gentleman." His hand presses against his chest. "The kind of man that can earn a woman's heart rather than demand it." He shakes his head. "I've never courted before, or dated, or any of that. Am I doing this all wrong? That seems a fair hypothesis. But what's the alternative? Stroming up to you," he moves towards her with alarming speed for someone that typically moves so carefully. "Grabbing you," his hand reaches around to the small of her back and pulls them together. He gives her an intense stare from that close distance. "And telling you," his words grow forceful, "'You belong to me, Iris Lark, and I to you. Our bond is covalent.'" He sucks in a slow breath and relaxes his arm, and asks a question in a defeated voice, "Is that what you want?"
Iris Lark Iris places both hands on Theodore's chest when his arm goes around her waist and his hand rests on the small of her back. "That's not what I want, that's what I'm used to. That's what I had in my youth. I love how kind and gentle you are Teddy." When she gazes down towards her feet, a tear leaks down her cheek, slow and shining. "I didn't grow up in a place where I had a lot of social interaction. All I want..." She gazes up into Theodore's eyes, and another tear leaks out. " for you to say what you mean, plainly, so I don't feel ..lost. So I don't misunderstand."
Theodore     Crushed. That is how Theodore looks when he sees that tear flow from Iris's eye. It is with a feather-light touch of his thumb that he sweeps it aside. Voice once again a whisper, he lifts her chin as he speaks. Gently. Sweetly. "When I arrived here, I felt like a passing comet. Even once I became gainfully employed I felt like an outsider looking in. But the moment I met you, I felt like I was being drawn in. Pulled into orbit around your light." He eases out a breath. Plainly. "I want you. I want to be with you. If I can't have that, then I will settle for friendship, for even that would be a blessing in the infinite cold of space. You have made an asteroid of me, Iris."
Iris Lark Iris gazes at Theodore as his thumb wipes gently at her tear. Then he starts to speak and she sucks in a breath, her eyes wide. "You..want me?" She sounds a bit breathless and amazed and she takes another breath and turns away. "I need a second Teddy, you're.." She lets out the breath quickly. "You're overwhelming me a bit, I'm..I need time to think." She glances over her shoulder at him and frowns. "You have to understand, I pulled towards you, and..I want what you're offering. I..just.." She finally turns to look him full in the face. "I just got out of relationship, rushing into another one seems a bad idea."
Theodore     Theodore nods slowly. "I know. You said as much, and that is why I said I would wait. Because I know you need time. For multiple reasons." He forces a small, sad smile and moves to pick up his hat.
Iris Lark "Teddy, don't leave me looking like that." Iris says, her hands clasped in front of her. Her knuckles are white and she looks strained. "I'm so sorry.." She tilts her head down, gazing at her feet.
Theodore     "You told me that you're happy I'm staying here." Theodore shrugs a little and dons his hat. "I am gonna go wash up and clean out this flesh wound. I'll be by to try and make you smile tomorrow, if you have a mind to let me try." His grin is a bit more genuine. "Until then, you beautiful heroine." Tipping his hat, he moves to leave.