It's difficult to say exactly when the small calico cat arrived on the dock. At some point, the eye, in drifting over the pilings and rails, realizes that one of the shadows is occupied. She is sitting with her paws neatly together, head tipped very slightly to one side, and she is watching Rowan.
And Rowan is ignoring her. Or doesn't see her. He picks up one of the rocks with one hand, the other arm still around his legs, and skips it across the lake. It sinks after two skips.
After a time, the cat shifts up to become Dali. She stands up and walks toward the Dancer, though she stops several feet away. "Hey," she says.
Rowan fingers another rock. "Now," he eventually says, not looking at her, "Is either a really horrible time, or a really good time. I'll have to decide later. Hi there."
Dali sits down where she is, knees jumbled together in a position that ought to be uncomfortable but probably isn't. "Hi. You look upset."
Rowan says, thoughtfully, "That's funny. I thought I looked confused."
"Well," Dali says, "Maybe I just made a mistake. That happens."
Slowly, Rowan says, "Yeah. That does."
"Were you confused about something upsetting?" Dali wonders, examining the back of her hand with interest.
"I'm not sure." So very helpful. "But it's kind of mixing me up."
Dali is quiet for a while. Then she stretches, and resettles in a slightly different position. "Well" she says at last. "I'm not going to ask if you want to talk about it, because when you feel like that, the answer's probably, 'no, I just want the whole thing to go away and leave me alone.'"
This, perhaps predictably, gets Rowan talking. Though it would seem he's talking to the rock in his hand. Quietly, without appreciable inflection, he says, "I appear to be gay. Which shouldn't bother me. Wait, sorry, bisexual. Which should still not bother me. But it does. In fact, it really kind of deeply and viscerally disturbs me. Which is disturbing in and of itself. And I don't know what I want. And I sure don't know why I'm talking to /you/ about it. Except that," he adds, sounding just the faintest bit surprised, "I trust you."
Dali nods, apparently not surprised. "We're alike," she says simply, as if this were not, on the face of it, one of the more arguable statements made from one year to he next. "It's always scary to wonder if you know yourself less than you thoughtcha did."
"Well, that would be kind of the crux of the issue, yes," says Rowan, finally looking at her. "Not the kind of thing I can talk around. Got to just... feel it, for awhile."
Dali nods equably. She looks away, moves as though she's going to get up, as though the conversation has already reached its natural end. Then she subsides back into her tangled heap. "Ro?" she says, not seeming aware that she's slipped into a startling familiarity in how she addresses the man, in the past few days. "Usually, when folks figure stuff out like this all of a sudden, it's 'cause there's a person that made them figure it out. And so usually, there's, like...being excited, at the same time as being confused. But you're not excited."
"Well, generally," Rowan says, abstracted, "That's 'cause they /like/ the person that helped 'em figure it out. Me, I... don't think so."
"Oh," Dali says, understanding. "I'm sorry. That bleeds."
Rowan says, after a moment, explosively, throwing the rock into the lake, "/Yeah/."
Dali is quiet again for a bit, watching the ripples fade from the water's surface. Then she says, "Be careful, okay?"
Rowan exhales. "Yeah," he says, with something more resembling his normal intonation. "Definitely." He stretches, and leans back, looking at the nunda. "Helps I got someone to watch my back."
"Me?" Dali asks levelly.
Rowan just nods, a small, wistful smile rising. "Yeah."
Dali nods back. "Yep."
Rowan adds, "Thanks." He looks back out onto the lake, and decides, "Think I don't need to be here anymore."