What's Deserved


bella_icon.gif deckard_icon.gif

Scene Title What's Deserved
Synopsis Deckard shows up for a conclusive and revelatory therapy session.
Date February 28, 2010

Bella's Studio Apartment Office

Moonlighting is always tricky business. Holding two jobs, balancing the scales of commitment and attention, not letting people know that you're secretly running twisted human experiments; the usual awkwardness. It gets even more complicated when your experiments were forcibly ended by a strike team including an individual with which you have a business relationship. Not that we're talking about anyone in particular; these are just common concerns.

Which concerns Bella just happens to suffer under right now, due to what can only be a spate of really bad luck, right? And which difficulty someone of Dr. Sheridan's wit and nerve can surely navigate through safely. The loaded taser she keeps in the cutlery drawer of her office's kitchenette is just a… palliative. And she needs it, because she's nervous. Because today is Flint Deckard's session and not showing up is, she decides, professionally unwise and unsound, moonlighting or no. She's dressed in a particularly innocent looking peasant's blouse and blue skirt that ends mid-calf, just where her winter boots end when she's wearing them. She's barefoot right now, and looks quite the flower child, at least she would if not for the copy of the New Yorker which she reads. Or tries to read. She finds herself re-reading the same line over, a sign of her own nervousness that she really doesn't need, since the twinging in her leg is all she needs to know she's worried about her control of the situation. Worried. Not panicked. It's a twinge. And one she intends to take care of, decisively.

Today, Flint arrived earlier than usual.

He's also late.

Not far beyond her door, he stands (and has stood) with his eyes fixed carefully from room to room, closet to closet, half bath to half bath. He's searching for bad news, presumably. Men in dark glasses. A loaded gun. Movement where it doesn't belong. Cluttered drawers and cabinets are spared the same scrutiny more by necessity than a lack of suspicion as to their contents. They're too far away; there's too much overlap.

He breathes more quietly than he needs to, even boot tread soft from end to apartment end in a final pass that yields — nothing. Nothing unusually worrisome. Nothing out of place. She's even reading while she waits, par for the course while he measures his watch with a glance and checks the sit of his overcoat collar around his neck. Any snow lingering there has long since had time to melt.

Tongue run over his teeth, shoulder holster pushed deeper into its sit under his arm and lapel straightened, he breathes in and out long and slow before gripping the knob and letting himself on in, chilly eyes as natural a shade of blue as they're likely to get once he's locked the door after himself with a hard turn of his thumb.

Bella's smile does not appear forced. But then again it never has, not when he first enters the room. What's real and what's put on, who she is with or without the veil, is sadly all too easily called into question. But should one wish to believe, wish to trust, she isn't making it hard with the warmth in her eyes and the curl of her lips. That all looks right on the money.

If there is any sign that she notices the click of the lock, that she draws any insight from the action if she does, it

She sets aside her magazine and gets to her feet, clasping her hands before her. "Please,

Bella's smile does not appear forced. But then again it never has, not when he first enters the room. What's real and what's put on, who she is with or without the veil, is sadly all too easily called into question. But should one wish to believe, wish to trust, she isn't making it hard with the warmth in her eyes and the curl of her lips. That all looks right on the money.

If there is any sign that she notices the click of the lock, that she draws any insight from the action if she does, it's not readily apparent.

She sets aside her magazine and gets to her feet, clasping her hands before her. "Please, have a seat," she says, "I'm glad you were able to make it. The weather's just awful lately." She settles into her own seat, pulling her legs up under her so that her skirt pools over the edge of her chair. "Anything you'd like to start with?"

Flint looks good. As good as he ever has, anyway, grizzled hair shorn down into a brutish buzz, build and countenance solid despite wiry, exaggerated lengths and hard-edged hollows. He's been eating no less than usual, sleeping no more than usual and if an acrid nip of whiskey trails warm after the pass of him and his coat, it's no more or less intense than she likely remembers it being. He is himself, all the way down to the way he lingers a beat or two before following instructions enough to sink himself down into his usual chair.

A shake of his head has an invisible shrug attached to it once he's settled, eyes scraped once across her face before they find more solid purchase on the window. He isn't nervous, or edgy or tense. But he doesn't seem like he's entirely in the room with her, either.

Bella tilts her head, sizing Deckard up. This is a very precarious set up. All evidence points to the likelihood of her identity having leeked, some part of which evidence was the screaming of the captive Subject C-2 who, for all her hyperbole, was on all points save Bella's own gruesome demise, quite accurate. Should Deckard already know, she risks losing face if she is not forthright with him. Should he not know, then it would be ideal to keep him entirely ignorant. But should he now be ignorant and then eventually find out through that deranged little clique he unwisely carries on with… then what he'd hear would be entirely outside her control, and she couldn't be sure of any advance warning. So… the logical thing to do…

"I thought I heard your voice the other day," Bella says, conversationally, "There was a lot of ruckus that day, so I could have been mistaken, but I was pretty sure it was you."

Having been lost to thoughts of how to broach the subject himself with altogether more flat affect and screwtwisting flare, as quietly angry people do, Deckard finds himself caught off guard. The angle of his long face shifts by degrees into a more sideways regard in tandem with a stark cut of his glare back into focus on her. Pleasant blue is gone from his eyes, irises drawn bloodless around constricted pupils. He's staring through her as much as at her, the rise and fall of his cagey ribs restricted enough to make him look entirely static until his brows twitch into a knit over the slightest slant of a smile.

It is not a very nice smile, on top of the fact that she hasn't seen him do it much. The overall effect isn't all that pleasant, actually. Sticks and stones tend to sit the kind of still he is, but so do snakes.

"If I'm not mistaken, and I get the sense that I'm not," Bella continues, tone level, patient, utterly reasonable, "then we very clearly need to get some things out in the open, both of us. That incident at my apartment seems like a pretty innocuous in comparison, but at this rate I have no idea what our next turn will be. So… let's be honest. And, after honesty has been established… we can see where we want to go from there." Her head tilts, brows furrowing. "Is that okay with you?"

Deckard remains seated for the duration of her proposal, the molten core of his attention as unwavering as the rigid set of his spine while it brands through her breast and ribs and heart and all the way out again, onward. Accordingly, it's hard to tell exactly where a switch flips in a brain that can possibly be very big — not with so much of his skull devoted to eyes and the low sling of his narrow jaw.

He's on her in a whip crack release of uncoiled tension, out of his chair and in hers with a hand twisted indiscriminately into peasant shirt and clavicle alike to pin her there while the other bumps blindly after his gun in close quarters. His breath's hot on her face, whiskey stink rancid through grit teeth and eyes too bright in their sockets.

"I've always been honest with you."

Bella has two choices right now, and that she has even that is something she must count herself lucky for. Her choices are as follows:

1 - focus solely and entirely on the matter at hand, the issue being discussed, the human interaction, on, in essence, the client/therapist relationship.

2 - burst into hysterical tears.

The second option is sounding pretty good right about now.

But Dr. Isabella Sheridan did not get to where she is today by cracking under pressure - on at least one psychological level she's a tough customer, or at least a very cold fish. That, perhaps, she would not be in this specific circumstance had she a little more human warmth or innate empathy is, of course, not something that occurs to her. Not that much of anything has time to 'occur' to her in the split second in which she heroically (and coldly) accepts option number one.

"C… completely? T… total admission? Absolute transparency? N… n…" she forces the negative out, and as she repeats it, reiterates it, her voice comes more under her control, "No. No. Not total. There is so much you haven't told me for your own reasons. Good reasons. And I kept my life my own as well. And that life… who I am outside this office… it has nothing to do with our professional relationship, Flint. Nothing. That, I swear. I would never comprimise this. Our contract." Each statement serves to keep her as her own. Option one is, for the moment, remaining viable.

The glisten at the corner of her eyes, however, indicates she's still got option two to fall back on.

Flint's bony fingers snarl in and twist like talons, strips of tendon popped across the back of his hand in thick cords. Trying to hurt her. Maybe he wants to see tears, or feel them — there's nothing in the pitches and curves of her skull emotive enough to weedle or weaken out anything that remotely resembles hesitation. Evidently he is not interested in hearing about contracts or professional relationships.

Nostrils flared and draconic eyes ablaze, he yields no distance for the sake of comfort or propriety. A tremor through his wrist registers before he can smother it out, and it takes him longer than it should to wrest the gun free of the twisted holster. He is well into the equivalent of his parallel to her #2. #1 may be along for the ride, but it's either keeping quiet or contributing only in the worst kind of way.

"I never lied." Whether or not the fact that his voice sounds calmer now (despite its waver) is an improvement should probably be left to her expert discretion. In any case, the muzzle of his gun passes her head and her heart neatly by to nose itself in cold around the region of her guts instead. "I never lied to you. Anything you asked, anything you wanted to know. You tortured him."

This could turn into a very interested conversation, stakes being what they are and all. The sharp gasp at his twist, the uneven breathing of someone trying not to hyperventilate, the tremor that shivers through her, culminating in a tremble on her lower lip basically ensures that whatever entreaty or excuse or explanation she's about to make/give will be worth hearing.

But the touch of the muzzle against her tummy changes the game. It begins as a terrified mewl high in her sinuses, then switches into a full-on whimper as her body tenses under his restraint, going from tremble to straight-out shudder. Tears well up without permission, rolling down her face which is now drawn not only with fear but with pain. Intense, acute pain. Her hands clench her thighs and her fingers press down hard, knuckles whitening. When words finally come, they are breathless and rapid.


With the waterworks comes a feathery quickening of his breath on her brow, booze never enough of a presence to constitute an excuse for the way he has her pinned hand and gun. Maybe for the first time, he is fully in control of the direction this session is headed in even as panic so far successfully ignored blinks red at peripheral awareness. Flint's sweating on top of her, gone from fine to terrible all in a matter of seconds and bared teeth.

"What kind of world is it when even your therapist is an accessory to abduction? Psychological torture, addiction. Nevermind who's been honest, here." He can't possibly expect that she's actually listening, or even hearing him, but he pushes the gun in deeper too, as if that's likely to better retrieve her full attention. "I'm running out of reasons to care, Dr. Sheridan. And I'm not all that sure you do either."

Bella's eyes are screwed shut, and her breathing again becomes erratic, a sign that she is trying, desperately, to regain control of herself. The grip she has on her legs is tight enough that, where it not for the skirt in the way, she'd be breaking her own skin. The breath before she finally speaks is a somewhere between a hiccup and a gasp, a frightened gulp of air that cuts itself off midway. Her blue eyes are swimming in tears as they finally open, looking up at Deckard.

"S-same reason… every t-time…" she stammers, "Something b-b-bigger. B-b-better. A t- a t- a treatment," a word she can hold onto, that, "It worked, Flint. It w-worked. I'm s-sorry. But it- it worked."

Caught off balance again, the intensity lined in harsh around Flint's face falters. There's a ghost of consideration that weighs in the knit of his brows and the slack around his bristled jaw. Nobody ever mentioned anything. About a treatment.

But that's not the way the world works, is it? Science accomplished through evil is evil.

That and she's probably lying.

His eyes go dim long enough to meter out the possibility in shades of skin and hot mess, tear tracks marked with interest that fails to approach regret. He doesn't lessen his hold on her, or on the gun, but spares her a fissure in his efforts to squeeze the life out of her wide enough to elaborate in.

Bella will take what she can get at this particular juncture. She's not in any position to do anything, not even make some sort of play (I need a drink of water - I'm having an asthma attack, I need to get my inhaler - May I mix you a drink for you to sip while you menace me?) for the taser in the kitchenette. And… the simple fact is that, given the chance, she doesn't know that she could fire on Deckard. Despite her instincts towards self preservation, for two crucial reasons she wants to resolve this without resort to violence. First, because it's a matter of personal pride, being able to handle a troublesome client on her own. Second, no less insane but perhaps more relateable… she doesn't want that to be the note this relationship ends on.

"Refrain and dextroamphetamine," Bella blurts, one word, she knows, is a bad, bad word, and the other a chemical polysyllable, "Mixed, in proper proportion, can treat PTSD. In Evolved. It's… it's with Joseph that we figured it out." Bad choice to say his name? Too late. "Lucid state of recollection, allows for guidance by a therapist. Relive trauma, conquer bad memories, heal people. Do you know how many people, how many Evolved, have PTSD? The good it can do, Flint. The good we did. Turning a street drug into a cure for these terrible years."

The good it can do. The good we did. The fuzzy lines around Flint's mouth carve in a shade or two deeper, and humanity drains out of his long face as color bleeds slow out of his stare. The vacancy is filled by steelier stuff — lambent argon and pale slate where the room's natural light cancels out his own.

His gun hand drifts down, down to probe after the clutch she has on her own leg, touch light with fingers loosed carefully away from the .40's grip, barrel flush with muscle rather than pointed directly into her. No longer expectant, this is a different kind of silence. One that's turned inward, devoted to decision-making with few favorable outcomes for either of them.

"I've seen him." His voice is quieter when he finally speaks again, face tipped down past hers to follow the careful progress of his hand after the pain bit deep into her leg. There's no source that he can see. But he's not a psychologist. Or a telepath. "Since we broke him out." He wasn't better. A few inches settled back, he's able to look her in the face again, dilated pupils to empty eye sockets. "What do you think you deserve?"

Her grip has reached a sort of rictus-like equilibrium, being altogether too tight but getting no tighter. The pain is phantom but, pain itself being only a dalliance of neurons, very real to her. Bella's eyes catch onto Flints, and despite the gut instinct to look away, to admit in sub-lingual communique her own intense powerlessness, she holds the unearthly stare. A bravery like that of a puffing of a toad, appearance not in spite of fear, but because of it.

"A chance." Bella's answer comes instantly, that being all she can think to ask for right now. "To make my work do good. To make it not for nothing." The psychiatrist gathers herself, taking a deep breath before going on, each step towards self mastery leading to a directly related decrease in pain, quite the incentive. "We," no, more honest, "I chose addicts. People who were already afflicted. And all of the subjects, all of them were alive when the facility fell. I'm sorry… I'm sorry Joseph was among them, sorry for you. But…" But what? "But if I don't have the chance to… to compile my research, everything that they went through will mean nothing. If I do… then everything, the facility, and the addictions that brought them to the facility, will have been for something." Bella bites her lip, and slowly releases the hold on her leg. "There is a better way to remember these years. We can sink or we can rise, you can sink or rise. I… I want to help."

"Being alive isn't all it's cut out to be." Friends insane or gradually getting there. Girlfriend gone because he hit her. Employed by his mortal enemy, and now his therapist's experimenting on captive drug addicts for their own good. Flint doesn't quite laugh. He's too wound up and too out of his depth. Maybe killing people is easier when you don't know them. "I'm already sunk."

He's had trouble pulling the trigger on a familiar face before, but it's one of those things where impulse has a dangerously narrow edge to trip off of. All it takes is a seize of movement, a twitch up the back of the arm and a hint of pressure at his crooked trigger finger. Compromise seems to be the nudge that makes it possible, here. He shoves off her and pushes back a step long enough to give him a wide open angle on the bend of her leg. Then he fires. Twice, right around the region where Teo put a hole in her before.

Grim-faced, pale and hollow-eyed, he doesn't linger long after that. In neighboring apartments, people are already scrambling for their phones after the muffle of unsuppressed gunfire in their ears and his are ringing shrill when he steps sharply away for the entranceway and the door. Leaving her. "If help gets here before you bleed out, you get your chance."

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