All The Flaws That Come With It


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Scene Title All The Flaws That Come With It
Synopsis Bella attempts to make amends, using Kasha as the vehicle to draw Abby out.
Date June 25, 2011

New York - Random restaurant

Perhaps somewhere there are people simple enough to have pure and honest intentions. It is not that Bella doesn't mean well - the remorse she felt creep into her mind as she lay, oddly sleepless, in the brick oven of her room in the Bay House, certainly feels genuine to her. But she cannot leave a single feeling alone - she must paw over it, investigate both its cause and its effects and, like it or not, calculate its usefulness to her, determine the most advantageous way to satisfy the injunction that, she's sure, comes from a good place.

That said, Bella chooses this particular diner in Brooklyn for a set of particular reasons. Wide windows let in the midday sun, warm yellow glow a better setting, she judges, for reconciliation. The server is punctual but not chummy, attentive or nosey, meaning they should have just enough privacy. Also, the review said the malted shakes were very good.

'They' currently refers Bella and, improbably, the baby she has brought with her, as good a Sisyphean boulder as one can imagine for the misanthropic doctor, and her face is already sore from forcing smiles as she navigated the umbrella stroller through Scyllae and Charybdes of cooing, admiring women of various ages. 'How old is she?' over and over until Bella began to reply 'Fucked if I know' with a drawn, hostile smile that tended to end the line of inquiry. Thank God.

But 'they' will be augmented by a third, should Bella's ploy work. This is an ambush of the most subtle kind, the kind that she wants not to appear like an ambush. Agitated, soothing herself with a tall frosty glass of blended chocolate, milk and malt, the ex-shrink lies in wait, rehearsing within while simultaneously chiding herself for her dependence on rehearsal.

It's good bait, that's for sure. The EMT bound to leave what she's doing - provided there's someone there for Francois - and strike out to a restaurant so she can see what's up/wrong/troubled with Kasha that someone's carting her all the way out from the Bay House. Not that the toddler has cared much, content to nurse on a bottle filled with water, tolerate the cooing with the stoicism that she's become known for in the Bay House and otherwise be a very tolerable partner to Bella. Could be worse. She could need her diaper changed, or be screaming her head off.

Fishermans hat, sunglasses, a blue long sleeved shirt that covers telling marks on her back, shorts and flats, Abby's not long in entering the restaurant, searching for the tow headed little girl, a faint smile breaking out over her face when the baby in the high chair is quite obviously okay.

A smile that soon falls when she realized who it is that Kasha's been brought by. If her feet drag going to the table, it's not unsurprising given what happened, but eventually she eases down opposite the redhead, taking off her sunglasses so the woman has at least the respect of looking each other in the eye instead of behind dark glass. "Dr. Sheridan. Is she okay?" Because why would the woman who went up her one side and down the other, be chauffeuring a baby around.

Bella knows enough about babies to realize this one is remarkably well behaved, and while it would be too much to call what she feels for Kasha 'affinity', she feels a remarkable lack of antipathy which - hell - is definitely a start. Enough of one, in fact, to prompt Bella to toss the oddly composed year-old an aside as Abby steps into the diner - "Sorry for making you an accomplice."

She doesn't smile, because that would seem false, and Bella doesn't want to seem false at all, not even to herself. Her brows furrow ever-so-slightly and her lips purse in a manner that she trusts conveys the first glimmerings of apology. Since, as it happens, apology is what she has in mind. And what she opens with.

"I'm sorry if I caused you any worry. Kasha is fine. She's an extremely well mannered little person, in fact," earnest, please sound earnest - she feels earnest enough, "I just- well-" the smile is rueful, if she's wearing it right, "I feel I didn't comport myself well at all last night. I was- extremely inconsiderate. Selfish. Self righteous. Defensive. Cruel. If I had spent a single moment thinking about your feelings- or thinking about how to do anything other than hurt them- I never would have spoken to you as I did. So-"

Here goes: "I'd like us to start over. Because it's what you deserve, and frankly it's what I need. It's one thing to burn a bridge; it's another to torch your own barge."
It's okay Kasha's expression relays to Bella. I understand. One reserved - normally - person to another - again, normally. Then breaks into a smile and arms up, wanting Abby to pick her up, which she does, fishing Kasha out of the highchair to set her in her lap, wraps her arms around the baby and checking her over. Maybe making sure that Bella hadn't secretly shanked her daughter.

Apologies however are pretty much the last thing that she expected from Bella, lips pursing just a fraction as she listen to the shrink rattle off and the I'm sorry that comes from her lips. It makes Abby bounce her leg a few times to entertain the baby who's exploring the spoons on the table.

"I'd think that I'm the person more better equipped to be burning bridges and torching barges"

This brings the ghost of a chuckle to Bella's lips, and her smile is more nervous than it is anything else. Yes, she recalls now that she is dealing with the combustible woman. That is why she was talking about incinerating Dr. Blite. Bella really ought to keep this whole dangerous-evolved-power thing in mind, next time she feels like tearing into someone.

"I can't speak to your personal life- or- at least, that which I can speak to is-" oh, this is going nowhere good, and fast, "forgive me…" Bella sets her palms to cool against the side of her shake, eyes closing as she takes a trio of smooth inhales.

"The way I see it- we share common interests. In some sense, we want the same things. We may disagree on how to go about achieving them but- well-" ginger brows lift, "permission to speak openly?"

"I'm not going to go up in flames and give you a hug Dr. Sheridan. In as much as I wouldn't mind doing that to the man you eventually gave or give birth to. We've had a few run ins. But I'm pretty good at not just going off. If my eye's go orange, just grab Kasha and beat it back a good ten feet and you'll be fine" But not the place they're sitting in.

"But please. Feel free to speak openly. I would expect no less, you did that last night"

Abby's words give Bella rather a lot to respond to, all at once. She wants to convey her ironic gratitude for the safety procedure she's just related. She also wants to 'speak openly' as per her request, because she had something to say along those lines. But the topic of her un-son trumps these for the moment and, without meaning to, Bella finds herself on the defensive once more.

"I- did not and will not give birth to anyone," is stated with an adamance that becomes hushed a third of the way in, "the- individual to which you refer is the result of a set of occurrences that are incompatible with the choices that have brought us to this moment. Please- please don't put me in the position where I'm expected to take blame for a choice I didn't make, a- a pill I didn't miss.

"We've all of us the present we inhabit because we averted the ones we do not. I do not have a son, and the woman I would have had to have been in order to have that son is definitionally not me."

"Oh thank the lord, because he is an-" She puts her hands over Kasha's ears, the word equally as hushed and oddly, sympathetic. "Asshole" Hands are removed, the little girl looking up to see what was wrong that hands were put over ears. "You're not responsible, for him. Not, you you, but the one that brought him to life. Things changed, this timeline carries on as it shoulder, but not as the one that he sprung from. Same as this one" She looks down to Kasha. "She's here, and I raised her, but not really me, raised her. I can only hope that I do as good a job as that iteration of me did"

Which brings about. "In the future though, when in doubt. I do have two packs of Plan B that I'm not ever likely going to use, and they're good for when you're in-" She waggles her head back and forth. 'Doubt about the validity of your protection" Says the girl who's used it once or twice, just to make sure.

"The deficiencies of Calvin Rosen's character are anything but unknown to me," Bella replies, with a very slightly defensive aloofness - this is evidently something of a sore subject for her, and distance seems preferred to proximity, both conceptually and physically. "And I think you are being very generous in applying so mild a label to a mass murderer." He may in fact be both an asshole and a genocidalist, but the former seems eclipsed by the latter. "I don't put a great deal of stock in alternate futurity, generally. Maybe I'm fooling myself, but I like to think my future is my own."

"And- I appreciate it. I'm usually very fastidious about my contraceptives. It's simply been- difficult of late. So many things on my mind and-" she lifts a hand in abjuration, trying to banish the legion anxieties that she blames for her (not fatal but just the opposite, really) misstep, "if nothing else - and for what little it's worth - my caution has been subsequently reinforced many times over."

If she were to be mean of mind, Bella would comment on being unsure about the entirety even of her alternate self's responsibility for the evils that have ushered forth from her loins. It seems to her that Calvin is responsible for what Calvin has done. But she came here to make nice, not to bicker over small differences in opinion, distinctions in attribution; this has got to be least of their disagreements, really - Bella cannot expect Abby and she to see eye to eye on any number of issues, many much larger.

She allows herself just one slightly chilly smile, tinged with a blackish humor. "Please, no need to concern yourself so. I understand what seems to be your considerable worry, but trust me when I say I have even less interest than you in my reproducing.

"If you'll forgive me- I don't really want to talk about Mr. Rosen. I'm resolved to help you and your- associates deal with him as is necessary and deserved, but I wanted this to be about- well… us, so to speak. In a sense." Bella's lips purse in solicitous curiosity. "I had some questions that I hoped you'd be willing to answer. If - of course - you feel comfortable."

"If I don't feel like answering, then I won't answering." She's back to checking over Kasha, make sure that between the day before and now, Bella or someone hasn't glued devil horns to her child or perhaps decided to lop off a limb. Turned her secretly into genocidal serial killer. "I'm sorry, I won't bring up his name either" And there's a waitress coming, which means that Abigail falls silent as she looks over whatever menu is brought, ordering a milkshake for want of a treat. She'll order some more before she takes off, bring them back for the people in Francois's brownstone. They'll be easy enough to heft over the back wall.

"What were you hoping to know?"

"I wouldn't have it any other way," Bella says, brightly enough, appreciative even. That attitude of the 'cordial' she invoked (and tried to evoke) during their last meeting is back, though a little rougher around the edges, harder to maintain in pristine condition. She's not a hollow woman, not empty of human feeling - at worst she's all too human, in fact, and her frailties due to a surfeit of humanity rather than its lack.

"I'm sure you know how- reticent Flint can be," Bella dislikes assuming, but this one seems relatively easy, "and you wouldn't be alone in having reservations about his and my involvement," a nice, bland word, that, "but when I said we share common interests, I meant just this - I know you care for him. And I do as well. And while I think it flatters us both to say that we are, to him, very different people, I think our concern for his happiness - or whatever, for him, approximates it - is shared."

There is something a little strange about this delivery, again the result of a negotiation between how she feels she should present herself - open, honest, but entirely businesslike - and how she feels - nervous, tense, and very much emotionally invested. She presses on however. "I know- some details of your relationship, but all that I do know, I've learned through the filter of his report, inflected by his attitudes and distorted by his badly battered memory. Simply put, I know better than a trust a man when he speaks of a woman. I was hoping- hoping that you might be able to tell me your story - as much of it as you're willing to. As much as you think might- help. Help achieve our common interest."

She wants to know about Flint, and herself.

"I don't rightly think I'm anything to him anymore Dr. Sheridan. Too much has passed between us that I don't know that we can rightly be in the same room with each other. You saw. I loved him, I still do, not in the way that I did. But I don't know that he ever did for me. We shared some nights with one another, till I did and said something stupid, and -" Abby shakes her head, drawing her teeth across her lower lip and fishing around for a pacifier for Kasha, offering it to the little girl, letting her gaze settle on the baby instead of the woman across from her.

"And it ended. With a palm and the death of someone who was a friend. He disappeared and he showed up in your care and the Companies. From what I can tell, now he and you share nights and that you care for him. I don't know that you love him, but I know, that he must care about you more than he ever did me because you've managed to get him to stay in one spot"

And show some manner of affection. "He's happy with you, and that's good. he deserves it Dr. Sheridan. I said it before to you. He deserves to be happy. I don't know what you mean by his battered memory though" no one, not even flint, told her about the telepathic lobotomy performed on his memories.

In the unkindest reaches of Isabella Sheridan's heart, a worse devil of her nature gentle stokes an ember of antipathy and recalls words that she has covetously kept in memory even though the speaker has long forgotten them. Yes, this grimy, wretched hearthkeeper says as it stoops over its ashen fireplace, something that gives no warmth, no real solace, only a task of tending resentment. Yes, it mutters, you love him like you love a dog. You make him feel like a dog.

Another part of her remembers other words, not as far flung, not separated by the same gulf of stolen memory. "He doesn't think he deserves to be happy," the wryest twist of a smile, "he's not sure either of us do. And I'm not sure I disagree - not after all we've both done. But who doesn't want more than they deserve?"

No comment on the matter of love. Bella is allergic to sentiment when the conditions aren't right, and for all that she's asked Abby to spill some small contents of her heart, unfair Isabella is reluctant to return the gesture herself. She's better with fact and deduced conjecture.

"The Company had a rather liberal policy regarding its rights over its employee's recollections. There's a great deal Flint's had extracted by force. For the best, a great deal of it - things I honestly think we are all better off with his not remembering. But many things besides - collateral damage. They wanted to make a useful man of him, and the Company - for all its secrecy - was never very subtle or light handed in its notions of usefulness.

Bella's milkshake has gathered a thick layer of melt at the bottom, but her appetite seems to have taken a hiatus. The tip of her nail catches a drooping droplet of condensation before it can roll down to the stem of the glass. "But please- I know that now is now, that it is different. I'm not-" a strained smile, "I know where things stand. But I guess- if there is anything you think I should know, for his sake, I would like to hear it."

"Everyone should get more than than they deserve. They should get their hearts desires. But in this world, we don't get what we want, and sometimes, we only get what we need. Other times… we get a slap in the face and a reminder that the world is imperfect and so are we" A rest of her cheek to the top of Kasha's head, she can feel the pulse of the little ones heart through the fontanelle just faintly.

"Other times… Other times Bella, we get exactly what we deserve, for what we've done. He deserves to be happy. You deserve to be happy. I deserve to be happy." But god see's fit otherwise. She doesn't say this last part out loud, just looks at the formica top of the table they're at.

"what are you looking for exactly, about him and I? He was my first. In a hotel room out in Milwaukee. I had a breakdown, I got in a car and ran and he decided to follow and I cheated on my boyfriend with Flint. A few months later, we did it again, he didn't want a relationship, he didn't want to date, to go out and hold hands, to attend church, to be a boyfriend. I thought I was fine with that, but I wasn't." Abigail shrugs her shoulders, falling silent again when the waitress brings by her own milkshake, shifting in spot so she can bring it down, let Kasha attempt to sip through a straw and partake of the treat.

"He was having issues when my ability was ripped out of me, put into him. The memory of a frenchman that had it before me, would crop up. I would wake up and it would be it, instead of Flint. And then I hopped back in time with someone, to save the man who gave the ability to me. It was the same man that … it's complicated. I think we were already going our ways before I opened my mouth. I loved him Bella. I loved him for all his flaws. For the smile he gave me in private. For that first time and his gentleness when we should have been bruising each other and leaving marks. For the way that he took care of me when I didn't know I needed it and put up with my stupidity and naivete. That he lost an eye for me and I was willing to kill someone for him because he lost the eye. I would have stayed with him if he had let me. But he hit me, and then he killed Hokuto. She was a friend. Someone who helped me after I was rescued from Staten Island."

She shakes her head again, milkshake put down, smoothing out little curls to Kasha's hair just now starting to show the promise of length. "We were terrible for each other, a disaster in the making and yet… he made my heart race and want to make him happy. To show him that he deserved love and good things and… that someone in the world noticed that he existed and he won't die without at least one person by his grave crying for him, if not at least doing everything in their power to keep them out of it"

"I don't know- from what I know of the human heart, what it desires is not something it should receive. Desires aren't pure. Desires aren't 'good'. Desires are irrational, selfish, childish and wild, and age and experience help us negotiate their terms, not change their essential qualities." And Bella believes all this, and as true believers do, she believes that disbelief is also wrongness, but the good, tolerant, diplomatic liberal in her - comprador coward that it is - disavows this fact with the simple statement: "But I'm a cynic, Abigail. And I'm learning to love my symptom. I just don't want to ennoble it."

This business with the Frenchman and the trading of abilities - this she remembers. She remembers that laying on of hands herself, has one less scar to show for it - though some more were earned in exchange, in the end. "He shot me," she reflects, "twice," she taps her leg - the leg - and gives Abby a very dry smile, "if I were rational about this, I'd say you made the right choice. If this were I book, I'd disdain myself for my weakness."

And maybe she does, in fact, disdain herself - self-love and self-loathing have a remarkably complementarity. "But I understand," you see, she understands, or so she thinks, "and for me it goes both ways. It sounds like your love was something of a charity - I don't mean that unkindly, I just… I don't think you are, or were, so worried about your dying unmourned. Mine-" ahem, "my feelings are somewhat more selfish. The assurance you wanted to give- I want myself to have."

Bella is wordy, it's a reverse role for her. Caliban would often have to parse what she says, run it through an Abby translator to understand when his wife babbled or talked. Abby has to do the same for Bella. Self professed backwoods barbie, everything out of the shrinks mouth always seems intellectual.

"Desires are what makes us attempt." She glances to the leg in question, back up to Bella, actually looking her in the face. "Robert nearly killed me. He dislocated my ankle, damaged the muscles there, I had to have surgery on it and even with the healing someone did, it won't ever be as strong as it was. Too much damage to it. He tried to choke me to death. The reasons, at the time, very valid. I don't think you're stupid or made a bad choice. I married Robert. You're with Flint. you're still together and I'm in the process of a one sided divorce that will never go through because he'll be dead before it can." Kasha reaches for the milkshake, wanting more, and at this moment Abby's inclined to spoil the little girl, let her have some more. Let her dig a spoon into the whip cream at the top and shove it into her mouth.

"What do you feel for him Bella? Are you.. are you looking for my blessings in your pairing? Because you can have it, if you want." Despite the jealousy that had flashed across her face when they had slipped hands into one another's. "everyone needs someone who can understand them"

"With all due respect, no - I am not looking for your blessing. I hope you understand that I don't think I need it. No more than, if the positions were reversed, you'd need mine. We're adults, all of us, or doing our best to pretend like we are. We don't own each other - much as we might wish we could, much as we might feel - in our innermost - that it might relieve some portion of the anxiety needing other people always brings." More cynicism, and while Bella's language is dressed up in all the trumpery that a Westchester lifestyle and education tend to bring with it, it's still just ornamental bandage on the simple, raw wound of human truth; if she feels like five dollar words give her a speck more control, then maybe best to leave her with her delusions. She paid enough for medschool, anyways.

And prettiness has no place when speaking of such brutality. The paleness in Bella's cheek speaks commendably to her horror. The student of human thought and tendency makes her wonder at what sort of women they are, to find themselves with such men - visible strong, independently minded, yet finding themselves with people who have verifiably harmed them, and might again if temper and opportunity coincide. There's no flowery language in Bella's vocabulary that is able to romanticize that. Her silence on the topic, then, speaks volumes.

"I've made a commitment," is her answer, then, a watery sort of recompense, not even reason, much less excuse, "and I can't change what I want." What a non-answer. "I love him," and this admission adds a tension to her eyes, a tightness to her expression that belies the very emotion she's trying to avoid displaying, "I don't always know if that's enough - it- it evidently isn't always. And-" all of a sudden, there is the slightest tremor in Bella's lower lip, "-and it isn't easy. And it can be lonely. It's- it's been lonely. But I know- that it could be much worse."

They're women. In love. And all the flaws that inherently come with it and because love is greedy for all that it is good. That if you love someone enough, you can overlook the things that others see. Blinded by it even.

"Love isn't always enough" She won't acknowledge the tremor, the wibble of the lower lip and the possible weakness that it might signify to the red haired woman across from her. Give her her pride, like she did in a cathedral long ago for someone else she knows. 'Sometimes it is" Giving the woman hope. "And anything worth having, holding and keeping, will never be easy. Love isn't easy, like other things. Love, faith, empathy, caring, motherhood. Not easy and not for everybody"

She reaches out, her free hand, sliding it across the table with palm up, offering it to the redhead.

This has happened before. An entreaty in a chance encounter, back when Bella was walled up with lies and tense with the need for escape. She didn't take Abby's hand then. This is different. There's hesitation, certainly - product of incredulity more than anything else - and if Bella were to wait until she made sense of all this, and whatall it might mean in some greater scheme she, in her limitless arrogance, imagines herself as the architect of, then the whole of her drink would melt before fingers find fingers. But it's a simple offer, to be taken simply, in spite of the strange mire they've waded through. No, love does not make things easy, but it can make them straightforward.

Bella takes Abby's hand.

And really, it's not hope that Bella wants. It's not even pride, a heady thing that keeps you on perilous tiptoe and does no good for your grip on terra firma. Her wish is much more modest. She needs to not be alone, and right now she isn't. A flutter of lashes joins the trembling of her lip, and her eyes dive desperately to the side as, without her consent, silent tears roll down her cheeks, a delayed reflection of the weeping glass between them.
ORDER: It is now your pose.
And Bella is burned to a crisp.

No, not really. Though out there, there are people who wouldn't mind that. But it doesn't happen. Instead it's fingers twining around, interlocking with the other woman's. A grip not too tight but conveys a meaning of support. She's waded through snow to heal the 'midtown man' let another live with her, so he wouldn't be alone, she makes her bed with terrorists and love a man who had a hand in doing vile things to her. She can offer her hand to a woman who probably ranked right up there with the very same people.

Kasha keeps sucking on the spoon, oblivious to the spill of emotions while others in the restaurant avert their eyes.

And Abigail remains blessedly silent, holding onto the other woman's hand for as long as Bella wants it.

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