Almost Comforting


aaron_icon.gif bella_icon.gif

Scene Title Almost Comforting
Synopsis Bella arrives at St. Luke's to check in on Aaron after finding police at her office, where he had previously been staying.
Date May 30, 2010

St. Luke's Hospital

Again. He's here again.

Suicide watch is not something Aaron cares to endure ever. But this time, he didn't even do anything that could possibly be construed as a suicide attempt. Last time, for example, was a complete accident. It could have happened to anybody. It's not like he's the only person who inflicts wounds upon himself to help maintain his sanity. Peyton said she believed him, that he didn't kill himself, but now he's not so sure.

While stuck here, he figured he'd play things up a bit, throw a fit and see if he could get a sedative or two. Unfortunately, all it got him was a set of padded restraints. At least most of the staff have left him alone since he made it clear he'd accept no visitors except for his own therapist. He even gave them all of the contact information he had for her to make sure they got her to come. He has some questions….

Who in God's name called the cops to her place? Bella will tear the officers involved a new sphincter if she can. It was an invasion of her privacy, a breach of constitutionally protected rights, a… a…

Bella is not pleased. And her anger runs like a cold river underneath her otherwise smooth exterior, her smile like a coating of thin ice. That Aaron was taken away… well, a hospital may be a safer and warmer setting than her apartment. But Bella is feeling less and less safe every day. And this only compounds her worries.

She manages to affect warmth before stepping past the nurse on Suicide watch and entering Aaron's room. She's wearing a long peacoat, and a black beret, her hands in leather gloves and her boots high and warm. She takes off her hat as she approaches Aaron, restrained. Her brows furrow. "I'm so sorry this happened," she says, "I will get you out of those at once."

The cops were not Aaron's idea, nor was being taken to the hospital under the pretense that he attempted suicide. Contempt is written all over his face.

"It's probably safer if you leave them on," he says, and yet reaches his hand out to her as though expecting her to take it. His own anger is something unusual, something for the moment he is almost blissfully unaware of. It's hard for him to feel anything other than defeat. Defeat and the desire for vengeance. So maybe there is a little anger there.

Bella pauses, not taking his hand. Her brows furrow further, and there is an instant of hurt on her face, as if slipping past her professional mien for just a moment. She seems wounded. But she covers it up. "Are you saying you might hurt me, Aaron?" she asks, sounding deadly serious, but still asking as if the question were in the interests of his well-being, an indication of his unhappiness.

Aaron tries to read Bella's face, but he's nowhere near as proficient at it as she is. He can't see the moment of hurt. His blood boils, and he bites back what he'd really like to say and instead turns his head to not face her. "No," he says, though it's hard to tell if he means it or not. "You have no idea what kind of a nightmare you put me through. And you won't even touch me."

Bella very carefully reaches out to take Aaron's hand. A gesture of trust. Carefully chosen and planned. "What happened? And how was I involved?"

Aaron takes the offered hand, gently at first. "Peyton followed me to your place." He tilts his head to the side, looking directly at Bella with his bright sapphire eyes. "She seems to be under the impression that you were involved in the kidnapping and experimentation of people using Refrain. That you forced it upon people who were trying to get clean." He tightens his grip and uses his ability to draw upon Bella's negative emotions and suck them out. If he has any hope of getting an honest response, it's if she is as uninhibited as he can make her.

It's not quite fear that Bella feels, though there is always some of that nowadays. It's more a tightening around her heart, a pressure, but with it a resolve and a steeliness. Of course, the worst of this is pulled away in an instant, leaving Bella with a distelled sense of that resolve without its motivating anxiety - she feels confident. She feels safe. And she feels good. Before her consciousness can reflexively consider the reasons for this, she answers. "As lies go, that seems rather far fetched." She's smiling, despite herself. She looks amused, and slightly giddy. Her reflexivity flashes into play. "Did you just do something to me, Aaron?" she asks, but her tone sounds like she finds what he did a funny prank rather than the borderline transgression it is.

Borderline transgression is a mild understatement. It was also a mistake. He should have simply paid more attention. Taken stock of her current emotional pain and then seen if he added to it at all. But that would require more thought than Aaron is presently capable of.

His eyes narrow, now confused. Because he's inclined to believe Bella even though he trusts and believes Peyton. Anger melts away into insecurity and self-doubt. "She said there was proof." His voice sounds smaller than usual and he averts his gaze, unable to look Bella in the eye.

Bella has to try not to giggle. Her reflexivity is still keeping her clinging to self control, so she succeeds, but the impulse was there. "I… am now in no state to communicate," she says, tone fondly chiding. She squeezes his hand and takes a perch at the edge of his cot, her unnaturally induced good cheer sparkling in her eyes. "But, as a woman of medicine and science, I'd urge you to view only proof itself as proof. Just saying you have proof doesn't count. One learns that the hard way when writing college papers, pretty early on." She lifts a hand to her face, covering her eyes, "Oh, Jesus. Aaron, what have you done? I am supposed to be helpful to you. I feel useless. Really very nice, of course, but useless."

Oh yes, this was a brilliant idea.

"But why would she say she has proof if she doesn't?" It's the question Aaron really would like to know. It's not like Peyton's a good liar. She's a terrible liar. He thinks. Frankly, he doesn't want to believe either of them.

"I'm way behind you, Aaron," Bella says, giving a helpless shrug. She holds his hand in both of hers now, clasping his fingers between her own. "I'm still stuck wondering why should would make such an outlandish claim in the first place. Why she'd feel the need to lie at all, rather than just say she was uncomfortable with you seeing a therapist," her eyes narrow, and her lips prick into a small smile, "Jealous, perhaps? Did she know you were seeing a female psychiatrist? Did she just find out?"

Aaron rubs his head, "You met her, remember? She didn't just find out." He curls up — as much as one can while bound by restraints. "Why would she not want me to see a therapist? She said she was OK with me seeking help. Hell, she's told me God knows how many times that I need professional help…."

"I know better than most just how often what people say, and even what people think isn't necessarily how they feel," Bella says, reaching out to brush a little of Aaron's hair from his forehead. It's a very maternal gesture, and all the stranger for their positions. "I mean… take me at this very moment. Despite myself, I feel safe and warm and entirely at my ease. While I know that my client is going through a troubling and unfortunate experience. You're even tied down, for heaven's sake! Which reminds me," she glances over her shoulder, "I'm getting you released. First from those, and then from this place."

"Maybe I should stay," Aaron says. It pains him to say it, too. "I mean, look at me." He leans his head down to his left sleeve and bites into it, pulling it up to reveal the damage. Thirty, in total, though some are covered by the padded cuff. Each cut was only just under an inch long, horizontal, and there are three columns traced down his arms. They're actually almost identical in length. Precise. Ritualistic. Most are only scars, though some are still scabbed from his recent hallucination, and the habitual picking.

"I belong here, or somewhere worse. And I don't want to believe either of you. If I believe Peyton, you're some evil mad scientist, and if I believe you, Peyton's at least as evil." Black and white, anyone?

Bella shakes her head, her expression not pained, but full of sympathy for his pain. "Aaron, Aaron," she begins, "Peyton's just confused and upset. It's difficult for her to accept that you need someone else to help you. She cares about you, but she doesn't know what's best, or what to do. It's not at all uncommon for people to fear psychiatry and attribute all sorts of diverse and strange evils to its history. But you and I know better," she glances over her shoulder again, "I… really don't know that I should ask for help. I feel fine around you, Aaron dear. But… well… I can do this myself anyways." She leans over and starts to undo Aaron's restraints.

"She wouldn't lie if she didn't want to hurt me," Aaron says. He rubs at his newly-free wrists. "You don't want to hurt me, do you?" He's not sure why he asks the question. The only thing he's feeling right now is vaguely nauseous. He wraps his arms around himself. "You have to talk to her. Reason with her. I need this."

Bella just scoots right over to Aaron and wraps her arms around him, giving him a warm hug. "Of course I don't want to hurt you, Aaron. You're my client. It is my duty to help you," she leans back, smiling at him with simple fondness, "Not that you make it easy. But I like a challenge." Her smile becomes impish for a moment.

Twilight Zone, redux. "This isn't right," Aaron says as Bella holds him in her arms for a hug that — unlike her professional courtesy — actually feels like a warm and loving hug. It feels good but wrong all at once and he find himself wishing it were Peyton doing the hugging. Of course, those hugs were almost always awkward, too.

"I want Peyton to visit. I told her I wouldn't see her and told them," them meaning the hospital staff, "not to let her see me, but I need to know why she said what she did. I need you to talk to her, find out why she's doing this to me."

"And who's fault is that?" Bella quips, leaning back from the embrace, "Don't worry, Aaron. I've got my wits about me. I'm just in a mood." She smiles, so very untroubled, hands resting on his shoulders, "I will talk to her if you think it will help. But I think I should do it in private. She obviously has some issues she needs to work out for herself, and she deserves the same courtesy you receive."

Aaron groans, though he seems in slightly better spirits the instant Bella has her hands resting on his shoulders. It's that contact thing of his, though he wishes it were Peyton, or at least someone else who isn't his therapist. Because as much as he loves contact, it's just plain awkward.

"Yeah, OK. But I still want to talk with her when you're done."

"Of course," Bella says, "She's been incredibly good to you, I've always had that impression. She's supported you, made you feel safe when you needed it, helped you when no one else was there." She sure is gushing about someone who is trying to expose her as a mad scientist. But that's just the effect Aaron has on people. "But you have to recognize that she, like everyone else, has her complexes, and does not always know what's best for you. That's for the two of us to figure out together, right?" Bella beams - it would take a cold heart indeed to disagree with her when she seems so happy about the idea.

"Hasn't really worked so well so far," Aaron remarks, coldly. The happy gushy Bella is about as pleasant as he finds vibrant people— not at all. Mostly because he can't appreciate something he hasn't felt in a long time. Even the brief moments he has had of happiness of have snatched away one way or the other, just like everything else.

Bella's eyes narrow in good-natured mischief, "If you're upset about my mood, consider who's to blame, hmmm?" she says, pinching his shoulder with one hand and snickering. "You need to believe in the possibility of getting better. It's the minimum requirement for success."

The pinch is poorly received. Aaron issues a sharp slap at Bella's hand in response. Of course, it could have been to her face, so there's still a small silver lining. He would love to take that smile right off of her face about now. The fact that it's his own doing makes it even more unbearable.

He lets out a noise of exasperation and buries his face in his pillow. He only believes in the possibility of getting better, no the probability. "I'm too cursed to have anything good happen. I have my own friends messing with me, for Christ's sake. Or, alternatively, a psychopathic therapist."

Bella's hand withdraws and she nurses it, giving Aaron a hurt look, though she clearly not really upset. "I never said she was 'messing' with you, Aaron," she corrects, sounding like a patient teacher, "Only that she is confused by her own feelings. You've spent a great deal of time with her, and that can get one tangled up, emotionally. That's why a therapist is important, having an open, free space to discuss issues, without the convolutions of a social interaction."

Aaron doesn't see the hurt look, face buried in his pillow as he is. "Sometimes it doesn't seem like it helps," he says, before rolling onto his side to face her. Prone and in emotional agony. Yup. That's what he's been reduced to. "I think I should stay here."

"That's, of course, at your discretion," Bella says, "You have the key to my office if you need a safety net. And I do still think you should help with clearing the city streets. I think it would do you a lot of good. But it's all your choice," she reaches out and cups his cheek lightly, looking him in the eye, "Believe that I can help you."

Aaron nods. He knows all of this, of course. The key's in his personal things, wherever those ended up. Heck, he's sure most of his things are still back at Bella's office, unless Peyton took them back to her place. Which will make things awkward at some point, he's certain. But of course, the real question on his mind is the one he voices: "What if you can't?"

"We'll worry about that if it turns out to be the case," Bella says, thumb brushing his cheekbone. There's something very tender about her bearing. Again, it feels maternal, or perhaps like the affect of an interested and gentle teacher. Nothing evidently sensuous on her end, just comfort. "But know that I believe I can help you. And I never believe lightly."

Awkward. Again. Aaron doesn't know whether to cringe or to accept the contact, so he just remains very, very still. "Well that's… almost comforting, I guess." Which will just have to do.

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