And Then They Got High


bella_icon.gif magnes_icon.gif

Scene Title And Then They Got High
Synopsis Bella and Magnes have an emotionally intense reunion, and then, well…
Date April 3 2010

Bella's Apartment

It's early in the afternoon, and Magnes has watched Bella's apartment until he knew for sure she'd be gone for a while. When he entered the building through the roof, he went through the incredible effort of picking her lock. It's not something he's generally good at, and took him a good half hour trying to push locks on the other side of the door with gravity, but eventually he succeeded.

The door's locked again, and when Bella enters, she won't see anyone obviously in her apartment, though there is the faint smell of Old Spice in the air. The internet says it's a manly scent, so…

She doesn't have to wait long to notice someone's in here, since Magnes sits on her ceiling in his short black leather trenchcoat, unzipped to reveal the dark-blue shirt with a white-gloved hand, fingers out-stretched and a black spiral in the middle of the palm. On his feet are snow boots, and above those are his blue jeans with thick black spirals going up the legs. "Bella."

She's gotten herself into some sort of trouble again, has Dr. Sheridan, evidenced by her walking with a crutch. The rubber pad's impact squeaks on the wooden floors as Bella hauls herself into her apartment, letting her purse slip to the floor from one shoulder and busying herself with taking offer her winter things, mainly a big puffy jacket that makes her look slightly ridiculous. More ridiculous is the effect of snow powdering the strays strands of hair, and how it contrasts with the staticy mess that is revealed once she removes her large black winter beret.

The house itself is already marked by the smell of incense, not fresh but still very present, its source almost certainly the burner on Bella's coffee table. The burner is accompanied by a variety of cannibis paraphernalia, including a small metal grinder and a vaporizer.

It's this paraphernalia that might have drawn Bella's next attention, were it not for the overhead address she receives. The psychiatrist gives a small yelp of surprise and alarm, her hand coming to rest on a fluttering heart as she leans back against the closed door, and looks up at Magnes with an expression that is half hurt, half relieved. "Magnes…" she says, "I have to say that roughly none of this is what I expected…"

"There's so much I wish I could talk to you about, but I don't even know if you're my friend anymore. I don't know what was a lie and what isn't. I helped save those people you were experimenting on." Magnes stands up from his seat on the ceiling, his jacket falling toward the ceiling as if it were completely ignoring gravity. Though it only reaches the upper portion of his knees.

He jumps down to the floor, looking over at her paraphernalia for a moment, though he doesn't comment, he just focuses on her eyes. "I don't know what to think anymore. I'm confused, betrayed… was I just another experiment too?"

Bella's head tilts as she listens to Magnes. This is a sort of conversation she had hoped was quite behind her, but it appears that there are things she's sewn that have remained, as of yet, unreaped. The psychiatrist takes the time to push off her winter boots, taking extra care with the one attached to the foot on the bad leg. She then grips her crutch, and swings a bit closer to Magnes' cieling perch, at least on a few dimensional axes.

"I'm sorry," Bella says, her voice calm and level, "And in most ways I don't imagine you're going to find /any/ circumstance here mitigating. So when I explain myself, know that I'm not giving you excuses, I'm just giving you the information I feel you have a right to ask for, and a right to know. Also, I'd like to know, right away, if you plan to hurt me?" Her lips quirk to one side, an image of gentle regret, "I understand if you have that impulse, but I'd like you to know that the majority of that work," she indicates her leg, "Has already been seen to."

Magnes slides his hands into his coat pockets when he's ground level and eye to eye with her. She'll notice that since the last time they spoke, he's a little better built, and his left eye is faded and clearly blind… at least for the rest of the week after finally finding a cure. "I'd never hurt you, Bella. One of the only reasons I agreed to go on that mission was to make sure you didn't get hurt. I don't know why you did what you did, or if what you said about us being friends was a lie, but I couldn't stand to see you hurt. I don't remember a lot about the Company, but I remember I'm loyal to it. So go ahead, explain."

Bella figures she also has license to take a seat, and she does, swinging to the couch and settling down carefully. She lifts a hand to brush her hair over her shoulders, fingers coming free with a few reddish strands and some melting flecks of ice. She wipes her hand clean on her trousers, then looks to Magnes.

"I directed that research project because I thought some very real good could come from understanding Refrain. I wanted to find real uses for it, something that would redeem what had otherwise turned out to be just another highly addictive and dangerous street drug," Bella explains, "Because the whole process was illegal, the drug, the trials, I overstepped certain traditional ethical boundaries - I did use coersion and imprisonment - but I also made a point to acquire only confirmed addicts, so as to avoid 'hooking' anyone who wasn't already hooked. That's still too much for most people, and I understand if it's too much for you. But good did come of it. I've discovered a way to use Refrain to treat even severe cases of PTSD in Evolved patients, a frighteningly common condition as I've found from experience. As to our friendship… of course that's real. Mediated, of course, by the fact that our relationship is primarily that of therapist and client, but still very real. I consider, or at least considered, you to be totally apart from the whole project. As it turns out, I happened to acquire /one/ person who had well armed, vengeful friends. I have a feeling that if I had not acquired just that one person… things might not have turned out they way that they did…"

"You pissed off Linderman. I have no idea who you took, but pissing off our world's version of the freakin' Kingpin is not what I call a well thoughtout plan." Magnes lets out a deep sigh, plopping down in a seat next to her after pulling his hands from his pockets. "A lot's changed with me, since our last session. I can feel your heart beating right now, I've had to learn a bit about self control with my ability expanded like this. I'm not a person who's just gonna hurt anyone on impulse, unless they hurt someone I care about."

He moves a hand to place it on her shoulder, shaking his head. "I've read enough comics to know that no scientist does anything with bad intentions, Bella. But you can't do things like this, you can't just lock people up against their will if they haven't done anything wrong. I can forgive you, Bella, but we have to be friends instead of client and patient. I can trust you as a friend, it's as a doctor where I start to question your ethics. Can you understand that, Bella?"

Bella nods, "Of course I understand," she says, "And I'm honestly concerned that you're too generous. I think that ethical failings as a doctor can speak a great deal to the character of the doctor as a private individual. Not," she adds, "That I'm trying to build a case against myself… I'm just explaining that I /entirely/ understand." She folds her hands in her lap, lets her eyes close, "I don't plan to repeat my past mistakes."

Which mistakes she refers to, what sort of mistakes, she doesn't specify. If Magnes is keen on thinking the best of her, she has no desire to interfere.

Her eyes open. "Then you're telling me you'd like to dissolve our professional relationship?"

"I know it says a lot about you as a person, but everyone's flawed. I know and consider people my friends who have done far worse than you. I was friends with Gabriel Grey, until he tried to hurt Claire again. We're broken up now, by the way." Magnes sighs at that, laying his head back to stare at the ceiling. "No point in protecting her identity now, she's all over the news and you'd know her ability. Claire Bennet, the girl in the news being blamed for killing some politician, with regenerative abilities. A few months ago, she took a showgun to the brain, it erased five months of her life, the five months we were dating. I had to break up for her own good. I just thought you'd like to know the last bit of mental trauma I went through."

"Well," Bella says, with a very, /very/ wry smile, faint and papery, "If we really are going to end our professional arrangement, you might as well get whatever trauma's you have backlogged out and presented before me, so I can give them one last crack. Afterwards, I'll only be able to give normal, un-scientific forms of comfort and support…" It's a risk to be too jokey, she knows, considering the seriousness of the matters at hand, but Magnes, she has always found, is good at taking things in stride. "I'm very sorry that that's how things had to end for you and her. You cared a lot about her, I know. What else has happened? In the brief time I remain your therapist, that is." She's not going to mention the eye directly /quite/ yet. Better he should volunteer it.

"Well, Delilah, that girl I told you about? She was my first, if you know what I mean. I was really hurting over Claire, and well, we just started doing it pretty regularly. We haven't in a few weeks, she has that flu, and I think I might stop it with her in general. I don't wanna sleep with someone I have any feelings for who's gonna keep reminding me that it's just sex." Magnes removes his coat completely, sitting it off to the side as he sits up. "There's this new girl I know named Melissa. One thing lead to another and we ended up having a one night stand. After that I said something awkward, well, I mentioned Delilah, and apparently mentioning another girl is a complete turn off, so she basically said no more sex at all from her."

Bella nods, listening with the careful attention that she has always directed towards Magnes, as if this were just another session, albiet in an unusual setting. She smiles at Magnes' final theory, the one about mentioning other women. She nods, "Not everyone is as open minded as Delilah must be," she says, "And even those that are likely find it difficult to overcome our socially induced reactions, despite," she taps her temple, "Knowing better. Live and learn, and pick your company." She tilts her head, "Your friend, Delilah… is she alright, are you worried about her?" Bella has heard enough about this flu to know that worry might be warranted.

"A bit, but I know she's probably in good hands. She'll be fine, with all the people we know, she'll definitely come out alright. My currently forced celibacy has been bugging me more than anything else, as far as Delilah's concerned." Magnes snickers and moves a hand to poke at the apparent bong. "I'm kind of in a band now, though there's just two of us and we're trying to find a drummer. And I'm working for Tracy Strauss as her intern. Uhh… oh yeah, my friend Eileen is working as a stripper for John Logan, the guy who kidnapped me and Abby, I'm not happy about that at all, but it's what she wants, so I'm trying not to interfere. Not too much is bothering me right now, but lately I feel like my testosterone is going through the roof, like I went on a huge binge of combat and sex in one month, and now I just feel like an animal going cold turkey on everything."

"I played some violin when I was in grade and middle school," Bella says, "But that's about the limit of my musical expertise. So I can't help you with /that/. As for Eileen, I can see why that would bother you, but I think you're doing the right thing, understanding that it's outside your control. If you've expressed your feelings about it to her, and that hasn't changed her mind, you should be glad you did all you can, and hope that she makes smarter choices in the future. Now… about going 'cold turkey'…" The shrink leans forward, takes the bong up in hand and turns it, examining the dark coating of resin, "What coping mechanisms have you considered?"

"Finding somewhere I can fight and get all these impulses out until I feel better, or more sex, which so far doesn't seem to be happening. So…" Magnes tilts his head at the bong, then finally says something about it when he looks up at her. "Are you smoking pot?"

"Not right at this moment, no," Bella says, with a canted smile. She leans forward to set the water pipe back down. It's a modest affair, sizeable but functional and decorated only by a simple swirl of blue glass in the clear body. "I am a fairly regular smoker, though. I prefer it to alcohol most of the time. No hangovers, no addiction, and innumberably fewer health risks."

"Well, as long as you're not selling it." Magnes spreads his arms across the back of the couch, starting to relax a little. "I feel so… masculine lately. I know women probably don't agree, but like I said, I feel like a freakin' animal. Like I could just ravage a woman and kick any guy's ass. I'm not saying I'm in the greatest mood or anything, I mean my ex is kind of on the run from the police, but as a person, I feel pretty incredible, like I don't need anyone to tell me if I'm awesome or not."

Bella quirks her mouth to one side, considering. She nods at his words, but there is an obvious tacit concern in her expression. She doesn't let it linger unspoken for long, though. "While I'm still in a position to say it, as your therapist, I want to tell you that classic masculinity comes with a lot of bad news pathologies. While I'm a tried and true feminist, I consider that struggle to be part and parcel with the concerns of men as well. Many, very many of the men I've treated have troubles whose source is the demands of masculinity. Magnes… confidence is good. It's vital, and you deserve to have it. But there's nothing innately /male/ about it, and I want to warn you against tying those two things together. You /are/ awesome, but don't ever think that has anything to do with you being Magnes Varlane the man. It has everything to do with you being Magnes Varlane the person."

"I never thought of it like that… my parents taught me manners and stuff, but they never outright taught me much about the sexes except what was in history books and biology." Magnes stares at the bong again, seemingly pretty curious about it. "I'm not really someone who's into illegal drugs or anything, but um, if it's pretty harmless, can I try it?"

"If you're really interested, and I mean /really/ interested, you should read 'History of Sexuality, Volume One'," Bella says, leaning forward as she speaks and tugging the gleaming chrome cone of the vaporizer towards her, "But only if you're really interested. It's a bit off the beaten track for most. And the author doesn't think too highly of psychiatry…" She thumbs the button on the vaporizer, causing the LED display to light up, showing a rising temperature. "And of course you can try it. But this is very much off the record," she wrinkles her nose, "Always remember, Magnes, that when things are made illegal they are made so for a host of reasons. Canniboid illegality is one of the more dubious cases."

"Why is it illegal if everyone's always saying it's harmless?" Magnes asks, making a mental note of the book as she suddenly feels the pressure of her bad leg easing up. She's never known him to be able to use his ability without touching, but there's clearly less weight on her leg. "It's nice, to just be friends. I feel like I can relax a little more, plus there was the sexual tension, which is pretty bad to have for a therapist."

"Yet far from uncommon," Bella counters, "Transference was noted as early as Freud. Though I wouldn't explain it in psychoanalytic terms." The temperature on the dial rises until it hits 195 degrees Celcius. Which is to say: hot! Bella lifts a long, clear plastic tube with a glass fitting on each end, slips the tube into the top of the vaporizer and offers the other end to Magnes. "It was made illegal to give the government an excuse to imprison and deport Mexican immigrants," she explains, matter of factly, "And it's not harmless to everyone. Like any other mind altering substance, people can develop dependencies on it, use them as emotional crutches, self-medicate. But not all self medication is bad. But…" she waves her hand dismissively, "I'll start boring you with research if you let me go down this road. Here… the vaporizer is the most healthy way to inhale cannabis. It vaporizes the pure THC, the relevant psychoactive chemical. Just breath in slowly, a nice double lungful, hold it, then release. It'll feel just like breathing in hot air, only it will taste a bit at the end, and you'll expel a thin white mist. It takes a while to start working like this. But give it time, the feeling creeps up on you. Try it…" She glances down at her leg, "And… my… you're getting very good with your ability, aren't you?"

"I learned a lot. I'm kind of like a human planet at the moment. I've got my own orbit, you're sitting in it. Apparently I had a mental block that only made me think my ability was touch range." Magnes takes the tube, then slides it into his lips, slowly inhaling. He sits back, trying to hold it in with a wince, then releases the smoke and sits back, coughing a few times. "Man. I tried smoking cigarettes, this doesn't hurt like that did."

"From what I remember from my high school physics class, which was longer ago than I like to think to hard about…" Bella says, reaching out to take the tube from Magnes with gentle fingers, "Gravity extends infinitely, reducing according to the… um… inverse… square… law?" She's obviously digging deep for this factoid. "Which means that actually I have no idea how your ability really works," she admits with a smile, "And I can promise you, smoking from a pipe or a joint is about as bad as cigarettes, because it relies on burning, combustion. The vaporizer - well - it vaporizes." She lets the glass moutpiece to her lips, the gesture actually sort of dainty, and takes a long, slow inhale.

"After a while, things are hard to affect. But it's really complicated. I'm still not sure why I float when I sleep." Magnes leans over to gently take the tube when she's done with it, just staying huddled up close since they're sharing, then takes another puff. "This stuff is pretty relaxing. I've usually got some stress, but I don't know, it's just easing up a bit. I'm always worrying about a billion problems, a billion hangups, and god knows a billion people."

Bella hands the tube over to Magnes, and makes no motion to take it back even after he's done. Apparently the doctor is satisfied. "In California it's often prescribed to assist with insomnia and anxiety problems," Bella says, "My use is patentedly recreational, but I think most recreation is a form of medication, in its way. 'Blowing off steam'." She turns her gaze to Magnes, "Do you feel like venting would help? Because I am happy to listen if you just want to get some things off your chest."

"Lately my problems aren't huge. Normal outrage at criminals, wanting to help my ex who I can't find clear her name. I'm trying to track down some guy named Rebel, he apparently knows something about what's going on with her. But most of my problems? A mixture of normal guy stuff and the usual issues a guy with my ability might have, like how to help people with it." Magnes inhales again, offering it to her even when she doesn't make a move to take it back. "You can stop being my therapist now. I promise I'll be fine. And I think we crossed the doctor/patient thing when we started smoking pot."

"Not a bad Rubicon," Bella says, taking the tube on instinct, then giggling, "Oh Jesus, that was a nerdy thing to say. I'm sorry, I'm usually good at avoiding slips like that." She sets the tube back on the coffee table. "Well, as it happens, I've heard any number of times that friends often listen to each other's complaints and upsets, so really… all that's changed is that /you/ may have to put up with /my/ problems now."

"I'm a guy whose apartment is full of bookcases of comics, and I was raised specifically to be a physicist, I don't think you need to worry about saying nerdy things." Magnes smiles and lazily drapes an arm around her shoulders, motioning a finger to pull the remote into his palm, turning the TV on. "God, this is freakin' great…"

Bella reaches up and slides fingers around Magnes' wrist, gently lifting his arm off of her. "I don't mean to harsh your buzz," she says, "But you know what happened to Caesar when he got too ambitious?" She sets Magnes' hand on his leg, then squeezes his hand in hers before folding both her hands in her lap. "Give me some time and I may tell you about my personal life and just why I need a certain amount of space. But I think it's a /much/ better idea to use the cable I pay for but never use, and call up a movie On Demand. How about it?"

"He lost all his money before inventing a salad and using that money to start a pizza chain?" Magnes asks, before tilting over on the couch and laughing. "Let's watch a movie, I need to let this stuff wear off or my flying's gonna be a little weird."

"Precisely," Bella confirms, "Which is a decided step down from conquering France and Britain. Much as I like salad." This ignites an idea in her. She turns around and points to her purse. "Get that for me," she says, "Very shortly our desire for carbohydrates will be chemically all messed up, and we're going to want some pizza. I think we should head our hunger off at the pass, order now, so it arrives just when we want it."

Magnes sits up, looking over at the purse, then jerks his arm over and gets smacked in the face with it. "Ow…" he groans, holding the purse out as he rubs his face. "God, one day I'm just… gonna buy a really hot call girl…" he idly muses, slumping back on the couch again.

Bella sniggers uncontrollably at this little instance of slapstick, cheeks flushing bright red, hidden inadequatement behind her hands. When she's finally in possession of herself, she takes the purse. "Merci, mon ami," she says, and begins to root around for her cellphone. "Just make sure she's an independent operator. You deserve a woman with dignity and… um…" she searches for the word, "Well, yes. Dignity."

"As long as I get to be on top." Magnes closes his eyes, yawning as he gets a tad too relaxed on her couch. He's even starting to float a little. "Let me know when the movie starts."

Bella regards Magnes as he lies, suspended, next to her. Her hand touches at her leg, squeezes at the wounded spot, and she winces at the pain that flares there. But she still smiles.

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