Any Other Way


magnes_icon.gif bella_icon.gif

Scene Title Any Other Way
Synopsis Bella offers Magnes the choice to leave the Company, which, unbeknown to him, is no choice at all.
Date August 19, 2009

Company Owned Studio Apartment

The studio apartment where Bella plies her trade.

This was not what she signed on for, Bella insists to herself, however much of a lie it may be. The tranquilizer gun stowed in her kitchenette's utensil drawer does not feel far away enough, though she knows she's being stupid, knows that if this turns ugly she won't barely have time to get to it for it to matter. But, cold hearted bitch or no, she can't believe Magnes would ever hurt her, certainly not intentionally. So the gun stays in the kitchenette, out of sight even if it is far from out of mind.

She must have faith in her abilities, the psychiatrist decides, and faith in Magnes' goodness. And this proves to be enough to sooth her, for she had near-absolute confidence in both. She's donned a black turtleneck and jean shirt for the occasion of this meeting, and she waits, restlessly, by her chairs.

When Magnes walks in, it's another one of those times where his mood is far too good to think about knocking. He locks the door behind him, then slowly floats into the lounge chair, hands behind his head. "I've kissed before, I told you that, but I finally made out, like, serious making out…"

His good humor might as well be a bullet-proof (dart-proof really) shield. Bella can't even imagine pulling and sort of trigger on this young man. She lifts her hands and applauds, and as her anxiety ebbs for the moment, her stomach rumbles slightly. Appetite returning, it's lunchtime, and she hasn't eaten since six.

"Bravo," she says, beaming, "Did you learn a thing or two, or are you just a natural?" She braces the top knee of her crosses legs, "It sounds like it's going very well between you and Claire," a momentary smirk, "It was Claire, wasn't it?" It's a tease, but one meant to flatter. Magnes the Casanova, with beautiful blondes falling over him.

"Yeah, I met with Claire at my place a few hours after I saw Elle. She's moved on pretty quickly, to a larger more well-built guy, and she tried her best to hurt my feelings. I'd say it worked, but Claire picked up the pieces." Magnes smiles, raising a hand to his lips. "Claire says she's not, uh, experienced, but she's definitely not a stranger to kissing, way better than me. I think I learned a lot… and I also learned why things go from making out to sex so quickly in movies. 'Course I wasn't that fortunate, but Claire left an impression…" His cheeks are red, but Bella's always been, well, one of the people he can say virtually anything to, and not worry about ridicule.

After that little story, he holds his right arm up, showing five puncture wounds from nail marks, which are also electrically burned. There's also similar scars on his cheeks, but without the burns. "Elle didn't take the 'Let's be friends' talk so well."

"Well, if she's really broken up about it, my door is open to her," Bella says, but her tone is more than a little mean. Whether or not she's actually on Magnes' side, she certainly does a good job of seeming like it. "I'm about halfway to giving you the safe sex talk, but I don't want to sound like a high school health teacher, so let me just say if you've got any questions, I /do/ have a medical degree, so I know my anatomy. And not just the boring stuff, I promise." She's wasting time, she knows this, but it's hard not to. "This is getting serious, though? You really want this, with Claire?"

"I haven't known her too long, so I can't say how serious it's getting, but she's definitely not just a crush, there's really something there. I can tell because it's not like with the other girls I think I want." Magnes sits up now, crossing his legs, wearing his usual semi-casual suit. His tone is serious at least, though far too bashful to look Bella in the eye.

"Xiulan, I liked her because, well, she was pretty, she seemed nice, and she always seemed to believe in me. I liked Abby because I thought she was perfect, ignoring how her judgements usually didn't make me feel like the best person. I can basically go on like that, except with Delilah, I think I really do like Delilah for subtantial reasons, we just couldn't date because, well, she's involved with something she can't tell me about, and same for me to her." He takes a deep breath, then continues. "But with Claire it's like, she wants me to be me, she doesn't have any problems with who I am, she encourages it. She doesn't judge me, I can talk to her almost as well as I can talk to you, almost. We can relate to eachother for so many reasons, and it makes me realize that I didn't know what I wanted in a girl before."

"Lovers are one thing," Bella says, nodding, "But the person you're with has to be your friend if you want anything really meaningful and lasting. You need support, honesty, openness." And now's as good a time as any, "Magnes, you asked me about leaving the Company last time. And I was, quite possibly for personal reasons as much as professional ones, quick to discourage thinking along those lines. But I realized I should have taken it much more seriously: I chose to join this Company, you were pressed into it. And you're smart, smarter than I, in realizing that the things you want might not be easy, or even possible, to get while you work with us," this is a rather long lead-in, time to cut to the chase, "I made some inquiries… and you have the option to leave, if you want to."

Magnes is calm, though he's certainly more alert as he makes eye contact. "I… really? But do I keep my pardon and stuff?" he asks, obviously wanting to know the catch here. "And even if you had to be a bit biased, I still trust you, Bella."

Bella nods. Trust. That's a good thing. "Pardon, yes, and even some help setting up your life outside the Company. But there is a pretty serious clause. You'll have to have all your memories of your time here, all the knowledge of sensitive information, removed. But, if you're willing, then you're entirely free and," she smiles, trying to sugar coat the bitter pill as best she can, "I can still be your therapist, if you want. We'll be starting from square one, but I have confidence I can earn your trust again, though."

"But I don't wanna just forget everything!" Magnes is suddenly a bit alarmed at that, though he doesn't appear angry, since he believes he has a choice in the matter. "I mean, I don't wanna forget the things me and Carrie went through, or Veronica, or Minea, and especially not all the progress me and you made. There's no way I can at least remember the non-Company stuff?"

Bella nods, catching onto the 'better options' and using them as best she can. "The specialist involved is very skilled. It'll only be the sensitive stuff that goes, things that would get in the way of your leading a normal life, and having the honesty and openness that your relationships deserve. And I will be here, to help smooth over any edges," her gaze is direct, her expression earnest, "I think this is a very important chance for you, Magnes. I've spoken with many agents, read file after file, and while the work we do is important, is /vital/, the people who do it are not happy, and often not healthy. Mine is usually a job of psychological triage, and with you, Magnes, I see someone who needs more than a salve for trauma. You have a shot at a real, full, joyous life… and as your therapist and your friend, I urge you to strongly consider it."

"I don't wanna see the day when I have to lie to Claire because I know she won't approve of something, and I don't wanna see the day I get ordered to take in Delilah or something, not that I'd let anyone do it even without my memories…" Magnes shakes his head, his words mostly coming from the protectiveness of his friends again, then he takes a deep breath and nods. "I'll agree to this, on the condition that I have a chance to maybe discuss a way for my memory to be altered so that you were always my therapist, just get rid of the Company stuff we spoke about. You're not an agent, it has to be easier to make it so I can still remember you…"

He frowns, eyes averting to the floor. "I know you're a doctor and probably don't see it this way, but you're one of my best friends right now."

Bella leans forward, reaching out to place a hand on Magnes', fingers curling to clasp his. "It has been my honor to walk this way with you, and I don't intend to give that honor up any time soon," she says. Her other hand reaches out to catch his chin, lifting it so their eyes meet. "I'll make sure you remember me. I wouldn't have it any other way."

"Thanks, Bella." Magnes gives a genuinely warm smile, moving to stand as he offers a hand to her. "Let's go do this. I want you there with me."

Bella rises with Magnes, taking his hand and smiling back. It's a strange feeling in her chest, a mixture of fondness, sadness, triumph and the poison prick of conscience, something she's very unused to. "I wouldn't have /that/ any other way, either."

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