bella_icon.gif deckard_icon.gif

Scene Title Casually
Synopsis Bella works with an elemental dragon and Deckard's latest assignment is to help steal a space shuttle. They are okay with this. Also some other things.
Date October 9, 2010

Bella and Deckard's Apartment

Being a rather vehement (and now, after her slightly unbalanced behavior at the Suresh Center, publicly declared) atheist, Bella would never under any circumstances thank God that it was Friday.

But she is rather glad of the fact, anyways.

She doesn't actually do much anymore. She hasn't yet turned up to work stoned, but she is weirdly tempted in a way she's never ever in her overachiever's life. Bella sort of coasts by, attending to her handful of psych patients (who are incidentally also her co-workers), doing the occasional dabble in psychopharmacology (no really, not a euphemism), and avoiding any contact with Harper (or 'that smug piece of shit' as she prefers to call him). Life has become a nightmarish parody of an office comedy, and it's very stressful.

And then she comes home to Flint.

Bella is stoned at home quite a lot. She's a high (pun not intended) operator at times, reading psych journals and seeming to get something out of them. She even does the New York Times Crossword (though she rarely, if ever, finishes).

And sometimes, there's Flint.

This particular evening, she's lying on her couch, listening to the stereo play what sounds like… Elvis Costello. His Spike! album. Her eyes are a little bloodshot, but she seems to be thinking very hard, rather than simply spacing out. The crease on her brow suggests a concentration not common to people who aren't intellecting.

Flint isn't home yet.

Flint usually tries to make it home before Bella.

This cuts down on questions. Also probably irritation over questions answered unsatisfactorily or the increased potential for execution or capture that accumulates with every hour he spends drinking or fighting or feeding ducks in the park alone.

Today he has been unsuccessful and he knows it, x-ray vision razored through the front door to find her already on the couch. Waiting. Or something.

This being one of those cases where procrastination is likely to directly make matters worse, he doesn't dawdle for long. The cap is unscrewed from a little flask inside his coat and he swigs the last swallow. Then he's unlocking the door and letting himself quietly in, brown leather jacket clear of dust but thick with the stink of dive bar ambiance.

Being a fugitive takes all the joy out of funemployment. Bella can relate. And yes, getting home first does help with all those things. Because as soon as he's in, she comes up with a question. Literally rises, her head popping into view of over the back of the couch, heralded by the appearance of her hand, always well trimmed but never with polish. But the question is not the usual 'What did you do today' which even she knows is a pretty thinly veiled way of saying 'Where were you'. The question is one of clarification. She's checking to see:

"Did I tell you I keep in touch with a co-worker of mine? He's an ice monster. I am… entirely serious about that. I don't think I told you because I wanted to pretend I wasn't doing something that ridiculous, and acted like not articulating it would keep it from being ridiculous."

And thus question becomes ramble. Due to the attendant clarifications inherent to such a question. She stops after a moment, eyes fixed on Flint, seeming more interested in how he'll take this information than on what sort of waterfowl fought over whatever he was feeding them. Crackers? Bread? Bella doesn't feed birds, because she doesn't like birds. Especially ducks. But we've established that.

Chilly eyes pricked out shrill in the entryway, Flint takes her in across the back of the couch (and presumably through the couch) before he thinks to breathe sharply in through his nose. Reason restores itself then, all at once, and he drops his keys out from where they'd frozen in his palm, suddenly unsure.

Beyond that, his reaction is disappointingly unbothered. Long strides bring him slow around the side of the couch so that he can slouch down onto it opposite her and have a think of his own, furrowed brow all the more distinct for his age and the frequency with which he furrows it. Theoretically he could counter with, One of my co-workers wants me to help him steal a spaceship and I said yes. But somehow that seems more likely to make her punch him in the kidney again than feel better.

"You didn't tell me that," he decides after a while. Even with his memory being the way it is, that seems like something he wouldn't forget. Probably. He sinks deeper back into the couch. "What kind of ice monster?"

"A shapeshifting dragon ice monster," Bella states, primly, "I saw him freeze and shatter one of my other co-workers. And a third co-worker tried to worship him like a God. That was a very exciting day of work." She watches him approach, head turning so her blue eyes can track him without having to sweep. She tugs her legs back, giving him more than enough room to sit - she's not a particularly tall woman - and gestures towards the water pipe resting on the coffee table that keeps nice cold beers so nice and close at hand in front of the TV. When the TV works. And the fridge.

"I've invited him to work at a private lab I have access to, through this guy I dated who died. Again… I didn't mention it, because it's ridiculous. But it's true. And I feel you ought to know." Bella shrugs, "I want a nest egg. And I think I kind of want to get even. I won't put you at risk, though, don't worry. Not if I can avoid it."

Maybe she realizes the effect that last caveat has on her reassurance. It could be distraction technique when she turns onto her back and scoots along the couch, back of her head coming to rest against his thigh. She looks up a him. Her fingers are laced over her torso, which is covered in the baggy, faded summer camp t-shirt she likes to wear when she's scrubbing it.

"What did you do today?" Oh, and there it is. The inevitable question.

A shapeshifting dragon ice monster. Naturally.

A slow blink and a slower sigh sum up Flint's thoughts (possibly thought, singular) on shapeshifting dragon ice monsters. Also secret laboratories.

Whatever he thinks does not seem to constitute disbelief, but life is larger and more confusing than he is able to make sense of and he is more used to it being that way than most people. Having in some ways lived more than one. Being dimly removed from the baseline of reality helps also.

In this case it mostly helps Bella, because he doesn't immediately get all hung up on the clause where her running an underground science operation with a shapeshifting ice dragon for revenge!!! might put him at risk. And if he was going to find it in himself to get hung up on it on a delay, she neatly circumvents that by using his leg as a headrest.

Slow to look down at her, scruffy neck furrowed when he does, he resettles his near hand across her eyes and gives himself a beat or two to think. "I went to a bar."

"I wish you had taken me to Thailand," Bella states, with a touch of what might be genuine whistfulness, "I wouldn't have gone with you. But I wish you had anyways." She lifts an arm, fingers still laced, but with her arm covering her eyes, her crooked elbow pointing like an arrow at her forehead.

"I'm sorry. Brief self pity session. I think it's passing. Yes… okay, it's over," her arm slips down, so now it only cover her mouth, lightly muffling her speech.

"What did you do at the bar? I'm asking because I'd like to know, not because I am trying to interrogate you." This is a distinction she feels the need to make. Being clear about what's meant. Just in case there's a miscommunication. She doesn't want to give him a reason to… sulk, or something.

"You wouldn't have gone," Deckard agrees — less wistful, more practical.

Self-pity is allowed without contest. Most people, he thinks, would have pity for themselves if they felt somehow obligated to live in a potentially irradiated apartment building with an alcoholic serial killer who can't remember his own birthday, much less anyone else's.

"I had a few drinks and broke a ten so I could play the whole Queen album on the jukebox," makes it sound like he did not have a very exciting day. "Then I punched a guy at a sandwich shop and fed some ducks."

Bella bursts into a series of what sound suspiciously like giggles, but with more plosivity, less titter. The graceless quality of real laughter. She unlaces her fingers and covers her mouth with her hand, far too late, and averts her eyes. Whoops.

"That sounds remarkably pleasant. Which album was it? I… actually only ever owned the biggest hits album." Shameful! No respect for truly great 80's glam rock. But then again… it's Elvis Costello playing right now so… you can see where she stands on issues.

"And why did you punch that man? What did he do?" Implying that he had to have been doing something to deserve being punched. So judgmental.

"I dunno," says Flint, because he wasn't paying close attention, mainly on account've being drunk and not actually that interested in Queen. "The one about fat bottom girls."

Her laugh earns an odd crook at his expression, like he isn't sure what to think. She usually doesn't. Laugh. Legitimately. If being stoned attributes legitimacy to anything.

"I needed bread," is the answer to the mystery of physical assault on a man in a sandwich shop. He needed bread to feed the ducks. He used the last of his cash on Queen. There was no free bread. It all makes sense, really.

"That's a Queen song?" Bella says, sounding genuinely confused, something to be told apart from her more put on confusion-as-request-for-clarification by the tipping of her voice into a higher pitch. The highest peak of her tone comes, appropriately, at the name of the band itself. ~Qweeeen~? Though it's no Freddy Mercury falsetto. "I though that was… whoever that rapper is. Ludicrous?" yes, pronounced 'correctly', "Nelly?" Oh please, please, stop embarrassing yourself.

Mercifully, Bella chooses not to further express her ignorance regarding early 00's pop rappers. Instead the topic has turned to bread, and Deckard's need of it. "If you want to feed those nasty little creatures, I can just buy you some bread. I'll set it aside for you. I'll even label it. 'Flint's Bread'. Or maybe 'Duck Bread'…" In truth, if she ever does this and is sober while doing it, she'll probably write 'Vermin Bread' on the plastic wrapping. The attribution left ambiguous. Maybe purposefully. Probably.

Her hand lifts up to cup his jaw, thumb brushing just under his chin. The blue of her eyes, framed with red-tinged white in a rather patriotic gathering of tints, travels over his features. "I don't suppose you think very far ahead, do you? I don't imagine you can afford to."

Feeling old, perhaps, somehow, Deckard mutely mirrors affection (or at least contact) with a lazy lift of his fingers against her hair. Which is red. And smells faintly of something that he will be arrested for smelling like if he tries to creep out again after she's fallen asleep.

"That's domestic of you," isn't precisely made out to be a compliment, which is good, since it doesn't sound like one. It is something he's told her before, or at least thought at her expense, brows knit when he turns the grain of his silver-patched chin into her palm and huffs out a breath as long and slow as it is boozily warm.

"Not anymore." Honesty suits him. Real, mechanical honesty — detached as a teleprompter from its implications. "Now is okay."

However subtle the touch, Bella seems to appreciate it. Her eyes close, which is a pretty fundamental mammalian response to comforting contact. However acrid the odor, her hair is soft, well taken care of. A point of vanity, though detectable only in the cost her hair care products accrue. A small smile touches her lips. If it's sweet, it's just as much sardonic. Amused. Though she hates when people use that word that way.

"Is that a bad thing?" she asks, one eye peeking open, "domesticity?" The shift of his chin incites a shift in her hand, further up his cheek, fingers rising up its hollow to the ridge of his cheekbone. Her thumb now touches the corner of his mouth.

"I dunno."

Probably not under the circumstances, when having the hyper-acute sensitivities and unorthodox schedules of the not-strictly-sane may suddenly become more necessary to survival than usual.

"I like the yellow dress."

The time between these two statements implies that he had to stretch to find something decent to say about sacrificing one's edge to homey comfort. Even if there is a self-aware sigh for his current posture and state hemmed to the end of it — slouchily content on the couch, some pounds heavier than he was last year at this time and with a girl partway in his lap.

Bella's other eye opens, and her smile spreads just a little further. It doesn't loose it's dual tinge. A certain meanness is inherent to almost any genuine expression she makes, a minimal distance from the thing itself, a hedging, and ass covering, because nothing is more dangerous than something that is real.

Real guns, for example, are generally more fatal than fake ones.

"That's almost sweet," she says, thumb tipping over to brush against his lower lip. Her hand falls, descending back onto her stomach in an arc at just a little less than free fall. "I'm not a domestic, though," is something she feels obliged to clarify, "but I do like having a home," her eyes slide over towards the window, the dust on the pane only obscuring the darkness outside. The streetlight that would otherwise be casting a sallow glow stopped working a few days ago. Deliberate vandalism and sheer neglect are competing for most probable cause, as well as most depressing.

"Even in Chelsea."

Her eyes return to Flint, and she shifts in place, turning towards him, her shoulder nudged against his leg. Hands clasp before her as she tucks up her arms and draws her legs to press against the back of the couch. "I have a question, but I don't know if I should ask it."

Flint is getting used to it again, is what some of this boils down to. Living in one place with one person with a set of rules that he actually makes scattered attempts to comply with. Almost like a respectable, normal human being. Except while joblessly being wanted for treason, with a liquor store robbery thrown in every now and again when his cash reserves get low enough that he has to start punching people for bread.

Rib cage swept open again like a boxy billows, he shrugs a shoulder at near sweetness and agrees in neutral silence that Bella is not a domestic, mainly because he is not sure exactly what the word means when it is used as a noun.

"Now you have to," is a pretty lazy argument where some actual convincing might be necessary, but gnawingly curious as the back of his brain has a tendency to be, the other 95% of him doesn't want to be bothered with getting worked up over it just yet. Clearly. He doesn't so much as tip his head.

Turns out, it's enough. "I suppose that's true," Bella says, upon very brief reflection, "and I guess I wanted to ask anyways so…" she closes her eyes, nose wrinkling, as she briefly chastises herself for needless indirection. Indirection itself is all fine and good, but only when it's to a purpose. Otherwise it's just a waste of time. And Isabella Sheridan is thirty now, so she doesn't have all the time in the world. She is, officially, no longer immortal.

"I want to know how affectionate I should be," comes the question, which is less a question and more a statement of what the question would be, containing - in itself - the question, albeit syntactically suspended. "With you, I mean," she clarifies, "most-" and she stops. But only briefly.

"Fuck it," is her own sake, directed at some inner censor, "most relationships I've been in it was easy to just… follow the cues. Or to set the tune. But it's performance. Even when it's experienced spontaneously. That doesn't mean it's fake, it's just-" another pause, but this time to think rather than to screen, "I wouldn't mind being affectionate. Casually affectionate. But only if it would mean something to you. And it would mean something, if you wanted it to."

This is a weird conversation to be having.

A lot of their conversations are strange, but there's a certain expectation of strangeness that goes with the territory of terrorism and mad science that cancels out talk of dragons and missions to steal space shuttles. Not that he's actually brought that up yet.

Stuck on the subject of acceptable circumstances for affection in an as-of-yet undefined relationship(?) instead, Flint does not entirely succeed at looking comfortable thinking about it. There is a certain cold contrariness to deliberately marking out boundaries for so-called 'casual affection.' Does she have to mean it or does it only have to mean something to him?

Brow furrowed so hard that his head begins to ache, Deckard forces the chilly drill of his stare off to the no-man's-land of the kitchen and slouches deeper still into the couch. "S'it mean anything to you, or…" Just him. In the theoretical chance that she was casually affectionate to him. If they aren't already being casually affectionate. The far corner of his mouth twitches slightly down.

"I'm already pushing boundaries," Bella says, matter of factly, "clearly I want to. So yes. It does mean something to me. But it is still dependent on you. It's something that I would like, and like to be meaningful. But I basically… don't want to feel like an idiot if I do." She gives a small, helpless shrug, "I guess, ultimately, I'm covering my ass. But trying to make it seem like respect for you. I'm sorry. Here."

She parts her fingers and then relaces them at the nape of Flint's neck. She has to swing her body a bit, putting maybe a little more weight onto Deckard's spine than she initially intended, but she manages to pull herself up, face to face with him. She kisses him. It feels a little like a gesture, but it doesn't feel like just a gesture. It manages to be both. When she lies back again, she's positioned to that her back lies across is lap, and her head is angled, a little uncomfortably, against the arm of the couch. "Would that work for you as well?"

Aware (keenly) that this has the makings of being the best night he's going to have for a while, Flint doesn't protest or belittle ass covering any more than he does equally familiar contact or her usual him as an anchor to get there in the space between. She kisses him, he kisses her — as warmly, amenably receptive to efforts that taste a little pointed as he is ones that do not.

Which is probably why it's so hard for him to say anything once he's nodded and passed a hand up across her middle and around her hip, thumb eased to a pause near her naval, intimate for the sake of being intimate, contrary to persistent reservations shackled down upon him by laggard confidence levels. It is probably fairly apparent that he still occasionally does things for the sake of reassuring himself that he is allowed to.

Also, she is in his lap.

"I have to go do some terrorist things," he says. Finally. "Old friends asking for favors."

Bella could have been very satisfied with just the settling of Flint's hand. She was indicating as much as her own hands descended to fold over his. It was a stabilizing gesture. An affirmation and approval. She could have settled in for a moment, and let there be a moment. But no. No.

He has to do some terrorist things.

If she had proper control of her emoting, she would probably try and blast him with some crestfallen disappointment. That, she imagines, would be most effective. But really, irritation springs into action first, and arrives, unfiltered, on her face. Her eyes close and she takes a single deep breath - pointedly calming.

Her eyes open again. "How long, how dangerous and how often is this sort of thing going to happen?"

Irritation is expected. Obviously. Otherwise he would have saved touch to a more reassuring end instead of 'in before possible slaps to the face.'

An unconsciously held breath relaxed some once she's breathed in, he does a kind of Russian Roulette math in his head, rounding dangerous elements neatly down into something that sounds more palatable to him than the truth. Admitting that he is going at all has more than fulfilled his honesty quota, so far as he is privately concerned.

"A few days, moderately and I dunno. Nobody else has made reservations."

"Please come back or you will make me very, very unhappy," Bella states, which is certainly a reasonable enough sounding request. Death or desertion deferred in favor of her feelings. If anything, her hands are more rooted to the spot, seeming in no danger of flying up at him with battery intent. "Who else is going? What are you doing?" And here come the questions again.

"I dunno," says Deckard, lies more easily told when they are done in broad, lazy strokes of blurry misinformation rather than minutely falsified detail. "A couple've old Company guys." For the second trip. The one to hijack a space shuttle. The first one is Francois and some as of yet undefined number of Teos. "Hijacking a plane," isn't exactly a lie, either. "It's in another country."

The coarse flat of his palm smooths a little further along, reminding that it's still there. "Security's more relaxed that way."

Bella's eyes close once more, though this time she's processing something other than irritation. Something a little more complex, but one she's able to keep any specific overtone of from revealing itself. She's just… upset. In a vague way. Her own kind of lie of omission. "Okay. Thank you for telling me," sound more formal than sincere, but she's trying to mean it. You can just tell. For her own sake, really. Better to feel grateful and worried than pissed and worried. Though actually… being pissed might make the worry less. But still… anger is exhausting and she is tired enough these days. She gives his hand a squeeze.

"Feel like calling it a day?" The way she directs the question at him but as if it has relevance to her makes it the stuff of euphemism.

"Welcome," says Flint, maybe a touch too easily where his manners might normally be expected to fall short. Relief at getting away clean will do that. Even if it's only temporary, if or when the media catches wind. He could really push it and say, 'Thanks for understanding,' or some other bullshit but there are EUPHEMISMS at work here and the rest of the conversation falls away from his realm of interest quick as that.

"Yes," wagered nearly as quickly as his welcome, he hesitates a beat later and counters himself with a more careful, "no." Then he thinks again, scruffy jaw easing into a jut when he bumps a knee at her back. "Yes and no."

Answer enough. Bella gives a slightly delayed face of discomfort after the bump of the knee, then heaves herself up in a single sit up that looked tough for her. But she might just be playing it up. She turns her legs, feet finding the floor, and pushes herself to her feet. Hands extend down to Flint, offering to help him up, very generous considering the effort she put in to get up herself.

"Come on," she urges, fingers swishing with similarly urging intent, "who knows when I'll next see you. Chop chop." That this is apparently a bit of a joke, a fact indicated by the presence of a slight smirk, might not make the content of the joke any more palatable.

Temporarily left behind to suffer at the bump of Bella's seat about the wide angle of his knees, Flint stays seated until she can help drag him upright. He's heavy. But he helps, creaky knees rocked off of enough for him to join her with an arm hooked slack around her waist until sparks riding white around the fringes of his vision deign to fade.

If she can keep the rest of him off of her until they reach the bedroom then maybe they will make it there as opposed to every other random place he attempts to steer along the way.

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