Couchside Confessional


cassandra_icon.gif elaine_icon.gif

Scene Title Couchside Confessional
Synopsis An unexpected late night call finds Cassandra and Elaine talking about relationships and how the past affects the present.
Date April 03, 2018

Cassandra's Apartment

Elaine had only stumbled out of Cat’s Cradle. The intention was to call for a car to take her back to the Cresting Wave Apartments. That’s what she told Robyn she was doing when they parted ways. But by some stroke of chance, Elaine flipped past Cassie’s number and somewhere in her alcoholic-touched brain she thought it would be great to call her. Never mind that it was getting late and it was technically a work night. She’d already planned to take the day off so it was no skin off her nose. Pressing the contact, she hits call. As soon as she hears a noise on the other end, off she goes talking.

“Hi Cassie, it’s Elaine, you already know this. I thought I’d call you because you’re an awesome person and I like to appreciate awesome people. I didn’t wake you, did I? I don’t know if you sleep early or something so I am sorry if I did. I feel really bad now.”

It was late. Creeping up on 11:00pm, when all good girls are supposed to be in bed. Cassie was already bathed and in her pajamas - the same ones Elaine had a picture of her in - and was in bed reading when her cell phone started to rumble. It was odd getting a call this late if it weren't an emergency. It's not mom, and it's not work, so when she answers it, it's with a questioning sounding “hello?”

There's a barrage of conversation that sends the girl reeling. She pushes herself up and rubs her eyes with the back of her hand and stretches. “Elaine?” There's a rattling as the lamp is turned on. “I appreciate the call but it's late….are you okay?”

“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, it’s late, I should probably let you sleep. I just was… I mean, I was out and I might be a bit drunk but it’s my birthday so I’m allowed to do it but I wanted to call you and talk because I thought it might be nice and I’m really confused about life right now.”

Elaine takes a few more steps away from Cat’s Cradle, looking up and down the street.

“I mean, I’m sorry if you’re tired and it’s late and I really shouldn’t have so sorry… I can leave you alone now.”

“No, no. It’s fine. It’s fine.” There’s a rustling of the blankets as she sits up in bed, fluffing up a pillow behind her to make sitting up that much easier, the phone put up to her right ear once she’s flipped on a light. “Happy Birthday, by the way. And no, don’t leave me alone. I like talking to you at all hours. I’ve just been busy with work and haven’t had a chance to call, so this is kind of killing two birds with one stone.”

Again, she asks. “Are you okay? You sound a little…off.” Not drunk. Not tired. Off. “Where are you right now?”

“Thank you. You are one of the few to wish me Happy Birthday. Not everyone remembered or was just too busy or… I don’t know maybe they had some good excuse I won’t fault them for forgetting me.” Elaine bables a bit before looking around. “I’m on the street outside Cat’s Cradle. I was gonna call for a car to take me home but I called you instead.” So instead, she’s standing outside on the street.

“I’m okay though, just a little… I don’t know, I’m just… I had an evening. I said some things that I shouldn’t have, she said some things she probably didn’t want me to know, it was… a thing. Like a big thing. We didn’t really fight though, which was a good thing. I thought we’d fight.”

Outside on the street isn't a good thing. Not at all. While Elaine is on the phone, Cassandra pulls up her text messaging and sends a note to a car service she knows, directing them to the cats cradle, all while keeping Elaine on the line.

“You're welcome, Elaine. I…”. Cassie goes quiet for a second. “Okay, listen. A car is going to be to you in about five minutes. It'll take you wherever you want to go into the city as long as it's here to where I am or back to your place. If you feel up to talking about it now, come on over and we'll talk. Whatever happened is important and doesn't need to be talked about over the phone. Too impersonal that way and you don't sound like you can deal with impersonal.” There's more rustling as she gets up and heads to the kitchen for something. “Listen, come over. I won't judge you or give unwanted advice. I will listen to you. I will be there for you. Just us sitting and that's it.”

“Okay, I’ll wait for the car,” Elaine says. At least she’ll be safe. Being on the street for a few hours probably isn’t wise, regardless of the area. Might be safer in Yamagato Park, but the Safe Zone was hardly that. “I’ll come to you, if that’s okay. I mean it’s late for a visit but I want to talk and I honestly want to just hug somebody and maybe sit on a comfortable couch. Yeah, that would be nice.”

She’s now standing off to the side of the street, waiting for her ride. “You’re really great, Cassie. Even as a friend. I mean like who else am I gonna call that’s gonna listen to me like this. You’re fantastic and deserve all kinds of nice things to happen to you, ‘kay?”

“That's fine. I'll put some coffee on or something. And we both deserve nice things to happen. Maybe you're my good thing and maybe I'm yours. We’ll just have to find out over time, won't we?” Elaine can almost see the smile over the phone as she says that.

A few moments later, a black car pulls up and the window rolls down. “Miss Elaine? I'm Senor Benjamin. Miss Cassie asked if I'd give you a ride.” He gets out and opens the door, ushering her inside, giving her a safe and comfortable ride to the brownstone that Cassie calls home.

At the stoop of the building the car stops at, Cassie stands there with her umbrella and overcoat on over her pajamas to keep the weather at bay long enough to get Elaine somewhere warm. She scurries our and opens the car door, ushering Elaine under the dry confines of her umbrella. Mr. Benjamin is given thanks and a nice tip for helping out on such short notice.

Elaine is led up the stairs to Cassie’s studio apartment. It's nothing like Elaine's, of course, but it's clean and comfortable and has a big couch to sit on. Instead of a TV, there's a big bookcase with lots of books and a turntable with a lot of vinyl disks, a soft jazz record playing as she closes and locks the door behind, helping Elaine with her jacket if it's wet.

“So. This is my place. Sorry about the mess.” She smiles and ducks down to pluck Minou up from the floor, cradling the tabby furball in her arms as she walks Elaine to the middle of the apartment. “If you need a second, the shower is open and I've got some pajamas that’d fit you. If you're staying over for the evening, I want you to be comfortable.”

No, this isn't seduction, this is her making Elaine comfortable.

Elaine is very grateful to be welcomed into Cassie’s home and she says so repeatedly during the entire trip up to Cassie’s apartment. She shrugs off her jacket, looking around a bit as she seems to have only half-way heard what the other woman said as she looks around. When it registers, she looks back to where she assumes the bathroom is.

“Uhm. Maybe? I don’t know. Should I stay here? I mean, I’m not that drunk, I can still walk okay. But you have work in the morning and I’m really intruding aren’t I?” She seems very concerned about being in the way as she makes her way to just sit on the couch. “Pajamas sound nice though…” She nods decisively. “Okay. I will accept your offer of a shower and pajamas.”

And she proceeds to trot off towards what she only assumes is the bathroom.

“Look. As much as I'd love to practice some of the stuff I read about, I think the thing you need most is a quiet end to the night and someone to talk to.” Cassie shoos Elaine off to the bathroom and, guess what? The red-haired woman guessed correctly. There is a bathroom here and it happens to be the first door she tries. It's one of those long, narrow ones with the bathtub with a built in shower on one side and the sink and toilet on the other with plenty of space between for the cute throw rug to keep her feet warm after she gets out of the shower. It's also thankfully one of those normal showers, with a hot and cold knob and a little thing to pull out to turn on the water from coming out of the spigot, and there’s a nice massaging shower head too. The soap and shampoo are suitably cleansing, yet girly and flowery smelling too. It's nice.

Cassandra is listening from the main room while working to make sure things are going well. Once Elaine is in the shower, Cassie knocks to make sure the other woman is decent or, at least in the shower behind the curtain before she leaves a set of pajamas on the counter in plain view next to a pair of clean towels. “Take your time. I'm getting blankets for the couch.”

She lets Elaine take all the time she needs, and when she does finally come out, the couch has been piled with blankets and pillows to form a kind of nest and, on the coffee table is a chocolate chip cookie with a large red votive candle sitting on top of a plate next to it. “Let’s start out by doing this properly.”

“Happy birthday, Elaine….late birthday, at least.”

Elaine takes her time in the shower, though not quite long enough to wonder if she fell in. She towels off first, then dries her hair before climbing into the pajamas and borrowing a brush from near the sink to run through her hair so it won’t stay tangled. Once she’s suitable, she wanders out of the bathroom only to find Cassie’s made her a surprise. She beams, looking over at the younger woman.

“Aw, you didn’t have to. This is really, really sweet. I love it.” She points at the candle. “I’m gonna keep it lit because it’s nice.”

While she might have sobered up some, the alcohol is still in her system and it still manages to color her actions.

Cassie has dragged one of the chairs - a big overstuffed one - to the couch and butted it up against it kind of in the middle, forming a geometric pit of conversation that is currently full of blankets, pillows, and Cassie. Elaine may notice that the washer is running, too, and her clothes - the ones that /can/ be washed with detergent and the like - are missing. Likely taking a ride in the middle of a gentle cycle.

From her spot in the chair, Cassie beckons Elaine over, patting the couch opposite before leaning back in the crook of the arms,, her feet hidden under the blanket. “You're more than welcome. Mama Marie still sends me a candle or two every few months. I think I have a box of them that I need to get through, so sending one home with you won't hurt me at all.” She smiles, switching to French. «Come now, Cher. Sit with me and let the weight off of your shoulders. Eat your cookie and blow out your candle.»

She's not pressing. If Elaine talks, she talks. If not, she'll fall asleep and might talk in the morning.

Elaine moves over to the couch, pulling one of the blankets over her before she leans in and blows out the candle, snatching up the cookie and proceeding to delve into it. She’s quiet for a few moments, just eating and it almost seems as if she has nothing to say, until it all comes spilling out.

“What if you were in love with someone and they hurt you very badly and then left for a very long time and then you ran into them again and they were like ‘oh yeah by the way I never stopped loving you’, what do you think you might do?”

With a cup of cocoa held in both hands (and one in reach for Elaine if she wants,) Cassandra sits quietly and watches as the cookie is devoured, sipping idly until the dam breaks and the reasons for this drunken bender starts spilling out. Something like this isn't what she expected at all from Elaine, but as the reason becomes clear - confronted with a powerful, emotionally charged revelation on your birthday - it becomes a lot more understandable. Hell, Cassie could see herself doing it.

“Well…” Cassie blows out a breath. “I'd be confused and conflicted. I'd be wary, because being hurt again, like you were….I'd be afraid to trust that person at all again. It's not like she just decided to not give back a favorite sweater or something. This was your heart you gave her.” This is building off the earlier conversation on the phone, Cassie using her detective skills. “It may sound harsh, what I'm about to say. I mean, I really, really try to look for the best in every situation there is, but….”. Cassie frowns, shaking her head. “I’d have trouble with that. I don't think she has the right to make that choice anymore. She can still love you - that's fine - but you’ve gone through the whole breakup process, and now out of the blue, she tells you that she loves you and wants you back? What was she expecting? Just to waltz back into your life like nothing happened? Things change when massive upheaval hits. Listen…”

Cassandra reaches over to touch Elaine’s hand lightly, patting it on top of the blanket. “The fact that she still loves you doesn’t mean a lot in the big picture. Has anything changed in your life to make /you/ believe that she’s not going to drag you through this all over again?”

She is not bringing in any attraction between herself and Elaine. This is about Elaine and her ex - whoever it is.

The cocoa is taken in hand and used to warm Elaine’s palms as she considers the situation. “She never really said she wanted me back, I mean, I kind of think she was hoping but not expecting. She’s apologized multiple times for everything, I’m pretty sure she’s sorry but she hasn’t earned my trust back, yet. I trust her, but I don’t trust her with my feelings.” Here, she sips some of the cocoa. “I don’t think she meant to tell me it just kind of slipped out when we were talking. I mean I said some stuff that was probably more than I wanted to express, just kind of happens when you’re drinking. You let things slip. She was saying how nice it was to see me and how it just made her think about the fact that she still loved me.”

“That’s a very healthy way to look at it.” Cassandra says as she leans back in the cushions, pulling the blanket to her chest, knees up, arms clasped around them. “Not a lot of people could differentiate trust of a person and trust of a person with your feelings….how did it make you feel, when she said it?”

“Like, I could trust Robyn with my life if it came down to it, but I don’t trust her to have the best interest of my feelings.” Elaine sips from her cocoa again. “When she said it my heart stopped… not in that romantic way like you hold your breath because it’s so exciting sort of thing. It was literally me stopping and not knowing what to do. I felt… scared? My first instinct was that she was going to hurt me again and I was powerless to stop it. Then I felt like… relieved? In a way it was a relief knowing that she had trouble getting over me the same way I struggled to get over her. Kinda meant that what we had was strong for both of us and it wasn’t just some faked relationship. Not that I thought it was, it was just proof.”

Cassandra had done a lot - I mean /a lot/ of reading on this subject. The unfortunate thing is, the books she read often had their heroes and heroines getting together because the plot said that’s what they were supposed to do - happy endings and all that. This is totally different. This isn’t a book - this is real life, and she wants Elaine to be her friend. That means giving her the best advice that she can without strings attached.

“This isn’t a decision I can make for you. I can just help you make the best one you can and be there for you no matter the consequences. She broke up with you for reasons that she, at the time, thought were best. Looking back, it’s….it could have been handled a lot better than it was, but she apparently thought better of it. She was woman enough to apologize to you several times and, from what you say, she seems sincere. I’d have a hard time trusting her again, but you need to make the choice if you’re willing to put yourself at risk again for the same kind of hardship.’

She realizes that this may be ending the chance for this relationship with Elaine before it even takes its first wobbly steps, but it’s the right thing to do.

“You’ve mourned the loss of that relationship. Those wounds have healed and you’ve moved on. You’re…kinda…dating again. More or less.” Cassandra shrugs a little, finishing her cocoa, setting the cup aside on the table at the end of the couch. “This is the risk you’d have to accept. Going back to her would be like putting on a comfortable pair of pants. You know she fits, you know how she moves, and you know how to take care of her. You know what she’s capable of too. I mean, think about it. She knew that dumping you would hurt you and she did it anyway. She knew how you’d feel humiliated. She knew about how silly your relationship would seem after she nonchalantly broke your heart. And none of that made her stop and think, y’know, maybe I should stay with this attractive, caring person who is very good at sex, despite the terrifying fact that they aren’t literally perfect. I mean, aside from the end…was the relationship you and she had a good one?

“It’s a complicated mess,” Elaine murmurs with a frown, sipping from her cocoa for a long moment before she considers Cassie’s words. “I hadn’t really thought about if our relationship was good. When Robyn was talking at the bar, she said we were never friends, never from her perspective. I always thought we were, I mean, there are things in a relationship that you do with friends too. I always thought of her as one of my best friends on top of being in a relationship with me. But now I don’t know! If Robyn thinks we weren’t friends, am I just viewing the relationship from a different light than she is? Was it a good relationship?”

She sighs, her brain slowly trying to process it all. “When she said she loved me I never thought about things going back to the way they were, I thought of her trying and then all of the things that stood in the way. It would be so complicated to try and work it out. And to be honest I don’t know if she wants it badly enough to try. Which is very sad to me. The whole thing makes me very sad.”

“Do you want to try to get back with her. That’s the question that really needs to be asked. Everything else aside, all things being equal, if things could work out and you could go back, would even want to?” That’s the million dollar question right there. “She didn’t consider you friends. You can trust her, but not with your emotions. I…I don’t think that it would be easy or even healthy emotionally for you to try.” Cassandra sits quietly in her pajamas, watching Elaine, waiting for an answer when she realizes something. “I think I need to make you aware that I do know a Robyn…with SESA. Same Robyn?”

“I don’t know if I want to get back with her. I mean, I want to turn back time and just change things so that it never happened. But I can’t do that, time travel is more complicated than that.” Elaine speaks as if she has some knowledge on the subject. “But things change and people change and I don’t know if it would even work. So many things would have to change that it’s nigh impossible for it to happen. I can’t make everything equal and just boil it down to the basics. I miss what we had, but I don’t know if I want what we could have. If that makes any sense.”

She sets her cocoa down. “The most I can hope for is that we can be friends, that we can be something resembling that. She’s very important to me, even without a relationship. I’d do a lot for that woman, probably a lot more than she realizes.” She pauses. “Oh, yes, you both work at SESA, of course there’s a chance you know each other. She doesn’t know about you yet and I don’t want to tell her. I mean, I’m not going to lie about it but she’s like on the edge of running away still and I’d rather have her not run away. Like I said, she’s important to me and I’m not sure how she’d take ‘potential girlfriend’ being in the picture much less it being her coworker.”

“Well then.” Cassandra claps her hands together softly, almost like a blackjack dealer would after shuffling the deck to show he has nothing up her sleeves. “That adds another wrinkle to the whole situation, doesn't it?”

Cassandra cuddles beneath the blanket, pulling it up around her neck. To keep the bills low, the heat turns off at midnight and back on at six, so the blankets are important. “It makes sense, though. You had something and if you go back, getting to that point probably won't happen due to the changes both you and she went through in the subsequent years. I'd say be friends. Definitely. Try to keep that connection going. Friends can love each other. The Greeks called it Philia, or love between friends. It's actually valued more since it's the love between equals. If it starts moving to more than that…”. She trails off, leaving her thoughts unsaid but implied.

Elaine snuggles deeper down into the blankets. “I’d like to be her friend. I’d really like that. I just don’t know if she knows how to be just friends. She might have to learn. I might have to teach her that it’s okay to have feelings for someone you aren’t with, you can still care…” She rubs her face a little. “I don’t know if it’ll be a problem. I know that it’s still complicated with her and it’ll take some figuring out and I’m sorry for the role you play in all this. I don’t want to drag you into a mess. I had a feeling things felt too easy, things were going so well…”

“I didn’t start seeing you because I thought it’d be easy.” Cassandra’s voice is soft, Minou finding the pair and leaping up to peer first at the brunette and then at the redhead, padding over and pushing down a spot in Elaine’s lap to curl and cuddle, a little purr rumbling through the tabby’s body as she settles down in a warm spot which will almost certainly get Inger’s attention the moment Elaine gets home. She reaches over to stroke the cat behind her ears. “What comes easy won’t last. What lasts don’t come easy.”

Minou cranes her neck up into the scratches, Cassandra scooting a little closer so she doesn’t have to stretch so much. “It won’t be easy, if we end up seeing each other as more than friends. You’ll need to tell her if we do. I’ll need to tell her too at some point. She’s professional, though. She works with Wolfhound exclusively, so we’re generally not in the same vicinity. I mean, I rarely see her other than the occasional staff meeting. She needs to know if, because leading her on would….not be very nice.” A simple, quiet way to put it, but a truthful one.

Elaine makes a face. “I wouldn’t lead her on, it’s not like that. I just feel like if she thinks she’s ‘replaced’ in some aspect she won’t try being friends and I don’t want to scare her off. She has to learn to be friends and I think some new aspect to that too soon might make her wary of trying at all. I don’t like to keep secrets, so it won’t be a secret. If she asks me I’ll tell her that yes, we’ve been on a date and have plans for more. But I don’t plan on telling her that unless it’s necessary.” She rubs her face for a moment, then reaches over to pet the cat. “You can duck out of all this at any time, no hard feelings.”

Minou accepts the petting, her purr rumbling like a jackhammer in a slow, steady rhythm in Elaine’s lap while Cassandra sits back and watches, thinking. “I think that's a risk you're going to have to take, if we continue seeing each other. I think that's a risk I'll need to take, too. It just needs to be clear that you're looking for friendship, not a relationship. That ship has sailed. I agree with everything you've said, including telling her if she asks.”

Cassandra reaches out to pet the cat, too, Minou delighting in dual petting action. “I know. I don't want to, though. You're the only person I can actually speak creole with properly. And you're interesting and cute and a good kisser. That's four reasons.”

Elaine seems soothed by the purring of the cat and so she continues to pet her. “I’m glad you aren’t scared off. And I hope she’s not scared off too. I like to have fun, interesting people in my life. People I care about. So I’d like to keep all the people I care about without scaring them off. That’s not a lot to ask, is it?” She sighs deeply. “I just don’t want to lose her, not again. It’s uncomfortable… I just feel like I’m lingering in the moment when she sent back the ring. Like I’m in between her staying and her going.”

“It was a traumatic moment, definitely. And love? Love is a powerful thing. You know that. You've felt it. And having it taken away like that is….traumatic.” Cassandra continues to pet the kitty, glancing to Elaine. “Right now your life seems to be divided into before the ring and after. It's my goal to move that moment a little. Let you step forward into the new, bright world. With as many people that care about you as you can have. No time travel required.”

“Ugh, time travel. Time travel can bring great things but is also a terrible idea in general.” Elaine looks back to Cassie. Minou gets a few more pets. “You’re right, you’re absolutely right. My life is a before and after of that ring. But maybe I can move forward from that. I’ll definitely need your help, I’m tired of trying to do things on my own and clearly I haven’t moved forward as much as I’d like.”

“Baby steps.” Cassie’s voice is soft, the sound of drowsy starting to kick in. “Journey of a thousand miles, stuff like that. I'll help you because I like you, an’ Mama Marie always said I was a busybody ,but I think she meant it in a different way than I mean it. I mean it in a good way. I want to help you because I think I can, not because of potential dates.” She holds out her hand, palm up. “You and me, Elaine. We'll get you through as best we can. Promise.”

Reaching over, Elaine gently takes Cassie’s hand with a small smile. “I’m glad that I, at the very least, have a friend like you. We’ll get there, even if it takes a while, I think with your help I’ll finally get somewhere. And maybe, after all this, I’ll be able to move forward.”

Cassie nods, snuggling down in the blankets, squeezing Elaine's hand. “Past doesn't change very often in my experience.” She yawns. “Time travel aside, of course. Only way to go is forward, boldly into the rising sun.” She reaches over to pat Elaine's hand in hers, turning on her side, getting comfortable. “You can't stop the future. You can't rewind the past. The only way to learn is to press play.”

“Go boldly, where no man has gone before,” Elaine murmurs with a giggle. “I’ll make whatever future I want, but the past can stay the past. My present, well, I guess I’ll just have to see where it takes me.” And without another word, she’s drifted off to sleep, still holding Cassie’s hand.

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