Couples' Therapy


magnes_icon.gif bella_icon.gif elle_icon.gif

Scene Title Couples' Therapy
Synopsis Magnes' therapy session with Dr. Sheridan gets more interesting when Elle is brought in to take part.
Date July 18, 2009

Company Owned Studio Apartment

A studio apartment the Company has graciously provided for Bella and her clients.

Today finds Dr. Sheridan in good spirits. Coffee supported her long enough to have a good breakfast, and she is snacking on a croissant she saved for later while perched on the kitchenette counter of the studio apartment/office, the radio softly warbling in John Schaefer's voice, in an interview with some electro-jazz-fusion artist Bella's never heard of, but so far likes the personality of. She's dressed rather casually, in khakis and a blue buttoned-up blouse, her hair in a pony-tail. Though she's waiting on business, she doesn't look particularly business-like.

Skating down the halls, and abruptly stopping at her door, Magnes knocks a few times, "If there's anything unprofessional going on in there, I'm entering anyway!" he jokes as he suddenly swings open the door, apparently in much higher spirits than their last meeting himself. Closing and locking the door, he rolls over to the couch and starts to unstrap his skates, pulling the sneaker portion from the wheels. These aren't your average Toys R Us skates, these are professional, the sneaker part detaches!

Bella is taken aback by the sudden entrance, and turns on her perch to watch Magnes wheels inside and over to the couch. She sets her pastry on a platter, snaps off the radio in the midst of a narration of the artist's creative process, and drops to the floor. "Has difficulty awaiting turn," she remarks, moving over to the therapy area. She nudges a skate with the toe of her tennis shoe, "is often 'on the go' or acts as if 'driven by a motor'." She takes her seat, "Often," she adds, with a smile, "Interrupts or intrudes on others. E.g., bursts into apartments without knocking first." Bella crosses her legs, "Keep at it, Magnes, and I'll have you with an ADHD diagnosis before you know it."

"Just because I broke into a few places uninvited…" Magnes snickers, crossing his legs on the couch, just staring at her. "So, I got to pay my respects to Isabelle, and I got to talk to Abby. She, well, she says I'm more mature than when she first met me, she doesn't think I'm immature, she says I've changed…" That's the first thing he says, in a tone that suggests it means quite a lot to him.

Bella positively glows at the news. "That's excellent to hear. Much as it's nice to dream about total self reliance, about not caring what anyone says at all, we rely on other people to help judge ourselves. And it's not unfair to say that sometimes others know ourselves better than we do. Of course, that's only /sometimes/," she shifts slightly, leaning forward a little, "How is it you pay respects to Isabelle? What do you do to handle those feelings?"

"I went to her bar, I saw everyone there, just drinking and celebrating, and I thought 'This is how she'd want it', and I don't know, I drunk her favorite drink, even though I'm not a drinker, and, I guess I just felt closure." Magnes explains, smiling warmly at the memory. Then, eyes wide for a second as he suddenly remembers something, he reaches into his jacket and pulls out a semi-thick paperback, collecting around 5 or so issues. The Death of Gwen Stacy. "Here, I promised I'd get it. Well, I promised I'd get Death of the Stacys, but then I realized, well, doesn't matter, you can read this!" he offers, holding it out to her.

Bella reaches out to take the collected issues, and holds it out to get a proper look at the cover. Her smile is canted to one side as she peruses the image of the blonde girl in (the amazing!) Spiderman's arms. She looks up at Magnes, "Thank you! Rather than flip through it here and now and /pretend/ to appreciate it, I'll instead promise to have it read by the time we next meet," she grins, "You can even quiz me if you like." She sets the book aside, tapping with her fingers once after laying it to rest, as if to say 'stay put, I'm coming back for you later'. "And whether or not you've actually had to change, as Abby said, I agree that you are very mature. As mourning's go, that's one of the better one's I've heard of. I'm glad you've gained that closure. Of course, if you feel the twinge of sorrow again, don't feel obliged to pretend you didn't. Mourning, like so much else, is a process in fits and starts," she sets her hands on her knee, "How is Elle? Have you mentioned our session to her?"

"We've been planning to celebrate Tesla's birthday, but we haven't discussed anything yet. I plan to, I promise." Magnes is quiet, a bit of an awkward pause, then he gives her a serious stare and says, "So, we should probably talk about when me and Abby were kidnapped."

Bella inclines her head, a half-nod of agreement, "If you think we should, we should. So… start from the beginning, if you're willing to pander to a narratively pedestrian mind." Her smile is touched with some humor, but it's mostly patient sympathy-in-waiting.

"Alright, well, let's see…" Magnes' gaze suddenly drops to his hands folded in his lap, apparently unable to look her in the eye as he tells the story. "Me and Abby were leaving her apartment, I was gonna walk her to the airport so she could see her parents, but then these two guys came and tased us. I wasn't much of a fighter and I barely had a grasp of my ability, so, I wasn't much use there. After that, they split us up, I spent a few days alone in a warehouse, then I was taken to the cells they made in another warehouse." His tone goes darker as the story goes on, seemingly hesitant as he continues.

In her role as therapist, Bella is pretty much a professionally good listener. Her prompt is gentle, more a coaxing than an urge. "Go on."

"I said I'd fight in their cage matches, which were for Evolved, as long as they didn't hurt her. I'd been practicing how to use one of my abilities, to make stuff heavier, so I'd be able to stand some sort of chance. My first match was against this woman, she coud control blood, pulled it right out of my cuts she made with this blood whip thing. I managed to dislocate her arm by making my shirt heavier and hitting her with it, but eventually she just, well, pulled so much of my blood out, made it stick into my legs and stuff. I lost, and Abby had to heal me, she was being forced to heal everyone." Magnes places a hand on his forehead, the couch visibly straining under his weight suddenly, but the strain sees to stop when he lets out a deep sigh.

He continues, reluctantly. "My next fight was this other woman, a really huge fat woman, but she could control her weight or something, and most of what I did backfired, and she kept breaking my bones. She even made spikes out of herself, tore up my legs, then just started punching me, breaking my body even more, and then I was just a broken mess. Abby had to heal me, my ribs were broken, I can still feel the pain in my ribs, even though Abby says they're not hurt at all. And, I sorta realized, I didn't have the power to protect her back then."

Bella settles her elbow on her knee, and her chin comes to rest lightly on her fist as she listens carefully. Her facial expressions reflect her attention, changing at the appropriate moments, though at no point does she look overcome with emotion. "That must have been a terrible realization," she says.

"Yeah, but it's not true anymore. If I needed to, I could protect her. But, at the
time, I really let her down. She says it's not my fault, and a part of me knows it isn't, but, she went through so much, and I couldn't do a thing." Magnes is completely slumped now, rubbing his eyes on his jacket. "They shot her, they shot her and cut her tongue out, I saw her like that, bloody, just…" Fists clinching, couch starting to sink again. "If I could find John Logan and that Muldoon guy, I'd… I'd remove every sense of belonging to this planet that they have, and throw them into Company cells for the rest of their miserable lives."

Bella's brow knits in a frown. She shifts again, sitting up straighter. "And by rights they deserve it. It and much more. But you /know/, Magnes, that's not what the Company is for. If it were, you would never be part of it, because as much as you want to punish those men, more than that you want to protect people like Abby. Good people. And if imprisoning Logan and Muldoon and others like them will do that, then yes, we have to. But you have to remember that your sense of justice is greater, has to be. Punishing people won't make that ache in your ribs go away. Knowing that you stopped it from happening to someone else… that will."

Magnes rubs his ribs, wincing slightly at the phantom pain. "I don't wanna be Batman, maybe not even Tim Drake, that's Robin III, even though my weapon of choice is a pole…" He finally looks up at her, eyes red and slightly puffy from any tears he wiped away. "I know revenge is bad, that I shouldn't be out looking for it, but, I still feel it, like it's what I want. I know it's bad, but it's just there. I wanna protect people, like Abby, and I do want this feeling to go away the right way, but it's still there, y'know?"

"Revenge is just looking at justice from another angle. The difference isn't so much in the act, than in how you go about it. Both are about righting a wrong. The question is which are you focusing on, the right, or the wrong?" Bella offers, hands spreading in a demonstrative gesture, offering one hand and the other. They close and knit together and she sets her chin on them, "Two things cure this kind of wound. Time and action. You know the action you want to take. Now you need the time. So what we need to work on is patience," she smiles, "That 'difficulty awaiting turn' I mentioned. You will get your chance, many chances, to heal yourself and the world. But it'll be after Carrie says you're ready." She taps the side of her nose, "Of course, I'll try and help things along myself, with what say I have."

"Since we're talking about Abby," Magnes says, obviously attempting to subject change. "I've been having this guilt problem. When I saw Abby again, well, I realized that I still like her, a lot, and I'm jealous because she's dating this guy who's less mature than me, and I don't know, it just makes me think 'What's wrong with me?'. But the guilt comes from the fact that I even care, I mean, I'm dating Elle, I shouldn't be feeling this stuff."

"Shouldn't?" Bella echoes, then wrinkles her nose, "There is never a 'shouldn't' when it comes to your emotions. There is what you feel and what you'd like to feel, and how to two interact. So, certainly, you'd /rather/ not feel the way you do about Abby, but guilt is the last thing you should feel. If you had control over your feelings, sure, maybe that would make you somehow responsible. But if you had control over your feelings, you wouldn't have those feelings, would you?"

"No, I guess not, I just wish I could focus on Elle and stop thinking about Abby, y'know? I mean, I don't have a chance with Abby, and here I am with this great girl, Elle, who's nice and sweet and even one of the hottest girls I've ever seen, and I'm worried about a girl who will never be interested." Magnes frowns, his eyes lowering to his hands again. "What's wrong with me?"

Bella smiles, "What's wrong with every lovesick man or woman," she says, "That weird battle that happens in your heart when someone can cause you the greatest happiness and the most exquisite misery; the kind of ugly feeling that creates beautiful art… or really bad poetry you write in a journal with a 'keep out' sticker on the cover," the doctor arches a brow, "Nothing /I've/ ever experienced, of course," she says, with no small irony, "I haven't got anything I can give you to cure that, and I wouldn't even if I could. But just know, again, it's something more in you and what you do than in her. Why else to we mourn? Love keeps loving even when the loved thing is gone, or inaccessible. So give yourself time, let yourself feel all torn up and miserable. Write some bad poetry, let it out, and eventually your love will get fed up and find someone waiting for you." She grins, wolfishly, "Plus it's fun when your old flame comes around a little too late, and you've already moved on. Of course, you didn't hear /me/ tell you that."

"I can fly and lift motorcycles, and to some extent I can even take getting smashed into the ground, and I still don't get the girl. Well, I did get the girl, a really good one, but I didn't get the other girl. Oh god I sound like a horrible person. I do like Elle, I really do, but I barely know her, I can't help it if I still like Abby more. I still need to get to know Elle before I even know if we're really right for eachother…" Magnes finally looks up at her again, his mood somehow dropped. "Maybe I just shouldn't be dating at all."

Bella lifts her hands, "You're getting ahead of yourself, Magnes!" she exclaims, "The frustrations of romance are /killer/, yes. And sometimes you want a breather, yes. But dropping out of it entirely won't do a lot of good for your feelings either way. You don't know Elle too well, but that means its worthwhile getting to know her better. Slowly, mind you! But still. As for Abby, the fact that she's seeing someone else, however painful that may be, gives you a chance to re-calibrate your world, stop waiting for her to 'come around'. For now, of course you'll like Abby more. You've got a well worn path in your brain for that. But you /can/ be a trailblazer," she smiles, "Tell me about Elle. What do you like about her? How did you meet her? When are you next going to see her?"

"Well, Elle's nice and sweet, in a Harley Quinn kind've way, just not crazy. She really really treats me like she cares, though I may be a little afraid that she might shock my tastebuds off one day. She's been through experiences kinda like mine, she can really understand me." Magnes' mood seems to take a turn for the better as he starts explaining Elle, smiling and twiddling his fingers. "We met after I was done with a practice, and I wasn't sure at the time, but she started flirting with me. Can you believe that? I mean, a girl, flirting with me. Isabelle gave me a sexual proposition once, but I've never really been flirted with. I really got to see her when she's not just being bubbly and happy, when she was explaining how some woman broke her bones, and Adam kept healing her every day so it could be done all over again. I held her again me, and I don't know, I just felt like I wanted to protect her, and she seemed like she'd let me…"

Bella nods as Magnes talks about his girl, moving her legs so that they are crossed the other way, tapping her jawline with an index finger as she takes in his description. "Is that important to you, being able to protect the person you're with?"

"I don't like the idea that someone can just hurt my friends, or someone who's more than a friend. I like having the power to do something about it now, it means a lot to me." Magnes answers rather passionately, opening and closing his hands before they simply clinch into fists. "I know Elle can handle herself, but no one's invincible, everyone needs help or protecting eventually."

"This is when I start to act irritatingly like a psychiatrist," Bella interjects, tone one of apology, "And the best way to mitigate this would be to have Elle come in so I can meet her. I just want you to think about what draws you to Elle. Don't think of it as judgment, either, on her or on you. But try and be objective, most of all in the face of strong emotion. How important is that feeling of being able to protect her, maybe even being needed? And how much of this is because of what happened to you and Abby?"

"I don't know, being protective always pissed Abby off, so I try not to let it be too important. But I guess I can't lie, I do like the feeling that she'd really let me protect her, and I still promise to get her in here." Magnes awkwardly rubs the back of his neck, looking away, then back to Bella. "Does it count for anything that I'm really attracted to her and I'm hoping that she turns out to be as good as she looks?"

Bella laughs at this, "At least a little," she says, "I don't want to act like I know more than I do, but I do want to help you be happy. Elle might be just the thing for you. She might end up stomping a mudhole in your heart. Love isn't so much blind as it is very selective in its vision. With your permission, I'll keep giving you an observer's view, so that hopefully you can make the right decisions for your own happiness. And that, Magnes, more than anything else, is what you're responsible for. Your own happiness."

"Wait, y'know, what if I just call? I mean, we've got plenty of time left, right?" Magnes pulls out his iPhone, something he normally couldn't afford, especially with all the apps, but, he works for the Company, why not? He clicks the little lightning bolt, then puts it up to his ear, waiting for Elle to answer.

Three-and-a-half rings pass, the time it takes for Elle to ferret her cell phone out of wherever it had been stowed away. A small exhalation is audible once the agent flips it open and presses it against her shoulder with one ear; otherwise, there isn't much background noise of any kind. Just silence. "Magnes?"

"Hey, Elle, can you do a really big favor for me?" Magnes asks, though doesn't wait for an answer before adding, "My therapist wants to meet you, she think it'd help me if she met the person I'm dating. We're not too far from the base, I'll just text you the address. Will you come, for me?"

A small smile pricks Bella's lips as she hears Magnes' end of the conversation. She waits.

"A therapist." Mm-hm. Though Magnes can't see her over the line, Elle's brows angle upwards. "Like, a Company therapist?" How much have you been telling her, bro?

"Yeah, she's really helpful. She doesn't wanna judge you or anything, she just wants to, well, see our relationship, or something. You can leave if you don't like it, but, can you give it a chance?" Magnes asks in his most sincere harmless 'good guy' voice.

Bella gives Magnes an encouraging smile, nodding her appreciation.

"So…yes, she's a Company therapist. Mind telling me her name?" Elle's voice is normal, kind of pert-sounding, but there's something that implies that she's listening for something. Magnes probably isn't aware, bless his little heart, but his GF doesn't exactly have the best of working relationships with Company shrinks — and if this one's been with her employers for any significant length of time, or if she's been nosy and dug through filing cabinets…

"Her name's Bella, uh, Doctor Sheridan. Why?" Magnes asks, a tad confused at Elle's suspicion, raising an eyebrow at Bella, then shrugging. "Is something wrong?"

The name Magnes gives doesn't ring a bell. Good thing, rite. "No, just curious," is Elle's curt, dismissive reply. "If it's just you and her there, tell you what — give me the address. I'll think about coming down."

"Thanks, Elle! Check your texts. We still have plenty of time in the session, so, we'll be here." Magnes waits to see if Elle says anything else, giving Bella a thumbs up.

Bella smiles broadly at Magnes, returning the enthusiastic thumb. 'Bravo', she mouths.

Magnes presses a button and hangs up, slipping the phone back into his pocket and folding his hands. "Well, this should be interesting. And I get the feeling Elle doesn't like therapists or something."

Bella gives a small shrug, "Lot's don't," she says, "And I can see why. The idea of someone trying to see inside your head is insulting, and the idea of someone actually /doing/ it is unnerving. And the rather bio-medical direction psychology had been taking in the past decades doesn't make it seem very warm and fuzzy. But the onus is on us psychotherapists to change people's minds…" she smirks, "Which would be easier if we had the power some ascribe to us." She settles back in her chair somewhat, "Would you like to take a break, have some coffee while we wait? Or would you like to press on?"

"What do you do for fun?" Magnes asks, suddenly curious about his therapist. "I always imagined therapists all meet up at a coffee shop, discussing their awesome cars and trading stories about their craziest patients."

There is perhaps a half second moment of surprise at a question being directed at her, but it's not the first time… it's just sort of jarring, not the setup she's used to. "Me? Read, mostly. Work on my articles. Honestly, I enjoy my work enough that I have fun doing it," she smiles, "I meet interesting people, who tell me interesting stories. And, frankly, the most crazy ones are the /least/ interesting to talk about. Mostly they're just boring."

"You write articles? Like, psychology articles?" Magnes almost shivers at the thought, rubbing his hands together. "My parents made me write essays like every week, I don't think I could ever write for fun."

Bella nods, "Got to keep a somewhat visible profile. If the Company decides they don't need me, heaven forbid, I need to have something to build a career on, don't I?" It's unclear if this is a joke, either in whole or in part. "How have you been managing, though? Have you had some chance to blow off any steam?"

"I can skate around now, I met this speedster on a roof, it was pretty interesting. We uh, combined our powers, and we were flying around at super speed. We amost flew to Paris, but luckily she changed her mind." Magnes reaches into his pocket, pulling out a clear glass sphere, tossing it about five inches above his hand before he starts to lightly knock the low gravity object around. "It's fun, being almost free, going on adventures."

"That's awesome," Bella enthuses, "I'm glad we could work that out for you. The bigwigs in the Company may have the best interests of humanity in general in mind, but you can often lose sight of the individuals that make /up/ humanity."

"Thanks, I really appreciate it." Magnes goes into another awkward pause, looking from left to right. "So, uh, is there anything you've wanted to ask me? You don't have to be afraid of scaring me off or anything."

Bella folds her arms, arching a brow, "See, now I'm more interested in what you /think/ I want to ask you."

"I don't know…" Magnes takes a moment to think about it, then snickers lightly. "How fruedian it is that I compare you to a comic female who, while she was alive, was mostly known for being Spider-Man's hot girlfriend?"

Bella snorts with good humor, "Only a psychoanalyst could tell you for sure," she says, "But I imagine one would say it has more to do with aggression than desire, comparing me to a dead woman. Of course, I'm /not/ a psychoanalyst, so I say: you're just a guy who loves his comics."

"Well, I don't know, I guess I figure you'd wanna know things about me, like, you must be curious, right?" Magnes asks, with a slight head tilt. "I've told you a lot, but, there's probably stuff you're thinking you wanna ask, I think."

Bella's expression is shrewd but appreciative, "…think of it this way: curiosity is a detriment to me. I want to learn about you, but knowing things /about/ you, asking you things, is actually not the best way to get to know you. I learn more, achieve more, by building a rapport, seeing what you'll tell me, and then figuring out from /there/ what to ask about."

"Well, I'm kind've attracted to Carrie? I mean, I'm not gonna do anything, I know better than that, but I think I feel really comfortable with her, and well, if I wasn't dating Elle, and we were a bit closer age-wise…" Magnes shrugs, smiling gently. "I'd probably be dating her. I think she's pretty much the perfect woman. It's so weird just saying this stuff, you're like some kind of diary."

"That a very apt observation," Bella says, smiling, "If I /were/ a psychoanalyst, I'd be sitting behind you, where you couldn't see me, because I'd be trying to act as much like a blank screen as possible, an empty space where you could hear the echo of your own words. But… that's fair, about Carrie. And there's even a chemical reason for it. People often become infatuated with their trainers, teachers… hell, even therapists. Freud called the latter 'counter transference'."

"I think it'd say something about my sexuality if I wasn't attracted to my therapist." Magnes off-handedly compliments, giving his neck another awkward rub. "I don't know, with Carrie I think 'God I wish this were a coming of age movie'. I'm not in love or anything, but I've gotten to know her. She likes all the stuff I do, and she's attractive."

Bella puts a hand to her chest, "Magnes, if I end in front of an ethics board I'm going to blame /you/," she chides, humorously, "It's perfectly natural. In fact, it shows you have a propensity to form strong attachments to the people who are important in your life, and I think that's better than healthy. Attraction is tied to admiration, interdependence… and both those are important in a mentor and a teammate. You need both of those, as a person and as an aspiring Company member. That you can admit those feelings shows you're in control of them, too."

"Before Carrie, and to some extent, learning to french kiss from Tracy Strauss, that's someone who works for the president or something, I wasn't very confident. Well, I'm not really confident now either, but I don't feel like the world will end if I say things to a woman anymore." Magnes looks around, appearing a bit guilty, then admits, "W-well, except maybe, you know, things like, uh, m-moist…" His cheeks flush after saying the word, immediately breaking eye contact.

Bella's laugh is light, sweet, not the least bit mocking. "Trust me, the sweet, worthwhile guys are always the ones who have at least a little uncertainty to fight. Unchecked confidence is just arrogance," she taps the side of her nose, "And all clever women know that."

"I'm not even sure what to do with girls, I mean, really close ones, I just think it's fun to have someone who's a friend, and we happen to kiss and open up to eachother, y'know?" Magnes crosses his legs in a bit of a pretzel, looking briefly to the door. "There was this girl I liked, Xiulan, before this guy I don't really like or trust started sleeping with her. But anyway, I took her on a picnic, I said that even if we couldn't really go out, I wanted to show her what I would've done if we did go on that date I chose not to ask her on. So we ate dinner on the Statue of Liberty's head."

Bella tilts her head at this, "How many woman have you known that you've wanted more than friendship with?" she asks, "Could you tell me about them?"
A sound may startle Magnes' attention, but it isn't a knocking at the door. It's his phone ringing.

"Abby, sweet, innocent, nice, really loves God and really weird southern food. Xiulan, runs a tattoo shop, sweet, formerly innocent, nice, promised that anyone who hurts me will die, I think she's tied up with not-so-nice people. Delilah, really not that innocent, sweet and nice, she loves fashion, wears any costumes I make, she's, well, she's really fun to be around, even went to a convention with me. I was Spider-Man, she was Firestar. You already know about Elle and Carrie." Magnes looks down at his pocket, then pulls his phone out and holds it to his ear. "Hello?"

"Yeaaah." It's Elle's voice, predictably; there's still an absence of background noise, though it seems to have a different quality to it. Thicker, or something. "You're sure this is for you, right? Because if it's not." There might be something of a threat in her tone, even, though it isn't vocalized. Be there treachery afoot?

"Why would you need therapy? Well, other than that stuff you told me. I promise, this is for me, I'm not the kind of person who tricks someone into getting therapy." Magnes says with a light laugh, shaking his head. "You can trust me, Elle."

Bella's not going to chime in with 'and you can trust me, too!'. She stays put, waiting to see if she'll get to meet Ms. Bishop in person.

There's a moment of silence. Several, actually, before Elle speaks up again. Not all of the latent hostility is gone, but she seems to be slightly placated. "Subway's running late. I'll be with you in maybe ten." Click.

"She really doesn't trust therapists." Magnes says, sliding the phone into his pocket again. "Or apparently me all that much, but she barely knows me, so I guess I can't blame her."

"I'm sorry if I'm causing you any trouble," Bella says, "But I promise to try and make it worthwhile. Elle could turn out to be very important in your life, and I would feel… well… remiss if I didn't at least get to shake her hand."

"Don't worry, she'll come around. If anything, I'm learning that she's not all sunshine and bubbles, there's, well, other dimensions I haven't seen yet." Magnes pushes off the couch, slowly floating over to the door to unlock it, then float right back to his seat. "There, now it's unlocked for when she gets here. And, y'know, she's the kind of girl I think could really get me over Abby."

"Why do you thank that?" Bella asks.

"I don't know, she just seems…" Magnes searches for the word, shrugging. "Special."

Turns out the two will have to wait less than ten minutes; it's more like five or six before there's a loud rap rap at the door of Bella's office. And look, there's special girl now, by the sounds of it.

Bella glances to Magnes, a 'there she must be' sort of look. She rises to her feet, goes to the door, and opens it for the visitor. She steps aside, giving Elle room to enter, and preparing to size up the agent as she does. Should all go well, the therapist extends a hand, "Isabella Sheridan," she says, "It's a pleasure to meet you, Ms. Bishop."

"Elle!" Magnes exclaims excitedly, patting the spot on the couch next to his crossed legs. "You can sit next to me!"

The door opens to reveal Elle in all her five-foot-one finery, without any heels, this time, to make up the difference. She glances down at Bella's hand but makes no move towards it, only making an 'uh-huh' sort of face and dismissively heading straight in the direction of the seat besides Magnes. "Silly, where else would I sit?" Her greeting to him, as she sits down, consists of her trailing several fingertips through the hair at the top of his head and giving it all a good BZZT. Crackle, crackle. "What do you guys need? Hope it won't take too long."

Bella tries to think of this expressly in the terms of 'psychological observation'. Otherwise she might be tempted to be rankled at what she sees as lack of conventional manners. Someone grew up having one too many Judith Martin columns read to her. She hitches a pleasant smile to her lips and moves to her armchair. "Certainly," she says, "Mostly I wanted to meet you. This is my second session with Magnes, and of course you came up in conversation!"

Magnes is almost a content kitten when Elle starts trailing her fingers through his hair. He's torn between his hair being ruined, and Elle touching him… fortunately he's still a hot-blooded American male, and slides an arm around her waist. "Yeah, I don't think she wants to get into your head or anything. You're one of the most normal girls I know—uh, try not to like, fry my brain by accident or anything? Just saying." he politely requests, just a tad nervous about the crackling.

"Don't worry. I wouldn't let that happen," Elle answers without much attempt at inserting seriousness in her voice; there's amused adoration in it. As she turns to look at Bella, her expression grows to resemble the one she had worn when she had just came in. Her demeanor grows breezy. "Well, and now you've met me. Isn't that fun."

Bella quirks a brow, then crosses her legs, bracing the top one in two hands. "Honest to God, I appreciate you coming in at all. I'm taken to understand you're not a fan of shrinks. Knowing quite a few of them myself, I can't say I blame you. And, as Magnes will be coming in for the occasional session with me, I wanted to get on the same page, to try and assure you I'm here to help rather than pull some medical voodoo. Plus," she shrugs, smiling, "Maybe you'll be willing to chat with me sometime yourself, if you think I'm sufficiently different from whomever you've based your previous conceptions of psychiatrists on."

"I trust you." Magnes says with a smile, laying a head on her much shorter shoulder as his gelled back hair starts to stick up in various directions. "So, Bella, anything you wanna ask us? And uh, before this gets really awkward, all we've done is kiss."

"What does Magnes need a shrink for?" Elle questions, glancing sidelong at the trainee in question. Then her gaze shifts back to Bella, and there's a kind of horribly cool, cat-like intensity in it; amusement, and not a very nice kind. For the most part, though, her expression is still reserved. Mostly. "Maybe you'll grow an octopus out of your head." But then Magnes speaks up, and she flicks her gaze at the psychiatrist expectantly. What do you want to ask us?

Bella reaches up to touch the top of her head, "Maybe," she says, "But not yet for either, I guess. As for what I want to ask, well, first off, Magnes, maybe you can explain why you're here," she smiles, "Besides the fact Carrie asked you to. It's something Elle wants to know, something she /should/ know, and something that it might help for you to think about as well."

"Well, Elle, remember what I told you, about the cage fighting? Well, I have this problem." Magnes raises his head from her shoulder, then moves to gently take her hand and place it against his ribs. "I can feel the pain in my ribs sometimes, from when they were broken. And, aside from that problem, my life is completely different, it's really hard to deal with the changes. You help a lot, you don't make me feel like such a loser, or that the world is coming to an end. It helps to be able to talk to someone, y'know? And Bella helps me deal with problems other people can't help with." he explains, nodding to Bella, then turning back to Elle, smiling warmly.

Nothing short of a bemused expression steals onto Elle's face when her hand is taken from her, though she doesn't fight it. "Shouldn't you be seeing a doctor for your ribs?" she questions bluntly, ignoring the implication she makes that Bella isn't a qualified doctor herself. Magnes knows what she means. "And what kind of problems would you have? I mean, you had an -epic battle- with one of the grossest ex-cons the Company's ever had on a leash, and you lived through it. If it's about dealing with other peopledeath…" Her eyebrows quirk in a kind of 'that's what it is, isn't it?' way.

Bella takes a temporary backseat as Magnes and Elle have this interchange, pale eyes moving from face to face, person to person, as they speak. At the moment, she chooses not to interjects. She wants to hear an unaltered answer from Magnes. Peopledeath? Gonna have to remember that one.

"Isabelle died, that's the main reason I came here, it's the reason Carrie suggested I come here, and it helped. Isabelle was a really good friend, and someone murdered her…" Magnes holds Elle's hand in both of his, simply staring down at their tangled appendages. "And there's nothing physically wrong with my ribs, Abby healed them, but I can still feel it, it's, well, in my head." He doesn't comment on Jake having been captured before, but he's definitely made a mental note.

"Kind of like those phantom limb ghost things." Elle suggests helpfully as she lets her hands be held however Magnes wants, the lightness of her expression hinting that at least one person in this room finds this whole situation inappropriately entertaining. "And Magnes, people die. You gotta get used to it. There's all kinds of bad people out there; it's just how life is." There totally are. And it totally is. Helpful Elle is helpful, see?

"Somatoform disorder is the clinical term," Bella adds, with a 'fun fact' type of tone, "And while death is certainly a reality, the pain of loss is also a reality; it's a phantom with a very concrete presence. So we're treating it with all seriousness. As someone in Magnes' life, you can do a lot to help. More than a shrink like myself. As soon as that pain goes away, whether it's me or you or the both of us that fixes it," she smiles, "Then my job will be done."

"Isabelle meant a lot to me, she was like the first person who really believed in me, other than my parents, but they only believed I could do what they wanted. Isabelle didn't think I was a loser, and, she was a great person." Magnes' breathing gets a bit deeper, memories beginning to flood. "The fact that I'll never see her again, it's, it just hurts…"

Oh, god. Elle is dating an insecure dweeb. Nevertheless, her response is to tighten her grasp on Magnes's hands between her fingertips, bending her face down closer to his and letting strands of long, blonde hair slip over her shoulder. "Listen. If you don't want to be thought of as a loser, then don't act like one." This is said entirely matter-of-factly. Lookit Elle's face stay as straight as a board. "You don't need anybody to remind you to be strong, even if you miss her. You can do it on your own. I believe in you!"

The utterly cringeworthy harshness of her statement, however, is belied by the carefulness of her touch — the intensity of her calm, blue-eyed gaze on his. Whatever had just come out of her mouth, her sympathetic(?) presence alone might be enough to soothe any hormone-driven male teenager. She delicately strokes the top of Magnes's hands with one of hers, as if musing.
And hey, nobody can say she's not entirely well-meant. She probably is. Really.

Bella inclines her head very slightly, "Anything I say would be gilding the lily," she says, "Elle, thank you for your honesty. You're right. You are precisely what you allow yourself to be, Magnes, confined only by your potential. And I know, and I'm sure Elle knows, and I /know/ Agent Castillo knows, that your potential is enormous."

"I guess I believe in the you that believes in me." Magnes says with a wide smile, knowing neither of them is likely to get it, but Elle helps, a lot. An arm moves to pull her closer, going around her waist again, then he starts to focus on Bella again. "I have a question, I'm not sure if I should be asking just Elle or both of you. I've, well, never dated before. Are there some do's and don'ts I should remember? I mean, I don't even know what I'm supposed to be doing."

The question was addressed towards Bella, but Elle gets a peculiar, thoughtful expression on her face that may not be exactly reassuring. She examines her spread fingers, playing with the band of the ring on one of them.

Bella's gaze flicks to Elle, catching that expression. She looks back to Magnes with a smile. "Do's and don'ts?" she echoes, "There's only one major 'do'. Communication. The biggest mistake people in relationships make is thinking there is a formula for success, that there /is/ some sort of decalogue, er… Ten Commandments style code to follow. Unspoken rules are what sinks relationships. Keep it all out in the open, make sure you're on the same page and /keep each other happy/. Romance is about two individuals being two individuals, together. Tough stuff. You've gotta stay in tune."

Magnes looks to Elle with a 'what do you think' look, tilting his head slightly. "You know, we don't really know that much about eachother, except, well, that we've had a lot of broken bones."

"There's not all that much about me to know." Except, maybe, that Miss Murderous doesn't actually think of this as anything approaching a serious relationship. Har de har. That is one tiny, insignificant detail that miiiight stay in the cupboard for now. But for all the world, Elle still looks perfectly serious. "If you ever feel like you need to sit and relax with me awhile, think things through, I won't say no." Stroke, stroke.
She looks up at Bella suddenly, expression flat. "Are we almost done yet?"

"I think I'll give you two the chance to communicate without a third party peering in," Bella says, with maybe just the slightest hint of irony, "Thank you very much for coming in Elle. You have my gratitude," she turns her gaze the Magnes, "It was lovely seeing you again, Magnes. I hope this has helped, and I look forward to seeing you again whenever you feel like visiting," she smiles, "Ideally you'll come just to tell me how wonderfully everything is going." She gets to her feet, offering her hand to Magnes, "Until next time."

"Thanks for all the help, Bella. I'm looking forward to the next session!" Magnes stands, offering Elle a hand to help her up. "Come on, I'll take you to a movie or something. Star Trek is still playing, I think."

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