Cracking a Tough Shell


milena_icon.gif warren_icon.gif

Scene Title Cracking a Tough Shell
Synopsis After grocery shopping of all things, Milena and Warren go to the observatory for a lobster dinner.
Date October 10, 2010

Staten Island, Milena's Home

Description of location, if any.

It's around five-thirty PM, and Warren chose a time close to dusk on purpose. Have to get Milena comfortable with doing mundane things later in the day like anyone else. When they enter the supermarket, he lets her push the cart, looking around the fresh fruit curiously. Even now he just wears his suit, not seeming to change up much at all for any occasion. "I only recently started shopping when I moved into the Octagon, I'm barely any good at it, but it's nice to do something normal."

Milena has been shopping before, of course, but not since — Well, she can't even remember. Not for a long time, truthfully, and she kind of feels silly that she's so uncomfortable being amongst all the people who are currently collecting their groceries. It seems so normal. When did any part of the world become normal again? She thought it would all be messed up and dark and foreboding and evil.

But yet, as she pushes the cart through the produce section, she spies someone legitimately making the tough decision between Red Delicious and Granny Smith apples. "I feel like people are staring at me," she mutters, even if it's not true… And she kind of realizes that no one really gives a damn that she's here. It's nice. But she's still uneasy with her mind full of 'what ifs' that keep dragging her down.

"They're not. Anyone who sees us would just assume we're roommates, or newlyweds or something. They can't see what's in your head, they just see a normal healthy woman." Warren assures, staring at the variety of different oranges. He doesn't shift his eyes, instead he just stares with an average level of intuition. "They all look the same, just different sizes." He may not typically let on many of his own weaknesses, but she can be happy that she most likely knows the difference between orange types.

"Hh. Don't flatter yourself. I'm not the marrying type." Or the roommate type, really. It's amazing how things have changed since she really was a normal, healthy woman in college, and yet here she is, out in the world, pondering over the fact that everything seems so normal. And maybe they are all seeing her as a normal person out shopping - if they're paying attention at all - but she still feels like she's being spotlighted. Someone in this store must know that she's a Tier 2 potentially dangerous Evolved…

"Well, yeah, but they have different tastes. Or textures. Or… Well, people prefer one over the other. Like… You wouldn't want the bigger one as just a snack, you know? So you … So you take the… The smaller one. Just… Easier to carry…" Biting her lip to shut herself up, she moves on. "I don't really need anything. The… I mean, anything I need I can grow. If I need to."

"Too intellectual?" Warren asks in a bit of a tease, snickering as he walks down the aisle, pointing to the live lobster. "What about meat? You can't grow meat, can you? And cereal, snacks…" He counts the things off on his gloved fingers, then turns into the frozen foods. "I'm not a fan of crab and lobster, you have to boil them alive you know? Always seemed kind of cruel."

"No," is Milena simple reply to Warren's question. She eyes him almost angrily; despite everything, her guard is still up when they're near each other, because it's impossible for her to get over the fear she felt that one night when they met in the forest. He's a killer… She knows it. It seems wrong for them to be shopping here together. "Besides. You didn't even know I had a docterate until that stupid… forum. Thing. I don't… Like to tell people about myself." She puts her hands against the lobster tank, inexplicably tempted to reach in and touch them. It feels childish, but she has been kind of repressed for quite some time. After rubbing her chin, she reaches into the cold water…

"But now I do. What kind of doctorate is it, anyway? Is it a plant thing?" Warren watches her, then as she begins moving her hand into the tank, he quickly rushes over to take her arm. "Milena, be careful. I'll buy one if you want it."

"Astronomy," she says idly. "I got my Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins. I was kind of the smart kid… in my class through grade school and high school." That's probably why she can't really integrate at the moment. She was a little sheltered. Never really got all life's experiences. It's been years, though… She should have been able to get her life back by now…

Just as she reaches one of the lobsters, Warren's hand wraps around her arm, and she pulls back as if she's been burned. "Do not touch me. Never touch me!" she yells. It's loud enough to draw attention, which she notices as she rubs the spot where he grabbed her. It was a knee-jerk reaction, and her face turns deep lobster red as she tries to fix the situation. "Uh. I just… I don't… After what happened, it's… Look, their claws are rubber-banded. They can't hurt me."

"Oh, sorry, I was just…" Warren shakes his head, apologizing again, "Sorry." He starts walking to the frozen foods again, choosing to just move on to avoid making her feel even more awkward. "I don't know where I went to school. I know things, I know a lot of things, but I just don't know. I was told I lived in London for a while… but all of my memories are of this perfect apple pie life that never really happened, and it all seems so real, it hurts a little more to remember."

"It's… Yeah, it's okay. I don't like to be touched. It hurts." Maybe not physically, but the memories… She's not so fond of. Drying her hand off on her jacket, she pushes the cart after Warren quietly. "That's what bothers me about you," she says, being bluntly honest. "Kind of… about everyone. You never really know who someone is. I… feel bad… that you can't remember. I'm just… afraid that there's something in your head that… That I won't like. If you ever figure it out. I saw… That person."

"Whoever I was isn't coming back, Milena. The person who altered my mind was a professional." Warren stops at some of the prepared meats at the not-quite-frozen stuff, things with seasoning and herbs, fully ready to cook. "You're the last person, and I mean the last person on the planet I'd ever hurt. That other person is gone, there's no way he can come back, and I'm even on a medication that corrects the side effects of my ability. I'm not asking you to trust me, just… I don't know." He sounds unsure for once, just shaking his head. "People who knew me before, they don't like me, they don't trust me, and I'm going to have to prove myself. But every time someone says I'm still that horrible person I can't even remember, every time they treat me like that, it feels like a punch to the gut." he explains, leaning with his hands on the long cooler embedded into the wall with all the meat.

Milena presses her hand against the cooler, listening as Warren speaks. She doesn't have a reply, because she's not sure what she's supposed to say… Or what he expects her to say. She's sorry for how he feels, and for what happened to him, but… "You knew who I was when you tried to make me your rehab case," she says eventually. It's like that fable with the farmer and the viper. The farmer found the snake half-frozen on the road and took it home to heal it, only for the ungrateful serpent to try and bite his children as soon as it revived.

"What did you think was going to happen? I'm not… I'm not like you. I don't want to try and 'move on.'" That's stubborn, but that's also what was keeping her going. "What am I even doing here? I'm… I'm…" She looks back over her shoulder, leaves the cart, and wanders back toward the lobster tank.

Warren starts following her, leaving the cart where it is as well, quiet until they do finally reach the tank. "I'm not blaming you for anything, I'm not mad at you. That's what I'm trying to explain. I have problems too, I can't be perfect just like you can't, we probably never will be perfect. I'm not a therapist, or a psychology major, or even a good Samaritan volunteer worker. I'm just a guy, a guy who saw you and didn't want you to be afraid to live anymore, that's all I am."

Milena stalks around the tank, watching the creatures inside, before reaching in again after one of the rubber-banded creatures. She's not even sure what she's going to do with it once she gets it. Buy it? Take it home and make lobster dinner? She hasn't had lobster in a long time, and only then at restaurants. "I'm not afraid to live. I'm afraid of… the ass holes that live around me," she says, making a face as she finally gets a hold on one of the hard-shelled creatures. As she lifts it out of the tank, it struggles and twists and turns and bops her with its bound claws. "You don't… Don't remember what you went through, but I… Can't forget what they did to me." One of the slightly annoyed supermarket workers brings a box for her to put the lobster into, and she gladly drops it in. "And they'd do it again, if they felt like it."

"I won't let that happen, Milena, I absolutely will not. You're afraid of everyone around us, even me, but even if you're afraid of me, know that I'd sooner take on this entire store than let anyone lay one finger on you." Warren stares at the lobster, then looks into the tank again. "There's not one member of Humanis First who can match my technology. I don't know why I reassure you, because I know you don't trust me, but I feel like if I tell you enough, you'll start believing it."

"I don't know why," is her simple, flippant answer. It's sweet what he's trying to do, but… Their entire relationship is really based on a few chance meetings in a forest, some of which Warren doesn't even remember. Milena can't even say why she doesn't just shut herself back into the observatory and change her phone number and never speak to this guy again.

Because she wants out.

Even after she got away from Humanis First, she's still been under their rule - afraid, unwilling to recover. It's been easy to just hide away, but she's always hoped that she could resume a somewhat normal life. And Warren is her would-be Prince Charming. This is the most awkward Disney fairy tale ever.

"So say I … Give you a chance. I hope you don't… Expect anything. I… I'm not ready for anything… close."

"You don't even like to be touched. If I had alterior motives, I think this would make me the Indiana Jones of playboys, except I doubt I could outrun the rock." Warren just smiles, shaking his head at the idea, then pulls a Platinum card from his jacket and offers it to the clerk. It's for the lobster. "I don't have any expectations. If you manage to smile just once, I think that's as close to having expectations as I'll come. In the end, I just want to help you get to where you can live normally again."

"Maybe I will sometime," she says as the clerk rings up the lobster. She's going to have to do something with it now besides poke at it, or drive it to the ocean and dump it into the water. BE FREE, LITTLE LOBSTER! …Except not. As she looks into the box at the lobster struggling to escape, she feels as if she should feel sorry for it and let it go, but she can't. It was meant to be bought and eaten. It probably doesn't feel that way, if it can think in those terms at all.

"We should get some wine or something. What else goes with lobster? Salad?" The conversation had become uncomfortable, and she's trying to steer it back into neutral territory.

"I don't know in the slightest. But why don't we get what we think should go with it? It'll be fun." Warren suggests as he nods for the man to box another lobster, then takes his card back and starts heading for the cart again. "Wine, we'll need some sort of butter. Uh… you know, I think my ideas ran out with butter."

Closing the box, Milena blinks. "Lobster and… butter." Her eyes close and she shakes her head. "Sorry, I'm just picturing this beautiful lobster dinner with a hunk of butter off to the side on the plate, it's… Ah." Unappealing. She knows that's not what he meant, but she can't help seeing it anyway! "Goldfish. Not… like… real ones, but goldfish crackers. I haven't had those in a long time." They're at least thematic.

"Goldfish crackers and lobster. Still sounds better than caviar." Warren snickers as he heads down the aisle with the snacks, grabbing said Goldfish and sitting them into the upper basket, then keeps looking around. "Nachos and dip? For a movie or something."

Two Hours Later!

T~I~M~E S~Q~U~I~G~G~L~E~S~!

When they arrive at Milena's living space in the observatory, they put things away and find themselves staring at the boxes of lobster, and the boiling pot. He's removed his suit jacket, this being the first time she's seen him in just the white buttoned up shirt and black tie, and he's staring inbetween them and the pot. "So, uh… we should just put them in? You can go first."

It did take a lot of convincing for Milli to let Warren in here, but in the end, she figures if anything was going to happen, it would have happened by now. Even so, she tries to discreetly keep something wooden or of plant-based material nearby at all times, in case she has to use her ability to defend. While Warren seems fairly at home, Milena is constantly on guard, and further from Warren's goal of getting her to smile than she's ever been.

In her hands is one of the lobsters, with the black rubber bands still firmly around its claws. And even though she has the still-wiggling thing in her hands, her attention is still on Warren. She won't take her eyes off him. "I… c… I can't. I can't do it." Because doing so would require her to look at the pot, and away from him. "This— I never expected— I don't even know how you convinced me to let you in here." She breathes. There, now that's out in the open, maybe…

For another good minute, she stares at Warren, then she tears her eyes away to look at the pot.

It happens in the blink of an eye. She's not subtle about it, nor does she give herself any time to question the inhumane act that she's about to perform. Do lobsters even feel pain? She throws the thing down into the boiling water, which splashes. Thankfully, Milena has a habit of wearing layers of clothing, so the boiling droplets that do contact her do no damage.

"You're fine, Milena, you're safe, I promise you." Warren could go on about how he only has one arm, but he has spent the day saying how he could totally kick a group of Humanis First's ass. When she drops her lobster in, he closes his eyes after grabbing his, then drops it in and quickly draws his hand back. "Well, looks like we did it. Now we just have to wait." He looks around the kitchen, then walks out into the living room and looks around. "You live where you work. That answers the question of how you leave the house to go to work."

"Words," she says with a dismissive chuckle. Once Warren's lobster is also in the pot, she closes the lid somewhat awkwardly as she keeps her eyes on him. It's been like this since they arrived. She hasn't told him yet that she actually invited the three members of Humanis First into her home without knowing who they were, and then they returned the favor by hurting her. This is a big step for her, and one she might not have been ready to take. Still, Milena's pushing herself as much as Warren is pushing her. It just might not seem like it to the casual observer.

Once there is some distance between them, she's able to relax a little. "The government set me up with this place. Right now, I just keep the garden outside. There's… more. That they want." There's always more. "They do tours. I stay inside… While there are people out there. I can't watch all of them."

"This place is amazing, it's different from a normal building." Warren's eyes turn silvery, and he gets down to his knees, pressing his ear to the floor. "There's so many machines in here, complicated ones. I envy you for living here. And you could watch all of them, with the right technology. But I'd be afraid of causing you to be isolated with more security."

"It's an interesting place to live," she concedes. This little box-like apartment off the main observatory is only a small part of the whole. She likes it, because it means that she's close enough to home that if she just needs to go there for awhile, she can. "I do most of my work at night when the gardens are closed. People come back the next day and everything's… different."

As Warren gets down on the floor, Milena comes around her kitchen table so she can watch him. "It's an observatory. It turns, it's telescopic. Not the best one in the world since it's near New York." The haze from the city clouds the sky a bit too much to make this particular observatory notable. "Everyone who used to work here before the bomb was trained in its function. I mean, it's an expensive piece of machinery. If we couldn't operate it with our eyes closed, we weren't allowed to touch it." In other words… She went through hours of training to be able to understand something that Warren can probably get in a few seconds.

"That's what it is, it's a machine, the building is a machine. This is the most amazing thing I've ever seen. I can only dream of having the resources to build something on such a grand scale." Warren looks back at her without his usual look of sympathy or wanting to reassure her. He's almost like a kid who's just walked into a toy store right now, looking at her in sheer awe. "You're amazing, to be able to work with something like this…"

Warren's hit on the one thing that Milena can actually enjoy without worrying. "It's a great place… There's been some pretty significant discoveries here. I mean… They don't make the papers, but… A few years back they used gravitational theory - Newton's Laws and all that - to pinpoint a gravity sink where they were sure a planet had to be, and sure enough, they found a shadow. It was… VH24. Stupid name for a planet, but… I guess it takes years to name them. All that… arguing." She trails off, looking back at the pot. Briefly, she has one of the many pangs that she's felt throughout the night of just wanting all of this to be over and done, so she can get back to her quiet.

"I wanted to go to the moon once, you know. I … had the intelligence, I had the… education. I … Wanted to get into NASA. I wanted to go up there. I think I'll miss that the most. I had a good chance…"

Warren frowns sympathetically, still on his knees as he looks up at her talking about dreams. "You'll go to the moon one day, Milena, I promise, somehow, you'll get there. If my plans work, if I start working with other parts of the government to better society, I can make it happen. I have so many designs in my head, unbelievable technology, it's been popping into my head. The only pieces my designs are really missing is the computer aspect, which is easily solved." He stands up, heading over to a couch to sit down, straightening his gloves. "I hope it doesn't bother you too much when I do that, I mean, when I think I can just fix everything. I know I can't fix everything, but I start feeling enthusiastic and motivated, and my ability makes me feel so sure that I can."

Milena shakes her head. "No I won't. Even if it was possible now, the … red tape of getting someone like me on a shuttle would just be too much to wade through. It won't… happen in my lifetime. And, hey, that's… That's okay. It's okay." She tells herself that. But if someone came up to her right now and told her she was going to get to go on a shuttle - even if it wasn't to the moon - she's sure she'd just be cured of this inability to function among other people.

With a snort of laughter, Milena adds, "It does bother me a little. You have to… Think… No, that's not the right— What am I trying to say…?" She paces for awhile, before going on. "Consider the fact that you're just as much of a freak in their eyes as I am. It doesn't matter… Doesn't matter if you're the smartest person in the world… In the universe. You— You're Evolved. You can do things they can't. It'll… It'll be generations before…" Her voice quiets, though she keeps talking. It's mostly to herself now - a litany of defeat that she's come to call her own personal mantra: Stop hoping. It's never going to happen.

"The world isn't Humanis First, Milena, you have to understand that. If the government can use what we can do, they're going to, but I'm not going to let them control what I do, or use it to hurt other people, I'm making sure of that. Some of the technology I make is completely over their heads, there's already people who accept us, good people, in the government and out of it. You'll go into space, somehow, I'll make that happen for you, Milena." Warren's quiet for a brief moment, then grins up at her from his seat. "You've been smiling."

"They're using me right now. At least it's for something… nice." It makes her not care. They appreciate the ability at the very least, unlike Humanis First, who tried to cut it out of her.

The alarm goes off on the stove, and she shuts the heat off, pulling the lid from the pot to find two extremely red lobsters within. That's how she remembers them! For the first time, she's actually looking forward to this dinner. It's better than growing an apple tree so she can slice up a couple apples for her meal.

When she turns back to look at Warren, she's scowling. If he thinks she was smiling, he's mistaken. "I'm talking about broken dreams. You've got some serious… wishful thinking issues if you think that's… anything to smile about."

"One day I'll give you hope for those dreams again, but I guess I've just never given you a reason to believe me. Want to see something?" Warren asks as he heads into the kitchen, then looks around for plates, shifting his eyes back to blue. "Maybe if I impress you, I can convince you that I can make your dreams a reality one day."

"Hope would be nice," she says, opening a drawer and fishing out a pair of tongs so she can, in turn, fish the lobsters out of the pot. "I mean, all I see in the news is… more bad news. More … bad things happening to good people. I can't see how anything …" Using a cutting board as a serving platter, she sets the lobsters on it and leaves the pot full of water to eventually cool off enough so she can dump it.

"Impress me?" she asks, brows drawing down over her eyes as she stares at him. She's not entirely sure that impressing her is the way to give her any sort of hope, but… She rolls her eyes. "Yeah. Sure. Fine. But if you do anything that… If you… If I think for a moment that I'm in trouble, I'll… … I will. So don't do anything you'll regret."

"If you believe in me, that I can do amazing things, then maybe you'll believe me when I tell you that your dream is still possible." Warren reaches into his jacket, then pulls out a jawbreaker sized golden sphere. It has an intricate network of seems in it, and he sits it on the counter. "Now, watch very closely." He holds up his left hand, the gloved robot hand, then rolls his sleeve up, revealing a long black remote that covers half his mechanical forearm, all white square buttons numbered from 1 to 50. His eyes are silver again, he's going to need them.

His removes the glove from his right human hand, then starts rapidly pressing buttons, the sphere quickly unfolding into a little golden mechanical spider that quickly moves around. It's clockwork, little gears turning in its joints and in the core of the body, walking all the way over to the lobsters so it can quickly poke holds into one of the claws with its sharp legs, then pulls the claw apart. The little spider is really like a work of art, walking across the counter again, then lifts a little leg to wave at her. "I can't program, so I have to basically input all of the commands at an extremely rapid pace. There's hardware programming that can be done, but it's very limited."

Milena is always impressed with stuff like this, but she's rarely amazed. He caught her once when she was rather taken with his light show display, but she's pretty sure he doesn't remember that anymore. In this case, she can appreciate the intricate workings of the small steampunk-like spider creature, but she can't see how it - or its actions - are going to give her any hope that she'll go to the moon, or hell… "I'd even settle for going into orbit. But even if you could build a space ship, you have to believe that they— They, whoever they is. Whoever… calls the shots… They aren't going to let me anywhere near it.

She reaches for the spider-thing, not touching it, since it does look so delicate, but letting Warren guide it onto her hand, if he so desires. "You have to think realistically. I know you… Want. We all … Want. But is it really going to happen?"

"The future is right around the corner, Milena. It's going to happen, it won't just be astronauts anymore. The reason why such a massive amount of training is required is because astronauts have to be able to do so much on their own up there, they can't simply send a researcher or an astronomer. But…" Warren continues typing commands, the little robot crawling up into her hand. The pointy legs are cold, and it gently taps at her palm a few times, inspecting. "But we're looking at a future of remote controlled robots, engineers being able to repair things from Earth, intricate tools housed on shuttles and space stations. At most, in this future, a shuttle would only need one traditional astronaut, for safety purposes, the rest could simply be researchers. I can see how it all works in my head, with my ability… so many designs."

"I appreciate what you're trying to do." Milena dumps some of their goldfish crackers out onto the plates, before setting a lobster on each. Out of the fridge comes the awesome lobster butter they acquired based on the recommendation from one of the store employees, and last, she pulls some wine glasses out of the cupboard to go with their cheap, but probably delicious, wine.

"One person's not going to do it. As long as… people like Humanis First… As long as they're around, people don't get to have dreams anymore. Not like they used to." She ensures that her place and Warren's are across from each other at her table so she can keep an eye on him. With the solid piece of oak in between then, she has a defense as well as an offense. "Look, just count the minor victories for now, okay? I'm… enjoying the night. That's a first. So just eat your lobster and stop… Stop trying to change the world for the next couple hours."

"One day I'll show you, Milena. Everything will change again." Warren looks down at his lobster, staring at the hand with the remaining glove a bit unsurely. "I'll stop trying to change the world for the night. I'm still not used to having a normal life myself, I'm not sure if I've ever had one. A part of me is learning right along with you, a big part." Though he's still frowning at his glove. "Does my hand bother you, if I take the glove off? For some reason it's suddenly kind of embarassing, I feel like it'll ruin the whole evening. That sounds stupid, doesn't it?"

At least she remembers how to eat a lobster. Cracking open the shell and pushing the green tomalley aside - she never did like that - she digs into the white meat. It's like heaven, actually. Sure, she'll probably feel not so great later, since she's not used to eating meat, but… This might entice her to leave the observatory a bit more to go shopping. For just a moment, it looks like she might smile, but it never happens.

"Bother me? No." She takes a sip of the wine, which somehow compliments the meal unintentionally. Perhaps she has an intuition for things like that. "Things… Things happen, I guess. You got hurt, you… Lost your arm. You deal with it the best way you can. I … Wear long sleeves to … Well, you know." Even if Warren's seen it, she doesn't want to show him again. You're. Dealing. I'm… Dealing. That's just… Life. That's just life."

Warren nods, slipping his glove off to reveal his mechanical hand, then starts cracking his lobster claws, pulling things apart as best he can. He clearly has no idea how to eat a lobster, he's even using his special eyes to somehow try to figure it out. "It's nice, not to be home alone working on some project or writing blueprints. I'm sure you'd rather I was far away from here as possible, but, I'm really enjoying some company for once."

Milena is watching as Warren somehow manages to eat a lobster wrong, which shouldn't be possible. But she's not about to help him… All she will do is curl up her nose at the fact that he's probably going to end up with a mouthful of shell or something. "I hate that you're here." She pauses, then explains. "I'm… being honest. I'm uncomfortable. I hate… That anyone at all is even seeing this place. It— I know you won't get it, but— And… I know I invited you in, but I feel like I'm… To— To be completely honest, I feel v— violated."

She sucks in a deep breath, looking away. "When I'm alone, I have… Control. I can… Reasonably expect things to… Go how I want them to. One. Two. Three. All in order, all… Painless — you're a variable." The game is totally upended now, all the pieces scattered. Milena's been in her element alone for so long that this bothers her more than it should. "So… After we eat, I — I want you to leave. And… Maybe we'll meet up again some other time."

"I can't say I completely understand, but is it that you expect me to hurt you, or is it something else? Is there anything I could do to somehow make it easier for you?" Warren does indeed pick some shell from his mouth, but he's at least doing somewhat alright with the meat, looking over at the wine as he suddenly remembers something. "I'm sorry, I can't drink the wine, I'm not even sure how I forgot that, but it conflicts with the medication I use for my ability. And, I really want to ask, if you feel so horrible with me here, what drove you to invite me?"

Milli picks at the lobster for awhile as Warren inquires as to the hows and whys of his invitation into the home. It's not hard for Milena to answer, it's just that she's afraid that if she does answer, there might be consequences. Bad ones.

"You want the truth?" she asks, setting aside her own wine. She doesn't want him to be at any sort of… advantage.

"I'm biding my time. I think you're a horrible person. I think you're a murderer, an… assassin, a killer, some sort of… Of… Dark shadow out of— it should be a story, but it's just… not. It's all real, and you— Pressured. You pressure me, and I feel like if I said no, if… If I didn't— That you'd… Find a way to hurt. Me. Or… This place. You keep showing up even though I asked you not to, and here you are. Again. In my home, and I think… If I don't do something you'll… Make it harder. All I— All I want you to do is leave me alone."

She closes her eyes and sees three masked, featureless faces in her head. Go away, she tells them. But they keep pushing, until she's in such agonizing pain that she can't remember if she's begging them to let her go or begging them to end it already.

"You… don't… understand pain because you can't remember it."

"I don't want you to do things out of fear." Warren stands up, then reaches into his pocket for a card. He can't remember if he gave her one since he had them made. "That's not what I wanted at all." Sitting the card on the table, with his name and number, he looks as if she shoved a knife in and twisted it. "If… you want me to come back, or do things with you again, you can call. Otherwise, I'll just stay out of your life and never contact you again."

She should tell him to stay and finish his dinner, but the truth is, she wants him gone. "I'm not n… normal," she mutters, squirming in her seat. She can't apologize for how she legitimately feels. Other people would have gotten over it by now, but she's always been content staying in her little world. She does have another card - not Warren's - to a Doctor Sheridan who might be able to help her. She needs it, badly. It's one thing to suffer from post-traumatic stress, but it's a whole other thing to let it consume you, and Milena knows it. "I'm sorry this didn't turn out how you wanted it to."

"It's not your fault, it really isn't. If I knew I was just holding you hostage all this time…" Warren takes another deep breath, briefly closing his eyes, then opens them and starts walking. "I'll get my jacket and go. I'm sorry, Milena. I didn't want to make your life even more difficult."

"You can't fix someone overnight," she mutters into her dinnerplate. "I'm not like one of your machines. They don't … think or… Feel. Or… You puppet those, like… You're holding their strings. I'm not…" Milena stops talking. She feels bad for hurting him, but can't make herself say the words 'stay and eat.' In some part of her mind, she's afraid that the only reason he's doing this is to put on a show, to get her to trust him more. On the other, maybe he's right. Maybe there are people in the world who legitimately don't want to hurt her. Milena rubs at one of her arms. Despite the double layers, she can feel the rough scars underneath. "Tell me you're not going to hurt me, and I'll… I'll believe you."

Warren stops just before grabbing his jacket, looking back to the table. "I'm not going to hurt you, Milena. And, I'm not trying to fix you overnight, I'm not leaving because I couldn't fix you, I didn't expect it to happen this quickly. I'm just… I don't want to make you afraid of me, I don't want to make your life harder than it already is." He swallows, grabbing his jacket, but not actually lifting it yet. "The idea that I make you feel like those monsters did, that you're just going along with all of this because I'm keeping you as some sort of hostage…"

Dark blue eyes look back and forth at nothing. The goldfish crackers, the fork, the wine glass. She has all these ideas in her head that she made up over the months and years since she was almost killed. Human beings are inherently evil… They can't help it. All they do is live their lives trying to be better. And if they somehow can't do that legitimately, they invent ways. The only person that anyone can and should trust is themselves. You can lie to yourself all you want, but you'll always know the truth.

Reaching out, she takes his card, slides it close to her on the table, and then takes another good pull at her wine. "I will call you," she says. "I promise. I wasn't ready for something like this, though. I thought maybe— " But in the end, all she was doing was ensuring that he didn't hurt her. And the word 'hostage' really hits home, because that's exactly how she feels. "Thank you for… understanding."

"I just want you to remember, you can say no to me, never think otherwise." Warren pulls his jacket on, straightening his tie. "We're really like the blind leading the blind, which I guess somehow made me think we were good for eachother, in a supportive sense. Hey… why don't we talk on the phone some time? It never occurred to me, but that seems like a really safe way to get comfortable with communicating, and not have to worry about the anxiety of being near me."

"I know." Flipping over the card, she looks at the number. Seems like everyone carries cards lately. Maybe Milli should have some made. "I know I can."

Somewhere in her mind, she knows she can. It's just hard.

She doesn't say that talking on the phone could be just as bad, even though he's just told her that she can say no. There's still emotional attachment there, and she's had enough of that for one day. It's already a little easier, even if it's just the smallest baby step forward. "I'll… think about it," she says. It's not a no, but it's not a yes, either.

"Any time, even if it's the middle of the night, I'll be on the other end of hte phone." Warren heads for the door know, and turns the knob. "And I'd love it if you could show me the telescope some time."

Finally, Warren gets the smallest of smiles! It only lasts a second. If he was in the process of blinking, he will have missed it entirely. She nods to that, because the observatory, the telescope, the whole thing is her passion. She loves it, even if it's just some barely-there connection to her dream. "Yeah. That's a good idea. Sometime."

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