bella_icon.gif calvin_icon.gif deckard_icon.gif

Scene Title Difficult
Synopsis Calvin is released back into the wild under specific terms and Bella apologizes for being difficult. But not to him.
Date April 18, 2011

Central Park

Imagine her anxiety. Trundling along Lafayette Ave in a stolen station wagon, curfew nipping at her metaphorical heels, it's not actually the police that worry Bella - though with a bound and bludgeoned man in the back seat and a fugitive at the wheel, perhaps they ought to. Instead Bella's nostrils remain sharp for that tell tale smell, her body tilting over towards the driver's side once every minute or so she can get a look at the radiator display. Watchful for any sudden changes in temperature.

It's almost moot, then, to take Calvin to somewhere where there is are no readily available alloys - the very mode of conveyance gives him ample opportunity to cause trouble. But Bella is not about to waste what little compliance she's managed to pummel out of him, and its only once she's given Flint directions that she pauses, collects herself, and takes the time to explain just who it is she's got in the back seat.

As for why he's in the back seat, cuffed and concussed - if asked Bella will succinctly list Calvin's sins - intrusion, invasion, deception and possession of a fresh mouth. That this last is what brought things to blows isn't stated explicitly, but its biting and incongruous emphasis within the list definitely suggest a dromedary crippling straw situation.

She makes Flint pull into a big, unlit driveway and then directs him to transport Calvin - carry, drag, frog-march, she isn't picky - through a line of trees and into a big open field. Still piebald with fading brown patches, the grass still wafts its clean aroma into the night air. A baseball diamond extends its sandy fan out towards another row of trees. Beyond those trees, the near abandoned street. Beyond the street, pale regiments of gravestones, soldiering a cemetery.

"Here's fine," Bella says, when she judges it so, stopping her up-until-now purposeful and unbroken tread and turning to face Flint. Her purse remainS a talisman, clutched tightly in her hands, though she's beginning to feel the strain it puts on her arms. "Do you happen to have a knife on hand?"

Calvin is not feeling well.

Grey consciousness leads him to loll slack in the back seat, quiet as his father in the face of listed charges and supposed lineage. He does not defend himself. He doesn't say hullo, either: aloofly sullen in a way that suggests he feels his patience is being sorely tried.

He flinches when oncoming headlights strip white through the windows and returns Flint's eventual twist and peer at a red light with a level stare that lacks empathy or interest.

The feeling is mutual. There's a sift of leather on leather when Deckard rights himself and the light turns green, cigarette tabbed out the open window as he drives. Calvin is ideally situated to witness furtive glances to his right every now and again: more self-conscious about what Bella thinks about having (indubitably accidentally) borne him a time travelling bastard son than he is worried about the fact that he has a time traveling bastard son.

The youngest Sheridan sighs to himself.

Eventually, here's fine and he's stirred out of clagging half-sleep by his door being jarred open so that he can be wrested out by the crook of his elbow. Bits of displaced grass drift out after him; a trio of steel balls and a lighter are fished out of his person via patdown and tossed back down into the seat to join the semiautomatic and cell phone up front that were confiscated earlier.

He tolerates it. Unhappily, mind, baleful eyes and swelling both making him less easy to look at by the time he's finally being escorted out past the pitcher's mound. He misses his step often along the way, feet fettered by lingering wooziness and a touch of nausea.

Flint's doesn't drag him. He just doesn't wait up, either, taller, rougher and rangier in the scruff of his hair and the jut of his smoke when he reaches to pry the fold of his knife off his belt. Yup.

"Wonderful," Bella says, setting her purse down and rolling her shoulders loose before clapping her hands together, once, like she's about to get to work, "convenience itself."

Her hand looks a little delicate when she takes hunting knife, part product of it's natural smallness, part the result of her slightly ginger handling. Her fingers settle into the contours of the grip, a process that actually takes some conscious effort for her. It doesn't take that long, though, and soon she's turned to face Calvin, feet drawing together heel to heel as she regards him.

"I had some naive hopes for civility at the start of this," Bella lets Calvin know, for his edification, "I certainly didn't expect it, and prepared accordingly, but I did at least hope." She shrugs, helpless. What can you do?

"I can't begin to imagine what sort of fucked up this is on your end," she admits, "and it's not exactly making my top ten experiences either. And I am sorry for whatever it is about me that contributed to making you whatever you are now," and she doesn't sound scornful or snide; she's uncommonly grave, "but I wish to make one thing abundantly clear:

"I will not tolerate mistreatment of myself or anyone I care for, not if I have any choice. We all put up with enough shit without someone like you inserting yourself into our lives."

She will not gesture with the knife. Bicep taut to prevent any accidental gesticulation. Prone to it when she gets too worked up. She mustn't get too worked up.

"I am willing to call this even, to declare armistice, on one condition. Leave us alone. All of us. Go back to whenever you came from, or cease to exist, or just move to Seattle - I do not care. I will even wish you well. But go."

A dribble of blood has stained the previously crisp white of Calvin's dress shirt down the front under his coat. A less lecherous splash of color than the smudge of violet still saturated deep into his collar. This is weird. This is a weird experience to be having, he decides, gaze half-heartedly attentive while Bella wields the knife and makes stipulations to the baseball field. Orange dirt.

Flint's grip is iron clad at his tricep, holding enough of his weight that it's possible for him to straighten himself out somewhat, beleaguered dignity still intact. Posture is important. He sniffs as his focus wanders off sideways into left field. Impolite. Stuffy sinuses. Not Listening.

Deckard is paying more attention to his knife than he should be, brow hooded and eyes pitted bright in his skull. It is a nice knife. He keeps it clean and sharp, save maybe for a few persistent granules of dry blood and rust worked in around the screws. Other things he seems periodically interested in include the length of Calvin's hair and the eye makeup he's wearing — there's some tell-tale dimming about his eyes when he investigates each between stretches spent picking at his bones. Eventually, he agrees in his silence and in his conspicuous shift of interest away from them both that this is kind of weird.

It's that same falter and fail of Flint's attention span that marks the length of time Calvin hasn't said anything as an answer in itself. One that sounds a bit like, 'Fuck you.'

She's not so disconnected from some sense of normalcy that she can't sense the awful sham of this. How it came to this is mostly beyond her. Resolution is all she's after. Resolution that doesn't involve corpses.

Flint is not looking at her when she looks at him, confirming the worry that occasioned the glance in the first place. It discomfits her to know she can feel shame in front of Flint, but so it goes. This night needs to end. All of this just needs to end.

"Your consent is not required," Bella says, voice tight as she tries to keep down another spike of emotion - she's not entirely sure what this was to be, only felt the cliff's edge sensation, the sinking in her stomach, "those are the terms. If you violate them-" she closes her eyes for a moment, opens them again, needing that time without him in her vision to assemble the words she then speaks, "I will be as vengeful as I deem necessary."

Bella twirls her finger in the air. "Turn around."

"Seattle it is," says Calvin, finally and without enough courtesy to lie decently. He isn't going anywhere. Except, maybe, a slow one hundred and eighty degrees around to show her the stiff arch of his back and his hands bound up behind it.

Flint releases him in the process, guard sloughed enough for him to tie up his hands with checking the time on his phone. He does not seem overly concerned about the possibility of Bella trying to plant his knife in the back of their space kid's skull, but he does angle a glance down after it as if to check she isn't going to lop any of her own fingers off somehow.

Calvin stares down home plate.

It pains her a little to cut her own belt, she feels just a little stupid even, but the knot is much too tight - she wanted to make sure he didn't get free. Still, Bella applies the blade and saws through the material. First it frays, then tears, then snaps apart, falling to the ground in a shallow heap. She steps back, the blade held out to Flint. She's done with it now, and no fewer fingers for it.

Bella considers Calvin for what she would very much like to believe is the last time. Claiming no knowledge of the future, at least not as it stands now, she can't be certain of anything that is to come. Hope lives on, however.

Bella swishes a hand. Shoo.

It's difficult not to wince once the last bit falls free and circulation clogs back through bony wrists and across the backs of his hands. Disinclined to give her the pleasure, he grinds his teeth instead, left to get his bearings on his own under the watchful eyes of mum and dad.

He can see the shadow of her shoo without having to turn and face her.


He is shood.


There's a hangdog quality to his retreat, tail hunkered down if not quite between his legs when he shifts into a compliant shuffle and weave.

A beat passes and Flint straightens up from hiding in his cell phone too late to do much about the passenger side door that's wrenched from its hinges and slung aside with a gesture so that Calvin can collect his things. He tenses at Bella's side instead, reluctant (for once) to go snapping off to the end of his chain while the door is still cartwheeling divots in a broken line across the playing field. Then, after a few seconds more, he slants a dubious look down after her middle.

Bella just closes her eyes, tearing the sound of clattering metal out of context, making nothing of it. And it's not like it's her car. It's not like it's Flint's either. Her hands clasp before her, fingers curling until she feels each crescent of her nails.

It's fine. The evening will be over soon. And she can go about disappearing herself. Anything worth doing, after all.

She reaches for Flint's arm blind - in the chilly evening air she can better judge where he stands by the heat of him. Or maybe that's a delusion. Maybe it's something else. Maybe she's lucky. She loops her arm around his.

"I'd like to go home," she says, in tone half hushed, "I need to pack my things anyway."

The wagon's skeleton creeches shrill into the night; a tire splits and hisses itself ragged as the rest of the vehicle jolts low on its haunches.

Flint watches for longer than he should, the disembodied door long since ceased its rocking in right field when he says, "Okay," quiet and low and turns to ease her off in the opposite direction. His adjoining arm flexes to draw her closer into him, comfortable despite earlier insinuations of unease, capacity for smoothing over disconcerting detail willfully broad. At least for tonight.

A fire picks up at their backs after a while spent walking, distant enough that its waver at surrounding shadow is negligible.

"Hold on-" Bella says, stopping and leaning over, hand still tethered to him as she dips down to pick up her purse, having to heft it into the crook of her elbow one-handed. It bumps against her hip, and she gives a slight grimace, but nothing more, falling back into step. The turf is soft underfoot. Bella feels muddy, bedraggled, though she isn't really much of either.

The sound of the blaze would probably be covered by the cars if New York wasn't aetherized and slipping. With the trees making dark vaults up ahead, and the stars much more visible now that everything shuts down so early, Bella is reminded of her camp days. Unwillingly reminded; the thought of childhood makes her feel queasy now, for some reason. Edit: thought of her childhood. Is what she meant.

"I've been- distracted," Bella says, once the knitting of leaves block out the sky, "out of sorts. I- checked. I missed- maybe five pills. Just five," the shake of her head is so slight, it's almost a tremor, "But I need to be more present, more- responsible. I'm- I'm sorry if I've been- difficult or-" the further she gets the more it sounds like she's straining, the stride of her speech wading deeper into water.

"I don't seem to manage so well on my own anymore. Not- when things are like this. I can live in a hole, I know that for sure now. I just- can't live alone," her eyes slant up to him, "not this much, at least."

"Easy is boring," says Flint, who stops when she stops and walks when she walks, eyes animal rings in the industrial gloom of a city that sleeps. He can't see the stars the way she sees them with his ability switched on and pays the trees pressing in little heed, shoulders slack and pace dimly unhurried. He has been taking all of his pills.

Which is something they will have to talk about later.

Before her prescription pad dries up.

For now, though, he is content to plod along towards the park's more mangled southern half while she frets and he doesn't. "We can have other people to live around, with the Ferry." And they can, depending upon where they're situated and under what conditions. Somehow it seems more likely than not, what with the average amount of trust vested in them both. Flint kicks a pine cone ahead of him. "Our neighbors will all think we're out to murder and experiment on them, though."

So there is that.

"But they won't be allowed to hurt us!" Bella stands on this point like she's a guard in a castle tower, complete with barbarian siege, "and really, it's amazing how proximity can improve people's opinion of you," now for Flint's edification, "if you can be at least minimally cordial. Or just civil."

She's stepped a little closer, and there's a little bit of a lean - she's letting him carry some of her weight. "You can be civil, right? No- immediate fisticuffs?" her gaze goes investigative, trying to suss out an answer, or at least some hypothesis on it, "we can always just make sure to avoid certain people. People from whom you might be estranged."

"I'm minimally cordial to you."

Against the odds, the gas tank goes; there's a miniature mushroom cloud and enough of a shockwave to rustle leaves in the trees because this is fiction and in fiction there are mushroom clouds when station wagons explode. Somewhere in the distance, Calvin is doubtless walking away from it without looking back, as badasses do.

More relevantly, orange touches at a flash through tangled branches and Flint stifles a sigh before she can hear it. Some things are hard to ignore even when you are variably stoned 24/7.

Still. He keeps walking.

"I'll be nice if you will."

The explosion thrums in her ears and she has an airy moment in which she can decide to sink or float. The grim percussion of the 2011 Overture. Gearing up for the end of days. But no, she'd really rather not go there right now. Right now, she wants to go home.

So her smile looks a little painful, a contortion of lips that want to thin. Her weight lifts from his arm as she sets it back on her feet, even. "Minimally," she concedes, the shift in tone accompanied by the sound of shoes finding pavement again. Bella pauses and clacks her heels, four times each, to free a little bit of the dirt from them.

"And I'm very nice," she adds, a belated defense, "when people are nice to me."

"They won't be," says Deckard, whose smile is a rarer and subtler thing. A twitch at the corner of his mouth and a turn at his brow. He watches her clack her heels and reaches, at length, to wrap his free hand around the brick she has in her purse so that he can carry it.

After a few minutes he lets it fall by the wayside with a stout clap, because.

It's a brick.

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