Disastrously Spectacular


isis2_icon.gif sable_icon.gif

Scene Title Disastrously Spectacular
Synopsis Some reunions are echoese of the past… and the future.
Date July 22, 2019

Cat’s Cradle

The room is large, a mid-sized stage with tattered curtains hanging around it and two spotlights that face it. There were a number of mismatched theatre seats arranged in a half-circle facing the stage, a long dark purple rug running through the middle of them. A chandelier that is sometimes on and only lights up halfway hangs in the center of the room. Even when music is not being performed people congregate around the stage, drinking or smoking. A 420 Friendly sign hangs near a mirror hung up behind the bar.

The bar area has a few mismatched chairs and boxes for chairs. A lone armchair is placed near the bar, the owner usually occupies it when she is in. The bar is a bunch of wood and steel welded together and repurposed as a bar, there is a black glass that is fitted around the middle of often smear from people’s knees and boot heels. A really old television set with a VHS player sits behind the bar propped up on a stand. The bar is as well stocked as you can get nowadays, there’s even an exotic alcohol or two rumored to be under the bar. A modest grill stands in the corner right next to the bar, nothing fancy just greasy food.

In the corner of the room near the stage and it’s green room door is another door that is usually locked.

Monday work blues has the bar visited by those irresponsible enough to try and cling to the last vestiges of the weekend despite the looming workday some hours away. Maybe it’s the freedom from the heat, the cool rain still spitting off and on and promising relief, that sends the small crowd of fun-seekers out into the evening, some of which have found their way to Cat’s Cradle.

Isis is in the middle of helping one man off a barstool and over to a worn-out booth in the corner. “Aright, Horhey…” She unloops George’s arm from over her shoulders and the man flops unceremoniously onto his back along the bench seat. “Come on, now.” She a few pats and tugs encourages him to roll on his side. She kicks a small trash bucket under the table to sit at appropriate projectile range below his head. “I’ll be back with some ice water in a bit.”

A small group turns as she loops back behind the bar, one of them a tall and dark-haired woman leaning in with a drink in hand. “You’re too good to him.” Isis flashes a tilted smile. “It’s what I live for. And, well, he could keep this bar afloat himself as long as we keep him from death by alcohol poisoning. So, don’t go ruining my rep - it’s purely self-interest.” The woman laughs light-heartedly and goes back to chatting up her pals as Isis pulls a few clean glasses out of the rinse bin and sets them up to dry.

The working man’s blues persist, even past near-apocalypse. A comfort, however, cold, that some things don’t change. Monday energy has that desperation, and it’s a rarified vibration, the kind of thing you only get if you’re there in the midst. Servers get it, as do taxi-drivers and transit employees on the graveyard shift. It’s something you draw on or rise above, lest it drag you down.

Plus if you don’t work a 9-to-5, you can afford to take it in like a tourist. Or like an artist, if you have a propensity for pretense. The laconic black jeans and jacket the slight, wiry woman wears don’t betray much either way; she doesn’t look like she’s angling for a spotlight, but plenty of hermits and ascetics take themselves very seriously. The eyes though - a lupine yellow that gleam beneath shaggy black bangs - must bely something or other. If those are contacts, they’re a hell of a choice, and she’s aware of the effect they can have. When she bellies up to the bar, all on her lonesome, she doesn’t say anything. She just stares, trusting the intensity of the look to catch even fleeting attention. And maybe, just maybe, affording herself a little time to take in the bartender.

A twitch of attention passes from hazel eyes to those amber. A habitual, “I’ll be right with-…” Isis sets a drink down before another patron, as a thoughtful tension knits up high in her cheekbones…

Those eyes alone are unforgettable. The striking person and persona that accompany them even more so. When Isis turns back to the voyeur it's with a snap of her attention, as though if she did not turn quickly enough the figment might disappear entirely. But, it’s still there. She is still there. Here, rather - perched on one little stool in one little bar, some big ten years later in a big changed world…

Isis stares back in a way that suggests she is oblivious to all everything in that big scope - from the big messed world down to this little excentric bar - everything except those eyes and then… she smiles. Not the closed-lip, tilted kind of usual, but a slow and unerring pull of peach pale lips until her visage is like the still shot of a captured laugh. “You.” She finally finishes the earlier statement, but the singular word is a sentiment all its own.

“What’re you doing here?” Isis asks, inviting and curious, even as she begins to make the loop out from behind the bar, drawn steadily towards the other woman as if sludging through the years of memories that are in the way.

“What’s anyone doin’ in New York? Comin’ to see what’s still here.”

And here they are. Sable slides off the stool, thumbs hooked into her pockets. Step by steady step she’s doing her bit to span the gap of space and the gulf of years. She’s changed, a little at least. Less swagger, less flourish, less emphatic self-importance. Her smile remains wolfish, but that’s as much the eyes as anything.

“Awful pleased you remember me.” Sable cocks her head. “‘course you gotta know I never forgot you.”

The two women meet halfway about the front side of the bar. For the length of a few breaths Isis simply smiles down at the (only slightly) shorter woman. Studying. Where Sable seems to have safely tucked away the ‘swagger’, it would appear that her arrival only works to reinspire a certain impish mischief in the auburn haired bartender - the tilted quality of a smile, the spark in hazel eyes, the telltale ripple-like fidget of pale fingers down by her thigh.

A groan from George’s corner seems to be enough to pull her from the hypnotic depths of nostalgic memories long since passed. The bartender glance that away briefly to check on the patron, but quickly reverts her attention to Sable.

“You can’t honestly think I’d have forgotten. I doubt you manage to get away without leaving a lasting impression - good, bad, naughty, or otherwise - on anyone you meet.” A warm chuckle plays in her honey alto way. “You going to be sticking around the Zone long then? Can I hug you? Would that be that weird?” Smoooooooooth. Real smooth.

Sable’s always been good with body language. Doubly so when it comes to a situation like this. Casual as she’s acting, she’s at the finest ends of her nerves, her body buzzing as it reacts to the reality. The only risk of the hug would be its revealing the quickened pace of her heart. And is that really something she ought to be shy about?

Well, that and what happened before, the dizzying strangeness that changed memorable meeting into unforgettable encounter. But even given that…

“I’ll roll the dice, darlin’,” Sable says, thumbs free, arms raised, hands beckoning. “Come ‘ere.”

In all her exuberance, Isis bites her lower lip and slinks across that last invisible boundary of carefully measured ‘personal space’. Arms around Sable’s shoulders, the redhead’s pale cheek brushes along the delicate rim of the other woman’s ear - and instantly inspires a fluttering sensation along the edges of one’s consciousness.

Most attribute it to ‘butterflies’ in the stomach, but someone more familiar and more aware can sense beyond the body's false interpretation. At its heart the sensation tickles and pulls, both toying and lulling, at something that is otherwise entirely intangible - one’s very self. In this case, it can seem both unnerving and intoxicating, but altogether too brief as Isis gives a little gasp and quickly pulls away. “Sorry, I’m just…” Peachy lips draw off pursed to one side. “Well, I’m fucking excited to see you.”

Sable’s eyelids dip as the brush of skin against skin ushers in the butterfly-feeling. It is weird, she knew it might be. It was never going to stop her, not then and not now, as she lets her selfhood dance at the periphery of her body, at the place where they meet; it was a short distance to go with her senses already thrumming, already fine-tuned to the other woman’s presence. She chases feelings like these, seeks them with hunger and purpose, and this is a few of those feelings rolled up into one, all from this fleeting bit of contact.

There’s a touch of wryness to her smile as Isis draws back and she falls back into herself. Her eyes open, and though she hasn’t ordered a thing yet, the bartender has already knocked her clear off of sober. “Wouldn’t have it any other way. Hot damn.” It’s all sharper now, as well, memories tied to the state she made them in, to the well-learned if long-lost experience of contact.

“After that night… I didn’t figure… ” She shakes her head, working free of bad kind of weird that blots the night at Tartarus. The last night. She opts for this moment, the one they’re actually in, and together.

“I’m over the fuckin’ moon to see you as well, Joanne.”

“That night?” The unsteady dance of golden-flecked, hazel pupils gives away her quick flit through the nights she shared with Sable. There’s a flash of Sable on tiptoes reaching to pin a poster too high on the wall. Her favorite - the way the punky pixie woman is stretched just flatteringly so, determinedly strong and yet still in need of a little saving. Another flicker of her star-speckled gaze and recalled is an image of her hand on Sable’s waist. Another, a night where a young trio sings karaoke, but the lyrics are dull compared to their free-spirited grins. Outwardly, here and now, she smiles. And, then…

A gothicly garbed Isis stands at Sable’s back before a bar, one arm looped intimately around the smaller woman’s middle. A moment exists where they, and everything around them, seem to fit just right… before screams cloud the memory.

Something else Sable says reels her back to present earth with a jarring crash landing. Joanne. She winces. “It’s been a long time.” Only a heartbeat of silence is allowed for measuring the weight of all that time, of all that was missed or left unsaid, before Isis… Jo, rather, finds her way back to an easy smile. “What’re you having? I’ll fetch while you grab us seats, hm?”

That first impression may be the most complete; her reach has always exceeded her grasp. Sable’s own memory is more feeling than story. The moments are there if she looks, but what persists most of all is a sense of arcing, skyward momentum. And, then…

That precipitous plunge.

Not that she’s complaining. Heartbreak can serve an artist well, especially the strange and sudden. After all, her love of extremity is part of what had them arm and arm that night. What made her, and makes her, unafraid of that vivid collision.

“Whiskey,” Sable says, “splash of soda.” She eases a step closer, strengthening their binary gravity for a held moment before she pulls herself away to scout for seats. She picks out a sturdy pair of crates with a cable-spool table, standing guard over them as she awaits her companion. She’s not about to take a seat while ‘Jo’ is on her feet.

“You got it.” Jo walks backward a few paces, either unwilling or unable to take her gaze from Sable. Mayhaps, both? Her little frame can be seen cutting behind the bar, calming a few other patrons with a gesture or a word. She dips her head into a backroom, and exchange there drawing Sassy out of hiding to presumably come man the bar in her stead.

When she returns to Sable she’s double-fisting drinks with a grin that just won’t quit. She offers one out while giving a nudge of her auburn-crowned head towards the guarded table before claiming a seat. It takes her a moment to settle in, what with the staring and the drinking. But, after a warmth of booze blossoms inside her chest, she reaches out halfway across the table. Hand resting on the distressed tabletop, her body leaning in, she manages only a laugh at first - the soft chortle of pleasant disbelief. “You made it.” Through al of it. “You’re really here.” Really, that’s all that matters, but… curiosity will always win out. “Where have you been? What happened?”

Sable takes the drink, then her seat, easing down onto wooden slats and setting her elbow on the table, the glass suspended between her fingers, her eyes peering over its edge as she meets her companion’s eyes. She’s playing it as cool as she can, part of her hard-won self-discipline, but the past has rarely felt so immediate as it does now. It’s all she can do not to out and out grin. The drink helps at first, a handy prop, but after just a few sips it makes it all the more difficult to recall why she’d even bother.

The call to reflect on everything between then and now helps to temper that effervescent feeling, at least for a moment. No single night, that, no single bloom of joy or sharp bolt of pain. Instead, the long campaign. “Did my bit. Mostly shootin’ pictures ‘stead of shootin’ folks. Mostly.” A beat, a breath, serve to ellide what this entails. “After the dust settled, I hit the road, played guitar ‘n’ sang. Simple pleasures mean a lot when things fall apart, and I’m scrappy. I managed gig by gig in little places. Not a whole lot different from this one. ‘cept I dunno if any of them had chandeliers. That’s a good touch.“ She makes to glance at the crystal centerpiece, its snaggletooth illumination all reflected light right now.

Just a glance. She’s back to taking in Joanne in the very next moment. As if they both have the dreamlike concern that to look away would be to invite another disappearance. So she plays it safe, her own arm spanning her half of the spool, fingertips coming to rest close to Joanne’s- though presuming no further. “And how ‘bout you, darlin’? I’ve been wondering for a long, long time where you’ve been.”

The chance to take in Sable’s silhouette is not a lost opportunity. Jo tips her head, a few rebellious waves of garnet-gold cutting lines across the backdrop of her alabaster countenance. Whatever she finds in the intangible trace of her gaze along the contours of Sable’s face only serves to make her smile more genuine, dipped in a fresh glaze of bitter-sweet that comes from notalgia. She disguises the expression only briefly with a sip from her own glass when Sable’s vibrant gaze returns.

“I’m glad you still play.” Her middle finger twitches, uncertain at first, before brushing along the back of Sable’s matched, extended digit. It’s a brief thing and bears only the haziest sensation - a testament to the redhead's own growth, at least in terms of controlling her ability. Her touch sifts back to the table but remains outstretched, a hair’s distance away. Funny, how after all these years and uncounted miles, that the tiny span seems so close and so far at once.

“You’ve been thinking of me then.” She bobs her brows twice, a throwback expression no doubt. “I went north. Had a little cabin on the border. Took in some Lighthouse kids and others. Helped them find safety or train for…” Jo tips her glass precariously with a gesture towards the outside world, the past, the war. “It was-” She takes a deep breath, appley cheeks pressing up to narrow her eyes thoughtfully despite a smile. “Peaceful. Feels somehow rude to say it, but it was. Still, eventually, I just had to… come home.” That’s what the letter had said, right? As of yet, she’s not sure what home really entails.

After the touch, that fleeting feeling of butterflies, the hair-thin distance holds, but the current between their fingers persists, an unseen arc. It is no less a contact than to clasp hand in gloved hand, the wish and its meaning unimpeded by the barrier. In such moments, a little goes a long way- especially when it comes to Isis.

“It’s good,” Sable says, “Actually doin’ it, ‘stead of gettin’ ready and talkin’ big about doin’ it. It’s not any kinda rock-star lifestyle, that’s for sure, but if I ever thought that was somethin’ music needed, ‘r I needed from music, I shook loose that particular line ‘f reasonin’.”

If there’s even a flicker of resentment over Jo’s peaceful place on the border, Sable doesn’t let it show. Instead the erstwhile Sage of Gun Hill says, sagely: “I wouldn’t think much ‘f a philosophy that made poor manners of celebratin’ a patch of heaven in the midst of hell. If peace is as peace does, that’s a blessing. Glad you had it. Would have wished it for you.”

And so yes- “I have been thinkin’ ‘bout you,” she confirms, her smile widening, restraint easing. She’s well-pleased by the question, by the language of concern. Because it means she’s been thinking about her as well. She raises her glass. “…we oughta toast,” she observes, “but I can’t quite figure which toast it should be. Could be to reunions. Or to comin’ home. To seein’ what’s still here, or to makin’ somethin’ new.” She taps the side of her glass rather than her chin to perform pensiveness, but her grin betrays her. “Could be to pickin’ up where we left off.”

“I had almost forgotten how easy it is to be with- er, around- near… talk to you.” Her cheek dips towards her shoulder as the warmth of a blush moves to color Isis’s smile-rounded cheeks. Carefully balancing her glass, her lips pulled in an amused way pursed off to one side, she scratches at the hairline by her ear with a lighthearted chuckle. Clearly, she’s unwilling to make any use of the other hand so carefully outstretched on the table.

As the subject of a toast is spread out in variety - so many choices… The garnet-tressed woman adjusts her grip on the drink, palm cupped around the bottom and rim tilted towards Sable. She lets one pale brow rise to an inquisitive arc. “Could that happen - the latter? Do you think? Are we enough of what we were, individually?” Are they too changed?

Before Sable can answer, Isis/Jo closes her eyes and shakes her head - more vehmently than is necessary, but the reunion has clearly electrified her, revitalized a wildness inside. The motion tosses the curls about her shoulder and forces her to look through a few gossamer streams of sanguine-gold locks when she opens her eyes. “Forget I said that. I want to know more about you - old you, new you, all of you.” She gestures her glass towards Sable’s. “I’m a greedy bitch… To all of it.”

“You want me to pour out my heart, huh? You sure ‘bout that?” Sable says with a chuckle. “It’s a godawful mess, Jo. Plus it might be poor manners for me to load you up with my whole history, without tryin’ to take on some of yours.” Flatteringly put, though the flip side of this statement is that it might behoove Isis/Jo to disclose herself as well. Not, mind you, that she’s out and out asking. She’s too fond of a little mystique.

So she relents, ever ready to let Isis set the terms of contact, of self-disclosure. Important things take patience, things like trust and confidence and care. “Old me ran wild a bit, broke some hearts and caused some trouble, then tried to go right down the straight and narrow. Metaphorically-like. Playin’ house, takin’ a square job.” She shakes her head, fond indulgence of her former self. “No damn moderation. Just a hard slam on either the accelerator or the break. No wonder.” She clicks her tongue. “New me, well, I dunno. That’s somethin’ I’m workin’ on. Somethin’ I’m open to doin’ better this time around. Now I’m back home and all.”

All the while her strange eyes hold onto her Joanne, edges of her vision framing the subject of her attention: the pale face lightly flushed, the burnished copper cascade of her hair, her little motions both graceful and agitated.. “I think,” Sable says, a touch softer, “we oughta be careful. We’re surely older, can hope we’re wiser, but… well, we oughta be careful,” a caveat worth repeating, apparently, “cause I got a feelin’ we’re bound to try and find out.”

Hazel eyes offer no relief, either over the brim of a her glass or unimpeded when its set aside between sips. In that gaze it is clear - every sense of Sable is drank in - every small gesture; even twitch of soft lips towards a smile; every lilt back towards that old, long-recalled accent. Isis’s chest bubbles with a silent chuckle as her companion wraps up the audio-ography with that promising turn of phrase. “I’d like that,” she replies, the hushed nature making a coo of her smooth alto vocals.

Finally, her pinpointed gaze flits away, breaking momentarily to consider the distressed swirls in the spool tabletop. “I wanna come clean with you ‘bout something. Maybe it matters, maybe it doesn’t, but … uh… I always meant to.” Chin lowered, her gaze glides up to consider Sable from beneath the shade of gossamer, kohl-lined lashes. “I hope you believe that - I always meant to tell you.” Her fingers twitch, barely containing the urge to reach out and take Sable’s hand in her own. Barely, but just.

“My real name isn’t Joanne, or Jo. It’s Isis. Legally, anyway. I had to hide it, for reasons. I might as well be Jo now, for as long as I’ve carried on the charade, but it seems important somehow… to let you know.” Ramling. A tension she hadn’t realized was there melts out from between her shoulders, but still her visage remains subtly lowered - watching, waiting for her reunited companion’s reaction. At the last moment, the left corner of her lips ticks up with a sweetly impish quality. “But, you can call me whatever you want, m’dear.” Smooth.

Smooth indeed. The way Isis looks at her, the way Isis looks- it’s a heady enough smoke to lift her feet from the floor. And after all she’s done to try and stay grounded. “I’m startin’ to fear I’ve met my match.” Sable says, with a rueful touch. “We are either gonna be spectacular or disastrous- good chance of both.” This is a flirt, sure, but it’s also a sincere opinion. When your head is all time-tossed, it’s hard to tell the difference between red sky at morning, and red sky at night.

“Isis. I-sisss.” She uncoils the syllables from between parted lips, teeth briefly bared. The way she’d enunciate when singing, when she really wanted to be heard. “That’s a real fine name. Fits you because- of course, you’ve been wearing it all this time.” She clicks her tongue, a playful reproach “Darlin’, you think my mother named me Sable? I love collectin’ names. Think I’m liable to call you both. Think we’re likely to find more, the two of us.”

It’s then she risks just the briefest bit of contact. Little more than a tap and less than a brush. A surprise, but a swift one. And maybe she’ll see it coming.

“Sure hope they’re nice ones.”

Sable’s words are the instrument, but her voice is the fingers playing it so skillfully - a tune that slowly draws Isis forward in her seat, taking her chin gently and lifting it out of that subtle dip. “Clearly, our mother’s didn’t know what we were bound for, or they’d’ve chosen differently.”

Her gaze flicks toward that swift little gesture, a habit of hypervigilance drawing Isis’s attention towards Sable’s touch. A delicate tension forms just above her nose - the vaguest hint of confusion. Not at the touch, but what it inspires. Suddenly, Isis wants to let herself go, to slide into Sable’s skin and relive that first day. In a sharp and unexpected revelation - that her ability could be… well, intimate, as opposed to a nuisance or emergency exit. For a moment the two are suspended in Isis’s uncertainty, the world an abstract twist of insignificance as psyches hang in limbo. But, then instinct overcomes spontaneous indecision and she reels herself back into her flesh, letting Sable’s consciousness free from the hook.

Isis takes a deep, quavering breath and releases it slowly. With obvious reluctance, she guides her hand out from under Sable’s and uses it to make a show of fanning herself around the neck. “Is it hot in here suddenly?” She smiles in a playfully taunting manner. “Let’s get outta here?”

Disastrous or spectacular, Sable had said. “Disastrously spectacular…” Isis belatedly and quietly agrees.

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