Effing Love



Scene Title Effing Love
Synopsis Raquelle comes home after the gutpunch of a day he's had, to share the news with the other half of his heart. Bolivar has some phonecalls to make.
Date April 29, 2019

Bolivar and Raquelle's Home

This is where they live.

Raquelle stumbles through the front door, late…late in the evening, fumbling slightly with his keys in the lock before closing it ‘quietly’. He did call to tell Bolivar to expect Ellen, Cooper’s daughter, to arrive to help with the girls. No jokes, just that too calm and flat. A sign that something is wrong.

He slides to a seated position against the front door, back resting against the door and his elbows resting on his knees as he holds his face in his hands. He smells vaguely of vodka and there’s the scent of cigarettes on him as well. He gave up smoking years again, but seems today he’s started again. It’s been a long day.

Bolivar is in the kitchen. He is cooking! Kind of. Mostly he's making chicken noodle soup, in the soup part of the stage, which requires absolutely no further input from him for the next forty minutes or so. His current active process is: leaning on the kitchen counter, telling his dog that he had to turn off the television because she's ruining her eyes, but mostly thinking to himself, I watch too much TV now. My eyesight isn't what it used to be. Conveniently ignoring, you know, his advancing years…

…and now his fiancee is coming home! Bolivar, his dog who he's talking to, and the third dog in the bedroom all perk up simultaneously, straightening their necks on their stems and coming up onto their feet. Ten feet immediately march into the living room at the same time, pouring through the tight squeeze of the doorway. Simultaneously also, they realize something is wrong. Some cigarette smell is to be expected, because this is post-war New York City, everybody has their vices. But it smells fresh on Raquelle, as does his sad.

"Raquelle?" Bolivar comes to take his fiancee's coat, even as the dogs start to smell Raquelle's knees for clues. "What's wrong?"

The familiar scent of cooking and home, ground the exhausted hairdresser and he reaches out reflexively to offer pets and scritches to the dogs that approach. But there’s not sweet talking and declarations of how beautiful or handsome they are. Raquelle raises his bloodshot eyes, his eyeliner a bit smudged. He offers a weak smile and shrugs out of his leather jacket. But, he doesn’t offer it over. He just takes a deep breath.

“My papa - my dad. He’s uh. In town.” Raquelle sniffs. His father isn’t someone he talks about often. Bolivar has been privy to the occasional phone call or video chat over the years. But it’s mostly been his mother though. “Yep. Came to tell me that he gave my mother cancer because he has a special ability too but didn’t know, and it's like radioactive or whatever.”

He falls quiet and just sighs, stretching out a leg and shaking his head. “Sorry baby. I meant to be back sooner.” He offers another weak smile and rubs a hand over his face.

The dogs don't understand that this is news with a big N, so they continue mill about in a charming confusion, wagging tails and expressing concern in their low-high dog voices. Their master, on the other hand, is immediately surprised. "Your dad is what?" he repeats, with a mild emphasis on what? He puts up Raquelle's coat hastily, a little messily, one shoulder definitely going up higher on the slope of the hanger than the other. "Don't fuckin' apologize."

Despite the swear words, there's something gentle about Bolivar's voice. He wraps his tiny hand, the scarred one, around Raquelle's. Pulls him toward the dining table. He is of Latin American descent, of course, and while the soup isn't nearly done, he is absolutely in the mode to use food to comfort. But first, he must install his fiancee in a chair and sit in the one beside him, refusing to release the other man's hand for the moment. Studying Raquelle's pretty face. "Is your mom going to be okay?" he asks. "Did they catch it in time?"

Despite Bolivar's involvement in the war, he always defaults toward mundane concerns. Health ones, especially. Nothing trumps death itself, or the prospective loss of loved ones.

Allowing himself to be guided to the table, Raquelle just slumps in the chair. He brings their joined hands up to kiss the back of Bolivar’s scarred hand before just leaning forward to rest his forehead against his free hand, elbow resting against the table to keep him propped up.

“The Senior Cambria, showed up at the shop.” He confirms softly. “And you know before Eltinghell and everything how she went back to Japan to be with him and uh.” He huffs out a breath. “Baby he showed up with this bracelet with his ability classification level on it and he’s on blockers or whatever the shit ever.” His brow furrows as he searches Bolivar’s features almost desperately holding on to a visual he is comforted by. “Radiation? How the fuck is that something you just have…and nobody picks up on it? Being with him, exposed her for an extended period of time and so…heh.”

Oh, the question. Will she be okay? Shoulders rise and fall as he just kisses the back of Bolivar’s hand again. “It's far gone enough that the ‘treatment’ that may help is a bone marrow transplant. He can’t do it because he’s damn microwave so he worked out a deal…to get here. To talk to me.” His jaw twitches as he grinds his teeth together. Tearing up again, rolling his eyes in the irritation of getting emotional again.

There's a long stretch of quiet as Bolivar tries to put together the pieces. There are quite a few of them. Radiation! Powers. Estranged parents in Japan, dealing with Japanese Evolved politics, which Bolivar suddenly wishes he knew more about, though he does recall it's pretty fucking bad. Cancer. He used to be so very skeptical of the Evolved, before learning that so many of them were not nearly as powerful as the media would like you to think, nor inclined to abuse their powers, as susceptible to stereotyping as any other demographic.

And what are you supposed to think about that, when your father made your mother ill with that ability? Unimaginable. But nobody checks their partner for radiation emission.

"They want you to give her your bone marrow?"

Bolivar wants to make sure he understands this right. His scarred fingers curl gently over the back of Raquelle's hand, nervous, but careful not to pit his fiance's skin with fingernail marks. "Is that what I'm hearing?"

Another sniffle and wrinkle of his nose as Raquelle huffs out a breath. Its a lot for him to process still. His brain hurts and his voice is tired. Its not a muscle but his voice is tired. He gently squeezes Bolivar’s hand again and sighs softly. “I guess so. I mean, he came all the fuckin’ way from Japan, being paid by Yamagato industries or something.”

He worries his bottom lip, glancing towards the stairs and making sure to keep his voice down as he leans forward a bit meet Bolivar’s gaze. “He started talking about how he could get me to Japan if I allowed myself to be registered on their evolved registry because my ability isn’t apparently ‘dangerous’.” He blinks, there is nothing to throw or knock over but there’s tension in his body as he trembles slightly. “My girls couldn’t come because they haven’t manifested. You…”

He swallows hard. “I don’t ever want to leave what we have here, what we’ve built again. I’m not strong enough for that mi amor. So, gonna try to get her here.”

His voice finally breaks as he asks. “How…how does he, how could he…” He just shakes his head and falls quiet as his ability leaks slightly, wrapping his words in a blanket of exhaustion and sadness.

To be honest, Bolivar doesn't know. He can't imagine doing what the older man did, but he does have the sense that most of it wasn't intentional. It's not something he knows how to talk about, despite that he went through it himself, sort of. He hated the Evolved for the longest time because of how badly he was hurt, the life that had been taken from him. It had been a long and strange journey to this dining table, here.

"If she's safe to travel, I think it'd be great to have her here. She could meet her grandkids, too. They'd love it." Bolivar tries to be gentle, when he says If. If she can't come here, what then? He imagines that Raquelle will have to go, even if for a short time, for the transplant. Only for a short time. That's his narrative and he's fucking sticking to it. But it would be better by far if she could come to the United States, and he's not willing to gamble against his preferred outcome.

Bolivar hesitates. He reaches over and passes his fingers gently through his fiancee's hair. "What do you mean when you're saying, 'How could he?' I'm not going to judge you, Quelle. But you should say it, and not keep it in."

The hairdresser takes a deep breath and then another as he works his way through the conversation that’s in a loop in his head, blinking to focus on Bolivar. His bottom lip trembles slightly before he catches it between his teeth to stop the shaking and he doesn’t want to put words to his feelings. This is not a new thing. For such an expressive individual, he doesn’t like to share too much of his own troubles. But for some..like Bolivar, he tries.

“Graduations, birthdays, birth and adoption of his grandchildren, tragedy, kidnapping, relocation, fucking war…” Raquelle starts listening things off, pausing from time to time unclench his teeth as the heat of years of disappointment is slowly building up inside of him. “For once, for a second, just for a moment when I saw him and I wrapped my arms around him. I thought he finally decided that it was worth it.”

He blinks away a few tears that decided to make an appearance. “But no. He’s here because of this shit. So how could he, ask this of me and admit that it would probably mean me leaving the family I built here to go help the family I’ve been separated from for years over there?” He exhales slowly to avoid a sob. “I mean, no that was a stupid ass idea and I’ve got some friends looking into how to get her to the states. But here’s the thing. If we get her here, and he has to go back? She is not…going to want to stay. So.” His nose wrinkles as he leans towards Bolivar’s touch. “I know its not his fault, but I am so fucking pissed and I don’t want to be.”

IT'S KIND OF HIS FAULT, Bolivar wants to say. He knows it shouldn't be the most peace-keeping thing to say, though, so…

"It's kind of his fault."

Well, Bolivar will always be Bolivar. Sue him. He nods his understanding. By now, the soup that's cooking in the kitchen is wending its way through the air, savory and rich, the scent reaching toward them here in the living space, but his appetite isn't exactly what it was fifteen minutes ago. Not gone, just suppressed for the moment as he mulls things over in his head. He realizes, with a pang, that he hasn't convinced his parents to come here and see the kids either. That might be accounted for by any number of things, not the least of which is war. There was a time that North Carolina wasn't so far away; a direct flight, a road trip. But the infrastructure of the United States isn't what it used to be, and Bolivar had never been forthcoming with his parents; he had pulled away long ago, long before he killed that child, then moreso after he got burned. And that had been his decision. His parents had always let him down.

He makes himself focus. Raquelle's family, not his, for now. (Never mind they're one and the same, technically. Or will be, once they're wed.) "I know this is fucking impossible," Bolivar says. "I know there's a part of you that wants to see exactly how it'll turn out before you make a choice. But that's also fuckin' impossible. If she just gets to spend a few months here, see the girls, then that's — I think that's better than never. If you have to go there a few months," are you sure it's going to be okay? Bolivar's eyes narrow. He's going to Google the shit out of this, brb. "It's a few months. Better than never.

"We can plan what we can, but you also gotta live in the moment with this shit, Quelley. Half 'cause there's no win-win, and half because it's… fucking. Love."

This is as sentimental as Bolivar Rodriguez-Smith ever gets.

The sound of Bolivar’s voice, the feel of Bolivar’s hand, the smell of that food is for Raquelle a sensory grounding. There’s a soft chuckle that morphs into a bit of a cough at Bolivar’s feelings on where fault actually lies. The hairdresser just sniffs and nods with a ‘heh’. Because it is true.

This is their family, in Raquelle’s head the ‘my, I, mine’ shifted to ‘us, We, and ours’ automatically even before the day Diana added ‘I love you second daddy’ in a letter to Bolivar during the war. That is why it tugs at Raquelle’s heartstrings to even think about being separated again. “Fuck baby…” He huffs out. “I know.” He admits. “I…know. I don’t like it but I know.” Because his better half is correct.

Then he just blurts out. “When she does get here, at least we’ll have another witness for me making an honest man out of you.” Its as spontaneous/rushed as his initial proposal. Setting a date sort’ve? Or actually putting a timeline. “Might be a rush to get both families together but, we might not get a better chance.” He gives a small nod, looking up almost shyly. “No win-win, but…we’ll focus on the /fucking/ love.”

Is that firm then? Mrs. Cambria will be joining them State-side? Bolivar isn't sure he's following the probabilities or state of her health properly, and after that, a delayed realization is — right. Raquelle is trying to organize a wedding. That's a thing they have been trying to do for some time, as a matter of fact. "My parents?" Bolivar repeats. "Sure."

Fucking love, right. "Anything you want." It's not that he minds, it's just that his own relationship with his parents holds the exact opposite charge of Raquelle's. Absence has made the heart more indifferent, which was its own kind of balm, considering how badly the divorce and the cultural dynamics therein had injured him, his sense of self, growing up. But there are a lot of things that Bolivar wants for his future husband, and a wedding is just one of those. "I'll call 'em," he promises. "I was going to call them," he amends himself; this isn't the first time they've spoken of it. "But I'll tell them it's really important because we're all going to be there."

Are we? Bolivar still isn't sure. He doesn't want Raquelle to leave, but suddenly certainly flashes hot in his gut. "I'll tell them they have to come," he decides, putting aside his uncertainty, forgetting himself for the moment, as 'you have to come' is a profoundly non-traditional wedding invitation. Fuck that. It's family. He knows what that means now. Even if his parents don't share that — and sometimes people just don't, Bolivar is confident he won't regret the trying. "I'll call 'em tonight. It'll be ready for you. Tentative date's still the fall?"

Even knowing your tentatives is better than nothing at all, when it comes to wedding planning.

Timelines are hard and they have been trying to set a date for years. So Raquelle just worries his bottom lip again and exhales softly. “Sure.Tentative date’s still the fall. But if they get her here sooner than that then maybe we’ll just do a small private thing with family before um, before the procedure.”

He doesn’t comment on the ‘was going to call them’ he just quirks an eyebrow. “If it all goes tits up then we’ll just elope but for now…lets try to bring the families together.” He huffs softly and glances towards the stove and then back to Bolivar. “I’m gonna wash this smell off of me.” Cigarettes and rain. “And then, eat as much as your cooking as I can without getting sick.” He reaches out to cup Bolivar’s cheek. “Fucking love, right?”

"Fucking love," Bolivar agrees, not the least bit flustered that his swearing is as usual and always, a bit out of hand. This is the kind of time that warrants it. People coming back from the dead. Potentially having to talk to his asshole mom and dad too. His mom's asshole new husband. (He might not be an asshole, Bolivar doesn't know.) "Okay. You sit here, I'm gonna bring out the soup. Should be ready enough."

It maybe had another fifteen minutes, but the difference won't be too great; the carrots not as soft. But Raquelle seems like he's in the mood to bite something today, to feel something resist then give under his teeth, even if just for an instant. Worse things that carrots that are textured like carrots. It doesn't take long for Bolivar go to into the kitchen, produce a bowl, transfer the contents of the pot into it. Spoon, fork. Then after an instant's hesitation, a beer. It's like, one beer. Two beers, actually, he decides after that. Worse sins than needing a drink with his fiancee.

Bolivar comes back to the table. Slides the tray across to Raquelle, the soup wobbling richly in its container.

"Let's play a game," Bolivar says. He never used to play a game, but falling in love has improved upon his character in more ways than one. He started this particular exercise during the war. Bolivar opens both beers. "Name one problem that'd be better to have than this decision, and one that's worse."

Staying put instead of insisting he be allowed to go freshen up or fix his face, it is another sign of not only his fatigue but else how much he trusts and is comfortable around Bolivar.

By the time the soup is served he has slumped a bit more comfortably in that chair and makes a playful gimme hand at the appearance of beer. He leans forward however, spoon wielded to dig in to the meal set before him. Listening and nodding along with the idea of playing a game.

But that question right there? Makes his blood run even colder and his heart wants to stop due to all the horror scenarios he can think of. But he exhales at the idea of something better. A few slurps from the bowl of his spoon and he finally answers. "One better decision would be whether or not to wear white at my wedding. I think I would be struck by lightning. One problem would be worse to have…eh, probably the safe zone no longer being safe."

He points with the spoon. "Your turn, by the way had I not already proposed? This soup is so good would propose again just for the chance to have you make me more soup."

"Well, shit, I should've made you more soup," says Bolivar, even though his own memory sticks and hurts with the thought of how his fiancee had proposed to him. It had been one of the best and absolute worst days of his life. He had never experienced such fear before, he thought; not even as he caught fire and fell through empty air, the Bomb having ripped the midbelt of New York City. He remembers how empty and quiet the home had been, and the tinktink of the ring clicking against the tags on his dog's collar. Bittersweet, but turned sweeter with time.

Maybe this news, about Raquelle's dad, will be just like that someday. Five years time, they'll all be laughing around a table big enough to hold the whole family.

"Better problem," Bolivar says, thoughtfully. "How to coerce my fiancee into giving me a footrub for longer than five minutes and really work the heal, without having to talk the whole time or negotiate about sex acts." He is still a somewhat taciturn fellow, you know. And enjoys sex. Footrubs are unfortunately, not sexy; just good. "Worse problem, if I actually got sick again. Or you, or the kids. I think I'm mostly over it, the Bomb, getting scared of radiation and inhaling carcinogens and bad chemicals like they were using during the war, but… I'm sorry for your mom. And glad it isn't us. Kids are growing like weeds, and even when you're feeling your worst, you could rock a stage."

There is a low laugh, the type that is filled with genuine affection and appreciative amusement but kept at a lower volume due to emotional exhaustion. He just sets his spoon down to reach over and cup Bolivar’s cheek, thumb brushing over the topography…the map of experiences past that changed this man’s life. “Alas, it is quite unfortunate that you have sexy feet, but thankfully your fiancé does not have a foot fetish and happens to be very very good with his hands…” Raquelle does wink though as he leans forward and just smiles softly.

“You’ll call your parents. We’ll host dinner for my Papa. We’ll get…my mother here and in treatment. We’ll keep our good health, keep growing and going and before we know it the girls will be grown, sitting with their own partners and talking about whatever drama we as old yet fabulous queens will be laying at their feet…”

He trails off, staring down at his bowl of soup and just nods slowly. “You give me a back rub, I’ll give you a foot rub and I’m sleeping in tomorrow. Sound like a plan?”

'Fabulous queer.' No one would have called Bolivar that particular phrase before he met and fell in love with Raquelle. And no one would have expected him to be advocating for outreach to a sad girl on the radio back then, either. Never mind calling his parents. And calling his parents isn't even one of those things he used to hiss and cuss and threaten to murder people about. It was so far off his radar that he'd never spoken of it at all. Yet here he is, saying,

"Yeah, but not before we get two cups of water and a banana in you."

Not that Raquelle is that drunk, but it's— procedure. Ritual. Tradition. Even the most non-traditional of families can have them. Bolivar leans over and kisses his fiancee on the cheek, and then he pushes his chair back, rising to his full stature. Which is not tall at all. Seeing their primary dad leave, Sorcha comes wandering up to Raquelle, filling in the temporary absence with a soft, fuzzy chin on his leg, a whimper of comfort. Sometimes, things are merely said in other languages. This family is fluent in a lot of them.

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