Feels Better


deckard_icon.gif eileen_icon.gif

Scene Title Feels Better
Synopsis Flint receives a visitor.
Date April 8, 2010

The Garden

The Garden. Basement. The cot shoved into the back corner with a bucket and a blanket kicked onto the floor.

Flint's on his side with his back curved to the stairs, left arm bent over his scruffy head to muffle out drips and rushes and skitters. The coarse grizzle of his buzz is spiny with sweat and oil between splayed fingers and cuff chain — probably in need of a trim as much as the entirety of him is in need of a shower.

Because he's been down here for around a week, now. And he smells.

He's finally eaten, but not much — a half finished plate of Something is on the floor as well as a newspaper and a book or two he hasn't messed with save for the damp novel close to the foot of the stairwell that he probably threw at somebody.

From the back he might be asleep, tattoos new and old laced across shoulder and neck around and under the off-white cling of his undershirt. On the flip side, in the shadow of his arm, his eyes bore eery blue through the musty wall a couple of feet away.

Upstairs, a door opens, shuts, locks from the outside with a pointed click as an old brass key turns and is replaced on the protruding nail from which it dangles when not in use. Footsteps next, and they aren't the heavy crush of boots on wooden stairs that a man's feet might make, but neither are they particularly slow or cautious — just feminine, their cadence familiar in the same vague way that the shadow cast across his cot is.

Eileen does not move to take a seat at the edge of Deckard's bed. Instead, she stops a meter away as if waiting for permission, a shallow basin of hot water held in her small hands with a damp towel draped over its porcelain lip. Soap and a straight razor, too. It's the closest thing to a shower that she can bring him.


The footsteps are familiar. He's gotten pretty good at estimating identity based on weight and cadence. There's no surprise to stiffen at Deckard's spine at the sound of his name in Eileen's voice accordingly. Just a kind of restless, uneasy shift in his surly rendition of the fetal position.

Gauze and the bandaging rolled over it lump awkwardly under sweat-stained cotton around the region of his (former) kidney when kinked muscles flex into a contained stretch, but he doesn't roll over and he doesn't say hello. His eyes turn off briefly, but only long enough for him to blink against the dry film settled across his corneas. Then they're on again and he sighs, long and slow. "What?"

What? doesn't translate to yes, please sit down but that's what Eileen is doing as soon as she's been acknowledged. Cot springs squeak and suddenly there's a hand at his brow, testing for a temperature. It moves to his shoulder next and clasps gentle fingers around his bicep rather than shaking him in an attempt to rouse.

There's no judgment in her tone when she speaks, and it's in the same voice she normally uses with him, soft, low and touched by a coarse, breathy accent that betrays her first nationality. Water sloshes against the sides of the basin. "Will you sit up for me?"

Not bright enough to reflect off the matte dressing of his cot or much of anything else, Flint's eyes are visible nonetheless when he tilts his head automatically after the sink of her taking a seat uninvited. Roughly in time for her hand to flatten across his forehead, where the split Logan's cane left is still healing and fresher stuff blotches blue and green down the length of his hatchet-hewn face. He's clammy and pale, too warm without being feverish enough to hint at infection.

The glance that tracks her hand down to his arm is lucid enough, meanwhile. There's a flinch of cagey muscle at his shoulder and the shaking seems to have gone out of his hands. The sickly look about him probably has to do mainly with the whole hunger strike thing. Also being shot a couple of times.

"I like my beard."

"Then I won't shave it." He doesn't have much of a say, however, in Eileen using the moistened cloth to wipe at his brow, cheeks and the scruff of which he is apparently so fond. She hasn't applied soap yet, so the fabric comes away clean instead of tacky, smelling faintly of damp cotton rather than aloe, lavender or whatever else the bar is made from. Green eyes move from Deckard's arm to his back and the outline of his dressings beneath the material of his undershirt.

Fever or no fever, there's a lot for the practitioner inside of her to be worried about. It had been different with Danko; all that mattered then was that he live to see his trial and what the Englishwoman thought would be his execution. There's a kindness behind her eyes now, solemn though it is, veiled by her lashes and flyaway strands of brown-black hair that the knot at the back of her head cannot contain even with the assistance of bobby pins. "Have they given you any antibiotics?"

The fact that he doesn't have a say evidently doesn't immediately occur to him. Unholy eyes ringed caustic in the basement gloom, Flint twists his head enough to give her what was meant to be a deterrent scowl only to catch the wash rag with his face whether he likes it or not. Nose rankled and chained wrist still twisted awkwardly back over his head and shoulder, he can't quite duck his face under his arm enough to escape the brunt of it and lacks the energy necessary to kick her off the side or the bed or otherwise give avoidance a real go anyway.

In the end he settles sorely back onto his side and submits, sulkily uncooperative in the persistent hunch of his shoulders and Genesis 4:14 to Eileen and her basin. Kindness can't be seen so much as felt, and right now it feels like a musty wash rag touching all over his face when he'd rather be under the cot than on top of it. His lack of complaint regarding withheld medication is probably pretty good indication that they are mashing all the proper pills down his throat at regular intervals.

It occurs to Eileen that if she really wanted to wash him, she should have asked someone upstairs to drug his food before she came down. She hangs the cloth back over the edge of the basin, bends at the middle, and slides it under the cot to avoid knocking it over with her foot as she brings up her leg and folds it beneath her. Fingertips trace the shape of his tattoos for lack of long hair to brush from his face, tuck behind ears or some other gesture that might convey whatever fondness has had the opportunity to develop over the last year and a half.

"Flint," she says again, but this time she doesn't give him the chance to respond to her query because it isn't one. Her hand finds the nape of his neck and settles there. "I don't want to insult you more than I already have by coming down here and treating you like a petulant child. I'm hoping that you'll forgive me for what I'm about to ask."

Not all that accustomed to being touched outside of a fight to begin with and some months out of regular practice besides, Flint tolerates tracing with a vacant kind of stillness. It's comfortable enough if not entirely benign; his breathing is slow, his back stays turned and the hood of his brow is harder than staring at a wall should require. He might be dangerous if he bothered to eat more, or sleep more, or popped fewer stitches early on, but he hasn't.

So he isn't.

Presumably. There's no tell-tale equine twitch of his ears to show he's listening despite outward signs of ignorance otherwise, but seeing as he's short on other people and things to listen to down here, the odds are pretty good he's mulling it over in the silence that stretches with a twitch of fingers on his shackled hand and a dull roll of one shoulder. The cross beneath the rest of her hand at his nape has more to say for him than he has to say for himself.

If she intended to shave his beard, Eileen is presumably in possession of a straight razor somewhere on her person, and even though the cashmere of her cardigan appears flimsy, she could be hiding it in one of the calf-high leather boots she wears on her feet, paired with sheer wool stockings in black, or in one of the pockets Deckard cannot see from his position without turning his head to look and sweep his eyes over her both up and down.

Whether or not he's dangerous, she's apparently under the impression that she's capable of defending herself if the need arises. It's also no coincidence that the person on the other side of the door is leaning against it and listening intently. Not just for signs of a struggle, but to their voices too. Eileen isn't the only one who's been wanting to ask the inevitable.


The eventual, "Feels better," Flint mutters isn't an excessively detailed or even a very coherent answer, but it fulfils of the basic requirements of her question in that it is an answer and likely an honest one. The trail off where elaboration might go is indication of as much. He pulls tighter in on himself a few seconds later as well, wrist left in hazy suspension beyond the bend of his elbow at his ear where the metal cuff is less inclined to yield to his reclusiveness than virtually everything else about the setting.

She feels him tense under her hand, muscles growing taut, and rather than pull away to give him space Eileen splays her fingers across the back of his neck, her touch cool in comparison to the heat seeping through his own skin. Her mouth is close to his ear, but not so close that he can feel her breath or feel the vibrations of her voice, but close enough that she doesn't have to raise it above a whisper to be heard. "Come work for Raith with me," she murmurs. "It doesn't pay, but you'll have your own space and no one there is going to judge you for doing what makes you feel good as long as you're doing it to the right people."

Cold sweat races up the ridge of Deckard's spine and damps at the bristly hairs standing at the back of his neck — undeniable physical excitement at the prospect of being anywhere other than strapped to a cot in the Garden's basement. His respiration even picks up until he pinches it off with a held breath and curls in on himself tighter still, lurid eyes shut against the pull of stitches at his back and middle. The overall impression is approximately LALALALALA without benefit of him literally plugging his ears, with tension wrought in knots across his shoulders and back.

"I'm not offering you a job, Flint," Eileen says. "I'm offering you a home. A family. I won't lie — it's hard. We're barely scraping by with what little we have, but I want you there. Teo wants you there." She doesn't go as far as to rub his back, though Deckard can maybe sense the temptation in her hands, the overt desire to touch, hold, comfort. Of these things, she does only the first and lightly now that he's withdrawing further in response to her overture. "Come be with us. Let me help."

Nothing like prominantly pissing your psychological pants in front of everyone that matters. Friends, colleagues. Even his sister's likely to hear about this sooner or later.

It takes time for him to smother down the razor edge of resilient tension on his own. The fact that it hurts helps; it's almost a relief once he's caved enough for the bite of stitching into his back to yield away from pulling. Hard to tell why, meanwhile. The turn of gears back and forth inside his brain is largely indecipherable. What little she can see of his expression maintains its distracted distance and the glow of his eyes (or not — they seem to be off, now) has no bearing on his tone. "Teo's dead."

He's had too much time to think since he's been down here, and probably too much time before he was brought down at all. "I'm not going to get better."

"I don't expect you to. We are what we are." Which is dead, apparently, at least in Teo's case. Eileen isn't sure what that makes the rest of them if Deckard is choosing to look at the world in absolutes. "If killing makes you feel better, then we'll find you people to kill. You're not the only one with a problem, and you're not the only one who doesn't feel like there's a solution."

Another thing that she doesn't expect is an immediate answer other than no, which is why — after briefly touching her forehead to the back of his skull — she finally draws away and rises from the cot, opting to leave the water basin and cloth under it in case he changes his mind about bathing later. "I'm not doing this because I feel sorry for you. I'm doing it because I don't want to wake up one day and find you gone from my life when you're one of the reasons I still have it."

Deckard doesn't say no. Unfortunately, he doesn't say much of anything else either. Right hand crawled up around his side to touch carefully after rolled bandaging, he eventually rests it over the back of his neck. Up under the suspension of his left hand to cover the vacancy left behind by Eileen's touch.

After that he's still, not too different from a kid who stole someone else's lunch sitting obediently with his nose in the corner. Only he's stolen more than lunch, and he's been there thinking about what he's done for days.

Eileen's footsteps on the stairs announce her departure in lieu of words, and it's not because she feels she's wasting her breath. There's just nothing else for her to say. A brisk knock at the door at the top of the stairs has the key turning in the lock again, and as she crests the threshold, the Ferry operative on the other side voices a quiet inquiry but receives no verbal response.

It shuts again, and apart from the stagnant smell of soap, floorboards creaking overhead and the misty vapour rising from the basin under the bed, he is alone again.

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