Give Up


bella_icon.gif deckard_icon.gif

Scene Title Give Up
Synopsis After a spell of absence, Flint returns to the Bay House to share news, but not all of it. Bella is sorry, but doesn't sound it.
Date August 30, 2011

Jamaica Bay - Brick House

Over the past few weeks, Flint hasn't always come home.

An isolated incident one saturday night became two, three and now the fourth time he hasn't turned up before bed, boots, socks and pants shucked off sandy and smelling like piss a short ways ahead of the bathroom door. Closed. To the tune of water rushing cold through old pipes over the bed as dawn light blends from grey to blue through the window.

Quiet when he's around, and around less to be quiet.

It's not like she hasn't noticed. No fool, Bella Sheridan. That doesn't mean she's brought it up. Silence can crowd out noise sometimes, rather than the other way around, and for lack of ability to name a disease she finds herself unwilling to address the symptom. What would it profit her, anyways?

This way she gets to sleep diagonally. So- you know. That's nice.

Especially since she's been sleeping so lightly, lately, having difficulty going under, and further difficulty staying there. This requires no interpretation, is itself no secondary symptom - it's sleep and what it brings that worries her, and so like it or not, her mind resists it.

And like it or not, she comes awake as the water clatters and groans through the pipes overhead. Shifts one leg and one arm to feel about- feeling nothing. And then, just then, the consciousness of the sound that woke her. She keeps her back turned to the bathroom door for lingering seconds, head swarming with impressions, facts, conjectures, but no discreet thoughts. And, for the moment, she lets it go on like that, permitting the room to announce his presence without fussing over the implications.

Deckard's in there for longer than he should be. The prattle and wash of hard water against tiled walls goes on long after he's stepped out and into a towel to sit next to the toilet. It's alright, for a toilet. Old but clean. At a decent height to lean over and vomit into, although he doesn't until he stands up to brush his teeth.

Then he brushes them again in the shower. Shuts off the water, finally. Mouthwash. Asprin.

When he finally emerges, it's to stand dimly considering the room in its entirety. Then on to exchange towel for clean clothes. And finally, over to his side of the bed, which he sinks himself into without checking to see if she's awake. If he doesn't look, she isn't. Like magic.

This isn't the kind of mattress you'll see a an infomercial for. Wine glasses beware. The springs creak, forming a ravine that unsteadies Bella's level. She'd know he was there even if she weren't looking his way, peeking under the low dip of her lids - playing dead - his shape vague and dark, and barred with lashes.

She chooses, then, to fake waking. Drawing herself up onto an elbow, hair a mussy, ruddy mess, she betrays the duration of her consciousness by speaking a little too clearly.

"You can't-" it's roughness that makes her pause, with small cough to clear her throat, not hesitation, "you can't imagine this can continue."

If she can fake waking, Flint can fake that he hasn't heard, but only for so long before unhealthy silence gets the better of him. He rolls slowly over onto his back, stiffness owed to fresh bruises as much as it is to wherever he fell asleep the first time. There are bruises on his face to match swelling at the bridge of his nose and scabs blacked in over a split in his lip — evidence of a fight he didn't win. No bullet holes, though. And his eyes are clear when he makes himself look at her. He still has both of them. Small blessings.

Yes? says the look. …No?

"I saw Joseph," could probably stand to clarify whether or not it means in person or in my head. "He said we can go to Hungary."

She just woke up, even if she didn't just wake up. She even has sleep in her eyes. The rubbing at them so attests. Bella stays propped up, looking down at him, assessing the new scrapes and dents, the continued depreciation of the body, an investment down there with cars for return value.

It takes a few moments before Flint's words translate properly into ideas, a lag time before she echos: "Hungary?" just to make sure. A quick rifling through dust internal files on undergraduate European history - she pulls up what she thinks is a capital - Budapest. Pronounced how? Booda- Budda- -pesht -pest.

She doesn't risk a mistake. Rather she asks for a clarification, and not as to the encounter's reality.

"Who is 'we'?"

"Us," Flint 'clarifies,' blank through the long cut of his face beneath her. Is there some other 'we?'

There was supposed to be a buildup to this, he realizes belatedly, fuzzily aware that he is already tilting off track. "I need the pills I was on," apropros of nothing and everything comes next; his next breath falters, exasperated, fleeting panic bitten stiff across his chest to clamp at his lungs. "I'm sorry."

Well shit, Joseph could mean Flint and himself - removing her from the equation seems far from improbable. Saving Deckard's soul in a grand gesture of homosocial romance - coming from the soft faced pastor, she'd hardly be surprised.

But no, we're on the straight and narrow here. For all that Bella had rancor in reserve, she's pre-emptively mollified with each statement Flint makes. Affirmation of 'us', check. Acceptance of a need for medication, check. Apology for- for however he's wronged her, the specifics aren't necessary, really it's just the attitude she's after. Suppliantial.

"Let's," Bella says, setting a hand on the drawn cage of his chest, "New York isn't the town it used to be."

Joseph may go too. He hadn't clarified, had he? An awkward conversation for another day — Bella's ready acceptance of Hungary as an alternative catches him slightly off guard, even if it shouldn't. He'd jumped at the offer without being able to place it on a map, nevermind having any idea of the climate or local demographic population.

"I dunno when," he admits an uneasy beat later, ribs still locked rigid despite her touch, or because of it. "I dunno when we can go."

Maybe what Benji Ryans wants from them is to all work together, to prevent the terrible future they witness when they close their eyes and seek escape from the terrible present they live in. Maybe the answer would be for Bella to throw herself whole heartedly into good works, to embrace the Ferry and seek redemption through a life - however short - of valiant service. You know. Be the change she wants to see in the world.

Then again, after a couple months of immersion, Bella thinks she could probably learn at least enough Hungarian to get by.

"We'll need time anyways. Need something to go on. Ca-," she catches herself in a yawn, which she tries to stifle, fails, and then just lets rip. Her jaw clicks. She winces.

"Cash," she finishes, "I don't think we want to run afoul of Interpol." Bella has
understandable expectations regarding Flint's revenue streams.

Cash. Is a thing that they will need. Flint nods slower agreement than he might have had it not clicked that she means for him to get it and is not merely making a passive observation. He doesn't yawn back into her yawn, either, restless energy wired hot against bone in the just of brow and cheek and jaw despite his sickly pallor and clinging exhaustion.

His eyes flicker away, and then back. Out of things he wants to talk about.

Well, if Bella could ply her trade without being visible to the medico-legal discourse, she would, but without meds, a therapist is just a professional conversation partner, and trust can be hard to build with people who rank you with the scum of the earth. Not without reason.

So yup, that makes Flint the breadwinner. How do you think Bella feels about it? But that's how it is.

What's the good of a too-old boyfriend if you can't make them do things for you?

Bella reaches up to touch around the swelling on his face, very light, with concern for his comfort. "We should clean these. And get some ice on it, if there's any in the house."

Flint's face, swelling and all, starts to angle away before contact and keeps going after it. An involuntary rankle on the way is stayed when he catches her wrist in his hand and steers it away. Doesn't hold on for long — enough for tension stricken through the bone of his thumb to betray a belated effort to be gentle about it.

Too much touching.

"It's fine."

She's a little hurt, with a slight upward tilt of her shoulders - like she's cringing back into herself - but she doesn't nurse her wrist or pretend a pain that isn't a matter of wounded feelings. Thinner skin when she was just trying to be nice.

But Bella needs to understand his perspective. The nature of the wound, and the way these things heal. And whether or not she approximates his position, his net benefit is the same. She settles back onto her pillow, drawing her arms up around herself.

A little time passes. Hope that that will be that. But sure enough: "How did it feel, seeing Joseph?"

Flint's unease lingers, locked in even after she's retracted. Shoulders leveled stiff against creaky mattress, spine straight. Neck straight. Aqualine intensity redoubled on the ceiling.

"I dunno," is an honest application of a stock answer, once he's had time to think about it. "Different." He pauses, swollen sinuses clagged around a deep drawn breath. "Bad."

"I feel sick," he admits, or elaborates, maybe too quickly. More along that line is cut off short between his teeth. Too awkward, or temper too short.

At the other end of that much alcohol, it's hard to blame him for depressed mood and nausea. There's no express need to psychologize it, somatics being so easy.

"You said different," Bella reminds him, in case he forgot, in case 'bad' and 'sick' came by way of substitution. "Different how?"

She sounds upsettingly unsleepy.

There's an undead quality to Deckard's pallor, bone waxed white against the skin, shadows blacked in like bruises round his eyes.

Upon reflection, they might actually be bruises.

"I think he gave up," he says, at length, sand in his throat and coarse behind his eyes when they roll over in their sockets. He needs to shave — could already stand to re-shower with cold sweat slick through darker bristle at his neck, greasing over loose skin furrowed at his jaw. "I guess I have too. But I didn't think he would."

It speaks! Bella feels like she's in the presence of an exotic, endangered animal. She's tentative, really. Concerned about frightening him off. The illusive homo vocens.

With caution:

"What does that mean? 'Give up'?"

Her questions are feather-light. Said like she's seeking enlightenment.

Bella Sheridan is late to the game, relatively speaking. Personally involved in only the latest in an overhanging line of near apocalypses and divergent timelines. Sketchily aware of limited context and his own even more limited ability to explain, Flint takes his sweet ass time, sheets pulled up across the bony ridge of his hip while he watches her.

"I love you," he reminds her croakily, probably ill-timed. Even though.

This doesn't have to be satisfactory, this offering in lieu of answer. Bella could press and wheedle, maybe pry an answer or two free, and by that manner determine, by the duration of his patience, the precise measure of his love. As a scientist, it's hard to take these things on faith.

But that's a professional attitude. And this is not a professional relationship.

She still gives him a few seconds to sweat it out before answering:


This sounds sincere.

Interpersonal shortcomings aside, it registers that this is not a normal or even exchange. But Bella is not a normal woman. Friend. Woman friend. Left to sweat it out more literally than he'd like to, Flint keeps on sweating after she's spoken, suspicion glittering splintery fine through the glassy blue of his glare while he lies there and looks at her.

Oh- was that a misstep? Bella has the gall to look as perplexed as she does apologetic, like she didn't have any idea that wouldn't be enough, and will try to do better but wow right outta left field.

"That's good," she says, elaborating on the single word, building a sentence, "because I love you, too."

Because she was blameless, surely she can't be faulted for smiling a little.

"I guess you don't think that goes without saying."

There's a twist and knot of raw muscle in Flint's jaw to match a slippery loop in his gut. Either or spurs him to shift his weight a beat later, less spidery than the jittery spike of restless energy bit in between his shoulders. Out, over the side of the bed he rolls like a board. Dead, flat weight, pushed on by a timely push of bare foot and hand braced to headboard.

The door he's angling for is on his side of the bed, cracked open because it might've clicked if he'd closed it all the way when he came in.

She's up again on her elbow, free hand sweeping her hair back so she can give him a bleary look, accentuating the disturbance this constitutes. Bella's perplexity persists, a chronic condition.

"Where are you going?"

Where is Deckard going in the shit he sleeps in with no shoes and no gun.

"Somewhere else."

Obviously. Voice metered low on his way through to the door to account for sleeping children and the grizzly bear mothers they nest with. By now he knows which floorboards creak.

Bella's less concerned with the blissful sleep of innocents. Much as she hates being put in this position, it is what it is, and she doesn't risk his being able to 'not have heard' her.

"Don't," she says. The quaver in her tone reveals that tone's essential uncertainty, unable to discern which one would be 'right'; suspended between possibilities, her voice takes the strain of the resulting tug of war.

"You're messing with me." Accusation is too flint-on-iron quick not to spark from anger, if the shivery, paranoid rake of his stare back into the room somehow. Wasn't indication enough. His eyes are wide and his face is clammy as it is gaunt, ground held halfway out with the door wielded like a shield between them. Aforementioned animal in the flesh, more rabid jackal than jaguar. So it goes.

What she wants is for him to come back to bed.

What she wants to say is: And you're making me live under the tyranny of your moods!

These desires run at cross purposes, she judges.

Time is of the essence, he's half in flight, and confrontation grants only the tiniest window of reconciliation. Which, as she thinks on it, proves the greater motivator. She blunts her tongue. She says, "I'm sorry." She sounds unhappy. The wrong choice, then, maybe.

She doesn't sound sorry!!

Suspicion lingers naked in a crouch at the back of Deckard's glare. Unflattering. Unbecoming, also. Cagier by the second, instinct to cut and run twitched thready through the suspension of neck to shoulder.

In the end, he neither flees or comes to bed, but malfuncitons in the space between and sinks himself into a retarded sit on the floor.

It feels like less of a concession, somehow.

A laggard push clicks the door shut over his shoulder after another one opens down the hall.

Well that's peculiar. Bella finds herself interested by dint of the choice alone, not that she hasn't got ample investment in other aspects of the situation. She watches from her oddly upwards vantage, and then scoots to the edge of the bed, peering down over the edge of the mattress. The divide is now that of plateau - their eyes are just about level, when she rests her chin on her hands.

Her brows tilt into an arched proscenium, framing guileless eyes. She doesn't speak right away. For a bit she just watches from across the boundary.

Then: "What do you want?"

The floor is cooler than the bed and the wall is sturdier against the hook of his back, leaving Flint as comfortable as he's likely to get short of going back in time and crawling into bed without the part where he takes a shower and wakes her up in the process.


He steadies his breathing while he's down there, eyes heavy lidded in their rove elsewhere. Beneath them, mostly. "And a prescription."

Bella props herself up, chin on hands, wrist meeting wrist. Considering what it is he's asking for. She doesn't take too long to come to a conclusion she thinks is suitably judicious.

"Half up front," is her offer, "I'll need to talk to someone about the rest."

Flint wants to go to Hungary, also. But they already talked about that. Less so whether or not Joseph will be along for the ride.



"Okay," is awfully mild agreement, slouched in the wake of so much ill-suppressed vitriol. He still doesn't want to look at her and he doesn't slither the rest of the way over, content to hold court on the floor. So content that a gradual, staggered slide down the wall is soon to leave him lying, rather than sitting there.

It appears he won't be going to her, so in Mohammedan fashion Bella gathers up a sheet, pulls a pillow under her arm, and slides off the edge of bed, landing toe-ball-toe-ball-heel-heel and then dropping to a kneel just a little ways from him.

She pushes the pillow forward, an offering.

"May I?"

Deckard lies where he lies, slatted ribs splayed like gills against the thin-worn fabric of his shirt. Out and in. He's back to the ceiling again, tuned into rafters and hollow bird bones fleeting fish-like through the negative space beyond.

He's unclear on what he's being asked accordingly, dim and tired and distracted enough to say, "Yeah." anyway.

Join you, is the rest of the question. May I join you.

Bella omits, you may have noticed, the habit the product of a life of the clandestine, the quasi-legal and para-governmental. She's also usually verbose, and brevity is a sign of seriousness. That he cannot fill in these gaps, can't perceive these subtle indicators- well that's on him, isn't it now?

But hey, there's her permission. Understanding can be harder to come by than resignation. Bella makes her way to Flint's side and lays the pillow down beside him, ensconcing herself in the sheet. The bedding seems to be first and foremost for her use - she doesn't have drunken exhaustion to soften the floorboards.

Difference in size is more readily apparent on the open canvas of the floor: Deckard's gangling brutishness and Bella bound up in a blanket at his side. Currently he doesn't look the kind of beast that would be particularly perceptive of insinuation or intent except to snap at it, scruffy, grey and drawn. Out of focus.

Still. His near hand brushes encroaching bedding without recoiling and he doesn't roll away onto his side. Smaller feet paddle down the hallway opposite their closed door, reverberation cottony hollow in his ears.

"How are things with you." after a time is missing the lilt that would officially make it a question, more owing to a lack of energy to lift his voice with than an absence of interest.

Bella head shifts and settled on her pillow, and she has to lift a hand to brush aside her hair, clearing her vision as she looks over at him. She clasps a handful of sheet and draws it up over her shoulder, knees folding, feet tucking up under her.

"Picking fights. Nothing new." She doesn't sound proud, but nor does she sound ashamed. He asked. She's answering.

Oh. And: "I found the person who's been giving us those dreams. We should be dreaming less, now." This, at least, is what she thinks the morphean scamp meant by 'pull back'.

"Oh," says Deckard, who has not noticed any real decrease in the number of offensive dreams he's been having.

Maybe in the number of offensive dreams starring the Sheridan on the floor next to him.

It crosses his mind to ask if the culprit is still alive, but even in dreams, it's never been Bella who's pulled the trigger.

He says, "Great," instead, too many seconds later.

It's a matter of division of labor (and compartmentalization of guilt) and however flimsy and threadbare the 'at least I haven't killed anyone' defense may have become, it's not just for others that some pardons are sustained. Excusing the self to the self.

Bella's unbloodied hand ventures out to make a play for Flint's nearest, fingertips brushing.

"How long, do you think? Until we can be somewhere else? I- know you probably can't be sure but- give me something to look forward to. Something worth counting down to."

Flint's hand is cold, palm caged open and eyes slitted unnatural blue to the touch until they finally close.

If she isn't anticipating the, "I dunno," that inevitably follows, she just. Hasn't been paying attention.

Worth a try, even if the answer is inevitable. Perseverance in the face of the immutable - why that's nobility of a sort, isn't it? And with a bid that the sleep of the noble may resemble the sleep of the just, Bella lets her eyes close. Giving up the hunt. He dunno. Neither does she.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License