Going Back


bebe2_icon.gif ghost2_icon.gif

Scene Title Going Back
Synopsis A ghost from the future gives advice to a young woman who has forsaken her past.
Date July 3, 2009

Dry Docks Motel - New Jersey

Did we mention THIN WALLS?

One of the very worst things about regret is how it has a way of clinging to the soul like soap scum. No matter how many half-drownings Bebe attempted in the kiwi green fiberglass basin of the motel bathtub, she just couldn't slough off even skin to come clean; she couldn't sacrifice enough breath to breathe easy.

What had she done!?

She sought the proper penance for her sins by very nearly worrying a rut around the periphery of the motel building. After a seemingly sufficient amount of time had passed — four or five agonizing hours ought to do it — Bebe had scrounged up a sliver of steel for her spine that stilled some of her fear but failed to compliment the still heavy shadow of a sulk weighing down her slim shoulders. She made her way those six short steps that it took to bridge the gap in the breezeway between the two motel rooms that they currently had claimed; girls on one side, boys on the other. But, at the last minute, she hesitated…

What if he was still angry??

Her hand hovered, knuckled primed to knock, when her ears abruptly burned with the inadvertently overheard din of two men moaning together in counterpoint harmony on the other side of the door. Logan wasn't angry; he was occupied.

Blood warmed by anxious adrenaline abruptly ran cold and in reverse while her head reeled with every indescribable possibility. Why did this feel like some sort of unspoken rejection? Maybe because… it was. She returned to her room but she didn't sleep.

By morning, Bebe had all but become a zombie; sleepless and plagued by red-rimmed eyes and ears that refused to hear almost anything other than the echoes of the previous evening. She'd stolen a six-serving breakfast of malted barley and hops from the convenience store on the corner and currently sat against the far side of the building, halfway to the bottom of her third bottle. It wasn't exactly the best hiding place to be had but it was better than the closet.

"Look at you," says the Sicilian's voice. For a protracted moment, delineated by the frames of her beer goggles and further cramped the burden of existential fatigue on the stoop of her neck, the Sicilian himself is nowhere to be seen, but once said margin of time snaps to a stop, the origin of his low tenor finds its origin over her shoulder. Above. "Thievery.

"Where I come, you concern yourself with eating with silver off crystal and dousing out the pretty clean smell of you with terrible perfume." There's a lie in there somewhere.

Maybe the crystal, the quality of Bijou Baxter's perfume, or the elaborate show of unconcern that props him up on the wall. The old soldier angles half a smile down at her, skews his weight against the fulcrum of his shoulder, hiccups himself upright long enough to waggle his fingers at the bottle. Me see.

Ah— bu… huh? Bebe blinks with a particularly determined attempt to clear the haze from behind her eyes before she's finally able to roll her wee head back far enough to— there you are. The quirk of her fretted brows and the dim light dying in those big brown eyes suggests she hasn't a bloody clue what the ghost happens to be babbling about. She can hear his voice, at least, but something doesn't sync.

He wants her beer bottle? Well, tough. No! The misery she's still desperately trying to drown hasn't given up its hold on her heart yet and, until it does, she's going to recoil and act like a spoiled child for just a little while lo— oh, alright. Changing her mind mid-mood swing, Bebe offers the unfinished bottle to her newfound companion wordlessly before slowly sliding her summarily unoccupied hand down into a front pocket of her smoke-stained denim.

Taking bottle away from bab— all right, that's one pun too many. Ghost's gloved hand nooses the glass neck, buckles a neat fist around it. He hefts the beer away and peers at the label. Hey, hoppy. Nice. "It's stale as unkept cootch out here," he observes, abruptly, with about as much grace as your average— he's above average, anyway. "We should get out of here.

"C'mon. It'll make you feel better." There's an easy swing of the captured drink to the ghost's mouth, a long pull worked down through the bobbing apple of his throat. Feet clop, and then a swing of his arm after the way he'd come, brandished like a baton or an invitation of generous proportion, particularly when compared to the relative smallness of the invitee. "You like boats. You don't like being here."

The terminology may be crude but the sentiment is shared all the same; Bebe's inclined to agree that the outdoor odor currently clouding up the air in what was once dubbed the Garden State isn't exactly an aroma worth bottling. And, speaking of bottles…

…the tiny (ex)tart recognizes the futility of trying to reclaim her bequeathed brew and, so, she stoops to retrieve the cardboard carrying case that she'd stashed beneath the branches of an insubstantial bush in a vain attempt at keeping the beer cold while she wallowed around in her sorrow out of doors. It's just as well; the price for a bag of clean ice out here is ridiculous.

Heaving a little sigh while simultaneously giving her strange and potentially very dangerous new companion the eye, Bebe breathes out an inquiry that she might have otherwise been tempted to save for some other time: "…have we met?" Prior to now, presumably.

Lack of any immediate answer isn't going to prevent her from trundling along in the ghost's wake, however; she does so without compunction or regard for anything other than her own self-pity. The thought never occurs to her that this whole thing might merely be a ruse in order to fit her for a brand new pair of concrete shoes which she'd then wear while exploring the bottom of the bay.

The hollow premise of being aboard a boat again is an irresistible lure that Bebe just can't leave alone.

Jersey — In Transit

Walk it, walk it.

Ghost can sympathize. Kind of. Sort of. He hasn't been sailing in years— something about fear, old trauma, painful reminders, the type of misery best characterized by writing poetry, changing one's MySpace mood status, or perhaps best of all— by not characterizing it at all.

He motions with his fingers. Free hand. All weapons remaining conspicuously concealed, at present. "Yes.

"No— sort of. I have a lot of memories pitchforked from a guy you used to know. Teo? You might remember. 'Bout my height, affinity for ragged jeans and hoodies, a little too armed for a starving college student.

"Not so much a friend of your ex-employer's." Ex. The term is invoked lightly, but without a note of questioning. Ghost's tread scratches easy over the striped and marked asphalt of the parking lot. He pitches a glance up at the scraggle of trees, the sedge of spiny-tipped brush, an earnest salute at nature that somehow fails to mitigate the chokehold that urban Jersey has on all the rest.

"What were you doing at the Dagger?"

"I remember his skin." But the sense with which this recollection occurs goes unmentioned — was it the scent or the taste? Once again, Bebe is left wanting for lack of a whole decade's worth of future memories. She doesn't quite understand… a whole hell of a lot of things, actually. Pitchforked? "Pitchforked?" the echoed inquiry comes. "How do you mean?"

However, she isn’t the only one entertaining some degree of feline curiousity. What was she doing at the Dagger? The answer isn’t as easy to give as Bebe might like. But, thanks to the beer in her otherwise empty belly, she isn’t inclined to spend an awful lot of time searching for the right words or a clever turn of phrase. She mere moves one eyebrow upwards and drawls cynically, "What do you think?"

Maybe if she doesn’t put too fine a point on it, the wound won’t fester.

It had been hard for the ghost to tell how much of Mu-Qian's spirited sniping had been spite and how much had been factual. The rhetorical lilt to Bebe's question clarifies the matter somewhat. There's a downward slant to the edge of his mouth, thoughtful rather than critical. Mostly about Logan.

Teo's skin doesn't bear thinking about so much as it does nostalgia. Fucking Salvatore Bianco. Italians and their capacity for rage, eh? "'Pitchforked,'" he repeats, and then says nothing for a protracted moment. Pitchforked. "Stabbed with a big metaphorical pointy thing and swung it over to feed the beasts. I dunno. I know what he knows. Most of it.

"I know the other conversations you'd had." There's a hooded backward glance over his shoulder with that, as quiet, understated in its physicality as the taste of a cobra's tongue turned this way before the serpent turns that. Despite the vitality of this city during the day, the street is conspicuously quiet, now, in the small hour of the night. Ghost ignores the lurid red iconograph of the traffic light, steps out across the asphalt, bottle swinging naked in hand.

The little (ex)hooker with a heart of fool's gold trundles along in the ghost's wake while wearing an expression that could be classified as confusion tempered with just a hint of injured apathy. "How does that work?" she wonders aloud while they wander across the empty street. Three separately segregated beer bottles desperately try to bang against one another in their cardboard carrying case but to no avail; the most noise they can muster is the occasional muffled clink of one glass body blissfully making contact against another.

"Where are we going?"

'Nowhere' would be the unkindly facetious reply, but Ghost stomps on that reflex before it skitters away. Instead, he answers, "Marina." So it goes.

The most human contact they get is the green-haired punk at the 7-11 counter, who sells him a bottle of water for two dollars, that is then unceremoniously handed to the accompanying tart. He could drive, probably— there are plenty of cars sitting unguarded around here, but that could be complications, for one thing, and she looks like she could use the biological cycling of the walk, for another.

Fifteen minutes. Long, if you're used to Manhattan's cramped quarters and belching overstuffed public transportation system. Less so, if you're a pint-sized ex-prostitute who, having been long since deprived of use or ownership of a private vehicle, largely took her forays on-foot, around Staten Island's raggedy glass-speckled shoreline and the tawdry nethers of the Rookery. It isn't too long for her before they're there. The transition into salt air is abrupt, a violent end to the mazey snaggleteeth of urban skyline as if the edge of the city had been broken off at the sea.

And thank God for that. Boats belly easy in the water off the docks, gradiated from above by yellow lamp light, intricately criss-crossed from below by the diamond trellis of surface refractions.

"S'pose you've figured it out." There's no smile in his voice, or pointed irony. There doesn't have to be, given the state that Bebe's in. All signs point to the variously and sundrily heartless men in her life. "Why men cheat."

It's like— heaven. Almost. Hell, maybe, thanks to old memories. Sanctuary, now, in strange company. The moment Bebe's scuff-shoed feet greet the groaning wood of the dock, she exhales what just might be a sigh of relief without actually realizing it. She isn't stupid enough to ask if Ghost has a boat stashed here. Believe it or not, this little exercise in less than legal activity is something she's participated in before.

"Because they're assholes," she says, unfurling her sacred slattern wisdom with all of the practiced gentility of purposefully slamming someone's hand in a car door.

"That's what Teo said," Ghost said, in a tone of false injury: she hadn't found that answer particularly agreeable the first time around. Of course, the first time around, he was the one embittered and lonely, she the one loitering comfortably on the dock. The corner of his mouth jerks upward, sharp, abrupt, not quite a smile and not precisely at her.

Suddenly, he breaks into a run. Clopping, and then a rough reverberating clunk of hard-nosed rubber into the wood boards, tossing him up off the jutting lip of the jetty, up, over onto the railing of one grand yacht picked seemingly at random from the line-up. Its size, furnishings, maximum load, fiberglass brightness, and engine power are comparable to that of the vessel with which Bebe had shared a name, once.

Bijou was a little fancier, though. Of course, Bijou was fancier. "Comin' up?" he inquires.

Uh, bu— showoff. Bebe's brows knit together momentarily before she sets her shoulders with something akin to determination and initiates a little burst of stolen speed in order to accomplish the same feat — only faster… and with three beers. Er, actually, make that two beers. Somewhere between the edge of the jetty and the deck of the yacht, one bottle opted to make a break for the bay all by its little lonesome. It bobs victoriously on the waving plane of the water for an instant before sinking beneath the surface to become some kid's lucky catch.

Oh well.

"Are we staying or going?" she asks the ghost. There's a difference between squatting and stealing that needs to be defined.

Waterfront — Stolen Yacht

There's a thinking sort of noise, out through Ghost's teeth. Fades over distance, as he tramples the length of the deck to the yacht's glassed cabin door. A thin length of metal is extruded out of the cuff of his glove. Is fitted into the keyhole, and there's a brief, rhythmic series of clicks, shuffles, a blunt elbow jarred into the edge of the doorframe. Soundlessly slick, it opens.

"Depends on whether or not you feel like driving." Ghost shows the girl a brief flash of teeth over the dark incline of his shoulder, jacketed in sombrely utilitarian shades, as ever she's seen him. His boots tap polished wood, silence over carpet, and he eases aside in order to let her into the room. Its circle of cherry-trimmed sofas, the cockpit gleaming chrome and controls up ahead.

"You know what they say about drinking and driving? Also applicable to boats." Good to know, eh? There's a solid chance that all of the voices in Ghost's head already knew that. "Especially big boats." And this boat was most certainly big. Still, Bebe shuffles into the enclosed cockpit on suddenly silent feet and takes a slightly sprawling seat on the posh couch cushions with another sigh — this one seemingly more sad and less relaxed than the last — as she rolls her head slowly to the side so that she might be able to rove her doll-eyed gaze over the man what brought her here.

"How did you know my name?" It's a perfectly innocuous question — perhaps even a little bit ridiculous given their shared association — unless the subtle context is detected in her tone.

Most of Ghost's boat thievery was conducted while drunk and fifteen, ssso. He thinks she is wrong about that, but he isn't going to say so. Instead, he allows the door to fall shut behind them again, treads along quietly behind the girl even as he darts his eyes around, and then the quiet psychic construct of his mind.

Blocked by the squared shoulders of the yacht's cabin, the nightwatch hadn't seen them come on or get in. Further, the man's bowels grow heavier by the minute, thanks to the half-finished cup of coffee gripped in hand.

Marking this, the ghost returns to himself, crooks a grin. "I knew some of your family. I think you should consider getting back in touch. I don't have the world's most stable relationship with my clan and kindred, but—" A shrug rolls through his shoulders. It's nigh Gallic: a far more inscrutable gesture than any he had been capable of supplying at twenty-sixty. "There's needing love, then there's wanting their company, eh?"

Scraping, and then a jiggling click of metal within cramped quarters of machined metal. Ghost fiddles the ignition.

"What family? My parents are dead."

At least, that's what Bebe's been led to believe. One fatality for certain; she bore audible witness to her father's last leaden meal, dining on a bullet on the deck of his own hijacked yacht. The one that was named Bijou. Her mother has supposedly died when she was still an infant and she never had any reason to question it. She was born to be a daddy's girl, anyways.

If Ghost is going to insist upon manipulating their mobility, then Bebe might as well make herself useful and attend to the moorings and anchorage, even if she is still a hair shy of steady thanks to her belly full of diluted brew. It's an automatic response. A ship like this really ought to have a crew compliment of four or more sea-ready sailors but they'll just have to make do with two salty souls kept in captivity. She finds her feet quietly and escapes the suddenly intolerable gravity of the enclosed cockpit without another word.

Moorings give way easily to Bebe's deft-handed expertise at the strength of small arms. Lights come on inside the cabin, the glow of GPS, computer system larking around connect-the-dots with satellites higher than the sky. The vessel shifts against inertia. Whirring, then a threshing of blades in water, and the boat begins to peel away from the dock, even as the man who ought to be manning the cameras listens to the tinkle-tinkle of coffee cycling out of his system.

Clunk. Ghost opens the window nearest Bebe's portion of deck. His face shows limned in the dull neon glow of the liquid crystal display. "Your parents had family," he says, a factual sort of tone that lacks the heat or verve of actual insistence. "A fortune, a home. I'd've thought four years between pirates wouldn't leave you thinking blood and money don't mean a damn thing." Not the sort of blood or money he was alluding to, granted, but he makes a game out of wordplay.

Once they're out of port and sailing silently over still water, the little looker still longing for John Logan lays down upon the deck and pillows her bay brown head with skinny arms and soft hands. For what struggle she had with sleep some hours before, all she'd need to do now is just close her eyes, and the waves would rock her fast into dreamland before her seventh breath.

There's something about Ghost's unfamiliar face that allows Bebe to more readily engage in the same sort of make-believe mentality that she would often employ while sprawled out underneath a paying customer instead of the fading stars currently biding them both their adieus from the warm and sheltering sky hung black and blue overhead. She can pretend they've never met; that they've never shared an intimate moment before this one and they never will again. It's easier to be honest if you can feign away the resonance.

"Somehow, I doubt the Baxters would be interested in hearing from their long-lost whore…"

"I think, 'least, your cousin would like you. Adopted," Ghost answers, turning the wheel and, echo in motion, the yacht with it. "But still your cousin. He's famous. And appears to come from the school of thought that approaches social conventions regarding whores with the perspective of 'fuck should.' I dunno. Family is family.

"You love them before you like them, and sometimes still after." Long fingers thatch the steel rim of the controls, hanging on there, as he reaches to shift the throttle, pushing the watercraft out toward the black breadth of sea. The wind shifts. Ghost's voice suddenly pulls louder than it had before, if only a little. "You're still whoring?"

Cousin? There's an unanticipated piece of revelation torn off from a branch of Bebe's family tree that daddy's little girl must not have known about. Even prior to her abduction, she was sheltered. And spoiled. Now she's just shattered. "Famous?" This lifts her head. "Who?"

Of course, the question he asks of her feels like nothing short of a slap in the face — it always did, even when the answer would have been 'yes' — and Bebe recoils almost visibly as she spits out a clench-jawed, "No." The indignity she's wearing seems a shade or two brighter than it might otherwise be if she weren't still nursing a beer buzz and suffering from undersexed insomnia.

Man. You'd think a hooker would be less ash… okay, no, that was a perfectly understandable reaction. Ghost's priorities and impatience with things renders him rather insensitive to normal sensibilities these days. It's a flaw. Sometimes manifests as rudeness. He frowns, and the lines of that are etched out in the distinction of luminescent color, as well.

He doesn't apologize, but he doesn't press the point, either. Past is prologue. Sometimes, he can pretends that he believes in ideas as these. "Jordan Baxter," he answers, instead. "The cop who can fly."

For a moment there, Bebe had almost expected Ghost to rattle off the name 'Felix Ivanov' — at which point, the world would have very likely upended entirely. Game over. Thanks for playing. Mercifully, 'Jordan Baxter' must not have the same apocalyptic ring to it; in fact, Bebe's reaction plays to the cheap seats as nearly nonexistent. "Huh," she grunts, wrinkling her nose — probably something to do with the sudden smell of less than literal bacon invading her nostrils. "You think I should…?" What, exactly, is left unsaid, but the subtext of their current conversation suggests she's looking for some sort of opinion as to whether or not a reunion might be the best of ideas.

Sounds pretty crazy. Difficult to verify. Something. Ghost leans across the wheel, cranes his head. The edge of his profile shows against the dark sheen of glass and the duller stuff of flattened shadows. "Get a lawyer? Your legal identity and life back?

"Yeah, sounds like a good idea." He isn't being sarcastic, not exactly; it's just that same subtle, callused wrongness that's dictated his half of this exchange for an hour, now, the same casual brutality which informs Logan's coyness and Jack's business. She's in kind of a fucked up crowd. She's part of a fucked up crowd.

Who knew? "Not saying it'll change your whole fucking world or anything. I'm pretty sure conventional wisdom still has it, the greatest and only thing you're really going to own is yourself."

For a few magical moment, Bebe actually entertains a fantasy which does not revolve around any of the malicious men in her life. She tries to imagine what the world would look like from a penthouse suite with floor-to-ceiling windows like the one she used to occupy in Paris. When she was fifteen. All by her little lonesome while her father was away on business. Independence in lieu of co-dependence. What a fucking novelty!

The reality of the situation soon sets in, however, as her burdensome brain can't help but dredge up much more recent recollections — like the fact that she's currently lounging on someone else's stolen yacht and there's a man in New Jersey who doesn't even realize he has her still-beating heart stashed in the one of the pockets of his black velvet smoking jacket.

Sitting up slowly, Bebe reaches for her feet, curling her fingers over cloth-covered toes and sooty soles as she asks, "Why do we keep going back?" To the aforementioned assholes, presumably.

"Because." Bad answer. The only answer. Correct response. Glancing down at the monitor, Ghost noses them Northeast, aiming the tiny, blipping triangle that symbolizes them toward the long stretch of less-than-supervised shore that brackets Midtown.

He doesn't have to look up to know that she got up; the quality of her voice changed, even if the carry of her feet is quieter even than the drone of his heartbeat or the air-conditioner that had come on some minutes ago. He knows better than to mistake the fact that she climbed upright for a commensurate lift in spirits, but he knows the cadence and register of despair enough to know, also, that this isn't it.

"Because it's better than having no one to go back to."

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