Guilt And Grief


ling_icon.gif melissa3_icon.gif

Scene Title Guilt and Grief
Synopsis Returning home after the wake, Melissa and Ling discuss their guilt, and Mel learns something new that has her in tears.
Date August 27, 2010

Little Green House

It's been about an hour since the wake out on the beach, the remembrance of the young- man Ling had come to know over the past two months. Even if she didn't approve of his actions, he had earned at least that much from her. She was silent through the end of the vigil, and as it came to a close, she had been nowhere to be seen, not by Peter, Melissa, Rupert, or anyone else still present on the beach.

Even when Melissa returned home after her, she made no attempt to make her presence known, simply standing out in the backyard behind the Little Green House, staring out and away from the house, hands at her sides and smoke billowing out from her feet and extremities - the dark, thick emanations unnoticeable to most at first glance against the darkness of night. She stands, silent, thinking, as if watching or waiting for something. Her black dress, still stained with salt and sand, looks ragged and frayed at the edges, smoke catching on wing and scattering around her.

Unlike Ling, when Melissa finally made her way home, she went straight into the house. The bottle she had at the beach is empty, so it gets, shockingly, set on the counter rather than thrown away, and a bottle of tequila is grabbed, along with a soda, and she moves into the living room to sit on the couch. Sand covered boots are set on the edge of the coffee table, the clean freak for once not giving a damn about any mess in her house.

However, the light in the kitchen, and then shortly after, the sound of the TV being turned on are enough to let Ling know that she's home, if she chooses to come inside. For the moment though, it seems like Mel intends to watch a recording of the news. Perhaps listening to see if any bodies were found in the rubble of the Biodynamics building.

The lights do grab Ling's attention, forcing her to turn back towards the building, eyeing it carefully. There's hesitation in her eyes as she lingers for several minutes before turning, and beginning a slow walk towards the patio door, smoke trailing behind her as she walks. The door slides open slowly, Ling standing in its frame for several moments before stepping in. Even inside the house, while the smoke around Ling largely subsides, some of it continues to swirl around her feet, as if she were Pigpen out of a Peanuts comic. She remains silent the entire time, making her way to the kitchen after several seconds of watching the TV.

Though Melissa is technically watching the television, it doesn't look as though she's actually paying any attention to it. Her attention seems to be mostly on getting as drunk as she possibly can, taking a swig of tequila directly from the bottle every minute or two. Her eyes are still red and puffy, though it seems that she's cried herself out. At least, for the moment.

It's a minute or two after disappearing into the kitchen that Ling pokes her head back out, brow furrowed as she watches Melissa. "Would you like anything?" she asks, voice lacking it's normal authoritative quality. It's just… quiet, for now. "Besides tequila." That brings it back a noticeable bit. Both times, her voice carries a hint of anxiousness to it. Unease. Something… foreign. She hadn't spoken to Melissa much, if at all, since the previous night. She'd honestly been a little scared to. Which, in turn, scared the Chinese woman even more.

Shaking her head, Melissa says in a flat, empty voice, "The thought of food right now turns my stomach." In fact, she hasn't eaten since the attack at Biodynamics, and has barely slept. Guilt and grief are a powerful combination. She glances over at Ling, brow furrowing. "Tell me this is just a horrible nightmare, Ling. That I'll wake up and he'll be upstairs, holed up in his room playing some stupid video game or playing with Old Spice or something," she says, a plea entering her voice.

Ling reemerges from the kitchen with a plate of tricuits and cheese in one hand, a bottle of wine and a glass in the other. Silently, she takes a seat, putting the plate of food between them, a silent gesture of sorts. The glass of wine is poured and swirled once before Ling answers. "I'm afraid it's not my place, Melissa." Not comforting, but the truth. Ling sort of sucks at commiserating or being comforting, unless she does it without trying.

"Couldn't you have lied to me?" Melissa murmurs with a sigh, looking back to the TV. "I don't know how to deal with this. It's my fault he's…he's…gone," she whispers, emotion entering her voice, grief and anguish together, but her eyes continue to remain dry.

There's a bit of an irony to that. Ling makes a life of lying to people, and when she probably could temporarily appease someone by doing so, she chooses not to. She stares ahead, hands folded in her lap. "You're not the only one to blame," she remarks quietly after a few moments. "You were right. I never should have talked to him without you."

Melissa frowns at that, then she shakes her head. "He was told he couldn't join Messiah. I was going to get him in the Ferrymen. They're safer, better." Her eyes close. "He was there because of me. He was worried it was dangerous. God!"

Her feet drop to the floor and she leans forward, elbows on her knees, head held in her hands. "Ling, how could he jump in front of the bullet to save me? Me? He was so much better than I'll ever hope to be. I've killed people, and he wouldn't hurt a fly," she says, sounding as grief-stricked as she did when Kendall was first shot.

Ling frowns, gaze moving off to the side as she fidgets. She just plain looks uncomfortable. She brings her eyes back to Melissa's, lingering for only a moment before they dart off to the side again. "Anything I have to say will just upset you further, Melissa. I'm afraid I'm… not so good at this sort of thing." A moment of silence, and the Chinese woman rubs her own face. "Perhaps he thought that well of you, Melissa."

Well that was both the wrong thing to say…and the right one. Melissa's head turns to look at Ling, and there's a bit of hope there in the grief. "Do you think so? I always…Jesus, I kept thinking that he was just here 'cause it was better than living in a safehouse. He didn't really know me when he came to live with me."

Ling grimaces, closing her eyes. "You know better than that, Melissa. Even I could see more than that, in the time I've been here. I don't think he would have been so eager to try and help otherwise." She takes a long sip of her wine, swirling it again before she sets it down. "How well you know someone changes."

There's a bit of a sniffle and Melissa nods, leaning back and again looking blindly at the television. Only…something she sees or hears there has her stiffening visible, and scrambling for the remote, a look of near horror in her eyes as she hurries, trying to change the channel before Ling can see.

The reaction has Ling's eyes narrowing, neck snapping to face the TV, but much too late to see whatever it was that Melissa didn't want her to see. "And just what was that?" she asks rather callously, another long sip of her wine had. "More footage of the attack?"

While Melissa was pale before, it's more noticeable now, but oddly, it looks like she's on the verge of laughter. Hysterical laughter, yes, but laughter all the same. "N-no…Not footage of the attack," she says, blinking too rapidly.

The expression has Ling inching over a bit, blinking as she looks at Melissa. Another glance at the TV, and Ling eyes Melissa very closely. "Melissa, what did you see?" Blunt, but hopefully effective.

Shaking her head, Melissa slowly gives in to that urge to laugh. Or maybe the urge just becomes too strong to resist. "It…it…God. Kendall wasn't enough? Now…him?" she manages to get out, before she just leans back, head falling back, and she laughs. And laughs and laughs and laughs, tears starting to form and stream down her cheeks.

This is definitely not happy laughter.

If Ling was uncomfortable before, now she's practically crawling out of her skin. A solemn ceremony on a beach is one thing. A private outpouring of emotion is something she is entirely ill equipped to handle. "I don't understand," she says with narrowed eyes, and despite the normally threatening gesture, she's reaching out over the plate of crackers and placing a hand on Melissa's shoulder. That's right to do, right?

Wiping at her cheeks Melissa continues to laugh, and it takes several minutes before she can get herself under any kind of control. "It's…god, it must be the universe's practical joke on me. The guy…the guy who…Here." The news show is put on again, and she rewinds it a little to show…a press conference? Regarding the Biodynamics attack. And the person doing the talking is one Jason Pierce. Which just sets Melissa off on another round of semi-mad laughter.

Ling turns her attention back to the news, eyes still narrowed as she leans forward and watches video of the press conference, curious and admittedly a little worried as to what, exactly about this guy could be driving her into hysterical laughing fits. And really, she can't see much of anything at first. Until the footage zooms out a bit to show scrolling headlines again - and revealing, for the first time to Ling, the name of Jason Pierce. Which sits for several moments before registering, Ling's eyes widening as she looks over at Melissa. "A relative?"

Nodding, Melissa continues to laugh, though she gains control of herself much quicker than before. "He's my uncle! My goddamn uncle is looking for the terrorists! He's looking for me!" she says with a bit of unholy and inappropriate glee. "My uncle is looking for the one who got my kid brother killed!"

Now Ling looks genuinely worried. A curse is muttered in Mandarin, shaking her head. The tray is set onto the coffee table, sliding a bit closer, a hand on Melissa back. "A relative standing so firmly against you. I've never experienced a thing in my life. I'm afraid this isn't something I can offer advice on."

There's a slow shrug, and though Melissa isn't laughing, it looks as though it could start up at any moment. That or crying, it's tough to tell which. "My parents and I have never been close, but this is a new one for me too. Damn. Just when I thought things couldn't possibly get any worse."

Ling almost says one thing, on instinct - things can always get worse - but she clamps her mouth shut before it slips out. "Perhaps it's time we both consider what exactly it is we want to do next, then," Ling remarks hesitantly.

"I want revenge for Kendall," Melissa says automatically. "I don't want him to have died for nothing. I owe him better than that. Beyond that…god. I don't even know. It's too soon." And here the bottle gets picked up, and several large swallows taken.

"Do you?" Ling replies with a bit of surprise, "Even though it wasn't Messiah's cause that he died for? Or does that matter anymore?" There's a questioning tone mixed with a curious one. "I won't lie, Melissa. I do not know what I will do next." The Chinese woman exhales sharply. "I will be returning to the mainland soon. Now that local Institute is no longer a threat, I feel safe doing so. With Bao-Wei dead, his files destroyed, and his clinic watched, I have no access to what I chiefly joined Messiah for, and I am lost with no knowledge gained on who will kill me in two months time. And the complicate the matter, I have received a job offer, from one Richard Cardinal, should I decide to "leave the revolutionary business." Eyes close, and her head hands. "For the second time in my life, I am truly lost on what to do next. It is something I need to think about, and I would recommend the same to you."

Melissa frowns and looks to Ling. "You're gonna leave Messiah? And…you know…you don't have to move. I've liked having you here." And if Ling leaves, without her and Kendall, the house will be quiet. Too quiet, and she's gotten used to all the people. "And I can't leave Messiah. I have reasons that I can't."

"You misunderstand," Ling remarks, glancing over at Melissa. "I haven't been back to the mainland at all since the Institute grabbed me. I had no intention of moving out. Even if I wanted to, there is little other choice for me at the moment." Her posture straightens before she continues. "As to Messiah, I doubt it. I do intend to speak with Richard, however. See exactly what it is he intends for me. I am wary of him. It seems he was once affiliated with the Triads. My point, Melissa, is more one of important decisions. Every project, every venture reaches a point of evaluation and consideration. I believe this is mine."

That has Melissa relaxing a little and she nods. "That's fair. Let me know what you decide." She looks at the half empty bottle of tequila now and sighs. "I should…I don't know. Go grab a shower or sleep or something. Don't think I've done either since last night," she mumbles.

"I am not telling you should forget Messiah, Melissa. Or forget what Kendall did. Quite the opposite. I think it's time to consider what's to come, and how we want to handle it. A business decision for the future of the company." Ling eyes Melissa for a moment, before offering over the play of triscuts. "Eat. Then shower. I haven't seen you eat since we returned." Genuine compassion. And with it, uneasiness that's easily readable on her face. Ling doesn't like these feelings. They make her anxious and hesitant. But for the first time in her life, they feel appropriate.

The plate is looked at with disinterest, then Melissa sighs and takes a cracker off the plate. "A few, but food really doesn't appeal to me right now. And I know you're not. I'll need to talk to Peter, but…right now I don't know if I can really think about plans for the future. Those plans always included…" She doesn't finish that thought, instead nibbling at the triscuit.

"Fair enough," Ling replies, falling quiet afterwards. The plate is withdrawn and set aside, Ling's hands fold into her lap. "Just don't stand in there and wallow in guilt. You're not the only one who feels responsible. I… have no idea how to handle guilt. This is a new thing for me. But for this…" Her face scrunches, like she's saying something that hurts. "I guess you have a friend in me. I haven't said that to anyone in a long time. If you need to talk, I'll be out here. Or out back. Because of the smoke."

"Thanks Ling, that helps. And you don't gotta go outside. Your smoke doesn't stink up the house like cigarettes," Melissa murmurs. "And no one else is responsible, so don't feel guilty. But I'll be…I just need some time."

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