bella_icon.gif deckard_icon.gif

Scene Title Incoming
Synopsis Bella and Deckard make final arrangements and information exchanges prior to their transition into Ferry care. What can go wrong??
Date May 25, 2011

Bella and Deckard's Apartment

It's Wednesday night. Which means tomorrow.

And so she must be ready. Readiness comes at a high price in just five days, and Bella is faced with a new prospect of austerity. The few thousand dollars she felt brave enough to withdraw, soon to become her only money, is wrapped in a leather dopp kit, stuffed inside a suitcase, along with the rest of a life that must now become entirely inconspicuous.

She did flirt with the idea of having Flint pack up all her things, at least all her most valuable things - her stereo system, the chrome cone of her vaporizer, the art she bought herself temporary sanity with - and store it all somewhere. But it's thought of this art that turns her off the idea entirely. Sitting in a dark crevice somewhere in midtown, framed pictures unseen - this indefinitely enduring tableaux makes the uselessness of the gesture too clear.

So it's just the money, some essential, durable clothes - no summer wardrobe - a ziplock baggy full of her identifying documents, some vital personal affects and two books - one in an old cloth binding, the other a simple marble notebook. This last she presses into place, then covers with the folded green span of a dress - the single formal thing she'll take with her. Her hands linger, applying steady pressure, then lift.

Rising to a stand, she views her soon-to-be worldly possessions from the height of just under five feet.

After a beat, Flint fills just over six feet of the background behind her, faded jeans and brown jacket and a swishier swath of buttercup yellow that resolves itself into a sundress on a hanger. He's come out of the closet with it, knuckles hooked bony around the hanger with the air of a person who rarely utilizes them for their intended purpose.

There's no room for it, though. He watches the slow rise of compressed luggage after her once her hands have lifted away and she's drawn up to her feet. Then he looks at the dress he's holding. And back to her, too quiet to call attention to himself and his examination until he gives it a restless little swing and frowns distractedly down after the hem.

"I'm gonna miss this one," he says down to it more than her, level enough that it's hard to tell whether or not he's serious.

The fact that he then holds it straight out as if to superimpose it over what she's currently wearing doesn't help.

Bella's arms cross over her chest as she steps in place, turning to face Flint within the small circumference traced by her low heels. The yellow dress obscures the dark of her coat- worn because the heat is intermittent again, but serving well enough as a symbol for her coming transience. Moments like this invite a lot of symbolizing. It provides a sense of control, badly needed, from the look of hair brushed hastily and running more or less wild.

Her arms unclasp and she steps forward, reaching out to take the hanger by both its ends, lifting it carefully out of his grasp. Wordless, she folds it over her arm and turns back to the suitcase, lifting the top and replacing the topmost garment. The green dress is considered briefly, then tossed onto the bed. It's not dismissive, but it's not reverent either.

Crouching once more, one leg bent in a kneel, she tugs the zipper closed, having to press and tug from time to time, cajoling it shut despite the strain to fabric and frame. "You can get me some new things once I'm settled," she says, matter of fact, "I'll build a nest. Put a 'keep out' sign on the door, practice hermitage. Start writing voluminous correspondence."

Bella's standing before him at this point, reaching out to take his upper arms, brow furrowing in just two places, right above the bridge of her nose. "I haven't figure out what to tell my parents yet. If anything."

Deckard watches the shuffle at a mute remove once her dress has changed hands, not having anticipated altered arrangements on his account. The long-cabled suspension of his shoulders under his jacket has a lot to say about uneasy, twanging tension even while she tugs and fusses; he looks to the dress she's set aside and tucks his hands slow into his pockets with a rustle and sift.

Guilt fits too well to hide along hard angles and furrows worn through the haggard length of his face, perpetually exaggerating insecurity. He has to make himself look at her once she's facing him again. And he was just about ready to start forcing himself to slant out a smile when she reminds him that her parents exist and he stalls out into a blank slack at his jaw and an unevenly drawn breath instead.


Ideas. He blinks slow away on a delay, tongue pushed dry past his teeth. Hhh.

The party foul is Bella's, it's true. She clears her brow, but the tension only moves, straining the corners of her eyes. Her hands move to his chest, palms testing the steadiness of his stand. Her gaze hovers somewhere at the level of his sternum. "I'm sure I'll manage something," she declares, after the passage of some heartbeats, "some- long distance telepath or dream manipulator. We'll be moving through an enclave of misfits."

Optimism buoys her eyes back up to his face, better honoring his exertion. "Really, the best thing I can do for them is stay away," is rational, as rationalizations are, "maybe I can figure out some really elaborate, comforting lie, about how I decided to join doctors without borders for an indefinite tour in Haiti. Or maybe Thailand. I'll say you came with me, they'd be less worried for my safety."

And really- if they want my safety, this is exactly what I need to be doing. For their safety too." Her brows lift, a little expectant. Prompting confirmation like a neon sign cuing applause.

That Flint murdered the mess out of the Ferry's last long distance dream manipulator ghosts unseen under the surface of bleary memory, too ephemeral to catch in the back of his mind when there's so much up front to be preoccupied with. The shift of her hand from his arm to his chest coaxes him into looking down where he had been staring vacantly over the top of her head, scarring ridged tangible through his shirt across sternum bone and mesquite muscle where one of Francois' fired rounds liquified part of his heart, once. He got better.

The same (whole) heart rolls on slow and steady under her palm despite an empty flop of his guts on the subject of parents and things that should be told to them.

"You should do it before we go," he tells her, finally. Approval via practical encouragement that's about right for his lack of relevant experience. He called his parents from jail, once. Maybe. The memory slicks slippery slide hagfish-like after Hokuto before he can snag hold of it.

What if they approach them when they can't find her? Renewed tension bites in rigid across his chest. "They'll be okay."

The trouble is, she can feel that tension, muscle fiber playing a silent somatic note in a distinct emotional key. What prompts it, she can't be sure, but there's no particular need to guess. Take your pick, really. Bella slips her arms around Flint's ribcage, cheek applied roughly level to his heart, though it's his breath she's listening for.

Five seconds, and then she speaks. "There's a payphone not too far away, I think- I'm not sure if it works, but-" shifting, gracing him at least with eye contact when unprompted information gives way to request, "walk me there?"

Flint smokes too much. There's a rag and whistle to his breath that's there for those who listen, and Bella is listening.

He isn't, though. Silence feels like silence to him and five seconds is long enough for him to settle somewhat into her wrapped around him. It is nice. So nice that he does not tense up when the niceness reminds him of some things that Joseph told him that he is supposed to talk about that are not nice. He almost talked about them yesterday and then didn't. And the day before.

Rather than share right off, he meets he gaze long enough to hesitate before he nods and leans into leading the way, if she intends to walk with him and not just hold on for a ride. "Joseph was here," he says.

Not quite misleadingly.

Bella can do her own walking, yes, and her coat seems like excellent foresight at this juncture as they head towards the door. They're not quite at the doorway when Flint mentions the visitor, and this mention causes her to miss a step, coming to a stop for a beat, before she resumes - not wanting to further break her stride.

The grip on his arm is tight enough to indicate he has her attention, though she keeps her eyes ahead, waiting for him to open the door for her. The grip, in fact, must serve. She doesn't say anything, provides no prompt. Bella trusts it's not necessary.

"He said that Calvin modified the 510," Deckard informs the grip she has on his arm, scruffy chin dipped down after it on his way to drawing the door slowly open. It feels weird to call the guy by his first name, but a lot weirder to think of him as the last. Either way, he avoids her eyes as he steps out, keys jangled out of his opposite pocket. "It's attacking non-evolved."

Pronouns might make it sound like the virus is doing this thing on its own, if not for the bit about Calvin making modifications that came before. He could say I think, next, and almost does. But that would be lying.

"He wants us to do something."

The trouble with Bella's coping mechanisms are that, formed in an early bid for maturity, they still suffer from the flaws of the childish egotism that was their impetus. Self-esteem turning to superiority, breeding snobbery - all serving to make nothing of a threat or offence. The implications of the words 'my kind' could never, to her, have been more than snobbery undeserved, a false superiority she knew better than. The sharpness of the readjustment she must make, the significance applied retroactively, leaves her wanting to say something stupid like 'that's impossible!' Or maybe 'surely not!'

She has enough self possession not to, though, but she does have to take her time before replying, blinking a surprise that makes her wide blue eyes look particularly guileless. This is not mere illusion either - she's got no craftiness that's quite equal to an engineered plague.


"Mother of fuck," has the breathless quality of astonishment, next door to outrage but not quite there, not yet, "that tacky bitch Blite must have been involved. It took a whole project staff for me to make some brute force modifications," if nothing else, Flint has dodged reprove over his tardy mention - she's busy being angry at others, "goddamn psychopaths-" she grits her teeth, biting back some unproductive continuation. And while Bella's house may not be spun glass, it's still probably a bad idea to throw stones.

"What do they expect us to do?" isn't rhetorical - she's requesting information directly.

Deckard's key rolls into the lock and down, his silence now a thoughtful one. Which. Isn't necessarily noticeably different from one of his less thoughtful silences, but it's accompanied by sluggish distraction in the return of his keys to his pocket and a turn of his shoulder away from the closed door. Down the hall.

He can feel her reeling next to him without having to ogle while they walk: she's quiet for too long and dumps too much information when she finds her voice again. Non-judgmental as most mutts, even on the subject of tacky bitches and psychopaths and hypocrisy, he holds the stairwell door open for her, bypassing their rusty death trap of an elevator as per standard procedure.

His, "Dunno," is also standard procedure, if a shade less honest than usual. Reminiscent of his days sitting opposite her in a comfy chair with wandering eyes and restless hands. "If you know something, they'll want information."

She takes each step with the ball of her foot extended, not settling her foot on any one step. She'd like to keep moving. As long as she's in motion, working to some purpose, she feels resistant, if not immune. Bella's expression has gained that interior distance that marks unconcealed thought.

It's not the only marker of course. There's also the tone she uses as she voices these thoughts.

"At least they want something from us," Bella noto benes, "though I don't know what I can tell them, other than suggest they tour Elvira Blite at gunpoint around each and every flooded hospital. If they expect some insight on Rosen, I think they've mistaken me for someone who knows the first goddamn thing. Not that we need to disabuse them."

None of this requires a response, of course. Not until she looks at him directly and asks in a tone carefully purged of suspicion, but not quite to the point of 'oh, and by the way': "Did anything else come up that I ought to know about?"

Anything is something.

Deckard follows at her side, a step behind in his slower sink down the well. He has less reason to hurry, with awkward parental conversation waiting for them at the end of the rainbow, left hand laced down the banister with a distracted air. Half-listening.

Did she find a long brown hair on the couch? He didn't see any there but he didn't look very hard. Did someone see her in the hallway? Who does Bella even talk to that lives here.

"There are others," seems like a reasonable segue into 'anything else.' "Joseph wants me to kill ours."

If she is asking out of foreknowledge, she doesn't jump at his evasion. If she's in for dirty tricks like that, then she's waiting for a better, crueler moment. Bu one hopes Bella's got better things to do than indulge in sadism.

The coming conversation can't be any more appealing a prospect to Bella, seeing as she's the one that must conduct it. She's not had time to rehearse, and realizing this with some time to go - the stairwell's ground floor door comes into view below - she may just-

Then Flint speaks, and she must decode his laconism. Others, meaning what? Ours, meaning- And as things click into place, she's once against distracted from preparation. The corners of Bella's lips tug down - displeasure, she feels, but without clearly defined source.

"That sounds like Oedipal horseshit," she says, at length, "they can't make us play this game. Let someone else do it if- that's what's required. But that's a sick thing to ask of you. What possible rationale could there be save for the symbolic value?"

Deckard doesn't know. A look at her out from under his brows says so, but he's relieved that she agrees, downward progress ground to a vacantly disheartened halt.

There are rational reasons, of course. Calvin's approached one or both of them multiple times. He admitted who he was, and to a lesser degree, admitted what his plans were. They might hold emotional sway or. Instinctive influence.

"They must be worried," he says. Finally. Also quietly.

Dump him in the Narrows worried.

"With good reason, since they have no better plan than to ask us," Bella says, arch and pretty much unnecessary, but since she'll have to demonstrate some basic human decency and show gratitude to the Ferry pretty soon, so she'll take her shots while she can.

But unfortunately it's Bella and ironicquote her kind /ironicquote that have to worry about what the man she's still calling Rosen intends. Which means if they're worried, she should be worrieder. And self interest remains the source of much of Bella's aspirations to genius.

Not all aspiration ends with success, of course. "He has thermal and I think field based metallokinesis- if I were forced to make up a term on the spot. If they're thinking we can lure him into an ambush, we'll either need some on hand negation or a very effective encounter. I don't think we've established a particularly friendly dialogue."

"I dunno." What they're thinking. Deckard doesn't know much of anything, these days, save that The Vanguard and the Ferrymen have merged into something with a council and they are supposed to be moving in with them like. Soon.

Also that her parents don't know yet.

Also also that they are in a stairwell. Scruffy skull craned back to better squint up the shaft yawning long and cramped overhead, he sizes Bella up (and down) once he's forced out the blunt of his breath in a sigh. "Maybe now they'll be happy to see you."

There is a very great deal the oldest in the House of Sheridan don't know yet, and much they will still remain in the dark about, at least should Bella retain any sort of control over the situation. She has given some serious and rather grim thought to what would be more cruel - disappearing without explanation or them finding out about what she's done. And what, therefore, they might conclude about who she is. The person they raised. The scenario of discovery is too wild to her, no matter how profoundly possible, to present a ready projection. She simply can't imagine.

"The fewer familiar faces, the better, I suppose," Bella says, and then a rather obvious query strikes her, one that might not have been so long deferred had she not be busy thinking about her parents, the plague, and her un-progeny. But when she thinks, she asks: "Did you tell Joseph about this? About my deal with our Gallic acquaintance?"

He can do two things at once. Bella tips her head towards the door, out of the stairwell, which is rather inconveniently closed right now. Not impatient but certainly expectant. This is a gentleman friend duty; no further prompting is - in her mind - necessary.

Deckard looks at her without turning his head, bloodless blue eyes murky on the mark in tandem with a subtle, bristly hunch at his shoulders. Preemptively defensive. Enough so that she has the answer before he manages a level, "No," and reaches (belatedly) to wrap a hand around the door grip to draw it open for her.

No he did not mention to Joseph that they made a deal with Francois. And no he especially did not mention that said deal will entail a new very Sheridan addition to the Ferrymen's ranks.

But he does hold the door, so that is valiant and gentlemanly of him.

He'll find out soon enough. Also:

"He may have tried to stop us."

She's happy to take 'no' for an answer. It is an excellent answer, in fact, for precisely the reason Flint outlines. Bella has been immensely understanding of Joseph's nasty little grudge over what should essentially be bygones by now, if you ask her, but there remains some fly-in-ointment potential. A less than warm reception to the idea of her advent wouldn't be what you'd call unexpected.

"Well, we won't be having any of that, will we?" she says, gracing his arm with a touch of her hand and making a momentary play for his gaze - it's meant to reassure, to sooth that prickle of defense - as she passes through the open door and into the hallway beyond. It's dim out there, the overhead incandescents giving off a dirty light that only makes the grime look grimier. Which is fine - the more reminders of what she's electing to leave behind, the better, really.

She turns sideways on a heel and waits for Flint to catch her up, lifting a hand to tuck her hair's more rebellious strands behind her ears. "He couldn't though, could he?" Stop them, she means. One sorry drug-addicted theism peddler couldn't possibly manage that much clout.

There's a lot for Deckard to be defensive about. Not the least of which is Joseph's inevitably hearing about this sooner or later and and being Judgmental and maybe even Wrathful. Even though that's supposed to be God's bag. So touch alone isn't enough to ease out the tension bit into either side of his spine, but it does let his shoulders take on a more natural slant on his way to following her out into industrial gloom.

Eye contact is there but brief: more of a glancing touch that shirks away argon blue in reduced light and provides him with a convenient excuse not to attempt anything more sustained. Can't look someone in the eye if you can't see their eyes.

One wounded, tortured war hero shepherd of the lord that at least vaguely resembles a stuffed animal? Yeah. Might have some clout. "Probably," honest reservation constricts in his gut enough for him to admit (however flatly) after an automatic moment taken to sweep the street outside. Also, by group relevant standards she's like — hoodlum check done, he looks at her, from the neck down — kind of evil. "He wouldn't have to try very hard."

Bella is not so hot on Flint's next answer - it gives her a twinge of anxiety, a feeling like her spinal fluid's gone effervescent - and what little strain she relieved is not dispersed but transmitted, setting in around her eyes and, almost imperceptibly, a tightening of her jaw.

"I'm a defector," Bella states, with a crispness that cannot be for Flint's benefit - the slight glaze of frost is at the behest of an audience imagined and unseen. Her judges, the people's court, the dog headed guy weighing her heart against a feather - the address is to them, "I have cooperated extensively and without reservation in the past, and will liberate a pre-cognitive that was being kept in Institute custody."

The tightness becomes clearer as she widens her smile - what part of it's still pretty only makes it worse. If she's hoping to win hearts and minds, she may want to sport a different mug.

"And really, what pastor doesn't love a penitent sinner story?"

Flint watches muscle fiber cinch and set at a wary remove, agreeing in his tall and slope-shouldered silence that it is, at the very least, unwise to disagree.

All the way up until she gets to that last part about pastors and penitent sinners and he looks away on a level plane. Not quite exasperation. More like no-comment, canine tolerance of deliberate ignorance re: How Much The Ferry Is Going to Hate Her.

It is a look she's likely to see a lot of in the next few months.

So it goes.

It's not as if Bella honestly believes what she is saying. It's not a matter of genuine belief, however, but rather simple emotional buoyancy - no life raft, but rather a flotation device, proof against no real threat but certainly something to cling to lacking other options.

So silence she'll take and silence she'll work with, taken not as assent but rather as permission to labor just a little longer under delusion. She's faith that if this self-deception were looking particularly life threatening, there'd be some sort of intercession.

She doesn't wait for him to open the front door. By the time she reaches it, her stride has lengthened, that smile mercifully gone, replaced by a far less synthetic expression of intent resolve. Down the cement steps, tap tap tap, and she pauses on the sidewalk, doing another brief check for Flint's continued presence, an assurance whose need seems founded in little reasonable fear. A substitution, maybe - groundless fears chosen for their innocuousness, over more real and thus more intractable problems.

Convenient reassurance from this elective anxiety, then, is what Bella gains from looping her arm about Flint's for the citydark stretch of pavement between the apartment and the pay phone. She parts arms to fish a cache of quarters - a laundry cash stash she can't hardly prioritize right now - out of her coat pocket. A series of coins accompanies a series of trepidations - one and will the machine eat her money, two and will her parents be awake, at home, three and what will she say, what can she tell them?

The receiver rings against her ear and soon, one way or another, she will get her answers.

(OOC NOTE: IC time is being smudged somewhat to account for irregular OOC schedules.)

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