brian_icon.gif veronica4_icon.gif

Scene Title Indiana
Synopsis …is a state of mind. And not a good one.
Date November 13, 2011

Somewhere in Indiana.

The headlights pierce through the mist like weary lancers, charging the battlefield and dispersing their foes around them at a measured, and depleted pace. The pale blue 4runner continues to eat up the road, the fog and cold evaporating as the SUV glides by on the black pavement. Winters’ head rests against the window, grey eyes reflecting the grey skies looming over them. Trees, bushes, rocks, flash by as he leans fully against the door.

Another day. Another motel. Another dark sky inhabited by Veronica Sawyer and Brian Winters. Getting away. The day is driving. The night is food, sex, sleep. Sometimes missing one or another of the three. And the days repeat.

Sitting in the passenger seat, Brian looks lazily over at Veronica driving. His head lolls back to the window. Winters has been quiet since after the day of the battles. He had his blocks dropped so he could observe the day of battle. So he experienced all the loss, saw all the casualties. Felt the pain.

Sitting on the bed, Winters stares at the drab wall of the motel they happen to be staying in. His eyes seem deadened. His days he says little to nothing, her reminding him to eat at times. His nights have been the only time he would come alive for her. Still passion beating in him. But the new morning brings back the same Brian. Wounded. Weakened. Hurt.

His hat pulled down low, watching the road go by, Winters reaches up to try to weakly turn on the radio. Though his hand raising up, he gives up in the middle, his hand drops to his lap. “Where are we?” His voice is soft and timid.

The sky is still dark outside, Veronica still asleep behind him. The bare-chested Brian turns to look at the woman for a long moment, before returning to the wall in front of him.

“We won.”

The words spoken to the otherwise empty room sound more like a question than a statement.

“Indiana,” Veronica says, a glance over to Brian, her right hand leaving the wheel as her left arm moves off where she was leaning on the window sill so her left hand can take over a bit. She touches his cheek lightly, fingers curling behind his ear in a quiet greeting. Her voice is huskier than usual for want of use, having had no one but herself to talk to for a few hours. And she isn’t the sort to talk to herself.

She’s still a little pale but looks a little less so, thanks to the champagne blond color of her hair at the moment. It’s not the most dramatic of disguises, but it’s an effective one — she’s one of those women who looks like a different person entirely with a different hair style. The low-key style of dress — t-shirt, jeans, boots — help with the transformation. Unfortunately blond hair nor casual attire will beat facial recognition software. Sunglasses and hats help with those, in public, at least.

“You feel like stopping soon?” she asks. To stretch, to use the restroom, to eat. She’s at least a good road trip companion, considerate of her partner’s needs. Her hand withdraws back to the steering wheel. Her dark eyes flit his way, assessing his expression, his complexion, as if she could determine what he needs with just a look.

Her question elicits a half hearted shrug. Though after a moment there is a strained. “Whatever you want to do.” Before falling back to quiet. As her hand goes to his cheek his features alight a fraction. Like the pulsing ember of a dying fire. His eyes go to hers, trying to summon a flicker of life for her. Not a whole lot comes, but it is an effort.

“I think I can probably drive tomorrow. You’ve done more than your fair share.” Nothing about him suggests he would be ready for the task, other than his ambitious and weakly spoken words.

There are more words, but they don’t come easy. Instead the glove box pops open unceremoniously as one of Brian’s hands plows into it, shuffling things around with abandon before pulling out the map. The glove box is left open as he tries to flap the map open with one hand.

Veronica’s brows draw together as she looks at him, then back at the road. She lifts a shoulder. “I’m good for a bit. Just let me know if you need to stop for whatever,” she says quietly. She watches the road with more intensity than she needs to, because it’s easier than grappling with their reality. She pulls her sunglasses from her head down onto her face, despite the fact it’s not a particularly bright day.

They help to veil the hurt in her eyes.

After a few moments, she speaks again.

“If you’re having second thoughts…”

… is all she can manage before she swallows back whatever might come next. Her fingers curl around the steering wheel a little tighter, and she forcibly keeps herself from looking over at him.

The map is rustled with frustration, the sound of paper crumpling becoming all too loud as he clumsily manages the thing with building anger. The paper continues to crumple as he tries to manage the cumbersome map before apparently reaching a breaking point and the entire thing is shoved and probably torn back into the glove box.

“That’s not what this is.” He seethes, his body suddenly coming to life from its weakened and apathetic state.

“I told you..” Winters is practically growling as he slams the glove box shut. “This has nothing to do with you. I… We.. Pushed ourselves beyond our limits and now we’re paying for it.” He slouches into the window and door with an overly dramatic movement. The fire though quickly ignited also seems to die down quickly.

“I feel depleted. Weak. I only come alive with stimuli, when I fight or fuck. And I’m trying not to fight you Vee.” It sounds disgruntled, as if he was upset with her for not already understanding, though the lightning rage that was there a moment ago has disappeared.

From the side, he can see her gaze slide his way, though she doesn’t turn away from the windshield. A muscle twitches in her jaw, her fingers flex on the steering wheel, as Veronica’s defenses rise in response to that flare of anger in him.

She waits for him to settle, for that little fire to burn back down to an ember. She shakes her head, almost imperceptibly. “You didn’t tell me. But okay. I’m sorry. I just…” she sighs, her left arm moving back to the window sill to rest, her cheek leaning down on her left hand, her entire body shifted just a couple of inches to the left, to give him more space in the 4Runner.

It’s a large vehicle, but it feels claustrophobic.

“I thought maybe being cut off — deliberately — was maybe too much. Now that you have a choice.” Her words are quiet. If the radio were on, he might not even have heard them. “But I’m tired of being a martyr. And I don’t want to give you up.”

But she would, goes unsaid. If she had to. If he needed her to.

“I don’t want to fight,” she says instead.

A year ago he would have punched the door, cried, sunken into a pout.

His hands tense, fingers clenching into a fist. Veins popping. His body tightens.

Then relax.

“That’s not how it works.” Winters takes a deep breath, lowering his head. A few breaths are taken, his body stabilized. He brings his hand up to his heart, holding his hand there as if trying to physically slow down his heart rate.

Finally he breaks the silence. At least he’s more alive than he was. “I’m sorry. Truly. This has nothing to do with you.” He clutches the handlebar on the door. “The first time I died I was out of commission for weeks. Alaska and Ark I’ve died and lost more than I ever have. I’m better at dealing with it now. But..”

He looks over at her. “It’s still hard. I’m sorry.”

But the brief argument has put some life into him, his gaze seeming more lucid. “I just need some time.” Brian takes another breath. “Stop second guessing yourself Vee. I chose you. That’s how it is. Stop trying to wiggle out of it.”

Her eyes flick to his profile again, and then back to the windshield. It’s a boring view, that way, flat highway and freight trucks and little else.

“I know,” she says softly, regarding how many deaths he had to endure. “I’m so sorry.” It wasn’t easy for her to witness her share of them — even if it wasn’t the face she loved. And even if it was the wrong mind behind the face. She still loves that Brian, too. She’s still grappling to see them as different entities.

His last words make her smile, though it’s faint.

“I choose you, too,” Vee says, shifting left hand to wheel again, her right hand moving to find his. “Don’t apologize for having to deal with this. I understand. We’ve lost a fucking lot.”

His gaze on her is loving, his smile gentle, and when her hand finds his the squeeze he gives her is affectionate. But the life that surged in him because of the fight doesn’t last long. It’s like watching a plant wilt in real time. His gaze on her gradually deadens, going from affectionate to apathetic.

“We still have..”

He can’t even finish the thought as he slumps back into his seat, his hold on her hand still there, but barely. Brian sags in his eat, the brim of his hat going down low.

His cheek presses against the window. His eyes following the grass as they go along. “We should go to the grand canyon.” It’s said without any life or excitement. “Or maybe there’s some national parks.. In Indiana.”

“Let’s get the fuck out of Indiana,” Veronica says, flatly. “Maybe the Grand Canyon.” Maybe by then he’ll have recuperated enough to enjoy it, at least a little.

“Right now I just want more distance between us and Massachusetts.” She glances at the clock on the dash, then the fuel gauge.

“Couple more hours and then we’ll find somewhere to stop for the night. Think about what you wanna eat, yeah? If there’s any choice.” It might just be Denny’s again. Every road stop in America seems to have a Denny’s.

She keeps her hand in his, as long as he will hold it, or until she needs to turn.

“Please.” It sounds desperate and as if he’s on the verge of tears. His countenance is weak and urgent as he turns to her profile. “No more Denny’s.”

“And nothing that is similar to Denny’s.”

His hand grips hers tightly, his face sagging against the window. “I’m not really hungry. We could just go straight to a motel.” He pauses, a flicker of light flash in his eyes before going out again. “Maybe we’ll be hungry after that.”

Veronica eyes him when he sounds like he might cry over the prospect of Denny’s, but she doesn’t laugh. Her dimples show, though, as she smiles. A rare sighting, these days.

“Go ahead and sleep,” she says, her voice soft. Understanding. “It’ll pass faster that way.”

The time. The state of Indiana. The pain.

She lets go of his hand for a moment, enough to put on the stereo, opting for the CD player rather than whatever terrible music they might find on the radio. Of course, they’re left to the whim of whoever left the CDs in the truck when they sold it.

He pulls his hat down low to block the grey light from getting in his eyes. Moving his hand down his chair is reclined in a swift and clunky motion. Jarring his head a little at the moment of descent. There’s a pause.

“I’ll drive tomorrow.”

Another pause.

“I like the blonde.” He adds in, summoning up a brief smile before his eyes sway to the side, continuing to watch the grey day go by.

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