Last Session


bella_icon.gif deckard_icon.gif

Scene Title Last Session
Synopsis Bella terminates her professional relationship with client, Flint Deckard, in an out-of-order bathroom in Fort Hero.
Date July 17, 2010

Fort Hero

For the last several days, Flint's lanky figure has been an increasingly common sight within the tangled bowels of Fort Hero. Grey suit and grizzled scruff stalking against a backdrop of dirty concrete on security monitors, all hard-edges and stress fractures under the weight of the upper levels perpetually pressing down. In the grander scheme of things, his marker hasn't moved much. He has quarters here, and busy work. And books. And booze.

Expression approximately as dourly craggy as the ill-lit (and little-used) rectangular corridor he's scuffing through, the partially brainwashed bit of investment he represents moves through bands of shadow without benefit of a flashlight. He's supposed to be taking files from someone more important than him to someone else also more important than him but then there was a left turn where he could have (should have) taken a right and now he's exploring instead.

Far less common is the red haired shade that is currently drifting through the tangled maze of repurposed military concrete, wrapped in a shroud of white lab coat, her tresses looking a little less than tamed, the object of some pulling lately. It would be fair to say that, while recognizable, Bella does not look quite herself. Her walk is not crisp, her bearing lacks purpose, and her expression is unguarded in its paleness and fret. This has evidently not been a good day for Dr. Sheridan.

She hasn't asked for him. That would be telling. But she did gather herself enough to scan the various scheduled assignments, and probability suggests he should be taking a certain route a certain time. Yes, yes, she's looking for Flint. What else would bring her to Fort Hero, the sense of camaraderie? The cheerful atmosphere? As she attempts a meander intercept course, she turns a corner and…

There he is. Off of the projected path. Figures. He gets one look at her with guard dropped, surprise written all over her face, naked in a way he can't just blink and achieve. Then she's drawn herself up.

"Flint," she says, "Are you busy?"

Flint is surprised too. Mostly on account've the fact that he's less busy than he's supposed to be.

Stare gone dull under the stoop of his brow while he leans to better squint into the dusty obscurity of a private office that hasn't seen human interest in the better part of a decade, he seizes into a clench that snaps his head around and clamps his jaw all fight or flight, eyes like brands, hands open at ready. Hand, actually. The left is still occupied by a pair of manilla folders not quite mundane enough to quash the impression of imminent murder he poses by standing as he is and looking as he does.

His version of being caught off guard isn't as fast to fade, either. It lingers in a bristle through his shoulders and sidewinding mistrust, like he expects he's still in trouble somehow. Even if it's just his crazy stalker therapist, never more than arm's reach from a good Godwinning.

"Depends," hazarded rough after a dry beat, he specifies: "Is this a booty call?"

Bella blinks, then closes her eyes taking a long, thin inhale.

"Flint," she says, with emphatic calmness, "If it were, maybe consider your asking like that might be enough to change a woman's mind, hmmm?" Her eyes open. She looks… harrowed. Maybe even a little angry. Certainly not in cool and collected possession of herself. "If you are finished being a shit, maybe you can give me a straight answer? I am just… not in the mood right now. I…" she halts herself, "Just… fucking walk with me." She turns, and begins to head down the hallway, from whence she came. She takes once glance behind, to make sure he's at her heel.

Chagrined, or at least caught off guard in a mildly less volatile direction, Flint loses some of the edge off his intensity at being called a shit. Cromagnon resentment hoods into his brow and his weight lists backwards onto his boot heels, but offense isn't deeply interred enough to last. It's the source that's unusual; not the sentiment.

Looking, perhaps, as if he is being led back on track with his file folders and his striped tie, Flint hesitates and glances to the nearest camera only briefly before falling into line as directed. He doesn't say anything, probably back to thinking he's in trouble.

Bella also gives the cameras a look, and when she speaks, she does so with her eyes straight ahead, her head and thus her words pointed a little bit at a slant so they can bounce back off the wall and reach Deckard with as much clarity as possible.

"Is there somewhere, some square inch of this hellhole, that doesn't have cameras? I'm sick of observation. If anyone would know, it would be you, yes?" This is a nod both to his defiance of authority and his ability to see shit through walls, so double points for Flint.

"…" says Flint, stride lengthening somewhat to keep up with her clip, "My bathroom."

More elaborate options are offered after a pause for thought and a scrape of his boot when he stops short and tips his files in the relevant direction: "All of the restrooms. There's an old one on this floor no one ever uses. I think they cut off the water." Which he nearly learned the hard way one day before thinking to double check.

Bella keeps walking, like if she stops, something might happen. Someone might notice something was fishy. There's a tension all about her now, where before there was just strain and tiredness. She looks and sounds… edgy. "Take the lead. Take us there." Her words are brusque, allowing no room for argument or condition.

Tail tucked and demeanor increasingly uneasy, Flint is slower and denser about the process of compliance than she might like. But he does comply. It takes little more than a left turn to yield the straight-hipped mark of the men's room, sign yellow with age when Flint pushes past it into the lightless sinkhole beyond.

There are urinals and a mirror and enough light from the hallway to paint grime in uneven streaks across the tiled floor before the door swings creakily shut behind them. From there, it'll take time for her eyes to adjust enough to make out definition beyond the band of white muted under the door and the stark ring of Deckard's eyes unblinking in their survey of familiar territory.

It smells a little like cigarette smoke. Flint scratches at his shoulder.

Bella is in a fit of enough pique not to experience the strange force field effect of the opposite sex bathroom, that menacing triangle symbol, blatantly phallic, demanding she not enter. No hesitation, she just walks right in. She strides to what she must instinctively sense is the center of the room, then turns on Flint, arms crossing the exact instant the door clatters shut, producing the illusion that her arms created that final, enclosing sound.

"I have a couple questions and I suggest you answer them promptly," Bella says, all a-bristle, "Please forgo being cute or asinine. If you are in doubt about either, refrain from making the comment. Just answer me. Are we clear? Am I communicating with clarity? Are you perceiving me lucidly?"

"Okay." Says Deckard. There's a crestfallen, gloomy hush to his agreement, occular lambence reflected in the mirror to provide the brief (but unsettling) illusion of another onlooker when he half-turns to study the pair of more secluded stalls at his back. He still has his files.

"Thank you," Bella says, with a swiftness that doesn't preclude gratitude, but doesn't precisely let him get comfortable with it. She's on the attack. "Do you genuinely have any belief in the possibility of your getting better? Of your mental state, your general happiness, improving? Have you any interest, let alone confidence, that I can help you?"

Flint's eyes tick ceilingwards, skywards, heavenwards depending upon individual worldviews and religious convictions and unconscious motivations. Mainly all he sees up there is piping for the sprinkler system. He knew this conversation was coming, one way or another. He probably didn't expect to have it in a musty old restroom in Fort Hero, though. Without forewarning.

Unless getting a bottle of water upended on your face counts. In retrospect it probably does. So he scowls at himself and at the nearest sink and finally at her shoes, quiet enough for her to assume he's really having to work to comply with her request for no bullshit before he finally says, "No."

Bella doesn't seem surprised at this. Rather the opposite. She lets out a breath of air, a release. Well, at least that suspicion is confirmed. Her shoulders ease for just a moment, before squaring again. She's preparing another volley. "Okay. Thank you," she says, for his honesty, not the lack of confidence, "Second question: why don't you think I can help you?"

The anvil-hammered flank of Flint's long face comes into focus gradually through a distinction between darkness and slightly less dark darkness. For all that the radiation eminating from the core of his glare tends to diffract in humid air, it does little to trace the hard edges of whatever expression he happens to be wearing.

Not that it matters much. His expression is on the dubious end of inscrutable. IE: not flattering where a subtle movement marks the search of his hands for his pockets, calluses' muted scuff echoed sheer off cold tile. He's still otherwise. Also silent for longer than it should take him to answer if he intended to do so honestly.

"Are you okay?"

       "If I agree to answer you, will you agree to answer me, in turn?" Bella says. She's already losing momentum, that unfair pause of Deckard's making her peter out a bit, unable to sustain itself without the added push of impending victory. Whatever victory would have meant. She's already dipping into compromise, a sign of that very suspected wrongness. Not that being so aggressive before was a sign of rightness. This is just a more complex kind of wrong.

There's an air of arm's length to Deckard's silence — a second chasm in the conversation for calculation while he considers her rapid turnaround and the answer it is in itself. He's trying to be careful.

For whose sake, he isn't sure.

"We're shitty people," fulfills the basic requirement of being an answer at least, quiet and dusty and hollow in the men's room with the band of light under the door and dry sinks. "Maybe it's okay if we're not happy."

This is a line of reasoning Bella has never permitted. Probably because it is, in her case, airtight. "That's not fair," she says, which is just about stupid, since fairness, one might even call it justice is precisely what Deckard is gesturing towards. Reaping what your sew. Or something. "And it's not okay. I don't feel okay. And what if we were to actually want to change? Should we not at least have the chance to help someone?"

This last statement sounds pretty general, but the emotional content of it, one of those scary waver/breaks in the control and modulation of her voice, suggest it must have some specific remnant. That those words mean something. At least, that's what Bella would observe.

In fact, she does observe it. Understand, Bella isn't necessarily an amazing actress. Her position is one of control over expression, not invention of expression. All good lies are told around truths. So if she's an actor, she's a method actor. She is quite sure she knows what pathology is playing out here. The trouble is, understanding is failing to dampen the feeling itself enough.

Her lips are drawn, but tremble slightly. There is a touch of petulance there. The spoiled little girl in her always comes out at moments like these. "I asked you why I can't help you, not why I shouldn't. Why don't you think I can help you?"

"I dunno," is all Deckard has to offer after a pause — inevitable and disappointing all the same. His stare blanks out after an uncomfortable beat, leaving drifts of orange fluff floating through the space between here and there. His eyes are slow to adjust, affording her some privacy after the first flicker of a tell-tale quiver.

"You can't change what I've done. You gave me pills. I think those are helping." Surreally reasonable in his tentative reassurance, he has to work to wedge himself down into deeper thought on the matter. Territory he normally endeavors to avoid. The floor is dirtier than he thought.

"Why does it matter? I don't like you because you help me. I let you try because I like you."

"Because I'm a doctor!" Bella says. Her voice is of a kind of an only child can possess. When parents are cosmic deities with infinite, world changing power, the only child can learn that they are in command of reality itself. This defiant outcry, this insistence, carries with it the profound, deep seated belief that caring, wanting, insisting on something will somehow make it so.

"I help people. That is what I do. I make people better. And it doesn't matter if they're good or bad, deserve it or not, it's the what I am supposed to do. But no one will let me!" Her outcry is a series of peaks and cliffs, each sentence starting lower and cresting with a final insistence before dropping down to the level of the next sentence's beginning. It roughly matches the pattern of her breath. Her whole body has joined in this insistence.

And then she stops. Her shoulders rise and fall with a breath that is no longer harness for exclamation, but still seems to demand a great deal of the air around her, tinged as it may be with old cigarette smoke. She closes her eyes, trying to invert those deep breaths, making them calming rather than agitating.

"Do we need to dissolve our professional relationship? If you have no confidence is my ability to help you, and do not predict any change in your opinion in the foreseeable future, I… don't think it is…" she hitches her, "I do not believe it is healthy for me to continue seeing you as my client."

Oh. She's a doctor.

It's fairly likely that somewhere in this Flint had literally managed to forget as much and for a moment is left to hazily consider the furthest reaches of his own formal education: his high school diploma. Which may or may not still exist in paper form somewhere. He'd have to think harder on it than he's really willing to in a pitchy bathroom with a coral snake of a psychiatrist rustling around in what sounds like a mild panic across from him.

The silent readout she gets feels like she's cowed him again. The threat of dissolution has been nudged around before but never quite so directly. And never as an actual threat. Or bargaining chip. Or. …Flail. Less accustomed to this sort of thing than he should be for a murderer, Flint rakes aimlessly around through the ash in his brain and comes up with a quiet, "Okay."

"Very well," Bella says, a badly constructed facsimile of briskness tossed up as a facade over her words. "I can… refer you to another psychiatrist so that you can continue with your medication, which I am glad you believe is helping. I also encourage you to find a therapist or councilor you think would… that you will able to speak with. I will do the research and make some educated suggestions, if you'd like."

Did she have more to say? She doesn't sound quite done. She just stands there for a moment.

"I… am sorry that I was unable to help you more, Flint," she gets out, that briskness giving way to a simple need to sound level, controlled, itself something of a show, "And I am sorry I broke our trust before. I… have done my best to repair, but I imagine it was too much. I should have had the… respect necessary to admit that fact. If my pride has harmed you in any way… I am deeply apologetic."

"I'm not going to talk to anyone else."

He's still quiet. No mistaking the trailing inflection of the long breath that follows either, even if it's hard to see the fall of his chest after it. A sigh. He's somewhere in the neutral ground that exists around resignation and scratchy guilt, the lighter in his pocket turned over once, twice and thrice without approaching anything close to a legitimate distraction.

It's not helping him think any clearer or faster either, which is probably why his irises ring blue again in the ensuing quietude. So he can see to scope her out. So that he can accurately judge the distance he has to cover in a rattlesnake snatch of his right hand out to wrap around her near forearm. So he can jerk her in close to get a better look at her face.

Not precisely politely, either.

Bella goes from attempted chilly distance to real frightened closeness in a split second. She stares up at Deckard, all alarm, though surprise is maybe less present than it might otherwise. As is noticeable resistance. That she's scared is no fake. How scared she is is hard to say. What she's scared of is anyone's guess. She tilts back a bit, claiming some nominal inches of personal space. The lines of her face are drawn, her eyes, at this distance, clearly marked with faint shadows. Too little sleep. Too much worry.

Her free arm comes up between them, hand a loose fist, further emphasizing the symbolic efficacy of the space she claims between them. She doesn't say anything.

"You sound," says Deckard, diction clear as it is flat, "pathetic."

The source of the smokey stink in here is tell-tale on his breath. Faint but present under coffee only slightly less stale while he rakes his glare around her face like he expects to find something there. Like an explanation.

Further dialogue dies in its earliest stage, but his wrought iron grip doesn't slack and neither does the hollow set of his jaw. Testing or waiting. Both.

Bella's nostrils thin the instant she hears this insult. Eyes narrow, as well, becoming pale blue slits. The fist between them loses its looseness. There is a moment where something is possible, some new outburst, something physical this time. A blow. She might even spit in his face.

But is passes. Her words emerge from behind clenched teeth. "You will treat me with respect," she breathes, "Or I will hurt you. I will hurt you very, very badly. Do you understand me?" This is an order. But it is followed by an insistence of less assured authority, but greater force. "Treat me with respect."

Flint can see her tense as well as he can feel it — muscle rigid beneath his fingers and rigged taut through her skull. He turns his grip a matter of minor degrees with the sensation, secure enough to his satisfaction while he waits.

Upon hearing news of imminent danger of injury some part of him might be in, he studies her a beat and places his left hand deliberately before and around his Stuff, protecting Himself and What Matters Most as well as he can on short notice. That done, kind of, he hoods his brow and provides the requisite, "No."

Bella didn't think she was bluffing. She wasn't intending on going for the balls in a literal sense. What she had in mind would have been much more in the figurative mode. And she tries. She tries to summon up the fury, the resentment, necessary to find whatever weak points in his armor he's previously exposed to her, some pathological knot she can cut to make him unravel.

If she could do this turns out to be moot. Because she can't. She does genuinely try, anger pressing up against her ribs, longing for expression. But she can't let it out. And it subsides, frustrated. Bored.

"Let me go." This is not a request. She will not let it be a request.

How persistent of a dog is Deckard? Trekking along at her heels didn't make a difference. Literally shaking her hasn't done much. Sooner or later he's bound to get distracted by something else long enough to turn her loose, but for now he's left to watch her anger seep back from the surface at a mute loss.

He doesn't let her go. But he doesn't do much of anything else either, chilly eyes unblinking in their static regard.

"Please Flint…" Bella says, a true falter entering her voice, though that first flash of fear is long gone, and she now sounds less scared and more just strained. At some kind of limit. "I… don't know what you are trying to do. But if we need to… to talk about it, we can still talk. There is… no reason why we can't still talk."

Deckard's 'I dunno,' is silent in a shake of his head this time, tension bit out across the back of his arm in a fleeting turn of pressure that nearly approaches painful before he swallows and lets go of her. One finger at a time.


Bella eases back, drawing her arm from his grasp and immediately going over to massage it. That was a little much at the end. Though what is she saying? It was a little much from the start. She looks puzzled, and, yes, upset, but all the fear is gone. Her brow is furrowed, only further the impression of wear that has sunk into her features.

"Me too."

For what, it's hard to say. Though there are certainly a number of suitable things to apologize for.

Back to standing awkward and quiet in his suit and tie and short-shorn ~Company~ haircut in a dusty old men's room, Flint nods in vague acknowledgement of Bella's return apology. He scrubs a wrist under his nose and glances to the nearest stall. She's the one who wanted to come in here.

Bella's come full emotional circle. The last hints of the irritation and frustration, the kindling for her eventual anger, which Flint incited into being with his greeting comment, fade and leave her with her ghostly mien of just-before their encounter. This is more what he would have been dealing with otherwise. Though that is actually far from certain. It's hard to imagine what he could have said, or could not have said, that might have avoided any reaction.

Maybe, though, the question was already asked, at the wrong time. 'What's wrong' may have done the trick. Who knows? Impossible now to say.

"You'll still come for me?" she asks, "When the time comes. If… if it comes. You will?"

"Yeah," says Flint. He doesn't say it with much feeling. Arguably any form of 'yeah,' is going to be hard-pressed to sound like anything other than the most basic form of agreement, though.

In the meanwhile, she's not leaving, so. Left with the prospect of protracted nearness, he glances once around the floor, hesitates, and then withdraws retardedly into the aforementioned near stall like he intends to use it.

There's even a muffled clank that is probably the sound of him tipping the toilet seat down.

This little behavioral quirk is enough to set Bella a little out of herself, urging a sideways motion as she peers in through the open door. She can't summon the energy to lift a skeptical brow. She doesn't even look curious so much as just inquisitive. And maybe a little worried.

Deckard has a seat, as people do. There's no water in the bowl and his pants are up, but it's darker out of that direct aura of light creeping in under the exit. It's harder to see him accordingly, especially once he's switched his eyes off again, but he seems structurally fine, slouch aside.

Bella moves to stand in the gap of relative brightness that reaches into the stall, casting her shadow over Deckard. Not that this should be extended into metaphor. It is merely a trick of the light. Her hands lift to touch at either side, making a gesture like bracing without any of its force.

The question may be begged: what is she doing? And futhermore: what is she still doing here at all?

"Typically," Bella begins, "There is a debriefing in the last session," a pause - will he choose to follow her? - but she doesn't give him the chance to act dense (or otherwise), "Is there anything you'd like to say. While we are still within the bounds of the client/patient agreement?"

Theoretically, Deckard could kick the stall door shut in her face. His legs are long enough — knees set open at a wide angle, spine braced against old pipes. But he doesn't. And soon she's deep enough in with him that his reach doesn't matter.

Bristled chin at a reticent dip close to his collar, he sighs again when she takes the trouble to get specific, breath a chalky hiss through his sinuses while he tries to think of something to say that doesn't sound stupid. "Thanks," is an uninspiring start. "For trusting me." Most of the time.

"Anything else?" Bella says. She hasn't got screws in her voice - there's no pressure being applied. Time tested as persistence has been in Deckard's case, honestly, the results haven't been precisely phenomenal. At this extent she has inverted the method. Right now she is being receptive. This is his chance to get things out in the open on his own power. To employ a somewhat tired therapeutic truism: this is his time.

There's a lot of tentative nudging around at phrasing in Flint's current state of brow-furrowed concentration. It seems like he used to be better at talking. Probably he just cared less about what tumbled out from brain to voice. "If you're in trouble," he hazards, finally, already leaning off topic under the oppressive weight of his preoccupation, "you shouldn't be running around alone."

Listening to Deckard is a rather different experience when you're not constantly trying to turn any given thing he says into a crowbar, a tool for prying up plate after plate (if she's lucky) of Deckard's armor before he tightens his reticulation enough close her out entirely. She hears the words the same, and she even interprets them along similar lines, but the utility is very different.

She also takes longer before answering. No perceived advantage to press. Her reply comes out measured. Measured, specifically, around some unspoken content whose outline is defined in what she senses in Deckard's own words. "I have… some security at work," watching over her, which, considering what she's expressed about her employers maybe is a blade with at least two cutting edges, "And I moved out of my apartment. What more would you- what else could I do?"

"Disappear." Bleaker than he intended to sound, Flint scrubs a hand across the sink of his cheek and reconsiders his tone. And the scale of his suggestion. A little goes a long ways with the bathroom's dusty echo. "I need a place to stay. And I'm better when I'm not alone." Telling Joseph as much sounded stupid in his head. Weak. He knows because he's tried to find an un-stupid way to explain it and fallen short and fallen short and fallen short.

"I could find a place. Close to Midtown. I won't bother you, or." One of his brows tilts, awkward in its sideways skew.

It's odd how you can basically expect a thing and still have no idea what to do with it when it arrives. Potentiality is, itself, a quality that inflects one's handling of a notion. What has not come has not come, inhabits a distinctly different ontological category that the same thing after its coming.

Bella did expect something like this. In fact, via retrospective application of arrogance, she might go so far as to say she planned it. Which should mean, what? That she wanted it? That would seem to follow. What doesn't follow from that, however, is her reaction.

"I can't," are her first two words, meaning something all on their own unless amended, which they are, and quickly, "disappear. I can't. I don't mean I w-… I mean, I'm tempted. But it wouldn't work. I would be found. By my employers," not 'our' employers, note, "I would have to keep working." It's this last statement that really troubles the actuality of her denial. It's not a refusal but rather a condition. Implying it could be met.

Just as expectant of outright disinterest, Deckard doesn't react much to initial denial in the form of I can't, shocks already braced to catch the impact. He watches her and listens, needily attentive despite himself, but better attuned to subtleties of expression in the dim and dark than he is in electric blue.

Meanwhile there's been talk all this time of a mysterious Other Employer and up until now, Flint'd never really wondered who or what it might entail. Considering what she'd been up to under this employer, a less intimidating employer — the one they currently share — is enough to give him muffled pause, guilt clagging into the creases of his brain like so much snot. Not a subtle point to hesitate on. Especially if she's looking for it. "Okay."

Okay means what precisely? Dammit, Bella wanted to get to be the vague one this time around. This may be expecting too much, but maybe excessive expectations are precisely what are called for! There's a momentarily flash of that petulance in her eyes, but it's gone just as quickly.

"I wish- Under the correct, the safest of circumstances, I could… maybe conscience, maybe consider… disappearing. I-" a falter, "I have no desire to continue my work. But my desire isn't terribly important to my employers. Or, rather, it is important only insofar as it is useful," which actually could be said about lots of bosses everywhere, but Bella's probably not talking about HR prohibiting Pretzel Friday, "So I would have to continue working. Until circumstances change."

There's another pause. She really wants him to interject here, but she's managed to come only to the same thing she finished with last time, more or less. Progress must be made by someone interested in progress.

"Either way, I do need a place to stay."

"Midtown is a pretty good place to disappear," Flint says. Careful again, the rough of his voice quiet and speech slow to buff out any potential for a stumble while a substantial part of him lags behind all dead weight and dragging heels. "If you feel like you need to."

Joseph is accounted for. Teo and Abigail too. Joseph's dog. Dogs. They're fine.

Ferrymen could be missing. He wouldn't know.

Restless with energy diverted suddenly from overthought, Flint braces a hand up against the stall side near hers and pushes up to his feet, eyes elsewhere. "Until then I'll need help with the bills anyway."

Bella eases back, out of the stall, clearing his potential path out into the bathroom proper. Three steps and she's cleared enough space for comfortable passage. Her arms have folded around herself, warding off that non-existant cold that seems to occasionally afflict her. She nods. Once.

"I'll need to make arrangements," Bella says, "I will need a little time."

Flint nods, which would be a better form of agreement if it was easier to see in here. As things are, the gesture is visible enough to get the point across once he's suspended himself across the open stall door. A glance at his watch tells him he has missed a meeting he was supposed to go to after he finished with the files, which. He seems to have set down somewhere.

His search is aborted after a glance back over his shoulder.

They probably weren't that important.

"I'll see what I can find."

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