Loyalty and Loneliness


melissa_icon.gif perry_icon.gif

Scene Title Loyalty and Loneliness
Synopsis In the aftermath of d'Sarthe's, two Messianics speak on happiness and companionship, or the lack thereof.
Date December 24, 2010

The Donut King

However discreet their exit from the premises of d'Sarthe's, however deft their evasion of the forming police encirclement, however skillful their escape, after all this one would have sort have hoped Melissa and Perry would have retired to a location where they'd be less conspicuous. The Donut King, drab walled and florescent lit, smelling of grease and confectioner's sugar and stale coffee, is certainly inconspicuous in and of itself. But when you're wearing evening wear, whether shabby or stunning, you tend to stand out.

Not that they're standing, not after this. Perry has snagged a booth after ordering a pair of coffees, small and black and basically a cover to give them a reason to be there. His high brow is creased with worry as his thumbnail picks at the styrofoam of the cheesy cup, muddy brown eyes fixing on Melissa only to dart away from time to time, as if gazing at her were too much for him. "I'm- I'm really sorry about that. I don't- I- did you know that man?" Stupid question. Of course she did. But it seems less presumptuous to ask 'how did you know him' and less intrusive to ask 'who was he'.

There wasn't any conversation from Melissa after they left d'Sarthes. She looks down at her coffee until he speaks, and she glances up, nodding. "I do. Nick York. Met him a couple months ago. Haven't seen him in a while, but he's a friend, and one who helped me when I really needed it." She shrugs a little and leans back. "Couldn't do any less for him. I just wish I knew how he ended up in that bomb suit."

"That," Perry says, gaze flickering back to Melissa, "is something we- uh- can try to determine. Retaliation is- well, that's our best and- uh- clearest option," he levers the cup to his lips, sipping the bitter black - he doesn't seem to mind. An engineer, caffeine is really all he cares about, and this coffee isn't lacking for that. "I- I know I shouldn't have expected less. And I didn't but I just- well, I just wanted to say… your loyalty, your- uh- your courage? It was- it was a privilege to see."

That has Melissa scoffing and shaking her head. "Wasn't courage. And trust me, I will deal with the person or people who put him in that thing. He very nearly died tonight, and that is just not acceptable. I've lost too many friends to let Humanis First or anyone else take away another as long as I can do something about it. And I will do something about it."

"Of course!" Perry exclaims, though not too loudly. Bad enough they are in a public place. "But don't- don't lose sight of our- you know- associa-" he pauses, realizing, slowly, that maybe he should start using different words, "-you have friends, compatriots at least, you have- you have me and the others and we all, all will help. This is- it's our fight too. And you need not be alone in it."

Head tilting, Melissa's brows lift. "Depends on how you look at it, now doesn't it? You and our comrades have the same goals but entirely different methods you wanna employ. With Marjorie dead, I am alone. None of the rest of you can be as open as I can, not safely. But don't worry, loneliness is something I'm getting used to."

These last words, in particular, sketch dark lines on Perry's forehead. "I will worry," he says, grimly, "that is- it's not acceptable. Not to me. That we have each other is- it's precisely the point. We- yes, I mean, yes, we have different… sides, but of the same coin. And I- well-" he straightens a little in his seat, "I stood beside you in- uh- in plain sight, didn't I? And- uh- happily so."

Melissa sighs and leans her head back, eyes closing. "Fine, we're one big happy family. Happy now? I'm sure it'll all be butterflies and kittens by tomorrow," she murmurs. "I don't know what it is you want me to say. Want me to lie? Continue the sarcasm? Feign something I don't feel?"

Perry shakes his head, slowly. "No…" he says, an answer to all these questions, "I- I am not sure what I want you to say. I don't- I'm saying what I want you to hear. What you do with it- well, of course I-" another pause, "I don't know how much I care about our happiness," he admits, abruptly, "but I- I do care about loyalty. And it seemed- well, it seemed to me you could appreciate that. You seem to be possessed of it- uh- yourself."

"Sometimes loyalty isn't a good thing," Melissa says, shaking her head. "The men who strapped Nick into that vest were loyal to their cause. And sometimes people remain loyal to others for longer than should." She adds in a murmur, "Far longer than they should." She waves a hand then dismissively. "Don't worry, not turning on you. Just pointing out a sad fact."

"What- what people are loyal to… that can be wicked, can be- well, untrue," Perry says, voice firming on this point, a point he believes in rather fiercely, "but loyalty itself is a good thing. Is the best thing. It's the heart of-" but he cuts himself off again - he knows better, Melissa isn't impressed by grand statements or fancy talk. Perry clears his throat. "I promise to you, as long as our cause is common, as long as you will walk with me… I won't step away from your side. I will be loyal," he attempts a smile, if thin, "for longer than I should, if needs be."

"That's not the problem, Perry." Melissa sighs and pushes the coffee away. She's too worked up to want more caffeine in her system right now. "Comrads are easy to come by when you're doing the shit we're doing. I don't doubt your loyalty. Or Nadira's. The job'll get done. I promise."

"I- I know this," Perry says, eyebrows inclining in an upside-down V of plaintive concern, "that's- that's not my worry. I want to know- what is the problem? I-" yet another pause, "Melissa… I admire you. You have… so many fine qualities. You deserve better than to- than to feel alone. As you say you feel. I'm not- I know I'm maybe not the best person for this. To talk to. But… I'm here, and anything you need to say is… safe. With me. I promise."

"Talking won't make the problems go away, Perry," Melissa says, shaking her head. "It can't undo what the government's done to me. It can't remove my scars, physical or emotional. It can't bring back the dead or make people…" She pauses, shaking her head, running a hand through her hair. "Thanks though."

"No…" Perry agrees, slowly, "but it is a sign of… well, of caring, and-" he shakes his head, "I'm sorry. I am… battering away at you. This is not what you need, I'm sure. It just- it's hard for me to see you, fine as you are, and to not… want to do something. If I can't do anything- well, I admit, that's hard for me to accept. I will, if I must, if you insist. But to give up… that seems disloyal."

"You're not battering away at me," Melissa says, shaking her head. "But seriously, there's nothing you can do. I fucked up my life, with some help. Just gotta live with it. It's the way it goes. Maybe someday it'll get better," Though it's clear that she doubts it. "but right now is the life I have to live. It's not disloyal to accept that the sky is blue, water is wet, and I'm fucked up. It's just facing facts."

"Um…" Perry begins, which is not much of a beginning, "I- I have rebuttals. Or- uh- responses at least. But I'm having a hard time thinking of- uh- how to put them…" he twiddles his thumbs, a funny little gesture that means he is thinking, or trying. "…how much of what is- uh- fucked up about your life has its roots in loneliness? And… what do you mean by loneliness? I'm sorry if that seems like a stupid question but I- uh- like to define our terms. I want to understand you, properly."

Brows lift but Melissa shrugs, lifting the coffee and sipping at it, careful not to spill on her dress. "Well. A huge part of it is that I went from a house full of people who were more family than roomies, and lots of friends, to living alone, with my friends dying or dropping off the radar. Add in the fact that I'm now raising a baby when I always figured that if I ever had a baby, I'd do it with someone. I don't know jack about babies. I didn't want a baby. And my life is too fucked up for me to raise one by myself."

She sighs softly. "Then you get the whole never had a boyfriend, don't even have a lover thing. I don't have anyone I have that sort of closeness with, and I've given up on hoping for it. Just doesn't work with my life. The guys I meet generally aren't the sort I'd want a relationship with, and my life is too violent and unpredictable for the nice ones."

Perry's problems tend to be more grand and abstract. His shut in nature and monomaniacal focus make this a luxury he can afford. Simple problems, like those of companionship, of intimacy, aren't ones he thinks about too hard. Probably because they would end up depressing him. Melissa knows what she's missing, which is likely why she misses it so much.

"I- uh- really- hmm…" Perry starts, then stops, then begins again, "I don't know what that's like. I don't- uh- really have have any friends. Or- uh- intimates," and when you call them 'intimates', who's surprised? "But I can imagine, at least. I mean. Yes. I can imagine," he nods, before his gaze flicks down to his coffee, slowly cooling.

"But," he continues, "and I don't- uh- mean to be forward at all, but- um- if you need someone to- uh- help. With the baby? I- uh- I am self employed. My schedule is flexible and maybe," he attempts a smile, weak but heartfelt, "maybe if you get more time, maybe you could get out? Meet someone?"

"That's very sweet, but meeting someone isn't the problem," Melissa explains with a wry smile. "And babysitters can't really solve the problem, though having someone else I can call on for that is always helpful. And getting more time…I keep myself busy for a reason. It's easier if I'm busy. So between our work, managing the club and volunteering at the Center, it's only the bits of downtime that I have to worry about." Which isn't entirely accurate, but when she can't admit it to herself, she can't admit it to someone else.

Perry's eyes hood slightly as he dips his head. "I guess it's- uh- intractable," he says, seeming to surrender before the adamance of Melissa's certainty, "I'm very sorry. About it. You are- well- you're a fine woman. Capable, confident. A- attractive, of course," admitted with a bashfulness born of too-great modesty, "and- uh- dedicated. You deserve much better but- well- better is what we're trying to- uh- to make the world, isn't it?"

"Which is another point to my argument. How many people who fought to change the world lived good lives? Soldiers, of any stripe, always have it tough during war, which is what this is," Melissa says. "So don't worry about me, Perry. I'll survive. I'll do what I have to. It's all good."

"I mean- yes, of course," Perry agrees, nodding, "but- well, no less can I not worry about you than can you- uh- stop being- uh- stop being lonely. I mean to say… I will worry. Because, well, because your well being… it matters to me," he scowls, "forgive me if I'm being too presumptuous. I'm just- trying to be honest."

"Nah, you're not being presumptuous," Melissa denies, shaking her head. "Now I think I'm gonna go home, play Santa, get drunk off a shitload of spiked cider, then try to make it so Junie's first Christmas is as fun as I can make it. Damn well better be fun with all the crap I bought her."

Perry smiles, a wispy sort of thing, but real enough. "Try and enjoy yourself," he suggests, "and- and well done tonight. Truly. You were- were admirable. Really. In truth. The full- uh- full meaning of the word." The young man rises to his feet. "I will- uh- happily escort you as far as I may. You needn't walk by yourself. At least… no more than is absolutely necessary."

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