Needs and Wants


calvin_icon.gif nora2_icon.gif

Scene Title Needs and Wants
Synopsis Sometimes, you just might find, you can get both fulfilled with a little help from your friends.
Date April 28, 2011

A Motel Room

Nights seem shorter in the increasingly rare instances Calvin's active during the day, giving him less time and energy to roam and rummage and plot. The last week in particular has been trying: bruising's whipped smart around the side of his face in a colorful swath, blacking in one eye and still stiffing a bit at his back when he twists to let himself in past the bolt and chain of Nora's dodgy motel room.

Because he needs a night off with someone who knows him and isn't Joshua, with beer and a can of peanuts and big headphones.

Needs it.

The place is dodgy enough to accept cash and not ask questions. She'd grabbed the cash from Kincaid's wallet, a note of IOU in its place. She could have perhaps paid for better, but she's not sure how many days Calvin might need to crash, and the wad of cash will at least pay for three. When he slips in, she stands from the bed she's perched on anxiously, and moves toward him.

Her eyes flick from left to right as she studies his face, worry visible in the way the corners of her eyes tense and her lips part. Nora doesn't ask if he is all right — the answer is evident in bot his appearance and that he's here. He's not all right.

She nods toward the small formica table where a plastic bag promises dinner. "If you're hungry," she says, stopping a few feet away from him.

Calvin's lost weight since Nora saw him last, cheekbones carved high over carefully kempt scruff and eyes shadowed by more than the bruises he's wearing. And makeup.

After a fashion he looks the way he used to. Before. Gracefully slinky and lean, cut like a cat against the door he closes stiff behind himself without looking. Too busy looking at her instead, relieved and sketchily uneasy at the same time. Which.

Is about where the similarities end. Because he's never looked as haggard as he does now, and it's been some time since he's had his hair quite this short: as much as there can be compared to prior iterations of his do, there's an almost clean severity to the snip and sickle of his dreads just to his shoulders. Rather than past them.

He doesn't look at the food. Just at her, trying quickly to determine how much she knows about what.

As he watches her, she watches him — for once, there are no tell-tale signs of injuries on her; no bruises to jaw or eye, no cuts on her hands, no distant and unfocused quality to the eyes that instead seem to take in every detail of him. She is still, as if she might frighten him away, but aside from tension and worry, there is no censure, no anger.

She doesn't know.

"Do," Nora finally begins softly, "you want to tell me about it?" The question is asked knowing the most likely answer, but the offer is sincere, as is the implication that it's up to him, that he doesn't have to.

Without waiting for the answer, she moves closer, dark eyes wide as she looks up at him wonderingly, reaching to take his hand, to squeeze it. "Come sit down. You look awful. I mean that in the best way possible."

"I — can't," broken by a huff of a brittle, breathy non-laugh sounds more like a confession than a statement of fact. Can't make himself, he means, still in the same way. Afraid he might spook her. People are starting to flinch from him, lately. Something about his eyes or the way he touches — for a moment, he's careful to limit himself to observation only. Then he swallows and resettles himself. She has invited him to sit, so. After an awkward, restless clench at his hands, he straightens his waistcoat and takes her hand and moves to go along with her.

"You look nice," sounds honest, likely because it is. Meanwhile this feels remarkably (ironically) like making polite conversation with a blind person while you're doused in blood.

Her brows dip and her mouth twitches in the face that people — especially teenage girls — make when expressing sympathy, or what Nora likely thinks is empathy and understanding. The last time she'd seen him, they'd both wanted to tell the people they've come to save the truth. The last few days have been hard for her — she can only expect that they must have been worse for him, from the looks of things.

"You don't have to," Nora says, voice gentle. Compassionate. He's her best friend.

Her fingers interlace as she draws him toward the bed, letting him sit and then perching on edge, one foot curling beneath herself, on the edge. Her hand holding his rests on his leg. "Do you need something for the pain? I can go find something." Illegal, is implied — she knows Tylenol won't do much for someone so used to stronger vices.

"S'not so bad," says Calvin, quiet once he's sat, chimeran accent less deliberately refined once he's settled into something like tenuous ease. "Just m'mum is all."

If anyone can relate to being struck about the head by one's mother, it must be Nora. He doesn't mention that she did it with a brick. Though. There's a beat where he opens his mouth and might that he spends looking sideways down at the hands they have resting on his leg instead. If he mentions the brick he'll have to go into why she thought one was necessary.

He's quiet, then, near foot tipped up to toe at her ankle while he tries to think of other things that might be safer to talk about and comes up short, pre-emptive apology already written light into the furrow over his brow.

Her lower lip is drawn between teeth and raked over, brows drawing deeper into that scowl of sympathy. "I'm sorry," she murmurs softly. "I guess it was … arrogant or … maybe just dumb of us, to think they'd want us here. To want to know us." She doesn't bring up her own meeting with her mother — the implication there that it hadn't gone as well as she'd have liked.

Her free hand reaches up toward his face, fingers lightly tracing the bruise and then brushing dreads away. "I can go back to Caid's and let you rest. I can pay the room up for a couple nights at least, and I can get more cash if you need longer." Her body tenses, a coil ready to spring up, to leave him, should he wish it.

"I knew she wouldn't," is feeble as far as confessions go, in the scheme of things. There are grander ones he could make. "She doesn't want children. …Didn't." Didn't. Doesn't. Tricky tenses. A slow blink fills in for an absent shrug once he's finished trying to sort out which one he means. Both, most likely. Didn't, doesn't, definitely won't now.

Again he stops himself going further than that, an audible swallow lifting his adam's apple sluggish into more silence until she starts talking again.

He lets himself be touched in the mean time, soaking contact like a retarded little sponge and reluctant to address the idea of her leaving where the alternative entails staying with him in a scary motel. He can see in his periphery that she's tensed, too, which is probably part of the reason he's tense himself when he manages a stilted stop-and-start lean to kiss her lightly rather than come up with something suitably unawkward to say about her spending the night.

The neediness earns a tip of her head, eyes seeking his, just as the kiss comes — goes — comes and her breath catches in her throat as it finally lands. Accepted. Not quite returned, the light fingertips on his cheek flattening out into a palm curled around his jaw.

So close, he can feel her lashes fan against his cheek when she blinks.

There's a pause, encumbered and weighted by words that might be said, questions that might be asked.

Instead she kisses him back, still light, almost a question in itself before she pulls away to study his face.

Progress so far quantifiable as 'limited success,' Calvin's able to keep his breathing steady through his sinuses with effort. He hasn't straightened back out, really, still slanted in towards her at a sideways tilt supported by the stilt of his left arm planted against the mattress between them. Waiting, or. Otherwise uncertain.

"Y'don't have to," he ventures at length. Knight in shining armor that he is. Too quiet for even paper thin walls to transmit room to room, should anyone've already started eavesdropping.

Her head bows toward his, and her lips turn upward into a smile as they brush his again. "I don't have to go, or I don't have to stay?" she whispers. "I don't have to do anything and you know I don't do much without wanting to…"

Her lips run lightly along the mottled bruising of his cheekbones as she slides from the spot beside to one before him, small hands curling around his and bringing them to her narrow hips.

"What do you want, Calvin?" she asks, lifting her head to peer down at him, one hand stroking the dreads back from his face.

Calvin's mouth falls slightly open, eyelids faltered low at the whisper and the nearness and the dull ache at his cheek when her lips brush there. He's feeling very seventeen, suddenly. Which would actually be nice.


What's in the process of happening.

His teeth set into a bite once he's caught himself in the midst of a shivery breath, a vestigial, self-conscious squirm not nearly enough dislodge her or his hands at her hips. Confidence laggard but catching back up with delayed eye contact locking in.

The less he thinks, the better.

"Just you."

Conscious thought is something Nora pushes away willfully — there are more reasons to leave than there are to stay. Gentle warning from Benji, confession of fragile mental health from Calvin himself, awkward stop-and-starts and perceived rejection from weeks past —

But these cannot outweigh the shiver and tremble she feels looking into needful blue eyes.

Her fingers slide down to curl around the hem of his shirt; one knee bends to plant itself on the mattress, pressing against his outer thigh while she bends her dark head to his, fair and ginger.

Less uncertain, the kiss speaks louder than words could — of her own needfulness, and more, something too big to say, something too sweet to say in a place as grimy and soiled as this.

Hours later, Calvin wakes with a start once he realizes he's fallen asleep at her side, mouth dry and breath caught cold in his chest. Panic rings his eyes wide in the motel gloom, spectral blue seared wall to wall, across the ceiling and back again in a sweep that leaves him with a sheen of sweat chill on his brow. Light slitted through tatty blinds is orange and blue as it should be; the stiff of the mattress beneath them hardly stirs when he lifts himself carefully up onto one elbow to better examine Nora's face.

Looks like her. Smells like her. Breathes like her.

And still, there's an edge of reluctant unease to the way he settles back under the sheets, like he'd like to reach over and give her a shake and talk about The Beatles til the sun comes up.

Instead he lies still and studies the ceiling for four hours.

Then he hits the shower.

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