Negotiating Minefields


calvin_icon.gif nora_icon.gif

Scene Title Negotiating Minefields
Synopsis On one of their radio conversations, Nora reveals her darker side but asks Calvin to keep his in check.
Date January 6, 2010

Pollepel Island and Manhattan

Calvin hasn't moved.

Not out of his apartment, at least. He didn't even have the locks changed, laziness or apathy or some unholy combination of both leaving his apartment open to invasion at the whim of any Fulk or Winters who should dare to try and catch him off guard again after punching him in the dick.

Seated at his single desk before his single window with his single cb radio set up and self, Calvin's slumped far over to one side, scruffy chin rested warm against his shoulder. It's too cold in the apartment. Enough so that one hand in fingerless gloves stays caged over the close confines of a ceramic ash tray, where a half-smoked cigarette lies with its ember to provide meager heat.

A bottle of whiskey is at his other elbow, open without a glass while he waits.

Once more Nora has left the warmth and comfort of her bed, even though now the room is shared by those she knows and cares about rather than the strangers of the infirmary. A blanket wrapped around herself, she's found her niche in a forgotten, rarely travelled hallway. Not because she needs to make noise to speak to Calvin, but because the tears keep coming and she can't know that her roommates aren't awake to hear the wet sounds that accompany even the softest of crying.

It's something she needs to hide from the others on the island.

Tonight, there's no musical interlude to interrupt whatever's playing on his radio. Just her soft voice coming through suddenly: "You there?"

"I am." For the first time since he was cracked in the head and dragged back to his apartment unconscious, as a matter of fact, save for a clipped transmission a couple've days ago about switching to the first backup channel before he cut out of the original.

Bruising is still prevalent around the side of his face for all that the associate concussion has eased off to nothing, mic buried somewhere in the crook of his arm where his breath can warm his thumb on the button. Never quite cold enough for it to be visible.

A relieved sigh comes through — which means she's not editing; he's getting what she hears, not just what she chooses to send. Which in turn means she's either overtaxed her power, or she simply doesn't feel up to editing.

"Are you okay?" There's a tremulous quality to her voice, followed by the slightest of sniffles. She may not even know that she's not editing out the sound effects. A hand comes up to wipe her eyes before the fingers curl at her own cheek, bruised as well. She leans on the hand, her elbow planted on her craned knees. "I'm sorry," she adds before he can answer. "I … maybe if I was nicer to him at the party or in the van… I don't know."

Awh. Fucking hell. She's crying.

Cigarette temporarily abandoned so that he can curl in deeper around himself, Calvin marinates in guilt for a good ten to twenty seconds before he can give himself enough space to sit back and force out a mild, "Yeh, I'm alright."

A single drag dries back the paper a good half inch on his smoke and he scuffs his wrist under his nose, dubious sobriety numbing sensation there while he concentrates on like. Sobering up. And also planting his cigarette carefully back into a notch on the ash tray.

"It wasn't anything you did."

"I might have made things worse," is softly confessed. "I was exercising and he was watching, so I told him to come spar with me. It got… kinda ugly." That's putting it mildly.

There's a hitch of breath and she knocks her head back on the wall behind her, head tipping up as if to stare at a ceiling she can't see. "Lost the fucking fight. Don't tell the others. You're the only one I'm telling this to."

Nora is quiet a moment, just the odd sniffle to keep him company. "He apologized for what he did to you, though. Before calling us all liars." After rendering her unconscious.

Silence feels like he's pacing himself this time around. Giving himself a little time between thought and vocalization.

Also to pour himself a fresh round into the glass that was curled up under his elbow with the receiver, Jack Daniels trickled carefully over in an amber stream. No spills.

"Did he hit you?"

"If he did, I asked for it," Nora says honestly. "I told him not to go easy on me, that I needed the practice." Her hand curls in her hair, another goes to the bruises at her neck. "That's not… that's not it."

It's not why she's upset, not why she's reaching out to him. A tear slides down her face as she closes her eyes. "I lost."

It isn't pride but fear that's shaken her.

"I can't… I can't be like this. I'm no good to anyone like this. I'm just another fucking person that needs protecting." She shakes her head angrily. "That's not who I am, Calvin. And it's not fair. I want to see h-"

The start of a sob breaks off the word before the sob is cut off abruptly, the radio silent, her power back in check.

There is a sigh heaved that doesn't make it through his speakers, before her voice comes through again. "He probably trusts us less than he did yesterday, anyway." Nora's tone is flat, carefully modulated. Edited.

He did.

Calvin pours on, two fingers, three, four, stopping only once whiskey's lip threatens to wobble over the edge of his glass. The bottle is righted and exchanged for his smoke, which is — smoked — and then exchanged again for the glass, which is sipped. As glasses are.

So again there's a pause edged in by his consumerism.

"You're fucking blind, muffin. S'the kind of setback that takes some time to work past, y'know? But it's not like — " he picks up his glass and sets it back down, free hand restless while he racks his brain for better words, "you'll never be able to kick someone's ass again. If you'd get off the island long enough to see someone who could do something about it — "

Silence for a moment. It might just be the first time anyone's said it so bluntly in all these weeks — aside from herself. And that's to prove to herself she's bigger than the darkness, that she's stronger than the fog.

There's a shaky breath, and Nora rakes her hands through tangled hair that she can't remember if she brushed or not today. It's easy to forget such things when you can't see your reflection.

"Time we might not have. The longer it takes, the longer I'm a weak link, you know?" And he knows that she can't stand to be thought of as weak. "As for seeing someone," Nora's words edge that word a little cynically before she sighs. "Maybe. But only if it's safe."

As safe as sparring people, anyway. "Don't tell the others about Brian, all right? It was dumb of me. I was pissed at him, you know?"

"I won't tell." Flatly honest, promising without actually promising, Calvin pushes his glass along through a line of condensation. He won't. Mainly because he doesn't want to. Someone might intervene.

"Even if you don't get fixed, it's not like…blind people are constantly falling out've windows or stepping on hungry crocodiles. It's an issue yeh, but not insurmountable. Just…kind've…ass." And poo.

A splay of his fingers long across the table culminates in a thrill of humming vibration through the ancient wood of his desk, silent to Nora in the spaces between depressions of the talk button.

"So how's Benji?"

There's another sigh, this one puffing her dark hair up and away from her face before it floats back down to hide the bruising once more, not that anyone's here to see it. "I'm not really worried about falling out of windows or stepping on crocodiles. This isn't the Ever-fucking-glades, right? But you know I can't…"

Her eyes close, wearily and she presses her palms into her eyes. It's not like her to cry.

"Hovery," she answers after a moment. "Not that I blame him. I'm basically like some tagalong kid sister that can't do anything the 'big kids' can. I can't even sit in a room and not worry about being touched by Salucci, you know? Gotta be babysat." She drops her hands again, chipping away whatever remains of the polish. "You going to do anything about Brian? I mean — not for me, but for what he did to you?"

"He'd keep us all in boxes if he could. With sawdust bedding and little. Fff..feed tubes." Further misery in relation to blindness isn't ignored so much as it isn't directly responded to — once he's closed his hand, another swallow of whiskey eases over into a push of thumb and forefinger deep into his eye sockets.

"There is a strong possibility," he says, "that I will do something about Brian."

Nora laughs softly at the notion of sawdust boxes and feeding tubes, shaking her head at his way of putting things. "Maybe he should be doing your job, then," she prods playfully.

There is a pause as she chips off the last remaining bit of metallic-brown paint from one thumbnail. "Don't do it for me, all right?" Apparently she's not going to forbid it. After all, Brian has more than one body. "I would have snapped his neck if I had anything left in me earlier," she admits, voice edged with a mixture of shame and a little bitterness. "But don't… you know. Make sure it's not permanent." Apparently torture's okay.

She moves on to the next finger, her goal to be polish-free by the end of the conversation. "After all, he could have done worse to you and didn't, right? So quid pro quo but nothing more."

His job. Hhhaaah. Because his employer is like, evil. And really does put people in boxes. It's funny.

Calvin's teeth bare white at the mic tipped nearly too close, humor at his own situation's expense tainted acrid with cynical irritation invisible across the line. His silence is even ambiguous, what with the subject of Brian likewise the source of some potential contention.

"Permanence is a matter of semantics when you're basically immortal."

"Don't be all vengeance guy," Nora says with a little more edge to her own voice, a thumbnail slipping on the other and stabbing herself in the cuticle. She winces and brings her hand to her mouth to suck off the blood, coppery taste filling her mouth as she scowls at the darkness.

"Is it really going to make anything better? And he has more of him than you have of you — if you get into some stupid little whose dick is bigger than whose sort of fight with him…"

Her voice softens. "There's only one of you, okay?"

"It'll make me feel better," says Calvin, which is true. And also not excessively logical or mature, but he's moved on to tracing paths between the screws in his desk with his thumb now that his glass is nearly empty and his attention span has gone about as blurry as his vision. "Anyway."


"Benji's alright then. …How's, ahm, Howard holding up?"

She sighs again with exasperation. "Not great. He hates it here. And he wanted to go rescue you. There's a teleporter here I guess. He's usually off… being Howard." There's fondness in her voice that tempers the exasperated tone a touch. She shivers a little, a draft in the corridor chilling her, making her wonder idly if she's as alone as she thinks she is.

"Be careful, okay?" Her voice is soft again. "I'll look into the doctor thing, I guess. Unless you have any ideas."

Her lips curve into a smirk. "Preferably not your co-workers."

"Oh yeah? Sounds about right." That rascally Howard. Off being…himself. Electrocuting things and glowing and yelling at people about being faggots. Maybe all of that at the same time. Calvin sniffs, hard-pressed to reign his brain back around into focus even once he's got his knuckles back in hsi eye sockets again.

"Y'might let him know I'm alright, if you haven't already. Or. That maybe I can find something in Manhattan to keep him occupied, y'know. If he's still having issues?" A lift at the end of that ues makes it more of an innocent-sounding suggestion, somehow.

"I'm — careful as a cucumber. Or something. But yeh — I want you in to see a doctor, Nora. Doesn't have to be one've mine. You know the cost won't be an issue."

"I'll let him know," Nora agrees, and falls silent for a long moment.

If he were here, he would see the flicker of indecision across her face. The brows knitting together. The slight grimace that someone adept at reading facial expressions could read as fear.

She's not afraid of going under the knife — or more realistically, a laser.

She's afraid of the chance of failure. As long as it wasn't safe to leave, as long as she could say staying was for the better of all the refugees on the island, she could push off the inevitable.

The excuses are gone — have been gone, since they left the island once already for something more frivolous — and more dangerous.

But he's not there to see it. The silence might be telling — or he might just think she's signed off on those last notes of her soft voice — until she speaks again.

"All right. As long as you promise me…"

He might think she's going to ask for something difficult — like for him not to touch Brian. But Nora has no such intentions.

"…your crazy dreadlocks and guyliner are the first thing I see if it works."

"Alright." She'll let him know.

As comfortable in silence as he is in winding bouts of dialogue, Calvin is content to sit and listen to the foamy hiss of dead radio. She's still there one way or another, he's aware — enough not to pressure her if she's done or. If she isn't. He doesn't technically have to be up so early that going to sleep is an immediate concern where he can slump back over into his former rest and wait. Nose to shoulder.

"I think that's doable, although. Y'won't hurt my feelings if you change your mind and want to see a sunset or a herd of ponies or a rainbow instead at the last second." A slow blink eventually segues into another, which segues into a close of his eyes and a more relaxed sink of his shoulders through the curve of his spine.

"You'll be alright. One way or another."

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