Nine Ways


s_calvin_icon.gif unknown13_icon.gif

Scene Title Nine Ways
Synopsis Calvin summons Jasmine to deliver news of the predicament in which Kincaid has found himself, before they then go on to discuss their own.
Date February 10, 2011


The little-known trouble with pleading insanity

is that you don't actually get to go home if your lawyer is fancy enought to suss out a jury willing to become the unlikely .025 willing to accept such an outlandish claim. Furthermore many courts have, in recent years, invoked an insane but guilty ruling to doubly fuck you in case just the once wasn't fucking enough.

Which is why there are cages and bars on the window of this particular visitation room, silky winter light poured in milky white through the grates across pale flecked linoleum and old wooden tables. Cal was here!! reads the side of one rickety chair. A crudely drawn penis adorns the adjacent table leg. Fine art.

There is a bookshelf with books on it, and a piano with sheet music on it. And that's where Mister Rosen is seated now with the crested ginger dreads and clear blue eyes, his back turned black to the vacant space behind lock and key and voice identification sensor. The keys are yellow and familiar, no one 'round to tell him to stop with the racket when he sets long fingers to weathered ivory. Down, down and an elegant turn aside that he nearly misses ahead of a lighter play to his left on his way to falling none-too-carefully onward.

Written by an Italian around the turn of a century. Played by gypsies.

In dreams, locked doors are tricky. Or that's the way she's always found them to be.

They have power, locks, as do walls, floors — fundamental rules. Also tokens, and names, concepts threaded with meaning and symbolism that dreamwalkers know intrinsically that trying to change them or rewrite them or cast them aside is something that is either stupid difficult to do, or simply— dangerous. It's why she starts from the outside, picking fingernails across the closed door, before pressing an ear against it to listen to the music straining out into a near featureless hallway. Eyes roll ceilingwards, but not in disdain, or any show of sarcasm — absent and thoughtful.

That's one way to get through. The music has the right idea.

Violin accompaniment follows in a matter of moments, slithering through the miniscule gaps between locked door and wall, a little nervous and unsure, the way the bow grinds against the strings in unsteady hands, before finding its confidence. It becomes loud enough that she might as well be in the room, the strains of violin making the keys of Calvin's piano reverberate beneath his fingers.

Hesitation at accompaniment stalls Calvin's efforts into a muddled pull of his attention sideways across a cheat sheet that reads all blanks, chilly eyes unfocused and affect tired as it is slack. He has to trace back and start a few notes ahead, awkward, the same beat repeated note-to-note false three times until his ring finger trips automatically into the right touch to catch time at the next phrase.

Tension threatening to temper the flat square of his shoulders eases then, relief soft in a breath muffled slow through his sinuses. Here but not present.

This detached duet carries along as many bars as feels like minutes, or eons, or maybe a few seconds. Such is the fickle nature of dreams and the concept of time within them. But the important thing is that the music is still going by the time Jasmine has her feet within the same square of space, in demurely heeled shoes, woolen tights of striped tones of grey disappearing up into black dress. A silver buckle where the belt cinches it in, and a square neckline high enough to hide where a thin silver chain hangs a pendant obscured by the fabric. Red hair, in sweeps down her back.

And a violin, rustic wood of gold and red both, its black accents and burn-tone edges, strings like tortured horse tail hairs. Her footsteps are quiet as she rounds around the room, taking her bow off the strings by the time she's in view, offering a smile. A pleased one, albeit also uncertain, unsure.

Calvin doesn't look happy to be here. More accurately, he doesn't look happy to be, eyes heavy lidded and indifferent beneath the hood of his brow, gingery jawline unresponsive to play ceased or ongoing.

He isn't surprised to see someone else here, though. There's no jarring to his shoulders or snap electrical activity to account for a body that wasn't present when he started, which is. Maybe the wonder of music. At least in this case.

What's really odd is that his acknowledgement remains acknowledgement and does not quite seem to trip over into acute recognition. He looks her way, dimly expectant, and lets his hands stretch and splay light over the keys. Like maybe his guard's down low enough he forgot why he was playing.

Smile dims as expressive as a sinking sun, and Jasmine doesn't need to pantomime looking around to get a better feel of where they are than she already has. She clasps the neck of her violin and bow both in two hands, drifting closer and studying him in her approach, a sort of seeking for permission in the tentative smallness of her steps. But she doesn't pause, glancing over the light from the barred over windows making strange patterns on the top of the piano.

At least they seem to have the place to themselves.

She sits, then, on the edge of the piano bench, only her knees are pointed out, the only slightly slouchy line of her back to the instrument, an opposite position to Calvin that allows them to look at each other when she leans back enough inches. Close enough for the scent of summery, nighttime flowers to lift from her hair when she twitches her to look at him. The stockings are worn almost sheer at the knees. "Calvin?" she prompts, quiet voice somehow sounding loud to her ears. She believes she was summoned, even if his own blue eyed stare seems vacant.

A sudden intake of breath and a roll of eyes gone lurid with a touch of unnatural light recalls Calvin to the makeshift present, finalizing the inevitability set forth by the familiarity of scent if nothing else. Less embarrassed to be caught off his game than he is quietly resigned, he marinates in his own distinguished copper and iron stink a moment before resolving to bring the cover carefully down over skeleton keys.

"Caid's in the dome," he says instead of hello, as clear enough of an I'm here, as there ever was. The fall of cover over keys is muffled and hollow and accompanied by a predictable poff of chalky dust.

Hi, says a brief smile, white teeth and mouth painted in cherry-stain colours, a gesture that makes crinkles at the corners of her eyes. She's seen worse. She's been worse. Smile dims once again, when Calvin chooses his greeting.

"Oh," Jasmine says, a genuine reaction that escapes her before she can shut her mouth against it. It's surprise and realisation both, then vague guilt reflecting in powder blue eyes. That she didn't figure it out first, maybe. She balances the violin on her knees, shoulders coming up to shrug. "I hadn't— been able to reach him, this week. I thought I must just be missing him. His sleep patterns are— a little like yours. Erratic."

She pushes fire-red behind her ear, and probably doesn't need to voice the self-conscious as well as vain notion that she had wondered whether— a little like Calvin— he'd been avoiding her for whatever reason. "How do you know?"

"I was contacted by the illustrious Mister Bradley Russo," says Calvin, mainly to the wooden piano but also to Jasmine seated next to him once he feels grounded enough to risk lazy eye contact. "Once I was over being star struck he filled me in on some business about Humanis First and how some gent named Ryans intended to do a rescue. Or something."

It's possible that he was too busy being a bag of dicks to glean every gory detail into memory. But he's got the gist of it anyway, comfortable apology latent in the way he leans gradually sideways into her. "Apparently he left me as an emergency contact."

The 'hm' comes prim and airy from Jasmine, mouth sealing into a line sometime after the second name is dropped. The corner of her mouth betrays the twitch of a suppressed smile, amusement at his choice of adjectives, before she comments, "That's quite the line up, isn't it?" Her shoulder bumps his as if in limp effort to steer his lean, but it's all ineffectually feminine. "I'm glad he did. Thank you for telling me, I'll— " A shruggy sort of affect, dismissive. "— get the word around."

Because that panned out awesome last time. But she is glad, at least, to be told, even if it only creates a new kind of anxiety, one that has her hands clutching tighter to violin. "Is he okay?"

"Probably." Apathy more than optimism ups Kincaid's odds so far as Calvin's in any position to predict them, lukewarm news directed down to the old piano again. Jasmine gets the warm brace of his shoulder and a brush of coarse orange hair at her cheek instead, inscrutable nearness protracted in the quiet until he turns himself up into a push to his feet.

There's no reason for him to stand, but there's no reason for him to stay sitting, either. There's nothing here for them to see and even less to do, middling greens and off-whites carefully selected to calm and subdue. No one around to complain, faceless or otherwise, when he reaches to hook paired fingers under a wooden chair back to flip it lazily over onto its back. "Haven't seen you here in a while."

Jasmine places the violin and its bow down upon the bench as she slides to sit at its centre, one leg folding over the other rather than join him in idle movement. "I hope that means you missed me. I've been— moving." A hand lifts, fingers wriggle musical through the air in some gesture that's meant to communicate the shifting through the evenings, nails short on her fingers, fingers long on her hands. "If I stay stagnant, strange things happen. I don't want you or the others to get hurt.

"What is this place?"

"S'personal," says Calvin, who winds himself gradually away from the felled chair to stand in a span of open floor. After a beat or two of considering silence, he reaffirms his initial assessment with a milder, "Personal place," and a lift of his eyes ceilingwards. "One of those things, you know. That happens sometimes." Unintentionally. When he's sufficiently preoccupied.

Rather than let suppressed irritation at being caged here with a pair've prying eyes continue to amass cancerous within his ribcage, he blinks in slow time with a reverberant moan through struts and girders and black iron bars. The lights go out, then. The white wash of the sun collapsed with them, leaving him to stand in near perfect darkness while velvety black settles in thick and quiet all around.

"What kinds of strange things?"

Well it wouldn't be the first time.

Lips purse in thought at his answer, clear blue eyes unguilty but not actually innocent either, blandly accepting of the idea that Jasmine is somewhere personal. But when the blackness comes down like someone clamped a lid down upon this world, she takes a sharp breath in, a second of delay where she, detached from this place, remains lit like a cartoon character pasted against a black background, red hair brilliant, skin pale and stark, before she allows the shadows to encroach and blink her into the shadows as well.

Better to be unseen when you can't see. "You saw," she says, eventually, voice whisper-thin, developing a whine. "The last time. Strange dreams. Someone trying to send a message, to hurt me. Dreams of memories. And— birds.

"Walter thinks I'm just stressed."

Calvin turns to watch her fade, scrutiny as critical as it is curious through the cold cut of his profile faint in shades of industrial orange and blue.


Observing, anyway, bristly mane unmistakeable even in the dark and at a distance. Walter's an imbecile, hardly needs voicing. It's there in the judgmental weight of his silence and a subtle tilt of his head while he listens.

"What do you think we came here for?"

There's the whisper of fabric against skin as Jasmine stands, drawing up her modest height that low heels don't add much to, and in the shadows, it's difficult to make out her expression. Which would put Calvin in fine company — she wears masks a lot. The uncertain silence that unravels should be enough, the twitch of her head where dim light manages to catch a slice of pale cheekbone, the glint of red hair. "We're— " Starts. Stops. Tries again, filling her voice with something like chastisement and conviction.

"We came to help them."

"Right." Yes. Correct.

"I agree," is more emphatic — more heartfelt, even, tied in as it is with a few steps wound back her way at an indirect angle. Him in his long black coat, bare feet pressing ghostly prints to chilly linoleum in exaggerated seethes of warm to cold.

Three steps. Four. Then he stops again, close enough to read her and close enough to be read, the hood of his brow level and the cut of his eyes clear. "Unfortunately as far as ultimate goals go, while we've got the why covered, we might's well be running a campaign for world peace for all the thought that's been put into the how."

Effort is put into her own posture by the time Calvin is wandering closer, her hands lacing together and shoulders at a low, loose slope as pale blue tracks his approach. A glimmer of offense is probably detectable in the nuances of her expression, even in poor lighting, and her gaze shifts from his first. Off to the left, then to his mouth, before she manages to struggle it back up again. By then, too, she's set a small smile into place.

A shrug follows, silver chain glimmering where it dips to her neckline. "I know what I'm doing. The moon changes the tide. A shift in the wind turns forests into deserts. An idea— " A bigger smile, one that implores him to understand. "A dream, can change a mind. And a mind can change everything."

Jasmine turns on a heel, a loose limbed shift to face him properly. "There are ways to skin cats. I think mine is less bloody."

"…Depends on the mind." Logical concession made without malice, Calvin relents insofaras he lets the square fall a bit out of his shoulders and looks away to study the piano bench. Thoughtful. Confident. Too close in more ways than one to bother with avoidance in his own skull.

"Depends on the change. Depends on the scale. Depends on a lot've things no one's keen on talking about, now that she's gone."

She tucks her chin in a semi-nod of concession in turn, although it hesitates at that last statement, mouth going into a grim line. Jasmine stands silent and demure as she thinks this over, and gives a small, breathy chuckle. "I miss her direction as much as I miss her directness. I can only guess what it means when men dream of dragons, or flying, or psych wards. With her gift, she didn't need any of that." A hand restlessly pushes red locks behind a shoulder.

"What did you have in mind, Calvin?"

She asks it like she doesn't really want to, except she must, with the curious flick of a glance to his profile.

"Do you know," says Calvin, not quite inviting an answer, "I think — you already …know."

For the first time since she arrived there's a twitch up at the corner of his mouth when he says so, a longer step taken to bring him into proximity. Genuine good humor on her tab that atrophies into a thin show of his teeth nearly as quick as its out there to be seen. Like maybe he doesn't feel he's being taken seriously?

"You can skin a cat any way you like, s'long as you kill or thoroughly incapacitate it first."

There's the familiar steel in her posture by the time he's closer, instinctive and defensive and subtle, but when one is surrounded by shadows that veil the distactions, reducing the world to two people, it's the little things that count. "I know," Jasmine agrees, looking at his shoulder rather than him. "And I knnnow," a play of a smile of her own, enough to show a sliver of teeth but not much more, "that you'll do what you do." A hand goes up, fingertips moving to fuss gentle with the collar of his coat, fix its sit.

"And I'll do what I do," she finishes, a sharper tilt to her head. That is a promise, in its deliberate enunciation.

Carefully cavalier in turn, Calvin keeps tension relegated to the arch of haughty cheekbones and the turn of his neck beneath the the high turn of his collar. The one she's fussing with. Eyes lit mild in the pass they make down between them, more at ease than it's probably all that safe for him to be.

"As long as we understand each other."

Milder, then — polite, even, if not for an off color touch after his inflection — he mirrors her touch with an invasively soft brush of forefinger to middle between fine clavicle and finer silver at her neck. "You're sexier when you want to skin me."


The silver resists him, weighty with whatever hangs on it, and by the time its dragged up the necessary half-inch hooked on his knuckle, the oval shape backed by the tiny figurine — perhaps jarringly, a religious looking piece that Jasmine is quick to wrap a hand around before the details can really register. One would assume that she'd have more control over simple things like that. But that would be assumption. It's dropped back beneath the horizontal black fabric edge.

More caring about that than his hand, and much like she had in an alleyway in his mind, her hands find purchase on his upper arms. "But what about when you ask for a kiss?" is slivered out in reminder about how particularly unsexy things can be.

"Yeh, well," says Calvin, caught, who has little choice but to look down after the grip she has on him once the necklace has slid from the crook of his finger, still slightly raised, "actively trying to skin me doesn't carry quite the same — mystique."

Still, he doesn't wrest to pull away, even if there is a thread of disconcertion to the furrow of his brows and a tang of tempered steel to the wiry muscle bunched hard under her hands. Splinter into his face in an explosion of glass shrapnel once, shame on her —

"Me either," is late in coming. Not necessarily hesitant, although, earnestly frustrated or at least flummoxed: "So — are you implying I should just take one then? I'm not sure I understand where I keep going wrong."

"No," has warm, gentle conviction, and even if anxiety still shines behind blue eyes, Jasmine also smiles again. "But you can imagine, what with our differences in opinion, where I might think you— " Words die out, gaze sliding vaguely leftwards in consideration, before her hands tighten. Even people who don't kiss very much know how it goes from the movies, and her weight settles forward on her feet, heels up, even if she doesn't have to rise up too much—

The scent of crushed flowers is as distinctive of her as warm metal is of him. There's iron in blood, too. She kisses him shallowly, gently, or tries to, and it's not goodbye because they will probably be seeing each other again. It's just a lot like one.

If he pulls away, before or after, he will find he can't — if only because his feet feel weighted to the ground, and her hands are firm on his sleeves, knuckling bunches. The conversation is due to end, and someone will have to wake up, but not immediately.

Calvin does rrrather a lot of kissing. Difficult as that may be to believe.


This is a bit ~different~, naturally, but not so much so that he can't vibe with it once he's registered that she's like. Letting it happen.

He's relieved more than anything, content to let her set the pace for all that he can't help but — edge things just a little deeper. More thorough, at least, in an incline that doesn't get much further than preliminary investigation.

Mainly because she's holding onto him.

And he can't put his hands on her, right left to close in on itself far short of an instinctive roll of his wrist. He doesn't pull away.

When it ends, it's not quick — just awkward. On Jasmine's part. Mostly because she doesn't back up or relent her grip, head turning and tilted and managing to fluster herself, as if maybe she'd expected him to resist, for all that would be awful of her to begin if so. 'Hnn' is a voiceless, nasal sigh out, settling back flat on her feet. Darting a look back at his face, she shifts enough that when she speaks, it's next to his ear, red curls brushing the side of his face.

"Just keep our secrets," she asks, gently, hands relaxing their grip on his arms to slide up and rest lax on his shoulders, "and I'll keep yours."

She probably isn't talking about the kiss.

Initially it seems like Calvin may be able to overstep Jasmine's risidual awkward, but the longer it persists the more inevitable it is that he succumbs with an uneasy exhale and a twitch at his brows. Queerly it's an apologetic, understanding kind of awkward. Acknowledgement that whatever's refusing to settle on her end is his fault for pressing the issue. Or something. He may not be 100% sure.

In any case, he swallows it away in time to listen to the nearness of her voice in the dark, breathing still shallow enough to be tell-tale re: the genuine nature of his interest in tonguing.

"I won't be the first one found out," is something, at least. A warning, maybe, as an accessory to hazily unspoken accord. He doesn't try to touch her once she's let him go.

Alright. A ginger nudge at her right hip.

But that's all.

Her hand snags his, in diversion as well as to give his fingers a squeeze, managing to regain her own composure enough to meet his eye.

"I'll come back," is— n't meant to be warning. But it could be. Jasmine lets go, then, and comes apart like fabric becoming unwoven, the effect less natural on her skin and face than it is of her dress and her hair, but doesn't last long. Jasmine unravels into the darkness, leaving Calvin alone with the barest touches of illumination in soup-thick shadow.

Caught (again) Calvin grins at her not-warning and grins at her vanishing and grins at the dark once she's no longer there, southpaw retracted after a beat of deliberate delay. Pleased with himself.

Then he turns and paces straight off camera right. Back to his own business.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License