Of Stitches and Selfishness


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Scene Title Of Stitches and Selfishness
Synopsis The newly dubbed Agent Magnes Varlane checks in with Dr. Bella Sheridan, and they discuss registration, the selfishness of affection and, of course, Magnes' love life.
Date August 1, 2009

Company Owned Studio Apartment

Bella's usual haunt, the studio apartment she holds her sessions in.

After a day of careful academy training and a hot shower, Magnes knocks on Bella's door at around seven, jacketless, simply in neatly fitting jeans, a buttoned up white shirt, and some cheap black sneakers. At least his hair is gelled back. "It's me, I'm coming in, so, be fully clothed." he announces in a rather playful manner, walking in and locking the door behind him.

Bella is multitasking, eating yogurt, listening to jazz via a newly set up mp3 player dock, and perusing the lastest issue of the New Yorker. She looks up as Magnes heralds himself, nose twitching at his jibe, and sets aside the nearly-finished container, spoon still protruding at an angle. She gets to her feet as Magnes enters, smiling and moving to Magnes, forgoing a shake in favor of a hug. "Magnes, congratulations!" she exclaims, giving Magnes a firm squeeze before stepping back, smiling broadly at the young man, "I hope you don't need to be wounded for every promotion you get but," she tips him a quick wink, "It will certainly make a good story to tell your lady friends." She steps back, sizing up Magnes, as if he's a new person requiring a new assessment.

Magnes winces slightly at the hug, because stitches hurt, then snickers at her comment. "Wanna see my stitches?" he asks, half-joking as he walks over to the couch, taking a seat to start untucking his shirt. "It wasn't the best night of my life, and I'm getting pretty sick of seeing things fly out of people."

Bella moves to take her seat, crossing her legs and setting her hands on her knee. "Certainly," she says, "And you'll have to tell me about the circumstances." She lifts a brow, "I, luckily, can't imagine. I've seen plenty of bits of pieces, medical rotation, but none of it was… ballistic."

"The first time I saw someone's organs fly out was when I was being mugged, and my old roommate, Elvis, punched a guy's brain out of his head. This time a sniper shot a woman's heart out right in front of me. Thank God I at least saved the blind girl." Magnes stares down at his stitches, first pointing to the front, then turns to the side to show the exit wound. which is slightly larger. "If I were paying more attention, being alert like I'm supposed to be, that woman might still be alive."

Bella frowns, the expression one of consideration rather than consternation, though the latter feeling creeps in a bit at Magnes' last words. "That is impossible to say," she says, "The only thing you can be certain of is that you /did/ save the girl's life," she tilts her head somewhat, "You've never mentioned Elvis before. Are you still in contact with him? How did you get to know him?"

"I know, I just wish I could have done something more for the other woman." Magnes stares down at his hands after lowering his shirt, contemplative. "I have to catch that guy, I don't know how, but I'm gonna catch him. And um, Elvis is a girl, she went missing months ago, was always trying to make me more of a man or something. She was in a biker gang I think."

Bella gives a small laugh, "Elvis the biker chick," she says, "You ought to write a memoire one day, when all is said and done," she sets aside the light tone for the moment, "When did you learn she was missing? And how do you feel about it right now? Did the incident with the sniper remind you of her?"

"We were friends, but we weren't super close. We didn't live together long, I moved out shortly after she went missing. I was actually homeless before I came here, you're the first person I'm telling, I think. I do miss her a bit, but, she was in a gang, so, I can't be optimistic about what happened to her." Magnes explains, with a tone that suggests he's accepted the worst a long time ago. "The sniper reminded me of her, yeah, I mean, i don't see organs explode out of people every day… and I learned she was missing months ago."

"With strength like that, she was Evolved, wasn't she?" Bella says, not wanting to assume anything but come on… "Did you already know you were Evolved when you met her, or did you realize it afterwards?"

"I think so." Magnes answers, either not being sure or not remembering. "I've known I was Evolved since I was around 16, but I didn't really have a term for it, I just figured I was a Mutant like in X-Men. I mean it's not like we were common knowledge back then. I couldn't defend myself because not long ago, all I knew how to do was shift the direction of gravity, and make myself lighter. Other than that, my other abilities would just trigger almost randomly, or when Abby touched me, like, at all."

Bella gives a small nod, folding her hands in her lap. "Have you ever thought about trying to find Elvis? Put your fear or doubts to rest, whichever way the cards fell?"

"I thought about it, but I wouldn't even know where to start. The only thing I knew about her is that she really likes motorcycles, she hates being called cute, and she calls Abby her sister because Abby rides a scooter. I don't even know her full name, if that's her real name at all. I don't have any leads." Magnes explains, quite helplessly, then lays back on the couch and stares at the ceiling. "Maybe I'll try asking Abby if she knows anything some time." There's a pause, and he randomly says, obviously changing the subject, "I made you a Gwen Stacy costume. I've been making costumes more frequently lately, though I'm sure I'll have trouble getting most people to even think about wearing one."

Bella listens with interest to the list of futilities. When the subject change comes, she answers him with a humorous skepticism that is certainly not outright refusal, but similiarly not quite warm acceptance. "Overcoat and skirt ensemble?" she asks, of the costume, "I imagine I'd need a blonde wig, too. Have you got one of those?" But then she just as quickly changes the subject back, "People who are important in our lives show up again. They're like… recurring characters in a television show. Often fan favorites. They are a sort of dynamic constancy in your life. Others are bit players, you've got to let them go once they serve their purpose. Elvis was in your life once. If she shows up again, you'll know its the right time for her to show up. If she doesn't… accept the lessons you learned from her and keep her memory as just that: memory."

"I wouldn't forget such an important part of the costume." Magnes answers with a knowing raise of his finger, slipping deep into geek mode for a moment. "I'll remember her, she was a good friend even if we weren't very close. I just hope that where ever she is, she's happy." Then, another subject change, "You know, I'm gonna miss delivering pizza."

"I still miss mowing grass as a supplement to my allowance," Bella says, "But, ultimately, I'd rather be a psychiatrist than a lawn care specialist. How do you feel about your promotion? It's not uncommon to have conflicted feelings about new responsibilities. In our culture, advancement is generally openly seen as an unalloyed good. But, honestly, it can be an emotionally complex experience."

"Well, if I'm an agent, I think that makes me a free man, or boy, or whatever I am. So I'll be happy about the new freedom. I'm not happy that I'm gonna have to register soon, but it's a sacrifice I have to make." There's a slight chuckle, as if Magnes suddenly remembered something. "Tracy Strauss made a good argument for registration, even though I still don't agree with it. I said she intimidated me, maybe even scared me, made me extremely uneasy. She didn't understand why, and I said it's because even though I know plenty of attractive women, she's a woman I know can use her body as a deadly weapon, and even though I know she would never do that to me, it still intimidates me that she could."

"I hate to say this, but perhaps that fear, while in and of itself it isn't good, carries with it a useful lesson in perspective," Bella offers, "Whether stories of humans with superhuman gifts were inspired by Evolved throughout history, or the stories simply express a wish that the Evolved now embody, there is a great and complicated cultural complex built around the idea. A 'fatal woman' is just one example, a living metaphor of the fear everyone has of rejection from a beautiful person. And /you/ Magnes, charming and well mannered as you are, are a similar living metaphor. Which is what makes registration both so odious and so necessary."

Magnes points to himself with obvious confusion when she calls him a living metaphor, since he's certainly never, well, seen things that way. "I know registration can be a good thing, if done right, but currently it just really inspires fear in Evolved, and discourages more from registering than it would if it were simply a choice. Those children who committed suicide, one of which I met the mother of, they were afraid. I was and still am afraid, though less than I was before, not everyone has the luxury of government protection. And Abby, registration's caused her more problems than I can count. I've seen too much proof that registration is being handled poorly to really change my mind about it, but I'm registering anyway, because as I said, I have to make sacrifices."

"When I first heard about it, I honestly thought it was fascistic. Fear mongering at its worst," Bella says, "But in the end, it's like registering a gun. And while I'd love to live in a world where none of this was necessary, I don't. Sacrifices, just like you said. You have a good way of thinking about it, Magnes. A very mature way."

"One day I'd like to hope that they improve registration, but this is the world I have to live in for now. I don't blame you for seeing it the way you do, it's impossible for you to see it any other way really. I mean, sure you could get a good idea, but you could never really know what it's like, to have your life considered a crime when you haven't done anything wrong." Magnes, apparently worn on the subject after a deep sigh, suddenly asks, "Why do you think I'm charming? I'm just some geek guy."

"Charm, true charm, comes from decency, grace and, above all else, consideration for others," Bella says, "I know I sound like a self-help book when I say it, but it's true. Dash, flair and showmanship are just peacock feathers, a ridiculous waste of time and energy that would have been phased out long ago if they weren't so damned effective," she wrinkles her nose, "It takes a certain sense of character to realize that fact." She lifts a finger, "But we're getting too deep into the realm of my opinion. These are your sessions, so we talk about /you/. How are things with Elle? Have you seen her since our last session?"

Apparently red in the cheeks from her explanation, Magnes is more than happy to switch topics. "Not yet, I've been thinking about her, but I haven't seen her yet. To be honest, I am pretty afraid of getting really attached to her, more than I already am. I mean, I want to be, but she's the first girl I've ever really dated, and I don't wanna screw up badly, or end up getting hurt."

"Magnes," Bella says, with a warmth that is not so much maternal as it is older-sisterly, "You're going to get trampled some time or other. At least with Elle you can blame it on something besides yourself." This is only halfway a joke. "I do think you should keep seeing her, but you may find yourself very busy very soon, as a full agent. Are you expecting an assignment, soon? Are you excited at the prospect?"

"I can't tell you any details, but the assignment had me a little worried. Not for safety reasons, just, more personal things; so I can't say I'm excited." Magnes admits, trying to be honest. A hand moves down to his stomach, starting to lightly touch the spot with the stitches, wincing whenever he does. "I really wanna see the genuine side of her. I think I may have seen a glimpse of it before, but, I really want her to maybe look at me in a way that says 'This means something', not her usual look that's just trying to comfort me. I mean I'm not expecting us to suddenly fall in love or something, especially since I'm still having a guilt trip about my thing for Abby, but I at least wanna see proof that there's potential with me and Elle, y'know?"

"If it's too sensitive to discuss your feelings about the mission, I certainly understand. I'll ask, though, that I be made privvy to details for the sake of therapeutic thoroughness," Bella says, and it's clear that there is a hint of irritation in her voice, not directed at Magnes, but instead at whoever thinks secrets need be kept from her, "You might do Elle a great deal of good. She's been treated as a person apart for a long time, and having someone who genuinely believes in her value as a person instead of an agent will make her better at being both. But you should maintain that minimum level of distance. It sounds like you are, which is why I'm not worried."

"When I think about how vulnerable Elle seems, and all the things people have probably done to her, it really just makes me wanna try harder, or punch someone, maybe both." Magnes is again staring at his hands from his laying position, tone and expression full of sympathy. "She seems like such a nice girl, I'm having trouble seeing her as anything else. Whatever she's done, whoever's done anything to her, I just, I see her as a nice girl under it all, and that's the girl I wanna nurture and care for. Hey, uh, why do you think she keeps shocking me? It doesn't bother me so much, she stops when I tell her to, but why do you think she does it?"

"Having met her once, my professional opinion isn't worth that much but if forced to conjecture, I'd say that her power has been treated as her most important feature for so long, she likely views it as her only viable means of personal expression," Bella says, "And while I entirely believe she could use that sort of support and nurturance," I mean, seriously, have you met Bob Bishop? "Be careful that you don't overdo it. Someone like Elle not only wants but /needs/ a sense of independence. Note that I say 'sense'. It's more a feeling than it is a reality, both in that she may well need certain limitations and, more charitably, you're hardly restricting her with your affection."

"I think I have an idea." Magnes smiles, carefully shifting up so he can cross his legs on the couch. "Maybe I could introduce her to some new interests, and while I could discourage her from using her ability on me, I could encourage her to express herself to me more without it. I mean, in a subtle way, 'cause like you said I don't wanna take away her independence or anything. I wanna open her up to new options, and show her that she's more than just her ability. I wanna make her feel like a person again."

"As her friend and peer you could do more than any trained professional could at this stage," Bella says, "Though if you need my professional opinion at any point, I'd be glad to lend a hand. I think, overall, it's a great idea, and you should pursue it. Working, as we do, with such secrecy, we can't afford to keep our personal and work lives entirely seperate. Both of you will gain from having the other, no matter how it pans out."

"Now I suddenly wanna see her." Magnes says, chuckling as he rests an arm over his forehead. "It's so strange, she's like the complete opposite of Abby. I like Abby because of how perfect she seems, but Elle has all these flaws, and I really wanna know her, and be there for her. How can I like a girl who's completely different from someone else I liked?"

"Poetry teaches us how to love, just as much as love makes us write poetry," Bella says, with a tiny shrug, "There's something poetic about a lady of the sea and a lady of the sky, so to speak. And it seems like you want someone you can take care of, who will need you. Perfection needs nothing, and that's why it can be so frustrating."

"Isn't that selfish? I mean, of me." Magnes asks, his eyes focusing on her's. "It makes me sound like a bad person, wanting to take care of someone. I mean, it's not like I want her to be that way forever, just so she'll need me or something. But helping her get better doesn't sound bad either… what does this say about me?"

"It's as selfish as anything we do for our own happiness is," Bella says, "But never forget that selfishness is also kindness to ourselves, and we each of us deserve happiness. I certainly believe you do. So being able to be kind to yourself and kind to someone else at the same time is really the best thing you can ask for. It only gets difficult when you convince yourself you know what's good for someone else. That's why I told you that communication is the most important thing. If she needs something, she needs to ask, and if you want someone, you have to tell her. Assumption is the start of true selfishness, more even than uncaring."
Chinatown pages: wb!

"I just don't wanna be a guy who feels like he has to resort to getting an emotionally damaged girl so he can feel special and wanted." Magnes doesn't sound too happy about the idea, asking, "Is that what I'm doing?"

"The men you're referring to have habitual patterns, seek out people with whom they can be emotionally co-dependent," Bella says, tone one of reassurance, "That you worry about your motivations speaks worlds of the truth of your good intentions. Nothing we ever do is unalloyed. Even martyrs think they're going to heaven. Realizing that fact, being in control of that fact, that's what makes you a good person, Magnes. And that's what you are. A good person."

"It sure does get me shot and beat up a lot." Magnes jokes, tone reassured as he closes his eyes. "Can I ask you one more thing about Elle?" he wonders, though doesn't wait before asking, "If Elle cheats on me, do I forgive it because of her condition?"

"That's unanswerable for lots of reasons," Bella says, matter of factly, "Foremost because you won't know unless it happens. So, best case scenario we'll never need to find out. But it's similarly unanswerable because it would depend on the circumstances. What I will say is that you should take her condition into account. It's not a get out of jail free card, by any means, but it's definitely a consideration."

"I'll remember. I've never been cheated on since I've never had a girlfriend, but I think I have a good idea of how it might feel." Magnes doesn't elaborate much more on that, instead choosing an instant change of subject. "Hey, if you don't have anymore appointments, can I take a nap in here? This is probably one of my favorite places to lay."

Bella arches a brow, "A nap?" she says. It's not that the idea seems crazy to her. She takes naps on that chez lounge all the time. It's just that… it's /her/ nap spot! It's not hard to suppress the weirdly bratty impulse. She draws the brow back down and smiles, "Of course you can. As long as you don't mind my listening to music. I promise to keep it quiet."

"Don't worry about it, I lived with a biker, and then above a pizza shop for almost three years." Magnes yawns, beginning to quickly drift off. It's been a long day, he's been shot, and now he just wants to sleep in his therapist's place, because, well, what better place to get a peace of mind?

Bella takes a moment to examine the supine Magnes, lips pursing in thought. She rises to her feet, taking her magazine with her and perching on the edge of the counter. She reads, occasionally glancing over to the slumbering agent, as if making sure he hasn't somehow, in sleep, slipped away.

He hasn't slipped away, but, well, in Magnes' sleep, he gradually begins to float, sleeping rather soundly in that manner, obviously unaware of what he's doing. He may have forgotten to fill her in on that tending to happen.

Bella does a quick doubletake as she notices this phenomenon. She eyes her pad, resting on the table not far from the floating lad, but no, this isn't the time for note taking. She smirks a little to herself, wondering in exactly what situation his girlfriend will discover this particular effect.

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