Political Therapy


pride_icon.gif sahara_icon.gif

Scene Title Political Therapy
Synopsis The previous night's presidential debate is certainly a hot topic.
Date September 30, 2020

Bay Ridge: Body and Soul Family Chiropractic

Physical therapy has been both a necessary evil and a saving grace for Ourania since her transformation. Each time, she comes home feeling beat to hell, but at the beginning of each new session, forward progress is measured from the last one.

When her name is called from the waiting room, Ourania tucks her bookmark into her book and slides it into her purse, gathering it up before heading back to the room where her therapist will come to meet her to continue to help her improve. She’s learned by now to dress in clothing fit for a workout, rather than the office. Soft black yoga pants and a yellow tank top underneath a black hoodie, which she sheds and leaves on a chair, over the top of her purse. Her cane is left propped against the side.

Hopping up on the table to sit, she beams a smile when the door opens again a few moments after her own arrival. “Good afternoon, Sahara.”

"Hey there, Ourania," Sahara calls back in a honeyed sing-song, smiling warmly as she shuts the door behind her. She reviews the chart that was left outside the door for her with a studious onceover, checking for updates that weren't made by her since the last time she saw this patient— and finds none. She's definitely favored visits with Sahara over any other practitioner in the office.

And she finds that kind of dedication endearing, honestly. That, and several other things about her.

"How are you doing today? Been keeping up with your exercises?" Setting the chart aside on the standing computer desk in the room, she toggles the computer out of sleep by nudging the mouse, eyes otherwise on Ourania for her answer.

“As always,” Ourania replies in her own little sing-song. “My partner keeps me on task,” she admits a little sheepishly. “No lazy days allowed.” For which she is admittedly grateful. “Leg day is absolutely brutal, though. I’ve been so tired since I’ve been working the two jobs.”

Gingerly, she presses at one hip with a frown. “I feel out of alignment. I haven’t had a fall for a little while now, but…” Ourania’s eyes drift toward the ceiling, trying to comb her memory for any incident that might have earned this latest complaint. “Maybe I just slept funny. I did sack out on the loveseat for a while the other day.” More than once she’s been told to stop doing that. She gives a little shrug and turns her attention back to Sahara.

“How about you, though? Did you do something different with your hair?” The patient squints faintly, demonstrative of her friendly scrutiny.

With a pop of her brows, Sahara lifts a finger to wag it in Ourania's direction. "Miss Pride, you won't distract me so easily, asking about my good mood. What did I tell you about making sure you make this progress stick?" With a put-upon sigh, her hands fall back by her sides, resting pointedly on her hips with a tsk. "If I were smarter I wouldn't push you so hard, get your repeat business that way, but I just want you firmly on the path to recovery, girl." Some of her honeyed smile comes back as she chides, "You're too young and too pretty to be relegated to being in pain the way you are all the time."

Turning back to the computer for just a moment, she decides to accept the conversational bait at least while she's putting in her notes. "You know, though— you're the second person who's asked me if something good happened to me today. Honestly? I stayed up late last night, later than usual. Maybe a night of less-than-ideal sleep once in a while— and a messy bun— does the soul some good." Sahara chuckles to herself at that.

Ourania chuckles quietly at Sahara’s dig at her own integrity. “You know better than to mess with a doctor,” she teases, “though I surely wouldn’t mind having the excuse to continue to see you on a weekly basis with flattery like that.

Now it’s her turn for her brows to pop up regarding her therapist’s late night. “Oh yeah? Please tell me you were doing something more fun than watching the debate. We stayed up to watch it and I was positively exhausted by the time it was over.” Ourania sighs softly. “Though, that’s pretty par for the course for me, I suppose.”

With a cant of her head, eyes still on the screen, Sahara admits in a melodic sort of grudging, "Oh, how I wish it had been something more fun than that, but— well, I must admit it was more interesting than I had thought it would be. We truly live in an age, and boy how it is shaping out."

She turns away from the computer to come to the table. "Lie down on your stomach for me and let's get you adjusted." is the aside now rather than the conversation.

"I know it might not be the greatest of shocks with where I'm from, but it was a pretty red area. So for me, it's fascinating to see all these other contenders— and not a Republican in sight. You'd have thought the Libertarian running would just slide right in perfectly to that elephant-sized hole, but no…" Sahara's enthusiasm wanes as she realizes she's said too much, but she finishes the thought anyway. "Pretty much not."

“No kidding, huh?” There was a lot to see during the debate, a lot to learn about a bunch of men Ourania has never even heard of — excepting the current president, of course. “I’ve never been terribly civic minded, but it certainly gave me something to think about.”

Not that Ourania can actually vote.

The movement to lay down is a slow one, but sees fewer tells of pain than a month before, or even the week before. Ourania exhales a deep sigh once she’s situated on her stomach on the padded surface. “That Medina. Holy shit— Ah, pardon my French. But I thought he was going to positively drown on that stage. He really hit a stride there by the end, though, didn’t he?” This, unbeknownst to the therapist, is a safe space for her thoughts on this subject.

Sahara taps her foot on a switch beneath the table to lower it a few inches, then places her hands along Ourania's back, minding the alignment of her hips and spine as she works her way down in several strategic presses. "He did, but those first few minutes were rough. You can't help but feel bad for someone like that. He practically looked in over his head." She tsks, leaving one hand on a hip while she bends the joined leg, testing the range of motion.

"Definitely liberal-minded," she remarks candidly, quietly. Sahara lets out a tone a moment later as she finds what she was looking for. Her voice lifts as she notes, "You need an adjustment, here, but you're definitely better off than you have been."

Ourania draws in a deep breath through her nose and lets it out slowly through her mouth while Sahara begins her work. There’s always some tremendous knots in her lower back that come from the awkwardness of her gait when she walks assisted by her cane. She’s trying to cut back on it, even if it leaves her feeling more exhausted than when she uses it.

“No— Nnn…” There’s an uncomfortable shift when Sahara tests the affected hip. “No kidding,” she recovers. Ourania’s small complaints are common, but meant to be merely noted and moved on from. I’ll tell you if you should stop was an early mantra. “I thought the other candidates were going to eat him alive.” But in the end, Frederick Medina had managed to recover and make a good showing.

“Glad it’s not all just in my head,” the patient admits of her misaligned joint. “You know,” she segues right back into their conversational topic, “I think that Medina has a chance. I think there’s a lot of Americans out there that feel like he does still.”

While she steps away from the table to snake away her adjustment tool from the wall, Sahara only lets out a middling tone. It's impossible to see from Ourania's position, but the other woman is wary of treading into these waters. People from either side of the political fence felt so strongly against the other, after all.

But Ourania seemed on the right side.

"I mean, a good number of his ideas aren't even radical. If the rest of the world is already doing what he's suggesting, the rest of the world can't be wrong…" She pauses while the machine taps away at the knots and poor alignment near Ourania's hip, checking with presses of her hand before moving on. "But I suppose the topic's just different here on the account of the war… doesn't matter if it's not wrong to be cautious, some people are just afraid of a backslide back to pogroms and massacres. They don't really…"

Sahara tilts her head, satisfied with the feel of the adjustment. She moves along up the spine, continuing, "They don't really get what's being proposed. I mean, it's not like other countries have devolved into civil war. They found a way to strike a balance. We could learn to be safer with our freedoms."

The chirp of the tool in her hand every time an area is successfully loosened up masks some of her words from anyone who might be walking by in the hall, and for that, Sahara is grateful.

In truth, Medina’s ideals are terrifying. The standards in Europe and parts of Asia are a horror show. Ourania still struggles with her feelings of shame for who and what she is, but not the way she used to. Not now that she’s been free from the cage Humanis First represented to her. But she’s already hiding who she is. How much would actually change about that?

The adjustment is held still for and endured with deep breaths. “You can’t blame people for being scared on either side,” Ourania reasons. “There are people out there who, left unchecked, could do some real damage.” She doesn’t clarify which types of people she might actually mean. “I swear that Hesser is a step away from conscripting the Evolved.”

Sahara lets out a chuckle at that, at ease. "Yeah, in a way, I hear that. He's certainly got plenty of love for the m— for them, that's for sure." She glosses past the near-miss by refocusing back on a knot in Ourania's shoulders, pressing hard down to verify if everything's back the way it should be before adjusting it again for good measure. "The state the country is in, though, some of the ideas he had were good. We should be able to trust a central government, but it's going to take a lot of local businesses to build up the economy again. Him wanting to focus here at home, to take what advantages we've got to help the country get back on its feet…"

She turns Ourania's neck from side to side, testing its range of motion before laying firm pressure down the middle and into spots of tension on the sides. She keeps her quiet until that last adjustment is done, signaling she's finished by laying a hand briefly in the center of her patient's back. Then, she picks up the conversation like there's been hardly a pause. "I'll tell you what, though, we sure can do a lot better than we have for the last four years."

If she’d been about to comment on the near-use of the m-word, it’s lost beneath a sharp gasp and a pained hiss when that knot is pressed into. But it releases and Ourania lets out a deep sigh of relief, catching her breath in its wake.

Her neck moves more easily than it has in the past couple weeks, not even a sound of complaint from Sahara’s patient. Ourania is always slow to move when it’s over, no matter how much adjusting has been necessary, as though she needs the time to center herself and work up the fortitude required to stand. For now, she settles for turning her head so she can get a better look at her chiropractor.

“Do you know why I always request you, Miss Jackson?”

"Mmm…" Sahara pretends, at least, to give it serious thought while she tucks away the wired adjustment tool back where it belongs. "Is it because the others ease up after your first 'ow?'" She lets out a chuckle as she heads back to the standing desk, noting down the difference between her planned adjustments and what she actually performed. "Or do you just like hearing my twang when it comes out? I've heard it's got character."

“Oh, it’s both of those things, definitely.” Slowly, Ourania plants her palms flat on the table and pushes herself up first in a seal stretch, pleased when nothing feels the need to pop. Nor should it, given she’s just been adjusted. Then she swings her legs over the table and sits upright, flashing a smile to the other woman.

“No, you see… I realize the years have changed me, and there’s no way you’d remember, but… I stayed at your family’s place once, while I was on the road.” She doesn’t feel the need to clarify during the war. After their discussion, it should probably be obvious by now. “And you were kind to me at a time when no one else was. And I’ve never forgotten that.”

There’s a faint note of apology in her smile now, even though it’s grown wider than it was. “And you’re still kind.”

Sahara's still facing the screen, but she's stopped with the clicks, she's ceased all typing. Standing there like that, a few good moments pass before she slowly half-turns back toward the table, a wideness to her bright eyes that isn't normally there. There's no honey in them, just sharp surprise. Maybe even a little fear.

The war was the forbidden topic for her. When asked directly, she'd always say she kept her head down, that her family tried to stay out of all that trouble. Keep out of politics as much as possible. But that was never true.

No, her home had been open to many people playing politics.

"See…" Sahara says slowly, studying Ourania like she's seeing her for the first time. Because, of course, she is. "We got plenty of visitors. Most all of them were men. The times we had other ladies passing through… I remember just about all of them."

Her brow begins to knit together. But still, she doesn't venture a guess aloud.

That hadn’t been something Ourania had considered, but it should have been. Her own eyes dull, drifting down for a moment as though to take stock of where Sahara’s hands are, then back up to her face. It’s her turn to look surprised. Frightened. In her head, this had gone very differently. In her head, she’d been just one face in a crowd. Of course there hadn’t been many women among those who’d stayed at the Jackson farmhouse.

“I’m not lying to you, and this isn’t some kind of trick.” That seems reasonable enough to assure. Because if she were in Sahara’s shoes right now, Ourania would be sure she was being trapped into admitting to something. As far as she’s concerned, Sahara’s done nothing wrong. She might feel differently if she knew about the company she keeps these days, but for now… For now, she can presume innocence.

Sahara begins a slow shake of her head. No, she assumes it's not a trick. (Should she be worried otherwise? Maybe, but that's not her.) It's just a matter of figuring out why she didn't recognize Ourania. She turns to face her properly now, eyebrows still joined together while she thinks harder about this. A light flashes in her eyes as she considers an angle she hadn't initially.

Voice lowered, she takes a step forward to ask in a soothing, honeyed quiet, "Hon, help me out. What name were you going by then?"

Ourania shakes her head quickly, turning away self-consciously. “It’s probably better for both of us if you don’t know that. It’s not that important, right?” She looks down as she folds her hands into her lap. Her thumbnail worries at the bed of its opposite, pushing at the cuticle anxiously.

“I just thought you… might want to know you’ve got someone who understands.”

As gently as possible, Sahara places her hands on the other woman's shoulders, looking at her meaningfully. "I mean… it's kind of important." But she smiles anyway, a pained thing filled with understanding, and then she draws Ourania forward into a warm hug whether she's ready for it or not. "But I understand."

When she pulls back, she lifts a hand to swipe the corner of her eye with her thumbnail, voice firmer than before. "Now you listen here, Ourania, okay? I know what it's like to be out here in the city all on your lonesome, and you've been through a lot recently. If you ever need anything, for any reason, you've got my cell. And if you don't, I'll give it to you before you go." Sahara smiles weakly, but sincerely. "We've got to look out for each other, people like us."

Ourania looks up just before Sahara pulls her in for that hug. She gasps quietly in surprise, but she’s quick to return the gesture, however briefly it may last. She meets her gaze when they draw back again. “I’m not important,” she insists. “Not anymore. And that’s the whole point.” Of lying low and keeping her nose clean. Of having a fresh start.

Which means she shouldn’t have started this conversation in the first fucking place, but she can’t rewind time anymore, can she?

“You’re one of the biggest sweethearts I’ve ever met,” Ourania admits. “That’s… not common for your camp, sorry to say.” If she didn’t know, now she knows. “But it means I wanna look out for you as best I can.” There’s so much else she’d like to say, or ask, but this isn’t the place, and it’ll keep. “Don’t let anyone push you around, okay? And don’t let them tell you not to trust your gut.”

If there’s one thing Ourania knows about Sahara, it’s that she knows how to treat someone with humanity. Even when the influences around her tell her to do otherwise.

Someone from her camp? Meaning Ourania wasn't…?

For the scarcest of moments she's confused all over again, but it's merely a breeze over the bright flame of her personality. She reels back shining more vibrantly than ever as she figures it out, squeezing Ourania's arm fondly.

"You'll have to come over sometime and I'll have a fresh pie for you this time." She doesn't know how it's possible, but she knows well enough to not question it. Not here, not now, maybe not ever. She'd just accept it.

"And hon, don't you go worrying about me. I got everything I need to do just fine." Sahara swears so with honey in her voice, a bright beam to match it. "Sometimes I could stand to have some better company, though. How about I give you a call the next time I have a bottle of wine that's giving me some trouble?"

Unlike Sahara, Ourania doesn't need to pass on her number. It'll just be lifted from her patient profile.

There’s a quiet moment of panic when Ourania — Odessa — realizes she’s said precisely the wrong words and given herself away. What it really means is that Sahara is way smarter than she gave her credit for, and that was incredibly unfair of her, not to even mention unwise.

After a troubled moment passes between them (troubled for her, seemingly the opposite for Sahara), Ourania nods. “I really could use a girlfriend.” Demolishing a bottle of wine with another woman who is not and never has been a romantic rival of hers honestly sounds amazing. She smiles sheepishly.

"So could I," Sahara admits with a momentary touch of melancholy. She swipes it away quickly. "The last good friend I had out here vanished earlier this year." But that was life in the Safe Zone, she found.

"Anyway— let's work those muscles! Make sure those adjustments really stick this time around." She grins wryly. "Don't think I'm going to go easy on you now or anything."

Sahara gestures with a bob of her head toward the door, where a short hall dumps into an open 'gym' with enough open space to conduct therapy exercises freely.

Ourania knows what it’s like to have friends suddenly be absent from her life. She doesn’t need to have her ability active to feel empathy for it. “I’m sorry to hear that. I’ll be here for you when I’m able to,” she assures her with a quick squeeze of her hand.

Then there’s that chipper shift in topic, to what she’s actually here for, and Ourania sighs heavily. “I can’t even have wine after this,” she, well, whines, but it’s a tease. She’s sliding off the table, back into her shoes and grabbing her cane so they can start down the hall. “So long as you promise not to stop when I say when.

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