s_calvin_icon.gif unknown13_icon.gif

Scene Title Sameness
Synopsis A familiar apparition checks in on Calvin's welfare.
Date January 4, 2011


Summer nights are occasionally nice in New York, especially when you're some twenty stories above the ground and there's wind to mitigate humidity settled thick into the nooks and crannies of scrubbier desolation worn down below. Stars even prickle out clear overhead, pale moonlight limited by its slender phase while Calvin spins slowly in his chair.

This was an executive office once upon a time. Not the makeshift roof it is now, with its heavy wooden desks worn ragged by the elements and only two partial walls still standing to the south and west. The former serves to shield the rise of a robust radio antenna from prying eyes in the city; the latter muffles glare from the sun when it sets. Metal boxes and crates and a generator and wires upon wires tangle up into organized chaos one of the desks he isn't currently occupying, laptop left open next to the mic while music ripples silent into the breeze.

Far below, heat rises in shimmering waves from an ancient DMV, flames belching some twenty or thirty feet into the air at an uncontrolled blaze. Bits of burning debris occasionally drift this high on whatever currents manage to whisk up the building's side, but for the most part, there's just the smell of smoke and the stars to keep Calvin company while he spins slowly 'round. Head back, sky quiet.

Stairwell noisy.

Not too loud, anyway, but in contrast to the wide and silent bubble of atmosphere above them and the vast soul-crushing emptiness that lies beyond, a pair of foot steps may as well be deafening. There is nothing coy about this approach, nothing haunting or shifty, but it is one thing, which is more or less unstoppable. The invasion is what it is. Jasmine approaches the rooftop, steps out onto it, crab-scooting sideways as if to navigate along one of the remaining walls rather than march directly into Calvin's immediate eye line.

Dark hair is bound into a ponytail at the nape of her neck in a mousy contrast to brilliant auburn waves. The slope of pale throat, collar bones are left exposed to the warm evening, a wrap dress tied off at the waist. Opaque black stockings disappear into boots that are vaguely pointy but vaguely pragmatic for the terrain she would have had to travel to get here.

Rather hopefully, a violin case dangles from her fingers. It either has a gun or a violin.

Calvin's in a characteristic mix of black and ashen grey, blue crisp at the collar of a dress shirt that's probably too fine for wear on the street under these conditions. Dreads perpetually overworked. But this is what he's comfortable in, overlarge feet bare and hands lax across leather arm rests when he slows to a halt in his rotation long enough to take in present company.

Recognition takes a sketchy beat; then he's up out've the chair and on his feet, shoulders squared and bristly chin leveled down in minotaur defense.

At his back, the sky is starting to glow nearly as orange as the street, dirty brown mingling with the placid plane of black and blue that comprises the previously undisturbed night sky.

Jasmine had a long week. A princess needed rescuing. A nightmare before that.

It shows in, probably, the way her appearance conforms to her environment, the texture of Calvin's world at his own power rather than her's. And also the way her eyes have shadows and her free hand goes up in vague defense to his defense, splayed and surrendering, but she retracts fingers into a fist a moment later as if to seal away her courage. Painted mouth hooks into a half smile. Easy. She sidles into the space a little further, towards the edge of the rooftop where there's a fire burning far below.

Fragrances and memory have a very strong bond, and the scent she's named after begins to mingle with the smoke, the clear night air, as she settles her presence here. "I told you I'd be back," is quiet defense. She did. She did tell him.

She did. But that was before she went all teeth and glass.

In far better condition than he was less than a week ago, Calvin is slow to smooth his own hackles, nightmare lash still scored fresh in his brain. His eyes are wide and alert, irises too bright in his skull. Backlit like brands to offset the regal crest of his deliberately disordered mane and the crisp turn of his collar.

Needless to say, no expense spared on his self-image. Now that he's free. And has had a chance to recover somewhat from his concussion.

He does take a long breath, though, unconscious compliance with the intent of her look easing under his radar enough that his posturing stays posturing. And stays. Posturing. He doesn't relax the rest of the way just yet.

"I've been released," is the first thing off the end of his tongue. Business first. "But he doesn't trust me. Thinks I tried to kill him."

She comes to the edge of the rooftop, enough to look down and my, even from up here, she can feel the heat of the fire going on below them. It does have no where else to travel but up, granted, and Jasmine sticks out a hand to feel with a certain fascination. "You're hard to trust," Jasmine tells them, sending a glance that is written in strange shadows thrown up from the combination of a dark sky and a brighter below. The violin case comes to rest against a crate just beside her, hands traveling along its curving sides.

Tempting to flick the latches and open it, but decides, in the end, not to be that assumptive. There's business to attend to. "I'm glad you're okay," she says. And then, as if to replace what she just said; "Did you?"

Being told you're hard to trust stings, even if you are. Calvin looks a little stricken independently of the truth and whether or not he deserves to be labeled as a risky venture, adams apple bobbed in a swallow thicker than the one before it. Resentful. Also downplayed. Not the first time he's heard it from someone he wishes wouldn't say so.

Cagey enough to've picked up on the violin case despite a gloomy turn of his attention subtly inward, he watches Jasmine's progress for the roof's edge. Spent labels and lofty bits of napkin blacken and curl on the wind, edges fringed with subtle embers just past her reach.

He's slow to follow when he finally does. Hanging back. Simultaneously obstinate and chagrined. He doesn't answer.

Her hands come to rest upon the case rested sideways on the waist level crate, clutching the plastic edges absently with the nails of her thumbs working against the silver latches without actually opening the thing. "It's just a yes or no question, Calvin," Jasmine sighs out, head rocking back on her neck a little to observe the sky herself, wind sheering across the rooftop and curling invisibly within that pocket of ruined walls, rustling at the cotton hem of her dress. It's a modest enough length, enough that the injury dealt to her shin and calf is next to unseen, if not quite, ruined skin and black bleeding into the heel of her boot. "One that won't matter. And it probably won't be the last you see of Brian."

Now she springs open the case.

It is a violin. Shiny. Wooden. Probably in tune. "I thought I could add to your playlist," she says, with a faint smile. Of course, the look that she crawls back to him is wary and unsure, probably for more reasons than his taste in music.

"It matters to you." S'kind of a miserably pathetic thing to say upon reflection. Calvin frowns under a twitchy pull of his brows in towards each other, genuinely uncomfortable. Downtrodden, even, now that his initial bristle has worn off, underlighting less warmly defined at his post a few feet back from the the edge. And her shoulder.

He does not look like he takes much pleasure in being this hesitant. Or reticent. Especially in his own mind.

"If I see him again, I might. He's a problem. So's Lene, for that matter. She spoke to him, y'know. About me."

So back to business. In a transparent, not actually all that invested in confirmation of Lene's retardation kind of way.

Rather than push the issue, he nods hazily to the offer of the exposed violin, unopposed to distraction if the offer's on the table. It's mainly a timing thing that leads his eyes to just now start tripping down after the hem of her dress. Unusual.

Jasmine goes still in the way that anger can sometimes make you go still. Lene. Her eyes are a bright shade of blue, but that only means that rather than darkening, they can go icy, but for now, her ire is directed elsewhere. "They were told to wait," she says, in a sort of apology. "For my sake. For yours." They didn't. With a sort of grace to her movements, unique to those who know how to wield the tools they're using, she takes violin and bow out from the open case, the inside lined with black velvet.

She comes to rest the instrument against her shoulder, settling it like she hasn't done so in a while, or hasn't been practicing as she should. The bow rests on the strings and sliiides out a tuneful whine, the kind of sound you can't really summon unless you produced it once in the waking world too.

"Lying matters more to me," she says, which is fucked up, if you break it down into parts, but there it is. "Considering we all share so many of them. Lies."

"Yeh, well." They didn't. "Most everyone on the island's at risk. I did as much damage control as I could but he punched me in the knackers and ran off." Quiet, or at least quieter than usual, Calvin might've worked an unspoken apology in there somewhere. Hard to tell, given his disinclination to elaborate on whether or not he's actually sorry.

A few more padding steps are required for him to finally make his way to the sheer dropoff at the twentieth floor's northern face, toes curled over the edge against a crumbling dust of concrete. His coat furls behind him against the sudden increase in updraft, dreads settled and unsettled when he veers a look after the violin's whine.

"What happened to your leg?"

"This is meant to have a piano accompaniment," is probably not what happened to her leg, but it's what Jasmine says in the wake left behind of Calvin's question. Another mournful note. "Or that's how I know it. Written by an Italian around the turn of a century, played by gypsies. And little girls and boys made to learn the violin. You can ask for something, if you can guess it." A few more notes, now, dropping the first few bars of music to fill the space where silent music otherwise emits from the topic of the building.

She doesn't continue for the full few minutes, however, slowing down to flick a glance his way. "I had a nightmare," she says, in the tone of someone who knows it's a little rich for her to be complaining about nightmares.

"Hot Crossed Buns," guessed unflatteringly after sufficient pause, Calvin shows his wolfish teeth into a weak chuckle for his own uneasy attempt at humor, profile turned in a halo of bleary orange that sees him reseated abruptly in his chair. The blackened bottoms of his feet cross light across the prop of an unoccupied desk, cigarette poised between paired fingers lit with a run of his tongue over his teeth. No lighter in sight for the same reason he needn't drag himself across physical space and time that doesn't exist. Black coat very black, ginger hair very ginger. Blue eyes very, very blue.

"You had a nightmare."

Rich is definitely the word for it, another look passed chilly over the leg that's the source of his concern. Some concern, anyway. Not an excess of it.

"Maybe we should tell them the truth."

The music changes almost seamlessly, going from that wandering melody steeped in Hungarian folklore to something simpler and trite and very familiar and, fffrankly, easier to play. Uneasy attempts at humour from both the people on this roof as Jasmine presses a small smile as she plays the somewhat depressing tune echoed through the recorder classes of school children everywhere.

One a penny two a penny

And stops, lowering the bow and letting the violin slacken some, though keeps it resting in place as she looks over at him. There is a shifting step backwards, which conveniently places injured leg behind the healthier one, away from Calvin's blue eyed assessment. "And then what?" is rhetorical, and to prove that it is rhetorical, Jasmine resumes Czardas by starting again, but keeps her focus squared on the man seated across from her even as she drags taut strings against tuned ones. "We share truths too. They're not for telling lightly. They're not even ours."

It isn't a perfect rendition. Off notes occasionally strike clear, and one in particular a few moments after her last works has Jasmine wincing with a supressed self-deprecating smile, a huff of a chuckle.

Calvin rolls his eyes. Which is rude, really, but she's started playing music again to prove that he's not actually supposed to answer and he's content to smoke, laconic, lambent regard turned out onto the toxic glow of orange building slow on the horizon. And then what?

Gone again, Rosen's at Jasmine's back as if he's been there the entire time, warm iron stink worn acrid through the wool of his coat and crest and close-trimmed beard amplified by the heat shuddering up in waves. Fire now reflected off glass panes still standing like mirrors in buildings further away. Little details recalled in affectionate exactitude.

"Better to share them on our terms than by someone with a loose tongue and less of a way with words."

"Mm, I don't disagree."

I agree would have cost less syllables but probably given the wrong impression. Calvin's shifting around doesn't put a halt to the music, Jasmine shutting her eyes over a particularly bumpy set of notes that fall fast and short from the strings, that bit that goes fast that probably makes the entire piece worth while. If you're into folky violin solos. There's a minor flourish that may or may not be the real ending, bow taking a wide arc as she draws it up off the violin.

Lowers the violin too, cradled against her chest, and glancing over her shoulder mostly to keep track. Low tied ponytail that hangs as long as shoulderblades twitches with a minor shake of her head. "What makes that piece is tempo rubato. Where the musician has the freedom to play with the speed and timing. In robbed time, to be very literal. I just don't think it's time.

"We'll be okay for a little longer." A beat. "I rescued someone."

Tuned lax to the mantis fidgit of bow to violin as he is longer, more luxurious saws, Calvin breathes smoke through his sinuses slow across the back of Jasmine's neck. Contact without sensation. Displeasure that's never quite tangible, expression closed when he resolves himself back into being further off across the floor. More've a blend out of the shadows than a true apparition. Part of the environment as much as the environment is a part of him.

From there he says nothing for a while, allowing himself to become as saturated by the music as he is the rush and howl of familiar wind and familiar carpet mouldered unrecognizable under his feet.

"Oh yeh? I'm going to ruin a few evolved lives tomorrow." Ha, says a cynical turn of his brows upward in mockery of the nobility in what keeps his time occupied as opposed to hers. And most everyone else's. His cigarette goes back to the corner of his mouth, still fully intact despite the occasional drift of ash off its end. "I'll keep you posted on how many you should save to keep things square."

Shoulders curl a little inwards at that barely there feeling of breath tickling against her neck, and remains poised this way until Jasmine realises that Calvin has moved off again. A realisation that brings about a bodily twitch of a turn to see where he went, then, chin up and hands still defensively locked around violin and bow in a bundle. Another hesitation that passes before she takes the steps necessary to get back to her violin case, and put the implements away again.

"My, that sounds busy," she says, a second and a half too late to be particularly sincere or even joining in on the joke in any way that reads amused. "I should let you get some sleep." She closes one latch but lingers over the other, as if hesitant to leave in contrast to how violently she did the last time she came to be here, gaze lifted for the landscape and withdrawn at the prospect of entering her own head again.

And as for bleeding, it seems to have stopped, merely staining, caught in gauzy fabric and leather and leaving no traces on the ruined floor of the building top.

It certainly does. Watchful from the shadows in only the laziest of predatory senses — scrubby lion to one gazelle after it's already made a meal of three — Calvin doesn't blink half as often as he should, and it isn't long before he's prying after that leg again. Curious in the worst kind of way.

Insincerity meanwhile detected and brushed carelessly aside, he doesn't directly acknowledge the initiation of what sounds like attempted farewell until he's taken a stiffer drag and kicked it out again through his teeth. Heat lightning rolling dull on the horizon is too far away for thunder to rumble with it. "You going to be alright?"

A drowsy blink marks him as rested enough. Or at least content. "You can stay if y'like."

That gets some wry laughter, that this place would be a sanctuary to either of them, but it's only funny because it could be. Exposed to elements on a precarious structure of concrete and iron, but it's a mild summer above, and they are crookedly distanced from the fire below and whatever else could possibly be all the way down there. A tilt of her head casts darker strands out from her eyes, as she snaps closed that last latch but doesn't pick up the case. "I'll be fine," Jasmine tells the horizon for wont of a better answer, but a glance to the right includes him in that. She turns, then, and leans back against the heavy crates, which shudder a little beneath her weight, causing her to start and balance.

And relax again. "But if you wouldn't mind the company— "

Calvin wouldn't. Mind. A slight shake of his head says so, sincere enough for all that there isn't much there to read into.

He even pads slow towards his desk this time, rather than just exist there as he has existed elsewhere.

He doesn't sit just yet, though, tracing familiar etchings and digs into dark wood for lack of anything more immediately interesting to do with his hands. Immediacy clarified because he is keeping an eye on her — trying to feel her out without making any overt movement just yet.

And a little obvious all the same. Maybe intentionally so.

"It's a dead woman. That I dreamed about." Recognising some degree of scrutiny and improving her posture as a result, Jasmine's hands link together at her back in her lean, dropping her stare down towards the ruined floor between them. "It had a certain texture to it that made me imagine for a second that…" And then she's not sure exactly what her conclusion was, there, because there isn't really an alternative to 'it was just a dream'.

Her feet shuffle in a little, as if trying to make her presence here smaller, before she lifts her chin and smiles Calvin's way. "I think I'm overworked," sounds like apology, removing herself from the subject as light and whimsically as a bird taking flight.

Have you attracted the attention of any unfriendly dreamwalkers? seems like an unsympathetic question to ask. Calvin lets the impulse pass with a look that lists inscrutibly sideways, hair hanging long in his face when he plants his palm to the desk surface and rolls some of his weight over onto the ball of his shoulder. Far below, the fire stays a smudge of orange over the dropoff's edge, flames not licking near high enough to catch at neighboring property.

"I've had my fair share of nightmares." Some more naturally occuring than others. He doesn't look at her, but he might as well. "Maybe you're trying to tell yourself something."

"Now there's an interesting theory."

Seeing as we're staying on the subject, and business has been taken care of, Jasmine levels her own blue eyed stare across at the other, even as Calvin does not look her way. Her body kind of shifts around in one rolling movement so as best to face him, head tilting in an attempt to study his expression. Movement and weight distribution don't seem to pain her, as if the injury dealt isn't really a physical one, or doesn't hurt her in the way conventional injuries should, when they're earthly. "Had you given any thought about what I was trying to tell you?" she asks, a hand coming to touch the edge of the desk, like she's seeking his attention.

And no longer talking around that thing she did. The ice and the glass and the seemingly deliberate attempt to terrify.

A little nothing nonsense sound of realization may also entail recollection. A little like oh or ah. Realization that she might've been trying to tell him something. Recollection of what that something might've been, within context at the time. "The one where y'don't want to kiss me unless it's with jaggedy bits of glass."

There's a lilt at the end where it could be a question, but balance never quiiite tips the way of inquiry. Calvin still hasn't looked at her again either, but he does rock more of his weight carefully back onto his heels.

Jasmine's head tips to the side, neck loose, as she considers this interpretation. Thin fingers, nails unpainted, hook through the plastic handle of the violin case like an anchor, a fidget wherein she runs blunt thumbnail along a ridge in the plastic. "Or maybe when you're being a gentleman. I can't entirely blame the head injury, can you?" Her voice lifts up cheerily at the end of that non-question, a broader smile showing more teeth, up to the canines, before it dims down into more gentle amusement.

A glance down at the results of her own traumatic experience dims it further. "I was mad. But I sssuppose a backlash of violent karma means that I'm sorry, now."

"When've I ever not been a gentleman?" Cigarette vanished in a magician turn of his fingers, Calvin lifts the same hand away defensively from his side as if to say, what is not gentlemanly about this picture, Jasmine?? He wears nice clothes, long black coat cut clean and slackly formal against the summer night. He wears nice. Makeup. He spends — a lot of time on his toilette.

He looks down at himself in case there is something ungentlemanly about him that he may have forgotten, but comes up dry. 100% gentleman down to the tips of his bony toes splayed against rotted carpet.

He does not say that he is sorry back.

Which is by rights something she should not have tried to expect.

But did, maybe, as seen in the way eyelashes veil heavier over eyes that go unfocused at antics, smile dimming to naught and fingers clutching tighter at case handle. "You need to tell them about what you can do," Jasmine says, then, voice gaining an edge in contrast to softness just a few seconds ago — she is answering his question. She takes her weight off metal crates to stand on her own, and scrape the violin case from it to hold. "Before anyone else finds out that you're keeping secrets. I say this out of love and affection for all of you."

So there. Nightmares waiting for her and all to ruin more pairs of tights, Jasmine makes for the gap that leads into the gutted interior of the ruined building. It's a more tangible, more physical means of exiting than simply vanishing, giving it some punctuation as well as time to be interrupted.

"I don't trust them."

Rational objection comes quick and clear cut as a fall of gavel to podium in nearly less than the lick of imaginary air that whirls in the wake of Jasmine's retreat once the issue is officially out there at long last, his shoulders turned to follow for all that his feet stay rooted flatly down. "They can't keep their mouths shut. You know they can't. And I'm not — " his teeth show, temper clamped down vice-like behind them while his raised hand claws in on itself, "holed up in some little island with a bunch've indecisive criminal flotsam playing politics.

"One false move and I'm in a box."

Jasmine halts at a midpoint of his rebuttal, but doesn't immediately turn back to him, expression hidden. He does get to see her shoulders tense where they're framed by blue cotton, the uncertain pause of a step aborted and the frozen beginnings of a glance back. A released exhale does some to relax her, but the line of her spine remains stiff. He can tell she is, at least, considering his words. Considering the truth in them, as hurtful on their behalf it may be.

And then a breathily quiet, velvet smooth chuckle. Sad sounding. "This wasn't meant to go to shit so quickly," she muses, before turning on a heel, looking back at him. Finally, she gives a small nod of concession. Okay. Unhappily. "It isn't my business."

"It is your business." Calvin is angry now. Apparently moreso at shirked responsibility than a guilt trippy exuent — his eyes flash the same way his teeth do, clear cut and hard around the edges. Unforgiving. "Whether you tell them or you don't. You're no longer a neutral party." On account of knowing. Prying, more like it. This latest downturn at his brows looks a shade resentful.

"I'm sorry I fucked around with it. It's new, y'know? It's — exciting. The temptation's there." All the time. The pleading look he cuts into her turn back is in search of understanding. Or something similar. Anything. "I didn't expect you to run your own fucking investigation."

There is a flinch at anger, a hand coming up to tuck hair behind an ear in a mousy gesture of nonchalance, but for all that he might try, Calvin will be unable to find guilt. Jasmine's jaw is tight and her posture isn't exactly lending itself to meeting confrontation head on, but that much is unyielding. There is, however, understanding when she steers her look back up towards him, the lines of her expression softening at the notion of the new and exciting possibilities of power.

"I know," she says, words somehow managing to lack voice but are filled with concrete certainty. "But if you're going to do it like this, you're going to need to learn control, or you're going to get caught. And then it's all feathers on the wind. They'd understand, Calvin. Look at them. Look at Howard."

An arm goes out a few inches up, hand splayed. Look at her.

Calvin finds the understanding he was looking for and flinches from it, feelers withdrawn with a near physical component in the heave through his lukewarm guts and a pull of his starkly outlined eyes away from having to see it. It's a familiar look for anyone who's walked in on a doggie who's done a vomit somewhere on nice carpeting that you haven't actually managed to find but don't have to to know it exists.

Building fire hot on the black of his shoulders, he is, in the end, bound to disagree about the sameness for whatever reason. He just does it with silence instead of pot and pan tossing argument this time.

Hand drops back to her side, shoulders loose and head tilt communicating something like pity and defeat. Maybe more of that latter one, now, the glassy glint of eyes as she tries to study his through distance, shadow and his own choice of eye makeup that can obscure as well as emphasise. Mouth twists a little, before she chooses to continue on her trajectory, withdrawing with a sort of preternatural shadow smoothness that pr— obably communicates some degree of hurt that she'd rather wear less than she does nightmare scars.

A rustle of cotton and the scuff of boot heels are modest signs of departure as she allows the doorway's darkness to swallow up around her, disappearing too readily and not bothering with the pantomime of showing a retreating silhouette down the staircase. She's said about as much as there might be to say.

As if abandonment for the second time is a tangible thing being dragged out of him like a length of sticky intestine, Calvin sinks into a gorilla crouch and eventually an even dumber sit, shadows long around his face as they are the entirety of his makeshift office plateau.

Hard to know how long he sits there like so before he segues into wakefulness, naked in a passingly familiar bed with a familiar woman to stare at an increasingly familiar ceiling.

A few minutes of steady rumination later, he reaches to hook a robe up off the floor that is probably hers and scuffs into the bathroom to make literal good on his promise of vomits before wringing on the shower faucet.

The sun's nearly up anyway.

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