Shake Down


bella_icon.gif deckard_icon.gif

Scene Title Shake Down
Synopsis How Deckard pays the rent - and other domestic details - revealed!
Date January 12, 2010

Chelsea - Bella and Flint's Apartment

There's a lump of wires in one of the cabinets, a Gordian Knot of snarled red and black, both colors dusted into greyness by an accumulation of pallid filth, sediment of neglect. A confluence of electrical lines to appliances and fixtures all throughout the kitchen, it would be a puzzle to even a skilled electrician.

Isabella Sheridan is not a skilled electrician, and so the mystery of the tangled wires does not even get to be properly enigmatic in its complexity. Opaque, it pretty much just frustrates her. Specially because the stove is no longer working, nor the power outlet where she usually plugs in the coffee maker and toaster. How these two issues could be related, she feels the knot must know. But she can't ask. She's afraid to even touch the thing, mouldering and tumescent under a piece of particle board backing in a lower cabinet between fridge and oven.

Her intended meal, a not-yet-fry up of potatoes, onions and bell peppers, sits in a skillet, its starches looking pale and a little dismal. Though that may be just because of what Bella feels right now. She's glanced across it once or twice while searching for the heart of this electricity problem, going through a number of cabinets before discovering her prime suspect and current, if wholly reticent, interrogee.

One hand gripping the edge of the counter, the other on the floor, fingers splayed, she rests on a hip, her in-house ponytail hanging at an angle to the incline of her head as she peers. The hand on the counter drops, inches forward, a nail extended towards the wires, then retreating well before it gets even within a foot of it. She's worried something's back there. Roaches, spiders, fatal electric shock. Nothing she cares for.

Scruffy jaw split wide in a yawn that stifles in time for him to sniff and plug his cigarette nose-down into an ash tray just inside of the entry, Flint enters at his usual sideways shuffle. Knit cap discarded in a clod with his gloves close behind, wiry hair mussed flat against his skull until a scuff of his left hand bristles it back up into coarse disorder.

Crime does pay, his wallet is thick, his revolver hasn't had to be reloaded, Bella is here and the heat's back on.

He's content.

He's also aware of the fact that she's in an awkward position in the kitchen, so. That is where he heads first, possibly against his better judgment, black peacoat and grey hoodie retained until the worst of a lingering winter chill is out of his system.

"Welcome home," Bella chimes, distractedly but not insincerely nor snidely nor even just ironically. It's like a door chime, a little, a response more to the sound at the door than anything else. Though it shows just how and where she's lived most of her life. Even in this neighborhood, when the door opens, she just assumes it's him. Not some criminal or ruffian. Other criminal or ruffian.

When he rounds the entrance to the kitchen, she's pulling herself from the linoleum, one hand brushing the knee of her wide-pleated black skirt, something she luckily needn't wear with leggings inside, thanks to the heat. "I do not know," Bella says, turning to face Flint, whose looming presence she can sense, extrapolated from the creak of floorboards in increasing proximity, "what the hell is wrong with stove's wiring. But I'm also not sure who to even call to ask. Are we allowed anyone licensed or in the yellow pages? I may just be a pessimist, but I'm guessing no?"

Deckard does have a tendency to loom. Vestigial presence left over from his days of bind torture kill, maybe, numbered as they were. Or a natural side-effect of his horsey conforrmation and height.

In any case, there's nothing threatening about the grey shape of him in the kitchen door here, rumpled and mild from grizzled crown to overlarge cowboy boots. If he seems more interested in the fact that she is wearing a skirt than the electrical malfunction in their kitchen, well.

His eyes tick chilly back up to her face once it sinks in that she's facing him, long face conveying all the furrowed signs of a shrug without his shoulders having to expend effort to take part. "Call them anyway. He probably doesn't give a shit."

"And what if we get a real straight shooter?" Bella asks, "finds unsafe wiring and tries to get the building shut down?" Her arms are folded across her chest as she leans her hip against the counter, legs crossing barely, ankle to ankle. Her feet are slippered, slim velveteen looking things, nothing puffy or ostentatious.

"Do we move in to another slumlord's domain? Or do slumlords have a union we could get blacklisted from?" okay, clearly Bella is not so paranoid as to believe this, her hyperbole delivered in a tone of mild irritation that suggests she's likely just venting, "will our rent go up?"

Her head tilts, and her eyes take on a slightly narrowed, searching aspect. "How is it you pay rent again, anyway?" This is unfair to ask, particularly now, after she has considered asking it before and decided it was better not to ask. The reversal, a little too quick, is unworthy. Unkind even. A bit of a javelin.

He should have gone straight for the shower. That was the feeling his better judgment had.

When he saw her in the kitchen.

But that isn't what he did, so. Flint is left to settle into himself with a sense of subdued resignation that she's been around him enough to recognize in the slow lift of his chest around an inaudible sigh and a sink at the broad set of his shoulders. He's just about to answer that he can ask around after a shadier electrition when the sharpened stick of her last question sinks in and he flinches.

Rankles, even, dishonesty and evasion rife in the immediate veer of his eyes off sideways somewhere and the suddenly hollow clamp at his jaw. He doesn't say anything, but he probably doesn't have to.

There is a single hard seed of suspicion, one that could sprout into reprimand. It hangs in the moment but fails, at last, to germinate. Instead there is a softening of Bella's affect, the double cross of her limbs unscissoring in near unison as she settles on both feet, and pushes off the counter, crossing the space between them.

"Jesus, Flint," Bella says, injecting a little half-laugh into her tone as she speaks, looking up at him from their height difference as she tugs at the lowest peaks of the peacoat's collar, "I don't think you can be doing anything that would shock and appall me, not at this point. At worst," her eyes dip down to the collar and she smoothes first one peak, then the other, a grooming gesture serving no purpose beyond gesture, "you are doing something stupid, and then," she looks back up at him again, on hand lifting to catch his chin, gaze becoming earnest and just a little serious, "you should tell me anyways. So at least I know."

"Stealing," confessed without much of a struggle once she's right up on him with her hands and her eyes and — her hands again, Flint tells the truth without distinguishing between types of theft. The difference between an aggravated violent crime and burglary is a fairly significant one in the legal scheme of things.

Unless you're already wanted for treason and murder. In that case, maybe it's really not that big of a deal.

He should probably be embarrassed but he isn't. The bills are getting paid. He's playing to his strengths. "Odd jobs."

No, but see, Bella wants details. Not degrees of guilt even. The interest in her voice is more taxonomically minded, even handed, than that. The questions: "What kinds of stealing? How do you steal? What and from whom? Do you fence things? Do you know fences?" come in fairly quick succession, though spaced each so that they can be remembered separately. Her smile is patiently expectant. She expects him, it seems, to answer all of her questions. So maybe not a pessimist after all. Cockeyed optimist, even.

"Cash," says Flint. "From people who have it."

Don't need a fence to get rid of paper money, incidentally. So Deckard declines to go into the rest, the hem of her skirt filtered lazy through his fingers as a convenient source of distraction against detail.

"How are you paying the bills?"

"Healing the sick," Bella says, eyeing Flint's sudden appreciation of her thread count briefly but not giving it further attention, "I'm a doctor, you know." Her affect remains sharp, or maybe not sharp so much as keen, viewing him askance, with face in half profile as her thumbnail picks at the edge of the coat's buttonhole.

"Did you steal anything tonight?" is just a single question, a sharpshooter stratagem rather than her previous scattershot. Still not hint of judgment or accusation. A request for information, at least on the face of it.

Healing the sick.

Bella's request is a simple one. For information.

It is also, Flint has detected, very persistant. His own profile stays inclined at a downward tilt, cromagnon brow and eyes a naturally clear variant of blue while he watches her back.


A quick visual check confirms what Bella was only guessing based on touch before. The button has four holes in all, its construction classic. When she meets Flint's eye again, she seems to be reaching for a goal, her tone more brisk than coaxing or wheedling. Her words a request, not a question. "Tell me about how it happened. What you did, what you took, how you took it. All that."

This is weirdly confrontational and confessional. In regard to a subject, Flint is finding (even more than most other subjects) that he is not all that keen on discussing. Least of all with his head doctor cohabitant. Woman friend. Thing. A glance down her person attempts to classify her on a tangent, as if his ability to categorize her is relevant to anything.

So he procrastinates. But they are the only ones here and she is too close for him to pretend like he didn't hear without it becoming an Issue.

"I waited for her outside of the bar," he starts at length, discomfort in his reluctance to share rather than any simpering in tone or expression when he finally forces himself to go back an hour. "She didn't have a gun. I did. I stopped her and convinced her to give me her wallet. She didn't scream. She had forty-seven dollars and some credit cards."

Knowing your addressee is the most basic requirement for producing the appropriate address, and so maybe there is relevance in trying to determine just what Bella is or, more to the point, what she's asking the question as. Therapist, woman friend or… uh… thing. Different people, or different aspects of a person, require different answers, are after different things with what is, otherwise, the same question.

Bella's stopped fiddling with his button. Her hand is splayed, instead, just against his breast, a mediated contact that's still familiar enough to suggest she isn't displeased with his answer. Whether or not she's satisfied however…

"What did you say to her," is the next question in this line of interrogation, asked more softly than the previous, tending towards confession rather than confrontation, "when you held her up?"

Deckard is slower still to answer this time around, x-ray vision slunk behind like a screen that makes the directness of his stare shrill when it finally finds it's way back up onto the region her face is in. He has already been more cooperative than he feels like being.

The anchor of reluctance he's been dragging finally catches when she asks him to recite threat and negotiation. He shakes his head.

"Why do you want to know?"

"Because it matters to me," should, apparently, be reason enough, or so the mixture of request and expectation in Bella's upwards-slanted gaze seems to infer. The press of her hand is joined by a slight flex of her fingers, a vague shadow of a grab. Signifying that he should stay put. She doesn't sound mad now, nor does it sound like she's trying to get in a position to be mad, but question after leading question may smack of trap. Her affect seems assembled to counter such suspicion, but in so doing points to that suspicion's very potential legitimacy.

Maybe it shouldn't. Cottonmouth swallowed into with a thick roll of his tongue, Flint glances after the hand she still has on him. Preliminary measurement of what kind of grip she has or is likely to increase herself into when he steps back and away. Like maybe this line of conversation won't follow him out into the living room.

Oh no, he doesn't get away that easy. Bella takes hold of his sleeve the minute he tries to make his escape, her grip, thumb and hooked side of forefinger only, not enough to actually stop him, but demonstrating a clear desire for him to stop. "Please?" isn't quite pleading, though there is a little bit of that. It's more a request however, insistent, and with the promise of further insistence. "There are just things I'd like to know."

"I said I only want the cash." This is probably not all Flint said, and not in tone he's saying it in now. Flat and coarse and sawdust dry while he pulls his arm sluggishly away from her grasp, lead sinker against line. Resistance without actively trying to further his physical escape. "Don't scream. Don't look at me." Nothing very original or creative. "You know I don't want to talk about this."

"Why don't you want to talk about it?" Bella asks and, upon saying it, realizes that this may sound maybe a little stupid, forcing her to amend, "I mean, I understand why you might not want to talk about it from a neutral standpoint but- why would you rather me not ask? If I want to know" Is that a touch of hurt in the cant of her brows? Dirty pool. "I promise I'm not going to get mad. I'm just- I'm curious."

Deliberately dirty play escapes Flint's attention 80% by virtue of the fact that he is looking at her skull and can't see her expression, with the other 20% owed his susceptability to manipulation. Give or take a few percents here and there. Something is off, though, caught in the jut of his ears like a suspicious blip of radar noise and he drags himself back a breath's distance. Then another. Enough to discern that this isn't going his way at all. So.

He grabs her.

Not violently or even quickly. Just enough to resolutely, even blankly, secure his grip the arm she already has reached for him so that he can turn her around and stoop and grab her around the waist and one leg to flip her upsidedown. And hold her that way.

What she says maybe was going to be 'what the hell are you doing' but Bella's faculty of speech is temporarily disabled as blood rushes into new and exciting corners of her brain, her vision swimming as pure physical matter exerts its right of primacy over thought. Yrrg.

Hands reach out to the ground like she's trying to grasp a straw to prevent from drowning, a feat that's about as helpful or hopeful. Face going beet red, she tries to get enough purchase on the floor to crane her neck up and around look at him. To see what shit eating expression he may be bearing. His blankness would likely be a disappointment, if she could manage it, but right now she can't, her vision further blocked by the awning formed by the drape of her skirt over his arm.

Which, yes, means her legs are sticking straight up, pink and bare, with a few ruddy marks due to bumps and scrapes, and a small bruise just below her left knee. One slipper dangles from toes, the other remaining in place stabilized by Flint's grip.

There's also some scar tissue, but Flint's familiar with that bit of history.

For Flint, patience is a learned behavior. He had a lot of time to sit and think in prison and he has had a lot of time to sit and think in situations since. Usually while bleeding.

So now that he has control of the situation in so far as he has control over which way is up for Bella Sheridan, Flint gives her some time to sit and think, observing first the far wall and then eventually her left knee.

So down is up, but gravity remains unaffected, and Bella spends a few moments seeing the world through a moderately different filter before clarity of consciousness returns and she can splutter. But she doesn't actually bother spluttering, not at first. Angling one shoulder down at the expense of the other lets her anchor herself a little on the floor, and brings her other arm in closer range to swing a fist and strike Flint on the knee. The blow is not remotely painful, doesn't seem meant to be, the gesture being one of tacit, gestural protest more than anything else. Three strikes, substituting for three words. 'Let. Me. Down!'

"Why don't you want to be upside down?" Flint inquires after what feels like a reasonable pause, the furrow in his brow not aggressively antagonistic. Per se.

He shifts her weight in his arms somewhat; gives her a little shake, like he expects maybe change will fall out of her flipped skirt.

"I guess I can understand why you wouldn't want to be upside down from a neutral standpoint."

The shaking is really just not what she was after, and she scrabbles at the ground to try and retain her purchase, the linoleum below being now less a thing than an idea. Terra firma.

"This," Bella says, with a nasality to her voice she doesn't like and didn't want to have to display, "is a cheap trick. I was just asking you a question," or two, or three, or more, "about your… professional life, and the women you menace. I'm," she pauses to shift her shoulders, trading out the one strained hand for the other, giving the first a rest, "entitled to a little information about your life!"

Reasoning from a one hundred and eighty degree difference.

Thoroughly convinced from the flat hood of his brow to the tippy toes of his alligator hide boots, Flint lets Bella (somewhat) carefully down onto the floor rather than flip her rightways up again.

Warm enough now to take his coat off, he shrugs the lapels back off his shoulders and turns to take it to the place where coats go: thrown haphazardly across the back of the couch that he then sinks the rest of himself down onto. "I menace men too."

Time is taken to adjust her skirt before Bella moves after Flint, pausing in the kitchen doorway to examine the still-uncooked fry up. Later, she supposes. She moves over to settle onto the couch as well, starting with about a half a foot's distance and then winnowing it down to none at all. No sore feelings, apparently, over the flipping. Part of their dialogue, is what she'd call it.

"Good," Bella says, and she means it, this is not a joke, "I guess women are less likely to put up a fight?" a pause, "I'm glad you tell them you just want money. That's really what I wanted to know about."

Boots kicked up slow one after the other onto the coffee table, Flint raises no objection to Bella whittling down distance at his side. He is more tired now than he was when he got home, which seems to be the case often when she starts asking questions but skims off answering his. In any case, she's close enough now that it'd be rude to reach for the remote and he tips his head to size her up in place of the television.

"Not really," muttered without much feeling, he shrugs his shoulder into a more comfortable rest against hers and slouches deeper into the cushions. "If it's a woman I can cop a feel when I grab her."

He looks at her when he says it.

Which means he's probably joking.


And Bella looks back, that look making it very clear that he'd better be kidding. Conditional reproach is backed by further conditional disapproval and, far enough back, a glimmer of anger. All withheld, glimpsed only so that only the guilty should fear, with fear itself being a sign of guilt.

"I'd like to ask more questions," Bella states, "but I don't have to. And- I do respect your need for privacy. I- guess I worry a bit. I can't help it and it's not a big deal but that's how it is."

"Fish gotta swim," says Deckard. "Birds gotta fly."

A pull at the corner of his mouth segues into a nudge of his knee against her near leg and he leans stiffly over to extract the blunt club of his revolver from its seat at the small of his back. "Your job is more dangerous."

"Yes, but I can't keep tabs on or pretend to control the danger you're in," Bella says, easing back away from the revolver upon it's appearance, motion smooth even if it's essentially due to startling. She returns, slowly, like a cat provoked out of its perch regaining its ease, to her lean against him, eyeing the weapon with wariness but not necessarily fright or mistrust.

"How good are you with that?" sounds like a cheesy noir innuendo, and Bella inwardly winces the moment after she says it, and says nothing further. Letting the question hang, hoping it will be taken seriously.

"Good enough," is the hazy truth, or he would probably be dragged out into the kinds of after hours activities that give her grey hairs by his motley assortment of "friends" and associations less often. "Better than I am at making bombs."

The revolver is given a seat on the cushion next to him until he thinks better of leaving there and leans forward to situate it on the coffee table instead. "Or sex." Sorry. His mouth flattens out into an exaggeratedly apologetic line once he's settled back again.

Bella's looking at the gun for most of Flint's answer, following its motion as he sets it to rest, but his last addition draws a suspicious look, like what the hell does he think he's being. Cute? There is a hard determination in her eyes, a decision to find this uncharming, a weak attempt to disarm her. But it's a promise she can't easily keep. She ends up biting her lip to prevent a thin smile from forming.

"Please don't die, and please don't kill anyone," she says, head lifting as she straighten her neck, performing the visible markings of composure, "the second being suspended in favor of the first, if necessary."

If Flint is being cute it must be by accident on account of how rugged and manly he is, so. He is easily neutral in the face of her suspicious look, innocent the way criminals sometimes have a weay of being when they aren't. She keeps going back to the not-quite-spoken implication that he might slip up and start shooting people and playing with their insides again if he doesn't keep his eyes on the prize, though. What a downer.


"That's all for tonight then," Bella says, settling her head against his arm and shifting to rest on her side, eyes point, a little blankly, at the TV set. "But I still haven't had dinner. Does anyplace deliver here? A Triad owned Chinese place or something?" This has evidently become the new most pressing issue on her mind. The previous item on the docket has been neatly scratched off. Next order of business.


Another shift and lean sees Deckard manuevering his phone out of his pocket, hard plastic rustled against denim until it's out enough for him to flip it open. Check the date, check the time. Check recent dials. The china men are in there somewhere. "I have a couple of propane stoves in Midtown. I can bring one back here if you don't want Chinese."

"Order in," Bella says, with an exaggerated lazy tonelessness, "I think I popped a blood vessel when you fucking flipped me over," she digs her nails into his arm to accentuate this reminder, "if I get up I may have a stroke. I'm under my own orders to stay here for the foreseeable future."

Her eyes slide shut. Poor ailing Bella. "Would you put on some music? Something easy to listen to."

A grunt against dug in nails can't bolster up enough energy to translate itself into a wrest away. Flint flips through the phone with one hand and the remote with the other, whatever station looks most like classic rock settled on before he thumbs the volume down to hit send.

Another exciting evening at home with a reformed murderer and a dubiously ethical psychiatrist.

And their guns.

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