Should've Called Ahead


dirk_icon.gif isis2_icon.gif sahara_icon.gif

Scene Title Should've Called Ahead
Synopsis Lesson I: Call Ahead. Lesson II: Don't trust any food in Dirk's apartment. Even with a freshness seal.
Date August 8, 2019

Oh, this stupid—
It's Sahara.
Listen, I was going to call and ask if we could make plans soon, but the phone decided to put me right through to voicemail. I met this lovely woman a few weeks back and I want to get us all together for a girls' night. I think it could be fun.
I've actually been sitting on it longer than I meant to, and I'm in the neighborhood, so I'll just stop by your place, all right?
Okay, see you soon!

Bay Ridge: Isis and Dirk's Apartment

All told, there's maybe 15 minutes between Sahara's message and when she arrives on the apartment doorstep, knocking briskly. She swings her hair back over her shoulder as she glances up and down the hallway. She'd had the address for a while, she'd sent a trial package over of her favorite oils at one point, but this is her first time actually stopping by. She's learned to withhold judgment based on hallways by now — her own building could use some love — but that doesn't kill the idle act of looking.

Fifteen minutes between the text and Sahara’s arrival means there’s only five minutes of prep after Isis/Jo finally manages to roll over and grab the phone with a clammy hand and squint blearily at the illuminated screen.

Fuuuuuuuuuuuuck.” The word is a stretched, guttural groan. THUNK

Isis literally rolls out of bed and hits the floor. Her touselled poof of garnet pops up over the edge of the bed and she looks around frantically, fevered and glossy-eyed gaze made more sketchy by the way she looks around… maybe for somewhere to hide.

In the five minute’s span she manages to brush her hair, but that does… well, very little. It’s still heavy and flat all the way down past her little shoulders as the fever perpetuates a steady layer of grease. She’s managed some jeans and an oversized black tee reading “POLICE” with the neck cut out to let it drape open around her right, tattooed shoulder. Blinking through the heat haze, she stares at the door as though she can see Sahara on the other side.

She could just not answer.

But, she does. Her head tips sideways to peek briefly, “Hey, you,” before opening the door fully. “Come on in.”

Halfway down her left arm, a neon green flex bandage is wrapped thrice around the crook of her elbow, making the limb look stiff and uncomfortable at her side. Because it fucking is, damnit.

Sahara's still dressed for work, slacks and a printed cotton half-sleeve, and looks up with her trademark smile and honeyed, "Heyyyy…"

That trails off when she sees the state Isis is in at this time of day. It looks like she's just rolled out of bed. Her head tilts. "Wow, rough night, Jo?" she asks, and then her gaze falls even further to see the bandage. There's a number of things it could mean.

What it means for certain is that Sahara invites herself in, reaching for a hug. And she discovers the redhead is hot to the touch, on top of everything else.

It's not in Sahara's nature normally to pry, but alarm bells are sounding. "Honey, if you're not feeling good…" she starts to say, brow slowly coming together in a pinch of concern. She doesn't make any moves like she'd be leaving, though.

A hoarse chortle bubbles up within the hug, coarse but nonetheless managing to to lift a degree of weight from Isis’s hunched shoulders as Sahara-Magic tends to do. The auburn-tressed woman puts on the best smile she can muster, sincere despite the lopsided tilt of it all. “I wish I had a night worth paying for… this.” Her unimpeded arm makes a flamboyant gesture over aaaaallll herself. “I don’t think Dirk’s noticed. I’m fairly certain this is pretty much how he sees me all the time,” she jokes breezily.

A quick, considering glance is spared towards the door, despite the blond clearly making no effort towards it. Squint. “No-no, you know what? Stick around. You’re making me feel better already.” ‘Tis true! “Can I get you something to drink?” Isis drapes an arm across her own middle, palm on the right cupping the bandaged elbow on the left protectively. She nudges her head towards the little kitchen area and leads the way on barefooted, shuffled paces across the carpet.

At the fridge, she opens it up and just stands there. Ooooo, that feels good. At least she’s resisting the urge to stick her head in the freezer despite the very coercive suggestions of fever-brain.

As much as Sahara is concerned about this very moment and her friend's state, her alarm jumps up a good three notches at the mention of Dirk. "Wait. Him? You're… living with…"

Her skin is crawling and not from fever. What the hell happened there? Changed there? Maybe this is what was wrong with Isis. "How long has this been going on?" Sahara asks, trying to keep her voice even, and failing.

She trails behind, taking in the situation from afar— as in, she's scoping out what of the apartment she can see. It definitely does not look like a slob lives here, so there's that. Her moral panic aside, at least they weren't living in squalor???

Sahara looks back at Isis with a frown as she opens the fridge, wavering whether she knows it or not. "Hon, how 'bout I get you a drink and you go lie down," she suggests, entering the kitchen proper. "And tell me what's going on with you? Is there anything you need me to grab?" With that same troubled frown, she notes, "You were burning up just now, Jo."

Isis closes her eyes. Her brows sloooowwly creep up her forehead as her southern-fried brain cells try to piece together how Sahara knows Dirk and what she has agai-…. “Ohhhhh.” Lashes drawn back up, she stares wide and glassy-eyed at her blonde friend. “Not long.” In the scheme of… life things. “I really needed a place and figured he owed me one, right?” Isis looks briefly over the spotless kitchenette and the little two-seat dinner table. Small but pristine, the apartment is commendable, to say the least. “It’s a nice place,” she adds in support of her argument.

At Sahara’s suggestion, without further need for prompting, and without bothering to shut the refrigerator, Isis slumps heavily into one of the dining chairs. She streeeaaatches her arms out across the cool tabletop like a cat intent on laying claim to the whole bed to which it is, obviously, entitled despite its size. “I wish I could tell you, hun.” Really, she does, in so many ways. “Truthfully, I dunno…”

Now, here’s where it gets tricky. You see, a lie is a most unforgivable offense. Pitiful, really. Anyone can lie. Except for Isis. Something about it just makes her skin crawl and her tongue tie. But, the truth - now that’s a fickle thing, and an art when done just right…

“I went to go see a doctor.” True. “To try and find something to help my anxiety.” Also, true. “I think I’m having a bad reaction to the medicine.” You think? “This is exactly why I never liked needles.” Well, not exactly, but the fear of sudden death is essentially the root of it. So, ding-ding: TRUE!

Isis’s head flops to one side, laying on her right bicep on the tabletop. “Can you check the freezer for icecream?” Pathetic.

Man, she really is out of it. Sahara catches the refrigerator door before it swings shut, giving a long look to the contents. She carefully closes it before grabbing the freezer handle instead, thoughts churning. "Hun, I'm sorry you're not feeling well. But…" She reaches inside for a pint of expensive ice cream — probably Dirk's — and looks back to Isis with another frown. "If you're feeling this bad, maybe you need to go in for a follow-up?"

Her gaze falls to the bandage again, and stays there as she walks the ice cream over with a spoon she's nabbed from the drying rack next to the sink. "Do you have a rash? You know, they make some good ointments that might help with any itching. Have you given those a try?" Hey, at least she's an ointment instead of oils kick for this particular ailment. But they're not out of the woods yet.

"And for anxiety— that is exactly what that little pack I gave you is for. The valerian-lavender mix, or the chamomile-rose is great for that," she says sympathetically. "No shots, nothing invasive, just a little on your wrists and neck or in a diffuser…"

The jangle of keys in the deadbolt announces another arrival, the other resident. When the door swings open with the kick of a heel, Dirk backs in. Why? Because he's wheeling something in on a dolly, likely borrowed from who knows where. The squeak of wheels is not as obnoxious or offensive as the thing he's bringing in.

"Tiffany~" he sing songs, clearly pleased with the new addition to the apartment. When he swings it around, "Look what I scored at the market, all I have to do is bring the woman some of my…"

Seeing Sahara he pauses. His eyes drop to what she's holding. His face drops.

"Ice cream"

"What are you doing?"

His voice comes out in a high pitched near shriek. "Nonononononono you wrecked my whole deal!!"

It seems like the cigar store gentleman on the cart might have to go back.

“Mmm.” Isis/Jo closes her eyes briefly as she hums an agreeable sound. “Yes, another checkup sounds good. Doctor’s aware. Doing research on… next steps or some blah-blah-black.” Here eyes shoot open and her head comes up. What’d she just say? She clears her throat and leans back in her seat. “There was a rash.” Now there’s… Distractions are good. She slowly swivels her attention to the sounds at the front door. Wait, not all distraction. Oh. No.

“Not the ice cream, too,” Isis/Jo/~Tiffany~ emits in a childish whine, slapping her hands up on her face and drrraaaaagggging them down over her clammy, pallid complexion. “What did you do?” Head lolling back, she splays her fingers open to reveal her eyes and turns a look on Sahara. Muffled behind her palms comes a little plea: “Puff ift down. For your own safefty. Puft. Ift. Down.”

The pint lid is torn off, spoon this close to being stabbed in when Dirk makes his mournful wail. Sahara's eyes widen and she simply sets the pint down, looking from Isis to Dirk to the statue then off at nothing.

"What in the actual hell," she laments, snapping the lid back on the ice cream unhappily. It's slammed down on each end to secure it, side of her fist taking care of the job with a quick thump thump.

"Your roommate is sick and you're out there…" UGH, she can't even finish saying it. She just shakes her head. Mm mm mmm. The nerve of some people.

Sahara swivels her attention back to Isis. "Jo, let's get something on that rash so it's easier to deal with, then." she suggests, all the best intentions in the world.

"What did I do?!?" Hands to chest, Dirk looks positively wounded at Isis' insinuation of wrongdoing. Mister Dickson is nothing but upstanding and innocent. Mostly. What happens in Thailand stays in Thailand. "I made a deal for this sweet sweet cigar man that your She-Devil friend just wrecked by pulling the sanitary seal off my Haagen-Daz!!"

As to whether or not it was sabotaged, who knows. Maybe not. Probably.

"Man, I had plans for this guy…" He stops and looks between his roommate and her guest, then he pulls the ice cream from its place and begrudgingly offers it to the latter. "Help yourself, you already did." It's tainted for him, so he doesn't take a spoon for himself. "You've never been to Cooper's place, have you?" Is directed to Isis. "There's a pretty big space between the side of the toilet tank and the corner of the wall. I was going to stand this guy in there. Could you imagine the scare when he gets up in the middle of the night?"

Isis’s hands fall away from her face and move into making a slow, downard fanning gesture at Sahara. “It’s okay. I’m a big girl,” Isis/Jo tries to calm Sahara regarding Dirk’s whereabouts. “He’s my roomate, not my nanny.” The crimson-tressed woman offers a groggy smile, eyes half lidded. Still slumped back in the seat, her arms fall to dangle down at either side. She raises a brow at Sahara’s suggestion. “I think we’re past that. Beside the doctor said…” Wait. What did he say…?

Isis squints thoughtfully and her head sloooowly pivots up and away to consider some fourth dimension in the far left corner of the kitchen ceiling. There answer is somewhere up there, right? What she finds instead: “Where I grew up, we had the B-F-I. The Big Fucking Indian. Twenty Foot tall. We should take a road trip, get it, and set it up in front of his front door.” Cooper’s, obviously. In the realm of pranks, bigger is better?

When Isis floats back down from the dreamscape plane, she turns her attention back to Sahara and holds up a hand. “Ice cream?” She makes a grabby-grabby gesture that might have been endearingly needy except her fingers… no, better yet, her whole forearm starts to tremor.

Sahara has been working on her grace and composure here, but being called a She-Devil (and to her face!) tests her. Lord give her patience. The only thing that saves Dirk is his peace-offering of the ice cream, whether or not it was meant to be one. She looks down to Isis instead, that concerned crease of her brow returning. "Said…?" she tries to encourage her to finish, ever-supportive.

The woman's entirely off on her own train of thought now though. All the southern-raised sweetheart can do is blink slowly, ice cream in hand, and take note of the tremble in Isis' arm.

That's some anxiety… maybe. Or maybe it's more.

Sahara sets the package on the table rather than handing it off, not trusting something. She does leave Isis to pry it open herself, though. "Why don't you tell me a bit about what's going on, hm?"

Sahara’s concern for the sickie at the table finally registers with Dirk and he takes a glance at Isis’ pale face and trembling arm. His eyebrows knit together and reflexively, instinctually, or maybe just Dirkishly he takes a jump backwards in an effort to not catch whatever she has.

Because that always works.

“You’re not getting the flu or something are you?” His arm immediately comes and his nose and mouth are tucked into the crook of his elbow. He doesn’t want to say it but… “I thought you were a hot mess before, but you need” ..there’s a hitch and he gulps.. “to see someone for that.” It’s not a side many see, Nicole, Pippa, Robyn, Isis has only seen hints but genuine concern emanates in his tone, even though he’s staying back.

Isis looks at the container of Haagen-Daz like it is nothing less than the Holy Grail. She pulls the container into her lap, jamming it between her thighs, and begins to pry at the lid. It takes more effort than it should. Damn you twitchy fingers. Get. A. Grip! PUFF The lid lets go and she drives a spoon in with one hand, keeping the blissfully cold container awkwardly thawing in her lap.

The redhead, quite belatedly, looks back up to the others. “I don’t think it’s contagious. It’s a … bad reaction.” How bad is… well, up for debate still. “I am seeing someone for it.” Her glassy, hazel gaze swivels round to Sahara, but then down at her arm. “He’s doing some research. I think he’s hoping it’s a flare up before it gets better, is all. But, he’s looking into… contingency plans. Just in case…”

She looks back up and holds her arm out. “I’m sure it looks worse than it is.” That’s the mantra that’s been with her since the rash started. That’s the story, and she’s sticking to it. “I’ve tried all the creams, but nothing’s worked yet.” Her bandaged arm still held up, she turns her to take a bite of ice cream. It bobs pathetically under another tremor, her mouth chasing it for a second or two before she succeeds in catching the elusive pray and moans delightedly, closing her eyes as the treat melts in her mouth.

“She had some kind of medication for anxiety, you,” Sahara snaps at Dirk. He might be at his most compassionate, but she’s not seeing the forest for the trees at all there. Chances are he might have gotten an entire earful, but Isis is absolutely botching trying to get the ice cream open and it stops the words short. She listens, mouth curling into an uncharacteristic frown.

The outstretched arm is grabbed, gently.

But firmly.

“Joanne,” Sahara huffs at her, turning bandaged arm over to get a better look at it. “If that’s the case, maybe it needs cleaned, sanitized… when’s the last time you’ve done that?” Probably sooner than it looks with how disheveled her appearance otherwise is.

She’s going full overbearing now. There’s no stopping her. “The ice cream is all well and good, but we need to get you something for that fever, get you a nice bath, fresh sheets…” Fixing her at the moment might be out of the question, but she’ll try and do everything else to make her comfortable!!

Holding his hands up in surrender, Dirk takes a few more steps back. This time to get away from Sahara and not possible germs. “That isn’t caused by anxiety,” he says, matter of factly. “That is something she needs to be in the hospital for.” There are all kinds of doctors in the hospital that could take care of something like that, he’s pretty sure.

One thing he does know, he’s not too keen on losing his roommate this way.

Not just because of the hole she’d leave behind… there’s three garbage bags full of clothes plus other collectibles in her room that he doesn’t want to touch. If Isis died, who would take care of that? Internal monologue complete, he pastes a smile on his face and pulls his cell phone from his pocket. “Why don’t we call a car and get to emergency, huh?”

“Ooo. A bath. That sounds gooood.” Isis waves the twitchy spoon around like a magic wand. Or an airplane. One that takes a nose dive right back into the quickly melting container of ice cream. She glances between the concerned parties and decides promptly. “Let’s do that,” she points at Sahara. “And, not that,” she points at Dirk with the spoonful of drippy deliciousness. Then stuffs it in her face.

“The doc’s been in touch with me every day since it got weird. And, I will call him tomorrow and schedule something if that’ll stop you worrying, m’kay?” She finds a smile. A Jo smile, dredged up somewhere from the depths of her own worries. “I’m not going anywhere,” she promises. Whether she means the hospital or the Other Place is not explicitly stated, but she sounds confident nonetheless. She takes another bite. That’s when she looks down and notices that Sahara’s efforts to adjust and turn her arm, have revealed a tiny-itty-bitty hint of pitch-hued, dead flesh just above the edge of the adhesive bandage wrap. She nearly gags on the spoon before hurriedly setting it aside. “I should go do that bath thing now…”

Sahara would have argued that heading to the emergency room was a bit overkill.

But then she sees Isis’s arm.

“Jo.” she says, her voice lacking urgency, lacking tone. She blinks, only barely resisting the urge to tear the bandage off herself, even if it meant having to physically fight her over it. She’s not Isis’s mother, though, so she doesn’t do anything that drastic.

Her eyes say it all though, centered in the middle of her even-keeled, deadly serious expression.

What the hell is that?

Oblivious to the itty bitty bit of death creeping along his roomie’s arm, Dirk’s concern is rebuffed by Sahara’s sudden lack. “I’ve seen fevers kill people,” he continues pulling the phone out of his pocket. “And sorry, toots, no one else is going to die on my watch. Not even you.” The last bit added to give Sahara a little see, I can care less too.

Pulling his phone out of his pocket, he gives Isis a pointed, no nonsense, look. “I know you like to think you have everything under control,” his tone a little lower than the panic before. A little uptick of his brow causes a mischievous shift in his expression, a poker tell when he’s got a good hand. “But if I have to take you by the hand and move your carcass there myself, it’s going to happen.” He doesn’t know if Sahara knows what he means, but he’s fairly sure Isis does.

“Your call.”

Isis’s glossy gaze flits nervously between Mom and Dad. Er, Sahara and Dirk, rather. There’s several seconds where her fevered, childish brain is clearly trying to come up with a rebuke, but her hazel eyes ultimately pinpoint Dirk - and his expression still her body and mind. No one else is going to die…

Her stringy mop of red hair lowers some as her unbandaged arm comes up, waving a surrendering motion towards Dirk’s phone. “Call a car. I’ll go to the doctors’…” She stands up and sets the half-melted tub of ice cream aside. “Alone. You all are scarin’ the shit outta me.” She shrugs her shoulders as if she could shed all their bad mojo and death. “Y’all can look at the paperwork when I come back, aight?” She makes a slicing gesture of her hand in the air. Conversation over.

“Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to go brush my hair before I venture into public. Don’t need to scare any little children…” She drags a palm across her clammy brows and moves to slip away. She stops as far as the giant cigar store figurine. She reaches up and gives it a little pat-pat on its cheek, shakes her head, and wobbles on her way.

Sahara watches Isis totter off with a wary look that doesn’t look at home at all on her. She’s much better suited to smiling. But at the moment, the insistence on going alone makes her wonder if Isis will work through her anxiety to make it the whole way to the hospital on her own. Her concern brings her to slowly turn her head in Dirk’s direction, even though her eyes stay latched to the redhead until she’s out of sight.

“I’m giving you my number,” she says matter-of-factly, hand out for his phone. “For her. If she shows up without paperwork, you call me, and I’ll drive her myself.” Sahara’s honeyed gaze is dark with concern. “I’m worried about her. This doesn’t feel normal.”

Instead of the phone, a pen and a small pad of paper is deposited into Sahara’s hand.

“Sure thing,” Dirk smiles, a little too widely and the twinkle in his eye (to those that know him) is unmistakably mischievous. His voice has also taken on a sugary tone that’s reserved for crabby bosses and people on his list. “For her. If she shows up without papers, call you. Got it.”

Because he’s Sahara’s personal assistant or something.

Dirk’s fairly certain she couldn’t afford him.

Turning his back on their guest, he makes his way over to the dolly and resecures his lost trophy. Age and war have taken their toll on the paint and it shows more signs of wear here than it did at the market. Still. “I wonder if she’ll take something else… since the ice cream is ruined.”

Sitting in the back of a car, Isis barely manages to flash the driver a smile before she pulls out her phone and sets to tapping at the screen…


Headed your way…
✔ 13:32

I'm going to need those antibiotics.
And, a letter. Something official looking…
✔ 13:33

Leprasy? Maybe people will leave me the fuck alone then.
✔ 13:33

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