bella_icon.gif joseph_icon.gif

Scene Title Slide
Synopsis "I very much appreciate your meeting with me, and I think we could both benefit from a certain degree of clarification. Just between you and I."
Date August, 23, 2010

Chelsea: Donut King

She arrives late, though it is not, in fact, actually late. Bella's chosen a coffee shop not far from her apartment though definitely closer to civilization than the hole she has tried to make into a home. Still, she will have to return to said hole alone, and she has no desire to risk it after fall of darkness. The sun is low, yes, but she doesn't expect this meeting to take terribly long. She would be unsurprised to find that he did not show up at all. Joseph would not be unreasonable in rejected her offer to meet.

But she will still hold it against him if he doesn't show.

Bella holds no resentment in her mind at the moment though, as she steps off the bus and walks the block and a half to the front of 'Donut King', a dingy but well lit and harmless looking coffee and deep fried pastry establishment. Unpretentious and unconfrontational, or so Bella was going for, and her lateness was also by design. Hoping that he will be punctual, and thus feel he has the home ground advantage. Only fair, too, since every time they have met otherwise, it has always been in her lair. She presses past the door, the bell overhead ringing, though the man at the counter doesn't even look up from his newspaper. The psychiatrist glances around, hoping.

It would be an awful waste if she planned all this out for nothing.

True to form, Joseph is on time. Was on time. It's not on time now, if not by so much that his frayed patience has him vacating the place as one might if stood up. Incidentally, he has purchased something to drink, having felt obligated to do so instead of wait empty handed, and so half a cup of tea sits at his elbow, the excess of the set already cleaned up to clear the table, save for it and a folded over newspaper he has pinned down with a hand, the other of which fiddles with his wristwatch without taking his eyes off his reading.

It's about the Registry, but what won't be, until September is settled into? REGISTER! splashes across the page in blocky letters, and Joseph probably won't have to worry, being already so, and having hit rock bottom in terms of what can go wrong when you do. His shoulders round in where he leans against the table, a denim jacket left to hang over the back of his chair, his button down shirt ordinary, jeans more so.

When the door bell dings, he does glance up with the expectation of seeing a stranger, but when Bella appears there, he— isn't getting up to pull out her chair! But he does straighten his posture in acknowledgment, and go to to fold up the pages of the newspaper, and distribute onto the nearer empty table.

Bella has to fight the urge to smile at Joseph - it's her gut reaction when heading into a potentially confrontational situation. The expression, while being a very stunning facsimile, can only, she is sure, seem unbalanced or insincere in this context. She wants to appear as neither. She opts, instead, for a polite neutrality, an affect that asks about the same from him in return, which is what she wants. And getting what she wants is pretty much always numero uno on Dr. Sheridan's priority list.

She didn't expect to have her chair pulled out for her. She didn't expect that sort of thing even before rooming with Deckard, and one can imagine even such modest expectations of chivalry to have been thoroughly quashed since her new living arrangement began. She takes her seat without aid, thank you very much, crossing her legs and folding her hands on the table between them.

Bella's dressed quite professionally, business casual, with slate grey slacks and a dark green button-down blouse that she thinks brings out her hair, though that's not particularly relevant in this situation. Her designs have limits - fractal complexity is beyond her energy level nowadays.

"I very much appreciate your meeting with me," is how she opens, "and I think we could both benefit from a certain degree of clarification. Just between you and I." Meaning, not with Flint around, whose vocal habits (or lack thereof) can be contagious.

Not a very confrontational individual, which could be shocking, or not, Joseph isn't even immediately talking once she's broken the ice, let alone trying to speak first. Despite sparking anger back at the apartment, it's dwindled down and transformed, here, into ambient dislike and distrust that only makes itself known in his preference for watching the surface of the table, or into his tea cup when he takes a sip of tepid English Breakfast, overly milky or too weak, one or the other.

"Clarity sounds just fine," he says, when he goes to put it back down and aside, pushing saucer just out of comfortable reach as if to stave off the temptation to fidget with metal spoon or porcelain pieces out of growing nervousness.

Why's he nervous? Bella isn't nervous. She doesn't look nervous, at least. What's to be nervous about? There is no reason to be nervous. We're all friends here.

"Rather than try and present some sort of case," Bella says, smoothly, retaining her cordial mien, "I'd much rather hear your questions, which I imagine you have at least some of. Any questions you might have, about me, my intentions, my current situation. If the answer is mine to give, I'll give it, truthfully." A beat, no more. "Anything you ask I will keep strictly private, of course. Flint won't hear about it unless you want him to. I will, however, tell him we met. I hope that is alright with you."

"I ain't interested in going 'round behind his back, no," is a little double-sided, which is unfair in that Deckard isn't here to defend himself. Joseph doesn't deliver words with a false smile, though, guarded and small despite his 6' frame in the chair adjacent to Bella, leaning back into it enough if not in a particularly liesured way. "I don't really got questions. You were in a bad situation and found someone to get you out of it, so, there it is. I don't think you're any good for 'im and I'll be tellin' him so myself. If there's anythin' you think I need to know about this, then I guess you got a chance to explain it."

Bella's lips purse, considering. There are a lot of things she could say. Most of them would probably be the wrong thing. There may, in fact, be no 'right' thing, per se. Just less wrong. And Bella would like the least wrong option, if she can suss it out.

"You know what he's done, yes?" Bella says, and she recognizes that bringing this up is probably one of the more dangerous things she can do, "And I know you know what I've done. I ask you to imagine what that is like for us. Understand that, whatever else is wrong with us, there is something… valuable in having someone who you know won't judge you. Can't judge you. Would never have the option to, never have the right. You are a good man, Joseph, that I believe. But a good man is a very hard kind of friend to have for someone like Flint."

She parts her hands in a opening gesture. "If you could please explain why I'm not good for him… I'd like to know your reasons. Specifically."

He goes quiet, then, but it's not a bad sign — Joseph is considering it, black-eyed gaze wandering back over the table top between them, hands linked together. The answer to that query should be deafeningly obvious, and maybe is, but the way to string it into words is not necessarily so. There is also the matter— this idea of equal terms, which his mouth had pulled into a small frown at, without working to deny that he qualifies as a good man. Or the binary implication that Deckard is not.

"You're smart. You strike me as the kind who steps on things to get their way. Colette, myself— Jet, too, we got used because of your research. You can say it was for a greater good all you want, but it don't matter. The Institute and workin' for 'em ain't any better. I dunno if you care about Flint beyond what you get outta him.

"That and— he's been through a lot. Lately. You know, I know. I know what you can do with words when you want to." And that's as light as he can brush on her talent for verbal eviceration that he can do without being too vague, not wanting to brush any heavier, either, not wanting to directly reference to their time back in her self-managed testing facility.

Bella will not defend herself from Joseph's aspersions. First because they are not wholly unflattering, in their way. Bella has always fancied herself as competent and, if needs be, as powerful. And she's never once doubted her own intelligence. That this in and of itself is a great failing, and part of how she has screwed up her life so badly, along with the lives of many others, is one fact that has thusfar escaped her analytical lens. We are blind too ourselves, and most darkly so when we think we know ourselves well, as Bella feels she does.

Second because he's not wrong. 'Friend' and 'resource' approach synonym for her far too often.

So no point by point refutation is forthcoming. She does not even address what he says to her. Instead, she puts forth a question of her own.

"Realistically, if possible… what would it take to assure you that I do care about Flint?"


This isn't actually an answer! Determinable by the way it's muttered, the flash of an eyeroll and the furtherly retracted study of linked fingers instead of table top. "Dunno if it's anything you can do on your end. For what it's worth, that Deckard's— even stickin' by you says somethin' about that. But between you an' me, no, nothin' I can identify." And Joseph doesn't sound sorry for that, dragging up his attention enough to look her in the eye. It's a direct look, too, assessing and reproachful, before that stoicism is interrupted with a restless shrug.

That this whole situation still hurts to a pettier degree is kept guarded, somewhat, but not completely invisible to the naked eye.

Bella cannot but infer that maybe, just maybe, it is an answer. If maybe just a little, just for an instant. Her atheism is not untinged with a certain contempt, and in a classic move she tends to suspect the same contempt, or worse, from believers. Which may or may not be unfair in any number of cases. This one?

"I am not surprised, nor do I think you're wrong to feel that way…" Bella admits, in a very 'adult' tone, "But I am… disappointed. I-," she pauses, glancing down at her hands, before looking back up at Joseph, "I am willing to do stupid things for Flint," she states, "I hope you can appreciate that. I'm willing to act against my self interests, to made… bad decisions." Like share an apartment with a serial killer. Or someone who had shot her. Just for example.

'Adult' tone is, forever, difficult to argue with — reason always is, whether in a warehouse-turned-prison or a sunlight cafe with tea gone lukewarm and unfinished to his left. So Joseph isn't arguing, in the same way she concedes him his points. "Well," he allows, after a while, shifting a look away from her, looking at the chalkboard menu yonder without actually reading any of the text. "I don't decide who he trusts, so there's that. Time'll tell. If it helps any— "

There's almost a smile, there, rueful and reluctant and only visible in the line of expression at the corner of his mouth, brief. "I don't want to tell 'im that I told 'im so. And whether it's friendship or whatever other purpose you got for stickin' by him, it's not actually you I'm holdin' accountable."

"I won't pretend there isn't self interest tied up in my choice," Bella says, almost nervous about being given too much credit, "but- well," She gives a slight shrugs, "I am no longer sure what is pathological, frankly. I don't fully understand my own intentions. But it's always a mistake to think you know what you intend." She purses her lips. "I don't entirely know what… kind of person you think I am. And no matter how bad your opinion is, I know you are justified. But its not all of what I am. It may be all that matters. But it's not all."

There's a sharpness in the glance back that Joseph gives around the kind of person you think I am part, as if he could convey in a sharp glance exactly what kind of person he thinks she is. "Probability says that's likely true," is not a generous concession, but it's a concession, muttered as Joseph pushes his chair out from the table, though not to stand just yet. A second passes where it looks like he's about to, but the weight of conversation keeps him still, has his elbows landing against his knees as he tries to think about how to phrase something.

Or whether to phrase it at all. Crucifixes swing in a mildly pendulous rhythm from where they dangle on his chain. "Deckard asked if I'm still a Christian." Asscoverer. "And I am. And I could forgive you, you know, even if I don't ever tell that to your face. Might not even mind about you two. But this— us talkin' or runnin' into each other—

"You've seen me at my worst," he finally says, plainly. "Just about. And it's humbling as hell. And hard to be around. Does that make sense?"

"No one is anyone to anyone else without being the time spent with them, without being memory, without being, in part yourself," Bella states. This is where her profession borders on philosophy, an almost wholly cynical thing, but at least indicative of some thought, some introspection. "I might say that the only way to come to terms with that part of yourself, your worst, is to come to terms with me. But I might be wrong." She dips her head. It could be taken as both acknowledgment or permission to leave, depending on Joseph's preference. "I might also say the same of you to me. That you have seen me at my worst. And that my worst…" oh, she wants to smile, she wants to, just in a gallows way, "is considerable worse than yours. If I'm permitted to say."

A twitch that is somewhere between a head shake and a nod, attention skittering away before he can actually look at her when Joseph compulsively gives the shadow of the gallows smile she so wants to deliver, for all that it doesn't last long.

"I'll let it slide this time."

He doesn't entirely disagree.

But he is leaving, it seems, without particular apology. Newspaper cast aside and half-empty (or -full) cup left in its saucer, Joseph turns his shoulder to her when he picks up his jacket, takes the time to tug it on as opposed to breeze out as swift as brown sensible shoes will take him, a hand coming to curl around pendants once it's through a denim sleeve. Either he's not about ready to come to terms with the worst of himself in a single sitting, or has no interest in doing so.

Southern sensibilities force a minor wave in favour of formal goodbye, awkward, mousy, before Joseph is headed for out.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License