That Far


bella_icon.gif deckard_icon.gif

Scene Title That Far
Synopsis Uneasy conversation circles the subject of what was or 'might have been' one late night after a shared dream in the Brick House. Bella wants to know why.
Date July 25, 2011

Brick House

A fog has rolled up out of the bay, making lonely islands out of the obfuscated tufts of grass that rise from the neighboring dunes, and the sky is more starless than ever, overcast and spattering rain in petulant dribbles over the roof of the Bay House. Inside the windows are obscured by the erratic rivulets without and the hazy parabolae of condensation within, and the darkness pressing on both sides.

You know how you can wake, angry at someone for something they did in a dream? More often than not you awake with this very person beside you, a branded traitor by your fantasy, the closest always being the one best able to hurt you. And so, when the emotional pitch and heave of Bella's dreaming finally casts her out of its own boundaries, hurling her back onto the shores of consciousness, she retains the nauseating feeling of the motion still at work in the lagoon of her stomach.

Her back is to Flint when she wakes, midway through a somnolent migration that begins and ends at him, the slumbering Bella striking out on her own only when the solitude of the deepest, most restive sleep claims her, rolling her over and away to grant herself room. The dream pulled her away, and leaves her there, with distance between her back and he and the lingering feeling of misgiving that, for now, is still the of dream itself and not about the dream.

For this span of time, she just lies there being angry and hurt, without any real grounds to act upon those feelings, They are just there, the simple chemical truths of her brain, and so long as they linger, she keeps her sleeping pilgrim's progress. But as she takes time to consider the events of the dream, the fallacious basis of her upset, hurt finds itself competing with curiosity, and soon with its much less polite cousin, suspicion.

So she turns onto her back, one arm reaching out for Flint with hand spread, feeling for him there.

"Are you awake?"

Flint is awake. He's been awake, a tilt of his head after her turned back too carefully calculated even to rustle scruff audibly against his pillow. Five minutes ago, he sees that she is awake. Four minutes and forty seconds ago, he resolves to set his eyes slowly back up onto the ceiling, dull gelatin grey retained to watch the rain run.

Projected shadows shiver in uneven runs and starts. Spits of water pan warm against the window and roof. The air is cool and he is conspicuously the wrong kind of quiet, silence too total to parse as slumber.

He is trying not to be noticed.

Or at the very least, delaying the inevitable.

Hope of both of them falling harmlessly back into forgetful sleep dissolves when their division does; her hand touches at his shoulder and he reaches resignedly to cover it with one of his, ribs boxed broad and then compressed around a sigh. He is about to be in trouble.
Bella has partially disconnected.

She can forgive his playing dead. She didn't exactly bolt up in bed herself. And when he's timely in returning the touch, he purchases himself credit against the debt incurred on his behalf by forces unknown. For this is the work of forces unknown. The longer Bella stays awake, the more of her brain is set to its usual task of sifting, sorting and synthesizing, and what has just happened, viewed from a thoughtful outside vantage, sounds an awful like what, in an Irish accent, was described to her as 'widespread future dreams'.

Fuckin widespread future dreams, if we're being more descriptively inclusive, which Bella is willing to be. As she has the chance to feel living flesh, however drawn against boney ridge, rather than whatever it was - a metal shell, containing unliving but automotive parts - she's able to throw some needed distance between herself and the experiences she's just had so kindly imparted.

And, seeing as Flint happens to be awake at near precisely the same time she is, seeing further that he reacts to her touch without grunt or twitch meaning that silence was mutual and wakeful, there is some chance it wasn't solely imparted to her.

Her hand withdraws, investigating complete, pulled up to her chest to join its twin as she completes her inversion, turned to face him now, eyes dim in the darkness.

"Were you dreaming?" Each passing second after the asking is filled with her tense attention.

The lack of fascination Flint exhibits for the sensation of slipping back into a reality where all of his limbs are intact borders upon apathy; he doesn't look at his hands, or feel them. One wasn't there. Now it is. He uses it to scratch his leg under the sheets once Bella's pulled away.

Hopefully he is scratching his leg.

"Yeah," he says, finally, quietly, tongue peeled dry from the roof of his mouth. Maybe she is just asking. Maybe she doesn't want to talk about it.

No better proof that hope springs eternal, these maybes of Flint's. And no better example of how old habits die hard is Bella's insistence on dashing that hope. Of course she wants to talk about it. Of course they have to talk about it. And it begins, as it so often begins, with her talking at him.

"And I was there?" indicates a relatively gentle approach. Wheedling for details, for confirmation. Still, she'll not likely be dissuaded by a dodge this early on. Her eyes peer intently at him, and the craggy outline of his profile seeps into definition as they adjust to the dark.

The splintery chop of Flint's profile is obscured when he turns it over to face her, light warped wolfish through glassy irises on his way to zeroing in on her and her hands. "Yeah," he confirms again, because she already knows anyway and he has to, a reach for her stayed in the earliest stages of a twitch at his shoulder. Hh.

Her hands remain clasped pretty tightly up against her chest, and Bella's frame hums with that indeterminacy of sensation that makes it impossible to tell, even for her, if contact is exactly what she wants, or exactly what she wants to avoid. Rather than daring one and risking the other, she accepts eye contact as a reasonable compromise for the time being.

She knew, yes. She knows. But it's in the validation of met gazes that she allows herself certainty and, blessedly, stops having to ask questions she already has such a strong inkling of the answer to.

Yes, now it's onto the real mysteries. Like:

"Who the hell did this to us?"

And not really expecting him to have an answer to this, she follows up with:

"Who even could do something like that. Was that- was it supposed to be- was-" how to say this, how to even know what she's saying when she says:

"Was that- real?"

For Flint, who only caught the footer, context is operating at something like — 1/4 capacity. Not that it matters. The end result either way is a detached, "I dunno," and an itch at his ear that manages to roll over into a proper reach to draw her against him. Unless she wriggles into an escape in which case. Awkward.

He is slack, regardless. Relaxed. Bad things beyond his control happen to him with unsettling regularity.

Who does he think he is, Bella wonders with a wrench at her gut that surprises her, just who does he think he is trying to pull her in like it's nothing, like it's any other moment on any other night. And she's awfully, awkwardly stiff at first, a little resistant even, but better sense catches up with her, and she acquiesces to her capture, hands unclasping to take up appointed spots on his chest. Fine. You win.

"Tell me what you remember. Everything you remember," she instructs, chin poking against his sternum, "how many dreams were there? Was I in all of them or-?"

Because it stands to reason, as he wasn't in all of hers, she might not be in all of his and- and that means there is additional dark territory to explore. Bella, anything but unjealous, both possessive and entitled, does not care to be left out of the loop, however exclusive she likes to keep her own.

Fortunately Deckard is as inexorably intent and inescapable as a pillow smothering helpfully across a face. In this way his willful ignorance of or separation from unpleasantness is a skill. She is against him, one way or another, obvious resistance passed over with another slow breath and a resettle of his arm into a less anchored set around her.

He still smells like stale alcohol and tobacco, even after showering. Odds are it's as much his half of the bed that smells that way as anything.

It stands to reason that she is only asking about 'future' dreams, once they are settled. He is quick to guiltlessly omit additional flickers of irrelevant recollection accordingly. Problems for another day.

"We were on the roof," he says. "You were old."

After a beat's worth of silent speculation re: winning extra points for himself, he thinks to add, bullshittily: "Why would I dream about anyone else?"

Bullshittery it is, but its sheer unabashed pungency makes it hard to really be mad about. She cannot imagine that he thinks she is that stupid - at worst maybe he thinks it could work like a cheat code? The right thing to say. Option C in multiple choice.

It sort of works? It disarms her, at least. Bella rolls her eyes, giving a huff of irritation without heat.

"Because I had other dreams," she replies, eyeing him upwards, pushing against him to buy just a little room, "with other people."

"You weren't always there," almost sounds like accusation, but she bites that back and screws her eyes up, "what is this?" Eyes open again, gaze adamant. "Whoever did this wants something from us. I need to know who. And why."

"If you did have other dreams," future dreams still, presumably, "you should tell me, so we," we, "can figure this out."

The hour is cause for indolence enough that Deckard meters out half a smile for her huff without shifting to disguise it. She's too close against him to see. When she pushes to reposition herself he lets it fade, raised shoulder shifting so that he can settle slothfully away from her onto his back once more.

The ceiling hasn't changed.

"I dunno," he says again, quietly unruffled with drowsy effort around a core of more stubborn reticence. He does not want to talk about his dreams. It sounds like a warning accordingly, texture graveled coarse against his intent. "Delia might."

Hey, where does he think he's going? Bella was mediating on an accepted proposal, not countering it. He can't just change his position like that, not without sufficient warning. The immanent reasonableness of her inquisition precludes his protest. Why isn't he just answering her?

Why not indeed.

The boneyard expanse of his chest, lain parallel to her sight, gives her adequate room for her to project possible courses of action. Anger seems pretty easy, and it promises immediate satisfaction - an expression of feelings she's been trying to keep at a distance. And his retreat resonates well will her time-sent misgivings. But what would that do for her exactly? The net effect seems a loss.

So instead she scoots closer to him, relinquishing her claim to space by refusing his own. Arm draped over chest, nails lightly scratching at his hair. Chin propped on his his upper arm.

"Delia who?"

Prison ink laid in faded blue and black beneath his clavicles and across his near shoulder is coupled with irregular sinks and rises of scar tissue. A bullet went in here. Another exited there, punched messily out through the sternum, unnatural scars the only lingering evidence of an unnatural healing ability.

She is all across him, suddenly, touch on her terms tolerated with less reciprocation now that he's detected her disinclination to let the sleeping dog lie.


Next would be 'Ryan's who?' but there is a faint ringing of bells within the labyrinth of Bella's internal minitru, and a dusty folder marked 'Company Brass' peeks up out of its long-neglected file cabinet. Bella is uncertain if that means she's got more traction, or less. When the Company fell to flinders, she transitioned to the Institute with an ease she certainly would think suspicious.

Bella turns her head, setting her cheek to the battlefield of Flint's chest. She doesn't need him to to welcoming, just still other than the rise and fall of respiration, something she sometimes checks with an irrational fear when she can't sleep and he's too still. Making sure he still draws breath.

"We were old," Bella says, gentle emphasis on the second world - we were old - returning to the point in the of conversation before she started turning the screws. "I'm surprised we made it that far," she says, "but I guess it's something, knowing that we can. Could. Might."

Unwelcoming is more or less a default state, and he isn't tense. Just less touchy than he was. Which was touchier than usual anyway.

Thunder rumbles dull and distant. Summer.

"Yeah," is the best he can come up to agree with after a stretch of reflective silence. They were old. Old and unhappy and made of metal. It's 'something.'

"I didn't have any other dreams about the future," he tells the ceiling after his next pause. Too many words that are too specific, but uncomfortable subject matter has finally been outweighed by the stone-in-hoof awareness that she thinks he is hiding something entails. He glances at her sideways, brow hooded.

He didn't.

And she didn't think he had, not with a certainty that survives the waning of her acute animosity. A touch of cruelty, a portion of hurt, a dash of jealousy- she's been processing what poison she hasn't spit out, and if alternate futures count at all, she's just revenging could've-might've's, despite her previous adamance that they are, in fact, never-to-be's.

What irritation and upset she's got left, she'll spend on the son of a bitch who saw fit to force 'dreams about the future' to be a required topic of non-fictional conversation. To, further, force her to experience points of high emotion that she had no preparation for, no basis to really understand, and no means to cope with. Oxytocin's a bitch and child rearing a study in the cognitive dissonance of forced compliance.

Bella closes her eyes as another bowling-alley tumble thrum of the far-off storm rolls across her perceptions, interrupting her wound nursing. Reminding her she's not alone with her thoughts, though there is something to be said about someone you can be alone with you thoughts with.

"And do you care about the other ones I had?" This information is not volunteered, and its withholding is voiced like some kind of courtesy. His indifference is permitted, maybe even welcomed. There are things she, too, doesn't really want to talk about.

Flint's looking at her again, measuring expression over the fill of muscle and skin over bone when his eyes ring briefly blue and sink out again almost as quickly, leaving blots of orange in the intervening space. She had other dreams about other people of a nature that would prompt her to demand whether or not he also had other dreams about other people.

In the end, he shakes his head 'no.' Then he hesitates to second guess. Maybe that wasn't the answer she was trying to squeeze out of him. Maybe it was a prompt into sensitivity.

Unfortunately being paralyzed with awkward confusion looks a lot like just lying there and looking hard at the ceiling. There are extra lines furrowed in between his brows. That's about it.

Bella thinks she's done him a kindness. That much less to have to listen to, to have to muddle out replies to. No need for him to figure both what she's saying and why she's saying it. That the very offer itself might prompt such considerations doesn't occur to her. Smartness has its own selective stocks of stupidity.

And she'd have to get up and peer at his face, in better light than she's got, and even then specific diagnosis of the ins and outs of what might possibly be wrong would likely be out of her reach, especially at this hour. With the passing of her own upset comes the waning of her system's state of general arousal, and along with it the slow settle of fatigue, a vintage particular to interrupted REM sleep. She feels tired. But that is something different than sleepy.

"Think you'll be able to get back to bed?" also means I don't know that I will be able to. Question posed to him, address to the rain-spattered window.

A held breath winds out into a regular rise and fall, adrenaline stir dissolving thickly away when she speaks and her voice sounds the right amount of normal. Technically, he could say, they never left bed.

He says, "No." instead.

Thanks for small favors and a failure to nitpick her words. Given, her almost certain protest - be it vocal or just expressively respiratory - would be good humored enough. Ultimately, Bella does not want things to be, go or feel bad, and while that desire is purportedly shared by everyone else on God's Green Earth, any therapist can tell you just how far out of their way people seem to go to secure their own misery.

"I think I'll go watch the storm from the porch," she lets him know, drawing herself into grande odalisque recline, thin sheets descending into gathered waves at her waist. She looks over him in his flat backed prostration, hand moving to trace the tip of her middle finger along the line of his clavicle. Then she's sliding over to the side of the bed, arm swooping down to search the floor beside for discarded clothing. She gathers a handful, lifts it onto the coverlet. Then turns to face him again, gaze cast over her shoulder.

"In a little bit- maybe we can have sex?" The tone of her voice suspends the uncertain prediction between hope (her own) and incentive (his).

Okay. She will go and watch the storm. That's a thing that people do.

Except Flint is looking at her when she looks at him — familiar, foggy lapse in attention span redirected dimly down to follow the trace of her finger until it's gone and so is she. Towards the side of the bed.

He follows her with his eyes, pursuit stayed while she collects clothes and he lets his lie in the usual heap, far from his thoughts. 'Thoughts.'

An intake of breath at her suggestion doesn't quite mesh with theatrical indifference he considers it with, something else he was going to say stifled in the process. A rankle at his nose is kind of like a shrug. "We can — have sex now." If she wants to have sex, now is also an okay time, he means. His schedule is open.

Can they, now? Bella considers Flint's proposal for long enough to indicate her consideration is serious. Summer, as stated, and storms aren't terrifically uncommon, especially not in these latter days, plus the one that rumbles like a vagrant's tummy off in the distance doesn't sound like much of a show anyways, unless it's kind enough to swoop down upon them. And Bella has tried very hard to keep sex out of the give and take of personal economy - the Lysistratan tactics of couch exiles and cold 'shoulders' - because it's smacks of sexism to her. And it's a battle where nobody really wins.

So she's willing. But that doesn't mean she's ready and able. So she doesn't really care about the storm. She cares about the interim it excused her. But maybe there's no need for euphemism. "I need to take a little time. It won't take long, I promise."

She gets dressed quickly, then provisionally mounts the bed, knees folded as she extends herself over propping arms and sets a kiss on the closer half of his mouth.

"Be here when I get back."

Deckard lifts himself up onto one elbow to meet her — something like a fourth of the way there, no obvious offense taken for the postponement.

The entire house is quiet when he settles back, rain pattering against a buffer of ambient nothing. It's still hard to fathom that they live with a small herd of other human beings.

And children.

It will be at least three minutes before erratic slivers of paranoia can congeal enough for him to slither out of bed to pull his pants back on and trek after her. Quietly and at a distance, he hunches and hunkers into a coal-eyed sit at the top of the stairs to watch her through the wall. To see that she's still there.

She stops by the ice box, opening it and bending over to peer inside. Bella's form is an diaphanous emanation of spectra outside the visible, the humming electromagnetism and steady heat of the soul. She gets a bottle shaped silhouette, pours it into a photonegative glass, takes a gleaming knife, slices the dim circumference of a lemon and squeezes a wedge, then plop.

Glass in hand she steps into the outside and - after a moment's pause to stand, sip, turn her head to look around - she picks a perch, taking a seat on an inverted wooden crate. She nurses her beverage, and the rain thickens into visibility about her, tossed into alternating crosshatch by the wind.

It was time she needed. Not time to think. It's not thinking she's trying to manage, but the opposite. The storm was an excuse, yes, but it provides the necessary prop. Something big, wild, senseless, and passing.

Any kid creeping out of his quarters now after a drink of water or late night wee is likely to never make the same mistake twice: Flint remains still at the top of the staircase, gargoyle toes curled long around the second step's edge, arms folded across his knees, eyes bright.

After a time he seems content that she is not going to leave and starts to stand, only to settle guiltily back down again before he makes it more than a few feet. Near enough to the bedroom that he can slip easily back inside should she about face without warning.

She doesn't make any sudden, gotcha reversals. Bella's contemplation is prolonged. But it is not interrupted. From time to time she glances towards the door, incline of her chin a little up-tilted. If she were looking a little further up, it would appear uncannily like she's returning his gaze. But she isn't, so it doesn't.

When she's almost done with her drink, she tilts the glass and fishes out the mangled lemon her fingertips, then passes it into the palm of her hand. She examines it for longer than would seem totally rightheaded if done in company, but people get to be strange or sad when they are alone, unwatched. Or think they are.

She pops the lemon wedge into her mouth, catching the rind with thumb and forefinger and biting, like a British tar. She tenses up all over, head giving a petite mal back and forth shake for a few seconds, before she spits the lemon out over the railing and empties the glass with one last drink.

Next Bella is on her feet, steps taking her back indoors.

Flint is patient, hardly twitching until she's turned and made earnest progress for the way back in. One steps, two steps, three, and he hoists himself up to slink back into the bedroom gloom, unfastening trou as he goes.

Back into bed. As he was, jeans hefted carelessly back down after socks and an overturned boot.

She deposits the glass back in the sink before she heads back up the stairs, giving Flint ample time for retreat. By the time she reaches the door to the bedroom, it's as if he's been lying there the whole time, the senseless lump. Flagrant insensibility. With generosity of spirit, then, Bella wiggles out of the unnecessaries and swishes herself back under the sheets.

When she does so, she settles with her back turned to him, legs layered one atop the other in symmetry like the meeting of butterfly wings, hands clasped to her chest not quite like she's praying, which she isn't.

Having followed directions in that he is in the place she told him to be at the time she told him to be there, Flint lies still for the time it takes her to settle. Still awake: his breathing is wakefully shallow and his eyes are open to trace the line of her back, but he doesn't touch her. He doesn't even move to, left shoulder sunk into the mattress like an anchor while he weighs his tatty pride's ability to carry a denial and comes up short.

She did say 'maybe.'

And this leads to a stretch of silent lying that begins to feel longer than it ends up really being before Bella speaks up, voice too clear for someone who is trying to go to sleep - no faux grogginess or pillow-muffling. It is hushed, however.

"You really need to make me ask?" she asks. Her stillness is complete and maintained; the only part of her moving is her mouth, which forms momentarily a tiny and thankfully invisible smile of self-appreciation as she adds - "With initiative like that, where will you go with you life?"

Lingering tension flushed out in a sigh that sounds like (exasperated) relief, Flint creaks against his side of the mattress, ambiguous sound and peripheral, shadowy motion that turns out to be a lean. One that he uses to peer guardedly down her shoulder after her profile. Double-checking before he pushes a thumb down the line of her spine on his hand's way to the fore. Less cautious, more brusquely familiar.


"Not to prison," mildly and off the cuff is probably a more straightforward answer than she was shooting for, meanwhile. Also unfortunately timed.

It's a feline proclivity that made Bella demand he approach her, but it's a similar cat-like quality that rewards the touch down her spine with a compliant bowing of it, not away from the pressure but with it. So she isn't staying sore. Which is only fair, as he hasn't done anything.

Well, nothing he's been caught for, at least.

His future goals are taken at face value."I take that as a solemn pledge, you know," and while she sounds serious already, she feels, moments later, the need to reach behind herself, getting a firm grip at the base of his skull. Fingers flex. "I'm not fucking joking. I hope you realize."

A distracted affirmative grunt at her ear is as reassuring as a distracted affirmative grunt can be. He has innate ~courtesy~ and focus enough to shape it into something that sounds passably like an, 'mmhmm' anyway, bristly grain at her shoulder such that she doesn't have to reach far. Fortunately neither does he.

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