The Battered Journal


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Scene Title The Battered Journal
Synopsis Bella and Deckard form a contract, under the terms of which the can continue therapy despite the interference of a certain trigger happy Italian. Bella gets to read Deckard's journal.
Date November 8, 2009

Bella's Studio Apartment Office

It's a familiar place, the familiar setting, and everything is precisely where it was when Deckard was last here, meeting with his therapist. It's like nothing's changed at all, only the fact is that something has changed rather significantly, and the somewhat contained, formal way in which Bella addressed Deckard over the phone when she called him to arrange this meeting indicates just how considerable the shift is. Normally her affect is warm, friendly, but the way she sounded over the line suggests something more serious. Something like closure.

That is Bella's firm intention as she awaits her client, sitting in her chair, eyes on the closed but unlocked door. She's even dressed more formally than usual, wearing a modest suit, no flair at all, and keeping her hair not up but back, her face clear, ears visible. No earrings to be seen. Her legs are uncrossed, hands on her thighs, the room quiet. All the activity is going on in her head, which clicks away steadily, navigating around but taking into account her own feelings.

It's been…a couple of weeks, maybe, since Deckard last set foot on Manhattan. There are still hard-packed clods of Staten crusted in around the tread of his alligator boots when he winds his way up familiar stairs and across familiar carpeting in the hallway outside her door. Overcoat shrugged off and folded over his arm before he gets there, he glances over the number. Scuffs a hand up over his jaw in an hours belated pass after uneven bristles. Checks his phone, more awake now than he was when she called him.

No new messages.

He's as clean cut as he's comfortable with being when he finally raps bony knuckles to hard wood, grey suit in decent order and stubble collection ground down into a grizzled level to match the coarse buzz of his hair. Uneasy tension is rife in the rod of his spine and hardened slant of his shoulders. She sounded weird on the phone.

"Come in!" Bella calls. Her leg is much better, but she still gets to play the temporary cripple card for the time being. Plus the whole leg issue is something of a evidential object. She doesn't want to make it into something obsessive or passive aggressive, but it's a reality she needs to demonstrate, at least in her mind.

A nudge in through the door (as ordered) is hitched when the sleeve of his limp coat catches somewhere after him. Flint has to stop long enough to nudge wear-roughened wool off of whatever it's caught on before he can reopen and close the door behind him — awkward once he finally has. His own clothing is conspiring against him.

Still, the suit he's wearing fits better than any of his clothes have for the span of months he's been stopping in for sessions, and the only hollows hewn into his face are ones that look like they're supposed to be there when he turns enough to drop himself down into the chair opposite her. Coat and all.

Bella smiles just a little at this slightly bungled entrance. Her eyes dart across him, taking in his improved condition. She maintains the smile, perfectly cordial. "Sorry for the short notice," she says, "But I wanted to try and get this over with. I'm not sure whatall you're aware of, Flint, but I've dissolved my professional relationship with the man who referred you to me, and the circumstances of that dissolution make our own relationship, well… something that needs reconsideration. I'm sorry if this comes as a shock or surprise. Again, I'm not sure precisely what it is you know." Like, for instance, that she's under the employ of a shadowy, Illuminati-style, transnational organization.

Teo. There's a slow, marching progress to the quiet hood of Deckard's brow down after unconscious irritation. The same half-suppressed displeasure fuzzes lines in around his mouth as well, but they don't linger. The hawkish level of focus he's taken to demonstrating is a little unsettling, stark eyes polished pale and unblinking for the several seconds it takes him to catch himself and look sideways to the window instead. He shakes his head a touch when he finally does, confession of ignorance.

"Allow me to fill you in, then, and once we're both on the same page, we can talk about how to proceed," Bella says. She knows full well she shouldn't trust Deckard's profession, that she should simply play it safe and tell him to be very careful, because her door is made of heavy, high quality wood and if it could very well bruise him if it happened to hit his ass on the way out. But here she is, allowing for the possiblity of continuace, which is just unfair to everyone, both her for risking her well being and him for getting his hopes up. But all the same…
"Our mutual acquaintance kidnapped me, used me as a hostage for leverage against… god knows who, I'm not really sure. And…" Bella leans down and tugs up her pant leg. Most of the way up her calf there is a series of stitches and some bruising that is still fading. It's pretty clearly a gunshot wound, "I suffered injuries." It's just the one on display, but she employ the vague plural. "So, you can imagine the position this puts me in since he referred you."

A rustling sift marks a shift in the sit of coat over knee, loud the way quiet things tend to be in moments of caustic silence. Deckard's knees are at their usual wide set, obtuse angle somewhat less than ~ladylike~ while the rest of him seems to condense behind them. His shoulders pull in, his head ducks, and by the time she's exposed the stitching in her leg, he's eyeing it sideways, the way housebroken mutts eye conspicuous puddles on expensive rugs.

The tension hunched into his middle is near tangible at a distance. There isn't much life to his long face either; he's distracted. "When was this?"

"A little less than a month ago," Bella answers, promptly, trying to regain and maintain her previous determination, "Time flies, you know?"

Little less than a month ago fits just about right. Brows tipped up in idle resignation, Deckard filters a sigh out through his sinuses and glances down at her leg again. Unhelpfully, he doesn't do much of anything else.

Bella rolls the pant leg back down, hiding the wound. "The most sensible thing to do would be to dissolve our relationship as well," she says, "Something I don't feel good about at all, but something that I am having a very hard time arguing against," though, for all that, she's still stalling, "So talk to me, Flint. What're your thoughts?"

"You could have dissolved our relationship over the phone," pointed out after another bout of laggard silence, Flint speaks flatly when he speaks at all. To the point. And this time when he turns his head back to the window, the definition clamped hollow into his jaw reads more succinctly as cold-burning anger.

"I dunno what he's doing, or why." Back into a drone, he's having a hard time not looking down at her leg, even with the bullet wound out of easy sight. "I'm sure it's really noble and important."

It's important to Bella that he doesn't have a point there, and she speaks for both their benefits, "It would be improper of me not to have a closing session. I can't just do this over the phone," she asserts, "And the situation is complicated, so I felt I owed you at least the minimum of propriety."

Again, Bella would like to believe Deckard, and in fact rather instinctively does, but she knows full well she shouldn't; it's not a risk she should take. "What will you do if he approaches you?"

Her reasoning is eventually acknowledged and dismissed as one in a lazy lift of his shoulder. Proof that he's listening in his stolid quietude and not sitting there in another dimension entirely, even if he might want to be.

As for Teo, the best he can offer up after three or four minutes spent turning things over in the back of his head is a hoarse, "I dunno." At least he looks at her when he says it, honesty iced in helplessly through chilly blue.

Bella's lips thin. She crosses her arms. "What do you want, exactly, Flint? Do you want to keep coming to therapy? Do you want to seek further treatment? Should I be referring you to someone else? You'll understand my hesitation, I'm sure, in placing a colleague in similar danger."

"Do you feel like you're in danger?" For the first time in what feels like a long time, there's an edge of something other than dejected frustration set into the line of Flint's brow. Granted, as a replacement cynicism isn't exactly promising — but it is a shade lighter. Less intense. "Do I strike you as dangerous?"

The chair at his back creaks when he slouches some of his tension out into it, left hand clawed, fisted and relaxed across its rest. "I don't want a referral."

Bella actually smiles at this, but it's a tired expression. "No, you don't," she says "Which isn't to say you aren't. I don't think you'd hurt me, Flint. But you're clearly mixed up with quite a group of people. And they I don't know well enough to say."

No referral? She just nods, once. Maybe she wasn't thinking too hard about that option, because it's refusal doesn't seem to have much effect on her.

"Teo's the only one who knew I've been seeing you," is clarified after another pause. He passes in and out of silences like shadows, more comfortable there, even with her seated a few feet away and only so many places to look that don't somehow include her in the frame. "I haven't told anyone else."

"You must understand, I shouldn't simply believe you," Bella finally admits, and the way she says it betrays her own orientation. It's not that she doesn't believe, it's that she shouldn't.

Another tip at Flint's brow marks something that passes for mellow acceptance, if not outright indifference. "You're the one with the college education."

Bella rolls her eyes, "Smartass," she says, nose wrinkling, "All right… look. It's… not uncommon for a therapist and a patient to write out a contract. Certain codes and guidelines by which they both abide. Maybe that would be a reasonable answer. A way to put me a bit more at ease."

First time Deckard's ever heard of it, if the hazy way his eyes narrow back at her is any indication. But he doesn't protest. If anything, there's something about the drifty exhale that follows that reads more like relief than he'd probably like it to. "Ok."

"It's somewhat irregular," Bella says, posture straightening, tone becoming a bit pedagogical, "But I would feel much more comfortable if we agreed that our professional relationship can continue on the grounds that it remain entirely secret. If and when you next interact with…" should she use his real name, or his alias? She settles on, "Brandon, act as if our relationship has been dissolved, and inform me should any contact is made."

"…Ok," Deckard says again, this time with a pause for him nose suspiciously around how easy his end of the bargain sounds so far. It passes with difficulty, like the initial posit could stand to have a little more fiber, but in the end his own unease has been ameliorated enough for him to shrug it off. "Have you looked into some kind of a restraining order?"

Bella arches a brow at this suggestion, "I think that would be a little bit of an underreaction, don't you?"

Flint looks unsure, briefly, pathetically earnest in his lack of awareness as to what an appropriately scaled reaction to being taken hostage and shot at should consist of. After a moment's thought he lifts a brow in place of a shrug, hopeful in his non-commitment. Maybe?

"I'm no Christian," Bella says, matter-of-factly, "Nor Jewish, so I'm not turn the other cheek or eye for an eye. But if he's caught, I will press charges, and I will do what I can to see him put behind bars for as long as is reasonably possible." That he wants just that, to be put behind bars, isn't mentioned. "If that's intolerable to you, I understand, but it's where I stand."

The beat before Deckard shakes his head 'no,' is uncomfortably long, tainted by hesitation more than a straight-forward weighing of facts. Not a problem, save for where it might be, but he's already moved on to scratching at his ear and pretending to be interested in her shoes.

Not very exciting shoes, just black low heels. The deception isn't precisely masterful, but Bella's entirely used to Deckard's roaming gaze. That they tend towards shoes and windows makes it entirely acceptable. "Well," she says, with the air of one breaking an awkward silence, "Now that we've agreed to that… where were we last?" It feels a little false, this segue, a little forced, but better that than remaining in discomfort land.

No, not very exciting shoes at all. There's a jut of something like disappointment in the way Deckard's bristled jaw swings into a sideways set, only to slide back into its proper hinge when it sinks in that she's saying words to him again. And that he should probably pay attention accordingly. More tired now than he was when he came in — or perhaps worn out rather than literally exhausted — he takes his time in tracking back all the way to the year 2000 latter days of September.

"You asked me to keep a journal."

Fuck, yes, that's true. Bella, to her horror, had basically forgotten. However much she may want to point to an excuse, deep inside she considers it a totally unforgivable lapse. Luckily, she's willing to pardon herself even unforgivable things. Bella beams, "And did you do as I asked?"

Ignorant of the lapse or of any significance that would make it important not to lapse on, Deckard lets it pass with nary a twitch. Instead, he flops a coat lapel aside to fish blandly through the black mat of the coat over his knee and eventually produces a slender black book, the binding and cover of which look like they've been spent the last couple of centuries in an old lady's attic.

"A little black book, how classic," Bella remarks, "What have you been putting in there? Not just doodles and to-do lists, I hope?"

"I dunno. I think you said to write things that bother me, or…"

Insert trail off of self-conscious uncertainty. After some time spent rasping his eyes around after some kind of contempt or insincerity, he flips it into sideways toss at her lap across from his.

Bella's hand hovers above the book. She looks up at Deckard, "Understand, that I never intended to read this," she says, "This was for you, not for me. I will read it if you want me to, but don't ever let thinking I'll read what's in here stop you from writing whatever you want. So… do you want me to read this? I only will if you want me to."

"Don't be a pussy. Just read it," muttered without much feeling, Deckard slouches deeper into his chair, whatever tension remained through the slant of his shoulders trimmed slack at transfer of the stupid book. "You can take it with you. I haven't been writing much anyway."

Bella smiles again. She usually sort of detests the word 'pussy' but somehow in this context it feels almost endearing. She opens the book and reads it, gaze steadily measured. There are only a couple points at which she pauses, lingers, or re-reads. When she reaches the end she sets the book down on her lap and gives Deckard a long look, considering. "Before I say anything else, I want to ask you what you got out of this. What did you see when you saw yourself on the page?"

"Weakness." Voice at a corrosive gravel, Deckard scrubs the flat of his left hand distractedly over the wiry bristle of his buzz and reconsiders with a muttered, "Weakness and a Frenchman who lives in my head and occasionally does things without my permission. C'est toujours le même refrain. I haven't killed anyone, though."

"Rather you've healed some people, even someone you'd much rather not have," Bella says, "If you want to discuss anything in particular that you wrote, please bring it up. Otherwise I'll be picking and choosing at my own rate," she tilts her head, still holding onto the book, as if to say 'these are my secrets too, now', "What about this is weak?"
Announcement: Rose shouts, “Last call for people joining the memorial in time to see the set! Invitation remains open to anyone who wants to wander in a little late.”

"Technically," says Flint, "I don't want to discuss any of it." Hand still on head, he looks between her and the book at a blank remove, trying to think back. Odds are he hasn't actually read over it much himself. "Caring what people think. Doing what they say."

"Your preferred state would be not caring at all about the opinions of others?" Bella inquires, "Doing only what you wanted to do?"

Oh. Well. When she puts it that way. "…Yes."

It's hazarded out like a wrong answer, or at least an uncertain one that sounds sort of — right. Or did. Is the window still there? He looks. And it is.

Windows are important, good escape routes in a pinch. "That's an honesty not many people can summon," Bella says, "If it's actual honesty. I'd like to perform a quick thought experiment. Take an example of one thing you did that you only did because of what people thought of you. Healing this person you discuss at length, for instance. Removing the sense of social obligation, what would you have done?"

"Nothing," seems like a simple answer, by itself. It's not one that requires a lot of direct thought, either. He keeps his face turned to the window, white light bounced harsh off the steep jumble of angles that define his profile, looking back to her nearly as an afterthought once he's thought about it more and his head hand has fallen vaguely to rest at his opposite shoulder. "I've killed him before. Someone else brought him back."

Well, that's interesting. "How do you imagine you'd have felt afterwards? Barring, still, a sense of social obligation," Bella inquires.

"Neutral. Maybe relieved. I dunno." All easy answers, and all ones he had plenty of time to mull over back when he was still considering giving everyone involved the finger.

"And instead you feel, if I may make the leap, frustrated, trapped, pent up," Bella says, tapping the journal to indicate just what she's talking about, "These connections you have with people, they were something that bothered you before. You said you didn't want to 'fuck up' anymore, on behalf of others. Now that you can actually deliver on that wish, you still feel bad. Have you considered, Flint, that maybe how you feel and what's happening to you isn't always casual? Or, rather, that what's happening doesn't necessarily cause how you feel? That maybe, just maybe, it's the other way around?"

Try as he might to keep cro-magnon confusion out've the hood of his brow while he listens, the harder Deckard tries to untangle what she just said, the harder he winds up looking at her like he might've partially forgotten the English language right as she was saying something that sounded really important. Then he has to turn his brain away from puzzling over that and trying to think of something more polite than Huh? to say instead, but bafflement's easy enough to read on his face in the meanwhile.

Okay, fair enough. Maybe she should have worked out what she was saying a little bit beforehand. Looking back, even after the initial 'clarification' it's hard to follow and revelations (short of those written by John of Patmos) ought not to be muddled or vague. "I mean, have you considered that your depression is what keeps you from happiness much more than the things that depress you? That your sense of being trapped comes from the fact that either way you end up unhappy. Unhappy when alone, and unhappy with others?"

The hand at Deckard's shoulder scratches idly after an itch, then falls down into his lap. His face tips down after it, bafflement bricked up slow behind reluctant comprehension. Well. That's…


So, evidently he hadn't considered that, for all that he's making a grinding effort to now, gears already uncomfortably, musty warm against the prospect. "Can you up my doseage?"

"I think that'd be smart," Bella agrees, and gets to her feet, taking a certain care to be slow about it, to favor her uninjured leg. It turns out, though, she can walk unaided now. She just has to be very careful about it. She makes her steady way to the kitchenette, where she keeps her prescription pad. The heavy limp and slow progress is not intended as an indirect guilt trip, but it does occur to Bella that there was probably a better way of doing this if she'd thought ahead.

She draws the pad out, and marks out a higher dose of the welbutrin, before signing it in the classically illegible fashion of doctors across the world. "Understand, you should be with people. And you should care about their opinions. Not too much, but it will keep you sane. Well, it will once we help get you sane," she looks up, "How're things with Abby?" Not super great, from what she read.

Intended or no, there's no amount of window staring that's going to drown out the staggered progress of her gimping gait. Deckard looks after her, and by the time she's signing off on his happy pills, he's in the kitchenette as well.

He looks more out of place in here than he did in the chair, in his creased suit and skeevy boots with coat in hand and expression hardened into a default scowl. "I haven't seen her in…two weeks. She dyed her hair pink."

Bella looks up at Deckard, closer than she expected. She does shrink back so much as clearly define her personal space. She hands the completed prescription to Deckard. "Are these bits of information related, the absence and the pinkness?"

The paper's glanced down at as if Deckard anticipates being able to translate any of it, then folded over once in his hand so that it can be tucked away. He doesn't get any closer than he is, perceptive enough to detect invisible bubbles or otherwise content to stand where he is like an overgrown fence post against the doubtlessly more refined decor of her private kitchen area.

"She also said my smile is like a solar eclipse and I told her she was bothering me."

Bella frowns as she considers his words, which sound at first more like a song lyric than anything else. "My professional advice?" she says, holding the counter with one hand to keep the weight off her bad leg, "Don't be a pussy. Suck it up and talk to her about it."

Brows lifted at a distinct cant, Deckard looks her over at that, bad leg and all, with one last papery crinkle to mark the disappearance of her prescription into his pants pocket. It's a very touche kind of look. In any case, he doesn't have an easy retort, and rocks a slow step backwards instead. "Do you want me to leave the journal?"

Bella shakes her head, "No. Keep it. Just in case you feel like you might actually like to write something else in there," she indicates it, where it rests, on the coffee table. "At the very least keep a log of what's going on with those raccoons."

One last glance cast around the kitchen, owner included, and Flint's on his way out in earnest. He takes his time about it, granted, stopping to shrug into his overcoat once he's stooped to recollect his book and doublechecked his watch. "Thanks for not fucking me over."

"Well, I'd be a piss poor therapist if I did that," Bella states, almost blandly, leaning heavily on the kitchen counter, "Remember our contract, though. I'm a mean bitch when crossed." She lifts a hand to wave, "Take care of yourself, Flint. And feel better, if only to make me feel like I can actually do my job."

"I'll make a mental note," somewhat sketchily confirmed re: their contract about friends who kidnap therapists and hold them hostage and shoot them in the legs, Deckard manages to slant out half a smile for her last request. Which, depending on her read, may be even less promising than the offer of mental shorthand. "You too," seems like a decent thing to say, and is thus so uncomfortable that he's soon pacing out of easy view for the door (rather than the window) and easy escape.

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