The D-Word


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Scene Title The D-Word
Synopsis Abigail returns home for the final time.
Date April 21, 2011

Solstice Condominiums: Caliban Residence

Darkness falls later and later every night, the sign of spring in effect, summer on it's way and winter lagging far behind. Soon the seasons will shift, the curfew if it's still in effect - will herald not just the time when all good citizens should be in their bed, but the time when the sun sinks below the horizon and the moon starts it's tracks across the sky. Windows are lit, families behind the curtains, lovers or those alone, setting about for the evening in, for going to bed. A dog owner risks getting in trouble for a canine that just can't hold it in and scurries back into their apartment before a patrol can give them grief or worse.

The Caliban condo, on the second floor has no lights on. But that doesn't mean that there's no one there. Ordinarily, there isn't, just the presence of a black cat, a bird trilling it's in cage that should be returned to it's rightful owner and a turtle, oblivious in his tank and basking under the UV lamp that warms his rock.

Ordinarily, Abigail stalks her husband from afar, a butt groove in the top of a dumpster just down and opposite, from the building, perfect to watch him come home, watch the lights turn on in the condo and his evening rituals. Wonder if he's lonely, if he thinks of her. If he sleeps in their bed and just on his side or sprawls across both. But there's a disturbed Magnes out there - More so than normal - and with him putting out at least one contract to kill off those she loves has spurred her to cross the threshold of her home and risk capture.

Risk her husbands ire.

She's been there a few hours, snuck in through a back service entrance, used her key, let herself in. Rhett and Kasha tucked back at Pollepel and waiting for her to return from her last errands. She's taken advantage of the bathroom that she so loves about the place, soaking in the tub for as long as she thought to dare, mentally bemoaned her blonde roots and a promise to pick up more dye before she returns to Pollepel. She stuffed herself with whatever she found in the fridge and cupboards that hadn't expired before the darkness took over the condo.

Now she waited. In the dark, curtains drawn, on the sectional that costs more than most of her own furnishing in her old Rivage place, cross legged with the cat in her lap and trying not to fall asleep as she waits and hopes that he's not going to stay at the office or sleep at the Corinthian.

If he did, it would not be an entirely wasted trip; Abigail will at least eat well, and have the luxury of a hot bath, which is something that the refugees up at Pollepel Island don't have the time for. Water is rationed when they can afford to heat it. You get in, you wash, and you get out. Salts and bubbles, to them, may as well be from another era entirely.

When the key turns in the lock, there's a moment or two where she can't be certain that the man who's about to appear in the doorframe will be him — he's the husband of a wanted fugitive, and based on the stories she's heard about Colonel Heller, it would not be unreasonable to anticipate a soldier shouldering through in his place. It would be foolish, at any rate, for them not to check in from time to time in case Abigail has returned home.

Fortunately, the hand that flicks on the lightswitch does belong to her husband. Leather gloves sheath his fingers. He hasn't shaved in weeks. Caliban is exhausted enough that he does not immediately notice the figure seated on the sofa as he pulls the door shut behind him.

It's the exhaustion that has brown eyes skittering over his frame. The gloves, the growth on his jawline that she might have laughed for it being scraped over her skin and tickling her that draws her up off the couch. Scarlett mewls her disgruntlement and hightails it off with tail held high in indignation.

She doesn't say anything, he might hear the rustle of jeans, her palms dropping to her side, standing there in denim and layers of white short sleeve over a blue long sleeve, jacket, scarf and hat over the arm, a packed hiking bag set to be picked up when she has to take off. Whether it'll be in the morning, or within the hour, who knows.

What is certain is that her smell lingers in the air, she's too skinny and not just from not enough food on the island, and she looks almost afraid to move forward when he turns, lower lip trembling at seeing him up close for the first time in months.

He smells her, first. Then he sees her and stands immobile on the threshold. It is a good thing he has already closed the door, otherwise he might forget to. Something flashes behind blue eyes that goes beyond plain recognition; his mouth flattens out, and he takes a step deeper into the condo but does not shrug out of his coat like he normally would. He knows that it's her not only because smell is something only some of the most experienced illusionists can recreate, but because his ability immediately recognizes hers at a distance.

He does not need to touch her to receive confirmation, as much as certain parts of him might desire to.

"You're not supposed to be here."

"I know"

She tilts her head to the right, straightens her back then lets it drop, as if the wings imprinted on her back needed to be flexed and stretched. She takes her time in studying each line on his face, memorizing what's changed since November. What she's done to him. What she's caused him, what she believes she's caused him by asking him to marry her only to have to turn around and run.

Her thumbnail scrapes along the side of her forefinger, afraid to touch him. Like if she did, soldiers might burst through the door. "Someones taken out a contract" Not a full explanation of why he's here, but might signify why she took this risk. "On you. On others that I love. Hold dear"

His anger diminishes at that, if only fractionally — she can still sense it burning behind the stoic mask he's crafted his face into, and the creases in it Abigail should not blame herself for. His work with the Linderman Group, on the verge of collapse, has aged him in ways that the absence of a woman cannot. Even before their marriage, it took its monthly toll on him.

He circles around the sofa, making a point to keep the piece of furniture between himself and his wife. Caliban does not trust his own hands. "Is that so?"

He moves, she turns in spot, booted feet roughing against the plush carpet. Just a nod of her head to indicate that yes, it's so, hair shifting blunt against her jaw. The trace of the scar that the attack from the bird left from the warehouse, pink against pale skin and disappearing into her hairline.

"He went to Raith. I don't know who else he went to" Beware Caliban, watch your back, your wife says. Not that Caliban doesn't do that anyways. "I came to get Kasha, warn you, a handful of others and see someone" Her finger still scratches at her finger, no band of gold on either hand but if he's smart, he can probably figure out why.

"Don't die on me"

Caliban comes to a halt behind the sofa and rests both his hands on its sturdy back. His eyes drop from Abigail's face to the floor, and his brow knits together. Something twitches at the corner of his mouth, but he manages to keep his expression neutral — or the closest thing to it. His nostrils flare on the next breath he pulls in, and he makes a decision.

He has spent the last few months trying to decide just how far he'll go to protect the woman he loves and discovers now that the realization does not hit him with the force of an oncoming freight train like he might have at one time anticipated. He blinks at it's simply there, as though it had been all along.

If he's being honest with himself, it probably has.

He looks back up at Abigail, his watery blue eyes gleaming. "I'm seeing someone else."

Someone's going to try and kill you, is met with I'm seeing someone else. His simple sentence takes her breath away, parting lips about to ask him to repeat it, that she didn't hear it quite right. Like she doesn't want to have heard that. She looks away, towards the ground, searching the floor for an answer that clearly is not hidden in the fibres that poke up. rears her head back, then shakes it, strands of brown shifting this way and that.

"You wouldn't"

"I would," Caliban says, "and I have been, even before what happened in November." He tightens his grip on the back of the sofa, knuckles going white, then lets his fingers grow lax again. His thumb skims the edge of his fabric and he allows one hand to drop — it is, not incidentally, the one with his wedding band on it.

That she refuses to look at him makes this easier, but only marginally. "It's not your fault, Abigail, and I do enjoy your company, only— I need the company of someone else, also. Someone more worldly and intelligent than a doe-eyed little darling from Butte La Rose.

"You're still a child, in so many ways."

It hurts, so bad. He's right about the child part. Young enough to have been a daughter. She doesn't think that he might be lying, that he could be doing this for some other reason. Just stares at the carpet still like some penitent individual in front of the principle.

"Before or after we got married"

There's a beat of hesitation from Caliban. Then, "Both." When he lifts his eyes, he realizes that he's looking down at the top of Abigail's head, and although she cannot see it from the other side of the couch, the hand at his side curls into a tight, compact ball, blunt fingernails digging hard into the soft part of his palm. "

"When I told you to leave," he says, "it was for more than your own safety. I've filed for a divorce."

Abigail's the kind of woman who doesn't believe in the D word. Her family doesn't do the D thing. You marry, you marry. till death do you part. "You'll get it. You married a terrorist. You could get it annulled and they'd give it to you" She's sick to her stomach, can taste the bile in the back of her throat, swallows it back down. She's still naive enough a woman to think this is all true, not question it.

Abigail turns away, bringing a hand up to sprawl it across the base of her throat, the other hand settling on her hip. Tilts her head back as if willing the hot tears that are starting to soak along her lids back from where they came.

"Do I know her?" She's betting she doesn't. Why would she.

"No." This time, the answer is immediate — it comes out clipped, curt, and Caliban begins to edge around the side of the sofa when he says it. "If there's anything you want to take from here, I suggest that you do it now. I'll have to tell Heller you've been here, but I won't tell him where you're going. The cat, the bird — if you can't find places for them, then I will. They'll be well cared for."

He keeps his voice low, gentle but firm, the same tone he'd use around a wounded animal he's backed into a corner, and although Abigail has plenty of room to move—

"I won't be here the next time you come back."

"You were barely here before I got sick" Which might actually be a point in his favor for pulling this off. That his work hours and habits kept him away. "I'd sit and watch, watch you come home before I had to take off to avoid a patrol. I tried to leave, like you told me to. I was going to go up to Canada, try and find a job there, wait it out, I borrowed money from friends that they could give me. Richard, richard… He gave me the most. Stuff he stole from some asian gang."

She babbles, hands fluttering away from her face as she turns on her heel and goes for her bag. "Gave it to me. I hallucinated about you" She stoops then, digging through the hiking bag, knowing exactly what she's looking for. "They all pretended to be you, so they wouldn't have to tell me that it wasn't. Even when I went into a coma. I waited for you. I remember that." Her hand closes around what she was looking for, the little ziploc baggie that holds what remained of her wedding ring.

"I practiced so hard, to work on my ability so that some day, you wouldn't wince when you touched me. I went through so many changes of clothes when I lost just that little bit of control. But I'm better at it now, I'm so good at it now. Turn it on, off at will. Like a switch"

Abigail swallows hard, wiping her arm across her face, dampen the blue fabric, swatch of moist skin beneath her eyes. "I melted it, accidentally, one of those times I lost control and I couldn't get it off in time. So I carried it around, in a pocket, take it out, hold it" She flicks a hand out, tosses it with the hopes it'll land at his feet, dead weight in a little bag, puddle of gold, with detritus stuck in it here and there that she couldn't get out. It's getting harder and harder to breath.

It hits the floor with a sound like a gunshot, sharp and abrupt, almost a pop. Caliban nudges it with the toe of a polished shoe and, against is better judgment, stoops, bending at the middle to pick it up. The plastic crinkles between his fingers as he turns the bag over in his hand, examining the remains of the wedding band that, at one time, he would have paid good money to refashion into another piece of jewelry that Abigail might be able to wear — if not a ring, then a pendant she could hang off a chain around her throat.

He reminds himself that he should not be thinking about his wife's throat, or the feel of her pulse fluttering under his mouth when he kisses her there. The texture of her hair when he grazes it between his fingers or lips. Memories that have kept him going these past six months. Memories he knows now that he'll never have the pleasure experiencing again.

He slips the bag into his pocket. "Twenty minutes," he says, turning back toward the door. "Make good use of it."

Caliban will have to live in the bed that he's made, the same as Abigail does on a cot in a drafty castle outside of the city with countless others. Twenty minutes will never be enough, and yet, it's bound to be one of the longest in her life as she closes the bag, still crouched beside it. She can't travel with a cat to wherever it is that she'll be staying the night. She can't take a bird either. The cage too awkward to maneuver when you're trying to dodge patrols. Nor the turtle.

"The bird is Teodoro's. I'll find a way to get a message to him to come and take her. I can't take Scarlett with me, find her a good home" A dog was hard enough to get back to the Island. She licks her lips, a drop of wet having made it's way down to the corner of her mouth as she grabs her bag, swinging it up onto her back. "Pack my stuff up, send it to my parents, you can afford it. They'll deal with it. Sell the bar if you haven't already. Put it into a trust, for a Kasha Beauchamp. In case some day she makes it to adulthood and wants to go to school and I haven't gotten her killed by being her mother."

Her hat is settled on her head, scarf around her neck, jacket over her arm. The keys to the place thunk as they hit the coffee table. "I doubt they'll need my signature for a divorce. Good luck with her. I hope that she can give you more than the little I could" She's going to take nothing. Everything here that she really wanted was already with her, settled in that dead end corner in the castle.

She's wheezing now, more small evidence of how sick she was as she's moving, heading for the door. She needs out. Before she implodes. "I was right. If I ever see Peter again I'll tell him he was wrong, and I was right. That I am some little backwoods barbie playing house with someone she wasn't good enough"

It would be courteous, to open the door and let her out into the hall — one less harried motion for Abigail to go through.

Caliban doesn't. There's nothing courteous about this at all, so why pretend? The sounds Abigail is making cause his brow to crease with guarded concern, and there's an instant where he looks like he might go to her, but in the end his resolve keeps his feet cemented to the ground.

He is silent, stony, solemn. Committed to this if not to her.

"I told you once, that your name was tragic, but that I didn't think you were anything like your namesake" That he was nothing like the lone human in habitant of that deserted island as they lay in bed in the twilight of their marriage. Before everything went to hell on the eighth. Her hand closes around the doorknob, the most expensive place that she'd ever lived in, carpet more expensive per square foot than the cost of her first rundown thin walled, one room that she rented when she first come to New York years ago.

She came here to warn him about someone who might be coming for him. "You're worse. Because I do love you, and I'd have given you my whole world for a smile from you or a touch. I really do hope you're happy with her. I wish you both the best Robert. I shouldn't. But I do" All spoken to the door, she hasn't looked at him since he said that he was seeing someone else.

The knob is wrenched, door swung open and she's stepping out quick as she can so she can close the door behind her with it's sickening thud, tumblers easing back into place.

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