The Primal Scene


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Scene Title The Primal Scene
Synopsis A clandestine rendezvous in an abandoned Chelsea apartment isn't clandestine enough to avoid being interrupted in the worst kind of way.
Date April 12, 2011


Seven stories up and a right turn past a rusted fire extinguisher lies the open door of apartment 714.

Damp, decaying drywall taints the kipple inside — the smell of must and mold less oppressive past the door than it is in the winding hallway that led here only because an entire wall is missing and the city beyond is allowed to encroach. Which it does.

Scattered lights mottle through a plastic tarp that serves as a makeshift barrier against piddling rain, runoff warm enough to smell like April. Cars rumble and hiss in regular shifts up and down the street below, lights blushing gold to red across the ceiling over the mattress Flint's sprawled out on.

He's smoking while he waits, a pilfered bottle of Jose Cuervo held upright against the rumple of his wife beater. The gas lamp at his opposite side isn't here for his benefit.

At least it's not a terribly long trip. Bella still takes a cab, something marginally safer than walking, dressed in drabs and darks so as to appear as much like a shadow as possible. It's not a comical bit of stealth, no black turtleneck or movie star sunglasses. Her tread is purposeful and quick and unnervous. She has someone to be. A matter to take care of. And a reason to pay a call.

Her walk has become less brisk after ascending seven flights of stairs, the elevator's inoperability likely bringing down prices of the higher stories noticeably. A good bargain. She has to pause for breath, reflect on how she should jog more, smoke less. Realizing that seems impossible right now. Hoping that things may yet be different.

She knocks on the doorframe before stepping through it, meandering in as one only can in unfamiliar spaces, while searching. "Flint?" She stops short. There is no wall. A better bargain than even Bella thought.

Whup. Half-asleep with his cigarette tipping near spent from the corner of his mouth, Flint lifts his head with a start that sends the smoke tumbling off into mottled sheets. He picks it up and puts it back in his mouth without a second thought, lamp stirred and tequila sloshed after him when he pushes up onto his elbow, and from there upright. Mostly.

"Yeah," Jose goes down on a half-collapsed nightstand. The lamp stays on the bed, casting its sallow light around the studio's single room, barely brushing the cramped kitchenette at a menacing glitter and glance. Someone's been through the silverware.

It might have been him.

"Hey." Hi.

Drowsy still, he stretches on his feet, spine straightened and shoulders rolled wiry in the semidark. "Sorry."

Bella cannot see him without ambiguity. That tequila, this apartment, it reminds her of something that was said to her, something she did not particularly like to hear. He didn't look any better Doctor Sheridan. And he looks no better. A man alone rarely takes care of himself.

"You can sit down." Bella crosses the room, something more than a breeze at this height kicking her hair a bit wild as she crosses the space of the gap, the thwopthwop of the tarp making her start just a little. "I'll-" she examines the mattress to make certain she's not about to make a promise she can't keep, "I'll-" assessing - is that mildew, "sit," she said it, she has to, and so she begins to shoulder off her coat and carefully sets it down to serve as a buffer between herself and… whatever's there, "as well." Though she sits first, looking up at him with beneficent expectation.

Deckard isn't living here.


The bed looks slept on but not in, if such a distinction is even worth making with the state it's in. There are no clothes. There is no heater. No propane tanks or water bottles or even guns. Just the tequila.

One hand scrubbed up over his face and then scuffed thoroughly through the thuggishly short sheer of his hair, he does as passively instructed once he's flexed a kink out of his calf. Sits. Boots like she remembers them, knees wide apart, his weight is more substantial than it looks like it should be and the mattress springs creak in ominous protest as he settles next to her. Doesn't mind the coat.

In fact, he looks away sideways instead, brow hooded low with the effort it's taking to read between lines that have barely been written. It feels like maybe he is in trouble.

It is enough to find him here, that this is what frames their tableaux. Bella imagines for Flint a liminal existence, and her heart goes out to him. She takes his arm and then his cheek as well and she kisses him, fingers brushing the sandpaper roughness of his stubble. So maybe not in trouble. Though, as she settles back into a (relatively) stable seat, she does look serious.

"I've given it thought," it begins, with the formalism of a thing too many times worked through, "and I think I want to quit my job. And- and that means I'll need you to get me in touch with your French acquaintance," you remember, the reluctant houseguest.

This pill seems bitter, after composition. She does her best to sugar coat it. "I think, then, I'd be able to see you more. Maybe- I don't know how it works but- find another more stable situation?" Stilted, silly, and her eyes dart off to the side self-consciously. "I'd like to live with you again," is much clearer. And wasn't so hard to say.

His relief at the kiss is tangible. And familiar. Pre-emptive tension belted through his arm eases beneath her touch — hesitant at first, and then the rest of the way when he leans to kiss back, soft for all that the sandstone and slate composition of his countenance complicates tenderness. He is happy to see her.

And happy that he isn't in trouble.

But mostly happy to see her.

Also, interested in more of a good thing, grungy setting aside. But she has succumbed to seriousness before he can push the issue. She sits back and so does he — at least enough to slouch into her sideways, cigarette lifted and dragged back to the filter so that it can be flicked away into moldy carpeting. Where it will hopefully not catch fire.

It doesn't, despite a breeze furling under the tarp to scatter sparks bright left to right.

He sits for a while like that after she's spoken, comfortable against her and no more bothered by self-conscious stilting than he was the unsubtle buffer of coat between mattress and her ass. "Okay," he says finally. His feelings have to be more complicated than that sounds nice with all the silence he's put into sorting through them, but in the end there's only so much he can force through the bottleneck of his voicebox. "I missed you."

This gives Bella permission to say, "I missed you, too." And upon saying it, pointedly unashamed of it. The roller coaster of unstable disavowal. She tilts against him, less clasping his arm and more hanging on it. Her spine goosenecks as she leans against the lean weight of him. "Will you go with me? When I- go before whatever, I don't know- tribunal? Or will I be spared that?" her assumptions of Ferry practice are not particularly generous, "I'd like you to be there. It would be nice to have someone who was genuinely on my side."

Upon this she relies, as firm a foundation as any really. Why she can't rely upon, however, is Flint's schedule. She imagines his nights as endless and indiscernible. Dervish nomadic. But she doesn't really know. So she asks, "what have you been doing, all this time?"

"I dunno." Private exasperation is muffled out into a slow exhale: he really doesn't know. There was no tribunal when he was active with the group. Francois doesn't like him. Joseph isn't happy. Teo and Eileen are murderers now and so is he. Only difference being: "I fell out of contact after I started killing people."

Until they snatched him up and locked him in a basement. And then after that because he thought he was a government spy.

Thinking back, Deckard takes a clearly defined moment to reflect and feel consciously stupid about himself.

"If they make you do anything I'll be there." As for what he's been doing, he shrugs his far shoulder and tilts his head over to ply after another kiss that is really more of an affectionate face smash. "The Vanguard hired me to hurt people. But only if they deserve it."

Bella laughs, cuffing his lightly jaw with the heel of her hand, a thwap only. And the next moment she's kissed him anyway, eyes squinted even when they are not closed, arms looping around his neck so her wrists can cross. She leans back, then inclines her head, lapsing into inquisitiveness. "I don't really know what all of that means," she says, "and if you want to talk about it," serious now, again, a continued decline, "we can."

Wrists uncross and she clasps the back of his head, other hand falling to his shoulder. She regards him, slowly, with attention. Her mind's eye picture of him - a synesthetic collage - hadn't quite started to fade, but it had still been too long without its source of reference. Her chin bobs down, then up, as she leans to touch her nose to his. "But we don't have to," just to be clear.

"They pay me to do things," says Deckard, who is at drowsy ease if not quite content. Easily read. The drop of his eyes like brands away from her face says that he is thinking about whether or not she will make love to him on a bed that she needs to keep at least two layers of clothing away from himself.

Fucking is also acceptable. The hand he pushes up coarse across her near thigh agrees.

"A couple of weeks ago we blew up a barn full of Klansmen." Capital K. If he notices he is being studied he gives no indication, but his attention is drawn back up into focus by the bump at his nose. His hand is stayed — fingers splayed at a lax pause while he tries to think thickly backwards. Does this mean she wants to talk about things? Her things. He hesitates, then, considers trying to be polite, and after a beat, resumes slower, subtler progress up the inside of her leg instead.

They can talk after.

As it happens, Bella's curiosity is not incisive. She is caught between weary and giddy, worn thin by the week and seeing him for the first time in too long. The state of the mattress is considered, strategies devised, pros and cons weighed and measured. Knowing brings worry, after all, and the vagueness of 'do things' is a screen she can refuse to project upon.

Capital-K-Klansmen is very specific, however, and seems oddly out of place, geographically. Unless Flint has been wandering far. "Where have you been?" isn't delivered in a 'all my life' tone. The advancing hand hasn't entered secure territory yet, and remains mostly uncommented on - the slightest twitch of a tendon, no more.

"Will you keep doing- what it is that you are doing?" After she makes her hasty departure, is to be inferred.

"Carolina." That he doesn't think to mention which one can (hopefully) be attributed to his distraction wtih doing maths rather than a memory lapse. "I need the money."

He's back to looking down again. Measuring her legs and his legs and the mattress height and finally smoothing his touch around into a tug at the crook of her knee: the start of a (carefully) innnexorable draw of her weight over into his lap. "And the exercise." His free hand lifts to help around her side as he leans to kiss her. Less pushy than he feels like being. Asking rather than insisting.

The number of shits Bella gives about which Carolina is roughly < 2. South Carolina is a swamp and white suit nightmare, and North Carolina she ranks with West Virginia - sad secondary states, cast off by the more able core; uncertain about which of the Dakotas is the reject - both, perhaps.

Scorn is not as bad a mood setter as one might expect, and it lights up her eyes as she flexes her fingers, biting her nails into his shoulder for a extended moment. She'd like to look shrewd, but she's smiling despite herself, a bit unevenly at first, the left corner of her mouth the lead defector. "You'll need to bring me things, then," she says, "from the outside world." Retreat, retirement, exile, imprisonment - they form an associative chain, frictionless in her actual ignorance.

Maybe the kiss is taken as confirmation of contract. It could just be taken as a kiss. Either way, it's taken, and her spine curves as she shifts, accommodating his intentions - though he'll still have to provide the motive force.

"Keep me off the mattress," doesn't go without saying, apparently. A last caveat, her conditional acceptance.

"We can go out," says Deckard, who is already too busy easing her shirt off to remember that they were talking about Carolina — up, over her head while he follows his progress with unlit eyes. Relishing. No hurry. "Just have to be. Careful."

Speaking of which, her shirt, after a beat's pause… goes on the floor. Sifts softly into grungy carpet behind her back, like maybe she won't think about where it must have vanished to if she isn't looking.

A scuff of shoe leather against clotted drywall in the hallway outside doesn't solicit his attention the way it should when he's kissing her, hips shifted and shoulders rolled to adjust her weight against him. Enough to steel out his hand on her back and quicken his breath.

It takes a solid clck-click and a glimpse of the figure standing silent in the doorway over Bella's shoulder to stiffen his spine and electrify his glare, but that's as far as he gets. A dart sticks fast in his bare shoulder; his eyes fizzle and go dim. Bella is left with the receding slump of his torso back against the spoiled mattress.

And Calvin.

Bella is hardly guarded, not terrifically concerned about the destination of her shirt. Suburban fastidiousness has its obverse side; some part of her must be given over to primal cultural fantasies; a ruined apartment room, a mildewed mattress, the smell of tequila - a man named Flint. Say it in the right way. Growl it. Flint.

And then it's punctured. The Real intrudes.

And it catches Bella topless, in her Filene's Basement bra - blue, if you care - leaving her otherwise in her ginger lily-whiteness. Her arms are being dragged down with their mooring, and at first she goes down with him. In her descent, however, those various chaotic points of orange resolve into recognition. Bella looks up at the intruder with maybe the faintest gleam of cornered animal, head lowered, gaze stiletto sharp and just as daggerous.

"Sorry," says Calvin into the apartment, right off. Unruffled save for the deliberate disorder of his ginger mane. Causticly insincere.

His eyes cut clear through the gloom, stark outline and pale irises unblinking past a dreamy drift of unsettled dust and. Mold spores. He wields the little dart gun he's holding like a remote control, which it more or less is, snub nose tipped helpfully after the man Bella's half-lying on, in case it wasn't clear what he might have to be apologetic about. "I was starting to get a little grossed out?"

You know? Goes the unspoken inquiry behind lilt and dubious punctuation. He takes a step deeper in once it seems certain she's not going to leap at him like an angry cat, still with an air of cynical insecurity. Is now a bad time? Is he intruding?

"Don't worry about those," he adds a beat later, once he's had time to survey the room in closer proximity, her bra-plated boobies included. "I've seen them before."

This is just the third in a series. Setting changes, offense at hand shifting to new territory, more shockingly personal spaces, a momentum that bodes very, very ill. What remains constant is the intrusion itself, setting the tone for every engagement. Bella does not want to think that she is easily intimidated; she tells herself, instead, that he intimidates her. And this permits her to hate him, which is just an enormous relief because she was going to do that anyways. As one can maybe imagine.

The fear of feline retribution is, at the height of Bella's pique, a very real possibility. There is even a (very obvious) glance, searching for the tequila bottle, finding it and the lingering consideration that follows - a weapon?

But Calvin's awfulness is, in part, his inexplicability. She rarely attributes to anyone motiveless malignance, but she's about prepared to assign it to Mr. Rosen, in light (irony not intended) of his opacity. And any thought of ill advised combat is halted when he says something typically inexplicable. Seen what? Those? Pronoun finds referent in her mind, but the sentence itself still doesn't make sense, unless…

She goes for the bottle anyways, picking it up by the neck and making to hurl it at him. "Son of a bitch!" telegraphs her intentions as she lofts the bottle at what she hopes is Calvin's head.

Calvin watches Sheridan and Deckard both, unnaturally fascinated by his unconscious, tattood sprawl and the imminent flash freeze of her temper. Until, like. She snaps.

Quick on his feet and quicker about the hands, he swings his left up and out to deflect incoming Cuervo with a solid clock and a slash of piss-colored booze across the lapels of his coat. He has to stifle a laugh at her expense in the process, teeth bit fast round a huff of air that probably has to do with the pain slapping a flying glass bottle out of one's face entails.

So comes the inevitable, "You would know," chimeran accent hard enough to drag a near r after the emphasis once he's regained himself and scrubbed a sleeve after spare tequila spattered across the hollow of his cheek. "Mum."

Not the explanation she had arrived at, as it happens, and its sheer impossibility - literal fucking impossibility - prevents her from properly replacing 'peeping tom' with 'heir and progeny'. Calvin is talking straight up nonsense. No, he is talking crazy.

Excuse her. Mentally disordered.

"You," Bella states, drawing herself up to her full height, eyes bright edging on manic, "are insane." Shaky laughter in her breath doesn't make her seem totally together, either, but at least she's not delusional. "But I," she continues, sidestepping deliberately towards the end of the mattress, "am not your psychiatrist."

She tips over and retrieves her shirt with a trio of fingers. Modesty reclaimed, a top priority, she moves to retake her seat next to the unconscious Flint. A touch of her hand against his hard-slumbering form, protective; also an apology for the momentary abandonment. But, be honest, a dart's nothing your CNS hasn't suffered before, and worse than.

"I am asking you to leave now," is delivered with an imperiousness that expects obedience. Not much of a bluff, but she already threw the bottle at him.

Insane? Calvin rolls his eyes a bit while she collects her shirt, like he's never heard ~that~ one before, scruffy lower jaw ajut and dart gun traced halfhearted after her when he stoops to reclaim the spent tequila bottle in turn.

There is still some in the bottom until he sniffs and swallows it down at a swig. The rest is cast carelessly aside into the kitchenette, where it still doesn't break. Just clatters anticlimactically across unsorted silverware and into the sink. If the uneven slant of his shoulders is any kind of indication, it's probably not the first he's had tonight.

"Right," he says, once she's resettled and has informed him that she's asking him to leave. "Fine. Don't believe I'm your dashing bastard son from the future come to interrupt his own conception to deliberately unmake himself. But if you happen to change your fucking mind," he produces a vial of brackish blood from his sleeve, magician-like, and flings it at her.


Blessedly, he doesn't linger any longer past that than is necessary to issue her a poisonous look and a rankle at his nose on his way to turning for the door.

Maybe Bella should admit it, she's impressed by his sheer temerity. Her own bluff becomes an anthill in comparison to the windy heights of this particular fucking tall tale. Like a propagandistic Big Lie, Bella is almost stunned enough to doubt all good sense, and she nearly fumbles the vial of blood entirely, not least because she realizes what it is.

Still, it's not as if she's scared of blood when safely contained. But she still holds it with a pincer-fingered distaste as she examines its wine-red contents. Looking at it when he casts his look her way, poison dart missing. She catches the insolent turn - yes, she is sure it is insolent - of his back, though.

In an wrongheaded, discombobulated moment she considers shouting at him, telling him not to think he can just walk away from her, her position formally contrary: everything he does is a priori and necessarily wrong, because she has deemed it so.

And then she considers going after him. Getting the drop on him maybe- maybe- but the line of thought fails and he's already leaving. And she realizes that perhaps she should let him go. Perhaps that is precisely what she wants.

Bella clutches her fist tight around the vial, as if she could hermetically contain its miasma. Little though it is, it stinks of enigma.

Left behind beneath Bella's hand, Deckard breathes more slowly than he probably should, eyes half open, whites shown marble blank at the ceiling. Tequila and tobacco stink. Open fly.


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