The Spaces Between Friends


calvin_icon.gif nora2_icon.gif

Scene Title The Spaces Between Friends
Synopsis Apologies are made and space redefined between two conflicted friends.
Date February 22, 2011

Calvin's Apartment

The couch in Calvin's apartment is a relatively new addition. Tatty as the rest of his furnishings — a soft shade of leathery suede brown that he picked up at a resale shop somewhere. Soft to sleep on. Which is nice for him, since he's insisted on Nora having the bed whether she likes it or not.

Currently he's stretched out lax along its length in his work clothes — overcoat black and labcoat white in stark contrast over the milder grey of his suit while he reads Slaugherhouse Five to the tune of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes' Home playing quiet on the radio.

A faint touch of marijuana's gone stale in the air at some point in the several hours, but he's still got a glass of whiskey on hand and a cigarette smouldering in an ashtray on the coffee table while he reads. Home early. Or — earlier than he's been coming back in from the cold.

The apartment is otherwise empty — she's gone and so is her stuff.

But that's been the case every day and every day she returns. So does her stuff: the few meager belongings she has, the clothing bought with his money, a couple of books, all stuffed into a backpack that comes and goes with her so that she can take off if she needs to.

There is the scratch of key in lock and the door squeaks open before she slips in, not noticing him at first as she pulls the backpack off her back and lets it fall to the floor near the door with a soft thud. The smell of marijuana registers first, and she looks up, eyes scanning the apartment until they fall on him on the couch. It's too early to feign the need to sleep and avoid conversation that way, so she nods.

"Hey," she says softly, turning to lock the door behind her. Habits.

"Evening," drawls Calvin, less softly and over the paperback cover of his book, light eyes all the starker for their bold outline when he finishes the paragraph and flicks them over onto her. He watches her thud the pack down and lock the door before he turns the corner of the page to mark his place, in no real hurry to initiate confrontation.

Even closed, the book lingers between them as a barrier for several seconds before he reaches to set it aside and takes up the cigarette instead, a long bar of ash tabbed neatly off the end on the way.

"There's Chinese in the fridge. And — a bottle've sangria." Presumably in addition to milk, orange juice and all the vodka shored up in the freezer.

Nora pulls off her coat to toss onto a chair, and she gives a nod and a smile toward the book. "If I ever have a cat," she says, literature and music usually a safe bet for civil small talk between them, "I am going to name it Montana Wildhack." She pauses. "Unless it's a boy, I guess."

She moves toward the kitchen, and the sounds of rummaging can be heard — a drawer open, a cupboard door thudding, and finally the refrigerator — which stays open for longer than it needs to, its light silhouetting her slim form as she stands, head tilted.

Finally, it closes, and she re-enters his space, the bottle of sangria in one hand, a sticky note in the other.

Her eyes are soft as she watches him for a moment, then moves to go sit beside him on the couch.

The bottle is set down next to his book, the sticky note beside it.

Silence reigns, awkward and supreme for a moment.

"Me, too," she whispers, eyes cast downward.

"Cats shit in boxes of sand," says Calvin. An opinion to an unknown end more than statement of fact. It doesn't sound like he approves, bare feet drawn in one at a time so that he can push himself up into a low-slouched sit. "Seems like Wildhack'd be a better name for a fish, anyway. You could get two. Put little — bits of furniture."

The pause is for a short drag and a longer sip, double addictions fostered in idle turn for that protracted beat where the hum of the refrigerator lingers open in his cramped kitchen. He's fallen into awkward silence by the time she comes out, note and wine in hand to sit next to him and his cigarette.

Looks to the bottle rather than her, expression largely inscrutible. Maybe relieved. Still worried when he brings the brings the near-finished stub of his smoke around for another pull.

Her Converse are kicked off, and she pulls her feet up into an Indian-sitting position on the couch, staring at the note for a few more moments before tipping her head to peer at him. "I don't think I could keep fish alive," she says with a tic of a smile. "I'd probably forget to wash out their bowl, or give them the wrong kind of water or something. Cats seem more independent."

Nora reaches for the bottle, uncapping it and smelling it first, before taking a swig. Perhaps for courage.

"You're my best friend, you know?" she murmurs, not looking at him. "I don't think of you as older or me as younger. We just are."


The bottle is passed to him — despite the fact he already has a glass in hand.

"I've never tried." Probably for the best, on the subject of fish. It doesn't take a keen eye to see that they are the only two living organisms in his place. No plants. No cats. Not even ants or roaches in the kitchen with the amount of poison he laid down to keep them out.

He can see the bottle coming before she offers it proper, cigarette smothered automatically down into the metal tin of the tray on the table so that he has a hand free to take it up while she continues to speak. He doesn't bother sniffing at it before he takes a sip — having already had enough that everything tastes approximately the same kind of pleasant on an otherwise empty stomach.

"I know," he says at length. Because he does, bottle offered back in earnest after a more hesitant tilt, like he might've said more. Back to his whiskey.

"Only cats I ever saw growing up were feral anyway. Wildhack even more appropriate," Nora says, hand curling around the bottle again and taking a more lengthy pull, swallowing audibly before setting it back down on the coffee table.

She presses her lips together for a moment, brow knitting as she studies the bottle before her dark eyes turn to consider her backpack by the door. "I can … leave, if you want. Go back to the island or maybe stay with one of the others. Ingrid could probably get me some papers, so I don't have to be a total leech on you or the Ferry or whatever. I just…"

She isn't going to cry, though the way her eyeliner is smudged suggests she already has, at some point today. "I don't want to lose you."

Nora finally tilts her head to look at him again. There are questions in her eyes she's not brave enough to ask.

Where Nora goes is her own business, which is a sentiment Calvin's expressed before in different and similar terms. Also via not making a fuss whenever she vanishes with all of her belongings and reappears at odd hours like an aforementioned feral cat, but.

He says, "Y'won't," before he leans sideways to kiss her anyway, though, softened up by liquor and — likely whatever he's been smoking as well, half-empty glass kept in his grip against the armrest to his right. Far from forceful contact. Feeling her out.

"Being friends is alright." Friends that mess around a bit? Sometimes? Seems to be the inebriate implication, here.

Whiskey meets wine, and her breath catches; Nora holds still — accepting, yielding, though not as giving of herself as the first time — or the last times — that they kissed.

In loving, as in fighting, one of the first lessons is defense.

She smiles at his sentiment. "I'll always be that," she murmurs, reaching to take his hand, squeezing it. "Even when I'm mad at you."

The implicit promise is that she will be in the future — but then, with Calvin, it's a given.

It's an implicit promise that Calvin does not care to deter or deny, because denying would be lying and lying to friends isn't nice. Unless it's by simple omission. In which case he does it with disconcerting commonality.

Defensiveness is registered despite the influence of variably legal chemicals scooting around in his bloodstream and he doesn't press further or harder than he should, a slip of fork-ed tongue there at the end nearly lost in a shorter, sweeter peck that follows it up on his way to sinking back into worn couch cushion.

The sigh that follows is less vieled in its relief and he lifts his brows at his glass before he lifts it. Gingery dreads a mess, coat rumpled. Cheers.

Her hand reaches for the glass, slipping it from his grasp to set on the coffee table with the sangria — not to keep it away from him, but instead to free his hands for other purposes. Nora slides closer, across the space of the cushion between them, arms looping around his neck and fingers catching in his dreads.

Forehead bumping against his, she kisses him a little more certainly, a declaration of sorts — that she can be mature enough, grown-up enough to accept these terms, or the lack thereof. Friends. That do stuff. Sometimes.

That done, she rises from the sofa, to pad into the kitchen. "Did you eat?" is asked over one shoulder.

Calvin's willing to part with his glass at her behest, initial resistance slipped away once he's taken bleary note of her intent and seen that said intent is probably to do with makeouts. He doesn't stop her this time, tension wound subtle into a defensive pull of one of his knees up into a kind of out-of-frame block and then relaxed when it proves not to be an issue. Hug hug, kiss kiss. Big hug, little kiss, his freed hand more confident than it's been easing up from the region of her hip just about the same time she rises away and pads for the kitchen.

He's left to look mussed and slightly baffled in her wake, one hand still held out in a kind of silent wait when she's already dipped out of sight.

He uses it to check his phone instead when it's clear she's not dancing right back out to him, a fresh text from Robin cause for him to knit his brows and close quickly back out of his iPhone before he tunes back into the room around him. "Not yet."

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