The Symmetry Of Isolation


howard_icon.gif nelly_icon.gif

Scene Title The Symmetry of Isolation
Synopsis Two self-imposed loners discover that their reasons for isolation are in no way overlapped, and yet somehow they still manage to find a common ground.
Date December 4, 2010

Pollepel Island

When Leonardo Maxwell paid to help reinforce the crumbling infrastructure of Bannerman Castle, much was done to insulate the building from the cold, and given its state of deterioration it was a massive undertaking. Much of the castle, however, is still in a state of ruin, partly as a disguise to keep outside eyes from recognizing its newly inhabited state, partly because funding simply wasn't bottomless.

The crumbling upper floors are exposed to the open sky, woodn and stone floors littered with broken masonry, crawling ivy now bereft of leaves and twine clotheslines strung up between cracked and old support pillars holding up nothing but open sky and shattered arches now. No laundry hangs on these string lines at the moment, they just sway idly in the frigid breeze whistling through the empty windows and fissures in the stone walls where masonry has crumbled away from age and disrepair.

Howard Phillips looks unphased by the cold, and that hole-riddled olive-drab military issue jacket he wears is the only intermediary between his bare torso and the biting cold. The camouflage pants he wears are likewise not insulated properly for the late autumn weather and the chill coming in off the water.

"What'd you want…" For all that he was fill of fire and energy a moment ago, Howard looks tired by the time he's climbed to the top of the stairs, his voice a softer grumbling. He doesn't look back at the woman with him, but focuses out past a missing section of wall to the cloudy skies that are darkening in the east. Night is approaching, winter is coming.

Nelly is certainly thankful for the bit of warmth her layered shirts provide, even if it's not quite enough to keep her from bringing her hands up to rub along her arms as she follows along behind Howard. "What do I want? I want the sweater you owe me. Plus interest. It had a bit of sentimental value y'know." With that bit of humor aside her expression shifts to one a bit more solemn. "What I really want though? I want to know what your deal is."

She hurries her steps once again until she can move back to Howard's side, turning her gaze up towards his, even if he doesn't do the same. "One minute you're this cocky jerk and the next you're just like I said that night back at the meeting, acting like some kid put on timeout in the corner." She does look away for a moment then, expression softening. "I feel for you and I'm sure the others do, but what happened to you doesn't really give you the right to treat everyone however you want y'know? I helped save your damn life and you have the nerve to say those things you said at the docks? That's just…that's just not right."

"Welcome t'the world, whole damn lot'f it ain't right." Howard takes a few sneakered footsteps away from Nelly, his black converse hightops crunching flakes of plaster and rock beneath each footfall. "Y'know what you're lookin' at," Howard turns slowly, plucking at the shoulders of his jacket and lifting it up and down, "this is all I got. I ain't got a dollar to my name, an' I ain't wearin these same clothes all the goddamned time as a fashion statement. I was homeless before I got picked up by you people…"

Howard's brows furrow and his hands come away from his shoulders, stare turns back through the broken portion of the wall. "I didn't ask you t'save me. But you did save Nora, Hannah and Ben… so…" Howard's brows furrow together. "Yeah, whatever. Sorry."

He doesn't seem eager to explain what his deal is, yet.

"You know, the whole 'the world's a bitch so I'm gonna be one too' attitude still doesn't justify the way you treat people. And neither does feeling sorry for yourself." Nelly plucks at her own shirt, just like he had as she shakes her head. "So you don't have stuff? So what? I have clothes, I have a house. You want 'em? Some money? That gonna make everything sunshine and rainbows for you? It's all just crap."

"You know what you do have? You got those friends you just mentioned. You know who I have? Nobody, nada. You're the lucky one by far in my book." A deep sigh is exhaled as she turns, pacing up and down a few steps. "And you didn't ask me, but that should just make you appreciate it all the more, not the other way around. I don't want a sorry, I don't want a thanks, but I wouldn't mind a little respect. It's tough times for everyone, not you just you. It'd be nice if we could at least get along with all the hell that's going on out there." She makes a wide sweep of her arm, obviously referring to everywhere that's not the island.

Howard snorts, brows furrowed. "Was talkin' about not bein' able t'repay you with a sweater," Howard admits off-handedly. Too much of his emotional fire is gone to launch any more of a barb in her direction. Instead he paces, restlessly, like a caged animal. Howard's slow circling of Nelly comes to a hald when he stops by one cracked, square column, resting his shoulder up against the weathered stone and brittle ivy creeping up it and through the splits in the rock.

"It ain't easy fer' me t'be anything other than mad, maybe you haven't realized that." Howard looks up from the floor to Nelly. "Wonderful that you get t'be well-adjusted, but I don't— " he cuts himself off, careful self-censoring in play. "I ain't got much, 'cept them. An' they ain't really good friends, I'm just in that part where beggars ain't getting t'be choosers." His accent is an unusual one, some sort of awkward juxtapositioning of a southern twang saturated with Brooklyn drawl, Nelly's only now starting to put her finger on it.

"What I want is t'leave craphole island with Ben, Howard and Nora. What I want is for that poor goddamned girl t'be able t'see again. I don't really care about much else, 'cept for getting some revenge on the people that did this t'me." He doesn't demonstrate any further what this is, the show downstairs was enough in his eyes.

Nelly "Y'know what they say, nothing worth doing is easy." Nelly takes in a deep breath after that, closing her eyes for a moment before giving a slow nod of her head. She takes a step forward and lifts one hand, resting it lightly upon Howard's shoulder. Though she's not likely to be surprised if it's brushed away rather promptly. "You probably won't believe me, but I know how you're feeling. I wanted revenge on the one who started all of this," Her fingers curl into fists at that, clenching tightly, "…to hurt all the people punishing us just for being a little different."

She offers a weak smile up at Howard. "Deep down, there's a part of me that wanted to agree with you and the creepy guy down there. Just think about it though. Going to war? No matter how many of us get together, too many people are going to die. And if you try and get that revenge on your own? Well, I'll wish you good luck now because you probably won't last long."

Howard's quiet stare levels down on Nelly's hand, lingers there for a moment awkwardly. It isnt dismissively shrugged away, but instead he seems to get wooden in his motions, uncomfortable and nervous as he slowly eases out of Nelly's arm's reach, teeth worrying at his bottom lip. "War ain't worth it," Howard admits reluctantly, tucking his hands into the pockets of his pants, hunching narrow shoulders forward. "Nobody wins, y'got that right. All y'wind up with are ditches full of corpses and streets paved in fuckin' blood…"

He stops a few feet away, keeping his back to her. "I don't know your name…" He sounds embarrassed to admit it, brows knitting together before he slowly turns, regarding the brunette over his shoulder. "I ain't never introduced myself neither, I guess. So…" Howard's nose wrinkles for a moment. "People here call me Howard, just don't shorten it none. Fuckin' hate the name Howie."

Nelly likewise slides her hands back into the pockets of her jeans once Howard steps away. A slight smile curls on her lips as she hears his response. It was nice to know he had at least /some/ reasonable thoughts in his head. "Exactly. I know it sucks, but sometimes all you can do is wait for the right time to do something and I just don't think now is that sorta time." She shrugs slightly and gives a dissmissive wave at his admission.

"Yeah well, the last couple of times we met weren't exactly good times to try it so I guess I'll forgive ya'." She smirks at the last bit and looks tempted to try her luck, but simply nods after a moment. "I'm Nelly. Shorten it if you like, but if you call me Ennie I'm gonna tattoo Howie to your forehead."

Howard squints at Nelly for a long moment, his head slowly pitching to the side with doggish mannerisms. A freezing wind whips through the walls, disturbing Howard's hair and blowing dead, dried leaves in scraping progress across the stone floor. Howard seems torn about something, whether to press an issue or leave well-enough alone. Unfortunately for Nelly, he's much his mother's son in that regard, and never knows to leave the unspoken alone.

"How'd you get sucked into this?" It's an innocent enough question, on the outside. "I don't get you, 'cept that you ain't got nobody else. I'd rather be alone than here…" Maybe he's trying to find some realm of understanding, something he can apply for himself. He seems emotionally inept enough, that way. "What made you wanna' beone of them rather'n whoever you were before?"

Nelly shivers visibly as the breeze washes over her, curling into herself a bit for what little extra warmth that provides. She gives Howard a curious look as he squints at her, but patiently waits for whatever questions he clearly is formulating. She blinks at the one he finally comes up with, her brow furrowing a moment before she closes her eyes and offers a shrug of her shoulders. "I used to do little favors for the Ferry. Just moving supplies and stuff. Then they told me about all this craziness that was going to happen on the eight, said they could use my help. So here I am, officially part of the group now. Still don't know anyone much though."

"I stayed here on the island because I wanted to know it was a safe place for all the people we helped get here and I needed to let things cool off back out in the city." She opens her eyes slowly, looking first to the floor and then up at Howard with a smile, though it's a hollow one. "Why though? Because there were some people I failed to help a long time ago and I don't plan on letting that happen again anytime soon." Her smile turns a bit more genuine then, just a bit. "Worked out well for you I think hm? Oh and don't think I believe that alone garbage either. I saw some of those looks you gave to the poor girl back there. Nobody really wants to be alone."

Suddenly, Howard is sympathetic, understanding. He lives in a largely black and white world, and when someone can paint themselves into the same corner he's in, it's an uplifting moment. When he looks at Nelly this time, it's less an outsider looking in, and more something of a peer, of only just.

"Yeah," sounds non-comittal, but isn't quite. "'Long time ago, something like that happened with me. I had… a friend." Howard's eyes track away from Nelly as he crosses his arms over his chest, unphased by the cold. "I was young, and he— was braver'n me. Stupid." Howard's brows furrow slowly as he closes his eyes. "He got himself killed tryin' t'look out for me. I ain't never forgiven him for it, an' I probably never will."

Looking back up to Nelly, Howard manages something that almost looks like a smile, if a bittersweet one. "So… So I understand where it is you're comin' from. S'why… S'why I don't just leave them," the people downstairs, his friends. "I'd probably be dead if it weren't fer them, an' they didn't have t'save me like they did. But it happened, and they did, and…" he clears his throat, turning his back on Nelly, walking closer towards the broken opening in the old, crumbling wall.

"Maybe I ain't the easiest person to get along with. But y'know, I don't mean t'be. I just ain't never… had t'deal with people before. Ones that… didn't wanna' hurt me. Not since I was a kid, anyway." Given that he's maybe twenty years old, kid seems like a relative term.

Nelly makes a faint sound as she watches Howard once he turns away once more, her expression soon akin to his from earlier. It was easy to be mad at him for the comments at the dock, but the more he shared the more it felt like she was the kid throwing a hissyfit. "You shouldn't be angry at him. It hurts when someone leaves you, especially if it's for you. If he knew how you were feeling now though? I bet he'd still do what he did for you again in an instant. I know I'd do that for a friend." She nods firmly at that.

"I don't doubt that you'd do it too if it ever came down to it. Despite how much I'm sure you might tell me otherwise." She moves over to Howard again, giving him a nudge so that she can look out through the opening as well. It felt somewhat comforting when she could actually see further than stairs and walls closing her in. She frowns as she hears those last words, nodding slightly.

"That's one thing I can't say I have in common. I guess in the end, my not dealing with people is sorta a selfimposed thing. I understand though, it's hard to trust people, to get along with people when all you know of people is the bad. So I'll try and cut you some slack from now on." She flashes another smile up at Howard, though it shifts to a smirk after a moment. "Just remember though, there are plenty of girls that're tougher than you and I'm one of 'em. So don't make me kick your ass with those cheerleader comments hm?"

Howard angles a look askance to Nelly after a long time of silence, just watching night creep in over the eastern horizon. Silence is like a response from Howard, not just an avoidant thing. Every subtle expression he has gives context to his lack of words, something unspoken conveyed wordlessly instead. Benji knows it best, from the raise of his brows to the turn of his lips. Nora and Hannah not as much, but they hadn't known him as long.

"Duly noted," is Howard's dryly sarcastic response, followed by the barest hint of a smile, tempered only by his worry for the friend still in captivity here on the island. The stranger of little words proves to be good on his title for much of the remainder of the evening, allowing the sun to disappear at his back behind a veil of clouds and a starless night to swallow the land.

It wouldn't be the first time Howard had been at the mercy of a lightless darkness.

Probably won't be the last, either.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License