There's A Hole In My Head Where The Rain Comes In


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Scene Title There's A Hole In My Head Where The Rain Comes In
Synopsis After being informed of the persistent presence of Feng as a Remnant problem, Deckard tries to get Mu-Qian's attention the hard way. She is so happy to see him that she bats him gently around the head and can only express the true depths of her affection in Chinese.
Date September 15, 2009

Staten Island Motel

Twenty-four hours and a couple've more lines of cocaine after he blacked out for the first time, Deckard is unconscious again. This time in the bathroom curled around the base of the toilet, which is an unpleasant arrangement even so far as toilets and bathrooms go. There's no mat. Not really enough clear tile between the toilet and the shower for 6'2" of him to have holed up in there either, but he's managed it somehow, knees bent and spine hitched, face down with his head on his arms.

He's changed clothes into a lavender (??) t-shirt and fresh blue jeans, which would be altogether more back-pattable as a choice if he hadn't thrown the ones sticky with gore into a brown-tarred heap with his knife in the bloody sink. As in, the bloody sink, not the bloody sink. There's blood on the floor, too. Tile and carpet. The shower curtain is stained. A bit is globbed on the walls and the toilet lid and the door jamb in a five-fingered track. A few flecks on the mirror. It's basically enough of a horror show in here that one hopes he paid in cash and had the presence of mind to check in under a convincing alias.

He's still breathing (probably) and still has some thickness about rolled shoulders and balled torso. There's an open bottle of vodka on the bathroom floor nearby that could be part of why he's in here in the first place, grievous self-inflicted injuries aside.

Beyond the cramped bathroom, the room itself stinks the way Deckard used to, all whiskey and cigars and cheap cologne, among other things. A duffel on the otherwise untouched bed is host to some scattered spare clothing. Somebody else stole the TV before he got here.

Less because of manners than because she has no other fucking choice, she knocks. Three times. She's a slim woman, with commensurately skinny hands: the rak-rap-rak of her bones on the thin, cheaply-painted wood sound exactly like that, a dancing clackety-click of urban legendary skeleton parts trying to fret and pry ingress through the threshold of some hapless mortal's home. Only, of course, that when he does not get up and come to answer, her insistence shows its true colors.

Weight slams the door, the blunt trauma, percussive collision of forced entry. The frame creaks. Splinters streaked with faded paint varnish pop out, fray around the knob's quiescent glister and stump, hinges whine protest.


Again. What's coming— whomever's coming sounds like a Goddamn bull, heavier than the woman he was supposed to meet, stronger, more inclined to violence.

Slam, and finally the lock gives— or at least the wood around its rusted bolt-slide mechanics. There's a buckling, fibrous sensation, a bar-shaped incision sawed in through the doorframe's edge and she steps in, the woman in white, a candlewax effigy of seamless joints, a livid mask carved into the front of her face. Her skin is a dead, dense, pigmentless white, seemingly encased, her hair falling in the same quiescent shade of frost, the chiffon of her blouse and dainty suit slacks ivory spare the ashy grit and dander left by her short-lived experiment in reconstruction. She looks dead.

Or like she plans to make him dead, only — he's done the greater part of that for her already, it seems. Paired heels— white— halt above the tiles of his bathroom floor.

"Ni zheige baichi."

For all that Deckard is assuredly fluent in the language of locked doors being smashed in by people who want to do unusual and terrible things to him, he does not speak Chinese.

Not that it matters. He doesn't budge, genuinely unconscious where first impression might have suggested deep sleep. Or death. He's got nothing on Mu-Qian in the department of unhealthy pallors, but even from behind there's a bloodless, clammy texture to what little of his person is actually visible around jeans and shirt and fetal position and toilet.

It also stinks like vomit in here. If he were present enough to care he might be slightly embarrassed.

One cold forefinger to his throat, then she picks him up. Tries to. Manages, despite that durability is less than half the equation for strength, and while a human body makes an adequate battering ram for the subjugation of inconvenient barricades of architecture, gravity and slack-jawed bodies are a different quarrel altogether.

She's swearing. In Mandarin, of course. Her hair falls down and sticks to his face, wobbles gummily in the thin strain of breath that comes rancid through his lips. Her arms are hooked in underneath his pits, and she drags, clumsy, awkward. Lavender cotton bunches in her vampirically pale fists, exposing a long line of his stomach. A goose tries to carry a stork over the fulcrum of its stumpy body.

His heels drag two, twinned tracks of short-lived brushwork of grooved shadow along the carpet, before the fibers lump back together again, contracting around the cheap coarseness of their weave or the sedimentation of mite excrement, semen, dander, and outdoors dirt cloyed in between. People come here to die all the time. The idea of that bothers her, too. She stacks him onto the bed. Limb over limb. Comes away with mud-flaked blood on her clothes, one leg jammed underneath his ribs, a bare ankle thrashing in the air briefly before she manages to stagger free.

At some point Deckard was conscious enough to take a shower. Under an acrid veneer of vodka, sterilizing chemicals and vomit, he smells of shampoo. Manly shampoo. None of that faggy stuff with flowers on the bottle. No more shaving, though — as is traditional, his stubble collection has already called in the reserve and is making steady progress towards rousing itself into a five o'clock shadow that sandpapers unpleasantly against contact with the waxen slack of his jaw.

All of this is mainly important because the nature of his relationship with Mu-Qian has accelerated rapidly over the course of the last few minutes and they are doing a lot of touching. The too-long bones in his arms and legs loll awkwardly with or against her progress — whichever happens to be the more annoying option at a given part of the moving process — and poke like rusty nails through weathered wood wherever there isn't wiry muscle established as a dubious buffer against the world. Once on the bed, he looks thinner laid out than he did curled up, emaciation taking hold in the sinkholes around his collar bones and face where his own gift has made haphazard efforts to patch up the messes he keeps making.

A clod of taped over bandaging hides the worst of what he's done from ready view, but it isn't too hard to speculate as to the extent. Leakages blotch from aging brown crust to fresh, vibrant red from the far side and are soon joined by a sluggish black drip at the base of his nose, likely aggravated somewhere in the cocaine snorting and/or dragging process. He's cold to the touch. Damp.

A pair of folded jeans falls slooowly off the end of the bed. Whump.

Cocaine isn't supposed to be conducive to sleep. Mu-Qian knows enough about medicine to know this. What the Hell? Who does this? She's always been a little aware that there were a few screws loose in the mainstay of her acquaintances— her mother with her hard hands, her former husband with his colorful yet uniquely domesticated psychopathology, her long string of employers past and present, but this dingy hotel room, with the eyeball— oh, it is disgusting. Pain. Disease, everywhere. So self-destructive. The worst possible way to get rid of her.

It doesn't occur to her, yet, because she isn't thinking clearly, that getting rid of her may not have been his intent. She seesaws upright again, tramples over and around the wadded fold of denim on the floor, almost loses a high heel to the clump. She seats herself on the bed next to him, still muttering in a language he wouldn'tve even understood if he were awake. She bites into her forefinger, to speed it up, even as a deft and ruthless pincer formed of her other hand peels away the clot of bandage in his other eye.

Her skin is still white as death, excepting the two dramatic points of the dark eyes glittering down at him. She clamps her palm over the twisted, putrid hollow left of the old man's excavated eye socket, bridging the gaunt, ridged reliefs of bone around it. It squirms, neither warm nor cool, begins to well.

Twenty feet of being dragged bodily over rough carpet later, it's the introduction of a foreign substance into Flint's system that has ravaged and marginally recovered muscle twitching ineffectually at Mu-Qian's palm. By virtue of actually existing, his right eye has an easier time slivering itself blearily open, but only just. Clear blue shows dull at first, then brighter, roving slow and uncertain until Mu-Qian's powder white face hazes into focus. There's nothing of recognition in the way his brows creep slowly towards each other. She has a hand on him, but the idea of resistance doesn't occur, even if he does reach gently up to feel after the palm she has sealed in achingly over the feverish warmth of his empty socket. Curious.

And temporary. Actual life starts and bolsters his ribs rickety into a deep drawn breath and then the worn out old son of a bitch looks really confused for the .5 seconds it takes him to realize what the fuck he's woken up to, here. An exploratory brush of cold fingers latches into something that feels a lot more like he's trying to break her hand off her wrist, only. He's running a little low on the red stuff and the muscles rigged rugged across the backs of his arms feel like bungee cords that've been stretched numb beyond elasticity.

His short-buzzed head is moving too, now, grizzled grey trying to turn itself over away from her efforts. Mr. Left Hand is slow to come to the rescue, having only just received notice from the rest of the nervous system that there is an alarm going off somewhere above the neck or something. It dithers around his middle indecisively.

"Get the fuck off of me — fucking — chalky cunt — bitch — "

At the very least, she does him the courtesy of kindly removing the offending extremity from his person. Her palm unseals, with a wet suck of sensation that roots down to the pulpy ruin at the bottom of the hollow and puckers right back up to the rim, painless now at least on the surfacemost layers of tissue, which is doubtlessly a separate cause for concern from Deckard's standpoint. She wipes some mess off her hand onto the thin, purplish fabric that covers his belly, just above the lump of gauze and tape forgotten there. She looks at him for a little bit longer— just a little, as if trying to make up her mind about something.

Upon reaching some conclusion, said chalky cunt bitch then raises her Persian white paw up above her head, and brings it cracking down across his face. It will leave a mark. On her, as well as him, despite that Deckard probably won't be in any state to acknowledge the possibility that this is hurting her more than it hurts him. "Ni zhenshi zheige huaidan! What— this country, this stupid country—!" The last words are nearly spat. Her accent labors around the bog of her words or her words through the bog of her accent. Either way, it gets sloppy grit onto everything and screws up her pretty face with unwonted upset. Look what you've done.

Painless at the surface, maybe. It's the deeper, sucking recoil at tortured muscle and wet, knife-notched skull bone that shuts down groggy, variably incoherent cursing long enough for him to wheeze after a nauseous breath. It doesn't have the bracing effect he had hoped for. Doesn't muddy the pain or clear at cobwebbed disorientation bleak in the eye he has left.

What it does do is give him just enough distance to register the ripple of non-sensation lapping benign at his eye socket. His hand falls away when hers does, but only far enough to hook paired fingers gingerly in past the sunken rim to feel — something. That isn't him. Exasperation and dismay rasp out at an unhinged exhale, dubious lucidity slipping desperately down towards the end of an already frayed rope when — crack. Right in the face.

There's a choked cough, a muffled, miserable, "Pute," and he's trying to roll his entire self heavily over on the bed. Over and away to the opposite pillow and the revolver shored up cold beneath it. "Va te faire foutre…" If his left hand would wake up enough to actually grasp what he's groping around for under there this would be much easier.

Oh, no he doesn't! No he doesn't. This is going to devolve into an exotic healer catfight, because Flint Deckard can't keep a lid on his melodramatic self-destruction habits, despite all of his benefactor's best nature, and is about to try bullets on her. After the week she's had, Ivanov's infected suppurations pulsating in the back of her mind and Lancaster stalking intelligence officers through the phone on her— after the week she's had—

She has very little compunction about seizes him by the elbow and pull-ing, away from the pillow, hard enough that the sinews and tendons and small bird-bones in her knuckles stand out, taloned rigid, and tent the skin like she was a contraption of tissue paper-mache and nothing more substantial between epidermis and bone than ropy strands of glue. She pulls her lips back. Snarls, pretty as a poodle, thrice as effective. "Nashi shenma yuyan? Nizai dui wo shuo shenma— what are you saying? Say it to my face!" The stilted chicken-scratch of her English takes some of the shine off her ninjutsu veneer, reduces the wicked elegance of her arcane wordcraft into barbaric squawking.

Two archways out, the front door's still sagging open like a ragged wound. Like— well: a little like Deckard's excavated eye. "Face me!"

Augh. Jesus — flipping — no, not flipping, fucking

She's dragging him. His weight, really, is not as substantial as it should be, and Flint has about as much fight in him as a starved old lizard that's been left out in the snow to decay into slow motion and slatted ribs. Bony fingers fumble numb from the pistolgrip, leaving it partially exposed past the pillow edge while she snarls and he laments, cornflower blue focused after his last hope without hope.

He uses her grip on him like an anchor when he finally gives up, shoulder bunched taut on its way to pulling himself back into supine submission with his left arm still trailed out in the fossilized remains of abandoned resistance. Blood dribbles unhurried and thick out of his sinuses on his way to lying back, already on its way to clotting or simply in short supply at this point.

"I dunno — " mumbled past cracked lips, drool dried white at the corners, he hoarses out a cruddy chuckle and rankles his nose. "I dunno wha…I dunno. Fucking…nashi nee wong yan yan fried rice bullshit," he mocks, already reaching back for his eye for sheer lack of anything better to do with the hand on that side.

Another slap catches up him upside the head, then, smartly: this time more conservative in its parameters than the one that had rocked through the dumpling soup of his skull some minutes earlier. Clips him, sort of. A little cuff around the head, reprimand, before she withdraws her fingers against her blouse and frowns at what his hand is doing, in its slouching creature crawl back toward the deprived socket. If he tries to fuck it up further, there won't even be words.

Until then, though— until then, what she's doing him might be construed as a favor, a token of grace, an exercise in patience, the hammer of justice (or at least the open palm of it) restrained in favor of communication across language, cultural, and possibly ethical boundaries. She leans down, her eyes stapled to his eyes, a long, grungied forefinger poking down into the supine slat of his sternum. "Why did you do this?" Her words are clear, despite the rumpled and buffed edges of her Mandarin accent's influence.

Ow. "God — damn it," droned half-hearted under knit brows and a closed eye, Deckard redirects his hand into smoothing inelegantly after the second cuff of her palm to his skull. At the same time, he reaches without thinking to wipe sticky gore on her blouse with his right hand, eye smearing for an eye smearing, as Hammurabi would have it.

The brace of his sternum depresses away from her touch, drifting down slow after a sigh that buckles into another series of dry coughs while her blouse sticks after his fingers and his head fails to feel any better.

"A friend." She has strange eyes. Too dark framed by all that ivory white, like black marbles polished into a sun-bleached corpse. His brows knit a little further, not quite wincing away from their probe, even if the blue of his one to her two wavers uncomfortably against an overwhelming desire to look elsewhere. "Always. I need you to tell me — I need you to tell me what you know about Feng Daiyu."

Weighted by the sheathing of protean flesh, Mu-Qian's hair manages to fall in almost preened evenness, locks over albino locks, nary a tangle within them despite that she's carrying on like something of a wild woman. Or else, a mother offended by a particularly impudent child. She's a sociopath, anyway. Or so's the easy conclusion. It's not like her notions of propriety and subscription to social mores were going to be rooted in empathy with the discomfort of others, right?

She palms the organic smudge he left on her blouse as if seriously considering wiping it off on Deckard's moronic shade of lavender in retaliation, but this urge, she graciously resists.

Or else, he distracted her something effective with that question. Her fingers flex to still, rotor-even, cupped around her stomach like some tender brochure illustration of new pregnancy. She stares at him with her plaster brow carved up in notches of consternation. If it helps, he probably offends her sensibilities in equal measure. "Are you with Minea Lancaster?"

"No. …Christ. She's still alive?" The worst people always live. Deckard looks uncertain, incredulous even, and his hand is gravitating slowly back into the black crusted hole that differentiates the left side of his face from the right. It hurts. It hurts like it hasn't in a long time, and he's been out long enough for vodka and cocaine alike to have processed into an emptiness in his being that's echoed by cold hunger stirring long forgotten in his gut.

"We're not friends," is the only thing he can think to say even after he's has a couple of minutes to think about it. Probably not enough oxygen in his brain for him to do a better job of explaining himself, but at least he's still looking at her. And gradually, in single isolated degrees at a time, visceral loathing is receding over a softer shade of curiosity. This lady is completely fucked in the head.

If her parasitic healer jizz's interface with the optical nerve conferred the ability to read minds, she would probably slap him again for that one. It should be reassurance that she does not. Instead, she got something shrewd around her eyes, now, a narrowing that would probably have looked more unnerving without the interlude of frizzy-furred monkey antics in minutes prior. Unfortunately, said interlude casts most of her mental capacity in the true simplicity of its current parameters. Mu-Qian would have a hard time explaining even if she wanted to. It's been a rough September.

She tucks her knees in underneath her, settles her balance and flattens her feathers, pressed together below the hem of her skirt, abruptly compliant like some sort of gigantic, unfinished geisha doll propped up beside Deckard to provide prop for times neither sexy nor fun. "He is hunting Ethan Holden and his friends." She probably would've used the term allies if she knew it. Probably. She turns her head, slightly, speculates at Deckard's rickety face from the flatter perspective of one eye— which Deckard, having only one eye, might well misconstrue for insult. Might. Well. "What does Minea Lancaster want?"

"My head on a spike," guessed without feeling, Flint touches his tongue after the slick of blood creeping down damp at the line of his mouth and closes his eyes again. Eye. Against the ironic turn of her face, and against the coppery taste of seepage from his nose and claggy down the back of his throat. Unconsciousness or sleep or both are slurring at the hard edges of his skull, and the longer he lies still with paired fingers set in over the edge of emptiness and doesn't speak, the more likely it seems he's succumbed.

"Did he talk to you?"

"Did you heal him?" Questions that would be better asked rapid fire, perhaps under hot lights in a room with four close walls and no windows. The grime of this hotel room and whatever unspeakable acts have been committed on the comforter they're both on will have to suffice. "Talk to me and I'll…leave it alone, this time. I'll leave it in."

Succumbed to something that ain't death, far as Mu-Qian can tell. Her secondhand cells work their quiet processes without acknowledgment of final biological failure, fussing, quieter and discreet, now that she knows his— rather frustrating predispositions. Mu-Qian keeps herself seated. Doesn't even raise her palm when his answer proves far less factual and tidily presented than the soupcon of information that she'd offered him, though there's a slight frown, consternation, weighing his continuous appearance of cooperation against the fact that his endearingly self-deprecating jokes aren't very relevant to her situation. Or anybody's situation. Humility, though attractively Confucian, is useless.

On the other hand— that is, with his other hand, he offers peace of mind. Men. Behind the black points of her eyes, the measuring scale dithers on its fulcrum for a protracted moment.

Tilts. She shutters a blink down at him. "Yes," she says, finally, threading her finger through her hair, pushing one white lock over her ear in timing that couldn't possibly be anything short of choreographed, even if unthinkingly. "How did Minea Lancaster obtain my phone number?"

"I dunno. She's…with the government or something. If I knew I'd tell you. You two would probably get along." Ancient, rusty bedsprings creak — he's trying to roll away from her again. This time to escape pressure building in the small of his back. He doesn't reach for the gun this time, and the hand he had been plying at his vacant eye with shifts to shield the intact one from warm light instead. "One vieille bique to another."

"Do you have any friends?" What time is it? It feels like he hasn't slept in days, and he's probably been out cold for twenty of the last twenty-four hours. "Sometimes I wish I didn't. Or that I had just given in and died. Maybe…that night in the brothel." His tone is all wrong for woe, tired and lacking heat. "If you hadn't fucked with me. Would've been noble."

"Leah would've taken Abigail."

Another sigh wears ragged through clogged sinuses and his eye slits back open to study the far wall through the spaces that burn light between his fingers. All this preparation and it had never occurred to him to bring pain killers. "I need to know where he's hiding."

She dunnos what a veal beak is, but the absence of heat from his voice would have rendered vile bitch just as tolerable, so. You know. While she's showing grace, and all that, she isn't going to go windmilling at his decision to slide back into foreign tongues, either. The departure of Deckard's hand from Deckard's face is acknowledged with a slow blink of dark eyes and she bobs slightly on the surface of the mattress as the man's gaunt, but still bigger, heavier figure channels movement to her.

She remembers the incident that he is talking about. Dungeons. Cells. Picturesque: whores and healers and intruders and miscellaneous pet projects shut up inside them. She does not denigrate his decision not to bring pain killers. She figures that's what the emptied bottles and line residue was for. "That doesn't make any sense," she says, before stopping, reconsidering, her eyes on the half of his face that doesn't have one, testy. "He is with the American government, too. The American government is a mess: in my home country, we had unity."

Which would be— authoritarianism, fascism, frightfully sensible things that had only distantly engendered the reasons that she had ultimately run away. She tips herself off the pleating of her knees, rests her hip on the mattress, adjusting to Cleopatra. "Your friends had my husband killed, stole my son, and put me where the government is looking, but I still seem more fortunate in their hands than you."

The flat of Deckard's back yields less in the way of easily searchable reaction than his battered face. It's lavender~. Vertebrae stand out knobbed at the base of his neck, wedged muscle fiber fastened to them and to the back of his skull worn down to the bare wires, lending him some resemblance to an android without an exoskeleton to fill out the empty spaces.

He should be breathing faster and harder than he is after losing so much blood, but now that the initial struggle is over he's oddly lax. Can't be bothered, maybe. Outwardly he has no reason to feel reassured that everything will be fine.

"They're not so bad."

This would probably be more convincing if he actually sounded convinced himself. "At least, they weren't. Some of them." Christ, there have to be nicer words than he ones he is saying. Silence lapses while he reconsiders his angle. Doesn't take long for it to seem like he might have fallen asleep again. "I owe them more than I give. I'm sorry about your husband, And your son. But probably — better them than whatever government agency happened to get a load've you and your bedside manner first."

"My bedside manner is better with better patients." Her words are clipped. Critical. Possibly stung that he had the stones to serve up criticism himself, because: really, Deckard isn't a very good one. What with the eyeball. And lying facedown, back turned, in this bizarre, pleasantly suffocating, and inherently rude fetal heap of grumbling apology. Mu-Qian's annoyance isn't what it had been earlier, though: she's calmer now, thinking, the neat white stones of her fingernails tracing a skitter on her skirt, over her thigh.

It doesn't take her long to leave off the glorious bold font italicized underlined inadequacy of his friends. Possibly— perhaps not unimaginably, this isn't the first time that somebody capable of empathy and sanguine loyalty and heroic sacrifice has essentially told her that she doesn't 'get it.' "You have already figured out that I can find him," she observes, frowning at the wall. "I should just disappear."

On the subject of better bedside manner for better patients, there's a murmur of incoherent skepticism, then: "Do you like him?"

Enunciation is easier once he's crooked an arm up to rest his sunken cheek on a few spare inches above the blood smeared sheets, utterly ignorant of the mess he's making. "Seems like your type." Mentally unbalanced ninja with a job specialization in murder and slanty eyes.

"I think if you disappear, the next person who digs you out will be less charming and more violent company than I am."

A shrug punctuates her positive response: "A little," manages to undercut the validity of it instead of sentiment belying pretend indifference— which is a subterfuge that might be more common to Deckard's recent choice of ~friends~. Nice to be in the company of crazies again, isn't it? She sets the heel of her hand against her temple, pushes the ashy skein of pigmentless hair back from her brow. If she is capable of making sense of his charismatically humorous use of irony, she doesn't let it on.

He has a point, of course. She can run, she can hide, but in a world full of psychics where her own psychic ability, known to some, compels her to constantly dump psychic tracks wherever she goes. Psychic, psychic. China didn't bother much with translation back when she lived there, but they had provided one English term to blanket the vast and varied catalog of Evolved under study. Psychic. It wasn't until she had come to the States and spent a good many years there before she discovered the other, more specific implications of the word. In America, a psychic is a mind-reader.

Her frown deepens. Her skin makes no sound, as it gradually withdraws that sterile plaster pallor from its surface, commanded with an easy thought, milk poured out of cupped pores. "Feng xiansen will just beat you up when you go to see him. Or beat them up. Trap them. I don't see the point: why don't they just run away?"

"I dunno." Speech becomes harder to understand the more his face sinks into the bend of his elbow, even if the sentiment remains clear enough in the slack slump of his shoulders and the concave slope of his back away from them. "I didn't ask. Maybe they're tired of hiding."

The lights are on, the door is open, she could slither out at any second and it might be months before anyone sees bleached pelt or black eyes again. He can't go back to sleep. With all the slothen resolve of someone five minutes away from being late to a job they don't care about, he sets to levering himself still further over, eventually all the way into a groggy sit. Gauze and tape clings feebly to the side of his jeans — he peels it off, squints at tracks of scuzzy blue lint, and casts it aside to lean for the duffel bag instead.

No slithering occurs while the man moves for his things, neither away nor toward. "It is better than being killed or locked away, don't you think?"

She does, however, shift in place in order to remove her shoes, one fashionably slender heel and then the other. Matched together, their sculpted carapaces reflect the bathroom light with the dull gloss of a silkworm's cocoon, despite that not even she would have been crazy enough to wear anything that expensively and carefully authentic to Staten Island. It's hard to tell with China. True silk or nightmarishly convincing knock-offs are equally likely. Her fingers stay wreathed, interlocked between them for a long moment, her elbow perched light on her thigh.

She looks at him in the rickety stack of his sit. It suits them both equally well, that his otherwise pointless exercise in sluggish scrabbling has installed more distance between them. At least, they won't be tempted to wipe his bloodstains on any property that is not either their own or the motel's. It's better for diplomatic relations. Finally, she lifts her chin. "I want to meet 'Eileen.'"

There's more than just underwear and socks in Deckard's bag. Gauze is feathered out in sterile sheets, three and four at a time to be followed out by tape. He's gearing up to close himself up again, at least for the short term — skeletal hands hard-pressed to grip when energy and sensation proves insufficient to his manipulative needs. What's the point of having thumbs if they don't work?

"Maybe not." Depends on the gravy circumstances. Who you are and what you're hiding from and for how long and what you have to live for. He might dictate as much if he was keener on talking, but it's nothing new that he isn't. The glance he casts slow after her discarded shoes carries up onto her face long enough to scan blearily after intent, then his back is to her again while he pushes white gauze into the wreckage of his eye socket. "Any particular reason?"

Well, somebody's sure being a little melodramatic, though one would suppose that if you're going to be clumsy and incompetent it might as well be accompanied with an artistically significant shimmer of violins. Mu-Qian watches for a moment, before she chooses to intervene, reaching deftly to intercept gauze and tape with two separate pincers made out of the one same hand, forefinger and thumb then middle and ring. Pluck, and pluck.

Not the stuffing out of his eye socket, fortunately, just what's get to be set in, and the tape. "I want to know what happened. Feng has already told me his version. There are a lot of words missing from his version."

Gauze unsticks, unfolds, contact kept to a delicate minimum between the smooth and manicured points of her digits and the soft, sterile segments of fabric. Tape stretches and sleeks out with a tug, the tip folded back, rolled, so she doesn't lose her place in the reel. "Feng xiansen says we should be enemies."

No resistance. Deckard's hand lifts after hers in a kind of exasperated shrug, having nothing better to do with itself after it's relieved of dressing meant to keep everything in this hotel room out. He cuts a dejected figure on the far side of the bed, back at a convex, bony stoop now, shoulders over knees, scapulae a-poke at a shirt colored such that he can't have possibly picked it out himself.

"I don't know what happened." 'I don't know anything,' would be more or less accurate if he's interested in covering all his bases, but for the moment he mostly seems interested in tracing over his brow, thumbnail tagging blunt past a stray corner of gauze poking lonely out of the extra hole wrought into his head.

"Sorry. For complaining. Whining. I dunno." Self-pity is scrubbed out at his jaw, physical pressure applied coarse where it continues to cling in dreary furrows around the flat line of his mouth. "I can try to arrange a meeting. Maybe she'll come here."

"Maybe you shouldn't stay here. Someone is going to have to pay for that door." Practical, always so practical. A little soulless apathy can go a long way or, you know, at least a little further than feelings which apparently leave one hog-tied and flattened down in a shithole hotel room.

Mu-Qian tapes his eye up. It is easy, and she doesn't get too close to do it, her arms latticing slender shadows across the rumpled bedspread as she works. One corner of tape, closest to the bridge of his nose, peels up slightly on a few elastic bridges of adhesive she hadn't applied enough pressure to tamp down properly, furls over his tearduct where she can't get a good look and doesn't try hard to.

"What did she do for you?" She takes her hands back. Folds her arms over her belly, in a manner neither domineering nor withdrawn. Her eyes still look too Selachimorphically black for her face, even without the waxen armor. "Name two things."

Right. …The door. Deckard eyes it from beneath tilted brows, long-faced and drearily slope-shouldered at the prospect of the owner opting to take advantage of ready entry granted by the very thing he'd probably be willing to beat down the door about to beat him down instead. With Mu-Qian manhandling him around like a wobble-legged newborn wildebeest and encountering no shoving or gnashing of teeth in the process of taping him up now, it seems unlikely that he'd be able to put up much of a fight.

"There are other places I know. Houses with clean beds in abandoned neighborhoods. A few shops on the beach front with inflatable rafts." When she's done, he lifts a hand automatically to thumb down over reluctant bits of tape. Having other people tape, sew and bandage him up is probably another one of those things that he's had to get used to, what, with him merrily throwing himself down stairwells all the time, etc.

"She stitched me up, once. My shoulder was all fucked up. And she's dragged me up off the floor a couple've times. Figuratively, literally." There's still a mopey, misery-sodden quiet to his speech, but he's dragged himself out past the worst of it and is, at least, sitting up and lucid enough to tuck unspent supplies back into his bag.

'Figuratively' is a word that takes Mu-Qian a moment or two to translate, and when she does, she's looking at him with a half-formed question on her face and then a moment taken to debate whether or not she should ask him to elaborate. Maybe it isn't important enough. Maybe it's none of her business. Maybe his flagging articulation is reaching critical deficiency.

One of those things affects her decision to set her heels on the floor again, lift herself up. The seat of her skirt is conspicuously pristine, which stands in odd relief to the slight smudges and recalcitrance that's beset the rest of her garb, and the new tangle to her dark hair. "I like the seafront. I grew up near the sea." Inflatable rafts. Despite the accent that clumsy cloys her voice, she can't possibly think they're going for a ride~

Be rude to ask, though, wouldn't it? "Is the Beauchamp girl going to 'stitch you up' the rest of the way, this time?"

"No." Not this time. A glance over his shoulder after her while he unrolls a pair of bunched socks blends into a hazy doubletake when dark hair and approximately normal complexion register and jar blurry against his memory of her five minutes ago. The end result is insecure bafflement for the absence of faith he has in his own visual recall. He opens his mouth and closes it, grizzled grey turned back to her long enough for him to occupy himself with pulling his socks on one at a time. They don't match. The stitching in the toes is different.

"Boardwalk it is," muttered coherently enough that repetition probably isn't necessary, he wrests a wrist rough across the blood dried sticky black at his upper lip and under his nose, but whatever flaky progress he manages to make there isn't promising. Ssssooo up onto his feet he goes for the bathroom, bedsprings shrieking after his imminent absence until he's away and dragging a clean (if rumpled) dress shirt out of his bag after him. "I'll have to try and fix it before I run into her."

Thoughtful of him. No sarcasm: thoughtful him. Mu-Qian articulates her appreciation with one eyebrow and a twitch of her unglossed mouth. "Thank you." This stands irregardless of how thorough his work. She chooses not to inform him of her long-term intent to pin him to the ground with several heavy blocks of concrete or hooped twine and force his eyeball back into the pit of his skull if he fails to seek remedy appropriately. Really: these past few weeks have been Hell on her nerves.

"Minea Lancaster can give you my telephone number." Kittenish disgust has her upper lip in an unhappy curl around those syllables. She cleans off the fabric of her clothes with the back of her hands. They look like the wrong sort of scenario entirely: the woman preparing her exeunt, the old man pulling himself off the bed, slinging limb over raw-boned limb toward the bathroom to clean up. "I will keep it for a week."

"I'm not getting into contact with Minea Lancaster. Just…write it down." Jesus. The shirt is pulled on delicately enough over his shoulders that half-dried blood doesn't track from the ridges in his fingertips to slack white at the lapel. Meanwhile, having the hole in his head plugged up and covered over with gauze and tape makes it a little easier to look at. His face doesn't have to shirk to the side to disguise the sink in his skull when he bumps the faucet to life and slings ruined clothes carelessly onto the bathroom floor, taking a toothbrush and a reel of floss with them.

A frown follows the floss down — he didn't bring any extra — but the important thing is getting his hands clean so that he can get his face clean and button up his shirt and get the fuck out of here. "Get a piece of toilet paper something. While you're at it you can write," his hand pushes damp against the grain at his mouth, "you can write down a couple've reasons why I should trust that you aren't fucking me over."

That sounds disgusting and Mu-Qian has tissue in her purse, so she is going to go with that, instead, if it's all the same to Deckard. Which— obviously it is. Around the lavender and rickety line of his arm, he can see her bob around like a ghost in the mirror glass, stooping over the nightstand with a silver pen in her hand. Maybe not real silver, but silver enough to shine the brightest thing in the room.

He doesn't really expect her to inscribe anything other than ten digits, and that's about as much time as she spends hooked over the rectangled fold of Kleenex. She straightens, and her hair swings against her shoulder as she steps away from the bed's lumpy shoulder, tugging her skirt flat. "Why I'm not fucking Eileen over," she translates, or else: assumes. It isn't a question. "She has my son. If you have a child, you understand."

A sloggy sounding sniff clears away some of the blood clotted high up in his nose — another rinse of faucet to face filters away whatever might've come loose in the process. He probably shouldn't get the tape wet, but avoiding infection isn't as high on his list of priorities as it should be and he's nearly done.

A swipe of dress shirt sleeve is enough to dry the intact half of his face, and then he's watching her and buttoning buttons, fingers only cooperative enough to take them slow one at a time through the occasional tremble or sheer fuzzy absence of sensation from his head through the bones in his fingers. This is one of those times where it would probably be useful if he could remember what blood type he is.

To her reasoning, he says nothing. Nothing isn't arguing exactly, but but the decidedly blank look he gives her on the subject of having children and understanding while he works at his collar is fairly telling in itself.

It is as Mu-Qian had suspected and that is kind of like being right. She lifts her chin and a heel in the same haughty twitch of motion, accepting this answer without doing either of them the indignity of breathing in a tiny, high-note hnh. She recedes toward the door, a soapmilk blur soaking through the shadowy blur of the motel room's further distances. "Feng xiansen doesn't want either of you, anyway.

"He's already told her who he wants. Maybe you should wait for more honesty," this is probably a flaw in translation. Probably, she meant information; probably, "before you cut off your parts for your friends, next time." The slender links of her purse strap click and fall flat around the edges of a triangle, hanging off the thin breadth of her shoulder.

She doesn't pause until she has her hand on the doorframe and her high heel unsteady on an errant wood splinter. Disconcerted. "Why should I trust you?"

"Divine intervention has made me a better person," says Deckard. Almost too straight-faced while the cuff of a clingy jeans leg is slowly dragged backwards out of the sink by its own sodden weight to flop wet on the floor with the rest of yesterday's clothes. He finishes buttoning in any case, only to linger vacantly in the rectangle of the bathroom door while she leads herself out. Kind of like he's forgotten what he's supposed to do next.

Boots. Boots are next. His head turns away, occupied now with the process of trying to remember what he did with them. "Technically, nobody asked me to do anything. I shouldn't have done anything. It isn't any of my business." There is a boot poking halfway out from under the bed, and after glancing to the night stand to ensure that the kleenex is still there, Deckard moves to collect it, one hand braced against the foot of the bed while the other grops after boot heel, "But while we're being honest, I don't actually have anything else better to do."

The last time they discussed God, Deckard had mistaken Mu-Qian for an angel, ssso. His most recent invocation is either promising, or really, really not at all. She quirks a look back at him, tips her shoe on its unstable perch, kicking away the shred of wood that had gotten in her way to the level surface she'd been trying to set her gait on. She pushes her hair back over one shoulder on the bend of a forefinger, and steps out of the ruined doorway.

One last look twitched over her shoulder, then the wall blanks her out, her step knocking cadent on the floor outside. "You didn't buy that shirt," her voice answers, disembodied, in a tone by itself boasts the womanly intuition and the shrewd accusation of: you're lying.


Boot in hand, back straightened away from the creaky bed, Deckard tips his chin down enough to peer at the shirt in question — white buttoned loose over lavender. A moment's thought is spared the accusation, which is probably one moment too many, but he can't remember stealing it.

That he can't remember buying it either is something of a puzzle, but why she should say anything about it in the first place…:( It is a nice shirt, and he decides that he likes it for the second time since he decided to put it on with a muddled upturn at his brows and a toss of boot onto bed. Back to scratching his head and trying to figure out where the other one went.

He finds it before Teo arrives, which reduces any visible indignity by an appreciable quantity, surely. The Sicilian comes through the hallway with all the blond bluster of a retriever puppy, his feet wide on the uneven coloration of the carpet and his gun discreet in his coat despite that the hand shoved defensively into it undercuts that particular effort completely.

Mu-Qian's perfume no longer lingers in the hall, and she's left not even the smallest of white scales behind on her slither into the egress of rancid mothball darkness. The ruptured paneling of the doorway— garish visual evidence of violent entrance actually reassures Teo, somehow, in tandem to the eerie quiet that presides over the hotel's cheap interior. He can hear Deckard's breathing inside Deckard's own lungs, recognize the kinesthesis of over-long muscles scaffolding against anemically stiffened bones, see him seeing.

It doesn't occur to him that what he's seeing is only half of what the old man is looking at until he steps in, sighing loud, all, "Vecchio, that voicemail was fucking creepy. You know, I didn't tell Abigail where we're staying, so you didn't have to come all th—"

—e way—

The color drains from his cheeks and ruddy-lipped grin, and his head squares upright, both eyes huge in his face. "Flint—"

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