Time For Your Check-Up


bella_icon.gif lynette2_icon.gif

Scene Title Time For Your Check-Up
Synopsis A chance meeting between former captor and captive. Only one of them knows it.
Date August 19, 2010

Whole Foods Market

Bella hasn't quite learned to stop being afraid of the outside world. She knows that it may never entirely pass, that she may have to hope only for its recession into odd moments where it rears its ugly head. For now, it hovers about her, a light cloak of anxiety. Still, she will not bow entirely to it. Dr. Sheridan has made a foray into the world she fears, though she does seek a relative safe haven. For a creature of Bella's rearing and proclivities, Whole Foods is about as well worn as it gets. Aisle upon aisle of organic produce (probably fair trade, too), a shrine to bourgeois virtue, a trick of karma, where consumption and erases its own consequence in the instant of purchase, where a (certain) fraction of profits are given back to the countries ravaged by every other aspect of neo-colonial capital. Charming.

This isn't on Bella's mind, though, at least not for more than an instant - though even she's a little embarrassed by the obviousness of her demographic - and as she hovers in the 'Fresh Meat' section, scanning for free-range lamb, she's eschewed her scarf and sunglasses 'disguise'. She'll wear her hair long (and it has gotten long, with no recent visits to her hairdresser, since they might know about her hairdresser), and her eyes uncovered, well, save for the reading glasses she sets on her nose to better read the labels. Making her informed purchase.

It's a habit for Lynette, shopping organic. Having her background in the poshy Los Angeles society… well, she just doesn't think about the other options at this point. And given that she hasn't been grocery shopping in months, she pushes a rather full cart along the aisles.

The blonde seems… together, mostly, if withdrawn some. Anyone watching can see her subtly avoiding close contact with the other shoppers, sometimes skipping aisles altogether if they're too crowded. But she bears it gracefully at the moment. The comparatively short hair on this woman is mostly covered by a gentle blue scarf tied around her head, the ends trailing over her shoulder in place of those missing strands.

When she makes her way into the meat section, she doesn't seem to look Bella's way. And why would she? But she does stop nearby, picking up some steaks, it seems. But unlike the doctor, she's not bothering with labels today.

Having a touch of paranoia, if one is smart about it, will make one less likely to glance at others in an obvious way. That is how they find out that you know about them. Bella, however, is not very practiced at paranoia, let alone practical paranoia, the kind that really is a survival strategy rather than a pathology. So when Lynette draws near, Bella steals a look at her. And her gaze is immediately fixed.

Surely not. Surely that is not.

Oh no. It is.

Bella has to fight a desire to flee from the store at once. Not at a run, even she's not that flighty. But at a quick pace, buying nothing, doing nothing until she reaches the bus stop (she's not using her car anymore, hasn't since she was ambushed in it), giving Deckard a shaky call as she waits, near trembling, for the bus to come and…

But she doesn't. Because this woman will not recognize her. Because every time she has seen Ms. Lynette Rowan, electrokinetic, Bella was separated by one way glass and voice transformation software.

So, perversely, Bella has quite the opposite response. She tips down her glasses and turns towards Lynette, smiling. "You look less confused than I do. Or at least more decisive. Think you might help me pick out a leg of lamb?"

Lynette's gaze flicks over as she's addressed, and for a moment, it seems like she might just ignore the request. But, she's trying to be a normal person, not a former captive and lab rat, so after that odd pause, she smiles over at Bella. "Of course. How many people are you feeding?"

Tugging her cart over, she steps over to Bella's side to have a look over her choices. "For lamb… you want to look for cuts that were butchered at seven months. Or younger. It makes for a less gamy and more delicate flavor." Funny how she's just… friendly out here in the world. She even reaches over to pick out some for her. "Like these. Now, I know you can technically freeze meat and keep it for a while, but for lamb, I always buy it the day I'm going to use it. Keeps it tasting its best. Which might be a psychosomatic thing, but it doesn't hurt," she says with a gentle chuckle.

It's adorable! Lynette can pretend not to be a experiment and Bella can pretend not to be an experimenter. It's like a role playing exercise, working out their problems, their differences… Helping each other heal over chopped pieces of flesh.

Bella checks the label of the leg Lynette has just indicated, nodding and flashing Lynette a wider smile. "I trust anyone who can use the term 'psychosomatic' in everyday conversation," she quips, and then lifts her hand, waving down one of the market butchers. "Two of these, please," she says, finger bending against the glass, indicating the chosen meat. As the butcher removes the fresh legs and begins to wrap them in paper, Bella turns to face Lynette more fully. There is a strange thrill to this, knowing what Lynette does not know. Being able to operate as if nothing had happened between them. As if past actions, not erased, could at least have no consequence. At least, not for her. Which is what matters.

"I admit, I'm not much of a cook or a homemaker," Bella says, "but I'm trying to make a gratitude meal. Or, well… a meal that conveys… pride, I guess. So I want it to be surprising but not overwhelming in its complexity." She lifts her eyes to the ceiling, "I'm just hoping there is a blend of spices that somehow conveys exactly that intention…"

Lynette considers all that for a moment, a finger tapping on the handle of her cart. "You'll need a wine," she says, as if this is following some logical path in the land of gratitude meals. "This is for… a man?" There seems to be a depth to that question, and she watches for a reaction, like the doctor might give away the details of this relationship in an expression.

Like so many people who just want to forget and move on, Lynette just seems glad to have something, anything to keep her mind busy and off more dower topics. Helping a random person in a grocery store is an opportunity not to be passed up.

Bella nods, agreeing on the point of wine. Wine is crucial. Red wine. Maybe something Spanish, like a Tamparillo. It would compliment… And then Lynette's second statement peeks into her train of thought and brings it to a halt. Bella rolls her eyes despite herself. "Only in the loosest sense," she says, dryly, which tells Lynette maybe a lot.

It is sort of insane how easily normality can be attained, at least in the form of facade or facsimile. The ritual of inter-feminine assistance and confidence is one Bella has well learned, and playing it out is a real comfort. As the paper-wrapped meat is offered to Bella, who slips it into the basket that hangs in the crook of her arm, she regards her former experimental subject with a slanted smile. "Let's say, though, for the sake of argument, that it were for a man, proper. How would that color your response?"

That answer gets a more genuine laugh from Lynette. It's a much… lighter sound, with more ease in it than those wry bits of laughter Bella has heard from her before. "If," she starts, "I would suggest… a pinot noir. They're difficult, you know? The grape. It's pretty hard to actually get a working wine from them. But when it works? It's pretty much the best wine in the world. I usually find that fitting when dealing with men." She finishes with a sort of dry humor there.

"What men gain in political and economic power," Bella states, "they lose in the psychic damage that power wreaks on them." It's sort of a weird thing to say to just anyone (and Bella is pretending that Lynette is 'just anyone') but it's stated with the firmness of deeply held belief. "So," she cracks a smile now, "we'll just have to press hard them and hope, in time, they'll become better for it." Like wine, though the comparison is left as a matter of context. "For their sake as well as our own." She tilts her head towards the wine section, "Show me a good pinot noir?"

At first, those words do get a sort of odd look, but as Bella goes on, Lynette gives a nod. "My father, at the height of his career, he's a lawyer, he used to tell me the better he got… the worse he became." She follows the tilt of Bella's head, glancing toward the wines. "Sure. I'm partial to the Sonoma wineries myself…" Grabbing her cart again, she pushes it along as they head in that direction. "And if you're not worried about the price… we could probably find a virgin pressing." That is, apparently, an exciting prospect.

Does Bella worry about price? She has a decent nest egg - she lived within her means - but the paychecks will stop coming soon if they haven't already. She bites her lip. "I think a good recession wine would be ideal for me," she says, with a self-deprecating chuckle, "I love your hairstyle, by the way. I wish I had the courage to cut it short, but I'm afraid I'd look ridiculous." Okay, this is cruel. Extremely cruel, considering Bella knows exactly how Lynette got that 'hairstyle'. But Bella just wants to see how Lynette will reaction. Just a little experiment.

Old habits die hard.

"That's doable, too," Lynette says and she might've gone jauntily on about wines, but that mention of her hair stops her short. Her gaze drops to the floor for a moment, then rolls up as if she might be able to see those shortened strands. When she looks over at Bella, there's a frown on her face and a certain… caginess about her. "Well. I can't really claim the courage. It wasn't my idea." Pause. "Overzealous hairstylist." Oh, and she's not happy about it at all. "But I'm… trying to make the best of it."

Bella tilts her head, peering at Lynette with concern. As if she had no idea what sort of nerve she must just have hit. She smiles in confused sympathy. "Let me see," she says, as gently as she may, "if you don't mind? Without the scarf?" Coaxing. Using her 'safe place' voice. As if the wine aisle at Whole Foods were an oasis of some kind.

Lynette's fingers fiddle with some of that hair self-consciously for a moment. Self-consciousness doesn't seem to fit her very well, like it were a completely foreign feeling. Which it is. The position also shows marks on her arm from all those pokes and prods, but those she doesn't seem to notice at the moment. "Ah… you know, I didn't do a thing to it this morning. I think I might literally frighten people if I did that," she says with an attempt at a smile that doesn't quite make it there.

Bella does notice those marks. Some of them are her own handiwork. Some of them may even have been inflicted by Gregor. But others… others are too recent even for that. Bella feels a slight sink in her stomach. Consequences even she can recognize as terrible. She keeps her gaze, after that momentarily flick and recognition, on Lynette's face. "Of course," she says, "if you don't want to. But I don't know… if it wasn't a choice of courage then, why not let it be a choice of courage now?" She smiles slantedly, "Give these yuppies something to talk about, hmmm?"

"Because it isn't. Not yet," Lynette says, which may be a little too much truth for grocery shopping. Her hand drops back to her cart and she gives Bella another attempt at a smile. "Good luck with your dinner. I hope he gets the message." It's as friendly a goodbye as she can manage at the moment. And there's a hint of a haunted look about her as she turns to head her own way.

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