2008-04-25: A Rough Patch


Joule_icon.gif Lee_icon.gif

Summary: Joule and Lee work on moving in together. And their relationship starts to come apart in the face of mutual fears and stressors.

Date It Happened: April 25, 2008

A Rough Patch

Language Warning

Manhattan and Brooklyn - between Lee's Apartment and Joule's

"It's a damn bloody good thing you're cute, hot, and I've got a strong back, or I'd throw your ruddy books down the bloody stairs," Joule gripes, plucking books off the shelves and putting them into a Rubbermaid storage container. "How did you afford all these things anyway? And why do you still keep them? They can't all be classics!"

Lee fought with Joule over whether he'd move in with her or she'd move in with him. His place was paid for. And they were poor. But it was also horrible, the site of many bad memories. And above a place Lee has always felt was horrible. He wanted them to move in there. She wanted him to move in here. Finally they settled on a solution neither of them was thrilled about - Lee would maintain an office/library there, so that he didn't have to find room for his ridiculous number of used books here in Joule's spacious but nevertheless still-studio apartment. Then he has picked out so many books that the whole plan looks like it was stupid to start with, since Lee adamantly insists that all 95 volumes of La Comedie Humaine are absolutely essential that he have close to hand.

"Well, one, I haven't had to pay rent in five years, and two, I get them used, so pretty much that's the answer." he says testily, his hands caked with dirt and sweat. He didn't even respond to the compliment. "You're the one that lives on the top floor, I'm only one flight up."

"It's bloody noisy on the ground floor. I can't concentrate. And besides, I get the biggest apartment this way. I convinced the Landlady to let me knock down the wall so we can branch out a bit, since nobody's taking on the other half of the top floor," Joule snaps back, letting the container flop back onto the floor now that they're across town and in her place, where they're keeping his books until they finish remodeling.

She insists that the place has to be remodeled even if he's keeping it as an office/library/place for Kory to crash. Nonetheless, the heat and heavy lifting has worn on their nerves. They bickered all the way from Manhattan to Brooklyn, and are still doing so. "And why did you not get an SUV or a Hummer or something when the lawyer offered you a settlement? With us both in, there's almost no room for aught else in this crappy little beater!"

Lee says, "One, because I don't have anything to compensate for, and two, because taking a bribe is terrible enough, without compounding it by taking a big one. I guess you would have walked away with a Hummer full of gold bars and champagne and felt like you earned it?", escalating the bickering. He has a desk chair that looks like it would survive a nuclear blast, and is as heavy as if it were in fact made out of lead, which he tries manfully to heft in.

"Fuck, yes!" Joule seethes, through her teeth. But her voice begins to get louder and higher as she continues. "Sodding toerag tried to blow you up and kill you dead, and if you'd taken him to court, you would've exposed yourself. The girl at your shop. All her friends. I'd have gotten a Hummer full of gold bars, champagne, and a penthouse on the Upper West SIDE!" she is screaming by the end of the last sentence. She reaches to yank the chair from him, but succeeds only in giving him some assistance wrestling the heavy thing into Joule's apartment. "Morals. Principles. You have no idea what it means to be practical!"

Lee says, with that sneeringly incredulous voice he's so practiced at: "Practical?! You're the one that insisted we pass up the completely paid-for apartment in favor of continuing to shell out money for a place that doesn't have enough room for a decent magazine rack let alone a good library!" Okay, now they're fighting, not bickering. "And another th…where did the paint I brought up there go? The blue paint." The blue paint exactly the color of the paint she painted over when she bought the place, due to hating it so much.

"Oh, sure, living in a house that will erode your sanity because your fucking mad crazy parents drugged and experimented on you through your whole bleedin' childhood just because it's paid for is practical. We'd have about two happy years before you snapped and tried to kill everyone in the Lair with your shoelaces!" Joule gets in his face, pointing a finger. At which point she realizes she's broken a nail. "MY MANICURE! I swear, you never think of anyone but yourself. Why did I ever buy into this idea!" CLUNK. The heavy chair gets dropped. "I don't know where your fucking blue paint is." She knows where the dishes are, though, and digging that box out of its corner is beginning to look good. She's hot, sweaty, has a broken nail, and her boyfriend is, "You ungrateful git!"

Lee yells, leaning right back over her with his vertiginous height, waving his slender arms, "Grateful? What do I have to be grateful for? Second-guessing me when I'm being blackmailed? Oh, thank you! Thank you so fucking much, Joule, I would never have thought to second-guess myself while being blackmailed, I am so goddamn grateful you are around to do it for me. And what else can I be grateful for? Oh! Maybe pointing out that my car is small and it is hard to move with a small car! I had never noticed that before. You are so goddamn insightful, Joule."

"Blackmailed?!" Joule repeats, and brays laughter. "I bloody well am not the one who's all 'poor me, I didn't ask for this awesome power!' 'Poor me, powers suck and I have them'. 'Poor me, I can't put the nutty little twig boy into jail so he can get buggered for life'. 'Poor me, if I didn't have powers, I wouldn't have to worry about being put in a lab and dissected by some Corben Bernsen lookalike with dull scalpels!' G'wan, pull the other. You're not fooling anybody but yourself. As usual. Leto." She stalks off, heels clumping hard on her floor. Where are those dishes?

Lee hollers more, "Don't walk away in the middle of a conversation, where are you going?" He hasn't forgotten about the dishses, exactly. "That's right, walk away, hit below the genetic belt. Where's that concern about my terrible upbringing now? Pretty much goes right out the window as soon as it's not convenient for you, doesn't it! Doesn't it?!"

"If I didn't give a fucking fuck about your terrible fucking upbringing, I wouldn't have fucking suggested we live here, would I? WOULD I?!" she shrieks, turning to glower at him. "You want everything your way. How the hell did you end up so sheltered, so clueless, as to how the world works? Your fucking books were more important to you than reality, is that it?" The books and some dishes get flung at him. "Here! Take your fucking books since you love them best!"

Lee sees the books flung at him and he ducks out of the way before remembering that he can deflect them. He starts with the dishes, which smash entertainingly on his desk chair, on his bookshelf, on his steamer trunk suitcase. "I want everything my way?! You're the one biting my head off because I asked for the wrong make of car in my lawsuit settlement!" His comeback is made lamer by the fact that he's still wincing and ducking. "You're the sheltered one, thinking all this power bullshit is so great because you admire your father and could never think he could do anything bad, has it ever dawned on you for one second that maybe he pushed you away because he knew what he was doing was wrong, that he shouldn't have fucked around with it, that he knew his work was going to make everything worse?" Maybe Lee should not have fucked around with playing the father card.

"You leave my father out of this!" Joule bellows, dishes and books coming faster. "My father loved me, and didn't experiment on me! My father didn't push me away! Projecting much?! I pushed him away, you insiensitive fuck!" And now there are tears. Angry tears. And the dishes come faster. "You don't know ANYTHING! I can do good with this power. Just because you can't think of anything to do with your power, and you're jealous of what I had with my father because yours doesn't LOVE YOU…!"

Lee smirks nastily, "Oh yeah, I'm completely jealous of you, Joule, I am, I…" WHOMP. Okay, that book was heavier than it looked and he didn't deflect it fully, it hit him right in the breadbasket. "OW! Goddamn it will you stop acting like a fucking child! I can't believe this! This is your method of unpacking? Really great, it's just really great. Tell me some more about how I'm the ignorant one. You don't even know what he was doing, you just passed it along to someone who you think might do the right thing with it. And how likely is that exactly? How likely is it that it didn't go from him to the worst person who had the money to pay for it?" Talk about second-guessing. One thing Lee and Joule have in common is dangerously sharp hindsight, wielded against each other.

Score! Joule smirks and gives a nasty little giggle as Lee takes the hit from some immense Tolstoy or Dumas volume. "You were happy for me, you said," she murmurs. Oh oh. Female gone beyond screaming, and into talking through her teeth. "You lied to me? Is there anything else you lied about? Huh? How about your sister? She really in Philly, or did you chase her off too, with your pinpoint precision incisive wit, huh? Or maybe she just found someone she loves more than you, too, sick of you pissing on what she believes in, too, eh?"

Lee reaches out his long fingers and ostentatiously grabs the next book she throws out of the air. "I'm not having a conversation with you while you're using me for target practice." he sneers, and turns to stalk for the door.

"Yeah?" Joule asks, wiping the tears from her eyes. "Good luck with that. I'd stop walking." She lashes out with her power. "Now." And there's some invisible electric sizzle crackle buzz in the air as she strikes his optic nerves, telling them that for the time being there are no eyes to connect to. "That sixth step is a motherfucker, innit?"

There are only five steps to the stairs.

Lee yelps. "Oh shit, I…I can't see!" He stumbles forward. He hadn't expected this. "Joule, I can't fucking see, what did…what did you do?" He stumbles forward again. His anger slides into real fear for a moment, the stairs getting nearer.

"Stop. Walking. You arsemonger," she says, and then nothing more. Let him figure it out himself. He who thinks powers are pointless and useless. Let him discover now how blind he is — the hard ay. In fact, so inclined is she to let him figure it out himself or let him break his neck that she slams the only other door in the apartment, locking herself in the bathroom and running the water loudly.

Lee hits the wall and falls, but thankfully not down the stairs. "Aagh!! Joule! Joule…" he calls out. His anger flares again: "Joule, this is not funny! This is not…I can't see!" He fumbles around on the floor to try to figure out where he is but it's just a bunch of boxes.

Running water, muted by the door between them, is his only reply. Joule's done. He hit her where she hurts. And despite all that, for a reason she hasn't figued out yet, she loves him. She's so angry. Angry enough that blinding him was not her first inclination.

Lee manages to get to his feet and walk - carefully - towards his chair. He doesn't fall, even when he trips, this time. He can feel gravity pulling him down and the floor holding him up. Just like when he has eyes. He rubs his eyes almost frantically. "Joule, I know you're in there, I know you can hear me, I…this is not funny!"

The door opens. He can hear the hinges. "Fuck. Off." The door slams.

Lee gets to his feet more solidly now, and comes over to the door, jiggling the knob. "Joule, come on, open the door. This is worse than throwing shit at me. I'm so pissed off at you right now, will you please just open the door?!" His voice raises again near the end, but actually it sounds more insistent than angry.

The door doesn't open, but she knows where he is. She puts a hand on the floor and the energy comes out from beneath it. Through the soles of his feet. Like tonguing a battery. And then there's a flickering out of focus flash as his vision returns. "I'm tired, and I'm filthy, and I don't want to fight with you anymore. If you're leaving, then just bloody go."

Lee nnnghs. "Uh…oh….Joule, uh…okay. Thanks, I…no, wait, can you please just open the door, I don't want to fight anymore either."

Lee gets what he asks for. The door opens, giving him the sight of a Joule whose face is completely streaked with sweat, dirt, and tears. "…no?" she asks, voice shaking a little. Under the supernova fury that's already burned away, she realizes she could've lost him entirely — and that underneath the fury — she couldn't stand the idea of him leaving her.

It's only later when they're on the floor amongst the boxes and an old comforter, sweaty and exhausted, that they murmur sincere apologies and reaffirm what they're starting by moving in together.

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