2007-09-17: Comfort Food

Starring:

Kory_icon.gif Lee_icon.gif

Summary: Kory shows up to ask for the day off, and gets more than she bargained for. Lee gets a little company in a low moment.

Date It Happened: September 16, 2007

Log Title Comfort Food


Location The Jones Apartment

Kory actually slept more than two hours this time. Her native ability can't contend with two badly sprained shoulders, smoke inhalation, and an ankle so badly sprained it might have been fractured…which seemed a lot worse before the doctors finally got a look at it. That's why she is limping with an air splint instead of a full cast, through the shop. For once, the geek boys don't give her any static, for which she's thankful. She doesn't look her usual ebullient and energetic self. She is still smudged with smoke, and moving as if everything hurts. It's a full two minutes to make it up the stairs that she can normally take in thirty seconds.

She knocks on the door to the Jones place. "Just once, let Nima be in town…" she murmurs to herself, almost prayerfully.

She is in town. In fact, she is in the apartment, and she and Lee are arguing about something. She yanks open the door. Her eyes are reddened and crusted with dried, angry tears. "Kory!" she blurts out. "Kory, you know that Philadelphia deal?" An offer for taking over a failing Philadelphia comics store has been sitting on the table for months. "I'm going down there to make it work." She's got a hasty duffel bag over her shoulder. "You're in charge until further notice. You know where the keys are. I…what happened to you?"

Lee is inside at the breakfast table, he looks like he's half-dead, also with bloodshot eyes, raggedy hair, clothes that have clearly been slept in. He wasn't the one doing most of the fighting, for a change.

Kory blinks. Tilts her head at Nima, like a bewildered cocker spaniel. But she listens. "Philly. Further notice. Keys. Yeah. I…" she smiles faintly, expression a bit wobbly. So is her voice, as she answers, "Long story. I was gonna say I needed the day off, but I'll manage." She glances at Lee, and frowns. Her gaze goes back to Nima, and her eyes widen. They traded places, and she's astonished that gentle Nima is in high dudgeon this morning. "I mean, it's just a couple sprains."

Nima seems almost pained that she can't stay and mother Kory: "I'm so sorry, come in, have some breakfast, I can't stay, my train leaves…. Lee, get Kory some breakfast?"

Lee doesn't even groan about it, he just shuffles, zombified, to his feet, and goes to get some of what's on the stove for her. Eggs and toast. Very simple. He's having tomato juice. A hangover, maybe. Definitely he's not going in to school today.

"It's okay, I know how much you've been working. It's really okay. A good meal, some Tylenol. Good as new. Just you watch." She smirks. "Well, not watch, you're getting on a train. You know what I mean." She kisses Nima on the cheek and shoves gently with the free hand. "G'wan. You can call and tell me how it all went tonight." She glances sidelong at Lee, who is moving in silence. Cree-pee.

Nima waves - but either she's already said her goodbyes to Lee or they're not willing to acknowledge the split, because she doesn't say anything to him. Down the stairs she goes in a hurry, taxi money in her hand.

"Sit." he tells Kory wearily. "What happened to you?" Nima's exact words, he must have heard the answer and not been satisfied with it.
"Okay." Kory is a little unsettled by Lee's manner just now, but she's in too much pain to acknowledge it. The scrips from the ER are in her pocket, but she hasn't filled them. So there's a half-squint of pain as she hobbles over to the kitchen table and gently folds herself into the chair.

Lee actually brings food for her, as directed by Nima, before re-seating himself on his side and taking a drink of the tomato juice with a wince. "I'm hung over." he explains. Lee's not much of a drinker, especially on a school night, so that's as unusual as Kory's injuries.

"Yeah," Kory manages, carefully. The tendency is to slip into that banter they have together, where she's gently scolding him for being such a dickhead. But he's not, now. "You need water, y'know. I read someplace that's good for hangovers." There's an awkward moment, before she finally forces herself to answer his (and Nima's) question. "Fell off a fire escape."

Lee says, "What were you doing on the fire escape?" He's way too low-energy for the banter. "Yeah, water. Good idea…after I finish this I will…" he mutters to himself.

Kory picks up the fork and begins nibbling at the toast. "Helping somebody get out the window," she answers. "Before the building blew up. That's how come I fell. Startled. Lost my balance." Her voice, now that she's talking a bit, does have a bit of a husky rasp to it, like she's been screaming. Or breathing in smoke. Or both.

Lee says, "A fire? There was a fire at my school last year. Seems like an eternity ago. Everyone got out okay?" He stares into the bottom of the tomato juice. "Scary stuff."

"Yeah," Kory answers, starting on the eggs. She hadn't realized how hungry she was. "Few blocks from here. I got out of the way, and then next thing I knew, I had climbed up the 'scape and was … starting to show people the way out." Funny pause there, like she wasn't quite sure what words to use to describe her adventure.

Lee chuckles darkly, sardonically, "You went /in/ the building without thinking? Those are some terrible instincts."

"No. Not in the building," Kory shakes her head gingerly. "Fire escape across the alley. You know…people I could get to without going in. I'm not as crazy as the suit guy. /He/ went in." She sets the fork down. "I …had to. I don't expect you'd understand. So what's *your* story, then, huh?" Yes, change the subject.

Lee says, like he's straining to remember, like his memory of anything other than this plate of eggs is cloudy: "There was a girl trapped in the school when the fire happened. I didn't want to leave her there either. Fortunately someone was able to get her out, I couldn't get to her, the roof had come in on that old busted down building…" He rises - painedly again - and goes and gets water for himself. "It's hard to say, it…yesterday was a bad day. I had a fight with my girlfriend, she dumped me." The same girlfriend who might have written those scrips, actually. "And before that…well…you know our parents disappeared. We pretty much found out they intentionally did it. And they did it again." That's not all, but that's all Lee can say.

Kory's never met Lee's girlfriend or she'd definitely recognize the doctor who treated her and wrote the scrips as one and the same. "That—" wasn't what she meant, but she falls silent and lets him get out the story. She's about to nudge him toward what she was really asking, but he goes on himself. "Ouch," she says, sympathetically. For all Lee knows, she's never had a boyfriend of her own, despite the drooly attentions of the geek brigade downstairs. "And …double ouch." That's a pain she understands better than she'd let on. "I'm sorry. Any..anything I can do?" She gets up to pick up her plate and take it to the sink.

Lee drinks more water. "No. Thanks. I called in for a sub. If the building sets on fire, you'll come in and rescue me, how can I ask for more than that?" He tries to smile, he even does a little bit. He's being nice to her. He's too tired to be nasty. "What about you, do you need help? Even with the store or anything…if there's inventory to move, leave it until this afternoon so I can come help with the boxes and heavy lifting. Sorry Nima dumped this on you like this, but…" Well, it's her way of dealing with it. "She knows /I'm/ not qualified."

"You're too heavy for me to carry with one arm," Kory replies gently. "But I would come get you, yeah." She smiles faintly. "Just a little company. Mom wanted me home for dinner tonight, but I can't let her see me like this, and I get all stir crazy in the apartment by myself." Kory doesn't protest the heavy lifting. She didn't injure her head. "It's okay. That's what friends are for, right?"

Lee says, "Company works. I, uh, happen to be free." A bit of snarkiness there, but it has a weirdly lighter tone than before. Lee being self-mocking before was savage. This is just…funny. It's gentler. He re-heats his eggs in the microwave. "I'm required to finish this plate before I lie down again, according to my little sister."

"I have to agree with her. The protein'll help you shake the guck feeling from drinking too much." Kory moves closer and reaches up to ruffle his hair. She's had to reach up for years, but for a change, she expects he won't duck her touch. "Good. We can recover from our repspective youch together…" she trails off, rather than test how lightened his snark is with a geeky reference.

Lee doesn't duck, but he looks a bit embarassed, his hair being unwashed and sorta greasy and perhaps having some beer stuck in it from the previous night still. "Yeah. Youch."

Kory doesn't flinch, even though it's a bit sticky and grody. "After you finish the plate, I'm gonna say Nima would probably want you to stand under a hot shower for a few minutes too," she offers mildly. There's not reproach in the words; Lee isn't exactly GQ material, but he's always been well groomed. That he's this much of a mess speaks volumes to her. "It'll help. Promise."

Lee says, "Yeah, I don't think the new mousse is working." sardonically.

"You're supposed to rinse it out is all," Kory joshes gently. "Did you get any sleep at all?" tone light; eyes worried. "I bet it wouldn't be that big a deal if we opened late this one day."

Lee says, "I got a couple hours." Her norm. "Don't count on me for helping /open/. I'm gonna be out of it until two or three o'clock."
"Tell you what. I'll call Tito. He can handle the store on his own until the after-school crowd arrives. I've been fighting getting the scrips filled. But a few Tylenol and some downtime would do me good too. We can relax and talk 'til you feel like you can sleep." Kory retrieves said eggs from the microwave and gently offers them toward Lee. They'll be a bit rubbery having been nuked, but at least they're warm again.

Lee says, "Thanks." He doesn't actually talk a whole lot, though the comfort of someone at the table with him does seem oddly…right. Kory can't be a sister to him, Nima and he are as stereotypically close as twins are supposed to be, and that role is filled in his life, even when she's at the train station fighting back angry tears and repeating to herself that she'll show them, she'll show them. But Kory has been at this table before, so many times. It helps, and he has no defenses left to respond to her help except gratitude. He's a mess, though, and as soon as breakfast is done, he's excusing himself to go back to the shower. "You can crash in Nima's room a couple hours if you want? The Darth Vader head is her alarm clock this week." Like she wouldn't recognize /that/ collectible.

"No, I'm good. Couldn't sleep if I tried, honest. Just need to not be so active, and give the bod a chance to heal up." She peruses the room until she finds a copy of A Christmas Carol amongst the books. She limps to Nima's room only long enough to find a blanket, then she's carefully curling up on the sofa. "Shout if you need anything." Hung over, he could trip and crack his head against the bathroom tiles. Awful thing for Nima to come home to, that.

Lee does not trip, he does not crack his head. She's never seen him trip, over anything. Even when intentionally tripped. He never did, he always seemed so graceful. Even in his plodding zombified state he's exactly where he wants to go. Soon he's snoring away on his bed, blinds drawn, a hermit's cave or an insect's cocoon.

Kory rests, half-paying attention to the comforting, familiar words of Dickens, and Scrooge's journey from cantankerous skinflint to reformed man. She can't feel Lee's mind until the moment sleep claims him. She sets the book in her lap, and concentrates, closing her eyes and breathing evenly.

Lee's dreams are tumultuous, wild, when she comes to them. His father leers at him hatefully, looming over him, the huge shelves of the Secret Lair all around, Nima hides behind Lee, crying, his mother looks on uncaringly, outside a hurricaine whirls, a fire rages. But Lee at the center of it is oddly quiet. He isn't crying, he isn't frightened, he appears resigned or beaten at first, and as a result, as the dream progresses and nothing happens to him, he starts to chuckle sardonically at the sturm-und-drang of it all. He makes no commentary, connects with nothing in particular, focuses on nothing in particular, but he seems stronger with nothing separating him from the crazed chaos, and when Kory's pleasant segue sweeps over the dream and he's…in a movie theater. A movie theater showing a /comic book movie/. Is this really one of Lee's peaceful places? It is - but the screen is blurry and the sound is uncertain, just dashing bright figures and swelling sounds. Lee sits in the theater with Nima, sitting on one side of him, and William nearby, even now he places Bekah in an adjacent row, not so close to him, but near enough, and smiling, Kory herself is there with him as well, and other friends, Cass, Lachlan is admitted with her, and even his mother and father sitting in the back of the theater, smiling and pointing at the screen. There is something even in them that Lee still desires near him.

Lee is barely watching the movie at all. He could really care less about it. His friends, his connections, all around, smiling with enjoyment and wonder and camraderie, that is his peaceful dream, when all around is too-loud chaos. The dream popcorn is sweet and buttery, like it was when they made it right.

A few moments of exertion show on Kory's face, before those lines of strain even out. Satisfied, she opens her eyes and goes back to her book.
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