2008-05-26: Doing What He Does


Joule_icon.gif Lee_icon.gif

Summary: Lee mopes about what he's been asked to do. Joule doesn't put up with it.

Date It Happened: May 26, 2008

Doing What He Does

Dahanukar Studio - Brooklyn

Joule staggers up the stairs, and pauses to catch her breath before keying her way into the unwieldy-small apartment she shares with her daft hipster boyfriend. It is long since time she replaced the TV she kicked in nearly six months ago, so she apparently chose today to do it. It's only a nineteen incher, a little thing, but she hooked up some bungee cords to it, and carried it up the three flights of stairs herself. She nearly overbalances and falls on her face as the door opens, before she carefully undoes the bungees and sets it down on the floor. Spindly, wiry Lee can prove his machismo by wrestling it out of its box and onto the TV stand.

Lee, spindly, wiry, and machismoistic as he is, has been moping about the last day or so, though it's taken Joule a while to notice since he's in the run-up to finals and he's putting as much time into it as he did into the state achievement tests his job was based on. If dedication and mental-cogwheel-spinning is what drew Joule to him, he's got to be magnetic by this point. He comes in a bit later, and she can see it, he's drooping at the shoulders and his big feet come heavy rather than, as they usually do, almost preternaturally light. "Hey Joule…ah, a new TV?" he says, without spark.

Joule is lounging on her incredible bed in a long filmy thing, because it's nearly June in New York City and the a/c is asthmatic. It coughs and wheezes but the only spot in the apartment that's cool is a spot precisely six feet in front of it.

"Hullo luv," she says, looking up and frowning at the sound of his big feet clodding heavily in. That's worth a browquirk, that is. Lee is normally a Barishnikov on Helium if we're discussing "light on one's feet". "Long, hard day in the education mines? Do we need another video?" she quips.

Lee says, "Ugh, no, the kids are good, the kids are great actually. I think they are actually going to do better than they did on the achievement test. Which is good, because we've actually had three months of classes since then - not that it feels that way." The news that the kids are doing better seems to cheer him up a tiny bit, but eliminates one of the many possibilities it could be. He seats himself on the bed, putting a hand affectionately on her belly as she lounges. So it can't be her he's mopey about.

Of course it's not Joule he's mopey about. Lee gets crazy monkey sex every morning before work so he doesn't fly into commuter rage on the way and get to school in a bad mood. Lee gets occasional bizarre obscure wines from little wineries from obscure little towns…Joule's made a game of trying to bring home a different bottle every week. And their last argument was weeks ago.

Still, he's mopey, and that's not like him. "Well, good that all's well at school, but what's got you all off-kilter, then, hmm? On such a night like this? Do we need to dance all night again? Watch the sun come up?"

Lee seems surprised that she's picked up on it, or perhaps he's so out of touch with his own feelings that he didn't realize he was off-kilter. "I…uh…" He rubs the back of his head and looks hangdog out the window. "This friend of mine came by the school the other day. She had this ludicrous scheme." he says. "Apparently Pinehearst - you remember those bozos, right?" Everyone knows about those bozos. "…has some jerkoff keeping a woman hostage and semi-brainwashing her, and there's someone with a method of communicating with her via her dreams. As it turns out, just regular old communication is screwing with this moron's plans to use her to conquer the earth or whatever, so, they think, wouldn't actual education be even better? So they come to me. Hey, Lee, can you teach this woman in her dreams? Like, actually go into her dreams, on purpose, and try to teach her something." He shakes his head. "Ludicrous." he mopes. He doesn't take his normal savage glee at ripping power-related plans he has decreed to be worthless (well, maybe just a bit when discussing Pinehearst.)

Joule reaches over with one long leg, winds it around Lee's waist and yanks him close to her. He gets a long, intense kiss after that whole monologue before she leans back into the pillows again, pensively silent. After a moment, she levers onto her elbows, and meets Lee's eyes.

"Let me get this straight. They asked you to help un-brainwash someone, and you said no." The tone does not allow for a question mark at the end of the sentence. She just summed it up as she understands it, discarding extraneous details like 'conquering the world' and 'jerkoff' and 'in dreams'.

Lee is often baffled by her aggressive affection, but he never refuses it and is slowly learning to return it, hands on her hips, green limpid eyes sad as he says, "No, I mean, yes, yes, they did, but come on, in dreams? What, do I write the lesson plan on the inside of a sleep mask? It's insane, the whole thing is insane."

"You're making it more complicated than it needs to be, is what it sounds like to me, luv," Joule says, stroking long, warm fingers down his face, following those sculpted cheekbones to that angular jaw of his. "They're asking you to help someone being abused. So bloody what if it's a weird method they're using to do it? Isn't the important thing helping the abused girl?"

Lee says, "Well, sure, but, you know, if it's a kid, I just pick up the phone and call CFS, talk to the counsellor, talk to him, this is someone I've never even met and don't have any connection with other than this bizarre web of she-said-she-said and magical realism." He's backing into justification, no wonder he's confused himself.

"So you could do it the mundane way if you're really that balls-out mad for it," Joule says, dismissively. She loves Lee, but his insistence on blowing off anything abilities related does wear thin some days. "If this girl and her captor are in the city, a little research could get you who they are, where they are. You could arrange an introduction to the girl in question when she's out of his sight." Because she must be at some point if he's working at Pinehearst. You can't be chained by the ankle to a hostage and have a day job. "'Hullo, Name's Lee, I'm a teacher, what've you always wanted to learn, poppet'?"

Lee replies, "Apparently she's well-guarded, and may spend most of her time under lock and key." That was the impression he got anyway. "…if it were that simple…my friends are goofy in the head, they're not dumb. Well, not that dumb." Again, the zinger falls flat. So it's powers or nothing.

"Do you want to help if you can find a way that doesn't offend your tender sensibilities?" Joule asks. "Or do you want me to help you rationalize your way out of helping a woman who's being mistreated?" She raises her leg again. "You do know one of those answers is going to get you booted right out of this bed, right? They came to you for help. They could've gone to anyone else, but they must believe you have something to offer. Cor blimey, you big git!" Oh, she's annoyed. The Britishisms are creeping more thickly into her speech. "Couldn't be something mad like you know, creating a music video to shake your bollocks in the face of the school board — I mean, really…who'd want a person who thinks outside the bloody box on board for such a strange and important situation. Better to get some dull old pedagogue who talks like Ben Stein instead, hmm? Not like this girl's mind is at stake or anything."

Lee blinks. He did kinda want the rationalization. "Uh…well." he says. "Of course I want to help…" He looks abashed of a sudden. "That, uh, pretty much seals the whole deal, doesn't it." he says wryly.

Joule lowers her leg again. "You want to help, but…" she prompts, since there's obviously a but. "You wouldn't be going through all those acrobatics to not help if you didn't want to deep down. For Christ's sake, man, you're a decent person. Stop trying so hard to be a feckless bastard."

Lee rubs his own forehead with long fingers. "It's a lot of effort sometimes." he mutters to himself, before opening his eyes, taking a deep breath and admitting: "Okay, yes. Fine. I want to help but I don't want to use someone's abilities to put myself directly in the mind of the student, it seems wrong somehow and I don't know if it's scruples or just because the whole nonsensical pile of garbage is so annoying, and what the hell, should I just get over it and do something or…" He trails off. He really knows the answer already, as she just insisted.

"It sounds to me like the dream method is actually pretty sensible," Joule points out. "So your physical body — property of one Joule Dahanukar — is not placed in any direct danger. Next weak objection?"

Lee says, "I've been pretty good at avoiding these knuckleheads and their Oh So Dramatic Plans…" Now there's the sarcasm, for real. "So now I'm going to just jump in and deal myself into the middle of them? What happens when they figure it out? If they haven't already." It's not an objection, exactly, not from his tone.

"…why'd you stand me up for Valentine's Day again?" Joule asks, making the wide-eyed oh-so-innocent expression go with the oh-so-innocent tone she uses to ask the question. "And aren't you supposed to be helping stop a bad future from coming true so the bad guys don't hurt Nima and me? How do you know this isn't part of that?"

Lee says, "That's not what the guy said, he said…" He said 'just keep doing what you're doing', more or less, and what Lee was doing at the time was… "…oh, yeah. Uh. That is what the guy said." he growls, a spark of anger in his eye. "Ugh, I can't believe I'm going to do this."

"Nothing's stopping you from finding out more and whether it's doable in a way that's not going to give you the shrieking willies," Joule points out. "So talk to your friends an see if there's another way to make it happen. Stop being reactive, be proactive. You can do that. I've seen you do it. I was there shakin' my fine arse in the video you used to prove you could do it."

Lee laughs at the memory despite himself. "I had one student offer me a thousand dollars for your phone number last week. Rich kids." he says, shaking his head. "I've dream-communicated with this friend before, though always inside my own head." You can almost hear him coming out of it. "You're always saying I spend too much time there anyway." His own joke, and he's actually smiling.

"Still?" Joule laughs. "You should take the money. I can always call, ask to speak to the little toerag's mum, and let her know what her son's up to."

"So is this friend prone to making up mad crazy stupid plans for no good reason in your experience?" she asks. "And yes. You do need to come out of your head more. That settles it. We're going dancing. I found a brilliant Tango Parlor in Spanish Harlem. You do have a black suit and a red wide-collared shirt. I know I saw such a thing when we moved you in."

Lee looks at her with an 'oh please' expression, "I'm not a complete barbarian, of course I have a black suit and a red wide-collared shirt." Count on Lee, the clothes horse of every Brooklyn thrift store. "A kiss before tango-ing seems almost superfluous, but if it's all right with you, I'd like to give you one." he sits up slightly, leaning over her now.

"I'd have it no other way," Joule assures him, reaching up to pull him close. They may not actually get to tango tonight.

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