2007-06-05: How'd It Get So Bad?

Starring:

Manuel_icon.gif Desiree_icon.gif

Summary: Immediately following The Reaper's Touch, Desiree takes Manny outside from fresh air and perspective.

Date It Happened: June 5th, 2007

How'd It Get So Bad?


Outside the Gomez's apartment building, Queens, New York

Manuel steps out of the apartment, somewhat thankful that Desiree is behind him; he knows he'd slam the door if she wasn't, and that's the last thing that needs to be thrown on the fire that is the Gomez children at the moment. However…Manny's never been one to open up too often. And he seems to have reached his quota for the moment; as he steps out, his thumbs hook under two belt loops, looking down toward the ground for a minute.

Dezi leads the way outside, even though she's behind Manny; it's the guiding hand on his back that tries to ease him out of the apartment and down, out of the building itself. Fresh air. It makes everything better, even in a city full of pollution. When they're free of the entrapment of walls, her hand falls away. Pursing her lips into a deep frown, she eyes the young man searchingly. "What were you thinkin'?" It's not an accusing question - it's borne of honest concern. How did it happen? Why? "How'd it…" She rolls one shoulder uncomfortably. "How'd it get so bad in there?"

Sighing, Manny tries to think of a way that makes it sound…okay. Not okay, but … well, not juvenile, quite frankly. Manny just shrugs a little bit, staring down at the ground. The reality of the situation comes crashing down on the teen; he put his sister…the one stabilizing force in his life, whether hell ever thank her for that or not, in danger. He put his sister in jeopardy. And all because…what, he overreacted about something? He panicked? When he can finally get something out, Manny just says, "It was…" He doesn't know how to finish; just leaving the sentence lingering, but obviously having something to say.

Desiree is too nice. Too trusting. Too caring. Too willing to go to the side of the teenager who just killed a man and offer words of-comfort? Concern? She's not even sure what she's doing, just that Manny needs to be given a chance to talk. It's with tentative footsteps that she closes the short distance again. "You can talk to me, Manny. I know we don't know each other real well and I just kinda showed up outta nowhere, but I care about your family. But I won't say nothin'. You can tell me whatever you want. S'between me 'n' you. What happened in there - it was a accident. …it was a accident, right?"

Manuel nods, still looking down at the ground. He doesn't speak for the moment, unsure of what to say…but when Desiree confirms that what's said is just between himself and the woman, Manny's slightly more inclined to speak. And so? Speak he does. Sorta. "Ya know…sometimes, there's people that make your life…I dunno, the way it should be?" He doesn't quite know how to phrase what he means. "Stable, I guess? Normal?"

Desiree, watching Manuel with concern - and let's face it, a bit of trepidation, given the atrocity of the evening - folds her arms as if the air is giving her a chill. In fact, it's a lovely evening. She looks up at where the stars should be before she answers. "Yeah… sure," she answers sincerely after some thought. "I got a few of those."

Manuel rolls his head from side to side, seeming…at least calmER, if not totally relaxed just yet. He breathes out a quiet sigh, settling against the rail and saying, "Sometimes…those people mean a little more to you than just that kind of thing, though…" He grips the rail, knuckles turning a faint white as he says, "…And in some cases, you can't think to lose 'em…"

Desiree leans lightly against the opposite rail, but eventually just sits down on the step, looking up at Manuel with a furrowed brow. The woman's eyes are wide, attentive, and for the time being, sympathetic. She moistens her lips, unsure before she ventures, "Are you talkin' 'bout… 'Lena?"

A nod. At first, it's the only response Manny offers. Moments later, a quiet, "Si." He finally looks up, the death-glare (so to speak) long gone from his eyes; instead, if he hadn't just, ya know…killed someone, one might see the vulnerable side of the teen, "I don't know if she knows it or not…Far as I can tell, I'm not a whole lot more'n a burden on her for the most part…" He folds his arms some, "But…sometimes, I dunno, I just…wonder if I'd still be around without her." And, in effect, where he'll be when she leaves…

"You're more'n a burden, Manny," Desiree tries to reassure the troubled teenager; there's conviction in her voice. She smiles, briefly, but encouraging for the length of its cameo. "I hear her talk about you - it's in her voice how much she loves you, ain't nothin' plainer than that. I think she jus' feels responsible. She's always so responsible, 'bout everythin'. Everyone. All the time." She splays her hands on her thighs, sliding her palms down to her knees and stretching her legs out. "It seems… to me… this is one'a them times where you do somethin' meanin' well, but it comes out the opposite." Speaking from experience, maybe?

Manuel nods a little bit, unable to speak from experience himself. He looks over at Desiree, breathing out a sigh as he thinks for a minute, "I guess it's just…" The teen takes a minute to adjust his seat on the rail, biting his lip for just a moment, "…I really doubt I'd be alive without her, ya know? But every time I do somethin', I put her in danger…" Including today.

Not knowing what to say to that right away, Desiree simply watches Manny for a few moments and spends another few moments staring off into the street. A dog barks somewhere in the neighbourhood and cues another mongrel to howl. "I dunno, Manny. Maybe you jus' gotta stop doin' things that put her in danger, an' stop doin' things that she needs to save you from. If tonight was a case of you lookin' out for 'Lena… well, you jus' pushed her away. Pretty bigtime! For good reason, too. I don't know how y'all are gonna work that out. Ain't somethin' easy to get past."

Something about Desiree's statement strikes with Manny; he's not sure what, exactly, it is. Realistically, he feels like he should say something, but he has nothing to say. His hands grip the rail tighter, his knuckles going totally white for a minute, all the while his eyes stay fixed at his feet. At least…at first. After a minute or so, the teen's head shoots upwards, as though something had occurred to him. A distant look, to say the very least…but something's going through his head…

Desiree doesn't interrupt the silence right away; she waits it out, looking pensive and fretful as she looks out onto the road. She toys with her fingers in amongst themselves, eventually tapping a thumbnail against her wrist over and over. Eventually, when she glances up to spot the expression the teenager has, she looks at him, prompting. "Do I wanna know what's goin' on in that head a' yours?"

At first, Manny's not sure how to explain it; how do you let a relative newcomer to the Gomez family know the trouble Manny's REALLY in? How do you let someone who doesn't know the situation know you may have an out? Instead, Manny thinks for a second, his hands slowly releasing the rail, tucking into his pockets. His voice, a bit distant but definitive, explains, "A way to get out of trouble…" He draws his bottom lip into his mouth for a moment, seeming to second guess for only a moment before nodding a little bit.

That's a pretty big statement, but it's as broad as it is big. "Well… that's… vague," Desiree says slowly, narrowing her eyes at Manuel. She moves to wander up beside him, cocking her head and looking at him carefully sidelong. "You wanna tell me?" she asks cautiously. It's like reaching out to pet a wild animal. You make no sudden movements.

Do you want to know exactly how much trouble I'm really in? Manny doesn't say it, of course…but he's sorely tempted. After a minute or two of thinking, the teen's lips curl up into a little bit of a smile, "Vague is…better right now…" Although slow at the moment, his voice has one of those…"please don't ask questions" tones to it. Explaining will just get him in more hot water.

"Alright," Desiree concedes easily, so it seems; she still eyes Manny carefully, however. Maybe she's trying to read his mind like Ramon. "What trouble're you tryin' to get out of, Manny?" That's another question, but it's mostly rhetorical. "'Cause if it's the trouble with your sister, I dunno if it's gonna be that easy. You gotta show her that you're made of good stuff." Is he? Dezi looks at the boy. He looks older than he is, like he's been around the bad roads a few times, she thinks. But tonight was an accident. Maybe he didn't know what he was capable of.

"It's…" How to explain it, "…not directly with Ella…" It's the best he can come up with. The idea, whatever it is, sticks with the teen, just nodding to himself a little bit as his mind wraps itself around a variety of different things. "Tough to make up for what happened tonight, but…it'll be a start…"

He's trying. That's a good sign. Desiree smiles in what's meant to be an encouraging way. "Good luck with that!" She means it. "Jus' be careful. Are you gonna venture back inside tonight? 'Cause, it might be a wise idea to cool off for a bit. Let 'Lena cool off and clean up an let Jesus Junior in there get hisself together. You got somewhere to go?"

Nodding, Manny glances at the apartment door again. As much as he doesn't want to, he nods again, "Si…" His tongue runs over his lips for a moment, breathing out a sigh as his hands stuff into his pockets, "Could use the night anyway…"

Desiree starts to head up toward the apartment door, but she stops and turns around halfway there, midway up the steps. "You gonna be okay, Manny? Can I sneak you anythin' out?"

Nodding a little bit, "I'll be fine; done my share of living outside this place…" The look on the teen's face shows he's not exactly ecstatic about it, but as Desiree so acutely realized, Manny's more…experienced than his sixteen years would normally allow him to be.

The woman hesitates before leaving Manuel alone in front of the building - as alone as they ever are with the neighbours and other sundry people walking about at this hour. She does turn, though, wrapping her arms around herself on her way to the door. Before she opens it, she looks over her shoulder. "'Night."

Manny, on the other hand, doesn't look too nervous. He may not be happy with it, but at the same time, he's not faulting Desiree. The word is met with a bit of Spanish, Manny starting to descend the stairs, all the while talking to himself in his favored language. Acute observers would note the teen pulling out his phone as he starts to head off the complex…

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