2007-07-09: Is This a Kissing Book?

Starring:

Ramon_icon.gif Desiree_icon.gif

Summary: Shortly after Back to Status Quo, Desiree sees the future and goes to see Ramon for the first time since the "mission" in Syracuse.

Date It Happened: July 9th, 2007

Is This a Kissing Book?


Waiting Room, Crouse Hospital, Syracuse, New York

Situated in the chair in the very corner of the small waiting room adjacent to the recovery area is Desiree Russo. Her feet, slipped out of her shoes, are perched on the edge of her seat and crossed at the ankles, her knees drawn up. On her lap (if you can call it that, in a pose like that) is a painting. It's not a Mendez, not even a Peter Petrelli original. It's just a generic watercolour of a flower - in fact, the one she… borrowed from the room she woke up in a short time ago. It really is just a painting. But for Desiree, it tells the future anyway.

She's been here ever since leaving the room with it. Staring. She touches what, to a normal eye, is a soft, blurry blue flower… traces her finger along its vague edge. To the precognitive Southern import, it's something else entirely, something that, unlike the majority of her glimpses into the future, makes her smile. Wistful. Thoughtful. She studies it for a long time, trance-like, before she tucks it under her arm, steps back into her shoes and heads toward Ramon's room.

Recovery Room, Crouse Hospital, Syracuse, New York

Right now the only eyepatch Ramon Gomez gets to wear is one of those cotton things with the big round bandaid. He's got stitches running from the left side of his forehead nearly to his mouth. He's also got a big bandage on his left hand, and more bruises than you can shake a stick at, as well as other assorted cuts. He looks some cross between sinister and pathetic, and is a lot less handsome than he started out this morning. He's staring at a paper Dixie cup full of Ginger Ale like he's not quite sure what it does.

Now that Ramon is recovering and his family - that is, Elena - had been in to see him, Desiree is allowed to enter. Not that some short-lived rule or regulation would have stopped her. She would have found a way in. When the woman appears in the doorway, she's holding a framed painting at her side… a painting of pastel-hued watercolor flowers that would fit well on the wall of a recovery room. She's not quite prepared for the sight of Ramon. She knew about his eye, and that's still shock enough; never mind the fact that he looks like he's been through hell altogether. The only change in Desiree is the slightly drawn look to her face. Still, she's smiling. "Hey," she says softly, crouching down to lean the painting just inside the room before heading over to the bed. "You look like you been through a war. Well. This part of the war's over. How you holdin' up, mister?"

Ramon actually smiles. "Dezi," he rumbles. He reaches for her hand with his good one, trying to catch her fingers and squeeze. He stares up at her for a long moment and says softly, "I am so sorry I put you in danger. When I thought he'd murdered you too…" Everything about his voice goes tight, until it's little more than a harsh filing rasp against the back of his throat.

Desiree clutches Ramn's fingers with hers. "Don't even," she counters good-naturedly. "You know I woulda found some way to get all tangled in this crazy junk anyway." Grabbing the edge of a seat with her free hand, she drags it crookedly across the floor until it's closer to the bedside and plops down. "I ain't even got a scratch on me, jus' a bump on the head. I'm jus' glad… you're okay." But looking over the man's battered state, the half-stare he now possesses— Dezi's features tighten, pained, worried. Understandably.

"Dezi," Ramon says, and he squeezes her fingers again. He looks up at her and half smiles. "Yeah, I'm an ugly cuss now. Wasn't much to look out before, but." He sobers. "I have to tell you something, Desiree." He pauses, uncertain. Then he says, "Somewhere in all this I fell in love with you." This is not romance. God. He fails.

Surprise is not one of the expressions evident in the woman's face. Of course, she suddenly looks like she's about to cry, but she's just touched, not horrified at Ramon's lack of romance. That, she doesn't even notice. Desiree's smile only becomes warmer; tipping her head to the side, she leans with her elbows over the side of the bed and clasps her over hers and Ramon's. "Thought you might say that. … I never thought one'a the downsides of seein' the future would be knowin' about the good stuff before it happens."

"Oh hell," Ramon grouses with a smile that belies his grumbly tone. "I might have known it would go and spoil the surprise." Then he winds his arm around the back of her head and pulls her in for a tight, long kiss. It might even give that kiss at the end of The Princess Bride a run for it's money. Who needs a pretty boy dread pirate anyway? Hmph.

Since the invention of the kiss, there have only been five kisses that were rated the most passionate, the most pure. This one left them all behind?

Desiree doesn't need a pretty boy dread pirate, but then, she's not exactly a Princess Buttercup. Ramon certainly succeeds in surprising her this time. She stands halfway, wrapping a hand around the back of his head, too. When, eventually, the kiss has to end, she doesn't go far. She leans her forehead against his rather beat up skull. "I ain't… sure about much these days. Lately, I don't know what way's up and what way's down. But I think you're… you're one'a the things I'm sure about."

Ramon gives a fierce grin at that. He keeps his forehead resting against Dezi's and murmurs, "I love you," again. He says, "Then I guess I'm going to be just fine." He looks into her eyes. "I think part of this is done but there's still loose ends. It may not get any safer, staying with me."

"Well… then… you're gonna need to keep me around to look out," Desiree's smile turns mischievous for a fleeting moment, lighthearted in the middle of the strange storm they're caught up in. She gives Ramon another kiss on the lips, infinitely quicker than the last one, but not chaste, either. "So we tie the loose ends. Everyone's gonna get through this. Every one of 'em." That's not something she saw in a vision, but she sonds sure of it nonetheless, optimistic, so who's to say?

Ramon nods and scoots over on the bed, holding out his arm. He wants snuggles. He closes his eye and leans back his head, saying, "We didn't just walk in and shoot him. There were some exchanges. They saw all the women as cattle. And all the children as their property. That means Heidi's boys, the Preacher's kids, and…my children…they're all evolved. The other children as well. They're all Evolved, and someone has plans for them, and someone might still target the mothers."

Not about to deny Ramon snuggles, Dezi climbs onto the narrow hospital bed beside him and curls against his side, head on her shoulder like she's ready for storytime. And it is storytime. The kind of storytime that gives one nightmares. "That's sick. 'Lena… she said… somethin' about Africa." She's quiet for a moment before peeking up. "So it's true what they said. The man— John Carter, he's dead. Did… you…?"

"I tried it another way," Ramon says softly. "I tried to alter his mind, make him really see the consequences of his actions, the impact, the hurt…I tried to make him feel it. Like it was his. Then he wouldn't have had to die. He'd have just had to live with himself. That would have been justice. That would have been right. And it would have stopped him without killing." He looks tired all of a sudden. "And I wanted to. I didn't want to be a killer." A pause. "But he shut off my programming with his own power. And then he started getting away. When we took out his getaway car, which I should have done before we ever went in there, he blew the building. He blew the building, and we thought you and Elena and Cass were dead. All of us had a hand in taking him down, but I was the one who delivered the death blow, and his blood is on my hands." He closes his eye again. "I feel different. I feel dirty. But what was the alternative?"

Desiree is quiet. Unnerveingly so, after Ramon has said so much, perhaps. She fidgets gently with an edge of Ramon's sheets and just stares, tensely pensive, at the painting she propped up against the wall on the floor. Finally: "I don't know." She sounds defeated.

"Neither do I," Ramon says, leaning over to kiss her temple. "I can't lie to you about it, Dezi. You asked, I'm going to tell you." He looks up at her. "I can't cry too many tears over John Carter. You're alive. You and Elena and Cass. At the end that was all that mattered."

"I want to say that… I wish that… he coulda just been thrown behind bars. But I know… that it wouldn't work, that we couldn't'a got him there even if prison coulda kept a man like that. I just wish there was another way." Desiree looks up at Ramon, her dark brows poised high in order to do so. "I know you tried to find one. I know it don't make you like him."

"God, I hope not," Ramon says, his tone alarmed. He shudders and kisses her again. "I love you," he says again, like it's a mantra. Like the love he has might undo some of the darkness he's let in. He chuffs out a breath. "He warned me," he murmurs. "The Haitian, he warned me."

Desiree sits up a little, sharing the pillow behind them. Her thoughtful look takes on an even more concerned appearance as her hazel eyes, now watchful, turn on Ramon again. "Warned you 'bout what?"

"He said I'd have to travel a dark road to stop him." Ramon says quietly. "I told him I'd pay that price. It just never occurred to me that people I cared about might have been part of the price. Not really. Not in any serious way. And it never ever occurred to me, really, that killing him might be more than just…" He shakes his head. "You brought a painting."

"Oh… yeah, I stole that." Pause. "I'll put it back." Pause. "S'nothin'. Another spoiler." Desiree manages an affectionate little smile that turns into a concerned frown a moment later. "'More than just…' More than jus' what?" she urges.

"More than just — well like an action hero I guess. Kill the badguy, walk off into the sunset, get the girl. Avenge the dead, come out the hero." Ramon shakes his head. "I feel relieved. I feel like I could and should move on. I feel like a huge weight is off my shoulders. And I did get the girl. But—it isn't just flippant, you know? I guess I did. I expected it to be flippant just cause he…"

Desiree mulls that over for a bit, leaning more solidly against Ramon once more. "Real heroes are real people. And real people… they're complicated. The only prize for killin' the badguy at the end is … knowing." A weighted word, that. "You get a bonus for comin' out alive. Jus' 'cause he was a monster don't make it … flippant. Somethin' musta happened to him to make him that way once upon a time."

"Yeah," Ramon says. "You gotta stop me if I'm about to go over the line, Dezi. Somewhere there's a line. You gotta help me keep from going over it. There's a fight to be fought but—don't let me cross it." He expels a breath. "When I'm out of the hospital I'm going to go apply over at EvoSoft. We need a bigger house. We need a safer place. The city is not a good place to be. Its not defensible. Close enough to stay involved, far enough to have a haven."

Where is the line? Did he already cross it? Dezi regards Ramon with a gently furrowed brow. She nods several times, definite. "I will. I promise that." There's a little quirk of her mouth into a smile that's almost silly. "EvoSoft, hunh? Yeah… a haven. I'd like a haven."

"I'll make more money there," Ramon says quietly. "And Elena already has an in. I can't get us a house on the amount of money I'm drawing in. I'm grateful you got a job. Do we need to have a discussion with your kids? Are they okay? How badly am I going to scare your daughter looking like this?"

"They'll be okay," Desiree assures him. "Oh, I dunno, pirates are pretty popular in the movies lately." She flashes a grin. "I'll tell 'em… I'll… I have trouble lyin' to my kids. I gotta explain… you know, the dangers. Why we been so busy. How come everyone's gettin' hurt. Why someone blew up Manny's car, kidnapped 'Lena. How come…" Her head tilts. "What did happen to your eye?"

"When the building blew up a big piece of glass about as big as my fist sliced right across my face," Ramon says matter of factly. "It hurt like a son of a bitch too. But I endured and fought on, you know." He screamed like a madman. And clutched his face a lot. But there's honesty and then there's looking like a bad ass. C'mon.

Desiree winces. A lot. Her face, in fact, stayed pinched and pained and generally distraught for an indeterminate amount of time. …so far, still wincing. "I'm sorry." Not that it's her fault. She's just sorry that it happened at all, staring sympathetically at Ramon all the while. Not that she can sympathize, either. "That musta… sucked plenty." Understatement. "Hopefully, you'll… you'll get used to it eventually. I'll help you."

"Yeah, I'm not allowed to drive for awhile, and the docs expect me to run into a lot of crap right at first," Ramon rumbles. He leans his head on her shoulder. He has either relaxed around her, or he's chock full of drugs. Because he says, "You'll just have to kiss me and make it better."

"Well, I was thinkin' more along the lines of drivin' you places and doin' exercises," Desiree drawls, over-enunciating 'exercises', "but I reckon I can do that, too." Which she does, right here and now!

Ramon gets this huge wolfish grin on his face at the mention of exercises. Nothing more needs to be said. The nice thing about being taciturn is that one does not stick one's foot in one's mouth.

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