2008-07-14: Pride And Prejudice

Starring:

Trina_icon.gif Jack_icon.gif

Summary: Another day, another fight.

Date It Happened: July 14, 2008

Pride and Prejudice


The Den of Iniquity

Cranky does not even begin to describe the state of agitation that has consumed the brunette who fills the Den of Iniquity like a black fog. She fills each room she occupies to the corners, to the point of bursting, only to have her dark energy spill into the next room like an evil herald. It precedes her. It lingers after her.

That is to say, Trina is in a toxic mood that puts the word 'cranky' to shame.

The fight from days earlier may have subsided, but she's said hardly a word since. Never more than what was needed. Food gets cooked and fetched. Liquor gets put away as constantly as she finds bottles out of place. She's cleaned the bar twice over, ceiling to floor. And now she stands, arms crossed over her chest as she stares out the front window of the shop front. Boots, jeans, battered tee shirt… She has no one to impress. Habit made it impossible to forego appearances entirely, however, and she had just enough makeup stashed in Jack's office to make herself up decently enough. When living in a bar, some things become strangely more important. Shut up.

Meanwhile, Jack has been able to do little but sit and wait for word on when he'll recieve his 'treatment.' After the initial fight, he was forced to come to terms with the fact that he'd be more hindrance than help to anyone in his current condition. It's not something that he's acknowledged openly, and it's definitely left him bitter.

And drunk.

Though he hasn't yet reached the point of self-pity, he's come dangerously close on more than one occasion. He's at constant war with Trina's tidy and watchful attitude. As often as possible, he's kept himself shut away in his bunker of an office. Studying blueprints. Tinkering with his wheelchair to add hidden compartments. Clandestinely drinking. Making phone calls. Cleaning firearms. Clandestinely drinking. It's a continuous, unhealthy cycle of obsession and self-destruction.

This is why when Jack looks terrible when he emerges today. Rumpled, day-old clothing. Untidy hair and bloodshot eyes frame the healing bruises on his face. Wearily, he wheels himself out and swivels in a quick circle. "Bar looks nice," he says quietly. "So do you."

From her place in the middle of the room, Trina twists her head over her shoulder and sets those icy blue eyes in Jack's direction. The compliment earns him little more than suspicion, but it's not suspicious words that exit her lips. No. Instead, the words that come out of her painted lips are something that would pass for civil were her body language not screaming obscenities to the contrary. "I didn't have anythin' else to do." A pause, a brief consideration with contemplative and narrowed gaze, and then the skinny girl starts to move. She turns to face Jack and starts walking towards him. "Y'hungry? I'll make you something." Granted, it's not until she draws closer that her course starts to shift, a flight plan to navigate her around her fiance and towards the back room.

Jack shakes his head slowly. "I'm fine. Thanks, though." He sighs again. There's sadness in his eyes as they follow Trina around the room. Then, with a shake of his head, he rolls himself over to a table and picks up a pack of cigarettes he discarded during Agent Ivanov's last visit. Luck is in his favor, at least when it comes to the smokes. There's exactly one left. He twists it between his lips and lights it with a stick match. After several long, contemplative puffs, his shoulder slump and his forehead creases. "I'm sorry," he says, his voice still low and soft. His next admission is a painful one. "It isn't very sporting of me to treat you like a child when I'm the one who always dashes off into the fray."

Trina's just about through the door, seeming resolved to vacate the vicinity anyway, when Jack's last words hit her ears. It's enough to stop the careless pound of boots, the caustic flow of ink-stained mood, from passing into the next room. Her head drops as she works her tongue inside her mouth, eyes closing as she tries to compose herself. She takes a very, very long moment before she turns around. Her forehead is deeply furrowed, making her look years older than she really is, and gaze really looking more tired and exasperated than anything else. "I don't disagree." Another clench and release of her jaw, as she just shakes her head. "But you don't have any intention of changin' anythin'. So just… Just don't. Don't apologize when nothin' is gonna change. I don't wanna hear it anymore."

"Oh, that went well," Jack mutters under his breath. He takes another draw from his cigarette, but he's at a loss for where to ash it with no tray close at hand. Finally, he turns up one cuff of his already-dirty shirt and deposits the refuse there.

"And what if I did want to change things?" he finally asks, completely free of guile. "It's wrong for me to treat you like a china doll. Before you met me, you were independent. Ferocious, even. I locked you up and took that away, and it was wrong of me."

Trina's eyes squint even more, barely more then slits as she takes Jack in. It's painful to think how much has happened in the course of a year, how much has changed. And so she doesn't. She stops herself before she gets more than two steps down that particular path, and takes another breath. "It's fine," she lies, although the statement could sound passingly convincing to the ears listening for what they want to hear as opposed to the subtle feminese that lies beneath its deceivingly calm surface. "I ain't Miss Hot Shot Tricks like the rest of your friends. I get it. Not everyone can be Superman. Someone's gotta be Jimmy Olsen or the world explodes or something." Her hands plunge into her pockets as her eyes dart to the side. "Comics weren't really my thing. I don't know what really happens if there's a world full of Supermans. Super…men. Whatever."

"Nobody does, really. Bad things, I think." Jack tries on a smile, but it's not his most convincing effort. "Baby," he murmurs. "You've got a gift. A powerful gift. Not just that, you can drive like the dickens and you know how to handle yourself." Sighing yet again, he palms one side of his face and groans. "This isn't comin' out right. Just… I think we'd be better as a team than with me trying to do shit alone and leaving you at home all the time. That's all I really wanted to say. That, and I'm sorry for not figuring it out sooner."

He's trying. He's really trying. Some part of Trina knows that, buried beneath the hurt and frustration and fear. An eyebrow pricks upwards then, the motorhead complete and utterly at a loss for words. To make less awkward the silence, one of her hands reemerges only to shove itself deeply into the ebony locks and give them a shake as she pulls them out of her face and holds them briefly at the back of her head — only to let them loose to fall down on either side of her face once more.
"So," she ventures at last. "Tell me what that changes and we'll talk. I don't want tomorrow. I don't want next week or next month or next year. I wanna know what's gonna change right now."

Helplessly, Jack spreads his arms wide. "I just told you. No more keeping you in the dark. No more making you stay at some shitty hotel room while I'm off doing things you probably wouldn't approve of. I'm not gonna change what I do. I can't. What I do is who I am. I don't want to do it without you by my side, though."

It's true. It hurts to say, but it's true. All the carefully constructed deception and the weeks on end that she was stashed away somewhere was Jack's idea of protecting her. He can't do that anymore, though. It's not fair to Trina. Really, it's not even fair to Jack. The best ally he could ask for has been here all along, just waiting for him.
So he hopes.

Trina crosses her arms over her stomach, the ill feeling in it refusing to give up. This is what she's wanted to hear for weeks. For months. Since she found herself well. Since she left. Since she came back. Then he left. He left, and — as far as she's concerned — he never really came back. But here it is, that glimmer of hope. That fragile outstretching of optimism, tempered by a nagging pessimism brought by experience. "And what is it that you do, Jack? And what if I keep disapproving? If I disagree, does that mean I get kicked back off the bus?" Might as well make this clear as crystal.

For the first time since the conversation started, Jack's face takes on a hard, cold edge. He grips the arms of his wheelchair until his fingers go white. "I do what I must," he says simply. "Whatever it takes to keep people like us safe. There's no branch of the government to stand up and fight for the rights of freaks that most people wouldn't believe in if they were told. That's what I do. Between spats with my father, anyway."

Trina shows no sign of backing off. Rather, she just stares back at Jack from underneath that singly quirked eyebrow. "And if I disapprove of how you're doing it? What do you expect me to do? Just cow tow?"

"I expect you to do whatever you think is necessary, just like me." Jack grits his teeth and folds his hands in his lap, choosing his next words as carefully as the situation allows. "I will lie, steal, and even kill if needed. I've done it all before. I'll do it all again."

"And what makes you God, Jack?" Trina's lips quirk as she considers what is being set out before her. She lifts her gaze up to the ceiling for a bit, and then she heaves a deep sigh. "I… I gotta think about it."

Jack doesn't like that comparison. Not one bit. "I'm not God. I'm just trying to make a difference." He turns his back, snaps his fingers, and relocates a bottle of scotch from above the bar. "You think on it. I'll be here," he says over his shoulder as he wheels back toward his office.

Trina is — ha ha — still in the doorway. Her gaze darkens as she looks at that liquor bottle poof into Jack's hands. She sighs. Again. "Put it back. You know you're not supposed to be drinkin' on those pills you were takin'," she chides. Even if it is a futile effort. Trying to keep things out of Jack's hands is like trying to keep things away from a grabby toddler. "You know what? I'm gonna head out for a bit. I'll be back." And without so much another word, the girl vacates the doorway Jack's gonna need. She crosses the room with a startlingly long stride, and then shoves her way through the front door.

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