2010-07-05: Soup to Nuts



Date: July 5, 2010


You never know how much you have in common with others until someone speaks up.

"Soup to Nuts"

Giardano residence, New York

As he pulls up to the curb in front of his house, Stefano is nursing a current of nervous energy that the radio has done nothing to dissipate. That run of good luck from earlier in the year? First there was the run-in at the park, then there was that poker game that got busted by the cops. It took some playing with the lights to get out of that one with his freedom intact… and even that hasn't been working right lately. At least the boys at work have enough sense not to ask why he's been riding their asses harder since then.

Nevertheless, once he steps through the door - okay, a couple seconds later - he's all smiles, looking around for the other occupant. "Bell? I smell something good, is that the thing with the prosciutto again?"

Belinda is in the kitchen, dressed down. The blue scrubs are replaced with a t-shirt and denim shorts. She's insane enough to be cooking indoors during this heat wave. The air conditioner is blasting, helping to push the smells from the kitchen through to the rest of the house. "Something….. like that." She pauses as she checks on something in the oven. "What's up?" She says, as she pulls off the plastic, space-age oven mitts people use nowadays.

"Bill, bill, junk, bill…" Stefano leans against the side of the entryway, sorting through the mail. If the way the money comes in is unusual, the way it goes out is pretty ordinary sometimes. "Oh, hey, something from the church about a new soup kitchen. I don't remember them bringing it up on Sunday, you hear anything?" It's usually Belinda who picks up on these things first; if he hangs around and talks after the services, it's mostly shop talk.

Belinda nods. "Yeah, word's going through Sinai as well." She says, as she stirs something in a pot on the stove.. "Which is surprising that we've even had time for gossip, with the weirdness going on." She walks back to the marble counter-topped island and starts to chop something on the cutting board. "We're hoping to get a crew together to head on down one of these nights, if we can get enough people with time off."

Mail sorted, Stefano trashes the junk and walks up behind Belinda, toying with the hem of her T-shirt. He'd be playing with her apron strings if she were wearing one of those. "Yeah? I might come with you, depending which night it is." Good for appearances. "What kind of weirdness? Aren't there always weird cases coming in?"

Belinda shrugs. "it's been more so this week.. Just… general clumsiness, I guess." She says with a shrug.. "Like… people forgetting which direction gravity pulls in? or the fact that they can't walk through walls?" She shrugs again.. "I don't know… It's just been… weird." She swats at his hands and nods. "Yeah, It would be good for you to show up. Prominent up-and-coming local businessman getting his hands dirty to help out the less fortunate. It's a great photo-op."

Stefano draws his hands back as if stung, only to move them up and grab at her— wait, no, actually he doesn't. What did she just—

The thought has occurred to him that there are probably other people with special abilities somewhere (why should he be the only one in the world?), but he doesn't know anyone specific, and so the eclipse seemed like just a personal problem to him. Light-based ability, makes sense. Or it did, until now.

He takes hold of Belinda's hands, but there's nothing flirtatious about it this time; that stopped as abruptly as it started subtly. "Whoa, back up a second there. Is it like that, or— is it exactly that? Bell, this is important."

Belinda blinks slowly, not exactly sure as to what Stef is getting at… "Important? Do you mean the soup kitchen thing or…?" She shrugs.. "I don't know if it's *exactly* that or not. People come in and give excuses, we have to take their word for it, unless it involves something unlawful. Whether their excuses are real or not.." She shrugs.. "I don't know.. It just seems to have increased since Monday. And this is just word coming from ER. I don't get to see the craziness unless it's really bad. All my cases have been normal, except for an emergency trauma victim we had come in. Knife wounds to the abdomen.." She shrugs.. "Haven't seen a victim like that.. one that wasn't a gang member or drug dealer…"

Stefano sighs, shaking his head. He was prepared to let the freak story die untold if his ability stayed broken, but if there's more to the problem than just him… But how could he tell Belinda now without sounding crazy? He can't demonstrate what he's lost. "Look, this might be nothing, but… if you get a chance, tell the ER crew I want to talk to them, okay?"

Okay, he has an idea, one that at worst should just make him look stressed out. "There's been a couple jobs where we ran into some weird things. Crap you'd think belonged in a comic book— anyway, you know me, cover all the angles, right?"

Belinda looks ta Stefano as if he's lost it.. It could be stress from the job. She's experienced it herself. "Stefano, is everything alright? I mean…." She shakes her head, lost. "You want to interrogate my colleagues? As it is they can't tell you anything specific. Doctor-patient privilege, remember?" She goes to the stove and checks on things. Satisfied with where they're at, she shuts everything down. She heads over to a rack on the sink and grabs a bottle of wine, opening it. She pours a couple glasses and brings them over. "Tell me what's going on."

Dammit, that's right. This is why he's not the doctor in the family. Stefano slumps into the chair, reaching for one of the glasses but not drinking any yet. "I don't dump details on you, you got enough of your own. And you're gonna think I've lost it, so— remember, you asked for this."

"We didn't… I didn't run into weird things," he continues, meeting her gaze directly. "I was the weird thing. Any time a night run was about to go the wrong way, I could kill the streetlights just by looking… until about a week ago, it quit working. Before you said anything, I thought it was just me."

Belinda blinks slowly… he's right.. She thinks he's lost it… "The streetlights…. by looking?" She shakes her head… "But now you can't? So… what… you look and they stay on?" She tries not to sound mocking or patronizing, but it's difficult when you're handed a story like this. "So you think these others have……something that you do? and that they can't now as well?" She shakes her head… "That's even stranger then what I'd originally thought." She sighs and drinks her whole glass of wine, to deal with this, and then pours herself another.

Stefano is already halfway through his own glass by the time Belinda finishes talking, and afterward, he just stares down into the glass for a second before polishing it off. "It would explain the crap in the ER, wouldn't it? Either that, or I am losing it. Hell, if I was, would I know it? I haven't even been able to mess with a table lamp—"

—but then the one just on the other side of the walkway flickers and dims. Just for half a second. Coincidence?

Belinda sighs.. "Listen… I'm a doctor. I deal in the here-and-now, and not some abstract. I'll take a look into this, as far as I can without arousing suspicion or getting into trouble, OK? As for your little… problem… Maybe you should take a couple days off or something? Relax a bit." She shrugs. "We'll go from there. Now let me finish getting dinner ready or it'll get cold." She goes back to the stove to work on getting everything put together.

Stefano blinks, turning slightly and looking again… but no, the bulb is back to normal operation again, and he can't get it to change. Maybe it's recovering after all, but he's going to wait for a clearer signal before he presses the issue again.

"All right, hon, maybe you're right," he mutters, getting up again and wandering over to flop onto the couch. A short break isn't the same as quitting. But who's he going to leave in charge? Better have the boys go do something else, too, play it safe.

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