2010-06-14: What Is and What Could Have Been



Date: June 14, 2010


This time, it's exactly what it looks like. Mostly.

"What Is and What Could Have Been"

Randall's apartment

Mm. Well, it's relatively dark in Randall's apartment. The camera angle, too, makes it hard to see exactly what's going on. But from the sounds, there's kissing. From Carrie's bare back, there's fooling around. From the waistband and seat of her jeans being on her body and in the picture, as she straddles Randall's legs with her back to the camera, it's probably not that serious. Still. A personal moment. A private moment. So whether it's a good or a bad thing when Carrie whispers "Wanna see something weird?" remains to be seen.

To be fair, the place isn't supposed to be quite as dark as it is. There's a whole strip of lights on, but it's halfway across the place, and most of them have burned out. Randall's been waiting for the sixth one to go, so he can pick up an economy pack without leaving any glass items laying around for an indefinite period.

Amidst the lovely quiet and dark, he laughs. "Look who you're talking to." Of course he does, his hands suggest, as they seek out and find a new position near the small of Carrie's back.

Carrie leans down to kiss Randall softly and takes a deep breath. And slowly sinks further into him, her torso doing exactly what her hands can do when she uses her abilities on someone. She closes her eyes, breathing gently into Randall's mouth, feeling her heart sync with his, her life, just for a moment synced with his exactly the way it would be if she were trying to keep him alive. But of course, Randall's not injured. His heart is probably beating just fine on its own. Carrie doesn't do it for long, just long enough to savor the deep, sometimes terrifying intimacy of it before she draws back and is just pressed against his chest again.

Oh, sure, just fine - if your definition of 'fine' includes cranking up to half again its normal speed, once he has a few seconds to register what's going on. "Th—" Wow. Randall's first instinct upon encountering new phenomena is to ramble some stream-of-consciousness about it, but it's increasingly at odds with the more basic instinct of shut up and kiss her again, you idiot!. Which, for once, he does. It's about time that instinct encountered something it could actually make heads or tails of.

Outside the door, Portia's got a book in one hand and a bag of takeout in the other. She'd borrowed the book from Randall and was hurrying it over with the intent of returning it and discussing how much she enjoyed it. She'd even got Chinese to share! Arriving at the door, she notices the fact that it was slightly ajar. Pushing it open, she makes her way in. "Randall? Your door's open. Hope you don't mind me coming in, I was thinking we could—"

Then she stops, book and Chinese still in hand, noticing the rather intimate moment in which Carrie and Randall are sharing. Shit, now she knows how Kory feels. Although this… was much less innocent and Portia wasn't Randall's girlfriend.

Carrie does the thing you'd expect. Sit up and turn. Fortunately the camera stays behind her back, looking over her shoulder as she gawks at Portia then remembers to cover herself for at least some level of modesty. It takes only a moment before she's blushing from scalp to waist. "Um." She stammers. "Uhh… Randall?"

Oh, that's just perfect. "Knock on my door! Knock next time!" Hey, it's the best Randall can come up with on half a second's notice. Probably won't defuse the embarrassment, but at least it might be a step in that direction.

Also, at least there are still a couple of afghans draped across the couch, along with the two lovebirds. Randall quickly grabs for the nearest one, pulling it over Carrie first and then himself; only then does he turn around to face Portia, looking sheepish. "Um. Give us a couple of minutes?"

Carrie pulls the afghan over her shoulders and gropes for her shirt. A bit of squirming and she's at least covered. She looks back at Randall. "You're a guy. You don't have to wear a shirt." She points out. She looks back at Portia. "So um…" she starts sheepishly. It's not like running away will make all this less awkward, after all. "Who um. Who're you?"

Portia reaches over to set down the bag of Chinese and the book on the nearest flat surface where they won't be likely to fall. She turns her back a bit, so at least she's not /looking/ at anything, to at least given them a little more privacy. "No one important. Brought you.. both Chinese, I guess. There's some fried rice, mushu pork, brocolli beef, eggrolls… chopsticks are in the bag. Um, and here's your book back, Randall." She turns towards the door. "I'm.. gonna just go."

Randall shakes his head. "No, you don't have to--" But would she prefer to? There's no manual for things like this! "Carrie, this is Portia, we play music together sometimes. Well, she sings and I try to keep up. Portia, this is— Carrie." Who she already knows some important things about, from the park, but he can't say that. But then she already knows some other important things from thirty seconds ago, right? They weren't doing anything to hide what they were up to when the door first opened.

Carrie gets up from the couch, watching Portia. "Hi." She says. "Um… Don't… y'know… don't go." She looks at Randall, then back to Portia. "Are you like… his girlfriend?"

Awkward question. Really awkward question. Portia seems surprised, looking from Carrie to Randall. "Uhno." She answers quickly, but that's all she'll say on the topic. "Nice to meet you, Carrie, I guess, though I sorta wish it was under different circumstances." It's all sorta fitting into her head like a puzzle, given how quickly Randall was to trust her in the first place. "I really shouldn't stay. You guys are kinda, uh, busy. Sorry for not knocking, I just wasn't expecting… this." Clearly.

Well, at least neither of them is throwing anything at him… and there are a lot of things to throw, too, the place is even more cluttered than he usually lets it get. Letting the other two work out intros, Randall gets up and wanders around a bit, leaning down at one point— oh, that's where his shirt ended up, no wonder he had trouble spotting it at first.

Carrie sits back on the couch and draws her knees up to her chest, curling around them. "No as in no, or no as in 'not anymore?' Carrie presses. She rubs the bridge of her nose. How does she ask the other woman if she saw what Carrie was doing, the merging into Randall, the syncing up? How do you ask without giving it away or (almost as bad) making it sound like you want to know if she understood what she was seeing? Portia looks, to Carrie, a little younger than she is, maybe. Not much. That'd be humiliating to ask and humiliating to answer. "You might as well just come on in. Have a seat. I mean…

Portia winces. Carrie's asking the hard questions, and the girl's not sure if she wants to answer them, but she's not quite sure she can fully get out of it. Portia knows what she /wants/ to do, but going invisible to escape isn't exactly the best solution. Plus it means giving away that it was her in the park, which she's not sure she wants to let go of at the moment, though she may decide otherwise later. She slowly works her way over towards a spot to sit, gaze shifting about the room. She'll study everything /but/ them as a distraction. "I'm seventeen. So no, there's nothing." She flops into the nearest chair.

At around that point, Randall walks back over - properly dressed, this time, albeit barefoot - and buys a little more time by setting the book back on a nearby shelf, after briefly squinting at the video feedback photo on the front cover. "Yeah, no, we were never going out. Just friends." Now if Carrie had shown up a year later and asked the same question… well, who knows? "Thanks for the take-out," he offers to Portia. "You're welcome to stay— or I'll owe you if you don't, I guess."

Carrie nods. "Okay. Sorry to like… give you the third degree. It just seemed like this was all… I dunno. Too good to be true, maybe. So I figured. "Oh. Girlfriend. Wife maybe. For sure. It'd be just my luck, you know?" Carrie runs her hands through her hair. "So um. What kind of music do you play?" Oooh teh small talk." She somewhat furtively glances over the room. Carrie looks up at Randall, then back at Portia. "You um. Seem kind of un-freaked out." She says, finally. She has to know if Portia saw. She has no idea what she'll do if she did, but she has to know.

"Too good to be true.." Portia murmurs, giving a bit of a shrug. "Yeah, I think that sometimes too." She peers around, frowning a bit at the general direction of the conversation. "Guitar and singing, mostly. Some piano, classical and modern. I guess I do kinda pop/rock type stuff, though again, some classical type things. Studying at Julliard will do that to you." She looks back to Randall. "Nah, you wouldn't owe me for anything either way.." Then back to Carrie. "No reason to be freaked out, I guess." She scratches her neck, looking down.

Randall bites his lip, pulling up a chair and gesturing vaguely with his hands. Carrie's on to something, there's a reason this situation feels oddly familiar to the two of them. "The thing is… we were hanging out once, last year, and the waitress messed up and gave us Irish coffee instead of just coffee. Only it didn't really kick in until we stopped by my old place to drop a couple things off, and… we basically collapsed on the couch. Next morning, my already-on-the-rocks girlfriend stops by, and… well, you can imagine it wasn't pretty."

Carrie facepalms gently. "Oh man. And it was like, completely innocent like that too?" Carrie looks at Randall and Portia and finally just has to crack up about it. "Oh man. Does this kind of thing happen to you often?"

And of course he /had/ to tell the Kory story. Portia rubs her head. Not to mention, Carrie's phrasing of 'completely innocent'. She frowns. "I really should go. You guys should eat, Chinese is going to get cold."

"Only the once!" Randall protests, leaning back and staring up at the ceiling. Why him? He doesn't try to mess up his life this way.

("We keep getting into these scrapes, and then getting out of them. It's almost like someone is writing these stories for us…")

And yes, he did have to tell the story, because what if she found out some other way? And she totally would, the way things have been going for him. "I guess," he murmurs, not really feeling it. "I'll see you next weekend, right?"

Carrie looks down as Portia seems suddenly upset with her or something. She rests her chin on her knees. "You're sure you're just friends? I mean it's like… you're mad at me, you're mad at him, you're upset when I say you and he were all innocent…" She looks at Randall, then back at Portia. "Wait. Were you waiting? Is that it? Until you're like… legal?"

Portia gets to her feet. Carrie's /really/ good at asking the questions that she doesn't want to answer, the questions she didn't think anyone'd dare to ask. "No, trust me, we're nothing more than friends. That's pretty clear to me, anyways." She offers a smile, albeit weak, towards Carrie. "It was nice meeting you, even if this was kinda weird." She moves towards the door, looking towards Randall. "I dunno that you'll see me." Maybe in more ways than one. She's good at not being found when she wants to be.

For a second - before he wrestles his expression back into a semblance of control - that question hits Randall every bit as effectively as a punch to the gut. Portia didn't think it would be brought up, but Randall didn't think of it, period— if she wanted to go out go out with him, she would have told him, wouldn't she? You don't have to be legal to do that.

Well, beyond Portia's word, there's no way of knowing now. And he hasn't changed his mind about the choice he made. In lieu of any more awkward words, he simply leans over, placing a hand in Carrie's.

Carrie looks over her shoulder at Randall, her eyes tearing up. "I knew it." She gets up, finally spying what she was looking for, and walks over to it. She stuffs her bra in her pocket. "You two make up. I'm going home." She turns toward the door, wiping her eyes so she can see, mouth pressed tight to keep her lips from trembling. She rejects Randall's offered hand completely, even though more than anything she wants to take it and keep him, how can she? How could she?

Portia pauses for a moment as she takes in Carrie's response, but she shakes her head. "You don't have to go, Carrie. It's one-sided. I've had a crush on him for a while, but it's a stupid one. I shouldn't have acted like this, it's not like I have any claim on him or anything. Good for you, I'm happy for you, really. Don't get upset over me, okay? Just eat the Chinese, cuddle, and forget what happened. It's my fault for making this awkward, so I'll be the one leaving." With that, her form fades out of existence. She's taking the invisible way out. Lot harder to stop someone from leaving if you can't find them, anyways.

Goddammit. Okay, sure, they had some chemistry together - the idea had occurred to him, and not just the one time either - but they were far from being Destined from On High. And now what the hell's going through the head of the one he was getting together with? (Where is 'home' for her, at this point? That alone will speak volumes, considering.) Rubbing his temples, he heads over to the fridge to look for a drink, waiting for her to speak up again or not.

Carrie stares. Just stares. "Griffin." she says softly. "Griffin's a girl. And her name is Portia." Carrie says that as though nobody is listening, as though she's talking to herself. "And she's seventeen." Carrie knocks on her forehead softly. "I wanted to meet you so bad, too. I guess. I should have been a little more specific on like… timing." Carrie shakes her head. It's not funny, even as she says it, no matter how much she wants it to be. "You think I haven't had crushes? You think I don't know how much this hurts?" Carrie shakes her head. "I'm sorry Griff. I'm just. I'm sorry."

"It's okay. Don't worry about it, Carrie. Take care." Seems she's still there, at least for the moment. Or she was, as the front door opens, then shuts.

Carrie says, "Take care, Griff." Carrie says and closes her eyes. Not that she'd see the invisible woman leave or not. Not that she has any way of sensing the other woman is there short of touching her. And there's a lot of open space in the room (not to mention electrical sockets) to go feeling around for strange girls who don't want to be found. "I've ruined everything." Carrie says softly."

Takeout food safely stowed in the fridge so it'll keep, Randall walks back over - slowly, on the off chance that the door was a red herring - a couple of soft drink cans in hand, setting them down on the table. "No, you haven't… this was just bad luck, that's all." Approaching Carrie face to face, he reaches his hands toward her shoulders. "You're not really leaving, are you? I don't want you to."

Carrie looks down. "I feel awful. It's like… I know she didn't tell you. I believe her. I believe you didn't know. You're a guy. Guys are clueless sometimes. But I just… feel like I stepped on something fragile and beautiful and it's all in pieces on the floor and I just kinda. Stomped on in with my big feet." Carrie doesn't pull away from Randall though. "I wasn't planning to /stay/ away anyway."

Randall inclines his head to Carrie, drawing his arms around her again - more insistently than he usually would. Yeah, she said she was sticking with him, but it's like the thing with her and the orthodontic plate - he could really use some reassurance about now. "Stay here with me tonight? We can go pick up the rest of your stuff in the morning…"

Carrie hugs Randall and rests her head on his chest. She gestures toward the backpack on the floor. "That is all my stuff." Carrie leans against Randall more. "Toothbrush, change of clothes, pajamas, issues, and everything. Everything else I had with Janet and Parker was actually theirs. And um… I don't want it to seem like I'm… getting involved with you just to have a place to live. I'm trying hard not to be a whore like that.

Shaking his head, Randall walks back with her the couple of steps toward the couch, only stopping when his shins actually bump into it. "No, of course not. You— I just wish you could see what I can see. You're glowing white. Even if you were lying, you wouldn't be able to fake that."

Weren't there five bulbs burnt out in the strip, earlier? Now it's only four; the one in the middle, directly behind her from where he's standing, is suddenly shining even a little brighter than any of the others. Maybe it was loose earlier, until someone was kind enough to slam the door on their way out.

Carrie smiles a moment, then furrows her brow, quirking her lips. "Glowing… white? What does that mean? Other than I need to get more sun?"

"Means you're telling the truth," Randall explains, sitting down and looking up into her eyes. "It's one of the easier things to pick out— usually people have black circles around their heads if they're telling a big enough lie, but those are harder to pick out. I figure it's probably because people rationalize things a lot."

Carrie says, "Well. Okay, one thing. If we're going to… you know… be together, or even just live together like roomies… please tell me the truth. Even if you think I won't like it, even if you think I'll hate you for it, tell me the truth. I have enough trouble with reality without believing in stuff that isn't real. And I'll tell you the truth. Same thing applies."

Randall nods to Carrie. And reaches for her hands again— and, without warning, does his best to tip her so she'll land in his lap again. Hey, who said that telling the truth was limited to using words?

Carrie tips easily into his lap, and can probably be talked into bed at this point, at least in the pajamas and sleeping sense. The mood. It kind of got stepped on. "We have to try and make it up to Griffin though. " she says softly.

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