“Shhh, a chara.” Tadhg ran long, steady fingers through her tangled mass of russet curls and spooned her body more tightly against his own. Knees bent to fit against Pippa’s, her back pressed against his chest and one arm looped around her waist with his hand resting on the outer curve of her thigh, the púca snuggled her close. Kept her safe.
She wanted Rory, he knew, but his older brother couldn’t put off outstanding obligations any longer, not without raising suspicions and questions no one wanted to answer. Rory would be back soon enough and until then…well, little brother would do what he could to soothe and comfort the girl. Tadhg had held her this way more often than Pippa was aware—over the last few days, in their efforts to repair the damage done by a disturbed, deeply twisted inhabitant of Manhattan, the MacEibhirs (save for Anrai) had all sat with or held the slight form as they used their unique healing gifts to mend wounds and sustain her life.
This afternoon the púca was more focused on calming her fitful sleep than he was on easing any pain she might still feel. He’d done what he could there, his magic crawling in and out of her brutalized body, slipping over bruised muscle and broken bone. Tadhg knew her injuries better and more intimately than she did in some ways…and he was thankful that the sleeping girl would never know just how well he knew the torment she’d suffered.
When she turned in his embrace, rubbed her sleepy face against his neck and murmured nonsense against his shoulder, Tadhg slid his hands over her back, hugging her tightly. He was very thankful that he would have the chance to get to know Pippa Kerr as a person, whole and healed. “Just sleep, lass. I’ll be going nowhere soon.”
Rory: .......... so ... are you saying goodbye to me as well as Staten?
Pippa: *gives him an 'are you brain-dead?' sort of look* I'm saying goodbye, Rory. Everyone keeps telling me I need to put my life back together. I -want- to put my life back together. I can't do that here. I can't do that with you. Don't you understand that?
Rory: *long silence, eyes closed*
Pippa: *quietly* I'm sorry.
Rory: *equally quietly* You have to do what's best for you. I want you to have your life back as well. *eyes still closed*
Pippa: *finding this harder than she'd like* You won't even notice I'm gone. You'll be swept up in all the wonderful things going on with your band. You'll fine. You'll be great. You don't need me here. *trying to sound far more upbeat than she feels*
Rory: *utterly bittersweet smile* I'll ... manage. *suspicious hints of moisture at the corners of those closed eyelids*
Pippa: *reaches out to brush her hand over his, hesitates and drops her arm again* I know you will, baby. Rory. *corrects herself hastily, using his name instead of terms of endearment* I know you will. *she's cried this all out on her way back from Boston, she won't do it here, again*
Rory: *sits with elbows on knees, a bit hunched over* Is there anything else? *swallows* I suppose I should return your key.
Pippa: Oh, um...*watching him is becoming painful* Yes, actually. Excuse me. *she leaves him sitting there only to return with a box full of his carefully packed things, it's obvious that she's taken her time doing this and well in advance too* I thought it would be simpler if I sorted this all out before most of my things went to storage.
Rory: *doesn't even look at the box as he pulls out his keys and separates hers from the ring* And Mr. Beaker? Have you made plans for him? *lays key on the table*
Pippa: *finds herself staring at his key* Mike. Mike said he'll take him. I wish I could take him with me but the idea of subjecting him that flight and then quarantine...it would be cruel. *Yes, she's shared her plans with her former boss before talking to you, Rory*
Rory: *nods* If ... other arrangements are needed for any reason, please ask him to call me. Tadhg will take him if need be. *shoves keys back in pocket*
Pippa: I...will. *not going to cry, dammit. not going to...she's going to cry* Ro...?
Rory: *barely above a whisper, still not looking at her* Is there anything you want me to do with anything of yours I find at my place?
Pippa: *shakes her head before realizing she needs to speak* No, not particularly. They're just...things. *gives in and moves closer, lets her fingertips touch the back of his hand* I didn't want it to be this way, Ro. I wanted us to work. I wanted you to be the one for me. *here come the tears* But that was foolish of me, love doesn't make everything better. It's not enough. After everything that's happened, it's just not...enough.
Rory: *nods again, then is abruptly on his feet, collecting his jacket and helmet* I should go.
Pippa: *looks startled at his abruptness but recovers quickly enough, nodding* All...alright. Um...*her hand sweeps over the soft leather of his jacket* Drive safe. *it sounds so...meaningless but what else is there to say?*
Rory: *if he stays any longer, he'll try to talk her out of going* You be safe as well, Pippa. *looks at her at last, century-old eyes filled with tears* Slán agus beannacht leat, a muirnin rua.
Pippa: *she doesn't ask for a translation, the sentiment clear enough and the last of it are words she knows quite well* I will be, I'll be where I belong. *tears are sliding down her cheeks but she doesn't bother to wipe them away*
Rory: *the pain in his eyes deepens; he no longer trusts his voice, but turns toward the door*
Pippa: *she can't let him leave like that* Ro? Wait, please... *she's only speaking to keep him from actually stepping through the door before she can close the distance between them* You'll always be the best thing that ever happened to me. *it's as close as she can come to saying that she still loves him as she tries to wrap her arms around his middle for one last hug*
Rory: *accepts the hug with his hands on her shoulders, if he holds her in return he'll just have to fight with himself to let her go again. She can probably feel the quivering in his stomach muscles* Goodbye. *drops a kiss on her forehead and turns to go*
Pippa: *nods and lets him go, the hug feeling hollow to her and not the soothing thing she had hoped for it to be* Bye...
Rory: *one last squeeze to her shoulder, one last look in her eyes, then he walks out the door, his movements almost mechanical*
Pippa: *she closes the door as soon as he's through it, refusing to watch him leave, it's too painful to know that she's caused that stiffness in his gait, the hurt etched on his features*
Rory: *gets home on autopilot, moving strictly by rote until he toes off his shoes and unwittingly scuffs up a bit of glitter left in the carpet. At that point he curls up next to the couch and sobs*
Peaceful. Unaware. Beautifully naïve.
His face is all delicate planes and muted angles in the cool, pale light of the moon. Long lashes cast shadows over soft skin, marring the ethereal visage belonging to the man lying beside her. She can’t sleep so she watches him instead. Watches him despite wanting to press her face into her pillow, protection against aching in her heart, the tightness in her throat and the stinging behind her eyes. Pippa won’t turn away and she doesn’t wipe the hot tears seeping from the corners of her eyes. They run down her cheek and into her ear.
Her mind has been made up for days, weeks, really. She made the decision while they were apart—thinking seems easier when he isn’t right there. Now she has to tell him. Break his heart and leave him. Pippa continues to study him until the weight of her stare (or maybe the noise of her troubled thoughts) seems to draw Rory away from slumber. She even returns his sleepy smile with one of her own, whispering his name as his hand comes up to cup the curve of her cheek.
“Hey now…” he whispers in concern as he feels the dampness on her skin, realizes she’s been crying. “Sweet, don’t cry. I’m here. I’m right here.”
He folds her into his arms, kisses away the tears she’d ignored. Pippa lets him run his hands over her body and push her nightgown up over her hips as he rolls her beneath himself; his movements are well practiced even if they are heavily drenched in drowsiness. She knows he’ll barely remember this come morning—if he recalls it at all.
Still, he’s hard and she’s willing and it doesn’t take much for her to guide him to where he wants to be. Her face stays pressed against the warmth of his neck as Rory shifts, rocks against her and thrusts between her legs. She doesn’t want him to lift his head and look down at her; he shouldn’t have to see the sadness in her eyes as they make love. He makes love—Pippa winces as she corrects herself.
He’s making love; she’s only biding her time.
Cut the paper in two with the scissors and watch it slip off the rock.
Seven years of being her own person, doing what she liked and not answering to anyone. Making glass, working in a bar, living on her own—the things she wanted for herself and a life she had taken pride in living. Well, the glass was gone; she shattered it all in a fit of rage and frustration. She couldn’t make any more of it, not now. Pippa refused to try again after that first failed attempt. And now she wasn’t even working at the bar.
Wedge the tips of the scissors under the rock and flip the piece of obsidian into the trash can.
When she had asked Mike, her boss and the bar’s owner, if they could talk, he didn’t seem the least bit surprised when she expressed feelings of unease and disquiet about being back at Last Call. He didn’t even seem phased when she sighed and admitted with some hesitation that she didn’t think she’d be back after her upcoming vacation. It was too hard. Too much of what happened occurred here and since then too much else had changed. Mike hugged her, told her he understood and made her promise to stay in touch. If she ever needed anything…call him.
Twirl the scissors around an index finger before dropping them into a drawer.
Quitting had been easier than she’d thought. It was also less climatic than one would assume. There was no sense of elation or even regret. She was indifferent, if anything. Leaving the bar hadn’t solved anything for her. Maybe it wasn’t a big enough change or maybe she was becoming impatient with the status quo that her life had become these last few months. Maybe she should make the harder choices now, the ones with the real consequences.
This wasn’t a childish game she was playing.
“It’s going to be like this from now on, isn’t it?”
“Hmm? Like what, sweet?”
“This. Us. Barely seeing each other and when we do…”( Read more... )
Fight or flight. The path of least resistance. Letting the past dictate her future. These were all topics of discussion from Pippa’s ongoing therapy sessions, subjects that beat home the fact that she wasn’t really making any progress. She’s stalled herself at ‘functioning’ and has stopped trying to move past the idea of simply getting by. What was it that was stopping her? Fear.
Fear of what?
Memories. Flashbacks. Remembering.
But it’s already happened, you’ve survived and you know the outcome even if the memories are unpleasant. You know you managed to survive. We’re supposed to fear the unknown, not what we are already familiar with, right?
Maybe. Maybe not.
Start small. What’s one small thing that still scares you? One little trigger you keep avoiding?
That must make things very…
Pick one song. I want you to listen to it. Don’t turn it off. See what happens.
She was standing in his living room, in front of the stereo, CD in hand. The jewel case was open, the stereo on and the tray open and waiting. Still, Pippa couldn’t quite do it. She knew the song. Knew the track. Knew that it was exactly three minutes and forty-six seconds long. She could recall a lot in three minutes and forty-six seconds.
Pippa licked her lips but resisted the urge to wipe the sweat she could feel across the back of her neck. Tried to ignore the shadowy twinge of pain that shot along her left hand, culminating in a dull throb where her fifth knuckle ended in a stub of mottled flesh instead of an elegant pinky finger. Blinking back tears, she twitched at the sound of an open palm striking her bare flesh, wrinkled her nose at the foul smell of decay. She didn’t even have to play the music to remember.
She couldn’t do this. Not today, not now. Fight or flight. She wanted to choose flight. Wanted to drop the disc on the carpeted floor and run from the room. Run for the safety of his arms. If you can’t do this, how can you be certain he’ll even be there to hold you? Isn’t he worth fighting for? And isn’t his music part of him? Part of what you love? Pippa closed the jewel case and turned off the stereo.
Maybe she wasn’t ready to face the music on her own, confront the memories alone. Rory wanted her to talk to him about things, wanted to help her. She only had to listen to one song, all the way through. Her shrink never said she had to play the CD. Just listen to the song. Now the question was, could she ask Rory to do this for her and would she be able to explain why she needed this from him?
The musician was in his bedroom; Pippa could hear him fiddling with an arrangement at his keyboard, sometimes switching to one of his guitars to test some little element or another. She stood in the doorway, watching Rory, trying to find the courage to interrupt. Pippa didn’t have to search long; the fey had been aware of her presence and eventually turned to smile at her when she remained silent.
“Ro…can I ask you something?” Her voice was small and hesitant, almost childish in the uncertainty it carried. That alone was enough to bring him to her side, concern turning his bright grin into something more soothing as he nodded. Pippa wound her arms about his waist before continuing, “Will you hold me, rock me…like you used to? Sing to me? I’d like to hear my song.”
Her song. Believer Girl, Rory’d written the tune for her and turned it into something for the band’s set list months ago. She both loved and loathed the melody, the lyrics. When that monster, John Larch, held her captive and systematically stripped her of everything but fear and the promise of death, he’d played that song over and over…without knowing the significance it held. She hasn’t been able to listen to it since.
But now, if she could be in the one place where she felt safest, if she could just listen to the words and the warm, rich sound of Rory’s voice…hear the song stripped as bare as she’d been…maybe it would help. Maybe she could heal. Maybe she could fight.
“Please sing to me Ro…”
Pippa Kerr//Last Call//738
(Deborah Conway – ‘I’m Not Satisfied’)
Saturday night and she’s back on the clock, working in the bar, being Last Call’s resident outstanding waitress. She doesn’t skip a table, mess up an order, spill a single drink. The bartenders are glad to have her around, she keeps her tabs organized and collects on them discretely and her empties never clutter their workspace. All the other servers are thrilled to let her sort out problems as they arise, figure the tips, juggle the schedules. It’s as if Pippa Kerr has never left. That two, almost three, month gap where she’d not worked a single shift couldn’t have been real. It feels just like old times.
The music is different. The band isn’t as good. They aren’t bad by any means and the customers seem to enjoy them a great deal but the red haired woman with a tray in her hand can’t keep herself from looking at the stage and seeing someone else up there. Breaker Street is gone; Rory Stone’s warm and melodic baritone isn’t going to wrap itself around her as she makes her way between tables. The set list full of familiar tunes won’t be there to flood her mind with memories, good or bad. She isn’t going to return the flirtatious smiles and winks of the lead singer when he manages to catch her eye.
For nearly two years now, she had a routine in this place. Wednesdays and Saturdays have been the touchstones of her life. Her security and stability. The crowd used to be made up of (mostly) familiar faces, the staff had been friends not just coworkers and the music—the music had been outstanding. The band had been good, too good as they finally managed to prove, and now they’d moved on to bigger and better things. With them went a lot of the regulars, their weekly habits changing during the ups and downs of trying to replace what had been the hallmark good time at Last Call.
As she closes up later, once all the patrons have gone and the band—what is their name again—has been paid, Pippa finds herself wondering how much more it’s going to change and whether or not she can change with it. Then it occurs to her as she’s walking to her car, alert and aware of Mike Owens standing in the doorway watching her, that she’s the one who has been changed. It’s still a bar, the music is still live and the drinks are still strong. The customers are happy to pay and the waitresses pleased to serve. She’s the one who is no longer the same.
Pippa Kerr//Last Call//441
Pippa fired up the furnace and while waiting for the heat in the glory hole to reach the correct temperature, she prepared the rest of her work area. She wiped down the marver and then covered the surface in the coloring agents she had wanted to work with today. Pippa filled her water bucket, lined up her jacks and files along the workbench, selected her pontils then began to wander the rest of her shop.
She moved between the shelves lined with various pieces, occasionally touching her fingers to a vase, a set of glass pens she’d fashioned in a burst of whimsy, a lampshade. There were bowls and platters, beads and jewelry. The more interesting pieces were the small sculptures, things that were more abstract and fluid, seemingly living little works of art. Resting on a table was a solid piece of flame-red glass, about two feet tall at its highest point, a base for a work in progress. It was something for Ro, a present.
Pippa eventually went back to the lit furnace, opened the door and pulled on her tinted, mirrored sunglasses. She checked the temperature of the melt by visual inspection and the feel of the blast on her skin. The liquid glass was a searing yellow-white sea inside the furnace and just about ready for a first gather. She stood back and reached for a pontil, fingers closing around the cool steel rod with practiced ease. The familiar weight felt good as she lifted it. Welcome and natural as she brought her left hand up to close around the rod about a foot behind her right hand. She smiled. She could still do this.
Pippa continued to smile as she stepped a bit closer, angled the pontil and lowered it to the melt. Then her face faltered. Instead of merely skimming the surface of the molten glass while rotating the rod, she felt the tip grow heavy and unbalanced as it sank, dipping below the surface to submerge itself in the liquid glass. She swore. It was something a novice would do, not the mistake of a skilled master. Not her.
Angry, she withdrew the rod and threw it aside. Dangerous, yes, but she was alone in the studio and not worried about the risks of injury to anyone else. She took a steadying breath and grabbed a second pontil, repeated her grip and moved a bit more slowly. Control. She just had to exercise control. It happened again. The rod, while in motion, became unbalanced in her faulty grip. She couldn’t do this. She. Could. Not. Do. This.
It was one more thing Larch had destroyed, ruined, stolen from her. Pippa felt ill, nauseous, as she pulled the pontil from the melt, shaky as she set it down atop the steel marver. Furious as she flung her glasses from her face, she swore again, then screamed. You can’t do this. You can’t do this…The mantra beat through her head; pounded at her temples and blinded her to what she was doing as she moved across the studio. She threw the first object her hands closed around, a vase. Shattered, she reached for the next and the next, dropping some, throwing others, letting them all break against the floor.
As she continued between the shelves, glass crunching and being ground beneath her heels, Pippa systematically emptied one after the other. If she couldn’t make glass, she didn’t want the reminders of what she had been capable of here to mock her. She was so engrossed in what she was doing that she didn’t hear the studio’s heavy fire door open. The sounds of shattering glass masked his footfalls on the concrete floor. The blood pounding in her ears kept her from hearing his somewhat aghast, “What are you doing, sweet?” And her rage caused her to forget that she had asked him to meet her here, to keep her company and to serve as a second pair of hands if need be.
It wasn’t until he raised his voice and called “Pippa!” sharply that she realized she wasn’t alone. Realized that someone had witnessed her tantrum, her unseemly fit. How much had he seen? She stood stock-still for a very long moment and then the anger was back, as heated and dangerous as the molten glass in the furnace. How dare he? Pippa whirled to face him, grabbed the piece of red glass off the table and flung it with as much anger and hatred as she could muster.
Rory caught it. He caught it. The scream that had been building in her chest died and she simply stared at him, her chest rising and falling with the pounding of her heart.
She was ignoring him, curled up in a ball with her face buried in a pillow. He sat at the edge of the bed with his bare back towards her, head hanging and cradled between his hands. Not for the first time, Pippa had gone from hot to cold without warning and rebuffed him mid-advance. His hands on her where they pressed against her shoulder, the curve of her hip…his breath on the side of her neck didn’t bring forth feelings of desire and need. Instead, they called up memories of someone else touching her with far less compassion and she’d cried then screamed. Rory couldn’t comfort her when she got like this, she didn’t want him to.
As you were
Candlelight and tangled sheets covered their sweat-slicked skin as they continued to explore each other in a lazy, nearly sated manner. Her hands slipped over his chest, her head following with lips grazing skin, teeth nipping along familiar territory. At the sound of the deep and contented sigh escaping his lips, Pippa lifted her head to smile at him. Words weren’t needed; she knew that look and understood his unspoken request. Rory’s hands settled on her hips as she shifted, rose and straddled his waist. He smiled as her hands found purchase against his shoulders, moaned as she leaned forward to kiss him.
As I want you to be
Pippa watched him undress, peeling the damp shirt away from his body, kicking shoes across the floor. Listened as he unfastened the buckle to his belt, the rasp of the zipper undoing the denim he wore low on his hips. Closed her eyes and thought about joining him on the other side of the room. She’d press kisses along his spine, wrap her arms around his waist and sigh as his hands came to rest over hers. Eventually, Rory would turn and embrace her, lift her off the balls of her feet and bring her closer for a deep kiss. She’d tangle a hand in his shaggy hair and inhale deeply, lost in him even as he lost himself in her just as he used to do after every gig.
Pippa Kerr//Last Call//351
Her mood swings had been so drastic lately, Pippa was beginning to get on her own nerves. She wanted to be alone, she wanted Rory with her, she didn't want him there at all. She wanted to scream. She wanted to cry. She needed to laugh. Dear God, she needed something.
She needed to answer the door.
Bringing the mug of coffee with her, Pippa went to the door, stepped over the dog and checked the peep hole before undoing the series of deadbolts and the slide chain keeping the door locked. This wasn't leftover paranoia, it was just a fact of life on Staten Island. You locked your door even when home.
"Cait, hello. Come in, please. Don't mind Mr. Beaker, for whatever reason he's taken to lying in front of the door when Ro's not here." She stepped back to let the other woman into the apartment. "I'm sorry I'm not quite ready to go, do you want some coffee? I won't be long, I just need to find my shoes."
She was scrolling down the page, skimming entries and only partially paying attention until an image caused her to gasp and then freeze. He was looking out at her through the monitor and Pippa couldn't get away fast enough. She shoved her laptop off the table and onto the floor, not caring if it was damaged. She just didn't want to see that face.
That face...only what she saw wasn't a softly smiling man with dark brown eyes. No, there was a cruel, twisted smirk and cold, hazel eyes. All she could remember were the horrifying days that he'd had her, tortured her...the hateful and vile things he'd told her. Cruel threats and evil promises that he had mostly kept.
The computer was left on the floor, Anrai's image still on the screen, and Pippa fled to her bedroom pale and trembling, on the verge of screaming again. Hours later, after crying and even throwing up, she couldn't make herself turn the computer off or even go near it to pick it back up. It didn't matter how many times she told herself that was Anrai MacEibhir and not John Larch, it didn't matter that she knew one man was as kind and gentle as his brother and the other...well, the other was no longer capable of hurting her or anyone else.
The computer stayed where it was and Pippa refused to enter the dining room.
"You're doing this, Kerr." Muttering to herself, coffee mug in hand, Pippa went back into her bedroom. She even managed a smile as she caught sight of her puppy curled against the sprawled form of her lover, both still sound asleep. She'd be tempted to rejoin them and cancel on Aryn if there were any room for her in the bed.
Instead, she showered and dressed in a favorite fall ensemble, something with long sleeves that afforded her the opportunity to hide her hands from view. From there she played with the hopelessly choppy lengths of her hair, finally giving up and leaving them in what she hoped passed for artful disarray. After Larch had butchered her long curly locks, Pippa resorted to straightening and further trimming her auburn mane in an attempt to rectify the damage. She wasn't satisfied with the results but until her hair grew out, there was little else she could do with it.
She left the apartment with those thoughts in her head, turned off the alarm on her car (recently returned to her after the mechanic's massive repairs) and set out for the bridge that would connect her with the much larger city. The radio was conspicuously silent for the duration of her drive. She hadn't been able to listen to anything by Breaker Street and other music held even less appeal to her.
Reaching her destination, she opted to valet park at Jaques'. Finding a place to self-park was never something she enjoyed and if she was going to put on her happy face and pretend life was wonderful, she didn't need that aggravation. Pippa shrugged her purse onto her right shoulder and tugged the sleeve of her left over her hand, holding the hem with her fingertips, hiding the missing pinky and the dark bruising as she handed over her car keys and got out of the green VW Bug.
[locked to those that know what happened]
I was sick of Cait's bedroom after a few days and now I'm sick of my entire apartment. Pretty much disgusted with wandering around Ro's as well. I want to do something, anything that resembles my normal routine and yet--I can't.
I want to work in my studio but I know better. I'd only be asking for trouble at this point and I've never been one for safety hazards when blowing glass. Too many things can go wrong if you aren't focused. It's safe to say that my mind wanders a lot lately. Any little thing sets me off and I can't seem to ignore the constant worry and fear, the feeling as if I am going to jump out of my skin at any moment.
Then there's the matter of...my hand. I don't want to look at it. It's hideous. I get nauseous every time I catch a glimpse of it. Of that side of it. If I can't look at my hands, I can't work the glass. It's really that simple. And to be honest, I'm not even sure how I'm going to be able to hold the rods and pontils, the blocks...balance is SO very essential to what I do. Did. Balance and steadiness. It's the difference between excellent artwork and a damned mess. I won't spend my time creating anything less than the forms I see in my mind's eye. I just won't.
I'm afraid to go back and find that I'm not capable of adjusting.
The same can be said of work at Last Call. Mike has said time and again that I don't have to hurry back, whenever I'm ready he'll put me on the schedule. I want to work. I miss it. I miss the staff, the regulars, even most of the music. At this point, even karaoke nights sound appealing. I know, too, that Mike's having to juggle all of the things he hates about running a bar. The things I always handle. Dealing with the vendors and suppliers, payroll and scheduling. The tedium of owning a small business. All things I can pretty much do by rote these days and I actually enjoy most of it.
But then I start thinking about all the questions people will have. The stares that I know will come. And I have no idea what to say to them, should I say anything or let the idle gossip run wild? People are going to talk no matter what, I know that but I really wish they wouldn't. Staff, the regular customers and acts, the new patrons...and it's the unknowns that frighten me too. I don't feel like I can trust anyone I don't already count as a friend.
[locked from Rory]
And the nights Breaker Street play there...they have always been my favorite nights to work. Always. You'd think that having Ro there would make me feel better, but the truth is I don't think I could bear to be in the building while they play their music. I haven't been able to listen to anything of theirs since--
I hate that I can't stand to hear Ro sing. I never realized how often he hums random tunes as he does things or sings under his breath, but he does. And it's all I can do not to scream at the sound of it. SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP! That's all I think when he starts and it breaks my heart as much as it turns my stomach.
I can't tell him this, I simply can't. How can I, when so much of our relationship has been built around his music, his band...he's a singer, it's what he does and it's what he's so very good at. And I'm proud of him but I just can't listen to him any more. What if I never can? And it's not that I don't think he's talented or that the band isn't amazing. Rory is and Breaker Street are and I really want to be supportive of them, I do. I just can't hear their music without remembering what he did.
I haven't even been able to make myself bring them up in casual conversation with anyone. I've tried. The words just stick in my throat. Me. The band's free PR campaign girl. And I can't find it in myself to speak about them.
What if he doesn't want to be with me if I can't share in that part of his life any more?
[/locked from Rory]
I refuse to even think about after closing. I know that Mike isn't about to let me do that alone any more. And I know Ro wouldn't let me even if Mike did. It's the thought of walking out of the bar and into the parking lot that makes my chest feel tight and I forget how to breathe. Alone or not, I'm not sure I can do it.
So where does that leave me? Not in my studio and not at work. Home. Going stir crazy.
Maybe I really should do what I was talking to Bobby about and go back to Venice for a while. I'd love to see Alessandro. I'd love to be in his studio and I know that he'd help me figure out the solution to my problems there. I've always felt safe in his capable hands and if I have to relearn anything, there is no one I'd rather have teach me. No one. Only, I don't know if I could leave Ro even for a little while. And I certainly don't know what I'd do with Mr. Beaker. I can't take him with me and subject my poor puppy to quarantine like that.
I wish someone would just tell me what to do.
Aryn, do you want to have lunch sometime this week?
Bobby, I apologize for having to postpone our lunch date with the puppies. We will get together with you and Bette, I just can't set a date right now. I'm sorry.
Aryn, belatedly: Happy Birthday. I hope your day was wonderful and that your Remy spoiled you rotten. I think I owe you a lunch somewhere down the line as well.
Four weeks and two days ago. I keep thinking about time in these weird increments like that. It was four weeks and two days ago that he caught me with my guard down outside of work.
Three weeks and six days since...I can't even type the words. I can't say them either. I can barely look at what he did to me without wanting to scream again.
Three weeks and two days since they, since Ro, saved me.
Saved my life.
I realize that now. I'm finally, finally coherent enough (long enough) to start putting the pieces together. I've mostly stopped taking the narcotic painkillers Abby prescribed for me. That helps, being able to stay awake and clear-headed. I'm still taking the sleeping pills at night though. After the first time I woke up screaming and scared the hell out of Ro (and probably everyone else here at Cait's), Abby insisted. And I can't argue that, really. I can't begrudge any of them a good night's rest or deny that I need it myself.
Three weeks exactly that I've been with it enough to actually track time.
Two weeks and five days since I've been self-sufficient enough to not need someone by my side constantly.
Sixteen days that I've been wishing I were at home instead of at Rory's sister's apartment.
Ten days since I've been getting up out of bed and roaming the place.
Three days that I've felt restless.
Two hours since I've last cried.
And there hasn't been a single moment since that Monday night that I have felt safe.
Pippa was aware of the soft cotton against her bare skin, the give of the mattress she was laying on…the warmth of the body next to her. The rich and woody smell that was distinctly Rory and the familiar outline of his silhouette in the dimly lit room caused her to inhale sharply, and then wince at the stab of pain that permeated her side.
“Ro…?” Barely a whisper, unsteady and confused, Pippa’s voice cut through the darkened room. “Ro?”
She was disoriented and sore, unaware of where she was exactly or how she came to be there. Didn’t know about the hours of worried and at times frenzied activities employed to keep her alive, to jump start the healing process in her abused and broken body. Right now, none of it even mattered, not as her eyes began to focus and her senses told her that no, this wasn’t a dream or hallucination. Wherever here was, Rory was beside her and sleeping, his arm draped possessively over her midsection though as she shifted she realized he had propped his limb against a pillow; an attempt at keeping the weight off of her tender body.
Pippa puzzled at this for a moment then murmured his name again, confusion ebbing into relief. She was with Ro…warm and dry and…a pass of her hand over her chest confirmed that she was wearing something, a nightshirt belonging to someone else maybe—it certainly wasn’t one of her own. Another pass and something else caught her attention: bandages. Her hand was wrapped in gauze and there was…something inserted into the back of her hand, taped in place.
“Ro…?” She swallowed; found her voice a little steadier. A bit stronger if still a whisper, “Ro?”
Her right hand continued to play over her left, across the bandage to the plastic tubing that led away from her body and up…oh, an IV. She recognized what it was, furrowed her brow and tried to fathom the whys and hows of it even as her hand wandered back to the gauze again. To her fingers…her…fingers…
Thumb, index, middle, ring…Pippa jerked her hand away with a start as she brushed over the wadded mass of gauze, the tender side of her left hand. A flash of pain brought it all back vividly.
Wire cutters, Rory’s music, Larch’s laughter…her screaming…