|nishka//loki (nishka) wrote in paxletalelogs,|
@ 2017-10-18 19:54:00
|Entry tags:||loki, sigyn|
I have crossed the horizon to find you
Who: Nish and James
What: The ice begins to melt
Where: LA County Hospital, psych outpatient waiting room, and later at Nish’s apartment
When: Wednesday, October 18, 2017, approximately 3:45pm (after this thread)
After all that’s happened, Nish had made an appointment to see her therapist as soon as she could. Fortunately there had been a cancellation, so she was able to get in fairly quickly. She had a lot to sort out, a lot of feelings and hurt and wants and confusion. She normally talked to Jen about this kind of thing, but...well, now that wasn’t an option. That was actually one of the things she had to try to sort out with Sandra, not only to update her therapist on what was going on, but also to get her very valuable opinion on it all. After months of seeing her and discussing her thoughts and feelings with her, she trusted the woman.
She arrived fifteen minutes early as she always did, giving her time to calm down and decompress before going into what was sure to be a stressful meeting. She picked up a random magazine from the bench in the waiting room, not out of any interest of the articles, but merely to have something for her eyes to focus on besides the outdated plastic hospital chairs or the other patients.
It depended on who you asked, but some said that it wasn’t right for psychiatrists to do therapy - in an ideal world, a patient should see a counselor or social worker for that sort of thing, and a psychiatrist (someone who had been to medical school - and by the way, the fastest way to get under James’ skin was to refer to him as a psychologist, which he wasn’t, you ignorant dolt) for medication. But Dr. Byrne was one who saw the benefits in psychiatrists doing both - after all, therapy was an essential part in the treatment of mental illness. It was important to understand its uses and what good therapy could accomplish, even if a mental health practitioner chose not to utilise those skills.
There was a demand for it in his line of work, and for psychiatrists in general - there just weren’t enough to go around in hospitals, for the most part, so for this interview James was feeling confident that he would receive an offer. Which he was hoping for, really. He didn’t like not working; he wanted to be useful and he wanted to fill his days with something meaningful. Especially now that he was trying to get his life back on track.
He’d dressed smartly in a suit and tie (a strong blue colour to match the shade of his eyes), polished shoes, and brought along extra copies of his CV and references. The lift dinged open and he approached the waiting room, heading to the front desk right away to inform the receptionist he was there for an interview. Naturally, he was early, so she simply informed the doctors scheduled to see him that he was there. Now, to anxiously sit here and -
Was that Nishka, of all people?
Proper etiquette had him not blurting her name out (it just wasn’t good form, in a doctor’s waiting room - especially when one was there for therapy), but he went over to her with a smile and sat in the seat beside her. James wasn’t an idiot, so he could fathom why she was here - therefore, asking was pointless. “Hello, love,” he greeted. “Wish me luck, if you don’t mind - I hope to be gainfully employed soon.”
Nish had glanced up from her magazine just in time to see one of the main objects of her therapy session swagger towards her and sit next to her. Her eyes widened in mild shock. “Uhh...hi…” She stammered, shifting in her seat as if to give him more room. A slightly embarrassed smile graced her lips and she looked away.
“I guess I should have expected this,” she said quietly, not wanting to invite the few others in the waiting room to listen in. “I’ll wish you luck, but that would mean I could bump into you every time I come in for an appointment,” she pointed out with a little shrug. “Isn’t there some sort of code about working in a place where you know a patient personally?” she asked quietly, leaning in a little closer so they didn’t have to speak up.
"It's a hospital, darling. I'm sure many of the doctors know people personally who come here." What was he supposed to do, apply for jobs one-hundred miles away? It wasn't like Nish was going to be one of his patients - that was a line James wouldn't cross, for personal and ethical reasons.
He was glad to see her though - she likely had been avoiding him since sushi night, which James could understand. Contrary to what some might think, he fully got that Nishka needed time to sort out her feelings. Of course he'd give her that time, but he wasn't about to treat her like a leper in the meanwhile despite how one of her friends already gave him the 'if you care about her, you'll leave her alone' horseshit.
If Nishka wanted him to leave her alone, she would tell him and he would respect her wishes. She didn't need her friends speaking for her.
"When you're all done, perhaps...we could go for a coffee or something?" he suggested. "I had...well, there was this dream - " He needed to ask her about something. If she was alright, since he had the feeling something dark and dangerous had been lurking lately. Seemed silly, but he just needed to be sure.
As soon as he said it, a vision of the other night flitted behind her eyes. Her dream of Loki and a woman talking. Though the words still seemed jumbled to her, the feeling behind it had remained. Warmth. Love. Longing.
She swallowed those emotions down and looked over at him, risking a glance up at his eyes. Very different from those of the woman in her dream, and yet…
“Okay,” she said before she could take it back. “As long as you don't mind waiting around for an hour…” she added with a shrug, though kept her features neutral. She both did and didn’t want to have that conversation with him, but if he was bringing up a dream, then her suspicions were correct. She had been told by Rafe that she’d had one of these dreams before, with him, and now it seems she’s had one with James. And that meant that now he knew about Pax. Or, if he didn't yet, he would soon.
After seeing Alex freeze her hands at the gym (Christ, he’d needed a stiff drink after that), not to mention the keys on the fourth floor and the couple of odd dreams he could recall - James was sort of getting the point that he hadn’t moved anywhere benign. Yet rather than turn tail and run, he stayed - he felt rooted to this place, in ways he couldn’t explain. He was a doctor, a man of science, so not having those explanations bothered him - and here he remained.
“I don’t mind waiting,” he assured. “My interview should be about an hour anyway. I’ll just meet you downstairs?” This wasn’t the time nor place to have an intense conversation.
She glanced over at him and nodded, but then looked up when her name was called. “Yeah,” she said quietly, getting up and glancing back at him before following the nurse towards the door.
The appointment was pretty intense, and they managed to cover a lot in a short amount of time. She spoke about bumping into James, her mixed emotions of hurt and anger and fear and love that she felt whenever she looked at him, and how she needed to decide not only if she believed what he’d told her, but if it was something she wanted back in her life. Then it turned to her painful decision to end things with Jen until she’d figured things out, which in the light of day she actually felt pretty good about. At least they were still friends; it was probably one of the only relationships she’d ever had that ended on good terms. And of course her upset about the idea that her cat was aging.
By the time they were done she was already emotionally exhausted. There was a reason why she’d taken the afternoon off from work - there was no way she would get anything done after that.
True to his word, she found James at the coffee shop on the ground floor of the hospital. She managed a smile for him and ordered herself a latte, then settled in the chair across from him. “So how did it go?” she asked him, carefully guarding her expression, though her fingernail picked absently at the sleeve on her coffee cup.
Like the food, which those who prepped it weren’t allowed to taste (a little-known hospital fact), hospital coffee wasn’t great - there was some science behind it, dealing with oxidation and whatnot (like the coffee grounds already deteriorating? Who the fuck knew) - but James didn’t quite care right now. He just needed something with caffeine. So his cup of sludge it was and he’d been sipping on it when Nishka arrived.
“Pretty well, I think,” he flashed her a smile. “This hospital’s close to home and the doctors in that ward seem nice.” Pausing to add another little packet of creamer to his cup, he focused on that until he looked up and watched her with electric blue eyes. “I won’t take up too much of your time now, I just want to make sure you’re alright - it...seems like I’ve missed a lot lately.”
Just a feeling he couldn’t shake, and he didn’t like it. James wasn’t a violent person by any means but someone hurting Nishka would get him there. “I’m not your therapist, Nish, but I also wanted you to know that you can talk to me - not as a psychiatrist, but just...a friend.” A partner, a lover. Someone who would listen.
She didn’t get what he was referring to right away, but the hairs on the back of her neck stood up in recognition. She just knew. There was no way he could know about any of what had happened between her and Abel, which was the only thing he could be referring to, except…
The dream...Loki was telling that woman about something…monsterous that had happened. And at the time, she had been sure he was referring to her and Abel. She swallowed nervously.
“I’m fine, James,” she lied, looking down at her fingers toying with her coffee cup and forcing her hand to stop. “I’m...getting better. I was having some issues, not long after I moved here, but…” she took a deep breath and shrugged in explanation. She was getting treatment now. She was no longer suicidal. She’d stopped drinking - with the exception of the other night with Josie. She was clean. But emotionally, she was a mess.
And none of that was James’ business. Not anymore. She shifted uncomfortably in her seat.
“Of course.” James didn’t believe her, and likely Nishka knew that. “If you’re fine, then so am I.”
He wasn’t fine.
Did she honestly think that he didn’t hate himself for what had happened? That he bore no burdens, that he was scot-free when it came to guilt? That he refused to go over every possible scenario in his mind - him marrying Nishka so she could come with him, him being selfish and expecting her to drop her entire life so they could assume new identities, him telling the son of the mobster he had a full patient load at the onset, him not even becoming a goddamn psychiatrist at all.
Did she think he wasn’t angry? At himself, the rest of the world? Did she think he held no ill will toward the shithead that murdered his own kin, for the sake of adhering to a code?
None of that mattered though. Because James was angry, ridden with guilt, lost and lonely and putting on a front every day; he had no other choice but to move forward. To live alone in a flat, in a building he didn’t fucking understand, searching for a job so his savings wouldn’t drain, sitting across from the person he loved more than anything and awkwardly drinking shitty coffee because she couldn’t bear to look at him.
“Everyday without you I selfishly wished you were with me,” he sighed. “It wasn’t safe, and your life’s more important to me than my own selfish desires. Still doesn’t mean I didn’t want those things, though. And I wish I had been there.”
’Ohh god, I want that too,’ her thoughts sighed without her permission. She wanted to blame those words on Loki, but they’d been said in her own voice.
And then guilt flared again, about what had happened last night between her and Jen. Because of him, she’d forced herself to back off from the woman who had been there for her for months, who had shared her life, her thoughts, her fears and her bed. They’d been happy...but now with the smallest possibility that what she’d thought she’d known about James had been a lie...she couldn’t be happy anymore. Not until she knew the truth.
“James, you know how I am,” she said quietly. “I’m a lawyer...I need proof.” What he said...she wanted so badly to believe him. But until he showed her something concrete, it was just words. They could be words of truth, or they could just as easily be the words of a remorseful cheater. She sighed softly. “I want to believe you,” she finally admitted, looking up at him, finally meeting his eyes.
He watched her for a moment, squinting - those eyes were an ice blue, but they weren’t cold. They were searing right now, like the end of a blowtorch’s flame. Electric, but the kind that crawled under your skin and burned.
“And you know how I am,” he stated hotly. Nishka really thought he would cheat - it got him more irritated than he liked to admit, but he wasn’t really angry with her. More like just angry it had come to this.
He had half a mind to just grab her and fuck her on the table, because only a man who went without sex for so long would be that ready to go (it was like he was in prison, for shit’s sakes, though admittedly it was self-imposed) but he held back. Instead he reached for his wallet, opening it and tossing the driver’s license at her. Emmett Murphy, with a birthdate that wasn’t his. Then the social security card came next, the bloody fucking grocery discount card, his library card, everything dumped in her direction until he’d emptied the contents of his wallet entirely.
“If I cheated on you, Nishka, it must have been a hell of a fuck for me to change my social security number,” he snapped - rarely did James get so fiery. Though again, it wasn’t her he was mad at. She hadn’t done anything wrong, and he’d meant that when he said it the first time they saw each other after so long. No, James had plenty of other people to be angry with. Mostly himself.
She flinched when he raised his voice, briefly glancing around them to make sure he hadn’t drawn outside attention before focusing in on his ID on the table. “Emmett,” she said, a slight smile tugging at her lips. “I guess you didn’t pick the name then?” She looked the cards over carefully; government ID was difficult to forge, and even if her mind went there, she knew James wouldn’t have gone that far. He was right...if it was just a one-night thing, or even a brief fling, this was an awful lot of trouble to go to for that.
“I’m sorry,” she sighed, letting the cards fall to the table in front of him. “It’s just...so much has happened. Up is down, and I feel like I’ve just gotten off a four year long roller coaster.” She sat in silent thought for a moment, chewing on her lip, tapping the side of her cup, before finally deciding to tell him.
“I broke it off with Jen,” she said, watching his expression carefully.
“I’m sorry too,” he murmured, calmer now that he’d basically thrown his wallet - it would be more therapeutic if he could flip the table, but James didn’t quite want to make a scene. “I can understand the roller coaster ride, since I’m just sick of the whole thing. Sick of lying to people, of not knowing who I am. I was supposed to be Emmett for years and I never really felt that way.” He was a bloody awful liar and he was surprised he’d managed to pull it off for so long without getting a bullet in his brain. “And no, I didn’t pick the name. I just waited for a new one in a safehouse - there were all sorts of people there. Some with families. The kids would practise writing their new names over and over, kind of like a homework assignment, so they wouldn’t forget.”
Carefully, he put everything away, slipping cards back into their slots (he’d get new copies of everything again, as he transitioned out of the programme and went back to his real self). His eyebrow lifted when he heard Nishka broke up with her girlfriend.
He thought she’d been happy - at least, that was impression he got. James, AntiChrist. Jen, Beatific Angel. The roles were clear. “Sorry to hear, love. What happened?”
She thought about that for a long time, so long that she might have seemed as if she wouldn’t answer. She sipped her coffee and took a deep breath. “You,” she said finally, allowing her eyes to meet his. Before he could say anything she cut him off. “I can’t promise anything, and I’m not even sure I did the right thing. But...I can’t lie to her like I lie to myself. And I can’t...stay with her if there’s even the smallest chance…”
She put her coffee down. Her heart was suddenly beating too fast, but she blamed the caffeine, the emotional turmoil of the past hour and a half. Still, she’d have to be careful and go straight home, just in case. “Look...I’m not going back to work today. And...I was just going to stay in and watch movies...if…” she looked up at him, an almost invitation.
James considered the almost invitation, and he smiled a bit. “Well, I’m still technically unemployed so I’ve got nothing else to do,” he replied. “Sounds good to me, love. I’ll bring up some popcorn after I change.” Because he’d go straight home and put on something more comfortable - a suit wasn’t great for watching films.
“If it’s a monster film though, you’ve got to hold my hand.” He was teasing, a little, but there was some truth to it - they looked out for each other, and he did his best to banish the darkness and monsters for her too. The figurative ones.
That got a smile out of her, “I made Jen come with me to see ‘IT’ a few weeks ago,” she said, a slight sadness passing over her features for a second. “I think I’ve gotten it out of my system for a while.” She stood, picking up her mostly-full coffee and throwing it in the nearby trash. “How about a comedy? I could use a laugh right now,” she said, the smile returning. “I guess we both could.”
James got rid of his coffee too - it was pretty much gone, and by now it’d turned into tepid sludge anyway instead of piping hot sludge. “A laugh would be nice,” he agreed. The world was already depressing enough so nothing true-to-life or, you know, featuring terrifying clowns with large foreheads suited him just fine. “I’ll see you in a bit, love.”