|Isobel Brandt \\ Persephone (praxidike) wrote in paxletalelogs,|
@ 2017-09-01 13:15:00
|Entry tags:||hades, persephone|
and i know / times like these, you just take it slow
Who: Isobel & Obed.
What: Obed stops by to drop off Hanni, and Isobel discovers some interesting information about his family history.
When: Backdated to Aug. 9.
Isobel's brows were drawn into a tight line across her forehead as she continued to dig through the remnants of her past; nothing had, thus far, done much to rekindle a memory beyond the one she'd experienced in Obed's apartment. Her former apartment. It was still something too strange to try to wrap her mind around; wearing comfortable yoga clothes, she had one leg crossed on the kitchen chair she was seated at while she scrolled through what was allegedly her Instagram. She had several other tabs open as well -- one for news reports, where she'd found an unsavory article about Obed in a news rag (several, actually, but this one named her in particular, which sent chills down her spine for an unknown reason), and a few other social media sites where she'd hoped to find some kernel of something that would jog her memory.
She was so into her computer screen that she didn't notice the first knock on her door; a second passed by, and then a third finally knocked her free from the computer's glow.
"Sorry! I'm coming!" Isobel stood quickly from the kitchen table, propelling herself forward in socked feet as she crossed toward the door. She'd completely forgotten that Obed was coming by to drop off his dog; their dog, she mentally corrected as she peeled the door back and found the man himself standing behind it. The smile that had started to flower on her face melted completely when she saw a rather large scratch on his left cheek.
"Oh god, what happened now?" Before she quite realized what she was doing, she'd stepped out into the hallway, her hand moving up toward his face. He did not move away from her touch, though he carefully avoided leaning into it as he would have before. He shook his head, waving off her concern as Hanni trotted onward into the apartment; Isobel dropped her hand, then crossed it over her stomach to loop around her elbow.
"It's nothing," he said. "I had another nightmare. I must have scratched myself, I guess." He smirked, and nodded toward the little dog now leaping atop Isobel's couch. She followed his line of sight, smiling faintly at the small dog. "Or he did. Sometimes he sleeps right on my pillow. Those little claws are sharper than they look."
Obed slid his hands into his pockets, Isobel catching the gesture as she looked back. He wanted to linger, though he had no reason to. He caught himself glancing at the walls beside her door, searching them for signs of sword-sharp claws. He saw nothing, of course, and yet he could not shake the urge to stay.
"So… how have you been?"
"Alright," she answered, before holding the door open wider a few unsure moments later. "If you don't have anywhere to be, do you want... You could come in, if you want?" Isobel remained by the door, keeping it open and quite expectant of a particular answer. "I've just been going through some things on the computer. Maybe... You could give me some context? If it's not too much. I can get you something to drink?" The last bit was offered teasingly, as though that last bit of persuasion might convince him.
Obed smiled, almost sheepish. "I'd like that. Thank you."
He kept his hands in his pockets as he entered the flat, as though reminding himself by any means necessary to keep his hands clear of her. Whatever his alter ego had told the great wolf, he had no more claim to her than the other creature had. It was a hard thing to remember, but he had to do so. He paused at the couch to pet Hanni, whose tiny forepaws had come to rest on the sofa's back as he watched his separated masters come together once more.
"What have you been going through, then? Pictures, I suppose?"
She quickly followed behind, nodding, moving to collect the laptop from the kitchen table. She paused midway, frozen between the furniture and the kitchen space itself.
"Some things online; I thought, since the bonsai tree helped me remember, that maybe if I knew more about you, it might help." Isobel didn't add that, as of yet, it hadn't, because that was unimportant. For some reason, now that he'd told her more and she felt that she had a better grasp on the situation, it was comforting and almost familiar to have him this close. "Do you want water? Or I think I might have some juice, or a few beers...?"
Obed waved off her concerns. "No, thank you." He moved closer to the computer, glancing at the screen without really seeing; curiosity nipped at him, but he knew better than to pry. So he took a seat at the head of the table, where she could share what details she wanted while still keeping the screen from his direct line of sight. Isobel remained standing for a moment, then slowly started to drift toward her laptop.
"I don't want to overstay my welcome," he explained, "but I can certainly try to answer some questions, if and when you have them. I think there were a couple of recent articles about that first B&B we worked on, the Secret Garden… maybe those would jog your memory?"
"That might help," she agreed, seating herself at his right side and angling the computer screen so he could see a number of mostly unfiltered Instagram shots of tall pine trees around a lake, and a bottom-up view of a tall waterfall plunging onto rocks below. Before he could comment on them, she clicked over a tab to where she'd been browsing the news, albeit only a month or two back.
"All I've been able to find is this... It just looks like trash, gossip blogs, that kind of thing. I thought it was weird that one of them mentioned me at the bottom like an afterthought," she continued, scrolling through. Headlines slowly marched past like little black ants on the screen, detailing Obed's alleged crimes. He worked hard to keep his face a careful blank as the headlines rolled by. "You said it was called Secret Garden? Is it around here?" Moving the cursor, she cleared the search bar and typed in the name.
"Hollywood Hills," he said. "An hour or so away." He smiled softly. "You really did wonders with that place in spite of me. If you ever felt up for a day trip, I could take you there, if you think it might help. Or you could stay the night—in your own room, of course." A more self conscious man might have blushed. Obed merely watched her over the monitor's edge, studying any change in her expression. If nothing else, such a comment might further distract her from the yellow journalism so recently splashed over her screen.
Where his face remained its usual color, hers did not. Improper thoughts, several of which had already passed through her mind after finding several personal text strings and photos on what was supposed to be her phone had circulated through her mind more often than she would care to admit to, in addition to the simple fact that they'd been engaged.
"I mean, if you're paying," she tried to joke as her cheeks flushed a bright pink, clicking on a recent piece about the B&B. Several large, colorful pictures filled the screen amid the text, showing a 1920s inspired building with beautiful landscaping. The thought that she'd done that, through her own business, scoured away her embarrassment, her eyes growing a little rounder.
"Wow... I can't believe I did that." She kept scrolling, coaxing her mind to spit out some small memory. And then, for some reason she could not yet discern, it did. Her head cocked to the side, a small lightbulb going off in her brain. "You had... You had a party, for the opening of the hotel. It was 1920s themed, right? I had a flapper skirt and... That was the first time we met. In person, anyway. I think?" She paused halfway through a photo of the entryway, which brought back vague inklings of stepping from a cab into the twinkling of several hundreds of strands of lights amid a number of other people dressed as gangsters and their accompanying 'dames,' to glance at Obed for some form of confirmation.
The small quirk at the corner of his mouth was answer enough. Still he nodded, his gaze sweeping briefly over her face. "You'd already taken me to task more than once about the flowers. Carnations, I believe you insisted." He chuckled. "You were right. And you looked stunning. Even more so than the perfect garden you'd built for me."
The flush in her cheeks did not abate with his words; she looked back at the screen as she tried to get some mastery over her own face. As her eyes roved over the rows of red carnations (he'd wanted roses, she'd said they wouldn't survive), another thought popped into her head—flowers exploding in every direction, doing what they could to mask the two writhing creatures at their epicenter. She (not her, but another woman who felt so familiar) was on top of a man who was not Obed, but still felt so much like him; his cold hands on her body elicited a hundred different kind of shivers, heightened by their joining. The flowers sprang from her, from her pleasure, from everything she felt for the man under whom only dead things flourished.
I wonder if that will happen in your kingdom; more color would not be such a bad thing, my love
Come home with me, and we will find out for certain
Isobel's eyes went wider, unfocused for a moment as she tried to make sense of where that particular image had come from.
Obed might have told her, had he known where her thoughts had gone. As it was he only watched her, studying each subtle change in her expression. When his teeth were done nipping at the edge of his tongue, he blinked as though slowly waking, and leaned closer in toward her. "Are you all right?" he asked. He glanced down to the computer screen, where an image of muted colors and soft, atmospheric lighting showed off the best work he had done in quite some time. All thanks to her, of course, and he dared not forget it.
"Is this... helping?"
"Um," she started, suddenly and shockingly aware of his closer proximity. Startled, Isobel leaned back, and then forced herself to calm. Hands that were previously working the mouse trackpad of her laptop skimmed back over the table to her lap, one rising to pinch the bridge of her nose as her eyes closed. The image of the memory was seared into the black space behind her eyelids.
"Yeah," she finally said. "It is. I... It's beautiful. I think..." Her brows pulled together over her forehead, eyes focused down on the screen even as their contents remained unseen. "I remembered something. Not us... It felt like a dream, more than anything." Like the things Alice was telling me about, she thought, her hand descending from her face to the computer to click back and away from the hotel images. She pulled the Google search results back up. "Two people, in a, uh, garden. They were, ah..." She paused, less words failing her and more her face growing hot to indicate how unsure she was about even beginning to discuss this. "They were together. A man and a woman, and she... she made flowers grow. When she, uh, when she came," she finally said, the volume of her explanation lowering with each passing syllable. Isobel glanced at Obed, though her hand idly began to scroll through the search engine's offerings for some distraction in case he wanted one.
He clearly did not. His eyes remained on her face, lost in the sight of her and the memory of the dream that was so much more than a dream. "I remember that," he said, unabashed. "That woman… that's who you were, you know, when you changed in my apartment. I'm starting to think they're as much 'us' as we are, ourselves. Somehow, they're an inextricable part of us."
Obed shifted in his seat, moving closer to her without his noticing. Headlines continued to scroll on her screen, but his gaze stayed solidly on her. "Are you remembering more of her? Or dreaming about her more, lately?"
Isobel shook her head, her fingers pausing their movement. She turned away from the screen, though, to look Obed full in the face, his close proximity noted as her gaze flicked down to his mouth and back up to meet his blue eyes.
"No. I haven't had any dreams. That was the first time..." She shrugged, turning her head slightly to look down at the keyboard before glancing back at him again. "I've been told about them, but that's it. All of this is just... It's sort of starting to make more sense..." She paused, the draw toward him both familiar and alien. Isobel was suddenly finding it hard to breathe, so she leaned back in her chair to increase the space between them and give her a moment to find her footing.
A glance back at the screen furrowed her brow; one particular headline pulled her attention away from the concerning event at hand.
"Is this... That doesn't look like another gossip blog," she said, gently tapping on the screen to indicate what had distracted her. It was a lengthy piece, a portion of it blessedly locked away behind a paywall. But what it did offer for public consumption was damning.
New Vintner, Old Vintage, read the faux-clever headline. The Brandt name was scattered throughout the first handful of paragraphs, interspersed with uncomfortably familiar terms like "Operation Paperclip," "profiteering," and the brutally blunt, utterly unavoidable "Nazi." His parents' then-new winery was mentioned, of course, but only as the stage upon which this tragic play was set. Alexander Brandt was not personally responsible for these crimes, but neither had he stepped away from the wealth and connections they had afforded him. Could he be trusted, the author asked, when he had never truly disavowed his shameful heritage?
"No," Obed said. A thousand thoughts raced through his mind. He let none of them fall free. "It isn't." His lips pursed into a thin, taut line.
Isobel's eyes remained glued to the page, soaking up every word even as they faded off of the page behind a polite stop sign that asked for newspaper patronage. This was far more convincing than the bright colors and blatant remarks made by other websites; and the latter certainly gave the former more weight, showing that perhaps the shady business practices hadn't stopped with Obed's parents. She thought back to the retracted article she'd seen before on TMZ, the one that had so haphazardly mentioned her name.
"Did I know about this?" She asked, her voice distant. Finally, she pulled away from the website, her hand still hovering over the trackpad as she looked back at Obed with a raised brow. "Before? Did I know about any of this?"
Obed might have lied; he briefly considered it. But the memory of Persephone loomed large, and he could guess what she might do if he gave into the base impulse of self preservation. His shoulders sagged. Though the motion was slight and subtle, it was enough for her to notice, so close by his side.
"No. No-one does, except… I don't know. The handful of people who read that, and the tabloid journalist who tried to dredge it all up again. It's not something I'm particularly keen on sharing." He shifted in his seat, unconsciously pulling away from her. "It's in the past," he said. Even he did not sound convinced. "It doesn't have anything to do with me."
The search engine results seemed to insist otherwise. Isobel remained silent as she turned away from him and back to the computer, clicking backward to the long list of links that Google proffered after her eyes had had enough of the plain, black letters boldly placed without shame on the white page. Something nagged in the back of her mind, this time a group of memories that longed to be heard in light of what was occurring.
"I didn't know much, did I?" She finally said; not a condemnation, or an accusation, just a simple statement. "I didn't know anything about you, so when I saw that article with my name in it, I was worried because I didn't know how to know it wasn't true." She took in a deep breath, her eyes going to the keyboard before his face. "And then you lied, about Bryan." Everything was coming in bits and pieces, the worst of it, the things that had driven her crazy with distrust and worry; they did little to help uphold Obed's weak self defense. "Did you just want to ignore that part of you, or was I supposed to be a clean slate?"
"Both." Obed bit down on his tongue, unsure that this answer, true though it was, had been the right one to give. After a moment he spoke again, his voice quiet and halting. "I… I thought I was doing the right thing, keeping these things from you. I've tried to distance myself from my family's past, and keep that from hurting even more people.
"And Bryan... I didn't want you to worry about Bryan. I thought I could handle him and you would never know he'd even been a problem. None of these things should've been yours to deal with."
She studied his face for a long moment, the quiet more damning than anything else she might have said. Then, when she finally did speak, her voice was small but firm.
"I'd like you to leave, now. I... There's a lot to think about." She did not rise from her chair, nor make any movement to get away from him; she remained planted, like a tree, fixed in her position and waiting for him to comply with her request.
His lips parted, but he wisely held back any comment. He gave her a small nod and rose from his chair, pushing it neatly back into place. He paused, then, but still found no words worth saying. He turned his back to her at least, and left after a small farewell pat on Hanni's head.
Still seated, Isobel watched him go, realizing she wasn't even daring to breathe until the door closed behind him. Once he was gone, she took in a huge breath; exhaling, she glanced at Hanni, the fringes of a smile turning up the corners of her mouth. She patted her lap, and the little dog joined her on the seat, turning once before curling himself into a tight ball. With one hand on him, Isobel turned her attention back to the computer, trying to wrap her mind around the person others claimed Obed was, and the one he was trying to be.