|Isabel||Even on her budget, Isabel is becoming a semi-regular at Jack's. It's probably the fact that so many people who come here speak English. Anywhere else, she's lucky if she can even ask where the bathroom is, let alone have a conversation.
She's sitting at the bar, a mostly finished sandwich in front of her, talking with Scott the barman between his runs to get drinks. She's even laughed once or twice. Go her!
|Buck Rogers|| There's a little ring as Buck swaggers through the entrance, bell dinging, turning sideways to squeeze through the bistro's doorway and lowering his head. Shoulder-first he enters, parting the people in front of him like water, thump-thump-thumping with heavy steps. His great bulk rattles cup and cutlery, presence a tangible thing-- a weight felt first in the feet, crawling up the heels, thrumming through the bones. He's not what you'd call a regular, but he's made enough appearances, and is memorable enough, that the barman can recognize him at a glance. "Hey Buck," he calls, returning to his conversation with Isabel.
Buck gives a two-finger salute and levels his eyes at the man. "Water," he interrupts, as Scott moves to get the heavy alcohol Buck's ordered every time he's been there. "Decided it's time to cut back."
|Isabel||Isabel glances up as Buck comes in, grimacing faintly at the rattling the huge man's steps cause throughout the bar. She lifts a hand, waving casually in his direction as he sits down.
He doesn't want anything to do with her. She can respect that, even if she can't help a quiet sigh as she turns back to her plate and conversation.
Only Scott's over at the other side of the bar, dealing with a customer. So much for the conversation, at least for the moment.
|Buck Rogers|| From behind, the big man didn't recognize Isabel; the back of her head and the general shape of her curves might be nice, but they're not so nice he could pick them out from the million plus girls in the city. But when she turns, when she waves, and when she sighs and quiets and withdraws into herself, recognition and the pangs of conscience commune in blackened ventricles and inform his next moves:
He sits down next to her, wood groaning in protest. He raises his arm with the flex of a shoulder, elbow pivoting to half-circle the forearm around her shoulders, and gives her head a warm pat. "Hey, beautiful," he greets, casual and amiable, giving her scalp a little mussing with thick fingers before releasing her. "Go ahead. Ask."
|Isabel||Isabel can't help but lean into the one-armed embrace a little: The arm probably weighs half as much as she does. It's a tad uncomfy, considering how their last face-to-face went. "Um, hi.. how are you?" she asks, just guessing what he means she should ask about.
Social maladroit for the... something.
|Buck Rogers||"I don't hate you," Buck says, retrieving his water when Scott drops it off and sipping at it. He takes a long pull, swishes the water through his teeth, his cheeks, then swallows, with that typical gasp-sigh at the end. The cup is set down. "Hell, sweetheart, I'm proud of you. You're tough, clever, and got a great can-do attitude." He looks down at her; for once, he looks.. calm. His mouth isn't split in a frenzied shark smile; his eyes don't burn with a zealot's light. The bloodlust is calmed. He's just Buck Rogers-- big, strong, and safe. And his voice, that low, rumbling, ever-so-imperious voice, is slow-spoken. He's making every word count. "You're my favorite girl in the world." A big, pleasant smile, eyes crinkling. Buck hasn't seemed so genuine in a long time. "I even thought about takin' you out before. But you shouldn't be anywhere near me from now on."|
|Isabel||He hasn't. And Isabel notices after the second sentence. It isn't the flattery; it's the lack of edginess and anger she's been noticing about him so much lately, the few times she's seen him. More than anything, that tells her he's sincere.
She takes a deep, shaky breath. "I never really thought you did," is the delayed reply. "Not you. But lately..." She swallows, shaking her head. "I don't understand you anymore, Buck. I don't love you any less, but... you're different. And I don't know how to deal with the new Buck. I guess it's just as well that you want me to stay away."
|Buck Rogers|| Buck rolls his head to one side. That thick bullneck cracks loudly, once, twice, and he rights himself, staring down at the girl. "I've never been happy," the giant rumbles, his eyes never drifting from hers. Whenever she looks, he's staring-- overbearing, forceful. But his speech remains slow. "No, be quiet, listen.. I like dogs more than people and trees more than buildings. The world's a cage. In Raccoon, I broke the bars-- and I can't let them come back. I've done too much. Seen too much. You can't uncross the Rubicon." As she breathes, swallows, shakes, his hand rises. Such an enormous thing, that hand; she's seen it covered in blood, in scars, in the undead and the living alike-- clutching knives, bottles, chainsaws, ripping and tearing. Since they first met, she's seen Buck Rogers surround himself in death, for himself and others, and come through swinging.
And now he cups her cheek. The whole half of her head is engulfed. His fingertips curl and scratch the hair behind her ears, flattening it beneath the meaty base of the fingers, and her cheek rubs against the rough skin of the palm. He's warm and gentle and watching her.
"I'm a demon, baby girl, and I'm gonna walk into Hell. I'm gonna march down to the throne of Lucifer, rip the crown from his head, and rule over the ashes. That's what I am-- a killer, a monster. I like it all. And it's time I stop fighting that."
He leans in, tightening his fingers in her hair, clutching the roots, and seizes her lips with his. His mouth is a hungry thing; his breath warm, his beard rough against her soft. He pulls away.
"Thanks for always being so worried about me, Isabel. I'm glad you lived. It meant the world to me." A rap of his knuckle on the wooden surface of the bar, and Buck rises up, walking back toward the entrance.
|Isabel||Isabel closes her mouth. What she'd been going to say, she doesn't remember. It's lost beneath the explanation. And shocking as the words are, the poet deep in the girl's soul understands, and clues the analytical, noticing part of her in that it needs to start adding the things she's seen up.
And it does. The picture isn't pretty, but at least now she can look at it and see what's going on behind the face of the man in front of her.
She's barely become cognizant of this when he leans close, and suddenly her lips are captured and held! Surprised as she is, she doesn't even try to pull away, her own lips responding to his unexpected kiss and returning it. Just a little.
It's enough to leave her cheeks warm and red as he pulls away, her usual shyness keeping her silent as he speaks his last and moves for the door. But she can't just let him walk out without saying goodbye herself. "Buck..?"
|Buck Rogers||It's the first time in a long time Buck has felt so calm. The turmoil that rolled in his soul, and set the gentle blue of his eyes to rocking and misting like a stormy ocean, has settled. It might not be a noble thing he's settled on, a lovely thing he's become-- but there's a peace to it, a wholeness that comes with realizing what you are. He moves with an easy grace, and pauses only when Isabel calls out his name. He looks over his shoulder midstep, balancing himself with fingers curled around the upper border of the doorway, beneath the bell that rings when it opens. He turns halfway. It's almost comical how he fills the space around him. The world's small and cardboard.|
|Isabel||The smallest, most fragile person in the room looks at him that way for a long moment, as if weighing the words to fit them to the massive barbarian they're intended for. But she has to speak or lose the chance. "Even if I don't love you that way, I do love you very much. Whatever happens from here on, please don't forget that."|
|Buck Rogers||Giving the top of the doorway a little clap with his hand, Buck turns back around. "Seeya, kiddo," is the last word before he scoots out. The ringing of the bell is all that remains when he's moved down the street.|
|Isabel||Isabel is left staring at the door when it closes, until long after the bell goes silent. All in all, it's a most un-conclusory conclusion.
But she's getting used to that.