Monday, November 16, 2009

The Quantum Mechanic: Un-Deleted Scene Two

So Zach and I have been discussing whether this is retcon or not. Regardless of the first one, this one definitely is not. But I'm sticking with it anyway, because I don't get to use the word "retcon" enough in my day-to-day life.

Also, I need some more vignette ideas. I only have like two more things I can think of to throw in here, and I'm running out of plot to carry me across the 50K mark. Suggestions wanted!
UN-DELETED SCENE 2: Douglas reads too much

Alvina had noticed her husband growing more distant as he set about fighting crime. It wasn't anything specific - he simply seemed changed, somehow. She didn't want to upset him, but he could sense her discomfort all the same, like a vague cloud of despair storming inside her head.

She confronts him on a Wednesday. He sits alone in his study, fingers steepled, a pile of graded exams stacked neatly on the corner of his desk.

"Doug, is something on your mind?"

"A great many things are on my mind, hon. Were you thinking of something particular?" He looks at her and smiles. Alvina can't tell if that's his usual smile, or if he's only trying to wear his usual smile to put her mind at ease.

"I dunno, you just seem - detached, I guess. A little cold. A little far-off." His look softens. He stands and walks toward her, wraps his arms around her shoulders, kisses her just below the ear.

"Baby, I love you - but you're right. I do have a lot on my mind. Most of Montana, in fact." She pushes him back to look him in the eye, but does not break the embrace.

"Doug." He sighs.

"OK, you're right again. I'm sorry. Look, why don't you tell me what's on your mind, and I'll tell you why I've been acting like a jerk. Sound good?" She leans into his shoulder and sighs.

"Yeah, that sounds good. I'm worried that we're growing apart. I'm worried that you're too involved with your - umm, your 'work.' I'm worried that it's making you cold. And I'm worried that maybe I can't warm you up any more." Her hands trace lazy ovals on his back. He tries to relax, but he's preventing a mugging six miles away.

"I see. It's - look, hon, it's hard to explain."

"Well, then try. Please?" His eyes close tightly.

"I stop murders. I stop rapes. I stop arson. I stop theft. These things make me feel good. I can stop these things, and so I do, and it's all over the news, and people talk about me all over. This is not the problem."

"Well, then for crying out loud, what is?" There is no anger in her voice, only exhaustion and the threat of heartbreak. He breathes deeply. He doesn't know how to say this. He tries anyway.

"It's the things I can't stop."

"Like what?"

"You know - hate, depression, bad relationships, a lonely drunk passing out on the living room floor. Crimes are obvious evils, I can easily justify interfering with that stuff. But how can I make it OK for a gay teenager to come out to his parents? What do I do when a child blames herself for her father's disappearance? How do I fix that?" Alvina squeezes her husband's shoulders in her hands. Douglas pulls her closer into his embrace, leaning on her a little.

"Listen, Doug - you can't fix people. You can help them, but you can't fix them."

"I know, but I want to. And it still hurts. I can't just shut out the awareness - what if things get violent? All I can do is sit and watch as things go to Hell."

"Baby, I'm sorry - I'm so, so sorry. I wish I could do something."

"You're listening. You're here for me. You love me. That makes me - " he chokes back a sob. Another comes. And another. Douglas stops fighting, and lets his wife comfort him, even as he prevents a car from losing control on the highway. "That makes me feel like a real person, not just - not just some alien cosmic do-gooder."

"Doug, honey, you are a real person." He sniffs.

"It's not just that, Bea. There are libraries. Computers. I can't quite take it all in at once, but it all hits me. I see - I see fucking everything. History, case law, criminal records, psychological workups, it doesn't matter whether it's in a police precinct, it wouldn't matter if it was in For Knox. I see it all. There's so much." He shudders. "Bea, the world is a really screwed up place."

"I know, love." She wipes away his tears, kisses his cheek. "That's why you're so important. That's why it matters so much for you to do what you do."

"I know - it's just - it's hard sometimes, you know? I just wish I could fix everything right now. I wish I could do more than just watch, but I don't know what to do. And I don't know who to talk to. I don't want to hurt you with - "

"Doug!" Alvina cuts him off. Her tone is simply firm. "If you go through something, I am here for you. This is what I want. This is why I'm still around. I. Love. You. And that means that if something's on your mind, then you need to tell me, or I can't help you carry your burden."

"It's not that, I just - " He is silenced by her stare. "You're right. Again. And I'm sorry. Again."

They stand for several minutes, rocking back and forth in each other's arms. Doug finally breaks the silence.

"Thank you."


Zach L said...

hmm. Vignette, you say.

How Alvina and Doug met? You could always do a "before the powers" sort of story about the main characters. Something to give them a little extra oomph.

Also, maybe an action setpiece -- QM's providing alternate reality games for people, right? Well, as you know, gaming can become an addictive activity. Maybe something about an ARG player who starts to lose the ability to discern between the game and real life. It's been done before, but how Douglas deals with it would make it interesting.

D said...

Perfect! Thanks for the suggestions!