vanillajello: (Well there's this one thing...)
Kate Gregson ([personal profile] vanillajello) wrote2012-03-19 03:38 pm

Overland Park, KS, Monday FT

It had been a few days since Kate had been back home. It had been about a week where she'd been, mostly hanging out with Bod, waiting for the call that she knew would come. Her dad rallying the troops. Marshall was staying with their Grandma Sandy, and Kate was sure he was expecting the same.

The call had come today, so... Here Kate was, walking into the Gregson house again, bag over her shoulder and wearing a yellow sweater with the face of a polar bear on the front of it. She'd bought it while she'd been away. If you liked reading into things, there could have been symbolism there. Or maybe she just liked bright colors and bear motifs.

"Man, it's quiet in here," she remarked to Bod, glancing over as she was dropping her bag on the floor.

"Perhaps no one's home?" Bod suggested, glancing around and setting his bag down near Kate's. He glanced over at her. "Are you okay?"
"I just don't like it when it's quiet," Kate replied, almost idly. Taking a step into the living room, she called out, "Hello?"

"Downstairs," came her father's voice from, yes, downstairs. She sighed and rolled her eyes. "Of course."

What was it with her family and basements?
"It's all right," Bod murmured, reaching out to take her hand. "Maybe they're just cleaning it up. Come on, let's go downstairs. I'm here."
Kate rolled her eyes at that, too, but led him on to the door to the basement, and then down the stairs. Max, Marshall, and a dumpy looking older lady Kate barely noticed were standing in the basement, while Tara (well, still Bryce, probably) was standing a few steps further above, on the stairs.

Her hair was cut boyishly short now, but Kate had been warned about that.

"Ohhh, is this a torando?" Kate asked, having taken in the veritable crowd in the basement, already turning to tug Bod back upstairs. "Because I am not doing it again sober."

Tara –– no, definitely Bryce, you could tell by the smirk, stepped in her way. "Hello, cupcake," he said, leering at her. He gave Bod a slightly colder look. "Pasty-faced boy."
Bod raised an eyebrow at both the name and the look but he otherwise didn't react. He kept a hold of Kate's hand.

"Hullo," he returned, giving Mrs. Gregson a nod. "My name is actually Bod but I've been called worse before. Pleasure to meet you."

He nodded at the rest of Kate's family as well.
Bryce rolled his eyes like Bod was boring him half to death. Then he leered at Kate some more. You know, for fun.

"Oh, this is so wrong," Kate said, watching him. And it wasn't about to get much less wrong, because the older woman asked, "Maxie, why do you have all these boxes of guns and pornography?"
Because yup. Max was stuffing porn dvds and guns into various boxes and containers. He held up guns in both hands, barrels towards the ceiling, as he defended himself. With words. "They're not mine!"
"That's what you said when I found the marijuana in your pants."

Uhhh. Kate was just about to ask for clarifications as Marshall piped up. "Kate, you met Grandma Sandy?"
Oh, right. "Oh, wow. Yeah, sorta." Not really. Their family was like that. In her confusion, she also managed to miss Bryce leaning towards her. To sniff her hair. Because that wasn't creepy at all.
"You're a curious bloke, aren't you?" Bod asked Bryce, tugging Kate a little more towards him. "If you'd like, I've a book or two I could loan you. You might enjoy it."

Bod didn't think that would work but he'd seen what was about to happen and thought it was a little strange as well.
Bryce sneered at him. "Oh, I doubt I'd enjoy any of your books. Bet they're sappy." Kate had given him a wide-eyed look when Bod had tugged her closer, so he smirked at her again. "You smell nice."

"Fuck off!" Kate snapped, taking her turn to pull Bod all the way to the bottom off the stairs. Bryce didn't mind. He leaned over the banister to pluck up one of the dirty magazines Max had been stacking in boxes. "Looks like I'm gonna need that jizz sock a while longer, Max," he drawled, then sauntered on his way up the steps.
"Did she just say 'jizz'?" Sandy asked, perhaps a touch scandalized. Or just surprised. Neither Kate nor Marshall mustered up much shock in their response.

"Yep," Marshall said. Kate added an "Unfortunately", then glanced at Bod. "That was Bryce."
"So I gathered," Bod said, glancing up at Bryce. He smiled though and added, "Hullo, Bryce and rest of the Gregson family. It's good to see you all again."

He wanted to be polite despite the situation. He couldn't help it. "It sounds like things have been eventful lately."
Marshall snorted.

Max threw his son a brief exasperated look, then tried for a smile at Bod. It didn't quite get there. "Things have been interesting, yeah." 'Understatement' didn't even cover it. "Glad you could come too, buddy."
"Glad to be here," Bod said, squeezing Kate's hand and pulling his attention away from Bryce. "Is there anything I can do to help down here?"
"Matter of fact, there is," Max said, then looked at the others. "All of us. Look, guys, I know it seems like things are out of control, but we're gonna get back on track, I promise. We just got to... got to stick together like a unit, a family unit. We gotta keep remembering to have normal family fun ––"

Kate wondered whether they'd ever had that, really.

"–– and do normal family fun stuff, okay? Now, your mom, she's coming back, just like always. Gotta give her some time. But that's why we're gonna take her to her favorite place." He put on a triumphant face, as if to rile up their enthusiasm. "We're going to go to the art museum!"
Kate was leaning an elbow on Marshall's shoulder, and they both looked unimpressed. Their grandmother, on the other hand, sounded a little more pleased, as she asked, "Did he say 'museum'?"

"Unfortunately."
"An art museum actually sounds interesting," Bod said, ever the nerd. He hadn't really visited many museums since coming to the United States and he always liked to do things that would educate him further.

"I'd love to go," he offered, glancing over at the two Gregson siblings. "It sounds fun."
Kate and Marshall glanced at him in unison. They did not look like they shared his view on things. Max was grateful, though. He beamed at Bod. "Right? Come on guys, let's go! It'll be fun."

Yeah, they'd see about that.


-----


So, the entire Gregson – Craine – Kowalski – Owens gaggle had been stuffed into two cars and driven to the closest art museum.

And the first thing Bryce did was set the abstract, sort of tree-looking metal sculpture in the lobby spinning, and then immediately proclaiming it sucked.

Max went to tell him off, and they all disbanded. Marshall and Kate headed for one of the nearby benches, Kate tugging Bod along.

She sighed. "Does anyone actually think this'll work?"

"It might not," Bod told her, keeping up despite the tugging. He squeezed her hand. "But is there anything wrong with trying? Perhaps something here will help."
"The pills don't help, so why would this?" Marshall drawled as he slouched to take a seat on the bench. His disposition had seemed to change drastically over the last... Few weeks? Months? Kate couldn't even say.

She plopped herself down next to him, leaving some room at the end for Bod. "Well, at least we're trying something."
"Stranger things have happened," Bod remarked, taking a seat at the end of the bench and glancing around. "But even if it doesn't help, perhaps it's just good to get out of your house? A change of scenery sometimes does help everyone calm down a bit."
Now Marshall snorted, darkly amused, giving his sister a glance. "Yeah, we tried that."

"Shut up," Kate murmured with a little push at his shoulder. "It's not like you have any better ideas, Moosh."
Across the room, Bryce took a seat on some stairs, stretching out his legs, probably just to be in everyone's way.
Bod fell quiet and glanced over at Mrs. Gregson, deciding he didn't need to keep offering advice or anything close to optimism right now. He didn't want to upset anyone any further.

"This is quite the nice place," he murmured to himself. "I've never been to an art museum before."

And at least Bryce wasn't tearing everything to pieces. Yet.
Kate sighed and leaned a head against his shoulder. "We should go to ones in KCMO sometime," she offered, if a little distractedly. She was watching Bryce.

Who seemed to be watching her back, every once in a while. "They're better than this one."
"We should," he agreed, leaning over and kissing the top of her head absently. "I think we have an anniversary coming up that might warrant a trip to a museum and dinner at a nice restaurant."

He wasn't sure how slow time waws going here but they could always have a late anniversary date if they had to.
Kate picked up her head again. "Oh, shit. Didn't that, like, pass already?" It had. "Well, we'll do a late thing, and then we'll be extravagant in April."

Twelve months. Holy shit. If she hadn't been so distracted she would've said something more about that. But, Bryce kinda kept catching her attention.

"I don't know, we shouldn't just sit here," she said, but didn't even sound convinced herself. "We should go talk to her. Him."
"Would you like to?" Bod asked, glancing at Bryce. "I'll go with you if you'd like to go. He seems to be...calm at the moment. Perhaps it's not a bad time to try?"
Kate twisted her lips, uncertain. She looked over at her brother. "Go ahead," he said. "I'm here for support, but seriously, nothing we do is gonna make a difference."

Well wasn't that a comforting and reassuring thing to say. She looked in Bryce's direction again. What do you know, he was smirking. "Ew," she muttered. "He keeps looking at me."

"You always get the cute ones," Marshall drawled. "No offence, Bod."

Kate just rolled her eyes and gave Marshall's shoulder another little shove. "Oh my God, so funny!"

"Mm, it's laugh or cry time here at the musée d'art," he said, giving her a wry, not partiularly joyful smile. "I choose laugh."

Kate sighed. "Ugh, I don't know if I wanna talk to him."
"You know we don't have to," Bod murmured, looking over at her. "I'm sure there will be more time to talk to her later, Kate. It doesn't look like she's going anywhere right now. She just seems happy to sit there and...smirk."

It was a little creepy but Bod had seen worse.
The sad thing was that so had Kate, even if it still managed to be pretty upsetting. "Yeah I don't think I wanna go over right now. The creepy can wait. Or, maybe she'll see something pretty and snap out of it or --"

Her head towards where her aunt and dad were standing. She thought she'd heard something like 'let's ask Kate'. And, sure enough, immediately afterwards her aunt called her over by name, so she let go of Bod's hand and bounced up to go over. "I'll be right back."

Marshall watched her walk across to Max and Charmaine. "Char's probably got ideas of her own about dealing with this," he said idly, like he couldn't muster up too much caring.
"I suppose any idea is a good idea?" Bod remarked, glancing over at Marshall. "If all things are exhausted, why not entertain anything at this point? It probably can't hurt."
Marshall shrugged and gave him another one of those slightly out of place wry smiles. "As long as it's not me who has to implement it."
Bod glanced over at him, looking slightly worried. "Things have been difficult lately for all of you. No one deserves what you or your mum are going through. Stay strong, Marshall. Things are always the darkest before the dawn."
Marshall looked at Bod like he thought that maybe that was funny, or something. He almost said something too, except Kate came back, a light frown on her face.

She stuck a hand out for Bod.

"Think I want a little air right now. Come with?"
"Absolutely," Bod said, reaching to take Kate's hand and standing. "Air sounds like a good plan. Let's go."

He gave Marshall a nod and squeezed Kate's hand as he came to stand next to her.
Marshall waved a hand at them. Guess he didn't feel like catching some air.

Kate pulled Bod away, towards the doors, through them, into the crisp outside air. She breathed in deep, then sighed. "Man, things are kind of messed up."
"It won't always be this way," Bod said, moving to pull her into an embrace. "Things will get better. I'm sure of it. It will get better for everyone."
"You're sure?" Kate murmured, letting him pull her close. In fact, she wrapped her own arms around him, and leaned against him some. "'Cause I would like that."
"It's going to get better," he murmured quietly, kissing the top of her head again. "It's going to get better and I'm gonna be here for you through it all. Don't give up hope, Kate. Everyone needs to stay as positive as they can."
Kate sighed. "I'm pretty sure Moosh has already given up on that," she admitted. Her voice grew a little quieter. "I worry about him."
"I think it's just a lot for him to handle all at once," Bod murmured soothingly. "I don't know if he's sure how to handle it all so he's withdrawing. Hopefully it's only temporary and he just needs time."
Kate sighed again, nuzzling the crook of his neck like she was kind of trying to disappear into his embrace. She couldn't help it

"Yeah," she said. "It's a lot. I know."

She kind of wished she could've said she didn't understand.
"It's a lot and I'm sure it seems like the worst it's ever been," he murmured, stroking her back and kissing her forehead, "but don't give up. That'll make it even worse."
"I was still talking about Moosh," Kate replied, though it was a weak protest. Watching her brother act like he was acting was unsettling, to say the least. "I'm just hoping he doesn't totally give up."

Another sigh.

"Char wants to lock Mom up."
"So was I," Bod remarked lightly. "I meant don't give up on him. I'm sure he'll make it through."

He was quiet after that last statement. "And what do you think about that?"
"I think it fucking sucks," Kate replied bluntly. "I don't want to lock her up in some... total nuthouse. I don't see how that's gonna help anything."

And yet there was still a note of hesitation to her voice.
"And did you express that to your aunt?" Bod asked quietly. "I don't think it'd help either, honestly, but I know my opinion isn't that important right now. Perhaps your aunt is just worried."
"I did tell her. Ugh." That was just Kate's favorite word these days. She was using it more than 'awesome', she was pretty sure. But the positive thing here was that she could still whine. "Why can't stuff just be easy?"
"I'm sorry," he said and meant it. "I wish there was more I could do than just holding you. It's an awful situation, I know. You're doing your best though. I know that too."
Kate gave him a squeeze and murmured, "I love you." It felt like a good thing to say when she didn't really know what else to say. At least he made her feel safe.

She even pulled back enough to give him a little kiss. "I just love you."
"I love you too," he said, returning that kiss and then leaning up to kiss her forehead once before cradling her cheeks with his hands. "I love you very much. We'll get through this. I'm not leaving."
Kate gave him a faint smile. "Thank you."

And then her attention was drawn to something over his shoulder, and she frowned. It was... Bryce? Tara? No, the movements were too loose for either. She walked with her arms swinging, and like Bryce's favored blazer was feeling too confining.

Kate looked confused. She might be embarrassed about her slowness in a moment.
"Kate?" Bod asked, turning to follow her gaze and settling his eyes on Mrs. Gregson. "Is she all right?"
Whoever it was, she was chewing gum and looking antsy, tugging on the back of Bryce's jeands. She started without preamble, "I never told you, but I was always real jealous of you."
"T?" Kate asked, surprised, as recognition struck. "Uh, Bod, did you ever meet T before?"
"I...think she was on the phone with you once when I came to see you," Bod recalled. "But no, I don't think we've actually ever met. Hullo, T. Pleasure to meet you."
"Bod, right?" T asked, and gave him a little nod of greeting. He didn't have anything to compare it to, but Kate knew this was pretty damn somber a way for T to behave, even if she did keep moving even as she was supposedly standing still.

Kate tilted her head. "What is it, T?"

T wrinkled her nose. "You got this -– this cute little smile, and these cute little clothes, and this cute little butt, and I'm just not cute and little."
"What do you mean?" Kate asked, and couldn't help just the lightest bit of amusement bubbling through. "You borrow my jeans all the time."
"Painfully," T retorted. She sounded just a little agitated as she continued. "Anyways, that's done with, it looks like I'm outie."

Kate gave Bod a confused look. She din't look worried, but reached for his hand all the same.
"You're...leaving?" Bod asked, taking Kate's hand in his even as he looked concerned. "You should stay, though. I'd love to talk more with you."
T snorted, but it lacked the derisive sense it usually had. "Well, tell that to the grim reaper – the Bryce creeper," she said. Kate had never seen her seem so... sincere. "That boy is doing major damage and it's getting kinda lonely in here."
"Well," Kate said slowly, "do you think I can talk to my mom?"

Since she hadn't been anyone but Bryce for days, now.
T didn't seem to be going that way. She glanced away like looking out for someone, then leaned in closer. "Look, before I go, I just want to say I'm sorry for punching you in the face. I really do admire the way you handle your shit, girl. We both bad bitches, and we don't crawl for no one." She smirked, though it was not as wide as usual. "Which ain't to say we can't please on our knees, if you know what I'm sayin'."

And because this was still T, she managed a wink at Bod when she said that. "Right, paleface?"
Unexpected.

That 'paleface' name was going to gain traction quickly if everyone kept using it. Bod even blushed and stammered, "Kate's a very nice talented girl."

Which meant...yes, she could please...that way.
Kate hoped things would eventually be fine enough that she'd be able to laugh at the fact that he'd just told her mother about her sexual skills.

Right now, all she managed to say was a highly intelligent, "Uhhh..."
T's smirk faded, though. She looked almost sad, and she shrugged. "Codeine, bourbon... And the rest is silence." She spread her hands, raised her eyebrows, disappointed. "Can't cheat death with a blowjob."
"Right," Kate agreed, still lost for words. And confused. There was an uneasy feeling in the pit of stomach, and she gave Bod's hand a little squeeze without meaning to.
T gave her a sad ghost of a smile. "Well, peace out, little sis."

"Peace out, T," Kate replied, and stepped forward when T stepped back, her head lolling forward. Kate knew it was probably a transition happening. "T? T? ... Mom?"

Oh, she sounded too hopeful there.
Her mother shuddered a bit, then pushed her hair behind her ears. A smirk spread over her face as her eyes opened. "Nope." Bryce spat out T's chewing gum. It ricocheted off a nearby sculpture. "Homegirl's dead." He moved forward, looking at her in a way that made her seriously uncomfortable. "But how about you show a little love and have me slip inside those jeans?"
"Perhaps another time." Bod said, trying to put himself between Kate and her mother (or Bryce) now. He shook his head. "Another time like never. I think that might be the best for us all. Take a step back, Bryce."
Kate was still doing the useful thing and just staring. She did take a step back, though, behind Bod.

Bryce gave him a cold, unimpressed look. "Take a hike, Limey Junior," he said. "No one wants you here."
"Of course they don't. But, I think I'll stay here anyway," Bod decided, nodding. "It's a beautiful day out and I've been having a nice conversation with Kate so I do think I'll stay."

He let go of Kate's hand only to be more of a physical shield for her just in case.

"Now, if you'd like to have a conversation with me, perhaps that can be arranged but I'm not going to be going anywhere."
Bryce narrowed his eyes at Bod. Then he seemed to decide it wasn't worth the trouble. "Well, cheerio for now," he drawled mockingly, already backing up. He winked at Kate over Bod's shoulder. "I'll see you later, Katie."

He turned around and went on his way.

Kate looked just a bit like she was going to throw up.
"I don't think Bryce likes me all that much," Bod sighed, turning around to see Kate now. "Are you all right?"
"... Yeah. I'm fine."

If you didn't count how she was still staring the way Bryce had walked off to.
"No, you're not," he sighed, trying to pull her close to him. "Don't lie to me."
"Well, basically, my mom just pretty aggressively hit on me," Kate felt like pointing out. She let herself be pulled close, but didn't really embrace him back this time. "Fuck everything."
Bod sighed quietly again. "Perhaps we can take our leave of your family a bit early. Maybe it's time to go."
"Maybe." She nodded against his chest. "Yeah."

She could call her dad and notify him, or something.
"Let's go, then," Bod said, already trying to get an arm around her shoulders to lead her away. "We can leave early and get some quiet time."
Kate let him lead her away, and after a moment she even wound her own arm around his waist, leaning into him. She stayed pretty quiet, thinking as she walked.

She found herself seeing Charmaine's side of things now. How depressing.


-----


So, as it turned out, the art museum idea had been a bust. What a huge fucking surprise. Kate had called her dad when she'd been on her way home with Bod and reported T's untimely demise, and things hadn't gotten any better since. The rest had come back, too. Tara was still Bryce. Things were still fucked up.

Grandma Sandy was elsewhere in the house, Charmaine and Neil and little Wheels were next door, and Bod had retreated into the kitchen to give the Gregsons time for a conversation that was supposed to be immediate family only. Who knew where the fuck Bryce was. Probably upstairs in 'his' room. Meaning Marshall's. The creeper had just claimed it when he'd been away.

The siblings sat on the sofa. Kate had her back straight. She couldn't relax. Marshall, on the other hand, looked far too laidback. Their father was pacing. "Any other ideas?" he asked. "The floor's open."

"Well, Mom's always liked bowling."

Kate pouted at her brother. "It's not funny."

"She's offing her imaginary friends," he retorted. "It's kind of funny."

"Guys," Max tried, but Kate wasn't really listening. "She's creepier than..." Hannibal when he was a vampire. No, she had to use a reference they knew about. "Gene Stuart."

"Wow, Kittykat," Marshall replied with a mock concerned tone, leaning towards her, "that is serious."

"Go fuck yourself!"

"Come on, guys!" Max interjected, now sounding a little annoyed. Kate shook her head at him, but at least it drew her attention away from her brother. "Dad, I think this might be bigger than museums and bowling," she said. As much as she hated to say it. "She might need to go somewhere and get professional help."

Marshall had a witty jibe ready, though even he managed to sound a little more subdued now. "Paging Dr. Crab Allergy..."

Max sighed. "Okay," he said, pointing at Kate, "I want you to stop talking to Charmaine."

"She may have a point."

Kate still hated saying that. And Max wasn't having it. "Look, I told her and I'll tell you: I'm not putting your mom in --"

He was cut off by the sound of his mother's voice. "Maximillions, I need your help!" she called, from the next room. He swore under his breath, but immediately headed out to help her.

"Maximillions?" Kate repeated, incredulous. Beside her, Marshall exhaled a laugh. "Told you this shit was funny."

[ooc: NFB, preplayed with the incomparable [livejournal.com profile] nimeni, to be continued in the comments! Lifted and tweaked from USoT S03E11 'Crunchy Ice'. Warning for Bryce being a creeper at everyone. Seriously, I lack proper labels for this.]

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