1963-11-16 - Everything but the right words
Summary: Barney has to take a detour due to some activity in front of his new place and decides to use Hilde's as a place to lay low. One problem. Hilde is home.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
brunnhilde barney 


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*

The sun's gone down, the moon's up, and the stars are peeking out. The city is beginning to nap even if it never truly sleeps. Shadows are falling and it gives those who move through the darkness a little more breathing space. The one thing that city apartments have are fire escapes.. particularly those on the upper floors.

Barney makes a leap up to the actual second story fire escape and pulls himself up, swinging a leg over. Then, it's up the stairs, one flight, two.. and he's at the fourth floor. He has to take a tight-walk from one section to the next, and finally, plays with the window treatment so he can raise the window carefully and quietly. He's learned how to do this, and has done it for years… seems like a lifetime.

*

Half tipsy, the way Hilde's spent almost all her hours since they had the falling out, but not totally drunk or asleep, she certainly doesn't miss the fact that someone is *opening her window from the outside*. Ice eyes shoot a bit wider and she sloppily pushes herself up into sitting. Her right hand is still in a wrap, but the cast is long gone and it's far more mobile than it was the last time he saw her. Otherwise, it looks like she's actually *lost* weight since they last met, which shouldn't be possible considering she was skin and bones before, but now she looks like a stiff wind could simply shatter her.

She grabs the neck of the bottle of vodka, readying it to attack whatever intruder might be coming in the window. She's winding up to throw it when she recognizes that face which is ducking his head into the room. Her hand drops a bit, jaw gritting. She just stares at him, hard and cold. "…what." She half asks, half demands, quiet ice in her voice.

*

One good reason why Hilde doesn't have a gun! Right here, right now.

As Barney is stepping through, he's 'caught'. He didn't make a noise, and yet… and he freezes. Soon enough, however, he's slowly bringing his other foot in, and just reaches back to close the window behind him. "I didn't think you'd be here. Don't you start work again?" A week. She'd said she was going to be off for only a week!

*

Those icy, leveled eyes remain cold upon him. Bloodshot and sunken, it's like the bags under her eyes have turned into an entire matching luxury set of luggage. Needless to say, it seems sleep and she have been worse friends than even usual. She slowly rests the vodka back down on the floor, mouth turning into a small line as she listens to his words. "…So you were just going to break into my place while I wasn't here and do what, exactly? And no. My wrist is still kinda fucked. Can't carry a fucking stretcher with a fucked wrist." But *that* is looking far better than it was. Impossibly so, actually. No broken hand in a cast heals in two weeks. But Barney might not actually know the details about that. Still, it's the one part of her looking in better shape than they last met.

*

Barney walks slowly from the 'kitchen', his expression set and kept, with some difficulty, neutral. "Sit and wait for a couple of hours. There was an accident in front of the building and there was just too much activity for me to get in safe. So, I circled around." He pauses before he adds soon after, "SHIELD didn't follow me either. Lost them four stops ago."

A kitchen chair is dragged a short distance, and he sits down, just as he was going to even if she wasn't there. Barney sits in silence a moment and looks away before he reaches for a cigarette in his pocket. It's lit, and in the next moment, he holds it out for Hilde.

*

So much of her knows she should just kick him out. It'd be more healthy and a hell of a lot more sane. The wary look she gives him is one of a hurt animal, a loyal dog who has been kicked over and over by his owner, is learning not to trust and yet misses that love. Those are the pale, tired, beaten eyes of Hilde Norris. She just picks up her bottle of vodka instead of speaking, taking a long pull from it, the burn making her eyes water and nose sting a bit. But she manages to keep it down. Her sleeping meds, so to speak. She rests the bottle back on the little coffee table, eyes dropping to that cigarette he's offering her.

"…Just…keep it quiet. Got an old lady sleepin' in the bedroom. Her… place burned down. Told her she could stay here. Though… I wasn't gonna be here much…Apparently, was wrong." She states that a bit colder. But her hand does finally reach out. She takes that cigarette and drags off of it deeply for one, two… three heartbeats before she turns it back in his direction. She doesn't dare come closer to him, much less touch him.

*

Vodka.

When Hilde reaches for the cigarette, Barney makes a reach for the alcohol and when he picks it up, he brings it back to the kitchen to pour it out. "Don't want this crap," is murmured softly. "Does things to people." He looks back at Hilde before he finishes, "Bad things."

When she finishes the pull on the cigarette and reaches to hand it back, Barney crosses the distance silently, like a wraith, and retakes it. "That stuff'll rot you from the inside." Once it's back in hand, he takes a draw from it, and when he speaks again, the smoke comes out with it. "Old lady? You got your mom in there, or someone you picked up off the street?"

*

Shitty vodka too. The sort that kills brain cells and makes you sick most of the morning after you drank it. Well, unless you just keep drinking which, now that he's close enough to her, she smells like she has. The shit is coming out of her pores by now. At her size and shape, it's a miracle that she's still upright at the moment. If she killed most of that bottle herself, she should be dead in an alleyway. But then, that was earlier this week. She makes a squawk of a protesting sound as he reaches for the bottle. "What? Fuck! Hey! That shit's expensive!" A lie. It's the cheapest they got, but when one is out of work, even the cheap shit is expensive.

His making a move to dump it out is the first thing that really motivates her off of the couch. She scrambles drunkenly after him, swatting at his arm, trying to grab for his wrist and stop him before he totally dumps it. "Don't fuckin' care! Stop it, that's mine! Ain't workin' fast enough anyway." She hisses as she tries to stop him from dumping it, practically hanging off of his arm, but he had twice the strength on her. Especially now. She hits hard at his arm as he finishes dumping it out. "Fuck you. Get out. You owe me booze." She seems genuinely mad about this. Hurt and a bit panicky that the one thing which semi shuts off her head is now gone. "And she's just a friend. None of your fucking business anyway."

*

"Don't. Want. This. Crap." In case Barney had to repeat himself, there it is. "Really." He sounds adamant, and there is no way he's about to back down. He reaches out to hold her away from it as the contents are dumped, and once done, and he's got the cigarette back, he's more than ready to 'escort' her back to the couch. Skin and bones, and when he does get, perhaps, the merest touch on her, it's really driven home.

"'Hilde.." Barney begins, but he doesn't continue, instead smoking that cigarette for at least another second or three before, "That'll kill you."

*

While he always had strength on her, he really has got it this time. There's just no strenght or fight really left in her, no matter how she tries. Had she always been that bony? Probably not. She didn't have the meat to lose and she can't really remember the last time she bothered eating a proper meal. She wasn't hungry. So, it's easy to keep her away from the bottle and to handle her back to the couch, even as she's trying to shrug him off. He has all the power in this case. Her arms feel like fragile bird bones under his touch.

"Don't. Fucking. Care." She rasps back to him, not quite meeting his eyes, but there is no hesitation in her words either. She genuinely doesn't care. Part of her has been rather actively courting death, and not others' but her own, since that fateful night. The woman in his apartment, exhausted and drained from having watched him sleeplessly so long? She seemed fragile, but not broken. She still had some fire and fight to her. This woman? Right now, she doesn't. She's just a numb, cold, shell.

*

Those words.

Barney sits down heavily in that kitchen chair he'd pulled out. The vodka is gone; down the drain, and she's a mess. Dying. His fault? Probably. Not completely, but a good portion of it he's willing to settle down on his shoulders and take the blame.

That cigarette is his best friend right now, though.. and he lights another from the tip, finishing that first off before he stubs it out and starts work on that second. "M'brother and I.. we grew up hard. Dad was an alky, mean when he was sober, meaner when he got drunk. Beat my mom something bad, me too. I wouldn't let him get at Clint, as best as I could anyway. Hard to defend your kid brother when you're a kid yourself, y'know?" As Barney tells her this, he's uncomfortable.. and it's obvious. He's moving around, trying not to make eyecontact, then trying to before he gets up from his chair to pace, pulling on that cigarette as if it was a lifeline.

"One night, my father was drivin' us somewhere, I don't remember, and he was shit-faced. Got into an accident. A real bad one. They were killed, my parents. M'brother? He was gone. No idea where he'd gone to, and I had people tellin' me he was dead too."

Barney takes a deep breath and he shakes his head and looks away. "Stuff'll kill you."

*

Dying? Maybe. Probably eventually. There is a thing that happens when someone just gives up, fades away into the background. Becomes a shadow and then nothing. Hilde was already half ghost and shadow, she's just a little closer now, eyes sunk a little deeper. Skin a bit more ephemeral. She's not so near death as she was nights ago, but luck and chance saved her from that. Now she's just a shadow of herself, waiting for the moment she doesn't really need to try any more.

It's simply easier that way.

An angry touch of a huff, but the booze is gone and there's naught she can do about it. She pulls that skinny arm away from him, letting him sit back down as she stalks back to the couch where she too settles. Her long, thin legs curl into her chest, hugging knees against herself like she could curl up and disappear right there. But she doesn't fight him more. She listens. Blue ice eyes stare up at him in silence, taking in the things he's never dared tell her before. A week ago? She'd be tugging him in tight, holding on for dear life, not letting him be alone there. Now, however, she just listens. She tries to piece it together. Why he'd say that now. Her eyes never waver from his roughly handsome features.

"…'s shitty… your dad went that way. Shitty he was like that. I'm… sorry. But… I ain't like that. I just… helps shut off. It's good to shut off… sometimes. Sometimes you need it. 'sides… You got your brother back now. Go… hide on his couch." She whispers those last few words roughly, her heart not really behind them but the days of ache most certainly is. The pain that makes someone say things they'll regret later.

*

Barney watches and listens, and he can see her processing as best as she can anyway. It's her response that comes that has him stubbing out his cigarette on the side of the sink, and tossing the rest into the sink proper. He can't look at her, can't look at anything, really. Time to move. Keep moving.

"Yeah.." Not that Barney knows where his brother lives, but that's okay. The accident is probably cleared up, and he'll be able to sneak back home.

"Yeah.. I'll go hide on his couch," he murmurs. Barney turns around and pulls at the kitchen window, letting himself out, back to the fire escape.

He doesn't even say 'good bye'.

*

Most of her didn't actually expect him to go. Most of her didn't want him to. But hurt is such an awful thing, especially when one has spent days stewing in it, and neither of them were really good at that emotions thing. "…Yeah…" She echoes, just a flutter of a whisper, he might not even hear it. She doesn't move off the couch yet, eyes now staring at the floor, not wanting to see him go. Her skeletal arms tighten around her knees as she hears the window open again, almost trying to hold her heart and everything together by that grasp alone.

"…bye…" She rasps at his back, hearing his boots on the fire escape. She doesn't bother moving to go close the window, scared that moment she lets go she might just scream. Or throw something. Or hit something. Instead a shivering, aching sob finally escapes her lips as her forehead bends to rest on her knees. The tears come hard again, rather harder than before, with those slightly healing wounds ripped viciously open again. She thought she was done crying.

Clearly, she was wrong.

*

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