(2019-02-03) It's All About Love
Calvin emerges on Superbowl Sunday for the first time since going into heavy duty rehab on lockdown at the ranch. He has a surprise for Vic.
Players:
calvin..vic..

It's been a week since Vic has seen or heard from Calvin. Why? Oh, because his new rehab team means business. Lead by the arriving Occupational Therapist, Hanifa Khan, or just Hana, a new plan was formed. A schedule was set. Everyone was kicked out and the house was locked down. Not even family for this week, at least, and even Grant, who's been staying at Calvin's for months, had to find a hotel. As Hana said, in an email to Calvin's loved ones, 'He goes on and on about people watching. No one will be watching now.' It's a little sinister, yes. But results? Well…

Super Bowl Sunday. Calvin only pays attention to the Broncos so it's no surprise that he's not parked in front of the television. Nope. Instead, a minivan with disabled tags pulls up to the Carmichael home. A young muslim woman, complete with a pale purple hijab comes bounding from behind the driver's seat. This is Hana. Calvin managed to sneak a picture of her to Vic before his phone was confiscated. Hana might bring Willow to mind for a moment. Full of youthful energy as she bounces up to the door and rings the bell. She's swaying slightly, like dancing to a song only she can hear.

*

Vic's family is watching the game of course. Her mom has put out a ton of snacks, and there is pizza and wings keeping warm in the oven. The Carmichael house is a homey Craftsman, built in the 50s but well maintained. Vic opens the door since mom and dad are ensconced on the couch together under a blanket, adorably. Relationship goals.

The former PI is in a black sweatshirt that boldly declares in red and white,"I'm rooting for everyone that isn't Tom Brady." Heh. She has jeans on, trying to get as many wears out of them she can before she has to move into maternity clothes. Her ugly fuzzy slippers are on her feet. She has a bottled water in one hand. It takes her a moment to register who this person is.

"Ms. Khan? I wasn't expecting you, is everything all right with Calvin?" she asks, concern furrowing her brow at the unannounced visit. If the woman has come to her to waive the white flag of surrender to her fiance's tantrums, she might just cry. She misses him, but the man can be a stubborn ass.

*

"Hana, please and Calvin is doing really well. He's a stubborn a-hole, sure, and he yells and flails and tantrums but I have zero effs to give." Hana talks fast with bit of a Texan twang. She did come from Austin. "Anyway, he is in that van and he wants you to get dressed—oh, rather, just put on some boots and bundle up. We are taking a trip. His first. In public. In /his/ wheelchair that came a few days ago. I told him he had to leave the house before I would let anyone in." She's hiding something. She is trying hard not to smile too big or tremble with excitement. But she's failing. "And he said, if he has to leave then it's going to count for something…" She bites her lip. "And it…totally does! Trust me!" She pauses a moment. "He turned a corner when his chair came in. I…I've seen it before but with him, it was different. Interesting. He's balancing therapies now. He's inching towards independence moreso than just rushrushrush and walking again. I'm going to let the family back in tomorrow. Just family. You, Donna and Craig. Miss Wren. Blood and love. He's not a recording artist right now. I'm rambling. It's cold. Get dressed! May I come in?"

*

Vic blinks as she takes in all the information the young woman spits out at her, but she gets the general gist that Calvin is being a good boy and doing as he is told. "Um sure come in, please. I'll just go up and throw on a sweater and some boots." She lets Hana in and makes a quick introduction to her parents. Lucy takes over from there, being a former nurse, and the talk goes technical as the PI climbs the stairs. She comes back down about 5 minutes later in a creamy cableknit sweater and her winter boots, with her hair straightened up (short makes life so much easier). She grabs her scarf and hat and gloves and coat, because no one is letting her out of the house without those. "So where are we going?" she asks the young woman as she bundles herself up.

*

"You'll see!" Hana pipes up at Vic. Hana looks younger than she really is or she's a wunderkind because she's an LPN as well as an Occupational Therapist. The tech talk goes deep. What is able to be gleaned is that Calvin is making progress. Slow, slow, tiny steps but any step counts with a spinal cord injury. "It was nice talking with you Lucy! Come on, Vic!" And out the house she skips….To the gray minivan. She opens up the passenger side for Vic and scurries back to the driver's side.

The minivan's outer blandness is made up for on the inside. First, there's Calvin. Calvin Shay and his sleek wheels. The chair's frame is metallic orange and black. Orange is his favorite color. He's strapped in the middle section of the modified van. Behind him, in the seat, is Iris, of all people. She waves hello and hands Calvin his guitar. /His/ guitar. The distressed black and brown one with the sunburst finish. The one he played when Vic sang with him. "Hey, babe. Get in. We're getting tattoos." He wiggles his left hand, his ring finger in particular. Calvin doesn't have tattoos. Not a single one. Some rock star he is. "But, I got a present for you first. Iris was gracious enough to be my backup."

*

Vic's eyes are wide in that 'what madness is this?' kind of expression as she climbs into the van. "Hey Iris," she greets, kissing the woman on the cheek before she arches a brow at Calvin and looks like she doesn't know whether to take a seat or run for the hills. She asides to Hana, "How much painkiller is he on?" as if completely not recognizing him in this jovial state since the shooting. She leans in to give him a gentle kiss and murmurs, "Do I need to sit down for this?"

*

"Sit, woman. Passenger side. I think that seat turns?" Calvin shrugs. Hana nods and shows Vic how. Meanwhile, Calvin's humming, warming up, tuning that guitar juuust so. Hana has Calvin's phone and she starts recording as soon as she's settled. "Rolling!" Beat. "Pun intended."

"I've been writing this song since…the first morning I woke up and thought of you first. I won't tell you how long that has been but…it's been a while. Victoria…" He pauses and leans on the guitar. "I love you. You are the person that I didn't know I was missing. I didn't know I needed. A woman of rare beauty. Inside and out. A woman who loves me back enough to talk shit to me when I need it. And be kind when I need that. We aren't halves of a whole. We are whole, alone, but we ride the same wave. We ride it, side by side and that is how it should be and how I want it to be and how it will be. I'm going to sing now. It's called Victory." He begins to play and sing with Iris as backup.

Vic's song begins tentative. Our narrator is fearful, afraid. He's been through hard times and hard love. He's fought his demons over and over. He's lost some. He's won more but only now he has achieved Victory. And the song changes from fear to triumph. The lyrics speak of optimism and hope and certainty. But only with Victory. He's shouts Victory from the mountaintops until it echoes in the valley. He shouts from the street corners until the word spreads. Victory is his. And he is Victory.

It's a personal song but catchy as hell. When Calvin finishes, he leans on the instrument again. He stretches out a hand towards hers and says, "Victoria Grey, will you bless me with your presence for the rest of our lives and marry me?"

*

Vic settles into the seat and gets it turned around with a mumble of "Is this a van or the space shuttle?" Vic, they don't even USE the Space Shuttle anymore. So yeah, maybe this is a repurposed one. Calvin could probably afford it. Ahem.

As the song begins, she settles in, hands in her lap, listening attentively. She loves his music, because it's an extension of him. It is him, and his soul is on display every time he writes something, sings something, plays something. He is an emotional creative, and so good at pouring his very being into his creations.

The deeper the song gets, the more watery Vic's eyes become, and her lower lip trembles as she digs in a pocket for a Kleenex to dab at her face with. This hope and optimism from someone who so recently had fallen down the rabbit hole into bleakness is a beautiful thing. By the time it's over, she's a hot mess, but she doesn't care, even if it's being recorded.

"Yes, yes I will. I love you Calvin. And I'm with you, all the way." Vic cries for joy.

*

"You aren't supposed to ask unless you know the answer but…I still half expected a no." Calvin chuckles, relieved. Hana and Iris are making a fuss of cheering and confetti. "Hana came up with the tattoo idea. I don't have any but you do. So. Let's seal this in ink. I called up Dex's artist. He runs a clean shop. Just a few blocks from my store. He's comfortable tattooing the ring finger of a pregnant woman if you are. If not, his wife does henna out of the shop for the college kids. Either way, I'm getting inked for the first time tonight so…yeah. Now I'm nervous. I wasn't before." Hana turns and starts to get the van in gear. "Dex had a tattoo?" Hana asks. "Plural." Calvin responds, shifting a bit. "Or…well, whatever you call covering your entire left leg with traditional American tattoo whatnots. Anchors, sparrows. Whole fucking leg. And a…Leo symbol over his heart. Which I'm going to get tonight too. A wedding band I can't take off and the long delayed dedication to my brother. Because…yeah." Iris rubs his shoulder. "Different Cal."

*

"That sounds like a wonderful idea. As long as it's a clean shop, you know my mom will keep an eye on it for any infections after. And I have lots of ink. Which is going to be so stretched out by the time these kids arrive," Vic notes with a snort, pulling up the bottom of her sweater to show some of the complete band of tattoos around her waist. "So enjoy them in their natural form while you can, because they are going to look like surrealism in a few months."

*

"Oh, babe, I will fucking pay to get you nipped, tucked, and pieced back to perfection. When my album is up for a Grammy next year, people will marvel at how fucking amazing you and your ink look in your mid-drift baring outfit." Calvin says, grinning. "And you know you can dress however you want at the Grammys." Calvin Shay has always worn a faded plaid shirt to the Grammys. Sometimes, he wore a hat. Cowboy. Trucker. He lined a pocket with sequins during his Pop Era. "So, what do you want to get? I was thinking maybe a V with a band. I also thought about just Vic. You get Cal. Three letters."

Hana gets the van in gear and off they go. She's a very safe driver, especially with the remaining snow still freezing the roads. Just like he said, they pull up to a familiar shop. Vic's probably been here before and it's the best. The van is lowered enough that ramp is pulled out once the side door is open. He navigates that with just a shove from Iris.

Inside, the artist is unfamiliar but he's a guy who looks human Ken doll. Blond, thirty-something, classic features, coiffed hair, blue polo shirt. I mean, yeah, he has two full sleeves of intricate tribal work on his arms but otherwise? Some beach kid named Hank.

*

Vic chuckles at the offer to plastics her way back into shape. "We'll see about that. The midriff bearing part, not the going with you to the Grammy's part," she clarifies. She gets out of the van and looks around the shop with the keen eye of a detective, making sure everything meets her standards in her pregnant state. As for the designs?

She points to an image on one of the walls, full of tattoos. It's a simple, elegant string in red, with a tied knot in it. "What about something like that, with those three initials? On the ring finger of course."

*

Calvin is still muttering about Vic awesome mid-drift of the future when Vic calls his attention. He stares at it for a moment and he looks at his hand. "Like…V-I-C here-ish?" He points to a spot beneath the bow. Hank has wandered over as well. "I can do that. And it's easier to touch up the sides when it's a single line. Smart lady, Cal."

Calvin rolls his eyes. "Smart mouth, maybe." He nudges her side. He gazes up at her, grinning lopsidedly. "Fuck, I love you." Looking down at Calvin has a plus. The light hits his blue eyes so perfectly, they seem to sparkle at her. "I want the string to be more bronzey. At least on me. Like a acoustic guitar string, yeah?" Hank nods. "Doable. Who's first? The painted lady?"

*

"I like the guitar string idea. Can you do it like that? Like a guitar string? With the coil marks, in a knot?" Vic looks excited about this, it ties in the music too. It's just right. It feels right. She bends down to kiss Calvin at his declaration. "I know. And I love you. Still need to put it on paper before Grant has a conniption on us."

*

"Paper. I know. But! I have an idea for an actual party!" Calvin is so excited to be reminded of this. Meanwhile, Hank wanders off to draw after a bit of thought and a nod. Hana and Iris are happily looking through books in the waiting area. "I know a million people who can legal perform a wedding. We clear the first floor of the store. Dress it up and so on. Get married real quick and then open the floor for…Karaoke!" He's gesturing excitedly and smiling. "I mean, that's…the best way I can think to include music and fun and I don't have to fret about the first dance. Ain't one. People are singing." It's like a gloom lifted off of him this week and he is back at full force. "We can use the second floor as—oh, nevermind. I don't know about that yet."

*

It should tell Calvin how much Vic really loves him, that she hasn't even considered that parts of him may never work again. She loves him anyway, and wants to be his wife. "That sounds like fun. Something small with family. We've both done the full ceremony with all the hoopla before. This is about love and those we love, not about a show. So let's bring the love and the fun."

*

"Love! I mean…exactly! I…I was going to ask…people to donate photos or art depicting love." Calvin stammers out. "Like, we could take professional photos, you and I, and mix them with selfies of Willow and Everett. Our folks wedding pictures. I was going to open that to…the town." Calvin pauses, gears clearly turning. "If I hurry, I can have it for Valentine's Day. Local gallery of love. I mean, the store's online now. I can shudder sales for a month. Love. Papering the walls. Local lovers. I can…ask for donations. Ah! Spinal cord injury research. I'm a genius. Then, when we're ready, we close the store for the private party and get to be surrounded by a town in love. While singing badly. Sober." Calvin isn't thinking much about the parts that don't work either. His mind is on fire and that's all that matters.

*

Vic gives Hana a look of thanks, because the young woman has clearly worked miracles with Calvin. One week has produced such a drastic change in him, his attitude, his spirits, and his outlook. "I think that sounds perfect, and Grant will appreciate the publicity I'm sure." She chuckles. "So lets get this ink done, because I'm good and ready for it!"

*

Hana smiles at Vic, warmly. Calvin will mention later, while Hank works on Vic's finger, that Hana read him like a book. He was up to his ears in denial and his natural vanity made a bad mix. He admits that it's 'really, really fucking hard' but he's feeling better living in the moment. He did almost die and burned through almost 20 units of blood. "If I had a kidney on that side, I'd probably be able to walk…except for the part about being dead. Walking dead."

Vic might be an old hat at tattoos but Calvin isn't. He's a bit of a baby, tense and winching as the guitar string is formed on his finger. When it's over, he has to forgo the second one for Dex, for now, at least. He admires the strings as Hank takes photos of his work. "Nothing more perfect than this right here, Vic." And coming from Calvin, that is the highest praise.

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