Always such touchy business posting fanfic. Folks more versed in the fanfic world always give such effusive disclaimers, it’s almost like an admission of guilt somehow. Guilty because somebody else’s work inspired them so much that they had to write their own? You’d think such a thing would be the highest form of praise. Anyway, all those standard disclaimers apply here as well. I love these characters a lot, but I own them not one bit. And, if it needs to be said, I earn absolutely nothing from this blog for anything I write. Nothing but readers, which to any writer really, are the real gold (albeit actual real gold is quite useful too, don’t get me wrong :)).
Here’s an expanded version of the Billions fanfic I wrote before Season 2 began. Setting remains a flashback to the time around 9/11, possibly a couple days, or maybe a week, after it happened. In this version, it’s more of an imagined bookend to the end of this year’s fantastic season. Also, I should add, I’ve written this only because, I think, it is decidedly NOT something that’s going to happen on the show. I wrote it because someone had to go there. I figured, why not me. Enjoy!
Episode opens and closes to Jason Isbell’s “24 Frames.”
A small apartment, downtown Manhattan, West Village. The air is hazy. There’s a thick layer of white dust and ash on the window sill. Light from the window picks up dust in the air, making it sparkle.
We see Bobby in bed asleep. His face is buried in the pillow. A shock of thick disheveled flames of hair, to the tops of his shoulders is all we see of him. Next to him, Wendy is awake, propped up on a pillow, frowning and gazing sadly out the window as she smokes a clove cigarette.
Bobby stirs awake, and plants his feet on the ground. We see his bearded face, eyes bloodshot and puffy. Everything about him is fragile, like he could shatter with one touch. He’s very purposefully not looking at Wendy. He quickly gets dressed and leaves the room, never turning to look at Wendy.
Wendy takes a last drag and crushes out her clove. She starts looking for her phone. Not finding it on her side of the bed, she reaches over to where Bobby had been and finds it there. She flips it open and calls her office.
“Hey, Gail, remind me, who’s my 9 o’clock today?…She’s the one with the sister in the South Tower, right?…Yeah, yeah, okay, let her know I’m running a little late…Don’t let her leave, okay?…I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
Wendy flips her phone closed. She picks up Bobby’s pillow and sinks her face into it, holding it close for a few seconds. Then, she resolutely gets out of bed, gazes out the window at the veiled light while she gets dressed.
We see Bobby on the sidewalk, from the back, heading further downtown, further into the cloud of smoke and debris. He’s holding his jacket in his hand, letting it drag nearly to the ground. The sidewalk and street, everything, is covered in white ash and littered with white paper. We can see Bobby’s footprints in the ash as he staggers, shuffling through the paper.
“Hey, excuse me, sir?” Through the haze, a fire fighter calls to Bobby from across the street. “You can’t be down here, man. You need to go back. Go home.”
The fire fighter’s voice goes quieter “There’s nothing for you down here, go home.”
Bobby looks dazed in the direction of the voice. His eyes can’t seem to focus on the fire fighter. Nonetheless, he nods vaguely, and turns around.
As he’s walking, his Blackberry rings. Bobby clicks it on to hear a voice with a Londoner accent. “Mr. Axelrod? We’re calling to confirm your order for 2 million of RYA?”
Bobby answers firmly, “Yep, it’s a go. I added a couple more to that order, did you get those?”
“Yes, sir. BMS…and BOE?”
“That’s right, Braemer Shipping and Boeing. Increase that last one to 5 million.”
“Very well, sir, we’ll be emailing confirmation of those borrows shortly.” The broker goes quiet for a few seconds, but he doesn’t hang up.
“Anything else you want to ask me?” Bobby asks.
“Good, we’re clear then. Aren’t you guys closing in a couple hours? Why am I just getting this call now?”
“Your borrow will process first thing tomorrow morning, sir. We’ve been a bit… overwhelmed…with recent events.”
Bobby leans into the phone. “Oh, YOU’VE been overwhelmed, have you?” He sighs in exasperation. “Just do your fucking job and get me those shares, okay?”
He clicks off the phone, stares at it a second, scrolls thru his numbers and dials.
He gets voicemail. “This is Robert Axelrod for Lin Wei. As soon as your market opens I’d like a put of 500 shares on SIPG. Please call to confirm.”
He clicks his phone off and tucks it back into his pocket. He turns to look back at downtown. Then, he glances to his right and seems surprised to see he’s walked as far north as Chelsea Park, the soccer field taken over by tents. Still holding his jacket limply, he sits on top of a brick wall at the edge of the park and stares vacantly at the tents. He sees a woman in scrubs, blond hair, wide sturdy shoulders, leaning over a patient. She stands up and catches him looking at her. On instinct, she gives him the once-over, a visual triage, to see if he needs medical attention. But, whatever damage he’s suffering isn’t something that would be visible to her. She holds his gaze and raises a hand up to wave. This small act of kindness provokes him to crack a smile in return and wave back. He’s surprised by the feeling of smiling. It feels wrong. He turns back to the street and continues walking.
Finally, after walking several blocks, he lands in a dark bar in midtown. He downs a shot, orders another one, and scrolls to find Wendy’s number on his phone.
Wendy is sitting at her office desk jotting down notes on a writing pad. She sees the number pop up on her phone, slowly flips it open and says a quiet “Hey.”
“Look, are you okay? I wanted to thank you for picking me up last night from that place. I would’ve called a cab or taken the train but I could barely walk.”
“Bobby, you don’t need to explain anything to me.”
“Yeah, I know. I just…are we okay, then?”
“Of course we are. We’ll always be,” Wendy smiles a slight smile into the phone. “And, you don’t need to thank me every single time, Bobby. There’s no place else…Look, all of us, everyone in this city is raw as hell right now and will be for the foreseeable future. We all need to carry each other as best we can. You lost your entire office. You don’t need to apologize or thank me for being there for you.”
Bobby inhales and nods into the phone, “Yeah, okay.”
Wendy holds the phone close to her and continues, “As anonymous as we all are in this town, we also spend a lot of time in each other’s faces. There is intimacy here. We sense each other always, no matter how alone any one of us feels at any given moment. These were people we rode the subways with, people we beat down for cabs in the rain, people we jostled for sidewalk space with…”
Bobby interrupts her. “The posters everywhere, the flyers. People looking for family,” he says. “They’re all going to realize that none of those people are ever coming home. What the fuck, you know?”
“Yes, I know,” Wendy sighs and continues. “People we stood behind in line for coffee. All of it, all of the city things city people do, we were all in it together. Now, these are people that are missing, never coming back to do any of these things ever again….Look, I guess what we need to know and remember right now is that none of us is alone. You’re not alone, neither am I.”
Bobby’s eyes sting. He motions the bartender for another shot and when it arrives he looks at the glass, tracing a finger around its rim, but not raising it to his mouth. He finally pushes the glass away and continues talking.
“Where are you now? Can we…I’m outta words, Wendy. It’s just a pit, you know. A deep fucking hole full of nothing but nausea. I don’t know what to do with it. I made some calls after I left you this morning. I needed to do something.”
“You made calls? You mean trades?” Wendy asks. She doesn’t wait for him to answer. “Yes, okay, same place. Tell me what you did and we’ll work on it together.”
“I don’t want to….” He steels himself up and continues. “I don’t want to be an asshole to you.”
“You’re not Bobby. You can’t be,” Wendy says. “I’m here, the bed in that room is there for you to use however you need to. Whether we do all of this together or not, whether we go our separate ways once this is done. Know that I’ll be here, always.”
“Where are any of us going to be once this thing is done? Will it ever be done? Can you actually see an end to what we’re feeling right this second?”
“I don’t know, Bobby. No one has those kinds of answers. I do know the entire world is on our side at this very second. Just as I’m on your side. There’ll probably be hell to pay for this, for a really long time. What we need to remember, I think, is that the lunatics who did this died in those planes too. We don’t have them to fear anymore, not today. Of course, there was some mastermind behind it, and we’ll no doubt be going after him, but, right now, right this second, when we all feel like we’ll never be safe again, we need to remember that we will. We will be safe again. As long as we have each other, we’ll be safe and we’ll go on. So many people gone, lost. It is just too much right now. I know that Bobby.”
She stops and listens for a response. All she hears is him breathing. She continues, “We need to remember that, most likely, maybe 10 or 15 years from now, we’ll have rebuilt the whole thing. Or maybe we’ll build something else in its place, something to honor all those lives lost. We, WE will build something again. Together. Maybe those calls you made were a way to do that?”
Bobby has been listening intently to everything Wendy has said. The sting behind his eyes has become less bitter with her every word. He straightens up and resolutely leans into the phone. “I need to see you. I need to be with you.. now.”
He barely waits for her softly whispered “Okay” before hanging up. He proceeds to throw down some cash, grab his jacket and leave the bar, heading south again, into the haze and dust, back to her apartment, back to her bed.
Meanwhile, Wendy walks out of her office, telling her receptionist to reschedule the afternoon’s appointments.