Normal People


des_icon.gif ray_icon.gif

Scene Title Normal People
Synopsis Ruminating about their commonalities, Richard and Desdemona narrowly avert disaster.
Date March 3, 2018

Raytech Industries Corporate Housing

By the time Desdemona is fumbling with the key card that will let her into the controlled entrance of her apartment building, she's walked off most of the alcohol she consumed at the arcade. "C'mon, fuck you. God damn it," she growls as she presses her card to the sensor. Her hands are shaking, but the light eventually does change from red to green, a click! signaling that the lock has disengaged.

The door is wrenched open and Des pulls the push bar on the other side to close it behind her. While she's all but certain she hasn't been followed, she's paranoid. She's looking over her shoulder as she moves forward, not watching where she's headed. Until she nearly collides with someone and she shrieks out in surprise.

"Whoa— " A lift of Richard's hands as he drops back a step from the startled woman, both brows lifting upwards as he does so, "Whoa, Des, whoa. Just me."

The suit jacket a bit uneven, tie as usual missing, in more casual mode as he heads out of the building. Or maybe he was just going to open the door for her while she was looking backwards. He notices that frantic look in her eye, brow furrowing, "You alright?"

She could lie. And he would know she's lying. Des shakes her head quickly. "No." She closes her eyes and visualizes pushing her heart back into her damn chest. "Not really."

Looking up again, she's apologetic. "I decided to go out, try to have a good time. Be normal." Spending time at Benchmark has gotten her to feeling better about things lately. It made her careless. "There was a member of the Ferry there. I don't think she recognized me, but… I didn't take any chances. I got out and came right back here."

At first, Richard frowns… and then there's the mention of why she's so panicked, and he breathes out a sigh. "Inevitable, really, there's a lot of them in town," he says quietly, turning a bit to sweep a hand in invitation for her to go past him, the other reaching to touch her shoulder reassuringly, "Who was it, do you know the name…?"

One last look is cast over her shoulder. One last assurance that no one is standing outside and watching her. Des nods and heads inside at Richard's urging. "I'm… trying to remember." She makes her way toward the elevator slowly, some tension starting to uncoil from her shoulders now that she's inside. This is where she's safe. "Queen? No, that's not right… She was living at Gun Hill while I ran the clinic."

"…mnm. Robyn Quinn? Little thing, black hair…?" Richard's nose wrinkles slightly, "I know her. She's good people, but — not someone that you'd want to have identify you, no, I'll definitely agree there. If she didn't make you, then you're fine. You don't look much like you used to, it's been six years…" He hits the button for the elevator, his other hand lingering on her shoulder to keep her reassured, "No harm done."

Des hangs her head, defeated. "Yeah, that's her." It doesn't even surprise her that he came up with the name so quickly. Richard seems to know everybody in this town. "I know she's good. They… They all were." Except the one that she trusted the most. Funny how that always seems to work out for her.

Gaze is fixed ahead at her distorted reflection in the elevator doors. It makes her realize she's still wearing her sunglasses - even at this hour - and she pulls them up to rest on top of her head instead. "I'm never going to have normal," she says softly. It's not the first time she's realized it by any means, but tonight sort of hammered it home. "Maybe I shouldn't be here… Putting you at risk."

"Don't be ridiculous." Richard looks down at her with a single brow's raise, his expression stern, "If I didn't want to take that risk, Des, you wouldn't be here. You're doing good things here, and… frankly that's worth more than the risk. You don't deserve to be hiding in a hole somewhere when you're legitimately trying to make up for the shit you were led into."

He breathes out a sigh, and as the doors slide open, "Maybe one day we'll have normal. Any of us."

Des steps into the elevator with a self-deprecating smirk on her face and presses the button for her floor. She looks at him from beneath raised brows. "I'm sure the war tribunal would be real interested to hear about all my advancements in medical science and be willing to grant me a full pardon."

Or they'll be thrilled to lock her in another cage to continue her work. That would be familiar.

Richard steps in after her, shaking his head slightly. "You can't think like that, Des," he says, frowning as he looks down to her, "And I mean, you know you could just — run off to South America or something, if you really wanted to. The fact that you haven't means a lot."

She's thought about it. Cross the border, go somewhere without an extradition treaty and secure passage to Europe. But her resources are finite, her means to recover them reduced. Des smiles faintly. "Sure." It means something to him, that much she'll believe.

"For the first time, I don't want to run." The admission is quiet. "I've made friends here." Maybe more than that. There's a mystery to be solved. The chime alerts them that they've arrived on her floor and Des leads the way out of the elevator car and down the hall to her apartment. This time her hands aren't shaking when uses her key to gain entance.

As much as he's seen, there's an optimist somewhere deep down there that wants to believe the best in people… although he does keep an eye on her all the same. He wants to believe, but he's not foolish, either.

"Good." Richard crooks a smile as he steps after her, hands clasping at the small of his back as he walks with her back to her apartment door, "Friends are… important. And I'd be upset to lose you." He wouldn't force her to stay, though.

"You're very sweet." Des pushes open her door and steps inside, lingering just inside the door to see if he's planning to join her. "Are we friends, Richard?" It's a simple question, but not quite as much as it appears to be on the surface.

There's no attempt made to walk into her apartment, Richard lingering out in the hall as she steps inside. At the question, he considers her for a moment. "I hope so," he says simply, admitting with a faint smile, "I'm not good with friends, but I try."

"Well, since we're friends…" Des steps aside and gestures for the man to come in. "I can fix you a drink?" Once he's inside, she locks the door up behind him and makes her way further in.

He's familiar with the layouts of the apartments, of course. The doctor's looks more like a showing model than anything else. It lacks personal touches, saved for a stack of files scattered across the coffee table. A laptop open on the kitchen island. The walls are dove grey. There's a single photograph on the end table at one arm of the black upholstered sofa. A black and white image of Bella Sheridan in profile with her chin in her hand, looking over a report. Obviously unaware her visage was being captured, or she would likely have covered her face.

"Be it ever so humble…" Des walks over to a glass-doored cabinet in her kitchen and pulls down a bottle of gin and two lowball glasses.

Ray actually hesitates for a moment, one hand sliding to scrub against the back of his neck— and then with a shrug and a wordless what the hell he moves to step along inside, his hand dropping back down to his side. At her quote, he glances over with a slight smile, "….there's no place like home."

Then he walks slowly inside, looking around the room again and noting quietly, "There's a difference between home and where you live, though."

"I've never had a home," Des says gently. "Not really." Each glass is pressed to the ice dispenser built into the fridge in turn, cubes clinking merrily. Gin is splashed in next, then tonic.

Des sets both glasses down on the island and finally starts to undo the buttons of her long wool coat. "The Company was the closest thing I ever had to home, and we both know that doesn't count."

"That makes two of us." Richard brings one shoulder up in an easy shrug, "The orphanage didn't really count, none of the foster homes ever really worked out… even when I was staying at Liz's place, that was her place. Not mine." A wry look over, "Ironically, the closest place I ever had to consider home was a drafty-ass library in the ruins we converted… that felt right."

He shrugs, "It's probably rubble now, though, after everything. So I feel you there, Des."

The coat is hung up in the closet by the front door while Richard relates. Des smiles faintly, unwinding a gauzey scarf from around her throat and draping it over the hanger before shutting the door and heading back to the open kitchen to retrieve her drink. "Do you ever wonder if any of it was real?"

"Sometimes." Richard motions a bit with one hand, "I mean, how many people can say they've killed themselves but it wasn't suicide? All the time travel, the prophecies… once upon a time I was just a petty crook in State Island." He steps over to the island, reaching out to lift one of the glasses and considering the way he catches the light, saying more quietly, "But whatever happened, happened."

"I don't know what people are supposed to remember." The tonic cuts the burn of the gin, but it still feels warm when it settles in her stomach. "I have these… gaps. I always thought it was because my life was so boring. Now? I'm not so sure." Being that she was raised within The Company, that she knows what Elle dealt with, means it shouldn't come as any surprise that her memories may have been altered, but there it is.

"Oh, that? Christ…" he slants over a sympathetic look, "It's hard to tell. Between the Haitian, Bob, Charles… growing up with the Company, who the fuck knows?" Richard considers the shot glass for a moment, and then he slams it back, eyes closed for a moment as it goes down. Quietly, he admits, "Someone who was very good at background checks once ran one on me. Know what he found?"

He's not wrong there. She may never know what she lost. There's so much that doesn't make sense anymore. So many questions unanswered. Des watches him down his drink and shakes her head. "I have no idea."

"Nothing. A birth certificate, a driver's license. A prison record. What was it he said…" Richard looks at the ceiling for a moment, searching for the words, and then he looks back over with a wry half-smile, "'That don't sound like a man, that sounds like a lie.' Then he tried to kill me." He looks at the empty shot glass, "So who the fuck knows. I've been manipulated and controlled for most of a decade, so - the idea that it goes back even further's no real big leap, honestly. So yeah, I know what you mean, Des."

Des doesn't have the words for these situations. She never has. No one ever had them for her before. So she does the only thing she knows to do. Reaches up to cup one hand against his jaw and rub her thumb over his cheek, looking at him with sympathy. She understands. "I don't know who I am anymore. I don't know who I ever was."

Ray isn't expecting that touch, but he leans into it a bit, one hand coming to briefly cover hers. Just a bit of a smile as he looks back to her and says simply, "Take it from someone who's given it a lot of thought… it doesn't matter who you were. All that matters is who you are now. And only you get to decide that."

Blue eyes close and Des sets her drink aside again. "I am desperately sad," she admits, stepping closer to him. "I will never erase the awful things I've done. I will never be able to go out into the world and be myself, whoever that even is." Her eyes open again, and she looks away to some point in the middle distance. "I don't know why I'm still alive."

"I can empathize. Some days I wonder that myself… I think I've died as many times as you." Richard takes a deep breath, and then exhales it in a sigh, reaching out to set the emptied shot glass on the island, "The nuns I grew up with would probably say that we're both here for a reason. That we have a purpose to fulfill. I don't doubt that, honestly, although I think it's probably not God's plan, but— well. Someone a bit more mortal than that." He looks at her seriously, then, saying, "If you want to go, I won't stop you. I can probably get you anywhere in the world you'd want to go. I wouldn't blame you. You could start over. I'd rather you stay, that you keep working here, but— I understand if you'd rather start over."

"It doesn't matter where I go." There's a softeness and vulnerability to her that is usually locked away, hidden from the world. It's different from the face she puts on when she wants to manipulate a person. This? This is genuine. "The past is everywhere I go. At least here, someone has my back. Out there? I have nothing."

"Yeah, I guess that's the shit thing about trying to run away from things…" A slight shrug of his shoulder, "You can't run away from yourself. I mean not counting some sort of mind-erasure and I don't recommend it, that'd just make things worse…" It's a joke, if a weak one.

"No kidding." Des' eyes look over his face, like she's memorizing the lines and details of him. Her hand on his cheek slides back a little, fingers curling slightly around the base of his neck. "Do you want to kiss me?" She doesn't know any other way to deal with her sorrow beyond drugs, alcohol, or sex. None of those options is especially healthy on their own.

"Desdemona…" A crook of that smile up at one corner, Richard's hand coming up to brush the hair from her brow before settling to the curve of her cheek, "You know damn well that's be an absolutely disastrous idea for our relationship." He doesn't say that he doesn't want to - as far as she knows he's been single since she's known him, and he's definitely into women - just that it'd be a terrible idea.

Now her eyes close and she leans into his touch. That sadness she spoke of etches into the lines of her face, causes her shoulders to sag. "I've been so alone since—" Eyelids flutter and tears gather on dark lashes.

A sigh whispers past his lips, and he steps in closer— not to kiss her, but to wrap his arms around her and pull her against him. "I know," he says quietly, "So have I. I'm sorry, Des."

An embrace can suffice. It's human contact, which is what Des craves so desperately. The hand on his face slides away so she can wrap her arm around his shoulders instead. The other slides around his midsection to rest her hand on his back. "I know it's better that he's gone. I know I'm better for it, but…" But it does nothing to stop the ache in her chest.

Richard Ray, of course, has no idea who she's talking about, but given her checkered history he can probably make some general guesses that it's someone that wasn't good for her. He brushes one hand over her hair, down the back of her neck, a reassuring contact as he pulls her head in to his chest. "We always want what's bad for us," he tells her quietly, "What's important is that we recognize that it is."

If he knew the extent of her life during the war, he might never have taken her in. Better that he doesn't know, and she knows it. Some secrets are hers to keep until they can't be kept any longer. Des tips her head up, chin nudged against his sternum with a small smile, tears rolling down her cheeks. "Like this?"

"Hey, nothing wrong with two friends being there for each other," Richard looks down to her with a faint smile, one hand coming up to wipe a tear from her cheek with his thumb. There's a moment's pause, and he offers, "Why don't we get a pizza— " No delivery in this neighborhood but there's some frozen ones in the communal stores, "— watch a movie or something? You know. Normal people shit."

That smile broadens and she blinks away the last of her tears. "You know what? That sounds great. But no action flicks. Something funny." Des withdraws from the embrace and wipes away the tracks from her face. "I think we could both use a little laughter."

"Done, and, done." She draws back, and Richard steps back as well, offering her a grin, "So what's your taste in comedy? Brooks, Pryor, the Stooges, Jack Black— please don't say Will Ferrell, I'll never have respect for you again." Joking, of course.

"Marx Brothers," Des answers with a grin. "Gotta love the classics." Her drink is retrieved and she tips her head back toward the door. "Go on, then. Get us something with pineapple, huh? I'll pre-heat the oven and fix you another drink."

"Ah! A woman of culture," Richard approves, pointing at her with a finger-gun motion, "Hawaiian pizza and Duck Soup, coming right up." He turns then to head for the door, hands spreading, "Be right back!"

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