Spatiotemporal Loitering


des3_icon.gif luther_icon.gif sera_icon.gif

Scene Title Spatiotemporal Loitering
Synopsis Luther was. Des is. Sera might be.
Date March 7, 2018

Raytech Industries: Lobby

Early morning hours are always the easiest in an office environment. Fewer coworkers means fewer distractions. Fewer distractions means work is done faster. For someone working the phones on a local level, it also means a lower call volume. Under fluorescent lighting, Sera Lang looks like a corpse. Her eyes are red-rimmed, complexion blotchy and pallid. But she's smiling and serene.

Running one long-fingered hand through the tangle of her blonde hair, she reclines in her office chair at the front desk of Raytech Industries, watching the pale blue light of dawn start to creep up on the shadows. A steaming cup of coffee sits beside her keyboard, near a tiny ceramic pink elephant and a magic 8-ball.

The ring of the phone at this hour has her wheeling over to her computer, hastily tugging on her headset and frantically shaking her mouse to wake up her computer. After three rings she clicks a button and cheerfully announces, “Good morning, you've reached RayTech Industries. My name is Sera, how can I direct your call?"

It's any ordinary morning. Nothing unusual is happening.

Des doesn’t usually arrive by the front door. There’s a tunnel that links the corporate housing to the underground laboratories, a secured entrance that allows those in hiding to stay hidden. But Des is nothing if not brave when there’s something she wants. And this morning? It was coffee and a maple iced donut from that darling little shop a few blocks down. And the early morning weather is nice enough for a walk.

She’s carrying two bags in her hand along with her tall paper cup of vanilla latte. Sera receives a wide smile as Des approaches the desk and sets her things down. One of the two bags is nudged toward the receptionist. The words mouthed, For you. She can be nice when the mood takes her. And she’s trying to be nice these days. Why not start with donuts for the poor put upon admin?

Somehow, Odessa and Sera always meet like this. She's either on the phone, taking dictation in a meeting, or otherwise inaccessible right when Odessa arrives. But today, even though she's on the phone, Sera raises one finger to pause Odessa’s departure. “Certainly! Let me just…” Sera rolls her eyes at Odessa and points a finger-gun at her own head. “Who is calling and who are you looking to reach?”

With her former gun-hand, Sera quietly takes the bag in hand and delicately opens the top so as to minimize the paper crinkling. She mouths a thank you while listening to whatever long-winded boob is on the other end of the call. “I'm— sorry. Who?”

Sera squints, fingers clicking at keys as she shakes her head. Then, another roll of her eyes. “Nnnn— Okay. Um, I can direct you to his voicemail, Mister… ?” While the person on the other end is talking, Sera picks up her coffee and takes a quick sip, thrusting out another wait, wait finger at Odessa.

Des’ eyes grow a fraction wider for a moment, surprised to be held at the door by the receptionist. She nods her head and holds up a hand to indicate that, yes, she’ll wait for her to finish up. Dr. Desjardins is in no particular hurry this morning.

She sips her latte and cracks a grin at the just shoot me gesture. She knows that one well. Her tongue pokes out between her lips and with her free hand she brings her fingers together with her thumb. Open, close, open, close. Blah, blah, blah.

People are the actual worst.

Sera pantomimes the gesture back, rolling her eyes back into her head and tucking her chin into her neck in the most unflatteringly alien expression she can make. But then she's also talking in a business professional tone. “Iiiiii'm sorry I can't deliver personal messages to the CEO from just anyone. What did you say your name was?”

Sera waits, brows raised, expectant. “Hello?” She waits. “Hello?” A disgusted sound gurgles in the back of her throat. “This fucking city.” Taking the headset off she slaps it down on the desk and greedily fishes a wiggling hand into the bag Des had given her.

“Sorry about that, um.” Sera narrows her eyes. “Who’re you? I'll need to see some ID or something.”


Well, that’s deflating. Des thought they were sharing a moment. She sees Sera’s face every day, after all. She even waves good morning or good evening or whatever.

“Oh, sure, of course.” Wait. Is this a joke? Whatever, Des fishes her lanyard out from the folds of her spring coat and unclips the plastic sheath that holds her key card and company ID. She drops it onto the desk next to the bag Sera’s digging into. A maple iced donut of her very own.

“I didn’t know what you’d like, but that’s my favorite, so I thought I’d share something I liked.” Her shoulders come up in a little shrug. This is actually kind of depressing.

“You have really good instincts,” Sera admits as she takes the ID card. “Maple’s my favorite too!” Cheerily, Sera pivots in her chair and swipes the card over a reader, then makes a face at the screen. A noise in the back of her throat.

“Your card appears to be deactivated,” Sera looks back over to Des, teeth toying with her bottom lip before she brings the donut up and just takes a huge bite. “It says you've been fired,” she adds with a mouthful of donut, while also trying to keep a straight face. It's not really working all that well.

Sera is bored.

But Des isn't the only person who’ll bear witness to this practical joking. The front doors of Raytech open to the brief sound of street noise and construction equipment that usually works through the night, spilling a broad-shouldered and world-weary looking man into the lobby. In the time that Luther Bellamy has worked for Raytech as a contractor, he's never actually met the morning receptionist. He rarely has call to be here this early, but Richard has plans and sometimes plans happen early.

Sera, mouth full of donut, looks to Luther with a red-faced smile and raises one arm high to cheerily wave at him. She has maple frosting on her chin.

He looks as ghost white as she is. But not because of complexion.

Plaster clatters down from the ceiling where the panicked gunshot struck home, raining lightly down atop Luther's head. Standing behind a queen-sized bed and in the far corner of the small bedroom by a closed window is a horrified looking blonde woman, holding a matte black revolver in both hands, arms trembling, blue eyes wide. Blood is dried on one side of her face and across the oversized t-shirt she is wearing that does nothing to hide one very horrifying fact.

She is extremely pregnant.

"Stay the fuck away from me!" She screams, squeezing the trigger again and shattering a picture frame on the wall beside Luther. Mascara stains her cheeks black, eyes are reddened, puffy.

Everything comes into focus though.

Now he knows where he's seen her before.

He's scrubbing the greying shadow on his face and fighting a yawn (and winning) when Luther lumbers into the lobby. He's been one to rise with the sun plenty of times before, but not lately. His bed's been too soft. It's still taking some getting used to having proper furniture again. The hand scrubbing his chin starts up to rake through his close-cut hair when it stops short at the crown. For a brief moment it looks like he's stopped midway up to lift his arm in a wave back at the pallid woman with maple frosting on her chin. The only thing that drops is the color in his features. He stills to a dead stop, flashes of a past not entirely his own fill the screen of his mind's theater.

Shadows. Light. Fire. The body of a man, skull has been torn open and the brain gone, the remains just a bloody pool. Dead, glassy, bloody eyes. He's not forgotten it, even with all that he's seen of this world. He never will.

Luther's storm-grey eyes stare forward, unblinking, frozen not in terror but seeing a ghost all the same.

So it was a joke after all. That’s less depressing. Jokes means she’s one of the team. Des flashes the receptionist a grin and holds out her hand to take her keys and ID back. “That’s not what the boss said last night,” she quips. He will probably talk to her about saying things like that where anyone other than Kaylee can hear it. Someone’s liable to believe her. “Glad you like the donut! I’ll be sure to bring you more next time I go.”

Then someone has come into the lobby. Des has seen Luther around, but doesn’t know him exactly. The way he stops and stares at Sera sets her on edge. She glances between the two of them, trying to discern what could be the cause of that reaction. At her side, the fingers of the hand not held out to Sera are twitching restlessly. She’s feeling the invisible threads in the air, coiling them around her knuckles and holding. She won’t pull unless it’s proved she needs to.

“I wondered if you two were making Jesus cry,” Sera side-comments to Des with her eyes half-lidded and stare sidelong. “You seem like his type,” she notes with a mischievous and entirely work-inappropriate tone as she stuffs the last bit of donut into her mouth.

But then blue eyes whip expectantly to Luther. Sera smiles with professional decorum and seems wholly unphased by his shell shocked expression. “Mister Bellamy, did your breakfast not agree with you?” Then, more concerned. “Did you not have breakfast?”

This entire scenario is made more surreal by the fact that Sera Lang looks a few years younger than the woman Luther saved in the past. But only just so. Maybe it's the shorter hair. Maybe it's the lighting. Maybe he's losing his mind.

What inappropriate jokes and gossip goes between the ladies, Luther misses. The mental flashes slow down, but each lingering memory that does stay grips onto its chosen nerve with invisible force. An inward, thunderous boom. Then it all sweeps up into quiet.

She will need your help. She has needed your help.

"…to 1984… You will rescue a child— a baby, really, from a monster. If you decide to accept your destiny…"

"Do you have a gun, Luther Bellamy?"

"…Mister Bellamy?" Sera's question breaks through the depths, and Luther surfaces back into the present. The man sucks in a rapid breath, blinks twice, his gaze clearing from its shock and replacing it with brief confusion. Less staring now between the two women and more at the floor, the ceiling, the walls. Reorienting. A flush rises to his cheeks with embarrassment.

He swallows down, voice rough, unconvincing in reply. "I'm alright, Miss Lang. Might just need some… Coffee." His eyes turn slowly to Des as if truly noticing the other woman. "Er, sorry, I— Luther." He hastily tries to recover, holding his hand out to offer a shake.

Des shoots a glance over to the receptionist again and shakes her head, playing casual even though she’s ready to jump. “We’re not, really.” Making Jesus cry. “He’d glare at me so hard I might catch fire if he heard me joking like that.” While she thinks it’s funny to see him flustered, she also doesn’t want to actually get fired.

Des takes the offered hand with a smile that doesn’t quite reach her eyes. Because something about the way he just blanked there has her worried. She immediately wonders if it’s an ability of some kind, like visions? But knows better than to speculate too much. It’s never good when she lets her curiosity get the better of her. “Desdemona Desjardins. Call me Des. Nice to meet you, Luther.” She picked up the last name from the exchange, so she offers her own in return.

The threads around her fingers are allowed to loosen and fall away. In her perception, at least. It’s an unnecessary gesture, but it brings her assurance. If she needs to stop him, she can. A wary eye is kept on him as Des returns to her conversation with Sera. “Do you always get entitled crazies calling at this hour of the morning? Or is today special?”

Sera eyes Luther again, brows furrowed and coffee clutched in both spidery hands, eyes wide. She slurps down a few mouthfulls to help wash down the too-swiftly eaten donut. There's a long, awkward, silent stare from Sera as if she's somewhere else. Then, belatedly she looks over to Des.

“Right. Job.” Sera snatches up a pen and scribbles down the note. “It was just some mush-mouthed old man who said he played chess with Mr. Ray in the park before or something.” Sera eyes the phone log on her computer. “It had to have come from a nursing home or something,” she waves one hand dismissively.

His smile crinkles with crow's feet at the edges of his eyes, Luther's expression showing a willful push down of his prior distress, keeping civil and not like he just had an episode. The man's grip feels solid, unlike the rest of him, workman's hands grasping Des' digits with a warm cover, like his body temperature defies the early morning chill outside. "It's quite a name you got there, Des. Don't trust any men named Iago, right?" His gaze dips briefly as he appears to regret the attempted lighthearted joke. Points for trying, Luther. But also, no points for referencing a Shakespearean tragedy upon meeting a lady whose named character ends with murder.

He clears his throat, dropping the shake before it gets any more awkward, and turns back to regard Sera. It's not that Luther is coming for Sera's coffee or anything. And looking grateful that Des also returns to something more present like the job at hand, he listens to the women's exchange this time. A slight frown pulls at the corners of his lips at the mention of "chess" along with Richard. "You really ought to pass that along to him."

“I never do,” Des replies to the joke with a faint smile. No, it’s not a very good one, but it beats the way people used to quip about her being a pirate in her previous life. She can handle Shakespearean tragedy.

“Do you want me to take that to him?” Des eyes the note and glances to Luther, wondering what he knows. But she’s good at keeping her face passive, brows lifted as she looks back to Sera, happy to assist. “Maybe it’s an uncle or something,” she posits with a shrug. Like she doesn’t have a gnawing feeling in the pit of her stomach.

The note is torn away from the notepad, and Sera kicks away from her desk and wheels — not close enough. Blue eyes flick to the floor, brows furrow, and with a belabored sigh, Sera kicks her heels against the floor and wheels herself the rest of the way on her office chair to Des’ side. She wags the note at the brunette, then just fishes around for a pocket and jams the note in.

“Mnhmm,” Sera vocalizes, kicking back away from Odessa and heel-creeping her chair all the way back to her desk. “Company policy is that employees shouldn’t loiter in the lobby,” Sera notes as she picks up her coffee again, eyeing Luther with a side-eyed stare. That isn’t company policy at all, it’s just hard to watch that minimized video on her computer when other employees are around. That video of a cat isn’t going to watch itself.

It's not hard to imagine the quirk of Luther's brows up as mild surprise when Des doesn't appear offended by the tragedy of a punchline. The man only shrugs back, though, when she offers to pass the message along to the boss. Further thought furrows his brow when Sera rolls over to Des and casually goes about pocketstuffing. The man studies the lady of the front desk, her manner, her appearance. It's not a flash of the past that he witnesses then, but a puzzle to ponder.

Sera's statement of "company policy" shakes him from his drop back into a serious countenance. His hands lift, palms help up and he turns to shuffle off. "Okay, got it," he says with a sidestep of retreat. "You ladies have a good morning." He gets a few feet away before pausing and turning, asking of Sera in as not-awkwardly a way as possible, "When's your birthday, Miss Lang? Or, what year?"

“Oh!” Okay, so that’s Sera’s hand in her pocket. That’s fine. Des chuckles quietly. She’s the last person to think someone’s violating boundaries. Well, she may think it, but she knows better than to cast stones from her glass house. “Nooo problem. I’ll stop at his office first thing.”

Des picks up the bag with her donut, trapping it between her fingers and her latte. She’s about to move inside when Luther levels his curious question. Yeah, Des is not leaving Sera alone with him. Something about this whole thing feels off. She watches Sera’s face first for any sign of offense, then looks back to Luther to try and size up his intent.

Sera leans back in her chair, back again, back further. She’s looking upside-down at Luther. “April 8, 1984.” One brow raises, “are you doing that thing where you subtract twenty from your age then multiply it by two to figure out if I’m old enough for you to date?” Sera isn’t sure that’s the math for that equation, but the principal stands. “I’m spoken for, I’ll have you know.” She holds up a hand, there is no ring on it. “I’m married,” she adds in a way that is joking and yet horrifying to Luther.

“Married to…” Sera’s upside-down eyes narrow, “my job.” Then she sits forward and upright again, furiously clicking literally nothing on her keyboard.

Luther's jaw grows tight again, but he's prepared this time for the weird feeling that hits him like a slap. The man's eyes slowly blink and he takes in a long, steadying breath, mustering a half-smile to go with the shake of his head. "No Miss Lang, I know when I'm beat." The weight of the statement is denser than it ought to be with the casual nature of conversation, but it's there. So to lighten it, he adds, "Mathematically." But even he can't avoid the low chuckle that comes from Sera's statement and her antics at the keyboard. "As are we all," rumbles the man with another glance to Des, spotting her eyeing of him. He remains enigmatic in his reasons of asking, however, his face a picture of an innocent countenance that nonetheless seems to harbor dark secrets.

It's with that he turns and moves on, hand pushing the door leading into the interior offices. "Have a good morning Miss Lang, Miss Desjardins."

“Good morning, Mister Bellamy.” After the door closes behind Luther, Des finally relaxes. Then, she shoots a smile Sera’s way, brows lifted. “No way, really? We’re birthday twins! Did you know that?” Look at that! Same birth date, same taste in breakfast pastries… Sometimes the world has its fun coincidences.

“But that was weird, right?” She points after Luther, expression growing more serious again. “Do I need to talk to the boss?” Because Des is not about to let something to happen to Sera. To anybody around here, if she can help it. But she’s protective of other women in that way that women often are with each other.

“I saw him pick a half of a ham-salad sandwich out of the trash once.” Sera notes without turning around, paying no mind to the birthday twin commentary. “A long, vacant stare might be the least weird thing Mister Bellamy’s done.” Swiveling in her chair to face Des, Sera cradled her nearly finished coffee in both hands. Blue eyes become momentarily piercing, brows raise expectantly.

Des,” Sera notes emphatically, chin tipped up. “Loitering.

“Ew.” At least when Des was slumming it, she could just steal food that wasn’t out of a trash can. Life must really be awful for everyone else. “All right. If you say so. But if he gives you any trouble, let me know, huh? I’ll handle it.” Probably not with a knife. Probably.

Then she’s being fixed with that stare and Des actually leans back slightly. Tips her own chin up and looks down the length of her nose at Sera where she’s seated and cracks an amused smirk. “Yeah, okay. Have a good morning, Sera.”

Des shakes her head as she heads into the office interior and toward the elevator that will take her to the lower level laboratory where she’s set to meet with Richard and Kaylee. Next time she’ll bring more donuts. A box of them.

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