A Game of Catch Up


chess_icon.gif luther_icon.gif

Scene Title A Game of Catch Up
Synopsis Breaking bread with a friend and offering her another safe spot in the Safe Zone to stay.
Date March 29, 2018

14th Regiment Armory, Park Slope

This brick-and-stone castlesque structure was originally a National Guard armory built in 1893, and is also known as the Park Slope Armory or Eighth Street Armory. The armory consists of a three-story building with asymmetrical towers and a one-and-one-half-story, barrel-vaulted drill shed (the latter of which was converted into an indoor sports complex in 2009). After serving as an armory for the New York National Guard, the building was later converted into a women's shelter and the drill shed into a YMCA sports complex, complete with a track, a basketball court and bleachers.

During the Second Civil War, freedom fighters were quick to claim the complex. As a result, it was badly damaged in the fighting and abandoned, but it has become a temporary home to many drifters or squatters since.

The outside has visible damage from explosives and gunfire. Along with the usual graffiti tags and drawings, there are remnants of coded messages left during the war. Within, the renovated drill shed still holds several cots set up for the injured during the war, most of these broken, soiled, and abandoned. The offices and dorms inside the main building have long been looted, the relics in a tiny museum long stolen. Anything useful has long been stolen; in its place, those who have stayed within the walls have left their marks in bodily fluids, graffiti, and debris.

At the base of the stairwell leading up to the tower of the 14th Armory, someone (i.e. Chess) has set a couple of old, dilapidated and rusted metal trash cans; they're not enough to keep anyone from moving them and taking the stairs, but the noise they make when moved out of the way against the old stone floor will definitely alert anyone at the top of the steps. Especially thanks to the half-dozen aluminum cans trailing off of the handles like a "Just Married" car.

In the circular room at the top of the tower, Chess is on her stomach on a bed roll reading a yellow-paged, dog-eared book. There's still enough late afternoon light peeking through the narrow windows that she doesn't need the lantern that sits nearby.

Not making himself the stealthiest intruder, Luther spots the can-alarm system with a low chuckle to himself. His hand reaches out, twanging the strings that hold the cans aloft, sending them clanking and clanging in alert. Then the man thumps his way up the rest of the steps as he appears in the doorway. "Ding-dong, Avon calling," he rumbles out in a decent humor. Slung over his shoulder, a duffel bag half filled

As soon as she hears the cans, Chess is up onto her feet, moving to where she can see down the stairwell but still be protected by a bit of wall and a filing cabinet. She sees him just about the same time as he calls up.

Stepping out from behind the filing cabinet, she appears at the top of the stairwell, bouncing a baseball in one hand. "Hey. How's your shoulder?" she asks, since the last time she'd seen him, it was right after he'd been shot over on Staten. "Healing okay? You did follow up and get some actual antibiotics for that, right?" Her eyes move to the duffel bag, and she lifts a brow. "You moving in? I didn't put an ad out for a roommate." Her words are wry — they could of course both live at the armory and never see one another — there may even be squatters elsewhere in the building she's unaware of.

The duffel bag swings down from Luther's shoulder soon as she appears. "Hey you," he says with a slow roll of the injured shoulder. "It's going to be alright, thanks to your fingers. And antibiotics. And Raytech's healthcare plan." That last one is half spoken in jest. When she mentions the roommate, he smirks and steps into the small tower room with a look around. "Hmmm it's not a bad setup. How much are you charging? Do I get a grand tour?" He's probably passed a few squatters downstairs on the way here.

She moves to where a desk sits in one corner, hopping up on it and swinging her legs. There's a resin patio chair for him to sit in if he likes; the desk chair has long since been stolen but the desk is heavy and scarred, likely older than Luther and Chess put together.

"Insurance is for sissies," she says with a smirk, reaching with her booted foot to push the white resin chair his way. "How much am I charging — it depends on what I'm trying to blow up," she quips back. "Still, can't beat the view. You get used to the smell." The building as a whole does smell like it's been used as a urinal on more than one occasion.

"Insurance is gonna keep me alive long enough to bother you awhile," Luther says, lumbering to the patio chair and sinking into it slowly. She knows he doesn't tend to waste the energy when he doesn't need to. The man smirks, though, since they both know there's a smell. "But more importantly, how about you? You haven't run into any more trouble out of Staten, yeah?"

The question earns him a raise of her brows and Chess studies Luther's face for a moment, perhaps to decide if he knows something and is trying to get her to admit it without asking her to first. She swings her feet a couple of times, before gently tossing him the baseball she'd been playing with, aka preparing to use as a grenade if need be.

"I may have killed some human traffickers over in Red Hook," she says lightly. "Laying low. Or trying to. Keep getting gentleman callers like I'm Daisy fucking Miller or something, which probably doesn't help, but I did tell you where to find me, so that's on me." That implies someone else found her she didn't tell, of course.

Catching the baseball with his non-injured side, Luther twists the ball around in his hand as she relays her recent activities. The twisting stops as she mentions gentlemen callers. Instead, a brow lifts at her. He doesn't ask about it, yet.

"They try to take you?" he utters after a moment. "If they find you here…" He doesn't finish the thought, glancing around the room with more of a strategic point of view. "It's not a bad setup, but, one way in, one way out."

"Not me," says Chess with a shake of her head. "They're all dead. But, you know, I sort of exploded their truck. They were hauling off this girl over by one of my other stashes. I'm a little more worried about the feds. They might match my face to the registration files where I openly told SESA like an idiot that I can blow shit up whenever I want to." She rolls her eyes, swinging her feet up onto the desk and crossing her ankles to sit pretzel style.

She looks around the room and lifts a shoulder, but her brows furrow as she considers his words. He's not wrong. "It's fine."

The smirk on Luther's face twists a little more. Pride is what fills his expression there, and a nod accompanies it. "You did good by her," he notes, leaning back and rolling the ball around on his leg. At her worry of the feds coming, he squints. "The feds got bigger fish to worry about than the likes of a few slavers getting blown up. I'd be more worried about those Crooked Point guys' friends coming to find you." He looks up at her on the desk, and then tosses the ball back over.

"If you need another place, mine's open." The offer accompanies the baseball.

The baseball is caught nimbly in one hand and rather than a flippant quip back, she makes a face. "The guy who looks like he's in an Oscar Wilde play was already here. I apparently have a taller profile than I thought I did around here. He wanted to hire me to be that kid's bodyguard or something. And then to ask me to dinner. I have no fucking clue. He's a piece of work."

She tosses the ball back to him lightly, along with a new subject. Very nimbly. "So how's the new job? I can't imagine you… I don't know. In an office building."

"The Ocelot Guy?" Luther's tone is incredulous, accompanying a facial expression that is even moreso when she goes on. A blink later, he eyes Chess. "Did you get anything out of him?

The baseball, caught up in his hand once more, stills with her recollection. "The Ocelot Guy?" Luther's tone is incredulous, accompanying a facial expression that is even moreso when she goes on. A blink later, he eyes Chess. "Did you get anything out of him? For dinner." Reminded thusly, he leans over to reach for his duffel bag and tugs the canvas open. The sound of rummaging plastic and paper follows, then he withdraws a long baguette like a sword. A valuable, edible sword.

When she asks about the job, though, he laughs, the sound thick in his chest. "You don't know it, but I used to wear a badge and uniform. I used to guard those suits. Before the bomb. The first one. But now? Technically… best paid janitor in New York." His tone implies there's a lot more than the title, but he withholds details.

"I told him he has to deliver a week of food to the VA hospital and then call me. He hasn't called yet." Chess lifts a shoulder, as if to say she doesn't expect him too. "The guy runs that Staten Island trade thingamagig I guess? Or he's delusional. Not sure which. It's fucking weird. He probably took five showers after leaving this place; I'm not sure why he thinks I'm any cleaner than my living quarters." There's a smirk there — and yet, Chess does manage to somehow keep her clothes and person clean, despite living like a vagrant.

She eyes the baguette, brow lifting. "You know I'm not actually a stray cat in need of food, right? And before the war — let alone the first bomb — doesn't count. That's like, ancient times. I was a fucking college ingenue back then."

The snort Luther gives in a skeptical response about the strange man is telling. Fucking weird is right. Her brow lift and words in response to the baguette makes him withdraw it back towards himself. "You don't want it, 's fine," he shrugs as he takes an end, twisting it to break off the tip. "Ancient times," he grumbles under his breath. Then he looks up to her again, waggling the bread in her direction. "You never told me you were in college."

Chess reaches for the bread to tear off a piece, because independent she might be, fresh baguettes are delicious. "I was in college for all of like three months before they wanted to round us up and put us in ghettos," she says with a shrug. "University of Denver. Why, are you surprised I was smart enough to get in?" she teases, bringing the hunk of bread to her mouth to tear off a piece with her teeth. "We ran rather than let them take us, then the war started." He can probably figure out who the 'we' includes.

Shaking his head, Luther chews away at a small piece of the crust, looking amused by the way she tears off a hunk. A smile builds up, holds, then falls a little when she mentions the 'we'. There's a noticeable pause for it, and then a slight angling of his head at her. "What'd you want to study out there?" Curiosity pokes at his tone, turning the man into the inquisitive stray cat rather than her.

Her eyes drop at the hint of sympathy. Instead she looks down at the hunk of bread in her hands and tears off another bit to bring to her mouth, chewing it thoughtfully, before lifting a shoulder. "I don't know. I was undeclared. I never found a niche. He was a philosophy major, but I didn't have the head for it unless he explained it to me," she says quietly, finally bringing her eyes up to his. "Don't even suggest it. You know I couldn't sit in a lecture hall these days." The words have a warning tone to them, accompanied by the narrowing of her eyes.

The next shake of his head acknowledges the warning, the look in her eyes met with his steady gaze. He doesn't dare. "You're not out here to move tassels, I get it." His hand swipes over his lips, brushing off crumbs from his shirt. Then he steeples his fingers, leaning forward in thought. "Listen, about the jobs, and about Raytech. I think… you'll be good to lay low. I'll check out what the boss is looking into, and then after, if it's worth your time, send 'em your way." He glances up to her, brows furrowing.

Chess lifts a brow at the advice to lay low. "Yeah, well, that's what I was planning to do anyway. Good thing I live a thrifty life. I won't be missing those posh janitorial paychecks and all that sweet health insurance." She's teasing him just a little bit, but it's done with a fond smirk.

She pops the rest of the piece of bread in her mouth to chew. "So did something change or did you just decide you would rather not have to see my mug at the workplace every day?" She smirks, but her eyes narrow a little suspiciously as she studies him.

He's always taken the teasing in stride, and that hasn't changed much. Luther shoots the traditional sidelong glance at her before switching his gaze away to the sliver of sunlight peeking through the slitted windows. "I'm saying, you got a place in Phoenix Heights if you want something warmer and what doesn't smell like piss," he counters with a thin smile. "There's a few faces there that are kind of hot to handle, but the boss says he has that covered. And well, what do I do, I'm the janitor. Keep my head down, the floors clean." He skips a beat. "And ears open."

He waits a moment more, looking down at the baseball in his lap, and picks it up to lightly toss back. "Ball's in your court, yeah?" Yes, he used the wrong sport. He might not care that he did.

Both brows raise this time and Chess gives Luther a look. "Don't get in over your head, Luther. Janitorial work just isn't worth that sort of shit," she says, tone one of both warning and worry.

Her hand lifts to pick the ball when it comes back to her. "We're heading into April. New York in the summer's a hotbox. Air conditioning would be a better sell."

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