Adult Sleepovers


avi_icon.gif richard_icon.gif

Scene Title Adult Sleepovers
Synopsis It's not a good night for certain people to be alone.
Date October 24, 2018

It might be hard to spot the tail in the midst of the crowd, but once free of the memorial it’s obvious that Richard’s following Avi away from the chanting, weeping, and mourning for the lost. The streets seem darker by comparison with the lights of the memorial, shadows deepening as if the burden of grief that others had been sharing back with the crowd grew heavy once more in its absence. Hands tucked into the pockets of that old jacket of his, he keeps a steady pace a few yards back from the older man, making no effort now to hide himself but not actively engaging with him yet.

Maybe he’s giving the man a chance to decide when he wants to do that.

“I’m either going to pull out a dick or a gun,” Avi says without turning around, “so you can ask yourself which you think I'm more inclined to do, or you can fuck o— ” When he does turn, spotting Richard Ray and not some shadowy thug looming in an alleyway, Avi’s squared shoulders deflate. “Fuck you Richard,” he says with the tone someone might say hello.

“I've been a saving that one,” Avi admits as he fully pivots around and walks a couple of lurching paces over to Richard, knee brace creaking all the while. “So this better not be about wanting to borrow my copy of Pride and Prejudice.”

“Do not pull out your dick,” Richard states in dry tones, his hands sliding from his pockets to spread to either side as if to show he’s not openly armed, “I don’t need that memory added to all the other ones I try to forget.”

His unhurried steps meet the other man half-way, and he’s shaking his head, “Nah, I don’t do classic literature. More into mythology these days— no, I’m following you because this is a shitty time of year for both of us, you’ve been drinking, and I don’t think you need to be alone right now.”

A brow crooks up, “So you’re stuck with me for the night, old man.”

“Oh.” That. Avi’s brows furrow and his hands go back into his pockets, shoulders hunched forward against the chill in the air as he waits for Richard to catch up before walking again. “Yeah this ain't exactly Fat Tuesday…” he admits reluctantly, but then reconsiders. “Actually the only time I celebrated Mardi Gras was in Afghanistan and everyone I was with there is either dead or in a Home now. So… I guess fuck Fat Tuesday too.”

As he walks, gait limping from his braced leg, Avi fires a look over at Richard. “What’s your coping mechanism these days, buying a yacht?” He's kidding. Maybe.

Richard’s own hands tuck back into the pockets of his jacket as he catches up, moving to match the older man’s slower stride due to the leg injury. “Heh. My family probably wishes,” he admits, glancing sidelong with a faint smile, “Mostly I try to keep busy. Work. Inspect things. Obsessively analyse data. I play a lot of online chess. The kids help keep things level.”

There might be a subtle point on those last few words, but it’s subtle enough.

“So how’re you holding up?”

“Not… great,” is the most honest thing Avi may have ever admitted to Richard. His expression shows his regret about that, and he quickly pivots the conversation to work as he walks. “Scouts honor, keep your Chatty Cathy mouth shut about this shit.” He briefly looks over to Richard, then down to the ground. “I’ve got a whole fucking bowl of problems, Richard. A whole fucking bowl of them.”

Exhaling a sigh, Avi scrubs one hand at the back of his neck. “Sarisa’s kicking me in the nuts from beyond the grave. Looks like she had a daughter, put her up for adoption before she joined the Royals.” A quick look over to Richard. “Nathalie LeRoux. Turns out I rescued her from the fucking arcology back in twenty-eleven. She’s…” Avi slows down, wincing as he reaches down at briefly grips his bad leg. He tries not to let it interrupt things. “Somehow between here and there she got stuffed full of Francois’ feels good and Volken’s feels bad, and now Adam fucking Monroe is sniffing after her ass.”

That’s one way to explain his predicament.

“I never hear anything, Pentacles,” Richard replies with a shrug of one shoulder, matching the man’s stride as they walk. He listens at first— he can empathize with Sarisa related issues, after all— and then he’s bringing a hand up to rub over his face.

“Jesus… well, looks like I have to add another name to the family tree,” he mutters, rubbing his eyes, “Good to know where the conduits are, that saves me the trouble of finding them… and yeah, of course he is. That makes perfect sense, actually, that he would be…”

His brow wrinkles a bit, “How is this your problem, though? If Sari— “

Avi leans away from Richard, brows raised. Slowly he leans back, giving one more side-eye before exhaling a deep and thoughtful sigh. “I know she was from Australia, originally. Her folks split up or something, dad got a job offer in the states working for DARPA and they immigrated in…” Avi furrows his brows, “sometime in the 80s, I think? She went to Annapolis, got married along the way.” Avi looks out to the water. “Her husband died in 91 in Saudi Arabia. Military, killed in action. They had a kid together, Frederick… I know he died, pretty young too. I didn’t pry about the cause.”

Taking in a breath, Avi folds his hands in his lap. “She took some time off, and came right off of mourning her husband to join the CIA, eventually transitioning up to the Royals. This was before I joined them. I met Sarisa a few times in Virginia though…” Epstein’s brows furrow, one hand coming up to his brow. “We knew some of the same people. We spent— too much time together, you know…” Avi waves one hand around, then looks away. “We made some shit choices, my wife found out about it, I…”

Epstein pours himself some of the Irish coffee and downs it in one swallow. “Anyway, we… we knew each other, but neither of us ever really let the other in. We had our issues, shit only people who’d lived the lives we lived understood. I didn’t see her again until after September 11th, which is when I joined the Royals. Me, Raith, Lancaster, and Kershner just running around the sandbox.”

He stops dead in his tracks, staring at the man. “Avi. She— you— yours?”

Avi stares at Richard, then looks away. “She's half Asian or something,” he says rather flatly, “so no unless I'm the whitest Filipino man you've ever met.” He flippantly throws one hand into the air and stops to turn and face Richard. “Like every single fucking thing in Sarisa’s life it's a fucking game. A puzzle for me to solve because she couldn't talk about her problems like a normal person.” Pot, kettle. But whatever.

“There's only one reason,” in Avi’s mind, “that she wouldn't put the father’s name on. Something’s up with him. With my luck this is Feng fucking Daiyu’s stupid ass baby or something. I don't know. Maybe a Senator or congressman that she couldn't risk implicating…” He spirals into a pit of theorizing.

“Anyway, she's dead and it probably doesn't fucking matter, but I'm obsessing over it anyway.” Is Avi’s way of dismissing his role in it all. “I'm worried about the Monroe angle. She says he has fucking clones or something, because as far as I know LeRoux turned Adam to ashes. But she said he didn't feel like a regenerator. So…”

Avi’s hands go up into the air. “Who the fuck knows?”

“Ah.” Richard actually relaxes a touch when he answers in the negative. The man’s family life has enough issues with his kids, after all. He brings a hand up to rub against the nape of his neck, head shaking, “What can I say, it runs in the family.”

He’s also terrible about dealing with his problems like a normal person.

“She- okay, that wasn’t Adam, then. He’s absolutely a regenerator. Maybe an illusion, or just plastic surgery? He… mnm. It makes sense he’d be after the Ahayu’da, given their origin…” A wrinkling of his brow, “I’m going to need to talk to her, probably, if you can set up a meeting. Monroe’s a… he’s going to be a problem. And for the life of me I’m not sure what his goals are here.”

After a beat, he notes dryly, “Aside from, you know, killing all of us powerless people.”

Tongue against the inside of his cheek, Avi draws in a sharp breath and exhales a steady, slower one. “Yeah,” he says with no conviction, “I'll uh, see what I can do. She's not big into publicity. Or people. Or— ” He stops, scratching thick fingers through his hair.

“Shit’s going down, Richard. Legitimate this-side of the fucking rainbow Vanguard just crawled out from under the furniture. Charles Sharrow, big fucking money man behind Volken. Apparently big into a literal fucking messiah complex about Volken. I don't know how this is all going to end, but it feels like all of the fucking loose ends are braiding together to form a fucking noose.

“— she’s my second cousin, Avi.” Richard points this out with a brow’s arch, “I don’t want to give her publicity, I want to talk to her. You know, maybe save the world again, because it looks like— “ A sigh, glancing down the street, “It’s coming to that again.”

“Great. A Vanguard resurgence, on top of everything,” he spits off to one side, staining the gutter a slight hue darker in one splotch, “Shouldn’t’ve been surprised. I’m trying to keep reality from falling apart and there’s still these motherfuckers trying to ice skate uphill.”

Second cousin. Avi stares at Richard for a moment, then closes his eyes and breathes in deeply. When he exhales, he takes a step closer to Richard and rests a hand on his shoulder. “You breathe word one of this to anyone and I will feed you feet first into a fucking composter.”

The what of that is kept quiet, at first, leaving Avi’s sentence punctuated my awkward silence. “You already met her.” His hand tightens. “She's going by Berlin Beckett.”

“Ber… of course I did, because when God wrote the story of my life he was in a comical mood,” Richard briefly covers his eyes with his hand, breathing out a heavy exhalation of breath, “…and I’ll keep it a secret, Avi, I promise. Nobody’ll think it’s odd I’m meeting with a member of Wolfhound anyway.”

Wry, “I can say I want to apologize for our first meeting.”

“I'll let you know if she agrees,” Avi adds, and then, grows silent. He's quiet for an awkwardly long time, looking as though he wants to break away from the conversation entirely and just walk off into the woods. Instead, he pivots and fusses, considers his bad leg, and then looks back to Richard.

“I probably missed the bus to Floyd Bennet Airfield,” Avi says with a low tone. “Do you… have a car? Or…”

“I got a car,” says Richard after that awkward silence, offering a wry smile, “Got a couch, too, if you don’t want to go that far. Also— “ He shrugs one shoulder, “Got some way more expensive liquor, too.”

He jerks his head towards another street, “C’mon. Neither of us are gonna be any fuckin’ use to ourselves being alone tonight. You’d be doing me a favor. No more business, either, scout’s honor.”

“Yeah,” Avi agrees in his usual stock-disinterested tone, even though by now it doesn't fool anyone. He falls in line beside Richard, no contest given to the other’s assertions about how the night should go. Not except for one, small jab.

“We’re two grown men having a sleepover.”

That they are.

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