Alarmingly Normal


huruma_icon.gif vincent_icon.gif

Scene Title Alarmingly Normal
Synopsis Two normal people have a normal conversation about a normal friend that they have.
Date June 11, 2018

The Benchmark Recovery and Counseling Center

Afternoon, Monday, three sharp raps at the door sound out of nowhere.

It’s very POLICE! Very OPEN UP!!

Just outside, Vincent stands furrowing his brow down at the old grey brick of his pager, oblivious to the nature of his own knock. He so very rarely puts it into practice, anymore.

There’s a glimpse of gun handle under the tail of his coat when he reaches to plug the pager back onto his belt. He’s in light grey over white with a tie cinched stiff at his throat; there’s a damp shadow blotched across his far shoulder — tough to suss the nature of through a peephole that may or may not exist in this scenario.

It certainly doesn’t look like blood.

As a past criminal, of course she knows that knock; it’s an old habit that has Huruma looking up from her reading, tensing up before she lets unravel the field held cocooned to the room.

Just to make sure that it’s who she thinks it is, there is a cursory glance outside of the door before she opens it up. There’s a book in one hand, and the abrupt swiping of glasses off of her face, practically crammed into her pocket with a huff. Not that reading glasses are a perceived sign of weakness, or anything.

“Whatever it is, I didn’t do it.” Huruma’s words come before he has the chance to say something first, and they come with a twitch of a smile. It’s been a long time since she was in trouble with Homeland Security, so she treats this appearance with a touch of humor.

“Whatever it is, I don’t believe you.”

Eyes heavy-lidded in dry mirror for the mere suggestion, Vincent has already bitten back whatever his opener was going to be. His glasses are on his person but not on his nose, hidden away behind his lapel. The patchy spot at his shoulder is suspiciously face-height for someone a few inches shorter than him, and has already had some time to dry — fading fast.

He hasn’t changed much since they last saw each other, however long ago that was. There’s more silver in his beard, almost solid across his chops. Harder lines have had time draw in around his dark eyes.

Even making a (relatively) polite entreaty for entry, he looks very serious.

“May I come in?”

“Of course you don’t.” That smaller smile grows into a warmer one as Huruma moves aside, one hand gesturing an affirmative to his want to come in. It’s not very big, just a repurposed room like the rest of the building; it does, however, looks like someone does a steady amount of living here, occupied but tidied. Not military crisp like him. Comfortable.

“You are looking well. What brings you to this part of town?” Surely it can’t be her. As flattering as that might be.

“You know me,” says Vincent. “Just being nosy.”

She positively towers over him, but he doesn’t seem to notice — more intent on the state of her affairs as they’re constrained to this Living Situation she’s put herself into. Most people probably aren’t quite this overt about scoping it out.

“You look well yourself.” Well, and also well.

He stops just a little ways in — not much further than she’ll need for room to shut the door after him.

“I’m actually on my way out — I wanted to ask you if you’d check in on Lynette in an hour or two.” Casual, as suggestions go. “She got into a fight.” He hoods his brow at Huruma, vague reassurance in a glance, near dismissive of his own imposition. Just in case. No big deal. Totally normal. She’s probably fine.

At least, to her credit, there’s nothing potentially illegal lying around. Scope things out all you want, Secretary. Huruma closes the door behind him with a dull click, quietly skimming the hallway to make sure that there isn’t anyone else coming this way. She knows his visit is a serious one, and not just because of his features.

The book in her off hand is marked with a paper scrap before it gets tossed onto the desk. Vincent’s reason for stopping on his way out earns a far more discerning look than he had gotten at the door.

“A fight?” Huruma’s head tilts, her eyes half-lidded. She’d felt something stressful clouding nearby, but chalked it up to, well, stress. A pull tugs at the edge of her lip and nose in a vague sneer. Who does she have to throw off a bridge? “Of course I will check in on her. Care to elaborate? I had been elsewhere until this afternoon.”

Vincent follows the book at an meandering pace, waiting to look down until he’s near enough to clock the title. Hands turned down in his pockets, boot black eyes steered late past the novel and on to whatever else it’s sharing this desk with.

Like he said: he’s nosy.

“It’s not really my place to say.”

He widens his stance back around to face her, utterly at home in her domain. Confidence comes easily when you can become ethereal. That sneer, though.

“Words were exchanged, things got heated.” He hikes a shoulder, dismissive. The ghost of Ferry past tried to suck her soul out with black death tentacles or whatever. “I’m just worried about her — ” he trials off, and finishes flat: “marinating.” In alcohol, specifically. Alcohol and misery.

“She needs to know she has friends.”

Jorge Luis Borges, ‘Collected Fictions’. It’s Mateo’s. The rest of the desk is simple, collected. A letter box, a stack of magazines, a folded, slim laptop. A pencil cup with some sort of cartoon animal on the side. A small vase, a few flowers. Alarmingly normal.

But maybe it was always like that. Huruma does love her public preconceptions.

Not his place? Then she’ll find out soon enough. Her eyes watch him closely, narrowed slightly down past those razor cheekbones.

“Marinating.” Huruma huffs, lips moving to a softer frown. “So that’s how it is.” She can’t say that she is not disappointed; then again, it almost went that way when Mateo came back several pints of blood lighter. This time that stress is clearly not just stress. It’s something more complicated than that, to have made it this way. “I will see to it that she remembers, moshi. If you will not tell me about the fight, will you say how you got involved…?”

Worry sits heavy behind his breastbone, packed flat against his diaphragm under the weight of very nearly the literal world. It’s subtle in the lines between his brows; less so in the miasma of tension that clings to him like the cigarettes he shouldn’t be smoking.

“Yeah,” he confirms. It’s clear from her reaction that they understand each other. “Marinating.”

His left shoulder is still splotchy, standing evidence of his own foray into the shit while he considers her next question. And he does consider it, silence metered out. Weighing.

“No.” He won’t say Lynette somehow managed to drunk dial him in a panic and left a bizarre message for him to translate by the cold light of Monday morning. “She’s not in trouble,” is quickly qualified by a less sure, “not with me.” …And a beat after that: “She might be with you.”

It was very irresponsible, the thing that she did.

“It’s good to see you, Huruma.”

The one thing that secretive people hate the most about someone like Huruma is that they can’t exactly hide how they feel. No matter how much ironing or starchy looks they put up on themselves. Pressure of his concerns, the tautness of the aura around him, strung like a rubber band between two pegs. Fitting for him, not unfamiliar. The degree of it all is much more than she remembers it being, but perhaps it has just been a while.

So, no explanation of the altercation, and none on why he’s shown up in the first place. Just that it seemingly was not for a social call. Vincent’s assurance that Lynette is not in trouble with him is a small comfort.

Probably,” comes as a murmur between his words, on the matter of trouble. There will be a talking to. It will be less of a reckoning than it sounds like.

“It is good to see you too, Vincent.” No nicknames that time, and it comes with the light clap of her hand over the faintly stained shoulder before it travels up to gamely give him a pat on the cheek, Huruma’s features creased in an affable smirk. “You need so much less stress in your life. It is a worse smog than you are.”

Ok. Yeah. This is happening. The real time ruffle of his feathers is as tangible to her as the ramrod stiffness of his shoulder beneath her touch — double dosed against the pat at his whiskers. He closes his eyes, coping as well as he can, for a wiener dog holding his ground in a lion’s jaws.

She knows what she’s doing.

“Who else would deal with it if not me.” Smog to smog. He opens his eyes, and they’re tacky dry, pitch and tar resigned for her insight.

“I have to go.” Moving on to the next crisis. He touches fingertips to her elbow, naturally — not entirely just to prove that he can. “Take care of yourself,” he says. “Don’t disappear anyone I wouldn’t disappear.”

A fun little joke.

One last look up, darker humor bleak behind his eyes, he pulses away into an eddy of black vapor, twisting, turning, fading fast. The cloying sense of pressure that accompanied him into the room lingers in ghostly shades until he’s filtered out entirely. It takes a few seconds.

She’ll know when he’s gone.

“So find a protege,” is Huruma's only further remark on his stress levels. Still, her contrasting eyes hood down to him when she smiles again, thinner though earnest. “I can make no promises, but I will try.”

She watches as his frame dissipates into that inky cloud, gaze tracking his movements even then with uncanny aim.

“Until next time, moshi.”

Now, Huruma has to go see a friend about a fight.

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