Après le Déluge, Nous


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Also Featuring:

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Scene Title Après le Déluge, Nous
Synopsis Two guilty souls refuse to allow the other to give up hope.
Date July 6, 2021

Ruins of Toledo

The footsteps crunching on gravel still alert him to the fact that he’s been discovered, even if he can’t feel the approaching presence with the supernatural senses he possessed until yesterday. While Richard knew he couldn’t hide forever, he had a reasonable expectation that someone would at least have to call his name to get him to reveal himself. Or at least that it would be his cousin to suss out his location so expertly.

Because there is no hesitation, no wandering in the wrong direction and eventually doubling back. Those footsteps make their way right to him.

The tall, lean form of Rue Lancaster appears in the archway of what was once the back office of a gas station where the door has been busted in and hangs bent on its hinges, no longer able to close in any meaningful way. It’s long since been looted of anything useful, but it should still have served as some sort of refuge.

It isn’t Rue, of course. Not that Rue — his Rue — anyway, but Gracie, whose smile is illuminated by angled stripes of sunlight that push their way past half-opened blinds. She looks like she stepped out of (or into?) a film noir.

All legs and — probably — trouble.

“Mister Ray. You’re a hard man to track down.”

“Really? You seem to’ve known right where I was.”

The scent of cigarette smoke lingered in the air - the processed, mass-market kind with tar and other cancerous additives, not the more natural scent of tobacco grown in rare patches since the end of the world. It drifts upwards from the fragile stick of paper and chemicals currently dangling between two of Richard’s fingers as he lounges back in a chair with cracked vinyl padding, his booted feet kicked up on the rusty metal desk that once served the manager of the gas station.

He brought it back to his lips, sucking the smoke into his lungs as he considered her over it, eyes as black as midnight taking in her silhouette, her smile. Of all the gas stations in all the ruins in all the world…

“How’d the trial end up? Good, I assume, since you’re walking free.”

“Didn’t get through the mainland without knowing the best places to hole up,” Gracie responds easily, a shrug of her shoulders. Although there is a slight tension in her brow that follows.

And it’s gone again as quickly as she came, if replaced by an uneasy smile. “Well, no one decided to hang me, but I’m on probation, let’s call it.” She rises onto the ball of one foot and twirls a pirouette. Well, a fouetté. A poor man’s version of one, given she’s not en pointe, but it serves the purpose of highlighting her point. “I’ll even dance again.”

It’s hard not to see her immense relief at that. It’s palpable.

“What happened to you?” she asks without set-up, letting him see her concern.

A slight smile touches his lips at the twirl, chin dipping in a slight nod of appreciation that she’s not crippled despite the damage to her leg. Richard’s lips part slightly - where could he even start? - and then close, his eyes sliding shut for a moment and head shaking.

“It’s been a long day,” he says simply, taking another drag on the cigarette. It isn’t until he breathes out the cloud once more than he speaks again, staring at the ceiling instead of at her. The words blunt, to the point, quiet but audible in the silent confines of the gas station.

“I killed your friend. The stone-morph.”

“That I already knew.” There’s still regret tinging those words, but Gracie’s had enough time (barely) to make peace with the reality of it. “They’re all dead,” she reveals of her own knowledge, in case he didn’t know maybe. “He made his choice. Or he let Ren make it for him.” Her expression is grim, but not sad. “The end’s the same either way.”

Crossing her arms together under her chest gives almost an impression of self-protectiveness. “That’s not what happened to you, though.”

The cigarette’s lowered slightly, and Richard’s chin dropped before he fixed a steady look on her. Not judging, or angry, but appraising. Uncertain of where she’s going with this.

“Why do you think something happened to me?”

The answer is simple. One corner of Gracie’s mouth tics up, but there’s no amusement in that ghost of a smile.

“Because you didn’t heal me.”

Richard shifts, one foot raising to rest on the other instead of the other way around. A sigh whispers past his lips as he leans back a bit, the rusty springs of the chair groaning slightly.

“Someone killed my cousin. Takes a lot out of you fixing something like that. Honestly, surprised I’m still alive,” he says, as matter-of-factly as if he were talking about the weather, considering the cigarette in his hand instead of looking at her.

“No more healing from me, I’m afraid, that’s her job now.”

Gracie’s breath hitches in her throat and she does her best to keep the emotion that inspired it off her face. There’s a deepening of her concern, though. That she gives freely. “Her job,” she repeats quietly. “You… passed it on to her, then?” Her head tilts to one side, surmising, “Like Mrs. Gray passed hers to Chess.”

She moves away from the doorway, the meager sunlight illuminating her differently now, briefly creating a golden halo of the delicate frizz of the ginger curls she’s braided off to one side. Her head bobs up and down slowly as she processes it and what it means for the man she calls her friend. “You’re not dead.” The observation is obvious, but it’s meant to serve as a note of her relief. “But are you alright?”

“Is that who ended up with hers? Good. Good, Chess will be able to handle it, I think,” Richard murmurs almost absently, tapping a bit of ash onto the floor as his hand and the cigarette descend to rest on the arm of the chair.

A brief chuff of laughter under his breath answers her words, then, his head shaking a little before he looks back up at her with those dark eyes of his, “I haven’t been all right for a long time now, Gracie. I don’t care about the– conduit, though, that wasn’t ever supposed to be mine. I was just carrying it for a little while.”

He shakes his head, the words spilling out in tight tones, “But we’re all trapped in this flooded hellscape and I just dissolved someone’s fucking skull and this is probably a suicide mission and all I want is to see my kids again– ” He cuts himself off, bringing the cancer stick back up.

Not like the cancer’ll have time to get him.

But disease — illness — is a fuck of a thing. It doesn’t care how much or how little other risk you face.

Gracie lets the silence hang a moment. “I don’t know,” she muses gently, but not without an appropriate gravity for the situation. It all seems hopeless, she knows. She’s felt it. Feels it. “I’m gonna hazard that I can speak for you and your companions when I say we all should’a been done and dusted about a thousand times over, and yet we’re still here.”

That’s not necessarily a comfort to either of them. “I never thought we’d get out of the Ark,” she says softly. “I felt that way the moment they closed the doors, when we knew the inevitable was on top of us and breathing hot and heavy down our necks.” Which paints a horrific image that well illustrates the horror of that situation for her. “But we did.”

Narrow shoulders come up in a shrug. In her thin maxi dress, the bones of them are more prominent. He can remember the feel of the malnourishment in her from when he held Nathalie’s conduits; it’s just as easily seen without them. “Li and I stuck around the Pelago for a while before we decided to come out this way.”

The water doesn’t stink and there aren’t dead fish on the shore, so it’s as good a place as any to wash their things. “You look ridiculous,” the blonde tells her companion.

What?” she responds, laughing at the teasing leveled at her. “I learned this from Little House on the Prairie! Or… something.” Carefully, she rubs the hem of her dress with a smooth rock she found, trying to encourage some stubborn dirt to fuck off.

“You’re going to wear a hole in it. A little dirt isn’t going to hurt. The important thing is that we refresh them.” A crease comes to Liza’s brow. “Or… something.” Now it’s her turn to laugh. “I don’t know,” she admits. “Nobody taught us how to wash clothes without a machine. Yours breaks, you just go to a laundromat.” She sighs down at the spaghetti pot she’s mixed a found box of Borax into, where she has her hands together — not quite as if in prayer — twisting and turning them one way and the other, mimicking the agitator of a washer.

A note of surprised laughter bubbles up from Rue as she realizes what she’s seeing. “You learned that from the Woolite commercial!”

Liza’s cheeks immediately flush pink. “S- So? It’s better than your way! You’re just getting more dirt on your skirt.”

Looking down at her efforts, Rue frowns to realize her partner is right. “Shit! Well, what if we just…” She half-rises from her kneeling position on the riverbank and lunging toward Liza and her pot. “Combine our methods!”

Recoiling as Rue attempts to dunk her rock — and others she just scooped up along the way, dirt and all — Liza squeaks in surprise, quickly pulling her hands from the slowly sudding water and trying to cover the top of it to keep it from being contaminated by Rue’s mischief. She spots the red-orange from the corner of her eye. “Rhubarb! Your dress!”

Sure enough, there the unattended garment goes, floating its way along, quickly getting pulled toward where the water rushes faster. “Shit!

“I don’t know. Once we were out of that pressure cooker, I guess we just had other options. The whole godfor-fucking-saken country ahead of us. We could have gone anywhere, you know?” Wrapping her arms around herself tighter, Gracie’s gaze gets a little distant. “We had some scrapes. You saw what West Virginia was like. We did that on foot.”

“I didn’t mean you all, I meant… it doesn’t matter what I meant, I guess,” Richard replies with a heavy sigh, his head falling back, “I’ve been running on blind faith for years, now, Gracie, and as much as everyone tells me that I’m a fucking lunatic it somehow always works out in the end. I’m always proven right. That happened again, today, but that doesn’t make it any better for the ones that we lost in the process…”

His gaze falls on the woman, fingers shifting around the cigarette for a moment before he asks, “What keeps you going in the face of all of this?”

“And I meant,” Gracie counters gently, “that it’s not just you.” She smiles in a way she probably means to be encouraging, but it’s a tight thing that thins her lips. A heaviness seeming to settle on her shoulders, it weighs her down and slowly pulls her expression with it, falling and fading. Blue eyes blink quickly, eyes focused off on some faded and worn poster of promotions that were upcoming before the world went to shit. It’s too weatherbeaten to really be read anymore, but she can see the faint outlines of the boldest typefaces.

“I got it, I got it!” Liza is up like a shot, reflexes sharp still from the years of training that came before the flood. It helps that she isn’t the one that was practically on her stomach just trying to be a goof. The laughter really only lasts until she’s waded in up to her knees, which happens much sooner than either of them thought.

Rue scrambles, her response time considerably lagged in comparison. Her boots scrape and slide on the smaller stones and pebbles, mud slipping beneath her. She’s tangled in her skirt and has to fight with it for precious seconds before she manages to get up to her feet. “Careful, careful!” she echoes back, seeing how the dress continues to float along its merry way while still being unerringly pursued. It’s her favorite one, and her heart twists at the thought of its loss.

But there’s a bigger potential for loss here that she’s considering from far less of a distance than her wife seems to be, or she’d give up pursuit.

“I don’t know.” She looks so tired then, so defeated. “Spite?” There’s a brief flicker on her face that looks like it might have tried to be a wry smile, the beginnings of a chuckle, but it’s too dry to find its way from her throat and that weight turns her face toward the floor now. “Sometimes I feel like maybe God has a plan for me after all,” she muses with the faintest edge of bitterness. “Every time I think I’m gone-zo, it’s like fate has other ideas.” She scrubs a hand over her face. “I really thought I’d just lay down and die after Li…”

The dress snags on a small cropping of tree roots that stick out, the earth they were burrowed in eroded by the risen water levels of the river. Fingertips reach out for it, but can’t quite reach. It’s on the bank opposite where Rue stands. She could cross here, where it’s narrower, and she starts to gather her long skirt up to do just that. If she can grab the garment, Liza can get out of the hip-deep water and they can both go build a fire at their camp and grouse about how stupid she is for letting this happen in the first place.

But she hesitates. She doesn’t want to get her only good pair of boots wet. Letting go of her skirt, she drops to a crouch to start loosening the laces. The process is slower, doing it by fumbling feel as she watches the rescue attempt downstream.

Liza growls in frustration as she just can’t quite reach her prize. She wraps a hand tightly around an outcropping of those smaller roots and leans out further. Carefully, she shifts one foot forward. Then another. “Almost…” And another.

The second knot proves stubborn enough that Rue has to break her gaze away. She doesn’t see the moment when that next shift forward finds not enough beneath her feet for Liza to hold her stability, or see the roots be too pliable to provide a strong mooring point. She only hears the surprised cry. Short, aborted, strangled.

Rue’s eyes snap up in an instant to where Liza was.


“Liza?” The fear that grips her is colder than the water. Her eyes scan the water, scan the banks, scan further downstream. “Liza?!”

The only splashing is her own as she runs toward where she last saw her, one boot off, the other only barely held in place by the stubborn knot she’d tied to fasten one broken lace to another. “Liza!

The current pulls at her, and by the time she’s only nearly where her wife should be, a voice in the back of her mind distantly gets through to her. She’s too weighed down by the dresses she insists on clinging to. This one is clinging to her in return, unsteadying her legs and pulling her along, threatening to tangle her up and sweep her off her feet. What had surely happened to…

The red dress continues to flutter over the surface where it has managed to hold to the tree, and Liza did not.

“She left to go find herself, or whatever it is people say when they’re politely telling you to get fucked.” Gracie stares down at the cracked tile beneath her boot, suddenly shaky when she breathes out. “But I kept going west. I don’t know. I guess I thought if I could just find what I was looking for… Maybe somehow she’d forgive me for…” Her hand waves nebulously in the air between her and the past. Everything.

She lifts her head, her gaze following on a delay, finding Richard again. There is a sorrow in her eyes as deep and as fathomless as the waters that have swallowed so much of this world. “You got one of those for me?” she asks.

A twist of Richard’s wrist brings rivulets of shadow spilling out of his sleeve and into his hand, dark lines briefly three dimensional like a transparent view of veins without a body before they take the shape of a cheap, cellophane-wrapped pack of cigarettes. He tilts it a bit to peer inside and then tucks the lit cigarette between his lips and taps one out into his palm.

Offering it over - the pack melting away into shadows once more - he admits, “Only got three left, but given what you just went through, figure you deserve one.”

The display captures Gracie’s attention. There’s no outward indication that it frightens her or puts her on edge in any way, but she’s deliberate in her next movements, if not quite slow. There’s a breath of laughter that passes from her as he passes her the cigarette. “Thanks.” She pats herself down out of habit, rolling her eyes when she realizes that of course she doesn’t have her lighter on her.

“Anybody ever tell you how smokin’ hot you are when you flex like that?” she asks, taking another step closer as she settles the filter between her lips, which curve upward at one corner. She watches expectantly without impatience to see if he’ll light her up.

“It’s the only good pack of cigarettes left in the world,” Richard replies with a twitch of his own lips, a slight smile, “And I’m not going to risk losing those last two cigarettes by letting them be corporeal. It’s got its downsides, though, I got negated once and lost my wallet, now that was embarrassing…”

And for his next trick, a zippo produced the same way, thumb flicking it open to produce a small, fluttering flame. There’s something on the side engraved, but it’s in Russian. He holds it up in offering, watching her a moment before saying quietly, “I’m sorry about your friends. I know it was self-defense, but– still.”

“Jesus,” Gracie remarks after an inhale, eyes half-lidding as she blows that first plume toward the ceiling, her head tilted back. “They aren’t even stale.” She’s forgotten what that tastes like.

The stream of smoke flows upward, the plume of it eventually dissipating to a consistency she can no longer see, even if she’d be able to smell or maybe even taste it, were the two of them merely happening upon a place where someone had been smoking, rather than them being the source.

“Ren was… Fierce.” It’s the kindest adjective she can think of to describe her departed ex-lover at the moment. “I don’t know. I think something about her anger resonated with me for a while.” Her chin tips down again so her stare is level again. It settles on Richard. Her eyes are red, but only from all the hours spent crying the night before. For the time being, it’s out of her system and there’s no fresh wave or grief. “But she kind of seemed to begin unraveling.”

One shoulder comes up in a shrug. “S’a big part of why I left. It was one thing hitting other raiders for supplies, squabbling over territory like that.” There was a time when she wouldn’t have referred to Ren’s crew — her crew — as other raiders. There were raiders, and then there was their camp. There’s enough distance now to see what they were, despite best intents and delusions. “This was so far outside what it was like when I was still there. I thought if I warned people, we’d keep those who don’t fight safe while the others could take the time to regroup.” It’s nothing she didn’t say at her trial, but it feels better not to be spitting it out frantically and hoping it’ll save her skin. “Not like she knew what you all are capable of.”

Gracie can’t help but laugh at that. It rings hollow and tastes bitter. The smoke seems to form the shape of it as it’s expelled. “I don’t think it would have made a difference to her. She was crazy when she forced me out of the van.” Whatever humor may have been there, dark as pitch though it is, dies with those thoughts. “She was like a rabid animal. Better for everyone she be put down.” There’s no sense of triumph in that for anyone involved, so she doesn’t do the disservice of pretending like the act was commendable. Necessary actions aren’t always.

“When you’re desperate for long enough, especially when you’ve got responsibilities and duty and all of that…” Richard turns the zippo over in his hand a few times, thumb moving over well-worn engraving, gaze hooded a bit in thought, “…you can turn into a monster and never realize it, one step at a time.”

“One of me ended up on that road, once. The end of it was me too. The snake eating its own tail, I guess. The end is the beginning is the end is the beginning…”

He shakes his head, “I’m still sorry. Even if it had to be done– even if it’s arguably good that it was done– it still sucks. They were still people, and– there’s only maybe one guy I’ve ever killed that I didn’t wish I didn’t have to.”

Dark eyes lift back to hers, darker circles from lack of sleep under them. “Wish we lived in a better world, darlin’.”

“The beginning is the end is the beginning…” The echo comes back to him in reverse, perhaps in a more hopeful twist. “Or… Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end, if that’s more your flavor,” Gracie muses with the barest warmth of humor. It’s not hard to imagine that laughter at inappropriate moments and a healthy dose of spite is what’s kept her going in this place.

“I dream of better worlds.” It’s easier to take that thread and run with it than to dwell on the unpleasantness of bloodshed, necessary or no. All the same, she’d nodded and offered a flicker of a grateful smile for it. Yeah, it all sucked. Still sucks. “Neon lights and daydrinking, desk jobs, dance clubs…”

The dancer laughs at herself, plucking the cigarette from her lips as she does so as not to inadvertently choke herself. He doesn’t need his ex-girlfriend’s power to see the pain in Gracie, even if she keeps her face down and her laughter rich. “Not like the kind I’ve been working in. Like a discoteque. Strobing lights and… I don’t know. Depeche Mode or Daft Punk or… Dua Lipa.” Her head tilts to one side, her gaze not lifting from the ground. “Not stripping for scraps.”

The next drag is short, but held in her lungs until it burns, left to be breathed out through her nose like some kind of ginger dragon who hoards MP3s and heartache. “I’d say your Rue’s probably the lucky one, but I’ve seen the way Elliot talks about her.” At least if the few people who actually still give a fuck about her in this world actually know where she is and that she’s alive.

"I wish I could say she was," Richard admits, his head shaking ever so slightly as he brings his cigarette up, pausing, looking at the glowing cherry. Remembering.

She continues to tremble and to breathe hard, but there’s no more tears left to give before very long. The hard sobs become soft whimpers until finally it’s just her breathing. The desperate cling around him begins to ease.

“Do—” Her voice dies in her throat before she can manage to form the second word. She coughs gently, loosening the tightness that chokes her words before they manage to find life. “Do you think there’s a chance that… That there’s some other life where he—”

She shudders again with the beginnings of another round of sobs, but it never gets beyond that first almost violent cringe into herself, against Richard. Rue quiets again, unable to finish her thought.

“I’m sure that somewhere, there’s a version of him that’s alive, and happy. The universe is infinite,” Richard murmurs, as someone who knows that’s factually true, “But don’t think about it too much or you’ll go crazy. Trust me.”

He brushes a kiss against her temple, “You’ll have to live for them.”

He’s right, of course. That kind of thinking, that something she can never have lies just beyond her reach, if only she could break through the barrier between worlds and take it, will ruin her. Very few people have managed to achieve that feat, as Richard knows firsthand.

“I can’t,” Rue insists. “I just can’t. My life isn’t worth— It isn’t a fair trade.” But she knows this is an argument she won’t win. Not against him. Maybe not against anyone with any shred of human decency. Rue stills against him finally, just breathing deeply, calm again even if still anguished.

"I wish I could."

His eyes - so strange, so dark, hard to read because of it - look back up to her, and he forces a faint smile, "I've seen the best of all possible worlds and it was still worm-eaten down to the core. All we've got, whatever the world, is each other. So I can promise you that, at least; so long as I'm with you, you're not gonna need to go stripping for scraps, unless you really want to." A twitch of his lips, "I've known plenty of strippers, not gonna judge that one."

One in particular whose loss is one more hole in his life that'll never be filled again.

“It’s not the worst work,” Gracie assures quietly. “I always wanted to be a dancer, so I guess at least I finally achieved my dreams.” There’s another brief bout of helpless laughter. She sounds more like Rue in this moment than he’s heard since that night they spent together in the repurposed copy room she called her home at the Pelago.

She can’t summon even a false humor when she meets Richard’s dark eyes and asks him, “Do you think there’s a world where I’m not completely fucking miserable?”

Richard smiles faintly, shifting to draw his feet down off the desk finally and letting them hit the floor. He leans forward, the hand where the cigarette’s tucked between two fingers resting on his knee.

“You can’t look at other worlds for happiness, Gracie,” he said gently, but honestly, “Only way to make a world where you’re happy is to make it yourself. S’why I took the road I did, back home. To build a better, brighter future. For myself. For everybody.”

“I’m not looking for happiness in another world other than my own,” she vows. “I just wonder if it’s possible that some other February Lancaster somewhere has managed to find it.” She finally comes to join him. Her shoulder bumps his as she rounds the desk, taking up a lean there herself. “It doesn’t matter, I guess. I just… I guess I’d like to think that I’m capable of it.”

She shakes her head, dismissing the problem, the moment, shifting gears. It’s fruitless, and she knows the answer is that she’s capable of anything. “You’ve been real good to me,” she says instead, turning her head to look at him beside her. “You never had to be. You just… wanted to. I can tell you don’t always think it, but you’re a good man.”

“You are. I’ve seen it. Now’n then. The possibility. Just a lot of decks full of a lot of shitty cards, is all…” As she bumps his shoulder to his, Richard tips his head to look back to her with a slight smile, one shoulder raising in a shrug, “You’re one of my people. Whether you think you are or not, whether you think you qualify or deserve it or not. I told you that back in the ‘Pelago, you just didn’t believe me then.”

He chuckles, then, looking down at his cigarette and murmuring, “Good to know someone else believes that. So many people see the potential for the opposite.”

“Yeah, well…” Gracie considers the end of her cigarette, the filter pinched between the tips of her thumb and forefinger, the fiery cherry at the end. It’s not unlike a nickname or two she’s had ascribed to her. “It’s in all of us, right? The capacity to do bad things. Sometimes people just see that capacity and not what’s in front of them.”

She twists the cig lazily, watching the smoke dance fancy pirouettes that climb higher, the turns loosening, going wider, until shifts her gaze back to the source and watches the process repeat. “Whether you’ve actually fucked up, done bad things by accident or intent, or… ya haven’t.” There’s sympathy when Gracie turns her attention to him again. “I’m sure a lot of people out there hate me now for the things I did to survive. Or the things they think I did.”

That bothers her more than she’s letting on, and she’s bad at pretending right now. “But I’m being given a second chance to prove that I’m not that person, so… That’s all we can do, right? Prove who we are, regardless of what others believe?”

“And let history judge who we were, in the end, I guess.”

Richard takes one last drag on the cigarette, eyes closing as he holds the smoke in for a few long moments before breathing out the cloud. He stubs it out on the arm of the chair (who’s going to care about a mark there?) and tucks what’s left into a pocket. Even a quarter-stick will help at some point, he figures.

He offers her a faint smile, “And you deserve that chance, too. So. Let’s make that brighter future if we can, eh?”

“Sounds like a beautiful dream to me.” Whether that’s to mean an impossibility or something possible to strive for is unclear, but it may not matter. Following his lead, she knocks the ember off the end of her cigarette on the edge of the desk, taking the time to stamp out the ashes on the floor.

“There’s a saying from, ah… French king. Louis the Fifteenth, I think?” She pulls a little face, unsure if she’s got that right. “Doesn’t matter.” Rolling her eyes at herself, she gets to the point. “He — and the primal Madame de Pompadour — had this thing they’d say to each other. Après nous, le déluge.” Her gaze makes its rolling way back to Richard, waiting half a beat to see if he recognizes it. “After us, the flood. It’s some nihilist bullshit. Basically means that after we’re gone, fuck it.

That’s not the most accurate translation, but it’s such a Rue trait to twist even the most intellectual and erudite notions up in profanity. Robyn (Quinn) would probably balk at the fact that she picked up and retained this little bit of trivia. The heaviest study and reading she’s been known to do was to pore over the Player's Guide for Earthbound.

“Don’t think history’s gonna remember someone like me, so I guess that takes some of the pressure off.” Gracie considers the partly-spent cigarette a moment before offering it back out to him with lifted brows. He can still finish it himself if he wants it, given they’re the last good cigarettes in the world.

“I don’t know, world’s got a lot fewer people in it now, you’ve got a decent shot of being important in it,” Richard quips.

God, she hopes not.

Reaching up to accept that cigarette-stub and Richard points it at her, meeting her eyes and smiling - genuinely, this time.

“Fuck old Louie. After the flood,” he declares, “Us.”

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