Best Served Cold


hull_icon.gif sophie_icon.gif

Scene Title Best Served Cold
Synopsis Two friends meet on the verge of revenge.
Date February 11, 2020

There is a hole in Sophie Barton’s life in the shape of her mother.

She knows that, eleven years ago, Adam Monroe murdered her mother in cold blood. She knows that eleven years ago Adam Monroe also murdered her. Every morning she wakes up, Sophie is confronted by the knowledge that the woman looking back at her in the mirror is a corpse given life by the blood of the man who murdered her family. The blood of Adam Monroe courses through her veins like poison. It has taken her nearly as many years to come to terms with that reality.

Sophie’s late father, Alfred Balfour, told her the truth of her mother’s death the last time she saw him alive before he was apprehended by the Institute. Her father wouldn’t die for years and when he did it was at the hands of the US Government after a trial. Sophie didn’t find out about the trial until a month after her father was executed for treason. She doesn’t even know where he’s buried. But her father tried to fill in some of the holes in her memory of that night, enough to give her the kernel of truth that’s rotted somewhere inside her heart. The truth of the night she died, the devil that brought her back, and the pain of knowing he’s still out there somewhere.

Sometimes, she can get lost in those memories and the hole within them.

Sophie’s Residence
Providence, New Jersey Pine Barrens
New Jersey
February 11th
8:18 pm

“Here, Smokes, I got you one too.” Clover Hull doesn’t have any family, never knew her real parents and was taken away from her adoptive family years prior. It is in that commonality that she and Sophie first became friends. They were two women, divorced from the normalcy of family and community, forced to find and build one on their own. The Guardians became that family. They became one-another’s family.

Setting a room-temperature beer down on the end table beside the sofa Sophie is sitting on, Clover instead chooses to sit cross-legged on the floor nearby. “Been wondering how you’ve been doing since you left Snoqualmie,” Clover says quietly, twisting the cap off of the beer. The bottle may be old, but the beer inside is re-bottled and from a local distillery. It’s similar to what Sophie is accustomed to back west. Providence is a lot like home, in that regard. To both of them.

“It’s been weird without you around,” Clover says softly, taking a swig of her beer. “M’sorry that I didn’t come by and say hi when Cyrus and I first came out here, things were nuts. I guess… they still are.” She concedes, looking down to her lap. “How’s this place treating you, though. It’s wild you ran into Kara out here, right?”

“Huh?” Sophie’s eyes dart jaggedly from Clover, following as the other folds easily to the floor, to the delivered drink. “Oh yeah, no, I’m good. Real good.” She says to the empty space between her little outstretched hand and the neck of the beer bottle. Doubtless, even the few air molecules in that gap believe her as much as she believes herself. She cracks the grin of the guilty, the crack leaking through an airy little laugh that carries with it all the carefree, devil-may-cry ambiance that people have come to expect of the diminutive springy-haired woman.

“I mean…” Sophie turns out her free hand to reveal an open, surrendering palm. Let’s be honest, the only time Smokes is ever serious about anything is when she’s on mission and well… even then… “I had an itch, but honestly hoping to run into Kara was the last twitch that hooked the line and reeled me out here. Somehow it’s different but the same, you know? Community but still-…” What? “Missing… something?” Sophie tips her beer at Clover expectantly before teetering it back up for a sip. Because really, is what people like them are looking for missing from the community, or from themselves? The bottle comes down from an unfettered smile.

“I hear ya,” Clover agrees, cradling her beer between her hands. “I feel like I’ve been sidelined, told to hang back while everyone else goes out and gets shit done. I know I can do what I do remotely but… “ she takes a sip of her beer rather than digging any deeper into that. “When Claire got kidnapped, I knew I had to come out here with Bennet. Stubborn old horse was going to cross the fucking country by himself.”

Shifting her position on the floor to more fully face Sophie, Clover has a look in her eyes that belies something unsaid. Something personal. “There’s uh,” she struggles over bringing it up, “something I was hoping we could talk about, now that there’s ain’t a million other drunk people around.” Her attention dips to the floor, then back up to Sophie. “It’s about the woman we think grabbed Claire and— who she works for.”

Coils of faded patina-green and glossy hazelnut bob as Sophie's head tips to one side behind the lip of her drink. There's a brief squint and subsequent widening that reads as one of those 'ah-ha!' moments in life. "Daaamn," she offers as some sort of assessment of Clover's remote predicament. "Sidelined… Yeah, you get it!" Her index finger juts up from the neck of her bottle, pointing enthusiastically at the other woman. "Included, but… not. On the fringe."

A smile cracks her thoughtfulness and reveals something warm and inviting inside. … Until Clover starts to get weird. Her contemplative nature returns with a single crease between her dark brows. "Alriiiiight," she leads Clover on like a nervous nelly, and throws in a level-toned carrot for good measure: "So, you got a lead. That's good news…"

Hull furrows her brows and folds her hands in her lap, shoulders rolled forward. She doesn’t look Sophie in the eyes when she says. “It’s Monroe.” But she can’t bear not to look her friend in the eye. She looks up to Sophie, tension visible in her whole body. She knows what this is. “Bennet says Leadership here had been in talks with Monroe and it broke down. Lanhua Chen, the woman who kidnapped Claire, she works for him.”

The look in Hull’s eyes is at once sympathetic and enraged. She has her own personal axe to grind with Adam, though it hasn’t ever been clear where that all comes from. “It’s all connected, Soph.”

There’s no movement from the tiny woman in front of Hull. Not at first. Eventually, the tension builds to a point that shivers in the beer bottle. Sophie clears her throat several times before she can wring anything intelligible from her vocal cords. “I know,” she whispers, like the first hiss of steam building in a kettle. She closes her eyes as tendrils of odorless smoke begin to reach like solar flares out around her boots. “About the leadership, I mean. I didn’t know about Claire-…”

One eye opens and fixes on Hull. Then the other. “She ordered me to stand down. She told me they were meeting, knew what it meant to me, and still…” With each word, the rage melts and pours itself into the molds of unhealed wounds. She turns her gaze down to her boots and the fog around them. The tentacles of vapor begin to rewind like loyal hounds back towards their mistress.

“But, if he’s behind this. If it’s gone this bad, again…” Her gaze cuts back up to Hull’s face, dark pools reflecting the other woman’s visage back upon her. “It’s not their call anymore, is it?” She pops a brow at Clover in a conspiratorial fashion before surmising, “We can’t let him rip any more families apart, Ping.”

The silent look that Hull offers Sophie is one of wordless affirmation. It is a solemn nod between people who share blood in their past and have dug graves for their future. “I feel for Bennet, but he’s only half the reason I came out here. Knowing Monroe is behind this, after what he did… what he’ll do…” she takes in a deep breath through her nose and squares her shoulders, jaw clenching. “There’s no way I was going to stay on the bench.

“It doesn’t matter how,” Hull says with a steeliness to her voice, “but we’re going to put this all behind us. One way or another.” She blinks her attention down to her lap, fingers curling against the fabric of her jeans. “Whenever that piece of shit pops his head out of the ground — I want you with me.” She blinks a look up to Sophie, eyes glassy and brimming with emotion. “I need you with me.”

The silence between them seems to reach out, smoothing out Sophie's impish expression. A soft breath lowers the brow, the gentle rhythm of passing time levels full caramel lips. Sophie melts from the sofa, sinking forward and folding over herself like a rolling fog. Not propelled outward by internal storm for once, but pulled forth by the something emanating from something outside herself - the somber quiet, the emotion, the kinship.

Denim hisses on old worn carpet as Sophie shuffles forward til her knees rest in front of Hull’s shins. The boots of her heels turn out, accommodating the way she sinks into place. “Behind us…” The movement of her own hand in her periphery draws a crease, a quick wince. She puzzles over her hovering digits for the length of a single heartbeat, only long enough to cut them free from the short leash of over thinking.The tiny soldier catches the other woman’s gaze and carefully rests her warm hand upon Clover’s own. “We’ll do this. Then we can stop looking over our shoulders for the ghosts and maybe— just maybe— then we can see clearly what’s ahead.”

Sophie gives a gentle squeeze. “Right in front of us.”

Hull returns the grip, her own adamant. She tries to say something, but it just comes out as a half-voiced croak. Instead, she swallows audibly and lays one more hand atop Sophie’s. “This sadistic piece of shit doesn’t get to own us, doesn’t get to own our lives because of fucked up choices he made when we were children.” Hull looks away, tears welling up in her eyes and color flushing her cheeks and nose red. She bites down on her bottom lip to steady it, then blinks a fierce look back to Sophie.

“We’re gonna burn everything he has to the fucking ground,” Hull says with a quaver in her voice not reflected in the steadiness with which she grips Sophie’s hand. There is so much quiet anger, so much righteous indignation in her voice. “Then it’s over. Then we can— finally fucking rest.” But from the way Hull says that, she isn’t so sure the future will ever have a place for her that isn’t on fire. Not when the relative safety of Snoqualmie was defiled.

Sophie winces in the backdrop of Hull’s silhouette. She watches as the other woman turns away to fold up her pain - a careful crease here, a focused fold there, until all that’s left is sharp corners and intense edges.

A phantom of a smile reaches for the corners of Sophie’s lips. It doesn’t reach her eyes, though, too preoccupied as they are in this image of Adam and all his reaches burning. And there, at the forefront, Clover. She blinks and lets her smile deepen with vengeful hope. “Until even the ash is gone,” she agrees.

“Rest?” Sophie’s tone lightens, an invitation back to the hope beyond the rage. She shakes her head, curls bobbing. “No, when he’s gone, that’s when we can live. When the only choices we suffer are our own. Our lives. It’s time to take them back.” Another squeeze. “I’m here. I’m in this with you.” Her free hand points at the floor before Clover. “What do you need me to do?”

Silence is Hull’s response. Silence and an awkward stare down at her lap. She isn’t sure how to answer, isn’t sure what to say. But in that, she realizes a truth. “I don’t know,” she says by itself at first, belatedly followed up by, “…how to live?” Looking up to Sophie, Hull shakes her head and threads a lock of dyed hair behind one ear, chewing on her bottom lip in pensive indecision.

“Just promise you’ll come with me,” Hull says with a hitch in her voice. “When we find him, when it goes down.” She blinks a look up to Sophie, her hands balled into fists in her lap. “That’s all I need. It’s just— someone to watch my back. Someone to be there when it all goes down and— and make sure it gets done. We fucking deserve this.”

“I promise. I promise we’ll do this thing. We will finish this. We will get out and we will live. Live it up. On the wind, if you want.” Sophie looks to where she makes a fluid undulating motion of her hand moving away from them. She turns back to Clover with a half-smile. “And, in the meantime, if you need anything I’m here. I’m shite for housekeeping, but I’m a good listener.” A brow ticks up in the subtlest way, a delicate invitation given the topic at hand.

“Thanks,” Hull says in a small voice, looking down at her lap. “I guess… there’s one thing you might be able to answer for me.” She shifts a look to the left, then as she looks back to Sophie her concern is hidden behind a sly mask of less serious intent.

“Is that Dumortier guy single?”

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