Coulda Called


devi_icon.gif richard_icon.gif

Scene Title Coulda Called
Synopsis What do you bring your … boss-crush-friend when he's… sick-half-dead-dangerous? They were out of 'Get Well' balloons.
Date February 1, 2020

Richard's Temporary Apartment

Devi: I’ll be there in five. Put pants on.
6:30 PM

Devi: Or don’t. Whatever.
6:31 PM

As promised there’s a rap on the door in five minutes’ time. Devi casts a look down the hall in either direction as she adjusts a cooler under one arm and the strap of a worn leather pack on the other. Her hair is frazzled, the randomly woven braids in her dark mane catching whisps and twisting themselves in serpentine patterns. She turns back to the door expectantly, dark eyes fixed on some point just a few feet off the ground.

Perhaps disappointingly, Richard is wearing pants when he answers the door; pants, a button-up shirt, and gloves in fact - all in black. He’s wearing his sunglasses too, that don’t-quite hide the shadows deep beneath his eyes. His hair is terrible today.

Things were awkward between them when he left. That hasn’t changed much.

“Hey,” he greets (awkwardly), dropping back a step from the door - perhaps an invitation inside. “What’s up?”

Devi’s gaze meets belt and skims upward.

“The Man in Black had nothin’ on you, hun. Or, the Men in Black for that matter, too.” She cracks a grin, easy and warm - except to one that knows her better. There’s a cog that’s just a micrometer out of sync, a minuscule quality that doesn’t quite reach her eyes. Something else has rooted in there and hasn’t yet been weeded out: Worry.

She scoots in past him. “I had to come to check on you. Brought provisions.”

As she scoots in, he moves back just a bit as if ensuring there’s no physical contact. Once she’s passed, he closes the door in her wake. “Thanks. I’m… well.”

Richard smiles wanly, hands spreading before falling back to smack against his thighs, “I’m alive. Now, anyway. So that’s something. How’ve you been?”

He circles over to the couch in the room, moving to drop down to sit, waving vaguely at the seating in invitation.

“Well?” … “ERRRRN. The lie detector determined that was a lie.” Devi pauses in the center of the room, head swiveling on a stick to follow Richard’s progress to the sofa. She lingers a moment longer still. Considering.

Finally, her general huskiness picks up anew, friendly and casual as she replies, “Oh, just worried sick, you know. Could get a bead on which skulls needed cracking. You coulda called a bitch, you know.” Her careful expression thaws into a more tilted smile as she folds to her knees. She rests the six-pack atop the coffee table between them before giving the furniture a hearty shove that sends it resting up cozy in front of Cardinal.

The raven-haired biker bitch quiets and licks her unpainted lips thoughtfully. Only to simply turn and begin to dig through the backpack now resting at her side. “You wanna talk ‘bout it?” she asks without looking.

Shedda Dinu.”

Richard leans forward, reaching out to pull a can free of the six-pack before leaning back with a grimace, “A name out’ve the past, that I thought we were done with. Turns out we’d just chopped off one finger’ve the hand.”

He pops open the can and takes a swallow, sinking back in the couch and closing his eyes, “It was bad. Only I made it out. Nathalie didn’t.”

Efforts to dig through the backpack skip a beat. In that pause, Devi’s silhouette is cut by a few sharpening wrinkles and a downturn of her bare lips. She chews on her tongue in lew of any valuable words and begins pulling things out of the bag like some gothic bad-ass Mary Poppins: soup, spoons even, a full sleeve of Oreo cookies, a bottle of amber liquid, and finally a little wooden box done up in various etchings and paints of raven-motif in a myriad of colors. Trippy, to say the least.

The biker takes her time arranging things just so, gaze pointedly trained on each item as it is moved into space upon the coffee table as though laying out a strategic round of chess. “I’m sorry,” she begins. “I’m sorry it wasn’t avoided. I’m sorry none of us made it in time.” She cuts her chin up sharply, flicking her dark frazzled locks back. “Sorry, I didn’t make it.”

“I was stupid.” Richard doesn’t open his eyes as he responds, the beer can set down on his brow as if cooling down a fever or sweat, “I shouldn’t’ve let her catch me off guard, whoever she was. It absolutely wasn’t your fault. You aren’t even security, Devi. So don’t you fucking blame yourself for shit, or I will throw this beer at you. There wasn’t anything anyone could’ve done who wasn’t there.”

There’s silence for a few moments, then he lifts a finger, “Also, don’t try and— hug me or anything. Not that I wouldn’t appreciate it, it just— literally might kill you.”

That,” Devi points warningly at the can in Richard’s hand. “Would be alcohol abuse.” She shrugs as she slides the box and cookies to next in queue. She flips open the little lid and repositions herself, one knee propped up for her elbow to rest on as she takes out some papers and begins rolling. “Yeah, I’m not security. They gone fucked up. But, I didn’t bring you home, either…”

There’s no thick liner to weight the biker’s gaze, yet it stays downcast - focused more intently on the joint than is necessary. “Kill me, eh? Not where I was hoping to land on the ‘Marry, Fuck, Kill’-list, honestly.” They’re all Devi’s words, without all her usual playfulness. There’s a lead weight on that ‘honestly’ that drags her tone into a rare form of seriousness. She seals the thin paper with a quick pass of her tongue.

“I thought you’d made it quite clear that you didn’t want to be *anywhere* on that list, last time we talked,” says Richard a bit fatalistically, and then he’s shifting to sit up, bringing the can down to rest on his knee. Then he waves his hand vaguely, gloved fingers moving through the air, “And I mean that literally. The… I don’t know if you ever paid attention during some of those briefings. They killed Nathalie so they could move the conduit into me.”

He looks down at his hand, then, “I’m being literal. I don’t have control of it yet. Not like she did.”

Guilt, pain bleeding through his voice, even though he tries to keep it out.

“Trust me. There was nothing you could’ve done.”

Her dark gaze snaps up to Richard from behind a few wild coils of equally dark hair. “Yeah, something like that fell out of my mouth,” she agrees. She could try to explain, trip over her own walls and her own tongue again. Or…

She turns and rests her forearms on the low table between then, paraphernalia and snacks shuffled aside. “I regret it. Every day.” Hands flat on the table, she looks up at Cardinal. “Every day, but none more than the day I thought I might really lose you.” She chews the soft fleshy spot at the inside corner of her mouth. “I’m sorry.” For Nathalie, for his newest burden, for her words. “For all of it.”

“You don’t— seriously, you don’t have anything to apologize for, Devi.”

Richard’s dark, tired eyes lift back up to watch her, a faint and sad smile curving to his lips, “If anything, I do. I’ve— taken you for granted for awhile now,” he admits in soft tones, “Just taking your loyalty for granted, but I— I really do appreciate it. There aren’t many people who really believe in me anymore.”
Devi’s gaze flinches. She swallows with difficulty over a growing tension in her throat. But, her gaze doesn’t slip away to unburden either of them from the weight of the moment. She resists the compulsion to dive into another world of blueprints and gears, or drugs and jokes. Escapes, all of them. But, they’ve all proven ruinous at one point or another, haven’t they? “Thank you.”

The biker - though, she only mildly resembles such now without the makeup and the gear and the ‘ttude - The biker licks her lips and gives a gentle shake of her head. “I’m always going to be here for you in whatever way you let me. And, Toots? If you don’t see how many of us believe in you - follow you, need you, love you… then the next pair of shades needs ta be prescription.” Her smile is gentler without the makeup. She reaches out across the table, laying a hand in front of Richard.

“It’s hard to remember sometimes, and hard to see, I…” Richard draws in a slow breath, then exhales a sigh as he looks down to her hand, then back to her with that same faint smile, “I’d hug you in appreciation, but I really was serious about it killing you.”

His gloved fingers twitch a bit, “I’m just sorry, Devi. And I won’t take you for granted any more.”

Devi’s fingers drum out one quick ripple on the table between then before a quick little gesture presents the rollie one cmore. “I’m willin’ to take that chance.” Devi’s mischievous grin threatens to curl up the corners of her pale lips like some cartoon cat as she brings the joint to her lips and lights it. “You just let me know when you’re willin’ ta, too, Toots.” She winks and holds out the joint through thin tendrils of smoke.

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