Expressively Violent


bf_kara_icon.gif shambrook_icon.gif

Scene Title Expressively Violent
Synopsis When Kara stops by on welfare checks during the heatwave, Shambrook invites her in for a drink.
Date July 19, 2019

Shambrook's Cabin, Providence

There's an old, now unused campsite not terribly far from the primary location of the Remnant, where the trails are weedy and overgrown, where bad winters in the past few years have collapsed things like hiking trail signage and picnic tables, where partial development hasn't completely been lost to the wilderness by way of cracked roads and, also, the structure that Kara is visiting now. A wooden cabin, with horizontal slats and grimy windows and slanting rooftop.

Utilitarian, small, but the air of neglect that it had worn when Jasper Shambrook was first introduced to it has slowly been chipped away, if not necessarily for the better. The immediate front territory has a strange look to it — as if the weeds and grasses that would have grown up around the flat stone pathway had been burned away in recent days, scorch marks on rock and the withered traces of plant life just visible.

It would be easy to imagine that maybe this patch of earth spontaneously combusted under this heat. But probably not.

And it's already beginning to warm, the last traces of night time cool burning away as the hour climbs towards midday. She doesn't have to move all the way up to the front door, although the shade of the low deck may be tempting, before she finds the man she was checking in on. The sound of creaky metal and soft footsteps has him emerging from behind the cabin, hands gripping the handles of a wheelbarrow laden with plantlife — or plant death, rather, yellow leaves and tangled weeds overflowing coarse and wild from the edges of the rust bucket they've been piled into.

She might imagine he is wearing gloves, but a second glance confirms he is not, his hands are just blackened with earth almost to his elbows. The sun beats down on bare, freckled shoulders, and maybe the cloth currently wrapped around his head had originally been a T-shirt, but has since been removed. Sunglasses blank out his eyes, and long, skinny legs are bare from the knee down to his shoeless feet, shorts that look too big on his long frame fastened with a belt.

Shambrook does not see her immediately, labouring the wheelbarrow load to where a pile of dead flora and weeds is waiting. When he does see her, he stops, expression half-hidden behind the sunglasses.

Kara almost makes it to that deck anyway — her steed has a mind of his own, and he balks at the heat that clings to the air even at this hour of the day. He knows it will only get hotter, and he's decidedly not a fan. The self-serving bay is anchored with a hard pull on the rein as Kara rides up, slowing her pace.

Not all residents are particularly well-known to her, but the welfare checks being performed throughout the heatwave blistering through the region have ensured she's meeting some new faces. Shambrook's is one she knows only through hearing, through the strange tale told more by Chris than Iago.

"We're out on check-ins," she explains as the bay tosses his head in a fit of stubbornness. Kara ignores it, eyes for the man wallowing in dirt. "Are you doing well on supplies for this weekend? Fresh water?"

Shambrook decides to unburden himself first, moving those last few feet to upend the wheelbarrow, shaking it so that the last withered leaf rattles out. Ropey and lean, this work does not appear effortless on him, the wheelbarrow skewing a little in his grip as he brings it back down. He drags the cloth off his head to wipe himself down with it some, long auburn hair lank and dark with sweat.

"Low," he admits, as he does a careless job of removing soil from his arms — or, more accurately, diffusing it. His accent comes out with the cadence of a watered down Irish, with a more even monotony than musicality. "Creek nearby's down to a piss trickle." And obviously, it hasn't rained in a hot minute. A hot while.

He tips his head at the refuse next to him, while scanning her over behind his glasses. Her and the horse she rode in on. Flies tickle at her bay's ears, teases its tail to twitch. "Don't got much left to water, though."

Kara's brow pops as she cocks her head to one side, the silent look a response all of its own. Well. She takes a moment to consider just how she wants to phrase her response, to try and input some more diplomacy into it. The best she comes up with is, "Well, it's you anyone'd be worried about. Not the plants. Humans don't grow back the way they do."

It's a new enough look for her— deliberately trying to water down her words to get her point across in a softer way. It's a step up from We don't give a shit about the plants, for sure. After months and months of practice, she might even have started doing better at it.

She inclines her head to him, glancing over him and letting her gaze flit only momentarily to the abode. "Is it just you out here?"

The tilt to Shambrook's head indicates: he gives a shit about the plants.

Though he does not seem particularly in mourning. In summer, the bodies of spring die. "Plants feed me," he says, after a moment of thought. Like he is, like her, trying to mediate some amount of natural and unnecessary abrasiveness in stating what he considers the obvious, if only because she's come all this way to check on him. He's not such an anti-social weirdo as not to notice that. "More'n people do, most times.

"It's just me," he confirms, on a delay. Unbothered by that fact too. He twists enough to look back at the cabin. "Not even the robots've come calling. Do you want a beer? It's cool inside."

If he's by himself, it makes good sense that the roaming robots wouldn't have bothered to come calling. It's not a fact Kara gives voice to, though. She's been asked if she wants inside.

The answer is patently no. She has a dozen other things needing taken care of. People to visit before it gets too hot to be seeing to them; supplies to ferry or request be ferried.

"Yes," she answers instead. There isn't even the promise the offered beer is cold, merely that the inside of his tenement is. Why is she saying yes? "Just one."

Kara swings one leg off her horse, then slides down on her stomach to the crunchy grass below, more aware of the sounds of cicadas buzzing in the trees than she was up above. She pats the side of the champagne bay, looking for a place to tie him up at while they venture indoors.

The log-like structures framing the deck are good enough to affix a horse to, quirky raw-looking wood that seems like someone's half-hearted attempt to lend the little cabin a rustic air. On the ground and following Shambrook inside, his lanky height is greatly emphasised by the time he has to duck to get through the door and she does not. Inside, a shallow jump would probably knock his head against some low angled beam.

And he wasn't lying. Cold air hits Kara's skin, shocking that immediate layer of sweat shine. The source seems to be coming from an AC unit running full bore, an unlikely extravagance in the ramshackle little cabin. The floor is plain wood, and the dirt he's tracked in without care doesn't seem to be a long term habit, at least, more or less clean save for his large earthy footprints wending through.

The living room is only sparsely decorated. There's an old fashioned TV, currently depowered. A low table with stains and scorch marks and an ashtray, although the lingering smell in the air does not read as nicotine to Kara's senses — sweeter than that, and beneath that, an odd smell, like that of outdoor sunshine. Shambrook, in spite of his narrow configuration and dimensions, seems to take up most space in the little kitchenette, bending to retrieve a couple of cans from a fridge.

Turns, offers, tosses low underhanded. American, rather than something particular from his home of origin.

Her hand sinks to assist with catching the can without disturbing its contents any more than the initial sail across the room might. Kara nods her head in a gesture of thanks, snapping the top open and sipping quickly at what fizz does deign to pour from the top.

It provides her the opportunity to take a look around the cabin, taking a moment to appreciate it. For all the aggressive sprucing up of her own space that Yi-Min had forced upon her, it was rivaled if not outclassed by even something this simple. Needed context: Kara enjoys this type of aesthetic, which is probably why she does not mind the style of living associated with it.

"Glad to see you've made yourself comfortable," she reports mildly, not looking his way. "From what I heard, you were living in a questionable setup before."

She takes her time in the observation, finally looking back to Shambrook to size him up more closely now that they're in tight enough quarters for it. Another sip of the cold beer is taken to quell voicing any other idle thoughts for the moment.

To be honest, she envies the AC. Quite a bit.

That is because it is envious, to be sure. Shambrook moves towards seating, which consists of a couple of canvas outdoor chairs, one of which is positioned to imply he's more inclined to put his feet up on it than expect guests, but doesn't, now. He sits heavily, weariness set into his bones as he cracks open his own beer, easing out a noisy sigh and taking off his sunglasses, which hang off a strap around his neck.

"It was fine," he protests, smearing away some of the earthy grime that's transferred from blackened hands to the mouth of his beer. "Had a garden going and everything. Not robot-proof, is all. Better'n Nevada. Mind you, the robots out there didn't come calling at odd hours."

Kara, as a part of putting aside her self-imposed duties for the sake of community-building one person at a time, settles down into the chair beside Shambrook without any fanfare. She settles back, displaying a facade of comfort. She rotates her drink, thumbing the tab to one side. The barely-sweating can is a marvel of the air-conditioned heaven they sit in.

Her brow perks at the mention of Nevada. "You were out West before this?" she asks, appreciation carrying in her tone. The munitions chaplain doesn't lean forward — yet — but he has her interest now. "How long were you in Nevada for? You make it any further West?"

Perhaps he's heard of the settlement she had made home before this one, the place the Horsemen had rode from. In any case, the shift in topic to that allows her to avoid potentially bringing up that the robots are a recent issue, one almost assuredly spawned from another version of reality.

The fairly languid, casual manner with which Shambrook conducts himself is interrupted with a sharper flick of a glance Kara's way at her more animated but— as far as he can tell— entirely innocent questions. Appreciative questions, which has him slouch down further, holding his beer can with linked fingers of his town hands, the mini moons at the ends of his nails black from the earth.

"Since about six years ago," he says. "Didn't really see much. Rock and sand, and." And.

Whatever the 'and' is, there's not much in the way of gardening at all, really.

"There was a facility out there, some fucking research thing. Ramirez and the other one, the chatty fucker, got me and Wieland out've there, and I was happy to go, so." No, to whatever's got Kara's keener interest.

"Facility?" Kara asks, eyebrow arching. The interest in her tone trends idle. She hms quietly. The phrase research facility is vague, and doesn't explain why he was there. She's not one to assume. For just a moment, it tugs something at the edge of her memory, a period devolving into static—

"I was on the northwest coast, out there throughout the war. Stuck mostly to Washington. Never saw Nevada in it all." she explains absently.

Oh well, it would seem. There goes that conversational thread, apparently.

She looks back his way, chin lifting slightly. "Where were you before Nevada?" Kara asks.

"You're really missing out," says Jasper, his brand of sarcasm coming out monotone and lazy, without edge.

But he does not say more of what inspires this response, bringing his beer up to drink from and giving the impression that he would be here as he is whether she had joined him or not, like she'd edited herself into his lazy solitary rituals.

That he belches before he says, "Home," only cements that impression all the more.

He lifts his beer, as if to indicate Ireland, directionally. "Then prison, then America, then— here, still America," whatever, it's a big country. "Are you interested in me personally or whatever actionable information might be useful for you and yours? You know, in return for these friendly neighbourhood check ins, and that."

"Just doesn't hurt to know your neighbors a bit better, I'd say." Kara opines by way of reply, taking a long drink of the beer after, taking down almost half the can. She comes to her feet with what little of her drink remains in her hand, arms held out in an outward shrug. "Can't speak for everyone there, but I'm speaking for myself."

But it seems like he'd rather be left alone, at least for the moment. And she had work to get back to. But, gesturing his way, she notes the one thing she'd feel remiss if she didn't follow up on. "Prison?" she asks, her air almost indifferent. "Violent, non-violent, or Expressive?"

Not him as a person, just why he'd been in jail.

That's his secret, Cap: Shambrook would always rather be left alone.

So he thinks, anyway, and seems to embody, with his solitary little existence out here, but Kara finds herself studied as she gets up, like he's hesitating over saying more. Some parts doubt and suspicion, but maybe otherwise contemplating the idea she's not bullshitting him. Wouldn't that be fucking nice.

"Expressive," he says, and adds, "-ly violent. Not on purpose. But, you know. Don't they say that the guy that started all this shit in New York did it by accident too."

He lifts his beer, a partial cheers. "I'll be good. Scout's honour."

To whatever happened in New York, there’s a simple pull of one side of Kara’s mouth. An indifferent act that indicates ‘so they say’, without actually delving into the subject. “Shit happens,” is what she says, deliberate in her choice of words, all while wondering what kind of accidental violence the odd power he has might incur.

It’s a question they can maybe leave for another time. There’s only so many things they can talk about unless they find common ground, and there’s the distinct possibility he might start asking her questions back if she presses for more.

For one, she does not have the time now. And for another, she doesn’t have the slightest desire to talk about herself.

“I’ll take your word for it. You’ve not given any cause for concern so far,” Kara tells him while she polishes off the last of the can. A note of satisfaction leaves her, that certain tone reserved for finishing a quenching drink. “If that’s something you’ve wondered about.”

The honesty in that can’t be found in her eyes, which stay on the can while she places it on the table in the air-conditioned unit. “I’d best be off. Too much to do, not enough daylight to get it done in.” Her head lifts only to give him a curt nod before she moves to the door, looking back at him one last time appraisingly.

“Take care,” she bids. “And reach out if you need anything.”

It’s on the way out that she finally wonders at the burned grass and plant detritus over the stone path, taking note of the care in its placement, and how the effort was contained only to where it needed to be. “Hm,” Kara muses, and swings herself back up into the saddle of her champagne bay, patting his side before she lets out a clicking tone from the back of her teeth. “C’mon, Semej.”

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