Fire and Rain


megan3_icon.gif huruma4_icon.gif

Scene Title Fire and Rain
Synopsis Been walking my mind to an easy time, my back turned towards the sun
Date March thru April 2020

Elmhurst Hospital

Recovery Ward

March 3rd, 2020

There's not much to say, after the Praxis raid hit the news cycle. Apart from the finer details, the world knows what they need to, to get by. That's the general public, anyway. Anyone adjacent knows the grit of things. Between Detroit and Praxia, there was… a lot.

After getting back to medical and getting transferred to Oakland outside Praxia), the worse Hounds were given a few days to stabilize before being discharged or transferred. In Huruma's case, the latter. She was given the clear to get transferred over the last couple of days, and it's only been several hours of actually being back… home. There are other Hounds undoubtedly along the ward too, some much worse off. The reason for her own tricky transferral is only made clear by charts. She went too hard and too far- - and though her ability remains, it is a swollen, hobbling thing.

Right now it's painkillers and oxygen, a small IV and observation. Huruma never liked being a patient, but now the staff knows what to do with her when she's difficult. The downside. At least they've lent her sweats rather than gown, though they seem to be mismatched sizes.

Physically it did a number on her. Mentally- - well, of course it did. Emotionally… the whole way down to her synapses. Visually, her head's had a fresh shearing, her eyes are blotted with bloody red around the irises, sunken from a hundred reasons. Bruises and scrapes are superficial.

She hasn't been sleeping, either. Not even on the way back to the Safe Zone. Eating is spare. Enough.

She also knows it's only a matter of time before her door comes slapping open from one hand or another. The television is muted, but she's torturing herself by watching it nonetheless.

Megan knew ahead of time the Hounds would be coming in. She's ER so they're not her ward technically but Huruma is already a known entity in this place for her friendship with the tough nurse, and people don't usually mess with Megan when she pops her head in on this particular crew of people. They have Frequent Flier cards. And apparently Huruma scares them. Or something.

The door opens quietly and Megan peers in to just check. Finding Huruma awake or not wouldn't have mattered really but she might have paused to get a coffee on her way in to sit if the empath had been sleeping. Instead, she simply comes the rest of the way in. "You look like hell," she murmurs in her husky worried voice.

Setting her tote bag down on the table just inside the door, Megan moves to the bed. She'd check the chart but it's not urgent right now. What is urgent is the other things — the aching hurt that Megan knows is there without having to ask. Clad in her yoga pants and a T-shirt, it's clear the nurse is off duty.

Normally she might wait until she got the other woman home, but Megan this time simply climbs up onto the hospital bed and engulfs Huruma in her arms.

The Hound is a little less scary to some of them, or she'd never get any answers to anything. Unsleeping and bed propped up, Huruma barely seems able to stay put; there's fidgeting with anything in hand's reach. The temptation to assault the bed buttons vanishes when her weakened field senses Megan's approach just outside the door.

She bites on the edge of her tongue to dissuade saying- - something that clearly bubbles up in her face. It's foggy, whatever it is, possibly even another temptation- - this time to snap and stress. No, don't do that.

Huruma lacks anything more than an exhausted expression until Megan is up on the bed. The shift is prompt, stone chiseled away as if by mallet rather than ball hammer. Her own arms are pulling the redhead in at the same time, a bit of a rough acceptance, burying her face between neck and shoulder. Her grip is a vice.

This much requires few words between them. Condolences are never enough anyway. Megan holds Huruma back as tightly as she herself is being held and she whispers, "You're going to be okay. I have you." How many times has she said those words? Maybe none as momentous as this time. Gratitude for Huruma's and Lucille's and the rest of the Hounds' survival has to be enough right now, because the nurse is reasonably sure that the levels of grief Huruma feels not only from Lu but within herself have to be overwhelming.

Rocking gently to and fro, Meg just whispers, "I have you." It's all she can offer — her unconditional love for Huruma.

You're going to be okay.

Through the hug they both feel a shuddering sob. Past the oxygen at her nose, Huruma chokes out a whimper of sound. As it reaches her own ears, the pressure of her embrace increases, and her monitor stubbornly reminds them of vitals via some subtle beeps. The empath cycles back in a new quaking against Megan's shoulder, shrunken in her arms and creating an ouroboros of sounds and breaths.

She feels… small. Nobody was ever there when she very much was. Night after night and day after day. A scavenging child, a street rat, later, toy soldier. Later, again, the streets and new pain. It will never come out like this is- - that ship has long sailed- - but that feeling of being small is a traumatic reminder on top of

everything else.

You're going to be okay.

It's the one thing Huruma suddenly wishes someone would have said to her decades ago.

You're going to be okay. I have you.

Her own tears are silent as Megan cradles her best friend to her in a tight, fiercely protective hug using her whole body as she rocks gently, a safe harbor in the storm of grief. She doesn't try to hush Huruma or get her to stop the waves — she stands fast against the hurricane and simply repeats in whispers, "I have you."

Megan's Brownstone

March 15th, 2020

Yip! Yip! Yip! Percy-baby is out in the yard again, waggling his little derriere in the hopes of luring his crush over to come play. The Maltese has a little stick to play with and he is prancing in high style along the fence that separates Megan's little overgrown patch of lawn from his owner's. Bellyyyyyy ruuuubs! he begs with sweet little whining sounds. Hooooooooma!

Megan is giggling over her coffee cup at the plaintive sound of Percy's begging. For two days now, since they started having morning coffee out here, Percy has gone wild. Helen Kravitz, his owner and Meg's nosy neighbor who reminds the redhead for all the world of "Bewitched" and the neighbor of a similar name, has already come and politely 'asked' that Megan not give Percy treats because 'he's on a diet.'

Yeah, that's totally why.

Moving out of the Bunker was the easy part. Figuring out how to slot herself more permanently into things, well, she makes that more difficult than it needs to be.

"Should I put this in the closet or the basement?" Huruma's murmur behind Megan doesn't mean to be startling- - but it probably is. The slinking out of nowhere never ends. In her hand is a long black case, gripped by the handle. There's still a gingerness to her walk, given she didn't have time to let her leg heal before subjecting herself to a second op. Huruma's quietness is noticeable, though not foreign.

Then, she notices the gamboling little dog, and her lips twitch in a small smile. One hand reaches into her hoodie pocket, the other setting down the metal case. Huruma wiggles a squeaky cheeseburger at Megan, one brow lifting. Should she? It's not a treat, technically…


The last thing Megan is going to do is discourage something that makes Huruma smile. The last shrug she offers is accompanied by the twinkle of amusement — Huruma and Helen have a Thing now. It's all about who loves Percy more. (It's not.) "Just don't wind her up far enough to give her a heart attack," Meg snerks mildly.

Sipping from her coffee cup, she watches Huruma's movements with a close eye. She navigates the line between 'making you rest to heal' and 'nagging you to death' pretty well, all things considered. "If you think you'll need to get to it, use the closet," is the reply about the case. "Basement is a bit cluttered so if you need it fast, it could be a problem."

The basement is slowly starting to look rather like a prepper lives here.

"Closet, then." Huruma gives the case one last look before squeezing the toy in her hand. The bouncing, yapping, happy dog freezes, ears perked and dark eyes big- - and proceeds to bounce around even more wildly than before.

"I won't." She even stopped feeding the dog, just to try and smooth things out. Still getting the hairy eyeball. Huruma's starting to think it's something else entirely, but… maybe paranoia. For kicks she's taken to wearing a- - commandeered- - hoodie with SESA stamped across the front. It's not intimidation.


Huruma clicks her tongue against her teeth as she comes to the fence, first reaching through to scratch nails gently on Percy's head and ears. "Don't ruin your appetite, pepe." Squeak-squeak. The small dog rocket-leaps after the gentle toss of rubber burger. The small things satisfy the most, sometimes.

Shaking her head slightly, Megan watches the energetic little creature take off ecstatically after the new plaything. As she leans back in her chair, she shifts her feet to open her lap and give Ruma a place to leap and curl up. The cat, left with Megan for safekeeping when Ryans left the city, has made the brownstone her domain. The purring namesake gets scritches while the tall woman makes her way back.

"I'm glad you decided to move in," the redhead says softly, blue eyes thoughtful as she strokes the large cat's silky fur. "It'll be good for you to have a place that's not barracks."

Percy gets one more toss when he brings it back and wrestles for a few seconds with it; Huruma uses his distraction to slide away, squink-squoinking sounds in her wake. She pauses only some when she spots the cat, as opposed to the first couple of days of avoidance. Cats gonna cat.

"I don't mind barracks…" That much is the truth. Huruma takes her time in pulling up her chair, sitting with a deliberately thoughtful expression. "…Yeah. It'll be good."

Red Ridge Market

March 28th, 2020

Has it really only been a month? Of course it feels like forever ago, that Detroit was under siege and Praxia under raid. The news mentions as much, when Huruma catches pieces of it on the radio. One Month Later, where are we now?

Looking for ratings, apparently.

Huruma left the house in an effort to just- - find something else that isn't work. Her ability is still recouping, though the quiet milling of the Red Ridge Market is kind on her head. She's not inside the market at present, but sitting across the street from its entrance on a rock border; leant over her phone as she waits, Huruma has her hood pulled up over her head and earbuds in, perfectly able to sense people coming as she is.

Late March sunshine, chilly breezes, the quiet murmur of people.

Megan moves among the market’s inhabitants with an economy of motion that says she has things to do but she stops regularly to speak to this person or that, clearly familiar enough with a number of them to listen to their words attentively. Huruma knows her well enough to pick up after a couple of these stops that some of these are Megan’s off-the-books patients — the ones who won’t go to the hospital for whatever reason. They are the reason her basement has the volume of medical supplies that she has slowly accumulated over the years of living in the Safe Zone. Others are merely acquaintances that the redhead smiles with as they talk and they all move on. She routinely glances back to check where Huruma is waiting, as if verifying that the empath is not being too overwhelmed by numbers of people.

Her shopping bag has accumulated the ingredients that she wanted for dinner. It’s early for fresh vegetables, but there are some people selling from the local Raytech/Yamagato greenhouse, and Megan makes a point of frequenting those stalls until the late spring and early summer, when the smaller gardners begin to bring their wares. And there are a few places where people are selling specialties. As she makes her way back toward her companion with casual movements, she asks mildly, “You doing all right?”

Megan is right to have her own concerns, even if Huruma was willing to follow to where she seemed comfortable. It's been a few weeks, and those daily headaches are abiding. She 'reached too hard', and then there was Gray to keep back- - it was a task. The earbuds seem to give her some white noise most of the time; as Megan nears, the empath lifts her head from her phone and rubs a thumb against the corners of her eyes.

"…Mostly." Huruma won't say fine. She's never been in the habit of bold lies and Meg would give her a Face anyway. "I was cleaning out my voicemail. I really should just… save them."

There's no stopping Megan from taking a peek; only a few unfamiliar contacts. Hounds, friends, some of the Kids. Dearing, from early that year. Megan, Avi, Ben all littered throughout.

She doesn’t take it upon herself to peer at who Huruma is talking to or clearing out messages from — but she can guess that there is at least one there from Benjamin, and Megan nods slightly. “Maybe some of them,” she concedes softly. “I think… the hardest part of missing someone is that after a while, you can’t… quite remember what they sound like anymore. You might be glad later that you have them.” Her voice is low, her emotions muted as she looks back toward the market. “Do you have anything in particular you’d like me to grab while we’re here?”

"That's exactly what I don't want…so." Huruma frowns quietly to herself, sitting back and tugging out her already quieted buds. "No. I thought I might think of something…" But getting distracted is so much easier. The taller woman shifts to stand, remaining in arm's reach.

"I'm sorry, I know I'm not - -" Pale eyes turn to the phone, and she makes a quiet mental note to see if someone can do it for her. Maybe Asi. It wouldn’t take time at all. "I don't mean to appear so self absorbed." Huruma is not the only one mourning, missing. Yet, Megan knows too well the rocky path of a power like her friend's. The connection severed, just like Ryans and his phantom hand.

"Don't?" Meg asks softly, looking at her. "It's not self-absorbed, Huruma. It's just… grief. It isn't just something you get over in a month. Sometimes not in a year or even a decade." Not that she has to tell her friend that, not really. Sighing softly, she slips her hand into Huruma's elbow and squeezes. "It's all right to not be okay. Frankly, kitty cat, the fact that you're not balled up on the floor drowning your sorrow in the good whiskey is testament to your strength of character." She offers a small smile, not really laughing but if commiseration. "Last time I got hit with as much weight as you're carrying, I seem to recall having to wear sunglasses for two full days." It was a bad two days. "I don't think I was really right again for months."

The last time she remembers, or at least parts. Huruma looks to the hand at her elbow, then lifts her head to Megan. Her eyes are wet, though stemmed only because of where they are; instead, a shift of the arm under the redhead's touch, hooking their hands together.

"… I really… want to be. " The only reason she hasn't been doing just what Megan says, is that her head couldn't stress it. In time she's sure she will, but when she has no choice but to moderate… Voice low and throat tight, "I don't… feel like thinking." She has to take it like salt in an open wound. Everyone does this differently, she knows - and she can't help but wonder if she's doing it right, or even how much.

He was right, though. He knew what she'd be feeling. He said as much.

"Of course you do," Megan scoffs quietly in reply, gripping the dark woman's hand tightly as they walk. "But we both know that if you do that, I hafta get Scott to find me iron shackles or something, and I really don't think I want the man wondering what we're getting up to in the house," she says with wide eyes and raised eyebrows.

"Besides… I don't have enough of the good stuff to actually get you and you drunk for long enough." Megan's comfort for the grief takes many avenues — sometimes it's reading aloud by the fire, sometimes it's giving her space, sometimes it's just being facetious to get Huruma a little room in her own head. Right now appears to be the latter so that Huruma isn't crying in public — she'd hate that, Meg knows.

Megan's Brownstone

April 4th, 2020

This is it, the big day. Someone else's, though it is still something Huruma can look forward to. She's glad that feeling lasted just long enough. Morning is clear, if crisp, and April's tiny buds are peeking through. Megan's brownstone has come around to looking like two people actually live there, rather than a roustabout crashing in once in a while. Technically there is one that still does that.

"Mmm… Is this the right shade of 'don't out-do the bride…?" Normally not a question she'd ask. Huruma slides into the doorway of Megan's bedroom, her voice more velvet than it has been in recent days. Her dress is knee-length and dark purple, hugs her frame and shows the definition of upper back, but otherwise it is not unreasonable.

"I have that gold that’s less of a fit…" Her wondering out loud to Megan stops with a quiet petering out Huruma backpedals. "Mm. This is probably fine."

Turning to look toward Huruma from where she’s pinning her lightening hair up into an easy, casual twist of gentle waves, Megan smiles. “I love that shade on you. I think the gold is probably a little flashy if you want to make sure not to upstage her,” the redhead replies. She herself is wearing a midnight blue and white patterned dress that falls to about her knees with a lacy deep blue shrug to cover her shoulders. She continues to slip the silvery dangly earring into her ear and then pauses to really look at Huruma.

“You’re not really worried about the dress, are you?” she asks softly. “Wanna tell me what’s really going on?” She honestly expects that it’s just that there will be a good number of people. But Megan won’t let her just avoid this gathering — it’s important.

"It's more tarnished…" Huruma murmurs, though in the next moment Megan is calling her out. As per usual. The tall woman leans against the doorframe, her head on the wood. "I think I'm just looking for excuses to wear it." Whatever its significance, she doesn't exactly seem forthcoming. Once she replies, Huruma seems about to slip inside but turns at the last second to head across the hall to guest-room-turned-hers. There's not a lot there except what she had at the Bunker. Still, there's a jewelry box and a closet, and it's the former that she goes for.

Just reminded of it, that's all. Not looking to escape for a minute.

"Here," Huruma steps one foot into the hall, now wearing matte black shoes and holding a necklace. Geometric, stylized shapes, hues of ivory and amber. "A middle ground." On her neck it contrasts the purple and her skin both, and as an alternative to changing- - well, she seems- - happy with it.

She watches curiously as her friend turns and leaves, quirking a brow and taking the brief opportunity to make sure the subtle makeup she applied is understated enough — she's not vain often but getting dressed up with Huruma is an exercise in self-confidence sometimes.

When the dark woman returns, Megan moves to help her with clasp, nodding in satisfaction. "I love it," she agrees. Just the right touch of abstract. She grins at Huruma and observes in a teasing tone, "We'll do."

A brief glance back the mirror happens where she makes a face at herself and laughs. "The red is going away faster and faster, I swear." She's so not dyeing that shit. Screw it, she'll be a white-haired lady.

"I can't speak on hair tips." Huruma lingers there in the mirror at Megan's side, showing a sliver of smile, hand sweeping back a lock of hair from shoulder. "You work the red, I'm sure you can work this. Maybe we can get Cambria to even it out a little…" She murmurs, eyes thoughtful for just a moment.

"Alright gorgeous, no fashionably late today- - just fashionable." Huruma's smile lingers again for the reflection of her friend, a touch embarrassed. "And …I plan to take it easy. If I start feeling the headaches I'll excuse myself… You won't need to worry about me."

"Fffft. I'm gonna be the sexiest white-haired old lady ever," Megan retorts. "Just see if I'm not." She grins at Huruma. "C'mon then — and if you get a headache, we'll come home. It'll be fine." Swooping up a pair of strappy white sandals, she links her other arm with her roommate's. "Party. Colette will be funny as hell." She's looking forward to whatever Letty might throw!


April 28th, 2020

Two months, now. It's not supposed to be easy, Huruma knows this. She's lost people before, but- - not like this. Megan said it was alright. That she isn't able to shut things out. Amidst the whirlwind of so many other things, thoughts tend to wander. The afternoon came with exciting news, and it was exciting- - then humbling- - then proud. It ends in melancholy.

Whatever Huruma was up to, Megan saw right through it and slid into the passenger seat moments after the car engine turned over. It's hard to kick people out when you're buckled in. Besides… it was probably a good thing. She can read the map.

"What a disaster…" Parked along the side of a pockmarked road, Huruma stalls in the car despite turning it off. She peers out the window at an overgrown, tangled piece of property, wrought iron draped in dried vines and leaf litter piled against the fence. There's a lock and chain on the gate, and the space beyond is much too wide for anything else besides its original purpose as a cemetary. At the least, the grass and weeds spread out on the old lawn are still trodden and brown from winter.

This is not likely a place Megan's ever been, though every day has a surprise of some kind.

There's no one left to care for the graves. Megan's never been here — never had reason to come before. It feels strange to be here, where Mary is buried. A woman Megan thinks very highly of though they never met. Where Ben's son is buried in an unmarked — so far as she's aware — spot. The man himself … well.

Looking to her friend, Megan is quiet. Spring is showing its face here, and she says simply, "If this is as far as you can go today, that's okay." She herself will certainly get out to climb that gate. Strange as it may sound, this suddenly seems like the right place to say goodbye.

"No… I need this, …I think." Huruma sniffs back a hitch in her chest as she gets out of the car and heads to the trunk. The air is still, save for the bip-bip-bip-bip of robins arriving for spring, rooting around in old yards for worms. She doesn't slam the trunk shut in the presence of the gate, lowering it with a respectful click.

Huruma came prepared. With a bolt cutter. Hell if she wants to hop any fences today; and she does what she intends, turning around to take the metal clamp to the chain.

"I didn't really- -" Ka-CHUNK. "- -know what else to do with myself." And that is okay. Pale eyes find Megan's, darkened underneath only from the last day or so. Two months has seemed like a year or more. In the last few weeks Huruma finally told Megan one hard truth- - that she saw it all happen. That's why she reached too hard and too far. Some hopeless miracle.

The painful snap of a psychic tether worlds apart. Psychosomatic, maybe. Real? Absolutely.

Telling her the whole story wasn't as important until it suddenly was.

The redhead climbs out of the car and waits with her hands shoved in her pockets as Huruma makes her way to the gate. It broke her heart to hear what happened at the end, but it also gave her a kind of relief. She had held onto the faith that whatever Ben was doing, it wasn't what it looked like, and Huruma had validated that faith. And it had explained everything about Huruma's psychic injury, as far as Meg was concerned.

"I think this is … a good place," she agrees softly. There is nowhere to really visit Ben in a place of rest. But this? This makes sense. As the lock clunks to the ground, Megan reaches back into the car and brings out the small bouquet of mums, gladioli, dahlias, and Lisianthus. Although she hasn't said why those choices, in the language of flowers they denote thanks and respect and love for a partner. Bringing them to Mary's grave feels respectful of both the time the man shared with both the women standing here and the woman he never forgot.

Michelle Brennan would smile to know her lesson on the flowers was well received.

Pulling in a slow breath, she looks to Huruma. "Ready?"

"As I will ever be." A moment is taken to pick up the chain and lock and put the bolt cutter away. Huruma didn't ask about the flowers, and Megan didn't tell, but the empath can read enough to know that they mean something in particular. One hand on the iron gate, Huruma shoulders it open on the rusty hinges. Still sturdy, just stuck.

It closes behind Megan out of a remaining sense of respect given. Huruma was never one for places like this- - interestingly enough- - but she knows better than to disrespect the dead.

"Might… take a little looking." Huruma starts down the path a little ways and moves off of it, crunching dried grass under her boots. In time a few monuments have broken, many overgrown, a handful faded under a layer of lime and grit. In one or two places, signs of someone else having been here in semi-recent memory. When Huruma starts to more carefully peer at the stones and placards, she trusts Megan to do the same.

They find the space, eventually, somewhat overgrown but not as much- - perhaps someone else's doing. Huruma's first self-appointed task is to cut away any last vegetation with a knife; the first few are grandparents, parents. Once the tall woman crouches down in her work, a knee on the earth and features softened, the chore is over, the last tangles removed at the shallow roots. Whoever had been here before had tried to do the same and for whatever reason, only had half-a-heart in it.

Hands covered in dry soil, Huruma sits back on her heel, breath moving out in a sigh through her nose.

Needless to say, Mary Ryans hasn't gone anywhere. As strange a sensation as it is, being there, the nerves dissipate.

She moves slowly among the stones, looking for a particular one but pausing here and there to consider a name or a range of dates. Megan seems content somehow just to be in this place. When they do find the spot, she kneels down and sets the flowers against base of the stone while she helps Huruma clear it off. Only when it's more presentable does she reach for the flowers and more neatly nestle them in a small depression at the base of the stone — perhaps made for this very thing.

Rocking back to sit on her heels, the redhead says softly, "I hope he's found the kind of peace he never really had here. And that he's hugging Bradley really tight." There's a wistfulness to the words. At one time, Megan sort of half-hoped it would turn into something more permanent. But she's always been grateful for what she had of the man. "He never forgot you," she murmurs to the stone. "I hope you didn't mind sharing him with us for a while." How many times had the man saved all of their asses? Too many to count.

She lets out a slow sigh, allowing the peace of this place to flow through her. She didn't realize she was going to cry, and yet tears suddenly flood her eyes.

It is for Megan that she waits. There are few times that Huruma is able to really repay the comfort, and right now she stays one knee on the ground, silently listening and brushing the last remnants of someone else's attempted upkeep away. Pale eyes rest on her friend's features as tears well up; restraint and another purpose keep her from reaching out.

"…I've forgotten who I've told, but I met her in a dream once." Huruma whispers, one arm on risen knee, mouth turned down. Her voice is just for Megan, not even caught on the breeze. "It was just Delia's version of her, but…" Maybe it was real enough. "She asked me to watch out for her. And them, I suppose. It was probably just… a subconscious thing? It mattered to me, though."

"I did my best." The heel of Huruma's hand moves to rub at her own eyes. "So far." Palms rub dirt off onto her pants, and Huruma reaches into her jacket pocket; she offers Megan first go at sipping from the small flask, the tiniest bit of ceremony she could come up with. "You know… "

"When he said he wasn't the person we knew. That it was a lie. He was wrong."

The tears are silent as Megan considers the grave … and the loss. Reaching up to wipe some of those tears off, she takes the flask. "He always said that bullshit," she murmurs softly. "I pointed out once — look around at the kids that came back to try to make things right, to make them better. More of the spawn belonged to him than anyone else."

She pauses and sips from the flask, savoring the burn a moment before handing it back. "When I asked him where the hell he thought they all got that from, he looked rather dumbfounded." Megan smiles slightly at the memory. "I think you're doing a great job looking after all of them. Even him."

When she looks up at Huruma, there's a small shrug. "He was always going to die in the middle of a hot zone. We both know he wouldn't have had it any other way." Retired. Yeah, fucking right. My lily-white ass.

"That bullshit was always his thing. He was different. But he wasn't, too. Like… a puzzle cube is a puzzle cube, with all its colors and pieces, it never changes. But you can solve it. Line up the colors. Complete it,"

"Both he and Adam- - they were like that. They weren't… not themselves. They were just…"


"Hff. I can't count all of the close calls I'd had with him out there." A few of them, Megan knows intimately- - she had to help fix the results. Huruma does spare the lick of a smile for the tale of a stunned Ben, she can see it in her head. "So… anyway. Yes, I know this was the only way he'd leave." She takes a small drink of her own, setting the base of the flask against her thigh as she peers at it.

"We'd never let one of us die for the other, the one left would just blame themselves." Not being able to have done anything at all- - it feels worse than having been there and failed. "I feel it regardless."

With a heavy sigh, Megan admits, "I do too. We had each other's backs for too long not to." She rubs her hands up and down her denim-clad thighs as she kneels there. "I, at least, have the advantage — if you can call it that — of not even knowing for sure where you guys were until the last minute." In that, she has regrets but they are the regrets of not realizing that the last time you saw someone was the last time. But she's grateful not to have had to watch him sacrifice his life at the end.

She's quiet for a long time, considering. "None of you are doing well," she finally says softly. "Rue is a mess. Epstein's not much better. Francois is still recovering." At least Francois will recover eventually. "I'm glad you came home," she says in a low voice. If she'd lost both of them, she's not entirely sure what she'd have done. Even after all this time — more years apart as just friends than the three of them lived together as partners — it's those years that bound them that still resonate.

"…Me too." Hard as it may be to be back, the thought of not coming back at all is dark and foreboding.

"There were still things that I wanted to say. And you know how terrible I am at saying them." Huruma breathes sharply in through her nose, neck tensing and releasing with the rise and fall of shoulders. "Maybe I didn't have to." Maybe showing was enough.

The quiet after this is short and heavy, disrupted at last by Huruma exhaling a caught breath and wordlessly tipping a trickling line from flask to dirt, soundlessly letting her cheeks wet.

"I'm going to miss him so much," Whispered, for all four of them. Dark fingers settle the emptied tin against the flowers Megan's left. "It's your turn now, but I know I don't even need to ask."

Megan brushes more tears off her cheeks, and then she nods slowly at the gravestone. "We've got your girls, Mary. They'll be okay." Pushing off the ground and wrapping one arm around Huruma's waist as the darker woman stands, the redhead murmurs softly, "Don't kick his ass too hard, okay? He's only male — he couldn't help the stupid parts." She grins a bit cheekily. "See you next time around, Benjamin."

As they make their way back toward the car, the redhead doesn't look back but there's a lightness in her heart now.

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