For Tomorrow We Die


dearing_icon.gif rue_icon.gif

Scene Title …For Tomorrow We Die
Synopsis Rue and Dearing carry on as usual before an important operation.
Date January 8, 2019

The Bunker

It’s become something of a ritual by now. There’s a quiet knock at the door. Once open, she sweeps in, peels them both out of their clothes and lets him bend her over the desk until she’s breathless and her knees threaten to give out. When it’s over, she pats him on the cheek, wishes him good luck, redresses and lets herself out to return to her room, where she’ll take her sleeping pills and pass out for the night.

Tonight, she tastes of whiskey, and she watches him down the length of her nose, her head tipped back as she sits astride him. Her hands on his chest keep her steady as she rocks back and forth. Short, shallow gasps fill the space between them until one last breath released in a tremor in tandem with the shudder of their bodies. She tips forward until she slumps down with her forehead resting on the pillow next to him.

For a time, she’s silent and still, save for the soft catching of her breath. She swallows and closes her eyes. A sigh slips past her lips, which she presses to his neck before disengaging from where they’re joined at the hips, rolling over to rest on the mattress at his side.

Propping herself up with an elbow against the pillow, she rests her other hand on his abdomen as bright eyes study his form, like she’s committing the moment to memory. If this is their final chance, at least this was a good last hurrah.

Her voice is low, harsher from the alcohol, “This’s been good.” That’s clearly not what she wanted to say. Or not all of what she wanted to say. She doesn’t really do feelings. Not when they’re a tangle of limbs and sheets.

“Yeah,” James Dearing says as he tucks a bare arm behind his head, eyes focused up on the ceiling. “It's a good arrangement.” Clinical, always. This has always just been an arrangement.

Turning to look at the clock beside his bed, Dearing notes the time, then looks back to the ceiling. “Major wants us wheels up at 0:600, we’re making a base camp just outside of Las Vegas in the salt flats tonight. Harkness Senior needs me up at 0:330 to help load the ordinance on the Tlanuwa.” Clinical.

Dearing turns a look over to Rue. “Briefing is at 0:400,” he continues, as if trying to give plenty of reasons this is where their arrangement should end for the night.

She listens passively. Not as if she isn’t getting the hint, but that she isn’t bothered by it. She’ll never admit to it if she is. “Mm.” Rue gives a token glance to the clock before sitting up, letting the sheets stay on the bed. “That’s awful early,” she agrees quietly, stretching her arms up above her head slowly.

This should be where she climbs out of bed and starts pulling her clothes back on. It should really be when she tells him that this won’t happen again. Every time should be when she says it won’t happen again. Instead, she tells him, “I hope our arrangement can continue.”

I hope you don’t get killed.

“Likewise,” Dearing says without a modicum of emotion behind it, just a tidy and clean verbal handshake and a proverbial pat on the butt. Good game. “Helps to blow off steam like this, been awhile since I had something regular, you know?” Dearing turns to regard Rue’s silhouette in the dark.

Quiet for a moment, Dearing shifts and sits up on his elbow and looks across to Rue. “I hope this isn't getting complicated,” is delivered with all the tacit clarity he might use to address his accountant. If he had one. Does Dearing do his taxes? Does he do his own taxes? Too many pointless questions start to drown out the uncomfortable ones.

“Yeah, I know what you mean.” There’s a smirk at her own expense. Rue hasn’t had something regular since— She makes sure she’s turned away before she makes a sour face at the thought of her barren love life, finally sliding off the mattress to let her feet pad down on the hard floor.

She considers his question for a moment, and the other irrelevant ones that pop up in its wake. Rue lets out a huff of laughter as she steps into her discarded panties and begins pulling them back into place. “All human entanglements present complications,” is delivered gently. “This one barely ranks.”

Whether that’s just what she thinks he needs to hear or if it’s what she actually feels remains unclear. But it’s not like she’s ever sent him flowers or asked him to dinner first.

“Ain’t that the shitty truth?” Dearing muses from where he’s propped up in the bed. “Hypothetical for you, while you’re getting yourself presentable,” his brows furrow for a moment. “If you had enough money to drop this side hustle, would you?” The question itself says a lot about Dearing’s perspective, says a lot about how he views Rue’s participation. “You aren’t a soldier, I’ve heard people talk. You used to be a model. This can’t be what you want for you whole life, right?”

Rue’s caught off-guard by the question. She flashes a bemused sort of grin over her shoulder, paused for a moment as she’s hooking her bra behind her back. “No one’s ever asked me that before.” Her expression settles into a thoughtful frown as she moves over to where her tank top was tossed onto Dearing’s desk.

“It’s never been about the money,” she admits. “I was a member of the Ferrymen. I saw first-hand what tyrants would do to people that didn’t fit into their neat little boxes.” She pulls the shirt over her head before turning back to face him, leaning back against the desk. “Cleaning up after that mess… It’s important to me. I don’t want those seeds of hate to take root again because we didn’t remove the stubborn weeds.”

Again, her mouth ticks up into a little lopsided grin. “I tried to go back to my old life once. Went back home to Mom and Dad, away from the war. I couldn’t take it. I don’t know any other kind of life now.”

“War’s over,” Dearing says with a heavy sigh, “war profiteering isn’t, sure. That’s what we do. We make a pretty penny doing something we’d be making next to nothing for if we were in the military. Isn’t that a fucking rub?”

Dearing sits up a bit more, scooting back so he’s sitting with his back against the wall at the head of his bed. “When we hit Fort Irwin? We got paid big figures to consult,” he makes air-quotes with his fingers, “on that bloodbath. But the Marines they had landing with us? The air force folks that got shot out of the sky? They’re making what, forty, fifty grand a year after inflation? We’re not people fighting for what’s right, we’re people making a buck doing what we know.”

Tracking Rue’s movement across the bedroom, Dearing looks her up and down. “So what happens when the righteous targets run dry? When every Institute janitor is rounded up? What’re you going to do when we’re protecting armored cars for a bank or…” he waves one hand flippantly, “bodyguarding pieces of shit like Medina? What then?”

Rue’s face falls as she listens to Dearing’s reasoning. It isn’t that she’s never thought about it before, but she’s never thought of herself that way before. In her mind, it’s different — she is different. The reality is that it’s exactly as he says. “I’d do this even if they didn’t pay me,” she admits in a voice that’s soft, but devoid of the defensiveness he might have expected, “but I’m glad that they do.”

So what does that say about her, exactly?

Fingers curl around the edge of the desk. Rue cocks her head to one side, her hair falling over her shoulder. “I’m flattered you assume I’ll live long enough to see that day.” The ghost of her smirk makes an appearance, sardonic. “I’m long overdue for a bullet to the neck. My luck’s going to run out sooner or later.”

Blue eyes sweep the room until they find the resting place of her leggings. She runs her tongue over her teeth and glances back to him. “Sure you’re not up for round two?”

“Nah,” is Dearing’s flat response, disregarding any of her concerns over bullets, necks, or their general placement therein. “You hustle on back to your bunk. I need t’sleep.”

He’s heard enough today.

He knows where she stands.

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