Long Time



Scene Title Long Time
Synopsis A lot of time can pass between conversations, as is the case here.
Date June 7, 2021

Cat's Cradle

It’s been a quiet night in Cat’s Cradle. Then again, most nights have been since Eve disappeared, leaving the various bartenders and managers in charge of the music and the running of the place. One of the former Lighthouse Kids even helps out most of the nights, but Joaquin isn’t the one manning the counter for the night. But it still offered a familiar home for many who had grown up around the kooky woman who had owned this place.

And on nights like this, it’s actually somewhat quiet and a relaxing place to enjoy a drink— or so Hailey would have thought until a shadow draws over the booth she sits at alone, and a tattooed hand with multiple rings presses down on the tabletop. Some of the tattoos are familiar— some are not, but the man attached to the hand very much was— even if the last two years since she’d seen him he’d cut his hair shorter and changed his style of clothing. Instead of the studded leather and torn cloth, there’s almost something proper about the black suit-jacket and dark button-up shirt.

But the height, the pierced nose and lip, the upside-down cross in his left ear, the tattooed neck, the dark hair, and arresting eyes— all of those things told her that this man was still, very much, the young man she knew best as Moose.

“Long time,” even the baritone voice was the same.

The hand not wrapped around her beer bunches into a fist the moment his fingers press onto wood. All the ink in the world couldn't disguise those hands, Hailey knows them too well. She stares down at the small mound of paper curls in front of her on the table, rather than up. Perhaps afraid of the tears starting to sting her eyes. She's two beers in and a little too feisty to give that man the satisfaction of seeing them.

"Yup." Her answer is clipped at the end, due to the hitch in her breath. Instead of swinging out viciously as she used to do, she uses her thumb to pick at the label on her bottle. The moist paper sliding effortlessly off the glass, loosening up a little more to add to her pile.

It was a long and very hard day at work.

“Not going to take a fucking swing at me this time?” Moose whispers, pierced eyebrow raising slightly for a moment, before his hand raises up off the table and rests at his hip, thumb hooking into the loop in his slacks, much as they often used to with his jeans. A familiar sight. In his other hand is a glass of ice and some clear fizzy liquid, which he sets down as he slides into the other side of the booth. Long legs crowd close to her own, despite the distance between them, even as he leans back into the seat.

For a long moment, as he looks across at her, it feels like he’s listening to all the things she’s not saying. His presence felt calmer than it had before, but the last time they’d seen each other there had been some chaos.

When he finally does speak again, it’s a question that might take her by surprise, “How many animals ’re you looking after now?”

"You're keeping your hands to yourself, so no need," Hailey grumbles narrowing her eyes at Moose as he takes an uninvited seat across from her. Their knees touch, causing her stomach to do a flip, and she pulls her feet back. She sits up a little straighter, more at attention, her little bout of solitude and self pity now over.

The stare causes the blood to rise to her cheeks and she looks away, preferring to stare into the middle of the room than look at Moose. "As many as need it," she says quietly, shrugging. "They come and go… like always." Her eyes drift to the tattoo on his neck and it causes her eyebrows to draw together. "Oscar?"

Perhaps surprisingly, Moose does not argue with the keeping his hands to himself statement, though his legs certainly do crowd in closer and closer— but that’s probably just because they’re so long. He’d been tall all the time she’d known him, but somehow, after all this time, he had felt even taller. Perhaps it had to do with the hair cut, or the clothes, or the way he sat.

A hand reaches up to touch the tattoo on his neck with a simple, “Yeah.” That’s followed up a moment later when his mouth has the nerve to quirk into a grin. “Remember when we found him. Total garbage dog.” But the way he smiles it’s clear that, while he says garbage, he doesn’t really mean it. “I thought he was going to rip my neck open.” Perhaps hinting at the placement. “Oscar was a good name for him. He was always a grouch when you weren’t around.”

"Most old men are grouches," Hailey replies, her lips twisting into a grimace of pain. Looking toward the bar, she wipes at her cheek and then rubs it against her leg. When she speaks again, she's still avoiding eye contact, in fact, she's avoiding looking in Moose's direction altogether.

"So why are you here anyway?"

By here she could mean anything, the state, the city, the bar, the booth… or even a combination of all of them. She's still rubbing her hand against her thigh, a sign of nerves or even anxiety. Hailey has never been one to hide her emotions, but it seems as though she's trying terribly hard this time.

“I live here now,” Moose responds, making a vague gesture in the air that must mean the area, not specifically the bar. “Was just passing through before. Those fuckers I was with— they got arrested— let’s just say turned out they were involved in more than salvaged tech.” From the fact he’s not in jail, himself, perhaps he’d really not known about it? Or managed to slip away before they all got rounded up. It was hard to tell. “Assholes deserved it.”

He hadn’t really considered them “friends?”

“But I moved out here when those fires started out west. Fucking crazy shit. But good chance to get away from it.” Whatever ‘it’ was. “And we haven’t had a real conversation in what— five years? Shit, Hailey. I know I fucked it up the last time we ran into each other, but— “ He stops, looks down, shakes his head slightly and taps his fingers against the table. “No, I fucked it up. I was drunk— and I was trying to impress those dickfaces. I’m sorry.”

"Oh…" The syllable leaves Hailey in a breath. Then her eyebrows twitch, dipping down before curving slightly upward in concern, or annoyance. "Awesome."

But then Moose goes on and the expression on Hailey's face hardens and her lips purse together in a thin line. "What do you expect Moose? Am I supposed to be happy to see you? You just…" She stops and shakes her head, glaring off toward the bar and wishing Eve (or anyone) was here with her. "You just packed up and left."

Subconsciously, she pushes the long sleeve of her shirt up a little, revealing her side of the tattoo. It's still as vibrant and sharp as when they first got them. Her eyes flit to his tapping fingers and she runs her thumb along the tattered edge of the label on her bottle. "But I'm sorry too, I shouldn't have hit you."

Her voice drifts off at the end instead of clipping short as it had previously. She finally looks up, taking him in for the first time since he stopped at her their table. "You cleaned up good."

“I’ve got a place to stay that actually has hot running water. Hadn’t had one of those in— “ Moose brows furrow a little as if he couldn’t even remember how long exactly. Too long, probably. His hair had been a wreck a lot of the time, even if he still dyed it so that it was darker than his natural hair color. “But fuck, not the only one whose cleaned up good. Though you were already looking pretty good when you laid one on me last time, too, Rocky.”

The nickname is met with a tease that tugs at the corner of his mouth, pulling on multiple implications with that choice of names, while at the same time— “But no, I don’t expect you to forgive me for what happened all those years ago. Fuck, we were kids. I was a total dick. It’s crazy how much clarity you get when you look back on yourself and go ‘fuck, how was I such a total douche bag.’.”

It certainly wasn’t like him to be down on himself, like that, but— then again, she hadn’t really had a conversation with him in years. His hands drop down to rest on the table as he shifts, sitting up and leaning a little closer, “I honestly didn’t expect you to keep it.”

The empath brings her bottle to her lips and takes a small sip as Moose moves in closer, as a barrier of sorts. She's never been much of a drinker. Back when they were together, when they snuck beers from Brian and Sami, she would always nurse hers too long and let it get too warm. Forcing her to waste the end half.

Hailey looks down at her arm and tugs her sleeve back down to her wrist to cover it. "It'd be a pain to get rid of it," she grumbles, keeping her eyes lowered in an effort to avoid his again. "Plus who has that kind of money nowadays? There's more important stuff for doctors to do than get rid of old tattoos."

Shrugging, she switches topics, yet another old tactic. "Did you bring her with you when you moved?"

“A pain, hm?” Moose says with a quirk of his eyebrow that hints he may very well know she had a way to get rid of the tattoo anytime she wanted to without pain or bothering the healthcare system at all. That’s the closest he’ll get to calling her out on it, as he continues to lean on the table and crowd in a little closer. He makes no effort to drink— while he still smells like the familiar cigarettes (that they often would have to roll themselves), his drink doesn’t even look like a real drink. The melting ice was watering down whatever it was as well.

“Her who?” he plays dumb for a moment— or genuinely is confused. Until— “Oh— her. Shit, I don’t have the slightest idea where she is these days. For all I know she’s got a girlfriend now..” There’s definitely something very dismissive about his response because it sounds like he hasn’t really been thinking about her that much really. Even if he probably did know exactly who she had been talking about.

“Just me these days. Unless you count Torque, which you might.”

The name visibly piques her interest and Hailey's entire demeanor shifts from suspicious and aloof to genuine joy and excitement. "Torque?" she parrots, guessing by his comment that 'Torque' not a person but an animal. At that point, she also sits up and leans in a little closer, setting the beer to the side.

"Who is Torque?"

Her movements are almost birdlike as she scans all the tattoos that are visible on his skin, looking for clues before he answers. "Did you get another dog?" she continues excitedly, losing her guard in favor of a topic more pleasant to her. "My only dogs right now are the two K-9s at the station."

There’s so little of his skin visible at the moment that there was much missing from the story, but there were definitely some new tattoos that he’d not had before on his hands. Moose had always talked about wanting to get full sleeves on both arms eventually, and it looked as if he’d found some skilled artists to add to what he’d already had when they’d met. “Cat, actually. Found him in a car I was salvaging, curled up in the engine bay. No idea what happened to his family, but I ended up taking him home instead of the engine.” And from the fond smile, he didn’t regret that one bit.

“We’ve been together for about a year and a half now— and before you get any ideas about meeting him, he’s going to like me be— “ That stops mid-sentence as if he just realized something she said, hand pointed toward her face, finger a few inches from her. “Wait— did you say K-9 dogs at the station?”

Hailey holds up her hands in a surrender fashion, an expression of complete and utter innocence painting over her features. "I would never ask to meet your cat," she exclaims, shaking her head. They both know that she would but Moose has been the focus of hatred for literal years.

But then his train of thoughts switches tracks completely and he asks her about her life. "Uuuhh, yeah?" The empath seems a little confused at the question. "Scavenging didn't really pan out for me as well as you. No cat, Pure Earth, getting shot," she rolls one of her hands in the air, "you know, shit happened."

There’s a chuckle in response at not asking to meet the cat, but again, Moose doesn’t push the topic or call her on it, and the laughter doesn’t last long because of the rest of what she has to say. “Pure Earth? Those fuckers? Shit, Hailey,” he shakes his head, hand making a move— that gets suddenly shifted to grab his glass instead.

“Not surprised you managed to get away. How many rats did they find gnawing on their balls?” While he might have been worried about her, there’s that amusement still there. And perhaps a little pride. “And you got a mean right hook.”

That he has very personal experience with. “But that doesn’t explain you having dogs at the station. Did you finally start a dog training program like you used to talk about?”

"I didn't exactly escape on my own," Hailey says in a quiet tone, casting a worried glance around the near empty bar. It's been a long while, but she knows Pure Earth is still out there and active. "They had me negated so no rats or anything. When I woke up, I was somewhere on Staten Island. There was another girl with me and with her help I managed to get away." Frowning, she looks away, as though ashamed of her own weakness. She takes a deep breath and lets it loose in a long sigh, “I’m rambling. Sorry.”

It’s been too long.

Shaking her head, Hailey reached into her pocket and pulls out her badge, laying it on the table. "No, there’s no training program officially. I graduated from cop college," she explains, "I'm a mounted patrolman, well, woman. It's not really regular for mounted cops to have the K9's too but because of what I can do, they let me train the dogs."

“I’d heard rumors there was some fucking underground slavery thing going on around here for a while,” Moose mutters, eyebrows coming together with tension in his forehead, but it doesn’t last long as he shakes his head to dismiss her apology and shame. “That you got away is what matters.”

And really, it’s the second part that holds most of his attention now. “You’re a cop.” There’s a hint of a laugh after his statement. This is when he finally takes a long drink from his glass. Whatever happens to be in it.

“Even more reason to keep my hands to myself than your right hook and your family.” There’s that smile again. “You’ve come a long way from hotwiring abandoned cars to bring back for salvage.” His eyes slide down to the scraps of beer label on the table, though, then back up at her. “But looks to me like you’re having a rough night anyway. Not exactly the dream job?”

"The job is great," Hailey interjects before Moose can get any farther. "SCOUT is fantastic but," she trails off with a frown, catching his eyes, then pausing for a few breaths. "It's just that I'm the only uniform. I want to be a detective but I haven't really done much to earn distinction."

Shrugging, she breaks eye contact to look at the little pile of frayed label. "Then there's the other unis," she lets out a mirthless huff of a laugh. "So many of them are old school and I guess, way back when, there was this rivalry. What if I lose my friends because I got promoted and spend more time at a desk working cases?"

It's unclear whether or not she means people or her horse and the K9s.

“If they’re anything like I’ve heard, they’re not going to play against your strengths if you get promoted,” Moose puts the glass down and sets his shoulders as he looks at her, trying to hold her eyes for a little longer than a few breaths. “They probably just think you’re too young. Fucking idiots. Our childhoods got napalmed.” Some more than others.

But it was true. What childhood they were supposed to have hadn’t been preserved. “We grew up in a war. They’re lucky to have you.” Whether he means on their side or at all is anyone’s guess.

“Give ‘em time.”

It’s then that he reaches across the table and rests his hand against hers. Not exactly holding her hand, but definitely touching her hand.

Way back when, they used to do this. Back when Brian and Sam thought Hailey was too young for a serious relationship and Moose was just the trouble that tagged along behind her. Her hand moves ever so slightly, she hooks her pinky with his. As if remembering the more pleasant times, Hailey closes her eyes and lets loose a long sigh. It used to be a comfort knowing Moose was right there.


Slowly, Hailey shakes her head and pulls her hand back. "We're not there, ye— anymore," she says quietly, opening her eyes to look into his again. This time she's just cold and impassive. Then she scowls and looks up at him, "What are we even doing?"

“Hailey…” Moose says in whispered tones, before looking as if he’s about to say more— the words don’t come as they both hear a techno ring-tone coming from his coat. Looks like the GhostNet was working well tonight. There’s a hint of annoyance that crosses his face and he too pulls his hand back to reach into his jacket and pull out the small smartphone. “Sorry, I have to take this.”

Sliding his finger across the screen, he holds it up to the side of his face and responds in a noticeably different tone of voice. In fact, there’s a whole noticeable shift in his demeanor suddenly, “What going on?” She can sort of make out the tone of the voice on the other end, but none of the words. Whatever it is, they’re not happy. Moose’s jaw tightens a little as he listens. “I’ll handle it. No need to reschedule.” There’s another pause with that same voice, but whatever they’re saying, he doesn’t let them finish. “I said I’d handle it.”

With that, ends the call, but doesn’t put his phone away, or even get up, instead choosing to look back across the table, but he doesn’t say anything immediately.

"Sounds like you've got some business," Hailey fills in the silence before Moose has a chance to say anything. Grabbing her bottle, she starts shuffling toward the outside edge of the booth, clearly taking the chance to make an exit. "It's always better to keep the money happy, right?"

She's assuming it's not his money that bought the suit he's fitted into.

"Anyway, it's been… uhhh.. good… seeing you," it's a stammered goodbye before she finally comes to a stand. Then she stops and takes a deep breath inward, like breathing in the essence of her missing aunt to muster up some courage. "This was nice, Moose. Thanks."

There’s a moment where Moose stays seated, looking across up at her as she’s standing before he slides down and stands up himself. The reason she had given him that nickname hasn’t changed at all, because he still towers over her. “It doesn’t have to take years for us to have another conversation again, you know?”

He holds up the hand holding the phone that he still hasn’t put away. “Actually have fucking phones that work pretty reliably now.” Which was definitely something they didn’t have even the last time they saw each other.

There’s a pause, he looks down at her and then offers, “How about I give you my number and you can— make that decision yourself..”

It takes a few long seconds before Hailey finally reaches into her pocket and pulls out her phone. She presses her thumb on the screen before handing it to Moose. "Yeah sure," she says with a shrug. "Maybe I'll call when I'm having a bad day… in another five years."

Regardless of when/if she calls, Brynn will probably kill her.

And if Brynn doesn't, Lance will for sure.

As she pulls out and offers up her phone, Moose puts his away— apparently sticking with the idea that he will give her his number and put the ball in her court rather than expect her to give him hers. Long fingers poke at the screen for a moment, before he hands back her phone, with a new contact added under the name Moose, with a number.

“There you go, Rocky. Maybe don’t take five years, though,” he adds with a smile, before moving away as if to leave first so she doesn’t feel like she has to be the one to leave. But adding over his shoulder, “My number might change.”

Hailey holds the phone in her hand, as though it was the most precious thing in the world to her right now. She doesn't take her eyes off his retreating form, and watches the door for almost a minute after he's gone. Then, she releases a breath so long it's as though the weight of the world has lifted from her spirits.

"What are you doing…" she murmurs to herself, slipping the phone back into her rear jeans pocket and gathering the rest of her things.




“What are you doing?” Jayce Cutter asks as he enters the warehouse, looking at the small group of men sitting around a couple of crates playing a game of cards. “All of this shit was supposed to be out of here today,” he gestures at the crates. While taller than most of the other men in the room, even if they had been standing, some were definitely built with more muscle than him, but there was a noticeable shift in their light-heartedness as they notice him.

One of the men stands up, holding a couple of cards in one hand and an open beer in the other, “Cutter, man hey, we got behind. We’ll move the rest of the shit in the morning. It’s not a big deal, right?” There’s an obvious tension in the stocky man’s shoulders, but he tries to laugh it off. “‘Sarthe’s got enough stuff going on that a few crates being late isn’t going to matter, right?”

The response, at first, is just a hiked eyebrow. Cutter looks past the man to the game set up and then back at the one offering excuses. “I don’t set the fucking schedule. I just make sure you keep it.” One of the other men shifts suddenly, causing a nervous creek of shoe rubber against concrete. Cutter’s glare doesn’t break, though, as the stockier man looks away first.

“Right, of course. We’ll get everything loaded up before midnight.”

There’s a ding of a text message on Cutter’s phone, but he ignores it for another moment. “See that you do. I’d hate to have to drop in tomorrow morning.”

He lets the unspoken part of the threat linger as they pack up their game and get back to work. Only once he’s back outside the warehouse does he open up the phone and look at the message.

Unknown Caller: Five years yet? - Rocky

Jayce Cutter, who a few people had known as Moose, grins down at the message, walking away as he types a response.

Moose: Felt like it.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License