avi_icon.gif huruma_icon.gif

Scene Title Marathon
Synopsis Sometimes life is a sprint, other times it's a…
Date February 21, 2021

Sun and sand turned to clouds and hills, and now both of them have morphed to warmth and water; the wet season was only on a break, it seems, when the travelers made it to the island nation. The flooding of the past, however, has been all but eliminated. Monsoons no longer debilitate small communities in the lowlands, and nature's transitions are put to work through technology. Wind harnessed, water collected, power generated even down to lower income communities thanks to small scale, affordable tech.

Contentedness is happiness, for some. The western world has a consideringly different view of wealth, and the cultural shift is clear down to the zebu carts still ambling in their own lanes of traffic.

Dunsimi Estate
Andranomalaza, Antananarivo

February 12th
7:28 pm

At the Dunsimi homestead, the walls muffle the downpour into a susurrus of droplets. Some rooms are afforded a wide look to the sky, dark and heavy, coating the red dust and green foliage of the highlands with a silver sheen. The outer deck is the same, with a magnetized mesh lowered from where it meets the shadow of the house turning a portion to a dry, airy sitting room.

There's no sunset to speak of, and no moon showing through clouds as evening settles; there is only the shades of clouds and the darkening of colors. Under the fall of rain are the distant sounds of suburban life and nature living in proximity to one another.

Restlessness over a dozen things has won, and Huruma's consolation prize was drifting from her room and wandering up to the deck for more air offered than what her window gives. The country is a restless place in itself, so she feels right at home, ghosting around as she does.

Though, she isn’t the only ghost.

The night finds Avi out on the deck, leaning against the railing that overlooks rambling hills of houses and trees sprawling out toward the bloom of light that is the heart of Antananarivo in the distance. Huruma can tell that he’s aware of her by the subtle ripple in his emotions, but he doesn’t turn from his observation of the falling rain cascading down over the countryside. He lets her control the cadence of this night, since everything else about the last two days has felt as if it was in the hands of particularly capricious gods.

Capricious something, anyway. Perhaps it's something in the blood.

"Enjoying the view?" She makes certain to not interrupt the view in question when she joins him on the deck proper, arms loosely linked in front as she leans back against the rail. Her sightline briefly scans the landscape over her shoulder before her gaze comes back to Avi.

Huruma knows that this would have all been a lot to handle if it weren't business, and because it is- - its a mixture of worse and forcefully bearable. She's been helpfully keeping an eye out for the others, for the most part him. Untouching, yet just a mental length behind. It is the least that she can do.

“I’m fucking mystified by the view.” Avi says with a huff of a laugh. He glances at Huruma, a tacit invitation for her to join him by his perch. “Last time I saw this city it was in fucking flames.”

“Right there,” Avi says, pointing out to where Antananarivo rises up to a building-crowned hill, “We were right there. Rasoul, Sylar, everything. This place was all cadaver incinerators, soldiers, mass graves…” He brings a hand up to his face, briefly resting his fingers below one eye. “Seeing it like this feels like a fucking dream.”

Despite allowances, it takes a moment more for Huruma to edge the rest of the way closer, leaning sidelong against the rail as he points, her eyes following the gesture and sticking to the horizon.

"The growth here always seems to me the cosmos giving back. Some sort of karmic scale." Her mouth flattens some, only to purse again when she tries to stifle a smirk. The edge of her voice is softened. "They rebuilt only part of the capitol buildings… they razed one, and it is a park now," Huruma's offering some more of these dream details confirms that she's been right there, again. At least once.

"…It took time for me to stop seeing fires around every street corner." She gets it.

“Yeah.” Avi says in a way that always sounds like the end of a conversation. Except, in this instance, it isn’t.

“Feels like a lifetime ago. Back then I didn’t think any of us would live long enough to see today, let alone all the fucking ones that came between then and now. But when I’m standing somewhere like this…” Avi shakes his head, growing silent for a moment. “You know, it just feels like then and now aren’t so far the fuck apart.”

He looks back to Huruma. “Can I ask you something?” Is something he never asks.

Nothing has ever stopped him before- - or at least, very little has. For everything else he still has flashes of tact. Maybe it is necessity. Huruma quells her amusement for the time being, taking her gaze from the skyline in the distance and leaning into her elbow against the rail.

She could lead with any number of confirmations, for any kind of situation, but in the end Huruma settles on a simple, "Shoot."

“Have you ever thought about retiring?” Avi asks with the fatigue of a man who has. All the tension that’s been built up inside of him starts to unravel the moment he honestly speaks his mind. But there’s worry behind that release, worry that she’ll say yes, worry that she’ll say no. Neither answer is good, and neither answer is bad. It’s the lose/lose tightrope of his life.

There is no hesitation in her staring observation of his buffer zone unraveling; the sensation and imagery border on cartoonish. She tracks it then as much with eyes as mind, wetting her lips and pressing her mouth into a firmer line. At last it twists, caught between thoughts, unsure which to grab.

"Yes, I have. I feel it is a common thread for most of us to think over, now and again…" Huruma rolls one shoulder in a shrug. "And? Every time it ends with me at a loss, because what else would I be doing?" She flashes a smile full of cheek. "Maybe write a book. Act up as a socialite. Philanthropy? Perhaps become my bibi." Huruma's laugh is a sharp little thing, a small bark of legitimate mirth which peters off to her usual depth of a chuckle. She can still do those things whether or not she retires.

“We aren’t getting any younger.” Avi says quietly, as if ashamed of the number of paces he’s taken away from being a young man. “How many more years do you think we have in us? Doing this?” He stays focused out at the city, unable to articulate such personal things while seeing her.

“Every time we go out in the field, we’re lucky to come back.” Avi admits, gripping the railing tighter. “Dearing,” he says, and then as a whisper, “Dev.” Praxia still haunts him. “One of these days it's gonna’ be us, and then what’re our kids gonna do?” He finally turns to look at Huruma. “We leave them with what? Resentment?” He frowns. “At best, unresolved fucking trauma.”

While her amusement has gone, there remains a ghost of a smile, saddened by brief memories and the look she gets from Avi as he goes on. It's a bittersweet feeling that fades into a simple ache as Huruma looks away, breathing out through her nose. Usually she does have something to say to everything- - and sometimes it can't be helped but to lack an answer.

And perhaps a pang of guilt over the fact that she doesn't.

"I don't know." Huruma tips her head to look at him, brows met and mouth downturned. Her posture shifts, and she braces one hand to rail. It depends on the who, what, why. They fight the good fights for the ones who can't or won't.

Even then- - there is never a right way to die. Her voice is low, though not out of attempt to hush herself. It is a muted tone, made moreso by her nearness. "What would you like me to say, Avi? That I want to retire? Do you want to? Are you hoping that I might coerce you? Or that you can convince me to?" Mutedness remaining, her quest for clarity is in earnest.

“I don’t know.” Avi admits with a sigh, slouching further against the railing.

“I don’t know what I want anymore.” He continues. “I don’t know what we’re doing. What I’m doing.” Looking out over Madagascar, Avi lets the rolling hills and dotted villages fill his senses. The smell of recently-fallen rain. He tries to push back the memories it all evokes.

Looking from the scenery to Huruma, Avi seems lost. More so than she’d ever seen him. “None of this feels real, Huruma. This house, that city.” He gestures flippantly to the skyline. “When do we get to enjoy any of this? I’ve been fighting—and failing—to make the world a better fucking place since I was Badrani’s age. When the fuck is it enough?”

Even the most fulfilled people ask themselves what they want all the time. Less is the number of people who are able to ask themselves when enough is enough, or when they can stop. Huruma knows what some would say. Resting when you're dead is no fun at all.

"You seem to put a lot of stock in believing others know what they're doing or what they want." The barest of twists hints at her mouth, amusement passing swiftly onward. Huruma doesn't entirely know her own answers to that.

"I don't believe it's ever enough," Huruma starts softly, paying attention to the funnel of disorientation through the breadth of his mood. Something about her choice of words suggests that she knows Avi knew this already. "…though I do believe that we take what we can from the fruits of our labors. Other than that…" I don't know.

Huruma suspects neither of them really like that thought; her eyes move to the house proper, skimming shuttered windows. At a loss, at least a little. A shared feeling, even if she lives to play the knowitall. "…Yes, I know that is a terrible answer- -"

Avi laughs—bitter and rueful sounding, but Huruma can feel the truth behind it. He appreciated her honesty. He appreciates not being alone in his meandering.

“Guess if I need to take advice on retiring I should do it from someone who’s retired,” Avi admits wryly. “I’d ask Raith but—” he immediately regrets mentioning Jensen’s name. His chest tightens. Loss, longing, and loneliness seep in where he’s been keeping it out for years. “Yeah—” Avi grunts, scrubbing a hand over his mouth. “Maybe we should…” He gestures back into the house.

Huruma knows what lies underneath laughter of any stripe, and it is no different now. Whatever more placid emotions she had a moment ago are soon replaced by the echoes of Avi's accidental self sabotage. She feels it too, but nowhere near the level he does. Her own senses of loss may be differently divided up, but the understanding remains.

The empath allows herself that initial compassion, which then settles in the shade of her eyes and in the eased posture taken as she angles nearer along the rail. It is difficult enough that he lets himself feel these things in particular, and she wants him to know he isn't on his own- - albeit wordlessly. It's hard to shake the feeling of being alone. She knows that one well too.

"Hm? Is your carriage going to turn back into a pumpkin?" Huruma smiles smoothly past the rolling of her shoulder, her ability curling around that hollow sensation in his chest. A bloom of warmth in that space is her reassurance and balm for his ache, the presence of her affection a steady gleam in the dark there.

The passing emotional impression of a crooked finger follows after a moment's hesitation, curious in its play. "…Might I tempt you with a nightcap?"

Avi laughs, ruefully. He looks up to Huruma, frowning in a way that it looks like a smile in just his eyes. She feels the regret, the tumult of conflicted emotions, the claws of depression. “How about a cup of tea and… whatever passes for shitty television around here?” Avi asks, shifting his expression to a weary smile.

"I do make a mean red tea,” she says, pondering turning exaggerated, “and I bet you've never experienced the magic of French dubbing on American sitcoms. It is stunning, truly. Though there is a reality show or two. Hmm." Options, as you know, are quite important.

“Just—” Avi glances at the house, then back to Huruma. “Anything but River Styx.”

For all that she enjoys her own play, Huruma easily shifts gears, a seamless little smile both welcoming and knowing. The smirk she adopts is quietly punctuated by the jostle of her shoulder to his as her arms cross.

"Here I was thinking to suggest a marathon."

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