Maria, Full Of Grace


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Scene Title Maria, Full of Grace
Synopsis Huruma returns with strange news and a broken heart.
Date January 23, 2020

The Bastion

The Bastion is an ancillary property belonging to the private military company Wolfhound. It is a remodeled 19th-century police precinct building and serves as temporary garrison for Wolfhound and its operatives while they are in the NYC Safe Zone. The building contains a barracks, galley, armory, and garage. The Bastion is located at 486 Liberty Avenue in what is now Phoenix Heights.

The flight back with the quarry in tow was cold and quiet. That is all Huruma can rightly say about it. There have been moments, in solitude, stolen here and there to compose. Avi has become a collapsed star. Richard's miasma is both guilt and the literal one which sags over him like a grotesque of opposites.

It is not that she is happy to see him go. But… she is. For a lot of reasons.

Speaking with him rather than at him will come eventually, she's sure of it.

Then there is that inside-out polarization that makes Epstein's emotions feel like sticking a hand to a pressure vacuum. Her psychic touch gets tugged inward, once or twice, resisting the urge to let go and sink into it herself.

Huruma knows better than to force addressing anything. He's not there yet. There are progressions, and this is only just the open wound, salted and torn. He needs to decide on how to say it- - to anyone- - especially Emily. She can't help but wonder how long he'll drink on it before he does. Best not long. She also knows it's not the first time that he's had to do this. Telling people. Or sifting through the debris of family.

Noise doesn't stop when she finally found herself alone, on getting back to the Bunker after that first landing. Some time getting back in order, making sure things are put back where they are found, the journeys taken to whatever 'home' is coming very last.

With the Hounds so spread out or otherwise… taken up, there aren't any intersecting with her path to the Bastion tonight. Good.

A whirlwind of days only falls across her shoulders when she lets herself inside. It's followed by a lead weight, sloping from chest to gut as she ascends the stairs, empathic circle drawn in as tightly as a ball of yarn around it.

Huruma feels the wall braced at her shoulders before she can tell the bearing's slipped from the cocoon. A few moments of hard leaning, a quiet grit, and a skulk to a door down the hall to follow. She crumples into the seat of an office desk, idly fumbling one hand into rifling through the nearest drawer.

This is the Bastion, not a dry county. She inspects the bottle she knew she'd find, setting it heavily on the wooden desk; her thumb taps out just one message, a finality as far as today is concerned.

I'm back in town. Things aren't good. Staying at the Bastion tonight. Need a breather.

One hour later,

how do you solve a problem like maria, you can't
shewas her own girl. didn't matter, army came anyway
She probably diedf in the mountains too
least they'd have a bloody body

Okay… the first text that she was back and needed a breather didn't worry Megan. She acknowledged the text with a simple Let me know if you need me. I'm local.

When the drunk texting started, Megan squinted at the first one. The second one made her raise a brow. But by the time the third comes through, she's on the hunt for a huntress with a warning to Scott Harkness that he needs to find and check on Avi. And probably to keep Francis the fuck away from Avi lest Epstein kill him. Whatever went down was bad.

When she finally tracks down Huruma in the office she's hiding in — Megan's not even sure whose office it is — the redhead's worry is carefully contained in the calm that almost always seems to follow the nurse. Unless she's having a red-headed shit fit. That's a whole different ballgame. "Hey darling," she murmurs, propping one shoulder on the door jamb and leaning there. "Did you finish the whole bottle? Or leave enough to share?"

Huruma doesn't exactly remember sending all of them. Maybe she imagined it. Daydreamed up a scenario where she becomes a bother. Or maybe she just drafted them. And they are still sitting in the text box waiting to be sent.

Whatever the case may be, somewhere Megan is pulling on her coat and the Hound is none the wiser. Not until Megan gets in the vicinity. By then she knows it's too late. A brief debate passes where Huruma considers trying to lock herself in the utility closet. It's big enough, if she tries.

Unfortunately for Huruma, the thoughts take far too long to cogwheel their way through. A 'why not?' is buffetted by Megan's shoes on the stairs, and ends with a lazy scrabble for bottleneck. Shit.

The office she's taken over has case notes plastered across a whiteboard, paper ones tacked to cork. A couple of paper coffee cups, a bin that could use some emptying. Desktop stacked with folders. Huruma is there, of course, when the redhead saunters up to the doorway; her feet are propped on the desk's edge and the chair tilted back as far as it can manage. A radio garbles out a local broadcast. Jacket tossed and boots kicked free, she might look the part of relaxed if it weren't for muddied eyes and a dour look Meg's way. One hand lazily turns the bottle up to inspect it; there's enough left, yet.

"I'd rather not." Whichever question the answer is for goes unspecified.

Tipping a brow at her longtime partner and friend, Megan observes the baleful expression on Huruma's face. "Well, too bad so sad, kitty cat, cuz when you drunk-text a redhead, this is what you get." She slants a saucy smile at the dark woman and pushes off the door frame to plunk her ass — and it's getting just a hair on the padded side these days, one might notice — in the chair across from Huruma. "You should let me tuck you into a bunk and pet your hair," she informs her friend. "You're going to be hung over. And you always look like a drowned cat when you're hung over." Unless, of course, they're both hung over. Then, you know, all bets off.

Kitty cat. That one was always cute. Huruma snorts derisively to herself.

"Nnn." Another scoff, for Megan's interceding. At the least, it prompts Huruma to set the bottle atop the edge of the desk, feet sliding reluctantly back to the floor.

"I look like one now." She knows she does. Her voice is a low growl, passive in its attitude. "And you look too chuffed with yourself. What's that face for?" Huruma frowns and runs her tongue over teeth. There's no face. Megan's face is just as Megan as ever.

"…Did I text you?" Where's her phone? A sweep of hand across desk doesn't find it, bound folders sliding out of order as she does so. It's not her desk, she will fix it later. Much later.

Smirking faintly, Megan recites, "How do you solve a problem like Maria? You can't." She grins. "Gotta admit, I didn't see The Sound of Music as one of your favorites there, darling." The redhead leans forward to snatch the bottle from the edge of the desk, tipping it to look at the remainder of amber liquid in it, and shrugs before she takes a swig from it. She and Huruma have shared far too many cooties over the years to really give a shit about that.

"And you do look rather like a drowned cat right now," she agrees as the liquor burns its way down her esophagus, lighting up her insides all the way to her belly. "Not bad," she adds as she puts the bottle back on the desk. "Not as good as it could be." But it ain't rotgut, so it's a step or three above some of the shit they've drunk together.

She watches her friend shuffle about a bit and then softly demands. "Tell me." Because Huruma carrying the weight alone is a bad thing. Ryans warned Megan years and years ago of that, and like always, the redhead merely ignores the danger part of it and presents herself as solace or target, whichever her friend needs.

"Was on th'radio…" Huruma mutters, hand rubbing across her forehead in a gesture of crankiness. She doesn't stop her friend from swiping the bottle, focused on something else entirely anyway. The thud of glass back on the wood pulls her face out from under the sprawl of her fingers, pale eyes on the redhead. Huruma sucks on her teeth and fruitlessly tries to re-stack folders. They are slippery, alright? It becomes increasingly more clear that it's not her desk, but Epstein's. He's not around. And she always knows where he hides things.

"Mnn." Jaw wired shut, Huruma breathes sharply out through her nose, hands splayed on the desk, long fingers dark against manila.

"We went to fetch Richard- - Cardinal, from whatever Mazdak wanted him for." Huruma fumbles on his name, though Megan doesn't really need correcting. Same guy. The tale is already a bit more than Huruma had mentioned. There wasn't mention of a terrorist group, and yet, it fits the bill.

"He- -" Air hisses from between her teeth, gaze shifting, knife-sharp as she sits back again, chair leaning just a touch. "You remember …Ber- - Natha- - Berlin…?" Did she ever explain? "Lucille's best friend."

It wanders. As it tends to do, in states like these.

Right. Megan knew Huruma and Avi went to fetch the guy — how and why he was in Madagascar is a whole other set of questions Megan doesn't articulate. Not her circus. But her blue eyes sharpen on her friend when the splurts of words begin. "Not … really?" She might have seen the girl around here, but she and Lu have only seen each other a couple of times in passing and Megan's presence in the Bastion is a somewhat new development over the past few months. "I think I remember the name. What about her?"

She can already tell this is not going to be good news, and her tone with Huruma is gentle as she pries the story from her.

"One of us." If that helps. Maybe it does, maybe not. Huruma's expression sinks the longer she mulls over her words. "How much do you know about Volken?" It's a stark jump, and it jumps right back over in no time flat.

"Nn. She was missing too." Huruma presses her hand to her head, leaning back and rankling her features, masking her eyes with fingers. "Same people took her as Richard. Except she didn't get to come back." On her next exhale, a rattle of frustration, both hands now dragging over her face, teeth clicking once. "Saved him. Died for it. Not even a body. Is that a blessing in disguise, I don't know. Avi already buried one kid."

Now she's just rambling.

"Nathalie was good. Strong. Persistent. That's probably what fucked it all." Huruma leans back and kicks a heel into the desk's edge, the surface rattling behind the angry jab. Her features betray the temptation to smash, and water unspilt from eyes.

But she did that smashing once already, and it did no good for her.

"It's bloody classic Baruti Naidu. To think once- - this isn't how- -" Another kick, and perhaps in a deserving shift, the chair slides out from under her. Thump.

Okay, this is well outside of Megan's usual wheelhouse. There is a whole history here the nurse has no experience with. Volken she knows of. Who doesn't in the Ferry? At least a little. But how the dead man has any ties to all of this is not clear to her. What is clear is what she follows up on.

"Epstein's daughter was fucking kidnapped?" Jesus… that explains the look on the man's face when he told Scott he was taking off for a couple of days. "By Mazdak? Like…. The Iraqi fucking terrorist organization Mazdak?" Yeah — Megan's a soldier from the days of Iraqi war in the 1990s. She's not calling that fucking organization a government. What in the actual fuck is even happening anymore???

Megan drags a hand through her hair and pulls in a breath, quelling her reaction to the words. "Shit." Mistress of understatement, this one. "Huruma… I'm so sorry." There is literally nothing else the redhead can do except be here. "You want more whiskey?" She'll go find it. She totally will. If getting beyond shit-faced is what Huruma needs here, well fine. If what she needs is a place to cry? Megan's got that covered too. Scott's going to see if he can find Avi, but this? This is Megan's place. "Tell me what you need from me, darling."

"To get me a chair that doesn't roll." Huruma levers herself back up, ungainly, but enough to sit herself up again. "And to keep drinking. Tezitra aho, Tezitra amin'ny zava-drehetra aho… I am so pissed off."

Heartbroken, in other words. She just needs somewhere to aim it.

Sitting there silently, Huruma looks ahead at Megan, features tired and darkened. It's another few breaths before she speaks, eyes cast downward.

"She was different. Ours. She grew up." Vagueness is usually her stronger suit. Rambling is not. Mixed like this, it's up in the air. Huruma sinks, arms on the chair and fists closed. "She was all kinds of different." The empath wets her lips, brow furrowing at nothing between herself and the wall behind her friend. Voice lowered, thoughts filtering past without much of a check. "Yes. That Mazdak. Or, not really, no, just the face of it… playing pretend…"

"Nathalie had powers nobody else had. Now they're in Richard." Both. "She is selfless."

Volken makes a tiny bit more sense, in passing. The stories she's told, of what she can tell. First-hand accounts from Ferrymen, or at least from those that toed the line with Phoenix, with the Guard, with the ones like Huruma who just slid between bars from the other side. "A calm devil that never really dies. That's what Volken was." Thoughts shift to words, only for a moment.

Pulling in a long breath, Megan hauls herself out of the chair she's in and says, "Wait here." It's more order than request but it's not like Huruma's in any shape to go anywhere. When she comes back several minutes later, it's carrying a bottle of better whiskey, courtesy of someone's stash, and she comes around the desk to put an arm around Huruma. "Let's go, cat. We're going somewhere that if you fall over you won't concuss yourself," she tells the taller woman in her no-nonsense tone. She's not taking any guff from you, Hooms, get your frigging long legs into motion.

The redhead isn't short, but Huruma has quite a bit of height on her, and she's mostly muscle too. Megan's mumbling under her breath about needing to start fucking exercising again by the time they reach a room with a couple of bunks that Megan can shove Huruma into and then join her on.

"Now." The bottle is cracked open. Megan takes a swallow, and then holds it out. "Tell me about Nathalie Epstein," she invites softly. "Tell me everything." How else can one mourn the loss of one of their own but by remembering them?

When Megan does come back, Huruma is turning slowly on the pivot of the chair, scowling her way through the slowest tilt-a-whirl known to man. If she makes herself sick, this session will cease to be.

It doesn't work like that, but it isn't stopping her. One foot braces and the chair stops, a perfectly villainous turn to the redhead.

Practice made perfect.

"Fsst." If Meg wants cat-wrangling, she'll get it. Well… for a few long seconds of vocalized complaint. Huruma uses Megan as a half-prop, visibly swaying as she stands. It will be fine. She'll be fine. "Could always fight me." Huruma's answer to the muttering when they find the spare room, been close enough to hear it. The suggestion is not, precisely, what she was going for; it's inferrable as training, however. It's a great idea, Red. Come on.

"LeRoux. She's a LeRoux." Huruma corrects from the now horizontal surface she finds herself on, sliding into a sit. Propped. "Was. Is. It's like if someone wiped out one of the Lighthouse kids." It's how it feels, that twist, especially for the empath. A tether snapped. Webbing fluttering in the wind. Not the first time.

Not the last.

"Slid her way in as Berlin Beckett." A laugh, sharp like a nail, as Huruma reaches up to accept Megan's offering. "Liked reaching for that fun life she missed out on. No better place than the doghouse."


"Nobody knew about the Epstein thing. Not even him. She found him. They were- - …trying." Huruma grinds her teeth and peers into the swim of liquor, her mind passing between disgust and a desire to just- -

Sleep for a while. This will absolutely be a hangover.

"None of them knew she had the Conduits at first, either. She did. Somehow." Strength. That's what it was. What she's already said it was. Perhaps something more.

Megan listens quietly. She may not be an empath, but she can feel Huruma's sorrow and even the guilt — Berlin Beckett was one of Huruma's kids. It never mattered who gave birth to their kidlings in this life. The Lighthouse Kids and the ones that worked for them even in the war… those were their kids. All of them. And the redhead knows the grief. This is not the first of their kids they've lost.

She lets the darker woman take another swallow before retrieving the bottle for herself again. A gentle hand on the shoulder urges Hooms to lay her head on Megan's lap, where the nurse can stroke her hair. They've sat like this before. Sometimes it's Megan on this side, sometimes it's Huruma. They are no strangers to this kind of night.

"The Conduits… is that what you call something like Abby's power?" She remembers that from those years, but her knowledge of Volken and the power he had is limited to what she's read.

Sometimes she wonders if it is worth it. Making those ties. The whiplash is a lot. Then again, so is the hand around her shoulder nudging her close. A faint growl sits in Huruma's chest as she attempts to make it a gentle slump sideways. Those eyes take on a set of widening pupils, just for a spell, as the empath tries to refocus outside of herself. The lamp will do for now.

"…It was exactly that." Tension remains in the taller woman's frame. "Life 'n death, you know? Volken was- - well, duh, death." Megan's smart enough to put things together if she has enough clues, so Huruma is really just snapping at herself. "Nat used it to help people. When she could…"

"I'unno if she knew I knew." Huruma mumbles, brow knitting sharply. "Lu's neck. Francois. Avi's- - everything." Mumble turns into a snort. It might be a laugh any other time. "Like that." Her pause of amusement fades as quickly as it comes, dissolving into a distant quiet.


Nearby to the conference room door, two figures who had watched the conversation and the ensuing emotional discourse regard one-another with furtive expressions. “This is going to take time,” the old man says, forefingers and thumb pressed against the side of his head, gently massaging his temple. The other, a woman many years his junior rests a supportive hand on his arm and watches Richard and Huruma’s backs getting further and further away.

“We just have to hope that time isn’t too late,” she says softly. The old man nods, adjusting his wire-framed glasses with one hand, turning pale eyes away from Richard and Huruma. “He’ll listen when he’s ready,” she affirms.

“We can only hope,” is his gruff response. No one else interjects on the conversation, pays them any mind, or even notices them in th- -

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Someone does.

In a fashion.

As Richard is herded towards and into the glossy elevator first, she looks back. Eyes like twin half-moons, lids lowered, stare fallen in shade.

Precise. Ever brief.

Eye to eye- -

although ones she cannot see.

Huruma boards the elevator behind Richard Ray. She watches the door slide shut, features reflected in coppery metal.

"Now…" Some thoughts escape on her exhale, lifted up and set aside. Huruma shifts, mouth tightened in a frown. "…it doesn't matter."

Oh that explains so. many. things. Lucille's healing has been something that puzzled her for some time, and now Megan understands. Lucille's friend did the healing but no one could know. She sighs heavily, stroking Huruma gently. "It matters," the redhead assures her friend quietly. "Remembering her matters. Even though it hurts." They both know it. "And she knows. She knows that you cared about her, that she was yours." Megan's a firm believer in a higher power. If there isn't one and this is all for nothing, that's really fucked up. So she chooses to believe in heaven and that someday we will all be somewhere better than this fucked up world.

"I'm sorry, Huruma." She rests her head on top of the dark woman's head and just holds her tightly. And the truth of it all is … Megan would have made the same choice. There is something about people who are healers at their core. She hopes Richard Ray makes good use of the gift he's been given. Not everyone gets a second — or twelfth — chance.

Huruma's thoughts are unbound until the touch of head to hers brings them circling in. She tries to concentrate on the warmth, first. Then the shape of her in parts pin and embrace. The wrapping of arms around her brings a sense of weight, the nearness a pool of emotional sound. Whatever wandering her head plans to do, it will have a difficult time with pulling free.

Huruma's eyes shut in a willful attempt to make everything stop- - spinning like a toy pinwheel, shiny and distracting. Her hand slips under one of Megan's.

"…I hope you're right." About… all of it. Even the unvoiced hope that there's something further beyond all of this.

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