Of Course You Did


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Scene Title Of Course You Did
Synopsis Des and Richard share the absurdity of their lives and find solace in each other.
Date August 5, 2018

Staten Island Trade Commission

The summer heat has chased Desdemona out onto her fire escape where the breeze can ruffle her white sundress and dark brown hair, and if she closes her eyes she can pretend she’s anywhere but Staten Island. The picture painted in her mind’s eye is of the wooded expanses of Oregon.

They don’t exist anymore.

But it evokes memories of chillier air and… not precisely happier times, and perhaps not even more stable, but there had been a certain kind of contentment in those stolen moments. When she opens her eyes again, the melancholy settles in with a stronger foothold than it began with. She picks up the cigarette case perched on the railing beside her to fish out a smoke and her lighter. After the first drag, Des considers the end of the stick, like she might see something in the glowing ember. All she sees is Oregon burning.

It isn’t often that Richard Ray can get to Staten Island, given his standing in society and tendency to attract the curious - be they media or others - but he’s still familiar with the ins and outs of it even if the names and faces have changed.

There are some things that never do.

So he’s dressed in a worn jacket with the lining starting to fade despite the summer’s heat, hood back and front open to reveal a simple t-shirt with a faded band logo — too faded to identify anymore. Jeans that have seen better days and a Yankees cap complete the disguise. Knuckles raise, a sharp rap upon the door of the rooms she calls her own.

Des’ head lifts sharply as she’s pulled from her reverie at the sound. Leaving her cigarette to burn on the railing of the escape, she climbs back in the window and crosses to the door. The sadness isn’t quite banished, but a broad smile does make its way across her face as she takes in the sight of him. “Richard! I didn’t expect to see you so soon.” So soon after what, exactly? Any time she sees him in this situation is sooner than she expected.

She steps aside and gestures into the room. “Come on in. I was just having a smoke outside. I can put it out, though.” Des pushes the door shut after he steps inside, her back against it with her hands behind her on the knob. “You are so not dressed for the heat.” She wrinkles her nose, but her eyes twinkle with mirth.

“Hey,” Richard flashes a grin, already shrugging out of his jacket as he steps inside, “No, no I am not— ugh.” The jacket’s tossed to drape over the nearest piece of furniture, and he turns back towards her, “Disguises are such a pain in the ass. I miss the days when nobody knew what the fuck I looked like.” Or, no doubt, when it didn’t matter. When he had his power, still.

“How’ve you been doing? You’re…” A brow lifts a little as he looks her over. Maybe he’s not used to seeing her in a white sundress instead of corporate or lab clothes. “…looking good.”

“Nice way of saying you aren’t bothered by the scars,” Des teases gently. She knows he isn’t. He’s seen them before and never given her that look of pity or disgust she’s mostly come to expect from others. “I’m… Well, I’m not looking to turn myself in, so I guess that means I’m doing well enough.”

Moving toward the window, she takes up a half-perch on the sill, one foot braced against the wall and the other flat on the floor. “But my dreams have gotten interesting again.” Des lets out a deep sigh and shakes her head. “Not Arthur’s world this time.”

At the teasing, Richard’s eyes roll in his head. “We’ve all got our scars, Des,” he points out, stepping along over after her towards the window - leaning against the wall, shoulder to it and arms folded over his chest as he looks to her. A little nod at the mention of not turning herself in, a bit relieved there.

Then he’s frowning, “More dreams… what this time?”

“This one was… something else.” Des shakes her head and takes a moment to gather her thoughts. “I was in a jeep or something, with Woods. But I could tell it wasn’t the same Woods I’m— She’s— The other Odessa is married to.” Keeping her other lives separate is difficult at times. “It has to be the timeline those others came from.” Calvin’s timeline. “The world was a fucking mess. Made Staten look like a nice place to live.”

She makes a face and crosses her arms over her torso, tapping her fingers restlessly against the opposite forearms. “I think we were looking for… I don’t know. Marauders? Maybe military. Woods got into it with some people in this husk of a town. He just…” Des’ eyes unfocus and she looks haunted for a moment.

“He just killed them. It was brutal. I’d never expected him to do something like that before.” Her attention comes back to the here and now and she looks up to Richard’s eyes. “I don’t know. Maybe that place kind of ruined him. It seemed like that kind of awful. He was crying about what he’d done when it was over, and… then I woke up. Another weird green spark.” Her arms drop to her sides again. “I don’t know what to make of any of it anymore. Why does this keep happening to me?”

“Christ.” Richard’s lips twist into a grimace as he steps closer to her, one hand coming up to brush his fingers up along her arm to her shoulder; looking back at her face with sympathy and worry. “I don’t know. I… it must be something to do with your ability? Or maybe whatever happened, way back then…”

A tight shake of his head, “That— well. That sounds like the Wasteland. Where the kids came from, where Ezekiel came from. A world that was, yeah, pretty much fucked. As per our last communication, Mayes had basically gone full fucking Skynet.”

“I’m afraid to use my ability anymore,” Des admits. “I was trying to use it when I managed to wind up back here. Back to myself. I wasn’t using it when I made the jump the first time, but… Maybe I did and didn’t realize it. I have weird instincts when I’m in a scrap, and I was sparring at the time.”

Blue eyes drift to the hand at her arm, following the limb with her gaze and then back up to his face. “Something’s off about it. I mean, Woods shouldn’t— He shouldn’t be alive anywhere. I can’t account for that. I thought at first it was just because Arthur had been able to do something, or the technology they had…” Des shakes her head quickly, “Maybe that’s what happened here too? I don’t understand it.”

“We don’t have an… accurate map of the timelines,” admits Richard, “We know what we think of as the pivotal moments, the things that made them different, but— the actual thing may’ve been so small, so minor, it’s hard to pinpoint. Butterflies before the hurricane.”

His thumb brushes against her shoulder, and he asks wryly, “Keep a secret?”

“Yeah… I get that.” Des presses her lips together, falls silent as she mulls over the implications. This is not her realm of expertise. It would probably drive her insane if she actually tried to make it all make sense.

Again, she looks to the contact between them, her gaze lingering there for the moment. “Of course,” she murmurs. As if he won’t see her looking vulnerable and the flush of her cheeks if she just doesn’t look up at him.

“You remember the whole… time travel war,” says Richard, shaking his head slightly, “Going back and forth, Hiro trying to keep time stable, Ernie trying to change it for his boss— anyway, anyway…”

A wry smile, “I was just supposed to protect one person. I thought I’d get clever, change time in a way that nobody would notice. All behind the scenes, hiding someone who was supposed to die.”

“Accidentally ended up creating the entire goddamn Deveaux Society.”

“Yeah, I remember.” Des tips her head to one side and lifts her gaze again, narrowing as she listens. Then her brows lift and she laughs quietly. “You didn’t. Richard, you didn’t.” She runs her tongue over teeth and sighs. “Of course you did.”

She nods her head. “I tried to do that for my mother. But there was someone there with Hiro’s power. He stopped me.” She knows that in truth Samson would have stopped her, but the other man makes a much easier target.

“So, how did you manage that feat?”

“Arthur was supposed to kill Claudia Zimmerman,” Richard chuckles, hand sliding from her shoulder to rub art the nape of his neck, “I, ah, convinced Charles to fake her death instead. I’m technically a Company agent, actually, I had an alias on the books.”

He grins, “I think I technically outranked Bennett, not that I ever had the chance to use it.”

There’s a explosive little outburst of laughter that has Des doubling over. “No. That that not happen.” Richard Ray, not an actual member of the Company, outranking Noah fucking Bennet. “You are messing with me.” She looks up and shakes her head. “Oh my gosh, you’re serious. That is frightening.”

Des straightens up again and bites her lower lip with another slow shake of her head. “You really are something else, aren’t you?”

“I am a danger to myself, society, and the entire fabric of reality. Eileen’s probably right about me,” Richard chuckles heartily, head shaking, “It was the most obvious fucking alias ever, too. ‘Lamont Cranston’. I was in the records as the fucking Shadow.”

A broad grin back to her, “I am. It’s part of my charm. But see — butterflies. It’s so easy to change so much.”

Odessa grins wide and giggles. “I fucking love you.” She shuffles forward on her bare feet a little closer. “C’mere, Lamont.” She leans up on her tip-toes and closes her eyes. Sometimes, she can forget for a little while how much the insanity of the world gets her down. When he can use it to make her laugh instead.

It’s the giggle of humor, it’s those words that makes Richard’s grin widen all the more, and then he steps in closer; an arm sliding around her, drawing her in against him before leaning down to taste her lips in a soft kiss, murmuring to it, “Missed me?”

“Missed you,” she echoes with a dopey little smile as their lips part. She pushes right back up for a second kiss to last a little longer than the first one, her fingers crumpling his faded tee shirt in her hands. “I have no idea what the fuck we’re doing,” Des admits, “but I’m past caring anymore whether it’s right or wrong. But it feels right with you.” Even if their last meeting planted seeds of doubt in her mind about what kinds of connections they might have.

It wouldn’t be the first mistake she’s made and it definitely wouldn’t be the last.

She starts giggling all over again when she plays over the revelation of his Company alias in her head. “It’s absurd, you know. All of it.” She doesn’t explain what all of it is, exactly. Maybe it’s open to interpretation. “But at least you keep coming back.”

“It is,” Richard admits, fingers sliding slowly up the small of her back and then down again, a crooked smile on his face as he looks back down to her; nose brushing hers in an affectionate little bump, “Our lives are just fucking ridiculous when you look at them, both of ours… we could be a tragi-comic play or something. I think that’s the word. My sisters made me go to a play once.”

He shakes his head, “We’ve gotta find some light in all this bullshit, though. So why can’t it be each other?”

“I’ve never been to one. Thought about sneaking in once to see what all the fuss was about, but just… never quite worked up the nerve.” Des loosens her grip with one hand so she can trace idle shapes over Richard’s chest. “But I think you’re probably right.”

The affection is returned, her nose brushing back against his and she almost closes the distance between them for a third time, but holds. Her smile fades slowly. “Yeah…” Doubt makes a hard knot in her stomach, but she forces that smile back into place. She can let herself have this moment. “Thanks for… I don’t know. Putting up with me? I know I’m not always the easiest person to want to look out for.”

“Oh, hey, hey…” A slight narrowing of Richard’s eyes, “…you fucking quit that. Yeah, I know things are complicated. We’ll figure them out, though, and for right now?”

He leans in to press his brow to hers, “Just relax. Okay? Just… take this time, and forget all that shit. Please.”

“I’ll try, okay? It’s… not easy for me.” Des snakes one arm around to Richard’s back so she can draw him closer. She rests her head against his chest and sighs heavily. “Most of the time, the people I like don’t like me back. And when they do? It’s either the worst idea I ever had, or they’re wonderful and I self-sabotage.” This is shaping up to be the latter scenario. “I don’t know how to not drive someone off.”

And there’s the self-awareness that she needs him more than he needs her. “My head’s all messed up and I don’t know how to make it quiet. But sometimes, when I’m with you, it’s better.”

“I’m a stubborn asshole, don’t worry,” Richard murmurs against her hair, burying his face in it briefly to draw in the scent of her; both arms sliding about her, one hand stroking at the nape of her neck as he murmurs, “Just let your head shut up for awhile… and I’ll let mine do the same. God knows I can use a break from all the strategizing and situation analysis…”

Her hair smells faintly of jasmine, more like the cigarettes she smokes. Des makes a small sound in the back of her throat and clings a little tighter. After a moment to just inhale the scent of him in return, she tips her head back and looks up at him again.

“You want to?” she asks, eyes wide and searching his for the answer.

There’s a moment’s silence as he looks back down to her, hazel eyes on hers, and then he brings a hand up to brush against her cheek. “Given that I’m no longer your employer,” he replies, a bit playfully if seriously at the same time, “I don’t believe it’s unethical to do this— “

Richard’s arm shifts lower, and one knee bends— and he’s trying to haul her right off her feet and over his shoulder to carry her in the direction of the bedroom without a moment’s further consideration about the matter.

There’s a gasp followed by giddy laughter as he sweeps her up off her feet. Des playfully taps one fist against his back as though to protest the carry, but giggles all the way.

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