Old Dogs, New Hunts


avi_icon.gif huruma_icon.gif

Scene Title Old Dogs, New Hunts
Synopsis Avi confronts Huruma about Adam.
Date May 6, 2019

The Bunker

Rochester, NY

New York is not known for its steadfast springtime, just like other parts of the coast. The weather fluctuates from warm to cold to unseasonably one or the other. It is a cold one today, overcast and nippy, chasing people back inside for jackets and stashed umbrellas. Only in the past several minutes has it begun to rain, a drizzle that slicks over pavement and muddies sprouting dandelions. Hana's shakeup, Devon's Lazarus impression, Avi's incidental encounter- - these and other small things have been sparks of adrenaline which have mostly dissipated, leaving behind a sticky cloud of doubts and thought, glazed over by concentration on future plans.

Huruma is not invested in watching the television in the commons, although it is tuned to a news channel and she sometimes fixes it with a distant glare. She's sitting back and watching the rain, instead. The news is at a hushed volume, rain becoming louder as the sky grumbles around. A discarded textbook lies open on the coffee table; looks like someone was brushing up on their Arabic.

Not many Hounds still at the Bunker today; a lot of departures, or personal time off. The ones that are here, they were at the edges of her senses before she concentrated on pulling inward like an invisible whirlpool.

Rain is getting an even harder stare than usual, and for once in a long time- - Huruma is blinding herself to everyone else, mind toiling in abject silence.

“No, she’s not dead.”

Well, it was silent.

“Well, if you’d listened to a fucking word I said you’d recognize that I said she’s taking a leave of absence, so that means I’m— no— do not put me on hold again!” Avi Epstein has been having loud, obnoxious phone calls up and down the Bunker for weeks. As he comes storming into the common room, it’s clear he isn’t expecting anyone. What is perhaps more surprising is that he is storming at all. No leg brace, no limp, and perhaps most surprisingly:

Two eyes.

“I swear to fucking god, if you can hear me…” Avi curses into the phone, then in a fit of frustration just ends the call and looks like he’s about to throw his phone against the wall when he spots Huruma. He decides not to. Throw the phone.

“Oh,” is Avi’s awkward greeting. “Hello.”

After Israel, Huruma took some of that aforementioned personal time off. Stayed with Megan a while, made plans, got situated and briefed on what's been going on. She hasn't seen many of the others here just yet, preferring to sneak in and have some downtime before all of that. She heard the yelling, when she got back. It was difficult not to. Scott mentioned a lot of red tape and Epstein getting tangled in it. Francis was stuck as a gopher, somehow. What a saint.

Huruma hears Avi once again, rumbling around behind walls before he comes into earshot; around then is the same time she loosens her grip on the meditative state of her power. Rage is always an easy one for Avi. That isn't terribly surprising. Her head swivels around only when he stamps his way into the common area.

The awkward greeting is met with an equally awkward stare, through the near-destruction of his phone. Not at all the one she wears ninety-nine percent of the time, Huruma's expression immediately shows her surprise. Alarm, maybe. Both?

Never being caught off-guard is a point of pride, and yet, there she is, brows pinched and posture rigid when she sits straight. Huruma blinks away the shock- - because that's what it is, really - - and narrows her eyes on him.

She stands up.

“Berlin.” Avi says flatly. “Nathalie,” he corrects himself. “Not— on the phone, but,” and he waves a hand at his face, as if to emphasize his no longer cyclopean countenance. “Mayor Short” he says with a wag of the phone in the air, “the— NYPD contract is a mess,” he splutters out, awkwardly and quietly as he takes a few tentative steps into the common area, tucking the phone into a jacket pocket rather than against the floor or wall.

“I can fuck off,” Avi says with a jerk of one thumb over his shoulder, “if you’d rather have some peace and quiet…” It seems like where he ends the offer, but he’s quick to add, “everyone else seems to have,” in a bitter tone. But he’s not wrong, people are leaving. Wolfhound is changing.


Huruma is halfway across the room when Avi gives something of a reason; for a moment it seemed like she might start chasing him. But her bristling passes, and when he takes those steps inside she is circling around him. Perplexed, of course. Disbelief, maybe. Like he might rip off a mask.

No, it's really him. The same old aura as ever. Maybe a twee less pained, given the givens.

"You're fine…" She answers, to his offer of 'fucking off'. Her eyes hood some, lids shading moon white while she thinks. "They deserve some quiet. So it took you getting mauled to near death for her to do something? I had my suspicions about her… She must have been the one behind Lucille, Ben- -" There is a pause, where she considers the puzzle pieces. She cocks her head in question. "… Emily? "

" What is going on with the contract?" It is a stark segue to another topic, purposeful in its distraction. Voice low as she speaks, Huruma reaches out to tweak a pinch at Epstein's arm, testing the breadth of her being able to tell it is him.

Just making sure! This is legitimate testing.

“Careful, I’m more machine than man now,” Avi jokes with a surprisingly good-natured roll of his eyes. Maybe he missed being able to do that symmetrically. “Yeah, Nat is the one who fixed up Emily. She’s… it’s a whole fucking thing.” There’s a tension in Avi as he steps past Huruma and starts into the kitchen just off of the common area, ambling over to the refrigerator and fishing through it frustratedly.

“Christ, has nobody been grocery shopping? It’s like this is a fucking dry county,” Avi grouses, closing the refrigerator door and looking back to Huruma, hands on his hips. “Contract’s a mess because Hana can’t— won’t— fucking communicate with me and sign her half of it. I’m having to jump through some legal hoops to basically cut her out of her own fucking company, and it’s significantly more complicated than I imagined. But if we fuck this up, we’re on the hook for breach of contract and— ” Avi cuts himself off, raking thick fingers through his hair.

He doesn’t finish his sentence.

Instead, Avi just looks over at Huruma with furrowed brows. “What’s your plan?” He asks, unprompted. “For the future, I mean.”

The joking and eyerolling are oddly comforting; despite the tension, Huruma smiles in his wake, small and puzzling, but it is there.

"I'd been planning on it. God knows we all have //stashes //." Break into one, Avi. Somehow the image of Huruma grocery shopping isn't exactly congruent. She angles after him and props against the island counter, head tilted in listening. Hana's name seems to take a light from behind her eyes, breath caught in sigh, lips pursed tightly.

A word starts and stops at the impulsive question. She can tell it is- - the flicker of decision in a snap.

"Right now…?" Huruma's posture shifts, more of a lean, pale gaze traveling over the familiar and not face - she isn't sure if she remembers him with two eyes… there were some things worth blurring in Madagascar. "This. And I know some lawyers, if you need." She is dependent on the contract at the moment. Not that she couldn't just leave. Seeing the effect of it… Maybe she wouldn't anyway.

"After? Who knows. I do not usually have plans so far ahead. Desires are one thing - necessity another."

It's hard to read Avi’s reaction to that, on the surface. The subconscious aura of relief he exudes is palpable to Huruma. He'd been anticipating her retiring with the steady flow of others who saw Sunstone as the end of a book, not merely the end of a chapter. He leans back against the counter beside the refrigerator, looking down at the floor for a moment before he finds Huruma’s eyes again.

“Back in 2014 Hana and I considered basing Wolfhound out of the Safe Zone. We scoped out a couple of suitable buildings, got as far as talking with Yamagato about power, the provisional government before Mayor Short was appointed. But it was too much of a resource draw. We needed more space, less down time rebuilding. So we wound up here…” Avi’s story seems non sequitur at first, until he adds one last piece of context. “We still bought the other building, been sitting on it for a while. Harkness Sr keeps the lights on when he's down there, but it never got remodeled.”

Shrugging, Avi rests the heels of his palms against the counter edge, fingertips drumming beneath. “It's out of mothballs, and we’re going to be moving some operations down there. The NYPD’s our only big piece of the pie now, so we might as well be close to business…” But there's something other than relief in Avi’s emotional spectrum. There's nerves. It took a little bit, but Huruma can tell it isn't about the contract, it isn't even about Wolfhound.

It's about her.

“I need to talk to you about Adam Monroe.” That's Avi’s non sequitur.

Relief means he's glad he's not alone; of course, there is Francois, and Scott, but Wolfhound was already getting younger and younger, even before a handful moved onto other things. For all that Huruma does not consider herself 'of an age', she is still self aware.

"I like that you think I do not listen in." Is all that she says on the matter of a building in the Safe Zone, a half smile crooking in her lips. The expression is as much for him as his nerves, which she picks up just before he does ask his question. Huruma's smile softens, eyes on his, the ink of her pupils dilated in the light. She can tell caution from cradling, and the dark woman quiets for whatever comes. Her initial response is a passive tension that coils around in her shoulders in a subconsciously defensive twitch.

"It is high time that somebody did." Huruma's words carry a faint tease, though truthful. Questions have been few- - and from friends. The latter isn't changing as Avi takes his turn. She straightens, a searching hand in topmost cupboard. Which only she seems able to reach without having to climb the counters. The bottle is unlabeled. "Tell me there is ice, because this calls for it.

"And god, don't be so nervous," Huruma adds, giving him quite the amused side-eye when she fishes for a small glass. She'll pour him one- - if he doesn't mind mystery liquor. "It feels like you're asking me to prom. Go on, Avi. I am listening." The last addendum is kind, rather than comic.

“Adam’s the one who took Devon. He tried to recruit Berlin— Nat. It was his blood that brought Devon back from the dead, it was his fucking scientists that turned Devon into a human Petri dish.” Avi’s jaw sets, brows furrow, and he looks square at his feet. “People’ve been saying for a while he's got his hands in Praxis Heavy, and it was one of their heavy choppers that nearly took out Ivanov and Autumn.”

They're facts, the things Avi’s saying, but there's also an undercurrent of something in there that Huruma is familiar with. Accusation. “I know you ran with him. I know you know things, and I know it never came up in Albany because nobody thought he was worth fucking mentioning.” That’s where the nerves come from. The accusation. The fear that for once in his life the paranoia will be justified.

“He knows too much about our operations. He knows too much about Nat. And we know fuck all about him.” Avi’s line in the sand is traced clearly in the floor of the kitchen. He's inviting her to fill in the blanks, to affirm to Avi what side of the line she's on.

He wants nothing more than to be unjustly paranoid.

As Avi speaks, she does just what she said she was going to do. Listen. Her hands busy themselves, soon coming away with a drink for her nerves, such as they are. The deliberate movements of fixing a glass are gone, and all she can hear is his voice and the miasma of fears behind it.

"If you're asking me," Huruma starts, eyes unfocused as she leans across from him again. "If I'm spying for him, I am not. Yet I do know things. I did run with him, as you put it."

For a short time she fixates on her fingers against condensation.

"Past tense." When she looks back to Avi, there is a distinct and distant melancholy there; a bridge she assumes she has long burned, once she shook Hana's hand. "…He brought me back too, once. Not long after PARIAH and the escape. It was a bond, I suppose. We were partners." Huruma isn't certain what, precisely, Avi knows about her pre-Ferry days, and even pre-Adam, but she knows her Circle and she knows that intelligence collects.

Only half of Huruma's drink is gone when she sets it aside, brow pinched as she closes in by a half-pace. Avi knows what her posturing looks like, and this isn't it. He has no cause for concern, despite nearness.

"…Please, be specific with your questions."

The sigh Avi gives in response is a resigned one. “I’m gonna give you the benefit of the doubt and not ask if you know where he is right now,” though in that indirect way he is asking, “and I’ll assume you’ll just tell me if you find out where our boy is.” Crossing his arms over his chest, Avi looks down at the floor in a moment of thoughtful silence. He doesn’t look up right away, once he does find a question down there.

“I need to know your read on him. Who is he, really? Is he just some crusty old Nazi that slithered his way through history like Volken? What the fuck does he want, what makes him tick, and…” Avi looks up,now. He makes certain to look Huruma in the eyes when he asks his last question. “How do we hurt him?”

There are few people able to do it- - look her in the eyes for very long.. Not so much height(though it is factored), nor grit, just familiarity. Huruma's blink is feline, a slow movement that echoes no discomfort. Yet.

"He is no Volken. Volken was short-sighted in the way an immortal is not." Surprise, she was never very fond. "Germany was a means to an end. They had the means, he knew the end. Suffice to say, it did not work out in his favor. What he wants is pretty obvious, isn't it?" Huruma chews on the end of her words, soon shifting to pick her drink back up now that he's gotten his first licks in. "After that, there was Coyote Sands, Vietnam, the Company, all of that nonsense…"

"But before all of that…" Huruma murmurs, eyes pointed to a distance. She doesn't finish the thought yet.

"I do not know where he is now. I could only tell you where he has been. I am not sure where we stand, so I doubt I could just ring him." White eyes find Avi, her mouth pressed in a guarded line. "To realize what he wants, you need to go much farther back than the Third Reich. To when he was not so gifted."

"And hurting him… " Somehow her frown deepens. "That all depends on the intended approach." More than one way to skin a cat, et al.

Avi narrows his eyes, arms crossed over his chest. Something Huruma said sticks with him, a lingering suspicion that haunts the periphery of far louder suspicions. But it’s something he’ll come back to, something that likely has a longer answer than he’d care for in the moment. “Devon’s memory scrape…” Avi redirects the conversation, meandering closer to Huruma without much concern for the path he takes. Much like the conversation. “Kaylee pulled some info out of his head. Doctor Cong implied there were spies, and that’s how he caught Devon.” Avi unfolds his arms and spreads his hands. “Now, I know a good misdirection when I see one, and he could’ve been blowing smoke— snow— whatever— out of his ass. Trying to get us to turn inward.” The but in that sentence is all but palpable. “If it isn’t you,” he looks around, then back to Huruma with the unspoken question.

Who is it?

Huruma can feel all of those suspicions as they orbit the two of them, and she knows that he probably knows she can. Best to ask it sooner than later.

"The iceman?" She asks for confirmation, though the mention of snow does it too. "Mnh." Eyes flick down as she thinks about Devon. He is still a boy to her, like so many of the rest. The idea that the enemy would sow discord and suspicion is not at all farfetched. Cheekbones set over a jut of jaw, chewing on frustration. If not her- -

"Curtis used to work with him too… Or, a part of him did. Were you aware?" Huruma voices it carefully. "You need to believe me when I say that I refuse to put people I care about in a position of weakness, or danger they never signed up for.."

"That means the kids, the crew, Hana- - who I have already failed- -" A strain of guilt creaks into her voice when she invokes the Major. Ex-major, now. "- and yes, you too. I have risked life and limb enough to get even a crumb of faith in return, haven't I… ?"

Avi’s tongue slides across the inside of his cheek, eyes close, and he nods once. “That’s why I’m asking,” he says with less tension in his voice than before. “I’m gonna need t’have a talk with Curtis eventually, too. But he’s such a fucking jarhead, I don’t know…” Running a hand through his hair, Avi slowly approaches Huruma. “I know what it’s like, having someone close to you who is a fucking liability. A fucking wanted-by-the-government liability.”

He’s talking about Eileen.

“So I know what it’s like to be put between a rock and a hard place, between your commitment and your heart.” Avi says quietly, “Which is why I didn’t have this conversation with you until now. The past’s the past, except now it isn’t, and we need t’figure out how t’react. Francois could use your head, experience, everything…” But there’s that tension again, rising up with a coming question, one he can’t predict how Huruma will react to.

“Would you help us hunt him?” Avi asks. It isn’t an order, it’s an inquiry.

"He's not just a jarhead. He has …experience." Huruma murmurs, before Avi keeps on. She remains attentive, watching quietly as he roams back towards her. Brows pinch, mouth tweaks south of neutral, gaze somewhat tired. Weary, at worst. She doesn't answer the question at hand, rather, the dark woman seems to fix on Avi's features, silent for a time.

"I appreciate your discretion." Huruma starts, thankful for at least this. "Sometimes you still manage to surprise me with your mindfulness." For as much as Avi is…Avi, this is quite the compliment coming from her. She has never really known him as anything but this version of himself- -Yet at the same time, she has always been able to see right through him, just as she does everyone else.

"That almost sounds like a question." Avi could try to make it an order. That he refrains brings an unbidden little smile to her lips, contrasted still with the knot between her brows. Huruma runs her tongue over the edge of her teeth, pupils dilating with that deep black against ivory, sixth sense fanning out, listening in. "Yes, I will. He was someone to me, once, but now, I don't know. Now…"

"That amalgam, the one we met at Abraham's," The one Huruma shot in the head. She lets out a small sigh, words wavering, hand drawing fully down her face in an effort to find ground, lingering at her mouth and under the strain of her eyes. "He told me, after he took those bullets, after I tried to help him- - 'Not your Adam'. I've wondered since if any of them really are, anymore."

The noise Avi makes in the back of his throat is a disconcerted one. Huruma’s known him long enough to understand all of his micro-vocalizations. Though it has just a little bit more punch behind it now, due to his sudden revitalization. “Alright. French Vanilla Ice,” that’s a new one, “is going to put together a team of folks to dig deeper into this shit. Nat and you are on it now,” in so much as Avi is concerned. “It’s going to need to be a multidisciplinary thing. Us, SESA, and probably fucking Richard because I know he knows more than we’re aware of.”

Running a hand through his hair, Avi looks around the Bunker. It’s as if he finally noticed how quiet it is without half of the squads present. “Christ, we’re fucking understaffed for this…” he admits with a grumble. “I know he wants you on that SWAT stuff, but given how much you know about Monroe… I hope you weren’t planning on taking any fucking vacation time any time soon. Because…”

Huruma’s phone vibrates in her pocket, as if it had anticipated Avi saying that.

She's not sure if the disconcerted is for her compliment or her emotions, or something else entirely. Huruma listens as he describes the team, as he posits who else, as he notices the lack of warm bodies in the Bunker.

"No, no vacation. Unless you're offering. Have you ever been to Fiji?" She has mind enough to actually laugh there, a familiar deep sound. The expression of levity is fleeting. It falls as her eyes and hand does, fingers clasping around her phone to bring it out.

May 6, 15:22pm
Just getting on a plane. Will be in the US for a couple weeks. Unexpected trip. Hope we can meet up. Talk to you on the ground.

Avi is unaware of the sudden interruption in Huruma’s life coming through by something as simple as a text message. He bulldozes past the moment, letting it circle back to him if it's any of his business. “Good,” he says with a relieved sigh. He wasn't sure how hard any of this was going to be, and the easiest part — the start — seems to have gone off well enough.

“I'm gonna talk to Francois, see how we want to handle this. Then…” Avi shakes his head. He doesn't know what comes after. “Then, I guess we start figuring things out.” Offering a sidelong glance to the phone, Avi’s brows furrow in worry. A problem?

"So… that is a definite no on Fiji…" Huruma's response is a low hum, her eyes on her phone and her field watching Avi instead, feeling the twinge of concern rather than his looking to her. The screen gets another quiet scan, pale eyes blinking once, slow and marked with thought.

"Adam plays the long game… we will discuss it…" When she finally does look up, Avi is on the receiving end of a sudden mood shift. Not his, but Huruma's. The weariness she's been clinging onto is joined by a tiny spark in her eyes that Avi is much more used to seeing. For better or worse.

"I- - Hnh. Dajan is on a plane." She does seem puzzled, though. "He'll be stateside for a couple of weeks. Did not say why, I expect he will tell me once he gets here…" Huruma finally allows herself a less pained smile, as much for having someone to fluff up(just a little) around as for the impromptu visit. It's a feeling Epstein knows, that weird in-between with an adult child, always unsure of where they stand even on good days. They are both working on it.

“Oh.” Avi says, vacantly staring at Huruma. “That… is good,” is said in a way that in no small part sounds happy. “So I'm,” he jerks a thumb over his shoulder, “gonna talk to Francois. And maybe when you'd kid comes up I'll just…” Avi is already walking away as he talks. He doesn't finish his sentence, but the implication of leave is all well and good.

“I just got this eye back,” she can hear Avi grousing as he leaves. Madagascar was a time.

One he'd rather not repeat.

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