Old Habits


caderina_icon.gif evran_icon.gif faulkner_icon.gif roman_icon.gif

Scene Title Old Habits
Synopsis After escaping from a tense situation outside Red Hook Market, several take shelter in a coffee shop to wait and see if trouble pursues them.
Date October 28, 2020

Eileen's Cafe

The basement market feels safer, warmer than the outside. Safer still is the crowded confines of Eleanor's rehomed coffee stand— a brick dugout now called Eileen's Cafe.

It serves warm, real coffee, at least. Or hot chocolate.

Roman's brought a cup of each to the table Caderina was shepherded to. Evran stands with his arms folded, leaning against the stone pillar of the doorway out of the place. He pretends to care less about the people inside, eyes only on making sure the chaos hasn't spread, followed them inside— but he's betrayed by the fact he's standing watch at all.

He's unnerved, on guard, and clawing at filling his need to protect against the terrible, cruel unknown.

Roman's a more personable face, at least. His eyes are sunken, and he looks as though he could be somber, but for now, he's got a mission. And that's getting Caderina in a state where she's remotely okay.

"Whichever one you don't want…" he starts to say, and then glances toward Faulkner. He lets out a short breath from his nose. It's not nearly a laugh. "He can have the other."

For her part, Caderina is still a trembling mess of a person, though she’s finally stopped jumping at every little sound. It takes a moment before she realizes Roman’s been talking to her. She lifts her head from where she’d been staring at a knot in the wood surface of the table, staring a long moment before she finally blinks and nods her head. “Okay.”

The coffee is stared at. Then the cocoa. Caderina looks up again and offers a small smile to Roman. “You wanna go halfsies?” Blue eyes glance up toward the counter as she suggests, “Get yourself an empty cup and we’ll split whichever one you want?” It’s the least she can do for dragging her out of that mess outside. A shudder runs through her, shaking her slight frame like a leaf in a storm as she looks to the door. It calms again when she shifts focus to Evran standing guard, shoulders relaxing some.

Isaac Faulkner is a bit rattled.

He's seen violence before, now and again, but… not quite like this. He's doing his best not to let it show how rattled he is, trying to project nothing but calm and collected — like the Brothers Fawkes, he, too wants to see Caderina get back to a better place — but his act isn't as good as he might like to think it is. The thousand mile gaze he's got going as he stares through one of the walls is a bit of a tell.

"Yeah. Sure. Appreciated," he says at Roman's suggestion; his head turns towards the other man, but his gaze doesn't entirely focus on him, and after a moment his gaze drifts off to some point on the other end of the universe again. He rubs at his chin.

Roman lets out something closer to an actual, amused breath out as he pulls out one of the doubled-up paper cups free to begin doing the pouring. Except, if they're all splitting, he's having some, too.

It's not as though he's gone broke on his pocket money from the endeavor, but it feels wrong not to have some for himself, too.

"I'm Roman," he offers up, hoping to get the two to get their head out of the clouds. "That's my brother, Ev," he indicates of the silent guard blocking the doorway from further business as much as standing watch. In a lower voice, he asides, "But he's an asshole, so he doesn't get any."

"You, uh, okay?" Roman asks, glancing to Caderina first… and then reluctantly to Faulkner after. He seems less sure what to do with him.

“It’s nice to meet you,” Caderina says with a deliberateness, like she has to think about the formation of her mouth around the words as she sounds them out. She realizes she’s been watching Roman’s face a bit too long and lowers her gaze back to the cups that he’s evening out.

When he calls his brother an asshole, one corner of her mouth quirks up faintly. “He doesn’t look so bad,” she insists. It’s helping her to feel a better sense of calm, this conversational banter. “Evran,” she lifts her voice to call to the other man at the door, “do you want some coffee?” If Roman won’t offer, she will.

"Pleased," Faulkner agrees, making an effort to drag himself back from Planet X. There's a faint hint of a wry grin when Roman gives Ev shit — oldest act in the book and it's still a good one — but the grin is very much a subdued thing, and it doesn't linger long.

His eyes flicker to Caderina at her distinct non-answer, then back to Roman, meeting the other's eyes for a moment; he's pretty sure that that's a resounding not okay from her. Not that he can fault her for that. Fake it 'til you make it, right? As for him…

He shrugs. "Oh, I will be," he says with a grim chuckle and an approximation of his usual manner. "Just a little… wasn't expecting…"

His voice falls flat. "That."

There's another flicker of a thousand yard stare in his eyes, but this time he fights it off, looking back to Roman and mustering a more honest grin. "Thanks, by the way. For helping."

Roman nods once, setting out the relative thirds between them. Faulkner receives the cup still doubled up, the other two split between him and Caderina. That done, he runs a hand through his hair, taking a moment to properly digest what happened himself.

Evran looks over from the door in that interim, regarding Caderina in silence before offering a brief shake of his head. "I'll get something later if everything's fine. No sense in spending money on something if we have to bolt in a minute anyway." His gaze lingers on her for just a moment before he resumes his watch, shoulders settling while he keeps his arms folded.

"Yeah, I don't think anybody was expecting— that." Roman's finding of his voice again comes with a slant of his brow, a small frown. "And hey, no problem. Gotta look out for each other, right?"

He takes a moment to examine Faulkner more closely, more curiously. Which side of the fence did he fall on, he wonders. He seems haunted in his own way. Maybe even a little jaded. Hm.

"Beats me what the hell that was all about," Roman admits. "Slicing people up in the middle of a crowd…?" He shakes his head.

Caderina shakes her head. She can’t seem to fathom who would do such an awful thing, and with so many people around. “A terrorist attack? Seems like they were targeting—” Her mouth shuts tight, lips pressing together, thin and bloodless under the pressure.

The little blonde abruptly picks up her coffee and steps away from the table, over to where Evran stands at the door. She nudges her shoulder against his gently and holds out the coffee. They can share, too. “Thank you,” she says to him in a soft voice, standing there with him and the barely-there brush of their arms against one another, contact nearly unable to be felt beneath their coats.

Faulkner nods agreement with Roman. "Would that more people felt that way about looking out for each other," he says, brooding over his cup.

Roman's question — and Caderina's theory — sees his manner shift though, a thoughtful expression crossing his face. "Terrorism?" he echoes, sounding dubious… but Caderina's already moved off. He frowns, turning his attention back to his cup. "Maybe," Faulkner murmurs, but he doesn't sound particularly convinced.

Caderina's approach to Evran brings him to do a brief, small doubletake. His brow lifts as she takes a place at his side, and he looks over his shoulder back at the other two before out at the market again. Without looking directly at her, playing it absolutely smoothly in his mind, he reaches to accept the proffered cup. "No problem," he assures, taking a sip before lowering the cup back for her to take, if the mood strikes her.

His weight shifts, shoulder brushing against hers before he doubles back down on his lean against the doorway, turning to look at Caderina properly, ice blue eyes glancing down and up her form once. "Not doing so bad now, are you?" Evran notes nearly in a murmur.

“It’s been difficult lately,” Caderina admits as she takes her coffee back from Evran and takes a sip, leaving it similarly in reach for him to take again, if he should like. She follows his gaze out toward the market, feeling a tension coil through her shoulders. Afraid the chaos will follow them inside. All the same, she smiles faintly. She feels safe enough next to him, and with the others nearby.

She shakes her head, the smile fading. “I’m sorry you had to drag me out of there like that. You shouldn’t have had to. Ever since I—” was a tree— “I don’t know what it is. I’ve just been overwhelmed more easily lately.” Caderina looks up to Evran. “Guess that’s what happens when you spend too much time alone. Crowds are tough.”

Roman's watched the young woman's departure with a small frown. Terrorism, huh? He looks a little uneasy at the use of such a strong word. "I mean… it can go both ways," he notes without particular enthusiasm. He rotates the cup around between his fingers. "I feel like the us versus them gets broadcast a lot more than the them versus us aspect of it, you feel me?" He frowns a little. "And if we're counting volleys, between the rocket launch, then Detroit, then that festival… well, they're up again."

The cup is lifted by fingertips alone to drink from. "But anyway. I dunno. The lady who let us stay with her when we first got to town, she was all, 'If we don't look out for each other, who will?' which sounded pretty weak at first, but … I dunno. Guess she's right. Helping hands don't come from nowhere." Settling the cup back down after a drink, he looks back to Faulkner. "You from around here, or are you new, too?"

Faulkner grimaces at the talk of counting volleys, his brooding intensifying; Roman's comment about helping hands draws a wan smile from him, though. "Sounds like a smart lady," Faulkner says, raising his own cup and taking a sip. His eyebrows rise appreciatively; not bad. Not bad at all. Maybe he'll drop in here again sometime.

"I moved back to town… about a year ago, I guess," he says, watching Caderina and Evran for a moment before looking back to Roman. "Before that, I was out in Montana. Hesser country; he's pretty popular out there," Faulkner says. Then he arches an eyebrow to Roman. "You?"

Roman lifts his brows in return at hearing Faulkner came all the way here from someplace as far away as Montana. "Here and there," he says of himself and Evran, sitting up a little straighter. "Hasn't really been any place we've called home since the war, but here seems as stable enough a place as any. Ev and I, we lost our family. My parents, my twin sister…" He looks off for a moment, shoulders tenting in a tense shrug.

"It'll be coming up on a year soon for us, too, here," he segues rather than linger on it. The tension bleeds out from him as he sighs, "God, can't believe that much time's passed already." He looks back, head dipping as he takes another drink from the cup, leaving very little in it at all, now, with how it had been split so many ways. "We've been all over the board since we got here, but we got a job doing salvage with one of the companies clearing the borders east of the Safe Zone, so things are looking up."

Faulkner nods sympathetically at Roman's mention of the war… though his lips twitch into a wry grin when Roman talks about how the time has passed. "For me, at least… in some respects this year seems to have flown by; in other respects it seems to have been about thirty months long and counting," he says dryly, taking another sip of his own cup.

"The perils of living in interesting times, I suppose," he muses, looking thoughtful for a moment. Then he shakes his head, gaze coming back to Roman. "That's good, though. Good you've got your feet on the ground. It took me a bit to land a job, but I've got a decent one doing package deliveries in the Safe Zone. Pays the bills, at least." Of which Faulkner has admittedly not had a great many since landing in the Safe Zone, due to his first residence being located in a godforsaken urban jungle and his second being crashing in Aman's guest room, but package delivery has definitely paid for that pretty handily.

Evran's icelike demeanor shifts, a different light passing through it when Caderina apologizes. "Well, when you put it like that, I suppose I can sympathize," he says to her. "I'm not much for crowds myself, but we keep finding ourselves in them."

"Though now," he remarks with more charm to it, something enthusiastic running in the subtext. "We've got someone who's going to teach us how to handle that better." He remarks with a faux ruefulness, "Crowds are just a part of city life, from what I hear…"

Looking back to Caderina, there's nothing to blunt the edge of Evran's words. "You either learn to move with them, or get trampled by them."

Caderina smiles wryly. “Yeah,” she agrees, “we sure do.” In a place like New York City, even post-war, it’s hard not to feel a bit like being stuffed into a can with the rest of the sardines.

But something about that shift draws her eyes away from the world beyond the cafe and back to Evran, lifting her chin so she can better appraise him. A soft look of curiosity sharpens slightly into a little grin. It’s dulled again slightly by his bluntness, sufficiently admonished. “I guess you’re right. I better figure out how to pick up my pace, then.” Recovery is a slower road than she’d like it to be, but that doesn’t mean it’s impassable.

"Helps when you surround yourself with the right people…" Evran's coldness is barely a chill as he notes that. He glances at Caderina before casting one last look around the rest of the underground market. He decides he's satisfied chaos won't follow them, posture righting.

For a moment it seems like he might say more, but instead he takes what's left of the cup and downs the contents. With a tip of his head, he indicates his intention to head to the table again, leaving his lean on the wall. He waits for Caderina to go first, following behind after he approaches the counter to murmur his order for a mocha for her, leaving a five dollar bill on the bartop to pay for it before he heads for the table.

Roman notes their reapproach, looking up out of the corner of his eye while he listens to Isaac, nodding absently. Then he grins and looks back, proving he was listening all along. "Not exactly a dream job, but any honest, paying work, right?" He doesn't exactly look comfortable with the commiseration, with socializing in general, but there's definitely the feeling that he means well. He's trying, and it's not like Isaac knows, but that's worlds ahead of the closed-off, snappish person he used to be.

"Guess today wasn't all bad," Roman supposes, leaning back in his seat. "Met someone who's all right in the process…" His gaze swivels up to the pair Caderina and Evran make. And then there was her, too, he supposes. He arches an eyebrow at Evran inquisitively and receives a narrowing of icy eyes in reply. Evran doesn't scowl in return— it's too brief for that— and he clears his throat to reset that silent conversation happening.

"Doesn't look like the Hash-Slinging Slasher decided to follow us inside," Evran pronounces for the sake of the group. "Whoever it is probably ran with the rest of the crowd. We should be fine now."

"Just so," Isaac says with a nod of his head. "Especially these days," he says wryly, with a faintly rueful grin.

As Evran returns, Isaac's gaze slips his way; the epithet he assigns to the killer sees his grin sidle briefly towards a grimace before he recovers. "Right then," he says. There seemed to be something in that look the two exchanged, but whatever it was, it was too brief for him to make heads or tails of it. He hesitates for a moment, then sighs. "I suppose we all have places to be. I still have a grocery run to finish, myself," he says, looking less than enthused about the prospect.

Well. One can't live all their life obsessing about the possibility of multiple murderers lurking in the shadows. In fact, thinking about it, the only reason Faulkner knows about this particular multiple murderer is that they chose to strike here and now; if they hadn't, why, he could've walked right by them and never even known. There could be multiple murderers out right now; Red Hook could be full of multiple murderers at this very instant, and it occurs to Faulkner that this particular train of thought is not helping. Right.

He drains his mug and sets it down on the table, mustering a smile. "Right. Roman, Evran, pleased to meet you, and thank you again for your help," he says, nodding to both as he stands. "Wish the circumstances had been better, but…"

He trails off with a sigh and a faint shrug. Wishing has never done anyone much good… but at least none of them had drawn the short straw out there.

“Nice to meet you.” If the nonverbal conversation happening between the brothers is noticed from where she’s standing at the end of the counter to wait for the drink ordered for her, Caderina isn’t letting on. “Thanks again.” She gives him a little wave as he heads off.

Once she has her mocha in hand, Caderina makes her way back to the table to sit down in the seat Faulkner’s just vacated. She lets out a heavy sigh and leaves the fingers of one hand wrapped around her mug for a moment. The other hand is up at her chin, teeth worrying at her thumbnail, letting the three of them have a moment of peace.

Finally, she signifies her intent to break the silence by taking in a breath. Caderina gives a short nod across the table, speaking very seriously, “You’re a lifesaver, Ro.” Lifting her drink, her gaze shifts to the taller of the pair. He may be a bit cold, but he bought her coffee. She takes a sip, then smiles shyly.

Roman shrugs in reply. "Seriously, though, I thought the horror-filled ghost story material wasn't supposed to come on until Halloween. Definitely not in the light of day. Who the fuck even knows anymore…" He rolls the bottom ring of his empty coffee cup against the table, glancing back to Caderina.

Evran tosses a sturdy phone branded by the now-defunct Praxis Heavy Industries onto the table. "If you give me your number, we'll call and check in soon," he interjects, like the phone hadn't done that for him.

"We gotta get moving, though. I want to get going on what we actually came out here today to do."

Caderina’s gaze lingers on Evran’s face for a moment, then shifts down to the phone. She slides it toward herself. She has to hide a self-satisfied smile with the press of her lips together as she taps on the screen, then holds it up.

But not to hand it back. Instead, she snaps a photo of herself with that small smile of hers, then she passes it back over to Evran. “So you don’t forget who I am, huh?” There’s a little smirk that shows itself for a fraction of a second before it’s overshadowed by a more serious expression. “Call me, okay?” She looks to Roman again when she says that. “I’ll feel better if I know you made it home safe, what with the horrorshow kicking off early out there.”

Evran lets out a scoff of a laugh, looking at the selfie on his phone before sliding it the device back into the pocket of his jacket. "Sure thing," he replies offhandedly, already turning to go.

Roman is scooting out of the booth to follow, but after he stands he places his hands on the table, leaning down so his lowered voice can be heard by Caderina. "Call it a hunch, but something tells me he will." He grins for a moment, then adds, "And if not, I'll text you."

He places a hand on her shoulder, squeezing before jogging to catch up with his brother-in-arms. His head turns only slightly as he calls out over his shoulder, "Take care!"

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