On Top Of The World


rue_icon.gif seren_icon.gif

Scene Title On Top of The World
Synopsis Rue and Seren both make gambles that leave them feeling like they're…
Date October 12, 2019

Red Hook

"I can't remember the last time I've done this," Seren confesses, hands clasped around water rather than anything alcoholic. They look like they're reconsidering not immediately having gone for a drink, but they were worried about their performance!

Bairdless, they sit on a stool at a tall table in the middle of a busy bar, one corner of it bearing a raised platform and a microphone stand. The moments between songs at this karaoke might give them the most anxiety, because they're not exactly sure when their name is going to be called. Is it this? Is it the next? Who knows.

At least they're in good company while they wait.

Rue’s hands are definitely wrapped around an alcoholic beverage - vodka and cranberry with a lime, to be precise - as she waits to hear which of them will be called for karaoke first. “I’m so glad you wanted to hang out,” she confesses to her partner in this musical endeavor. “I haven’t done karaoke in ages either.” Doing karaoke with Quinnie is just like asking to be embarrassed.

One booted foot braced against the crossbar of her stool, Rue’s knee bounces with nervous energy. She’s not afraid of getting up in front of the crowd and singing her tune. Rather, she very much hopes she can impress Seren.

Seren tries not to look too disappointed as some other name aside from either of theirs is called. The anxiety of this current round of waiting past, they sigh and look back to Rue, taking a moment to appreciate her comment — and her company. “Hey, it’s my pleasure,” they assure her. “It’s been a while since I’ve been out. Seems like instead of being outside at all this summer, I’ve just spent it cooped up in an air-conditioned office. I needed to get out of there for a while before I lost my mind.” They take a drink from their water and chuckle. “I think the only thing that gives me comfort there is I can’t be the only one who’s ever moved to a new city and felt like all they did was hang around work.”

Some country tune they don’t know is playing from the speakers, the bridge being sung with confidence, but unenthusiastically by a skinny man with stringy, twig-brown hair. Seren doesn’t look at him at all, smiling at Rue instead. “How’s life? Things? The weather?” They’re not sure what’s safe or not safe to talk about and quickly broaden the range of possible responses, remembering what it is Rue does for a living. It’s basically secret agent work, right? She could tell, but she’d have to kill you?


“Things have been good!” Rue proclaims with a smile. “Quiet, all things considered. I suppose that’s a good problem to have.” Would she rather be out spying on someone and gathering intel? Probably. But it’s nice that she hasn’t had the need to for a while.

A glance is spared for the person on stage, sizing him up quickly out of habit and dismissing him again. She has Seren’s attention, and so she gives them the same courtesy. “Raytech treating you well, I hope? Any new and exciting projects you’re working on? That isn’t under NDA, I mean.” They both seem to have jobs they can’t discuss with complete freedom.

Seren lets out a small laugh, because up until recently, they'd never have figured the NDA to really mean anything. They drink from the water they're clutching to clear their palate before mildly saying, "It's never a dull time at Raytech. Always something new and wild happening just down the hall from you." Settling the glass back down, they admit, "I mean between the hydroponics project, the Mantis, Spot bots, and I guess looking into medical research to help SLC-E people, I never expect to not be surprised, at this point." With a chuckle, they simply lift their shoulders into a shrug.

"I'm glad things have been quiet on your end. That does seem like a good thing." Seren looks off for a moment, eyes squinting in thought. "Are… you moved down here now?" they ask cautiously, some detail vaguely remembered. "I thought I saw something about the Wolfhounds helping out with the NYPD now, a while back?"

“Yeah, I have digs here now,” Rue admits. Digs that aren’t a ratty mattress on someone’s floor. Or an impersonal hotel room. Now it’s just a slightly less impersonal bunkroom. The mattress is off the floor, so it’s way better.

Ginger brows lift briefly. “You have the possibility of seeing a lot more of me now.” Which, really, anything is a lot more than the previous arrangement. Rue is already berating herself internally for what she perceives as having been a stupid comment.

Stupid or not, it’s met with a knowing smile, one not thrown out for the sake of platitudes. “Wouldn’t that be nice?” Seren leans in conspiratorially. The comment is neither waved nor laughed off, just confirmed with a crinkle of a smile touching the corner of their eyes as well before they look off, drink lifted even if they don’t yet sip again. Nerves from anticipation have only slightly lessened, so it might be necessary again at any time, after all.

“Heck, maybe even next time we could shoot for meeting some place not a bar,” they remark with a chuckle, glancing to the crooning man again briefly (for all the good it does in telling them how far along he is in his song), and then back to Rue. “What song did you pick, anyway?” Seren asks curiously.

There’s a little thrill that Rue feels in the center of her chest at Seren’s encouraging response. It’s sort of alien and yet like an old, familiar friend all at once. She finds herself smiling in spite of her desire to remain cool as a cucumber in this situation. Fortunately, a warm smile is absolutely not out of place in this situation, so it takes away the concern that she might look dopey. Or worse:


The notion of meeting someplace other than a bar elicits a chuckle from the redhead. “Now that’s a novel idea.” Bars are Rue’s favorite haunts, for everything that says about her. But dinner is certainly more—

Presumptuous, Lancaster.

“I’d like that,” she confirms, even as she’s taking a sip of her drink. The question means she doesn’t have to speculate on where they might meet up next — and there’s a soaring sensation at the realization that there will be a next that she’s soundly ignoring — and she leans in a little as though her song selection is some big secret. “Sabotage.”

And indeed, such a selection sounds bold. Serious. Worth holding back until a final reveal.

"Oh," escapes Seren a bit sheepishly, a renewed smile coming forward in a rush. The song in the background spins out to tepid applause. "That's—" they manage out, hiding not knowing what to say with an awkwardly timed sip from their (woefully non-alcoholic) drink. As much as they might wish otherwise, they can neither cut off their reaction or the sensation of embarrassment that maybe they should have picked something more impressive.

"And next up, we have… Sir-ren?"

Inexplicably, they're relieved and suddenly ready to charge into the thing they'd been so nervous for. "That's me," they recover cheerily enough, bounding up onto the little lift of a stage, taking the mic from the orchestrator. "Nice," he says to himself, brow popping as he pulls up the selection. In the time it takes for the song to start loading, Seren looks out over the bar with a renewed bout of stagefright. They imagine themself under a spotlight, and so suddenly they are. The added benefit is that they can no longer see the lake of faces before them.

But that won't do. There's one they want to see. —And so it is that a teal light suddenly bathes redheaded Rue from one side, and Seren can just make her out.

They smile and exhale as a peppy, whistling song flows from the speakers, a clapping beat setting up the intro. But, oh. That's right. They need to remember to sing.

"If you love somebody"

"Better tell them while they're here"

"'Cause they just may run away from you"

The light around them warms in color, bright white turning a yellow that softens into an orange, swirling into distinct shapes on the ground. The more they settle into the song, the light shifts around them, splitting into four motes that circle them as they sway.

Their voice comes across plain, slightly off key— for all their imagination, they don't imagine themselves to be any different than they are.

"'Cause I'm on top of the world, hey; yeah, I'm on top of the world, hey"

"Been waiting for this for a while now; paying my dues to the dirt"

"I been waiting to smile, hey; been holding it in for a while, hey"

"I'll take you with me if I can; been waiting for this since a child"

"Yeah, I'm on top of the world"

Instead of vocalizing, they hum along with the next part, darting a look up to Rue with a small grin.

Rue’s pale face is illuminated an eerie shade of nearly-green in the teal lighting. She glances around for the source, vaguely startled by the suddenness of it, but not enough to show it on her face. The color of it hides the flush that creeps into her cheeks, blessedly.

Whose choice was the bold one?

That grin is returned with a smile that’s genuine. That in itself is a surprise. So often, Rue doesn’t feel her smiles in her core. They’re something she puts on because smiling is a thing that people do, and people need to trust her. It’s rare that she feels honest about the expression.

If she had the kind of power Seren does, her smile might light up the dark bar. Rue’s thankful it doesn’t. The light sparkles in her blue eyes as she brings her hands up and together in a round of applause for her friend. Companion.

As the song winds down, Seren flees the stage without waiting for acknowledgement, deaf to the platitudes effused for their sake. The man running the karaoke night thanks them "for the light show" that went along with it without a hint of sarcasm, but Seren is too busy trying to make it back to their stool.

"Could I get a drink, please?" they ask, lifting their hand to signal the bartender. They're definitely in need of one now. Being center stage was something they wanted to flee from as fast as possible.

"Man," Seren sighs out while scrubbing the heel of a palm against their thigh. "That stuff takes guts. I'm pretty sure the only way I got through the Mantis presentation was because Baird was there." While on edge from nerves from it all, they're certainly not falling apart, and the arrival of a drink matching Rue's puts them much more at ease.

"So," they venture as they lift the glass for a sip, realizing they'd barely left room for a word edgewise when they barreled back over. "How'd I do?"

Standing on the low rung of her bar stool, Rue pumps her fist in the air and cheers loudly for Seren when they finish. By the time they’ve returned the table, she’s retaken her seat, however, so as not to draw more attention to her friend. They clearly want to leave that spotlight behind.

“That was great,” Rue assures quickly, still smiling wide and surprised at herself for it. After gathering her courage, she reaches out to lay her hand over the one Seren has wrapped around their drink. She bites her lip as she waits for their eyes to meet. “I’d like to kiss you,” she says when they do.

Seren pauses when they feel the touch on the back of their hand, movement arrested like someone has pressed pause on their person. In a sense, Rue has. They slowly look to her, blinking owlishly before they meet her gaze.

"Oh," they breathe, sitting a little more upright. Oh.

An attempt is made at not letting their imagination get ahead of itself. A breath later, they swing the completely opposite direction, resisting asking 'are you sure?'

Yes, she's sure. She said she was sure, Seren! Or close enough to it.

In lieu of responding, Seren leans forward to close the distance between them, placing a chaste kiss on Rue. It only dawns on them then that they've forgotten to speak at all, their nose dipping and gaze dropping to the table. A huff of a breath leaves them, a small laugh at their own expense. "Oh shit," they exhale in embarrassment.

There’s a tension that winds its way between Rue’s shoulder blades as Seren freezes. For a moment, she’s sure she’s catastrophically fucked this up, and she’s prepared to accept that she deserves that. Then they lean in and their lips connect. Her heart leaps and her fingers subtly tighten around Seren’s.

It may be chaste, but it still feels like an explosion of fireworks all about her head. Rue braces one foot on the floor so she can lift her other hand from the table and cup it against Seren’s cheek and quickly bridge the gap between the two of them again. This kiss is a little more earnest, a little more insistent, lips slightly parted, but she doesn’t press. The only way this progresses is on Seren’s terms.

The upward nudge of their chin relieves Seren of any apologies they might have made for diving right in. Rue's earnestness is at first met with hesitation, a heartbeat that lapses an eternity for them as they will themself fling caution behind them. A sigh escapes them as their stomach drops, a rollercoaster plunge complete with the spike of adrenaline.

Seren sets aside their glass belatedly so they can let their fingers drift across Rue's jaw as they lean in to the kiss, all softness and exploration. Their cheek is warm under Rue's hand, reddening even more as their teeth gently graze her lip.

The kiss is broken off abruptly even though they leave their hand on her cheek, grey eyes full of caution and limned with silver. Gone is the stool they were sitting on, replaced with a hovering full moon. Both of their lower legs are absorbed in a fluffy cloud that extends past the table's circumference, the distance to the ground made impossible to judge save for anyone who doesn't already have a foot down.

"We shouldn't get ahead of ourselves," Seren asks, possibly of Rue, possibly of themself, possibly to the universe. But, their eyes are right on Rue's. "Right?" Their thumb shifts on her cheek.

Their proximity is held by Rue, who keeps her nose brushed gently against Seren’s, gaze cast down just enough to see the shift in their seating. She smiles and pulls away enough to meet their eyes again. “That’s up to you.”

Her brows lift in tandem with one corner of her mouth in a lopsided grin. “We could go make out in my Jeep if you like.”

That sounded way more smooth in her head than it does in real life.

God damn it, Lancaster.

Maybe some people like that kind of forwardness, though. For someone trying to figure it all out themselves, Seren doesn't seem to mind, at least.

It all sounds so straightforward, the way Rue puts it. Not complicated at all, or with the potential to be complicated.

"You'll miss your turn when it comes up," Seren murmurs in empty protest.

They lean forward to peck a kiss onto Rue's nose and slide off their stool anyway.

Rue likes to think she’s rather good at uncomplicated of late when it comes to relationships, but that’s because she hasn’t been tying feelings and sex together. Feelings make things messy. Distance is safer.

The last thing Rue wants from Seren right now is distance.

“I’m okay with that,” she purrs as she steps off her own stool and takes Seren’s hand. “Let’s get out of here.”

Only after they stand does Seren notice the altered furniture, the color on their cheek flushing out further. With a shake of their head, the moon is swathed out of existence with a few reality-laden mental paintstrokes. The surrounding clouds likewise scatter.

Self-consciousness about the slip in control vanishes when Rue takes their hand again, something calm and pure taking hold in its place. Rue still wanted to go with them, after all— even with the world around them both doing things it shouldn't; things it wasn’t explicitly told to do. Seren smiles warmly, squeezing her hand gently as they peel away from the table. They’re aware that their heart is still racing, but find themself at peace with the possibility of additional excitement-induced overlays of imagination. If Rue hasn't gone running yet, after all, maybe she won't at all. "Let's go."

So they hope.

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