Pull Back The Curtain


marlowe_icon.gif monica_icon.gif

Scene Title Pull Back The Curtain
Synopsis Two friends have to say goodbye.
Date April 29, 2019

Cresting Wave Apartments

Monica's apartment is in disarray. Boxes dot the floors of every room as she tries to put her life into as few of them as possible. Luckily, she never was one to overbuy, but she does have more stuff now than she ever has before. She can't exactly take her home with her on her back anymore. The process has slowed down given that she now only has one arm. And that she's barely had time to recover from the procedure that took her cybernetic arm from her. But she was given a deadline and that gives her something to focus on.

Small favors.

Foggy is sitting out on a perch, singing a song in Spanish as Moni works.

The doors of the apartments in the Cresting Wave don’t exactly slam open - they’ve been too designed to do such things for multi-million dollar living spaces. But Marlowe doesn’t even use the door in the way it was designed. The engineer’s special touch in this case crackle-pops as blue-white lightning zaps along the walls of the front entryway wall, and the entire wall splits and peels inward like a reverse banana, revealing a human sized hole through which the engineer can suddenly be seen.

And she’s not even got a full foundation on.

Marlowe’s golden irises fade back to brown as she enters in a quick whirling dervish of footsteps that take her from one outrageous packing box to another, until finally, she comes to an abrupt halt in the same room Monica’s in. Her eyes aren’t brown either, but they’re red and puffy, wet streaked and bulging in the distraught stare she gives the other woman. First the stare is on Monica’s face. Then it’s on the stump. Then it’s back to Monica’s face.


The shouted word, full of petulance, hurt, confusion, anxiety. It’s followed by a lunge for Monica’s actual person, both of Marlowe’s arms reaching for her friend. Her sister.

The sound of it gets Monica's attention, obviously, and she abandons her packing to come and see just what is going on with her apartment.

She sets down a knife she'd been holding when she sees that it's Marlowe.

There's a lot about her appearance that's shocking. Her literally tearing the walls apart takes the cake, though. "I have a door, Marlowe," she starts to say, but the no cuts her off. She lifts her hand in a placating gesture only to have it interrupted by a hug. And really, there's a lot she can take. Attacks, yes. Yelling, sure. Hugging? Not so much. She clings onto Marlowe, burying her face against her shoulder. "I'm not disappearing, I promise. Not from you," she says, voice hitching as she talks.

The next "No" is muffled and pitched in a sound more like a keening whine. Marlowe clings to the other woman, her own face buried into the opposite shoulder. She shakes and blubbers for several seconds that feel like an eternity, long enough that Foggy has stopped singing to listen to what's happening in the other room.

Animalistic rage bubbles up along with Marlowe's denial of the situation, though it's already half-done. "Joudan ja nai?! This is a joke!? Why, Moni? Why? What happened?" Her demands get feverish, her breath tight and on the verge of hyperventilating.

Monica has never seen Marlowe so upset in the past years they've known each other.

Monica does her best not to cry. It lasts for about the space of a breath. "It's not a joke," she says, exhaling heavily. It would be a few steps too far for a joke, even for her. Especially for her, considering. "Kimiko fired me. I've been released from the contract for the arm and my employment and my apartment." Which is a lot. She moves her hand to wipe at her face, although fresh tears replace those she wipes away. "And Jiba."

She reaches for Marlowe's shoulder, giving and receiving support from the gesture.

"Believe me, I wish it was a joke. It would be in poor taste, but I would take it." She would laugh, but it comes out more like a shuddering sound.

Marlowe’s next breaths are gulped and released as if the air itself were poisoning everything about the moment. It’s by Monica’s physical contact that keeps the engineer from collapsing into a puddle of despair when the circumstances are explained. But still, no reason is satisfactory. She shakes her head, the mumbled no’s first slow and then picking up pace with each gasp. And Jiba.

Suddenly she rips away with a strangled scream, boiling over and frantic. Foggy’s startled screech-squawks can be heard from the perch in the other end of the open concept room. “Jiba! No, not — why, Jiba!?” she screams at the ceiling, the photoreactive air pumped in around them. Yet, there is a decided, deafening silent non-response. That seems to be the final stab in the gut, the twist of the blade that brings Marlowe down.

She crumples to her knees, hands coming up to her face as she cries. Mourns. “Why didn’t she say anything,” she utters after several hiccupped sobs.

Looking down at Marlowe, Monica has a momentary, internal debate. She shifts to sit down and lean her elbow on her knee. "Because she's running a company. I'm not sure she cares about the fact that we're friends. She definitely didn't care about how much I care about Jiba." She sighs, sounding defeated for the first time since Marlowe's known her. "I can't leave here and let you think… Marlowe, I know our experience is different, but Yamagato is corporate and cutthroat. They're not what they project themselves to be. Do me a favor and really look at Yamagato Park. Then look out at the Safe Zone where there's people with no homes, no running water, no electricity. How did they manage to do this, but they can't manage it out there? Worrying about Kimiko not telling you about my situation is worrying about a bruise on a poisoned apple." Her hand moves to rest on Marlowe's back, a gesture of camaraderie and sympathy. "Just keep your eyes open around here, okay? Be careful."

As Monica gets down to her kneeling level, Marlowe eventually, slowly, recovers enough composure to not be an incoherent mess. Just a hot one. “All those nights, spent on this floor,” she murmurs at first as she looks around, wanting to avoid Monica’s gaze, avoid the armless void that represented so much more than merely a project to the woman.

Monica’s words can’t be escaped or avoided, though. She finally looks back at the asking of a favor, and the truth of the status of the Safe Zone. Her reddened eyes widen as the epiphany of it strikes her sure as a slap across her face. The sobering realization makes her sit up straighter. Monica can see the thoughts steamrolling along all the personal affronts she had been holding on to. Her next breaths are steadying, if still ragged. But they are calming further by way of the declining adrenaline rush leaving a pounding headache and irritated sinuses.

Marlowe wraps her arms around her, but she leans heavily against Monica’s frame. A relative silence falls like a curtain over the normally chatty engineer. “Shacho— Ms. Nakaramura… said that they estimated nine months before Hachiro’s body would be strong enough to not completely reject his implants. She said they talked and he… he wants me to take over in his stead. He wanted me to be the next Director.” He wanted her, was far more important than the opinion of even the President of Yamagato Industries. The one who, now, had gone and cut Monica out of Marlowe’s expected routines to leave a gaping hole.

Foggy’s settled back down, but the bird flaps free of the perch and comes to land a short distance between them and the bird. The parrot clacks his beak a few times, head bobbing this way and that as he evaluates the women. Monica’s arm distinctly missing, the bird almost seems to make note of it by echoing the missing servos’ whirr-clicks.

“What am I going to do without you?” Marlowe’s words come out shakily, her eyes blinking with more tears dripping free. “And Foggy…”

“Votre visage est tragique.”

An’ta, damare,” Marlowe counters back at the parrot for the French. But she sits up, legs crossing in front of her and holds out her hand to the African Grey for him to perch on her fingers. Marlowe rubs and scritches the bird’s headfeathers idly, unsure of what to conclude out of this distressing news and further disturbing turn of events.

Monica listens to the news— the much better news— and she slumps a little. But there's a warm smile on her face when she looks over at Marlowe. "You're gonna be great at it," she says, her tone bittersweet. "Hachiro knows that no one else would do." When she blinks, a tear slips out and slips down her cheek. "I'm sorry I won't be here to see it. But you show them how it's done, okay?"

When Foggy comes to perch on Marlowe, Monica's single tear is joined by more. "I need you to take Foggy. I don't even know where I'm going to live, let alone… how I'd take care of him." Her lip quivers as she looks from the bird to Marlowe. "I… don't know what I'm gonna do." She seems to lose her breath, taking gulps of air as she fights off the urge to sob outright.

Only by virtue of Foggy sitting on her hand, her fingers stroking the soft feathers, does Marlowe manage not to renew her panicked reactions. But there is a sharpened look up at Monica when the other woman tells her to take Foggy under her wing. “Y-you said you weren’t going to disappear,” she replies, sounding raw after the crying and the screaming. “I’m not going to let you forget that. And just because you’re fired doesn’t make you any less a citizen. So you better visit. Or… or Foggy will bite you. Right, Foggy?”

“I’m gonna bitecha.”

The faint laugh is humorless. Marlowe stops scritching the bird’s head and sets him off to roam, once again leaving the two women there on the floor. “And what kind of cold-hearted nure-onna makes a one-armed woman pack up her shit by herself?!” follows the angry, bitter question as Marlowe looks around at the packing boxes. She starts to reach over a hand, towards Monica’s left - the missing left - and hesitates. Fingers curl inward into a fist, then they reach out again for the stump. To acknowledge the change for her own, using her most precious tools, her own hands.

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