dearing_icon.gif rue_icon.gif

Scene Title Rueing
Synopsis Dearing expands on a previously mentioned opportunity, and misses one in the process.
Date January 4, 2020

The Bastion: Rue's Quarters

The Bastion is empty with Nathalie gone, meaning Rue Lancaster feels supremely comfortable in her post-shower state of dress, with earbuds pushed into her ears and the phone they’re hooked up to in the pocket of her fluffy purple bathrobe. Her eyes close as the music in her ears swells, her hips swaying gently to the tempo. After the stress of the last couple days, it’s nice to have a moment to herself.

Standing at her bathroom sink, Rue washes out a silver flask. Her red curls cling wetly around her neck, slowly drying while she scrubs a collapsible shot glass with a damp paper towel. A lowball of bourbon and two cubes of ice sits next to the sink while she works.

It makes the silhouette of a man in her bathroom mirror all the more startling. He’s only there for a second, visible as little more than a broad silhouette. Before she has time to turn and look over her shoulder, Rue feels a hand come around her waist and press flat at her stomach, another arm hooks across her shoulders as a stubbled chin presses against the side of her head. For a moment there is that pang of panic, where a knife or a gun would soon join this startling tableau. Except, the only knives are words.

“Saw your door open,” is James Dearing’s way of saying hello. “Figured I’d stop by and, you know, shake the bushes and see what falls out before I go t’bed.” He smells of alcohol, not enough to be shitfaced but enough to have been out drinking with someone.

Rue’s eyes lift a split second too late to see what’s coming. She goes rigid, the flask slipping out of her fingers to clatter against the porcelain bowl of the sink. Her eyes close and she has to suck in a deep breath to steady herself. Even with that, her voice still wavers as she stammers his name. “D- Dearing.”

This is about the time where she melts into his arms, smiles a wicked smile, and murmurs something like really love my peaches?

Instead, one hand reaches up to curl around the forearm wrapped around her shoulders. Her heart is beating fast, but he knows the difference between passion and panic. This is the latter, without question. Rue turns her head away from the brush of stubble, watching the reflection of the pair of them in the mirror with worried eyes.

“You startled me.”

“You got someone else hiding under the bed?” Dearing asks, hesitating a moment before leveraging the situation. Rather than back off, he presses both the situation and his grip around Rue. His forearm tightens around her just a little, the way that makes it playful rather than threatening to someone who is familiar with him and the control of his superhuman strength. To anyone else it might feel like the onset of a chokehold.

“Because, I mean,” Dearing slides a look back over his shoulder, out the bathroom door, and to the bedroom beyond, “whoever they are’s welcome t’stay and watch or whatever.” He angles his face back, brushing his stubbled cheek up against Rue’s temple. “Only other reason you’d be so pitter patter,” he says with a drum of two fingers of his free hand at the middle of her chest, “is something I haven’t let in on yet.” He lets her choose which of the two it is.

Rue laughs softly. “No. You know me, I’d rather… parade them around in front of you to see if you’ll get jealous enough to fuck me later to assert your dominance.” She seems to relax finally, even though his arms tighten and her instincts scream for her to squirm and try and break free. Knowledge of his ability informs her that would be a futile effort.

And besides, they’re just having a little fun, aren’t they? It’s all part of the foreplay.

“I’m just more tired than I thought, is all. You don’t usually manage to sneak up on me like that.” The hand wrapped around his forearm loosens to follow around the bend of his elbow, trailing upward until she curls fingers against the curve of his strong jaw. “I’m fine.”

While she does that, her gaze shifts to the mirror and the muted reflections inside that looking glass. Rue gives her head the barest shake and leans back against the brush of his face to hers.

“People only say that when they aren’t,” Dearing says as he takes a step back, scrubbing his stubbled chin with one hand. “But a fella can take a hint.” He eyes the back of her reflection in the mirror, then focuses back to her.

“I’m going down to Staten tomorrow, morning.” Dearing says as he gives her a little space. “Picking up an eighth from a friend, you want anything?”

He means cocaine.

“Just weed, thanks.” Rue rubs the back of her neck with one hand, slowly turning around the sink to look back at him properly, her hips leaning against the lip of the porcelain fixture. The corner of her mouth ticks up in a little smirk. “And hey… When have I ever made you rely on hints?

One brow arches and that smirk lifts a little wider. “It’s okay, alright? Really, I just didn’t hear you come in.” Absently, she adjusts the drape of her robe and cinches the sash at her waist a little tighter for want of something to do with her hands. “Wanna have a drink?” She laughs then and shakes her head. “Or… do you wanna see if I can catch up?”

This is the sort of thing they do, after all.

Dearing presses a tongue to one of his incisors, lips parted just enough for Rue to see the gesture. He tilts his head to the side, narrows his eyes, then shakes his head. “Moment’s passed,” he says with a small gesture of his hands in conceit. “You’ll just owe me a little extra for your dime bag.”

Dearing steps out of the bathroom, walking through Rue’s bedroom but not quite to the door. “You think about that thing anymore?” He looks up to her, chin lifted. “Opportunity’s opening up in March, lotta business moving in down there, for real this time. It’s not hard work, and it pays under the table.”

Which, usually, means illegal or at least illicit.

“I could get you in,” Dearing adds, looking Rue up and down. “Nothing weird.”

Rue nods her head, careful not to let her relief show in her face. She reminds herself not to relax her posture visibly. Not just yet. But once he turns around to step out of the room, she dips her head down and looks back over her shoulder to the reflection in the mirror. So long as it was his idea.

She’s all casual air again by the time she strolls out to join him in her room, moving to sit down on the edge of her double bed and look up at him from beneath the lift of her brows. “Nothing weird?” she asks, starting to gather her hair in one fist, smoothing out the side with the other palm. Then switching which hand is doing the gathering and which is smoothing. She pulls a black hair tie off her right wrist to start twisting it around the mass of red curls, coiling it all into a bun at the back of her head.

“Oh, good. How I hate weird,” she jokes, letting the hair band snap quietly into place when she’s finished wrapping it. “You know how I am. I’m easy.” So easy, in fact, she isn’t even pressing for further details.

“I’ll leave a number with you,” Dearing says, walking over to the table beside her bed to retrieve a pen. He pulls a crumpled old receipt out from his pocket, smoothing it out on the table as he writes down the number, and then a name to go along with it.

Mr. Stoltz.

“This guy,” Dearing says, plucking the receipt up off of the nightstand, bringing it back over to Rue. “Weasel-faced little shit, but he’s got good connections for solid side jobs.” He holds the receipt out to her, curled on one end enough that she can read the faded date from four months ago on it.

“Like I said, nothing weird.” Dearing emphasizes, where Rue is beginning to think weird might mean sex work.

Rue reaches out and takes the receipt, letting her fingers drag over the back of Dearing’s hand as she does. “Just tell him you referred me, then?” Her head tips to one side, a damp curl slipping loose from the bun it was just tied in.

A brow kicks up and she puts on a smirk to match. “Does weird pay better?”

“Depends on the work,” Dearing clarifies. “Risk vs. reward, that sort of thing. Nothing as risky as Wolfhound contracts, but legal liability, you know. There’s no safety net with this shit. But the contact,” he doesn’t say Stoltz’ name aloud, “pays in cash and promptly. You just might have to hold your nose if some of it ruffles your sensibilities.”

Slowly moving to the door, Dearing stops short of actually leaving, and turns around to put his shoulder against the wall, watching Rue. “If you have his number, it’s a referral. Drop my name if you give him a call, should be good enough. Anyway,” he motions to the door with his head, “I’m gonna crash. Early morning tomorrow. I’ll drop your shit in your locker.”

Rue nods and tucks the paper into the pocket of her robe for now. “Sounds good to me. Thanks for the lead.” She smiles briefly, then makes a show of sweeping his leaning figure up and down with her eyes.

She grins then, an appreciative sort of look. “And for the rest. Just remind me that I owe you extra next time. I’m good for it.” One brow kicks up briefly. “You know I hate to see you leave,” she sighs out.

But she loves to watch him go.

“Everybody’s gotta go sometime,” Dearing says as he opens her door with a helpless shrug. “It’s all about the impression you leave on the way out.” He adds with an uncharacteristic — and likely sarcastic — wink before slipping out into the hall.

Once he’s out the door and has retreated down the hall, Rue makes her way to the door and turns the lock, sagging back against it with a heavy sigh that puffs out her cheeks. Fishing the note out of her pocket, she moves to her bedside to retrieve the pen. Smoothing out the paper on the nightstand, she adds a note:

Tell him Dearing sent you.

Then, she moves to her desk and tucks the note into a book. Finally, she reaches into one of the drawers and pulls out a tablet. While it’s electronic, it hasn’t got internet connectivity, and it’s locked with a simple PIN code.


“God,” Rue mutters to herself, settling down on her bed with the tablet. She smirks at the reflection in the glass surface while she scrolls through a list of text documents. “You’d think working with a technopath would give you a better sense of password security, but here you are, using the same one you’ve had since high school. You make it so easy."

Tapping the screen and bringing up an entry from May 2018. “Listen to this one,” Rue murmurs. “My gamble paid off. He’s started sleeping with me. I don’t trust him as far as I can throw him — and Hana may have shown me how to really toss someone, but he’s practically immovable. So, I’m letting him think I’m vulnerable. If he thinks he’s got me, he’ll slip up. Men always do. In the meantime, he’s actually really good at this, so… Lucky me.”

Rue chuckles and rolls her eyes. “How’d that turn out for you?” She thumbs through to another entry dated for January 2019. “Before the op, he told me he hopes things aren’t getting complicated. I hate it. This was supposed to be about me compromising him, not the other way around. But I’m compromised. He took a bullet for me. All I could think about was how I can’t live with myself if he dies for me.

“I can’t live with myself if he dies. I’ve been so busy worrying about myself, and he’s so strong he seemed invincible to me. He must feel something for me too, right? He’s not like me. He doesn’t just let himself get shot for another person because making sure they live is the right thing to do. Fuck me, I love him.”

Blue eyes roll back in tandem with a disgusted noise from the back of her throat. “Let’s fast-forward to Christmas, shall we?” Only last month. “I introduced Dearing to Seren tonight. I wanted to see if he’d get jealous, I guess. I wanted him to corner me after the party and tell me who I belong to.”

A faint smirk creeps up onto her face, a huff of laughter snorted through her nose. “But he didn’t. If anything, I’m afraid he and Francis are in a race to see who can steal Seren from me first. I don’t feel good about it. Why am I like this?”

Rue closes the application and locks the tablet again. “I don’t know, because you’re a fucking tramp?” Swinging her legs off the bed, she takes the electronic journal back to the desk, sticking it back into the bottom of the drawer it came from, just like she found it.

Stepping back into the bathroom, she finishes washing out the flask, but stares into the mirror the entire time. “I know,” she says to the reflection there. “I just don’t get what she sees in him. God, that was fucking close. I thought I was going to have to fuck him.”


Flicking the water off of her fingertips and drying her hands on her robe, Rue pushes her index finger against her left ear before gathering up the silver drinking vessels and carrying them back into the main room, tucking them away into her purse. “I’m going to get some sleep. You should do the same.”

Sliding out of the robe and hanging it on the back of the bathroom door, she flicks off the lights. Rue crawls between the sheets of the bed that’s hers more often than it has any right to be.

A bed that, for once, she’s happy to be alone in.

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