cesar_icon.gif monica_icon.gif

Scene Title Sentimentality
Synopsis After a bombing and before a lengthy assignment, Cesar and Monica manage to fit in a lingering farewell.
Date May 3, 2018

New York City Safe Zone

Since the bombing, Monica has been a little preoccupied. Of course, her distance from Cesar started before that. All he's heard from her in weeks is a quick message to let him know she was okay after the attack. Today, she's out. Out of the apartment, out of Yamagato Park. Out running. It's the same path she always takes, only her pace is different. Driven by anger over an attack on her home soil, as it were. Driven by fear that they'll keep her off this one, after the incident last time. Driven by anticipation that they won't keep her on the bench.

Which is to say, today she's fast.

The bombing didn’t only set Yamagato aflutter. SESA’s coordinations with other agencies to determine - what they could glean from the information being provided by the sovereign territory’s agents - the source of the attack are still in progress. But for Cesar, there was a spike of worry for his friend. And a spike of anger, because those who dare to attack in the Safe Zone mean to attack New York. And New York does not stand for that.

He’s in his own head, his pace not a sprint but not a slow jog either, running on the same path that she takes. It’s the path he sometimes takes as well, though the man is given to switching things up a little in order to experience or explore another section of city.

Monica’s a blur that cuts past him in a hurry, and it takes Cesar a blink and a pulling out of an earbud from his ear to realize who it is. Her shining arm is unmistakable in the light. “Monica!” he calls out, then breaks into a dead sprint. She’s faster. His legs are longer. She’s more agile. He knows the course. “Hey! Dawson!”

At first, it looks like she's not hearing him. It takes the second time to get her attention and she looks over her shoulder to see him coming. And she slows down. Eventually, she even comes to a stop and wipes her forehead off with the bottom of her shirt. "Cesar," she greets, lifting a foot behind her to stretch. Cool down. It's important.

It also gives her something to do with all this energy she has.

Also, she doesn't seem to know what to say in the aftermath of a bombing. In the old days, she would find somewhere to hunker down, tend to her wounds, and wander back in weeks later when everything had blown over. Having someone who cared to hear about her right after was new. Having that person show up on her workout route was outside of her wheelhouse. Ultimately, she decides to lean on the classics.

"What's up?"

What’s up is definitely not the response Cesar was expecting to get as he catches up, chest heaving like a racehorse having cleared the homestretch at a sprint to the finish. “Oh is that all you got to say for a guy? Coño… come here, woman.” He’s concerned, but he laughs it off with a halting chuckle, then reaches to wrap an arm around the stretching woman’s shoulders in a hug. A hug that is tighter than the casual friends meeting up hug. “I’m so fucking glad to see you, Moni,” he says with genuine warmth.

His opener is a lot better than hers and Monica huffs out a laugh. When his arm moves around her, she drops her leg and returns the hug. Both arms. It starts lightly, but her hold on him tightens, too; it's the only hint she's giving him of how upset she is under it all.

"I'm glad to see you, too," she says, leaning back enough to look up at him. "I'm okay. I was far from the blast," she adds, which is pretty much the same thing she texted him after. "See, ten fingers, ten toes. Or five fingers, depending on how you look at it." Her tone is aiming for jovial, to laugh it off. It only works for those not paying too close attention.

Her arms wrapped around him get another chuckle. His squeeze aims to be a comfort without the pressure of her having to say things. Instead, he fills in the air with a few key phrases in Spanish that sound like two prayers and a Hail Mary. As she leans back, Cesar looks down and smiles; the expression mostly does make it up to his eyes. He recognizes the ‘laugh it off’ tone, which makes his hug last all the bit longer for it. “Alright, alright, let me see, let me look at you.” And he releases her, bringing her to arm’s length. “ Ten fingers. I’m going to say, ten toes. And one hell of a break.” He’s looking at her, head shaking in relief.

“You busy?” he then responds to that almost-jovial tone. He’s missed her, as she can tell, and the abrupt nature of his question may seem overeager. “C’mon there’s a new place not too far off the path they just built up, letting people setup some stands sort of like the market.” He hasn’t let go completely of her. There’s a distinct cut of emotion in his voice even as he’s still smiling.

Monica takes a few moments to show off those fingers, waving them about as if to prove they still work. "You're not kidding. A hell of a break." The official reports have been released, of course. A clinical rundown of the event, the damage. But enough to imagine what it was like to be there. Maybe even enough to imagine what it was like for ex-resistance fighter and war medic.

The question gets a smile. A knowing one. All the things they're not actually saying. But she nods, so the eagerness must not bother her today. But before he can actually lead them anywhere, she steps in again, her hand moving to his cheek as she leans in to kiss him. It's not as heated as their kiss tend to be, but instead, she aims to be comforting and reassuring in reply to that emotion.

"Come on," she says when she leans back again, "show me this market. Maybe we'll find something good."

The moment their lips meet, he leans down to clutch at her waist. It’s not that they’ll cause a ruckus in the street or even anything more than a glance from a passerby, but in that moment, Cesar is wholly reluctant to let her go. Monica has to be the one to lean back, catching him tilting slightly after her. But her words, her encouragement makes him pause long enough to remember. “Right,” he says with a short laugh, a release of his arms. “I’d say I’d race you but you’re way fuckin’ faster I think.”

He’s not wrong when he mentions the little market is off the beaten path. The first evidence of it is the long, snaking conduits that hold construction pipes and wires run from other sources into the building. Inside, it’s a warehouse space that’s only partly filled with the makeshift stands of food and goods for sale or trade. A farmer’s market, in a sense, with people’s wares set up and space between to walk among the stalls. An older woman swishes a fan made from an old broom head and cardboard tubing over some uglier-than-supermarket fruit, but it is fruit nonetheless and sold at the typical inflated prices. Over there, an older man and younger teen wait beside a boiling pot of water, the latter boy dutifully peeling potatoes into a box and second pot. It’s no Red Hook Market. It’s definitely not Yamagato Park’s markets.

“So like, you know how my mom can get, she says, ‘I want to see my grandbabies, Cesar’,” the man recounts, a shake of his head being more indulgent than it is exasperated, “‘And I want to see you with a good woman. She doesn’t even need to cook. We can do that. Or, we can teach her.’ Can you believe her? In that order too.” He’s put away the iPod into a pocket, now walking alongside Monica as he animatedly tells her of recent - although not new - demands from his family.

"It's all that muscle," Monica says to his observation, "you wanna be fast, you gotta be light." Of course, the way her hand lingers on his arm, she probably doesn't mind that he's not as fast as she is. The exchange, worth it. "But you have a small advantage, you know. Since I don't know where we're going." That remark comes with a smile and she takes his hand for the walk over to the market. She doesn't mind the ugly fruit or the prices. And while she happens to have access to better goods than all this, she still buys some things here and there as they pass through.

"Babies, wife, food, her priorities are clear," Moni notes, with wry humor. She's never met the woman, but she has a very clear picture of what his mother is like. "She's getting desperate now, though. She doesn't even need to cook anymore? Tsk. New York doesn't have the takeout it used to, someone should tell her." Looking up from one of the stalls to him, her head tilts curiously. "She knows what you do for a living, right?" A brave, but dangerous job, that is.

Cesar spreads his arms and hands at Monica’s note. “Yes, exactly! Mom’s getting desperate,” is the man’s pseudo-sense of shame. The shame only mothers with longsuffering, wistful sighs can manage to instill. Monica’s head tilt gets reflected as he looks a little confused at first, but then smiles. “Yeah, she knows. Since my brother passed, and that was the kick in the pants I needed to get out of the house, join up with the police academy.” He pauses to pick up a couple of those overpriced apples, slightly bruised but edible, and pulls out a few bills to pay the stall vendor.

Here he seems a touch distracted, using the motion of shining one of the fruit pieces to stall. Then he can’t shine it any longer and shifts his gaze back to the woman. “I got to tell you something too,” he says evenly, looking her eye to eye. “The agency’s sending me out on a case. It’s going to be out west for a bit.”

Monica tilts her head when he mentions his brother. It's a loss she understands well, and still feels sharply. So, she pushes that down and smiles at him instead. "Maybe she's hoping you'll be too busy with work and she'll get to come move in with the baby," she says, teasingly. "That's what happened with my family." More or less.

The fact that he has something to tell her in the same conversation as mentioning his mother's need for grandchildren has Monica lifting an eyebrow in his direction. She meets his gaze, but looks suspicious. What he actually has to tell her is not what she expected to hear. She blinks, then crinkles her brow.

"Out west? Like… to Kansas City?"

That would be the best case scenario. And by her tone, she knows that's not going to be the answer. He wouldn't look so serious if it was just meeting with politicians.

"Did you get in trouble?"

“That’s exactly what she’s hoping for,” Cesar says of his mother’s motivations, a hand scrubbing at the back of his neck as he thinks about what he’s leaving behind. Leaving her behind.

So when he tells her about the case more or less, at least just the fact that it’s there and in a place that isn’t the city, he looks like he’s still coming to terms with it. Getting his game face on, so to speak. The running was supposed to help with that. When she questions about the location further, he slides a hand into his pocket and touches upon the iPod tucked within. “Briefly. To get supplies, but after that it’s further west. Near the PNW zone.” His volume is low, barely audible over the activities of the market. It’s not a conversation he wants others to overhear.

Her followup question is what gets him to smirk again, and he shakes his head with a soft chuckle. “What, me? In trouble? Never,” he says as he leans away to stretch his back some. “Nah, they just want me to check something out. And then I’ll be back before you know it.”

His hand swings the small bag of apples a bit as he tries to appear easygoing and unworried for Monica’s sake. And a little bit for his own. “I’m glad I got to see you before I go, though,” he repeats as he looks at her.

"The dead zone?" Monica's question is full of concern. And so is she. It shows for a moment before she remembers to call up a more casual expression. She leaves for weeks at a time all the time. Into dangerous missions. Any one of them she could have not come home from. And this is no different. His job is, in fact, a dangerous one.

And she's not sure anyone but herself will come home safe from a risky assignment.

"I dunno," she says, teasing lightly, "it sounds like the kind of detail you get after rear ending the boss' car." She smiles at his last words, just softly, though. "I'm glad, too. When do you leave?"

Cesar makes a noncommittal noise, hand seesawing with the mention of the dead zone. Not exactly. They’ve strolled to the end of the row of vendors, which isn’t a very long row at all because the space is much smaller, and he looks away from her down the row. His expression takes on a faint pensiveness, but it’s peeled away and replaced with a crooked smile when he looks back her.

“In 24 hours,” he informs her, smile not receding but taking on a fond, sentimental quality. A moment flashes by where it might turn into something more than that, more emotionally compromised. That’s when he remembers the device in his pocket. Cesar reaches in and pulls out his iPod, holding it in his hand for a moment before he offers it over. “Listen, I want you to hold on to this for me. You only gotta charge it every few days so like, I don’t know, do it when you give Foggy a millet branch or something.” Lord knows they both tend to spoil the bird now like a child. He’s got the African Grey singing. In Spanish.

“And when I get back, we’ll do something. Dinner. Dancing. Hit up the club… Or none of the above.” That’s when Cesar’s smile turns crooked with suggestion.

"Fast," Monica points out, like he didn't already know. She doesn't ask anymore about the assignment, at least. Instead, she watches his face in those moments before he pulls out his iPod. When he hands it over, she can't help but chuckle. It's good, it fends off peskier emotions that creep up during lingering goodbye. Her fingers wrap around the device, her smile crooked. "I'll take good care of it, I promise." She doesn't jump on the topic of her bird, just a warm smile. Because they do spoil that bird. And it means something to her that Cesar has fallen into the habit, too.

His suggestive tone has her smile following suit as she looks up at him again. "We'll get around to dinner and dancing eventually," she says, another promise for him to come back for later. A beat passes before she lets out a heavy, melodramatic sigh. "So we only have tonight, huh? Did you pack yet?" Not that she's actually asking about his readiness, rather, she's finding a way around asking just how free he is at the moment. And for how long.

Cesar winds the earbuds around the iPod as well, tucking the ends in through the wrapped wire to secure it before relinquishing custody to the other woman. The man looks for another moment torn about it, but he ultimately hands it over.

“I’m packed,” he answers her question with a solid nod, although a glance down considers his current workout gear and what he’s going to do about it. “The rest of it’s kind of strange, you know? My place is,” he stops, eyeing Monica in that moment, finishing with a short sigh and self-deprecating chuckle. “A real lonely dump of a bachelor pad.” He follows the comment with a chuckle. “At least the fridge was easy to clean out.” And from that tidbit, it sounds like the trip is meant to be a long one.

"So what you're saying is," Monica says to his comment, "we should go to my place." The iPod is tucked safely away in a pocket with a zipper and everything before Monica takes his hand instead. "We could have a nice walk tonight," she says as she starts to lead them that way, "and a nice breakfast tomorrow." Her lips curve into a smile, shameless really.

She hasn't missed it, the hint that he's going to be gone for the long haul, but however she feels about that, she's chalking it up to surprise and sentimentality in the wake of the bombing and burying it deep below smiles and suggestion.

And curiosity over whether that feeling will linger in his absence.

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