Someone Under Stress & Someone Looking Pretty


cesar_icon.gif rue_icon.gif

Scene Title Someone Under Stress & Someone Looking Pretty
Synopsis After a job well done, two operatives celebrate.
Date December 7, 2019

Red Hook

Red Hook is positively thrumming with the energy of life on a Saturday. Even midday, the market is lit up bright and commerce is thriving. In any other part of the city, the tavern would be home only to the most dedicated of drinkers. Here, it was busy enough that there are no tables open.

“This place is gonna polish my reputation,” Rue Lancaster quips as she passes cash across the bar in exchange for the round of drinks she’s just bought. “I’m trying to keep it tarnished, you know. I get spotted in a cop bar and maybe some of my contacts don’t talk to me anymore.” She slants a crooked grin to her companion and lifts her whiskey sour in a toast. “To a successful mission.”

“To knocking bad guys down a peg and getting them out of the game,” Cesar responds with a tip of his pint glass tinking against her cocktail. “Question is, though, which one of your contacts is going to be cruising by and spotting you in a room full of New York’s finest? Besides, if anybody asks, you say you were out having a drink with your guy, Dominic.” The man takes a drink to hide the majority of his smile behind it. The memory of the undercover investigation that began at the strip club where the Zeitgeist experience was being offered is not likely to fade away any time soon.

Setting his glass down after, he scans the tavern hole’s crowd that falls within his line of sight. “Or is this your way of saying you got reason to duck out of here if I’m not keeping you entertained?” His eyes turn back to her, a wry smile twists.

Rue takes a sip, amusement sparkling in her blue eyes. “You have me there,” she says of the hole he’s poked into her flimsy excuse for not typically drinking in reputable establishments. “You can have me anywhere,” she asserts with a lift of her brows. “Trust me, I don’t think I could ever get bored with someone like you around.”

Running her tongue over her teeth, she tips her head to one side. “Where’d you learn those moves anyway? The send you to stripperobics to prepare to go undercover? Or are all latin men born with the innate knowledge of how to move their hips like that?”

Cesar's smile turns crooked as she puts forth her assertion. Bold. Perhaps to his credit, he disengage from gazing at her face, her eyes. It's an invisible dance she's invited him to, he recognizes. "It's harder than it looks," he replies straight-laced.

"I have a good teacher, and she didn't let me get away with slacking off," he continues as he takes another sip. "These hips," he considers as his tongue clicks lightly at the back of his teeth, and his low chuckle tints with a degree of huskiness, the tone he'd affected when he took on the role of The Dominator. "You may be right that it's in the genes. Got to put that to the test, though. A scientific method."

Just as he's pressing forward verbally, he leans back to a straighter posture on his barstool. The better to take in her whole figure without losing the conversation to more private thought. "So, speaking of methods, Lancaster. You went in to the op without a second or backup… your choice?"

“No doubt,” Rue grants with a tip of her head. “I’m a ballet dancer myself. If you aren’t making it look easy, you aren’t working hard enough.” She sweeps the cascade of her red hair over her shoulder. “I have a huge respect for other dancers. Your hard work really paid off.” All flirting aside, she’s serious about that. She can appreciate the effort that went into his cover.

When he leans back, she turns in her stool to face him properly, crossing one leg over the other while watching him watch her. “My choice,” she confirms. “Dunsimi is unfortunately not subtle in appearance. I’d have taken my partner, but we needed someone to watch the medic’s back.”

Her gaze slides down and away, a small shake of her head as she takes another sip of her cocktail. “I admit that things didn’t go down the way I expected them to. Like I didn’t expect the radios to be scrambled on the word go. But I’ve flown blind more than once. I know how to handle myself.” As evidenced by the fact that she’s sitting across from him in this bar without hardly a scratch on her. There’s the barest hint of purple and green that peeks out the edge of her skirt about mid-thigh.

Cesar’s brows wag upward with the approving sentiment, clearly pleased of her appreciation and showing he’s proud of the work as well. That makes three, technically. Plus however many have seen the footage in evidence at Fort Jay who might also appreciate.

“Your partner. Dearing?” He takes a beat, does the mental scroll through the raid roster. Only a handful of Wolfhound was at that “event”. They technically hadn’t needed more. But the sparse notes of the raid, due to the knocking out of the comms and available reports and testimonies from those there… “Sounded, from what I’ve heard-tell of the encounters with the number of Expressives and VIPs there, like a shitshow,” Cesar huff-sighs into his drink. His dark eyes slide as hers does, but his gaze falls to that spot of bruising. His brow dips down, pinches together, hints that he’s noticed.

Then it’s back to her immaculate modeling-worthy face.

“The collateral count was too high. But at the end of the day,” he notes with a rolling of his shoulders, “I’m not yelling at SCOUT what to do. Above my paygrade, even as the ringmaster of that circus.” Cesar shakes his head slowly, eyes rolling a bit before settling back on Rue. “Still, glad you came out of it alright. Or, you’re doing a damn good job hiding the rest of that color.” He doesn’t look down to her thigh again. But she knows he’s thinking of it.

“Yeah, that’s him,” Rue confirms at mention of Dearing’s name. Sometimes she forgets not everyone’s familiar with the Wolfhound hierarchy. She shrugs a little bit. “I mean, you’re not wrong.” It was a shitshow. “I did my best to keep it managed, but…” She can’t account for what her teammates or the members of SCOUT set out to do.

Her gaze slips to where her bruise peeks out. She doesn’t react in a manner that suggests she’s self-conscious in the least. Doesn’t reach for it or try to tug her skirt down to hide it better. He’s noted it, it exists. It’s fine. “I got thrown around a bit,” Rue admits without shame. She’s an unpowered woman in a world where people with superstrength and telekinesis exist. Shit happens sometimes. She rolls with it.

For a long moment, Rue studies Cesar’s face. His posture. His demeanor. Her gaze settles back on his eyes and she smiles slowly. “Do you want to find out?”

"I still need to go over the reports again," Cesar remarks thoughtfully around the rim of his pint as he takes another drink. "The fact that we nabbed fucking Wenzhuo Zhao himself and a good part of the operations. But why in the hell were Cyrus Karr and ol' Martin Pines there, too, is a mystery yet to be investigated."

His expression shifts ever so slightly when she mentions getting thrown around. There'd been a line in the report on the other raid that a telekinetic had been amongst the suspects in custody. But the overall altercation was a flurry, with only written testimony and firsthand account as the actual evidence to be sifted through. He'd only read part of the medical reports regarding injuries.

A thin line creases between his brows furrowing together. He finds her eyes staring into his. Cesar blinks, returning the faint smile with a crooked one as he realizes a different meaning to her words. "Now, my turn to admit, things aren't going down the way I expected them to." That being said, he tips back the rest of the pint he'd been nursing. The emptied glass set down, Cesar pulls his hand away slowly from it and lightly wipes off the corner of his bottom lip with a thumb.

“Is that a bad thing?” Rue asks, knowing full well that it isn’t. Having made quick work of his drink signals his readiness to leave the bar behind. If he wasn’t receptive, he’d surely be sipping. So, she mirrors the gesture, draining the last of her cocktail and pushing the glass away.

Mischief twinkles in her eyes as she asks, “May I go home with you, Agent Diaz?” Rue slides down off her stool, standing close now. “I figure I owe you a little tit for tat from the night club.”

The short work of the drink contrasts with Cesar's languid movement in looking around the bar's clientele once more, the movement almost natural. Everywhere around her, yet eventually, his eyes return to her. He sniffs lightly. "Ay, ease up on the Agent Diaz there, I got a reputation I'm trying to keep polished." He's teasing. As he stands, he brushes his hand lightly over her arm, leaning in to note under the noise of the bar, "Come on, I'll show you the practice pole."

Cesar's Apartment, Red Hook

A little later

Keys jangle and scrape against the door lock. The normal task is a bit more difficult considering the way Cesar leans over and around Rue to get to the knob. But he does, and he swings the door open to admit her into the front hall of his darkened apartment.

It's further evidence of a federal agent lives on government finance - that is to say, humbly. Most of the furnishings are simple, hinting to a stock industrial style, function and form over art. The three-cushion, L-shaped couch has enough room to stretch out on. A small television mounts the wall opposite. Here and there are hints of flair and pride in his heritage, with the main decor of a trio of small flags draped over a wall (Cuban, Trinbagonian, American). And still, it's got enough open space in a cleared corner of the main living space to support the presence of a shined dancing pole installed next to more conventional exercise equipment. A conversation starter, or a conversation killer.

It comes to better focus when he flicks on the main recessed lighting. "And this is me," Cesar notes with a languid sigh. He's got just enough of a buzz to play it cool, although there is ever so brief a hesitance at the reveal.

Rue smiles wide at the way Cesar has (“has”) to lean in close to get the door open. She savors the moment where there’s just the slightest crush of him at her front and the door at her back, before the latter swings inward and she smoothly follows the momentum to step backward into the space.

Turning around to watch where she’s going, she takes in the space with open curiosity. He knows she’s in intel, so she doesn’t bother to hide the way she studies his living area. “It’s a nice place,” she offers without any hint of being patronizing. She lives at the Bastion, after all. Most of her possessions fit inside only a few bankers boxes. She doesn’t even own any of her own furniture.

“And the piece de resistance,” she remarks with a grin as she - perhaps predictably - makes her way toward the pole in the room. One arm stretches out ahead of her to brush her fingertips lightly over the shiny surface before she closes her grip around it and leans her weight forward, turning a wide circle around it with the leverage.

Leaning back upon completion of her circuit, her spine lines up with the metal, both hands grip hold over her head. There’s a girlish sort of uncertainty in her expression as she finds him again, but nothing that says she thinks this was anything resembling a mistake.

"Thanks. Not bad for federal payroll, right?"

For the first few feet, Cesar doesn't give her much space to wander, largely so that he can conceal the fact he's spot-checking his apartment before she finds anything particularly damning about the fact that he's got a (mostly) bachelor-pad lifestyle. He's not a hard read on the surface, surely. But there are of course the few things that stand out.

Her hand happens to grip the most recent of the oddities. He strays closer as she twirls around the pole, coming to within arm's reach upon her finished circling. Being as tall as he is, Cesar doesn't need to stretch too far as he lifts his hand to slowly curl fingers around the section of pole just over her hands. He leans forward over her as he had done earlier to unlock the door.

Cesar's faint flush belies his interest in her reaction to it all. But he doesn't get too close, yet. Not so fast. "First, though," he breaks through the silence, "Gotta find something to dance to. What kind of music do you like? I'll put some on." Cesar's face looms over with a crooked smile of anticipation.

Rue lifts her chin a fraction to better see and be seen by that handsome face. There’s a subtle relaxation that comes with an exhale that signals the way she’d like to just melt into him if only he’d close that gap between them.

His smile is returned, her lower lip caught between her teeth briefly. Her gaze drops to the level of his neck for a moment, then tracks back up to his face. “Right now? Anything you wanna move your hips to is my favorite kind of music.” Her grin widens. Again, her blue eyes slide down, this time to focus on his mouth before lifting back up to his eyes.

“Surprise me.”

A low, thoughtful noise escapes Cesar's throat as he slides his hand upon the pole down to cover her hands as if he were checking the firmness of her grip upon the pole. "That's a tough ask, 'cause I like a lot of music," he says, "especially the kind to move to."

His hand slips further down, fingertips drawing over her knuckles, then stopping her wrist. Curled fingers squeeze once, twice, testing.

Then inspiration strikes and he pulls back and away with a step, lengthening the distance between them briefly as he crosses to a small shelf where he has a radio speaker set up. A couple devices including an iPod of older gen and his phone set down beside it onto the docking station. It takes a few moments of ministration before he has the playlist he wants.

Cesar turns with a knowing smirk, waiting for the beat to drop.

Come here rude boy, boy

Can you get it up

Come here rude boy, boy

Is you big enough

Take it, take it (yeah)

Baby, baby (yeah)

Take it, take it (yeah)

Love me, love me (yeah)

He saunters back over, swaying serpentine to the beat. "This one good?" The question asked just under boom of the bass, he gets up close this time with his hands moving to her hips, encouraging them to swing in time with his and the music.

Rue’s eyes don’t leave his as his hands brush over hers and find her wrists. Her breath catches in the back of her throat when she means to respond with an affirmative uh-huh. When he draws away, her hips follow him for an inch or two, back arching slightly before she catches herself again and slides back into place.

When that beat does drop, Rue lets out a short bark of laughter, not at his expense. “Excellent choice,” she commends. With his hands on her hips, she needs very little encouragement to move with the music. She takes her hands off the pole finally and reaches up to rest them on his shoulders instead.

The sound system pounds out rhythmically on the bass. The singer's melodic voice adds to the enticing invitation with her lyrics.

Cesar needs little encouragement to get up close as he dances in slow gyrations with her. His smile grows at her commendation, tilting crookedly when he takes another step closer to push her back, lining her up with the metal pole behind. "You gonna show me what you got?" It's more a statement than a question. "Hope you got nowhere else to be tonight." His sentiment punctuates an end to words with his hand sliding up her side and under her top, a finger tracing up between her spine and the pole.

Rue grins back at Cesar, letting him guide her back again as she draws him in close. His hand on her skin draws a shiver that she decides not to be embarrassed about. “I’m all yours,” she assures, tracing one finger along his jawline.

That finger then brushes down over his mouth, letting his lower lip get dragged down gently. “Going to show me how you got the monicker of Dominator?” Rue teases, letting her hand slide down to rest against his chest as she nudges his nose with hers.

With her fingertip, she pulls him easily to close the distance to mere hair's width from his face to hers. Their noses touch. Then his short beard tickles at the base of her neck and shoulder. He doesn't answer her question with words, but with a sudden pulling together of his fingers along the back strap of her bra to unhook it. About the same time, the back of her hand on his chest is pressed back against hers.

The next morning, Sunday

A soft clunking noise rattles out from the radiator on the far end of the bedroom as it kicks on. In the Red Hook neighborhood, residents don't have to worry about the rolling blackouts, but none could escape the sunlight that manages to stream through half-drawn curtains. Not Cesar, who despite his body's trained urges to get up and exercise before the dawn, has spent the early morning lying beside the waves of hair belonging to Rue Lancaster and watching how the light shines against its color.

Eventually, he gives in to restlessness. Cesar inhales deeply, bare chest rising, and carefully slides out of dark sheets. He makes his way around the bed to the adjacent bathroom, stooping to scoop up at least the lower half of his decency strewn upon the floor.

Wildfire leaps from the woman’s crown and spreads out across the pillow beneath her head, sparked by the sunlight through the window. In these early morning hours, she looks peaceful, softer than she does during her waking hours. The sheets are pooled around her waist, her pale skin seems to almost glow in the morning light.

Awareness comes back to Rue by degrees. Before she even opens her eyes, she recognizes this isn’t her bed. The fact that there’s no weight next to her on the mattress (by the time she begins to rouse) is familiar, but the amount of space at her side when she stretches an arm out experimentally and finds it doesn’t hang off the edge of the mattress, is not.

The thrum of the radiator is pitched lower than the one in her own room. The angle of the sun on her face is all wrong. Cracking a lid open partially, the last vestiges of sleep fade and memory comes in with sharp relief. Rue draws in a deep breath and opens both eyes fully now. Sitting up slowly, she’s unconcerned about her bare form. The sound of water splashing in the bathroom tells her where Cesar has most likely ended up.

“Morning,” she calls through the apartment so he’s aware she’s awake. Meanwhile, she disentangles herself from the bedsheets and swings her legs over the edge of the mattress to plant her feet on the floor. With a deep inhale, she raises her arms above her head and reeeeaches toward the ceiling with the tips of her fingers.

"Buenos dias, bonita," comes the reply over the sound of the water before it turns off. Cesar appears in the doorway with a pair of sweats emblazoned with SESA down the left leg, still as bare on the top as she. Casually, he leans on the door frame, one arm raised up similar to her, elbow bending his hand behind his neck in a languid stretch.

Dark eyes sweep over her in a study of her lines in the sunlight. Appreciatively. "Sunday morning," he remarks with a growing, crooked smile, "you got time for breakfast? Or is it going to be a busy day for you?" A push off the frame later, he steps closer, but reach down and hook the fabric of his shirt up from the floor where it lies dropped haphazardly beside her feet.

Rue smiles languidly, pushing to her feet in a fluid motion. She stands on her tiptoes a moment before lowering to a flatfooted stance, turning toward her gracious host, unconcerned about the possibility of her naked form being glimpsed through the window. She’s even more shameless in the way she reaches up to ruffle her hair, watching him watch her.

“Yeah, I can do that,” she accepts after a moment of consideration. “I have to be at the Bastion later to decorate for a little fête I’m hosting tonight, but I have most of the setup work prepared already.” She smirks, brows lifting briefly as she continues, “Never know if I’m going to come back with a broken arm and can’t string up the popcorn and cranberry garlands.”

Stepping around the bed, Rue makes no such movements to retrieve her scattered garments, in no hurry to redress. She’ll shower first. In a minute.

By the time his crooked smile peaks at max width, Cesar has made his way over with seeming all intention of delaying her plans for showering and departure further. A bare foot deftly reaches out and toes sweep her clothing up so he can bend and hook the garment around a finger, waving it teasingly around. "Oh yes, can't have that," he remarks about her returning with a broken arm, let alone being late to finish her decorations. "Honestly, I'm surprised. Paramilitary-slash-office holiday party… brings to mind some possibly interesting choices for decor."

"Send me a pic? When you get 'em all together in front of the centerpiece," he requests with genuine curiosity to what it must be like. Request made, he offers the skirt forth for her to take. Really, though, it's to playfully bait her closer.

Rue chuckles quietly. “I’m still a girl,” she tells Cesar of her party. “I was a model before I was a— Before I was this.” She looks a little vulnerable suddenly, which might be in contrast with the operative who chased down a woman who could have torn her to pieces. In (half) an evening gown and heels. She steps forward slowly. “I like a good party.”

There’s a smile then, pleased with his request. “I’ll definitely send you pictures. I’m really quite proud of my decorating.” Perhaps to save a little bit of face after that moment of softness, she winks and says, “Maybe I’ll invite you to the next one.”

Cesar's smile bends crookedly as she steps forward. His brow lifts as the bit of clothing he holds withdraws closer to him. "Well, now I can real time brag I got to sleep with a model," he teases, tone and volume dipping about the same moment as his gaze. It's all the warning she gets before he quickly whips the skirt over her head and around her shoulders, grasping the hem behind her and pulling in. A mild trap.

"I hope so," Cesar adds once he's gotten a chance to turn the crooked smile down to her eyes, "but in the meantime, let me invite you to a party of my own." Once he has her in his arms again, the skirt drops away to redecorate the floor of his apartment.

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