Still With You


huruma_icon.gif rue4_icon.gif

Scene Title Still With You
Synopsis Rue makes contact with Huruma to say goodbye and make a request.
Date March 16, 2021

Merlot Joe's

This beachfront property makes the most use of its prime location on the Boardwalk by serving primarily as a cafe in the daylight hours and a wine bar at night. It's rustic-meets-modern in a youthful fashion, with large, glass-topped tables juxtaposed with bare wood accents and and copper-hued metal fixtures. Behind the counter, blackboards announce the establishment's offerings in colorful chalk, with the left blackboard listing coffee and cafe items while the right provides a litany of wines in stock and their prices by bottle or glass. Coffee drinks all have punny names like Brewtiful Morning, You Mocha Me Happy, and Al Cappuccino. Wine tastings are also offered and the bar can be reserved for private tastings for groups of up to 20 people.

Busy she may be at times, there are always a few things that Huruma can make time for even if she is; meeting someone for coffee, not at all a problem. Although she does seem to have brought some work with her, given the open tablet on the table, propped in its case as she nurses a coffee liberally weakened by additions. The dark plum of her top is seamless, tucked into high-waisted jeans; the long sleeves sit off of the shoulder, and her aloof manner indicates an easy readiness. It's not business, but it's not entirely casual. When all else fails, the middle ground works perfectly.

Fashionable as ever — fashionably dressed, fashionably late — Rue Lancaster takes up the seat opposite of Huruma. Rather, she sets her purse down and shrugs out of her moto jacket, hanging it over the back of the chair. She lingers at the side of the table for a moment, waiting to see if she might receive a hug. “It’s good to see you,” she greets. There’s genuine sunniness to that, Huruma can feel it. As ever with Rue, however, there’s a pall of gloom that clings to her.

Sunniness read as beams through clouds, Huruma sets her work aside with a slim smile, shifting up to greet Rue with a one armed embrace before gesturing for her to sit.

"Likewise." The dark woman lets her smile into her voice, as honest as it is intimate. "I would ask if you've been staying out of trouble of late, but it's you, I suppose. Nothing but good behavior." Huruma teases lightly. It's quite the loving thing.

There’s a pang of regret, maybe worry when it comes whether or not she’s staying out of trouble. “You do know me,” Rue offers back as a non-reply that really serves as a proper response. The skirt of her blue dress — a summery thing rather than spring-like, splashed with watercolor florals of purples, pinks, and greens — is swept under her as she takes her seat, purse hanging from the chair.

“Well, I guess that’s… kind of what I wanted to meet with you about.” The younger woman shrugs, no sheepishness to her, but a wry smile on her lips. “I don’t need a bailout, it’s not like that. It’s just that I’ve been given an assignment and…” There’s those clouds coming to obscure the sun. “I didn’t want to leave without seeing you first.” Huruma may not be a telepath, but she doesn’t need to be to know what that means.

Huruma has settled back into her seat and passively flagged a hostess for Rue while she listens, absorbs; she leaves a lingering look over the whole of the younger woman, quiet in her initial response.

"An assignment." She repeats, mouth pursing some and tongue running past her teeth. "What kind of assignment?" And from where, she means. Huruma remains gentle about her grilling."If it's like this… must be significant…?"

“The, ah…” Rue looks down at the table, trepidation welling up in her as she curls her fingers in toward her palms. “The CIA have conscripted me. I can’t say much more than that. I shouldn’t have said that much at all, but… I felt like someone should know.”

Looking up again, she’s quick with a shake of her head that makes her red curls bounce about her shoulders. “But that’s not why I wanted you here. I really just wanted to see you and spend time with you. Like things are normal.”

CIA gets a sour enough browline, and conscripting makes Huruma's whole expression shift that way too. The term isn't a favorite — she's been there, done that.

"Mmm." Not disapproval in Rue, but irritation with her employers that lingers behind when Huruma moves on. Well, now someone knows. "Normal, hm?" Mouth curving in amusement, Huruma leans her forearms against the table. "That's a tall order. What does normal mean for Rues? I could regale you with hot-takes on middle age. There's always the gossip in the Heights…"

When Huruma leans forward after the unburdening of soul, Rue mimics the maneuver, grateful not to be prodded for more detail. She sighs with a wistful note. “I miss the Bastion. The banter. I miss my room. I miss Francis’ stupid stories…” It’s a melancholic, nostalgic sort of longing. “There really hasn’t been a normal for me since I joined up with the Ferry, I guess.”

Looking down at the table, a storm rolls in across Rue’s emotional plane. “Wolfhound was the closest thing to it. Which is fucked up when you think about i—” The arrival of the server catches her attention, derailing her thought for the moment. “Ah, a glass of whatever your house red is, please.” It may not be five o’clock, but the place has merlot in the name. She will not be shamed for this choice.

Huruma sticks with her coffee, smiling patiently for the server to move onward with Rue's selection.

"Only for the average," was it fucked up. The term 'average' is far more useful than 'normal', because who is to say what that is? Theirs is Wolfhound, as it so happens. "We miss you too, you know… " Huruma raises one brow as she says this, less an admission and more of a reminder. "Perhaps you aren't done with us yet."

Just putting that out there. Word on the street is that Rue has an inside connection. Huruma won't press this button either, at least in this moment. Getting a CIA assignment is no small thing — and honestly, she can see it working.

There’s a quick dismissive gesture at the notion of not being done with Wolfhound. “I think it’s been made pretty clear that Wolfhound is done with me,” Rue murmurs, feeling a vise in her chest for a moment. Her gaze goes distant, off and to the side, somewhere past Huruma’s shoulder. The older woman knows what that look means. Knows what the surge of regret, confusion, and grief for something precious lost means. It’s the inevitable question:

“How’s Aviators?”

Huruma's answer to the business being done with her is a 'fair enough' roll of her shoulders, and a purse of her lips. If that's how she wants it… well, there's hardly any forcing her past it. The inquiry, though, earns Rue a small raise of brows and amusement in the empath's voice.

"He is well." As it hasn't particularly shifted hard one way or another, Huruma forgoes 'fine' or 'good' in favor of something with more longevity to it. Her gaze wanders as she settles back into her seat, somewhere else for a few moments.

"Do you never call?" Huruma doesn't need an answer for that. It's rhetorical, at worst. Her tone is easy, her voice softened. "…If writing is easier, I could give you his personal e-mail… I know that for some, meaningful words come more smoothly that way."

"If my being the messenger comforts you, however, I do not mind terribly much…" She can't do it forever, and yet, she keeps doing it. Soft spot.

Rue laughs softly at her own expense. “Of course not. When have you ever known me to be sensible, Huruma?” Rolling her jaw, the urge to look down again is resisted. Blue eyes meet the empath’s. “He didn’t speak a word to me last time I saw him. He just looked at me and walked away. So, no. I haven’t tried to talk to him.”

There’s a sigh. “I don’t want you to tell him I asked.” That’s always what she says after asking. It’s transparent that she cares, and she’s never once denied it, but there’s an obvious fear that the act of potentially one-sided caring shows a weakness that’s unsightly. It’s why she isn’t in Wolfhound anymore anyway, isn’t it? Apart from having nearly rendered herself paralyzed on her final operation.

But February Lancaster is neither weak nor a coward, no matter how she feels at times. There’s just a creative, subversive approach she tends to employ when she wants something done. “Can you schedule a meeting with him? Only… It’s for me? I honestly don’t think he’d make the time if he knew it was for me. And…”

Her throat is tighter than she’d like to be, and her annoyance with the situation is shown in the knit of her brows. “I can’t leave without thanking him for everything.” Complicated as their relationship is in all its facets, Rue still knows she wouldn’t be where she is without Avi Esptein.

There is only so much pushing that Huruma can do without pushing too hard; she keeps Rue's eyes for as long as the younger woman wishes, wrists crossing on the edge of the table as she visibly tunes in. Wanting Huruma to not speak something, however, is usually different than asking her not to directly. There are small semantics that count.

"If you really want to do it that way, I don't see why not." For a moment it does look like the dark woman has bit the corner of a lemon, mouth flattened for just the length of an exhale. As much as Rue has grown, in some spaces… she hasn't quite.

"He'll know something is going on if I put myself on the calendar, though. I don't make appointments." Because of course not. Presumably, the same goes for an Anonymous entry.

"I urge you to consider being up front with him. But I will do it— just be sure." Despite any reservations, it sounds promising for Rue's quest.

“I don’t know. Make something up. Tell him he has to… Fuck if I know. Approve swatches for curtains or something?” Rue shakes her head with a purse of her lips. “You know him better than I do at this point.” And there’s a pang of unmistakable sadness for that. “Or… Maybe I don’t care if he knows something fucky’s up. I just don’t want him to know it’s me. I just don’t think he’d care.

Anything Huruma might like to interject in that moment is stalled by the arrival of Rue’s wine and a refresh for Huruma’s cup. Once the thank-yous are murmured and server’s away again, Rue looks up from across the table. “I tried, Huruma. You saw he just… looked at me and walked away.” She sighs and takes a drink of her wine. “He may want fuck all to do with me, but I’m going to be selfish. I can’t leave without saying goodbye.”

One pale, slender hand reaches across the table. “I’m glad you agreed to see me. Because… Because I’ve needed you a lot over the years and you’ve been there for me and… And a lot of the time, I just shut you out. I didn’t know what to do with… I didn’t want to admit to anyone that I needed help. Myself at the top of that list.” There’s shame, sorrow, a dark cloud clinging to her, but also a ray of sunshine. Hope. “I’m sorry.”

The notion of running curtains past Epstein almost earns a laugh; out of respect for the moment, Huruma just smirks and gives a small cant of her eyes. Yeah. Swatches. He'd love that. Her comments are taken with a small deliberating sigh, preempting the reach of Rue's hand and the tentative nature of what comes.

Pale eyes shade under the hood of their lids, and Huruma turns her hand over to accept Rue's into her palm, fingers brushing against wrist and the flutter of pulse beneath. The young woman's mind is an open book for her, while the tactile interaction is simply flavour. Needed flavour, especially when it comes to the flicker of light.

"I know." Huruma doesn't specify her answer, though somehow it seems as if it counts for anything and everything. Because of course she knows. She'll always know. It's comforting and uncanny at the same time. Her mouth twitches before curving into a smile. "I feel as if you are allowed to be as selfish as you like, given the situation— or what I can make of it. You know I love facilitating capers." At Avi's expense notwithstanding.

Rue smiles, a quietly strained thing. She knows Huruma always seems to know her better than she knows herself. “You’ve been… such a good friend to me for all these years, even when I didn’t deserve it. Even when everyone thought I was…”

Tears make her eyes glassy. “I just wanted you to know I appreciated it. Appreciate it. That you’ve kept in touch with me even though I walked away and didn’t know how to talk to anyone there anymore.” The tears fall down her cheeks and she takes a shuddering breath, wiping them away as quickly as she can to save face.

Consoling Rue here comes in the shape of a serene silence, presence unmoved and eyes remaining fixed despite the rush to wipe away tears. Pulling in any outside attention is the last thing Huruma wants to do, and so she offers a squeeze of upturned hand over the table. Something small.

"Do not think of what you did as walking away, but stepping aside. We are still with you."

“I wish I felt like that was true.” But when Rue takes a moment to think about it, she realizes it is, in a fashion. “I miss poker with Francis. I miss beers with Scott. I miss blowing off steam with Lucille. I miss Mario Kart with Devon.” It’s so rare she doesn’t resort to nicknames when talking about her friends. This deserves more gravity. Or maybe she foolishly thinks she doesn’t deserve the familiarity.

“I miss sharing gossip with you.” That’s admitted with a fond narrowing of gaze and that secret smile the two of them share when they spot something happening in the space between them in a given room.

And far more than that from everyone. Her closeness with Elliot and Wright is known, of course. There’s nothing there for Rue to be missing. Only what she will miss. She takes in an uneasy breath, keeping her eyes fixed on her friend. “Throw a fucking rager for me, huh? I mean music, and drinks, and dancing, and noise complaints so that Demsky has to come down and join in.”

"Never a need to stop gossiping with me." Huruma murmurs, a tightness in the purse of her mouth to stifle a small laugh; her eyes speak it regardless. No need to stop any of those things. They both know it, and Huruma can see those emotions for what they are even if Rue does her dance to avoid addressing it. The dark woman sighs softly, gaze travelling away for a few moments.

"How about…" The pause is brief, "I throw you another one when you return." There is no arguing, it seems, about having two anyway. Huruma leans in slightly, both brows rising in commiseration. "If anyone asks, I can disguise them as block parties. With a private roof lounge." Playful is the wink that comes after this.

Rue’s lips press together hard. Her head doesn’t so much nod as it does quake in a series of more or less short up and downward motions. Yeah, of course. Yeah. Definitely. “I’d like that better,” she admits after she manages to find control of her voice again. The next set of nods are a bit deeper bobs of her head, the frown on her face suggestive of giving this thought more consideration. “Two parties sounds about extra enough for me. That should be good.”

Something in her eases, like finally there’s been a weight lifted from her shoulders. Requests delivered and promises extracted, such as they are. She’s done what she can. “Now,” Rue muses after a moment to breathe deeply and visibly reset. “You have to catch me up on all the gossip.” The redhead leans in, steepling her fingers together and resting her chin on the net they make laced together that way.

There’s a twinkle in her blue eyes when they narrow. “Rumor has it…”

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