Stock and Cover


ff_marlowe_icon.gif ff_monica_icon.gif

Scene Title Stock and Cover
Synopsis Marlowe and Monica take stock of the convoy's gains and losses.
Date July 6, 2021

Near the Convoy Camp

Past Midnight

It’s late.

The sun has long fallen behind the horizon line and the sky has darkened to a dazzling show of stars twinkling from the velvet shadow above the convoy. Lit campfires provide warmth, light, security for those asleep after the harrowing events of the day.

Marlowe Terrell is nowhere near any of them.

Maybe she doesn’t want to disturb the sleepers or the lookouts with loud noises, with repairs that have occupied most of her time and energy post-attack. Maybe she simply wants a moment to strategize how best to manage the inventories newly gained and freshly lost for the next leg of their journey.

Maybe she just needed a moment to grieve.

One hand reaches for the muzzle of one of the horses tied loosely to a branch, stroking its soft skin in a gentle, soothing manner. Marlowe stands with the animal in silence, only the sounds of their breaths slipping out like whispers. Hers hitches with an occasional sniffle. At some point, she’s going to stop feeling sorry, and she’ll lie to herself and get over it. She hasn’t reached that point yet.

Monica feels most at home in the dark and quiet. It's oddly when she feels the most safe. Once upon a time, it was when she would prowl around her hometown in a hoodie and fight crime. Not so long ago, it was when she would stand out on deck and listen to the ocean, watching for storms and raiders alike.

Now she's only on the lookout for Marlowe.

She appears with a blanket slung over her arm, and she makes sure to make enough noise that Marlowe can hear her coming. Now isn't the time for sneaking up on people the way she might prefer to show up.

"Cold?" she asks, which isn't at all the actual question on her mind, but she's opening the conversation gently.

A good decision for the noisier approach. Not only for Marlowe, who hurriedly sucks in a longer breath to hold, to press down an urge of a renewed round of hiccuped sobs, but also for the mare whose soft nicker and a turn of ears in Monica's direction acknowledges the woman in the dark.

The sob fizzles away in sighed release. "Yeah," Marlowe answers, her back still kept towards Monica, but her face turning in profile to look from the corner of her eye. She doesn't know, or doesn't think, about the splash of raider's blood spattered on her cheek. "Couldn't sleep?"

"Who needs sleep?" Monica gives her just a hint of a crooked smile, but the expression is much softer than it would be on any other day. She opens the blanket, coming closer to settle it over Marlowe's shoulders. She doesn't mention the blood; there'll be time for that later.

"They tell me we probably shouldn't take the horses," she says, reaching over to rub the mare's nose. "Space, resource drain, blah blah blah." Sensible decisions are all well and good, but in her opinion, you should be a little irresponsible now and then. Gotta find the joy somewhere.

Marlowe shrugs further into the blanket as it is slipped around her, savoring the warmth that comes from Monica's arm having carried it and that in the other woman's tone. "You'll get dark circles under your eyes," tsks Marlowe without any real recrimination.

When Monica moves closer and comments on the horses, Marlowe nods slowly. That's an issue the convoy has yet to finish debating, perhaps, but it would truly be up to her to figure out how to fit five thousand pounds of horseflesh and their rearing supplies onto any of their vehicles. "I'm sorry, I can't give you Miss Moni-Pony," she says, half in apology, half in a tease. Did she already name the horse? Maybe. Gotta find the joy somewhere. Marlowe turns around, her hand reaching also seemingly for the mare's nose, but to cover Monica's instead. She'd said she was cold before. Her fingers are proof. A coolness enters Marlowe's gaze upon Monica's face, eyes meeting, and the teasing fades to become more neutral. "I'm sorry," Marlowe repeats again, quieter, tighter. The starlight twinkles a little more in the wetting of her eyes.

"It's alright. What would I do with a horse, anyway?" She's heartbroken, really, but that's no one's fault. Monica knows the mare will be better off on familiar ground, being free to run. Rather than being dragged along to god knows where. Probably live longer, too. Especially if the convoy ever runs out of rations. And that's no fate for a beautiful creature like this one.

Monica glances over when their hands touch and her expression softens. And when Marlowe speaks again, that expression drops further. She grips onto her hand, her free one coming to Marlowe's face. "You have nothing to say sorry for. You've done nothing but keep these people moving. We'd be absolutely screwed without you. I'd be." She pauses a moment, her voice lowering to just above a whisper. "I'm the one who's sorry. For your boy." Levi. "That beautiful idiot. He didn't deserve to go out that way."

It's obvious that Marlowe disagrees, that there is much for Marlowe to feel guilt over, but all she can bring herself to do to avoid giving voice to those words is to step in closer and lean her forehead down upon Monica's shoulder. "That dumb bastard," curses Marlowe, the swear toothless, instead affectionate and woeful. The hand wrapped in Monica's intertwines their fingers. "He was cute, wasn't he though?" The question rhetorically posed, her next words are far less forgiving. "There's prisoners. Three of them that survived the attack on the back end. Smith has them under guard." Heavy implications there, almost a possessiveness that those prisoners are now hers to deal with. As if it is her right.

The woman seems at a further loss for words after that, and for a long time there's no motivation to do anything more than stand there in the cold but wrapped in the warmth of another. She could, as she's done before, fall asleep peacefully in Monica's arms.

A trickle of wet penetrates the cloth on Monica's shoulder where Marlowe's face lies against it, but then there's more, and the drip drop sounds of drizzling rain against leaves begins. Marlowe makes a face against Monica's collar, displeased at it, but is forced to lift her head and stand straighter with a frown at the heavens.

"Very cute," Monica agrees, and one day they'll recount memories of him with a warm laugh and sadness buried by time. For now, the best she can do is hold onto Marlowe's hand, as if worried one of them might wash away in the rain.

When she brings up the prisoners, though, her expression turns grim. "It won't bring him back, to kill them. We beat them soundly. They won't try again." It's no surprise to anyone who knows her that Monica would rather release the prisoners after the fight is over. "We just need to make sure they don't have friends hiding just up the road. I think they'll be straight with us."

She doesn't seem to mind the wet, either from Marlowe's tears or from the rain, but she does tighten the blanket around Marlowe's shoulders. Monica is used to living on the open water, battered by waves and rain more often than not, but obviously she thinks Marlowe deserves better than to stand out here and get drenched. "We should find some cover."

Marlowe makes a face, maybe at the initial thought of clemency for the surviving raiders in custody or maybe the wrinkling of her nose is in distaste at the feather light drizzle of mist rolling in. "If only we thought to bring an atmokinetic," she mutters, scooting even closer up against the other woman and hunkering. "But I'm more glad you came." Her fingertips brush lightly against Monica's knuckles in slow circles, indicative of other swirling thoughts.

Marlowe turns her face up to Monica's, lips parted to exhale a fluttered breath against the jawline. "Some cover would be nice, but unnecessary," she considers, her tone low and quiet. A smile grows from the lips against Monica's neck.

The recently dubbed Miss Moni-Pony only gives a sleepy rumbled sigh in wordless commentary.

The slightest shiver from Marlowe isn't from the cold, the battering of emotions that has been the afternoon's events, nor the desire that starts to replace it, but from the wince at physical pain. It stops her in sobering reminder that she hadn't escaped scot-free from the brief but harrowing battle. "Fuck," Marlowe swears with a thin inhale between her teeth. She extracts her hand from Monica's to move to her own side, stepping back half a pace, turning away in an effort to find a standing position that will relieve the throbbing bruises.

Monica slides an arm around Marlowe when she leans in, her hand lingering at her waist. The feel of Marlowe's breath and lips against her skin is more than enough to push the day away from her mind. The fight, the convoy, the consequences, even the rain is left behind and she starts to lean into Marlowe to stop her thinking about it all as well— but the wince and the curse bring reality cramming into the forefront again.

She steps back, just enough to make sure that there's no bleeding or anything broken, and then looks up at her face again. "Come on," she says, her hand taking Marlowe's, "let's get to some cover and let me take a look at that. You're out here brushing the horse with bruised ribs or something." Those last words come in a grumble, like she just cannot believe such a thing were happening. "This isn't how I was hoping to get you off your feet," she adds with a crooked smile as she starts to lead her back toward the trucks.

Marlowe grumpily squints her eye on the side of the telling bruise again, reluctant but yielding to Monica's inspection and chiding. "Should have been more careful. Closed in too fast, too eager, and got sloppy," the woman sighs in an additional self-chiding of her fighting form. She'd always been the up close and personal sort, first as a sparring partner, then, as a different kind.

Marlowe doesn't resist the lead away, and unhooks the horse's reins from the snag to take the placid mare along. Monica's crooked smile and innuendo works its magic in redirecting Marlowe's silent spiral of overthinking the day's events, as Marlowe widens her eyes a touch, catching the tease and taking the hint.

The next time she looks up to the heavens dripping more insistently down upon them through the leaves, it's in thankful appreciation for her present close company. Marlowe steps up beside Monica, brushing closer, fingers interlacing around the other woman's.

"Yet, somehow, you always manage it."

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