The Things That Broke Us


monica_icon.gif richard3_icon.gif

Scene Title The Things That Broke Us
Synopsis Monica confides in Richard about a few of hers.
Date November 20, 2018

Richard's Apartment

The past few months have seen Monica in and out of Richard's apartment, but she seemed to be leaning heavily on the casual part of this set up. Serious topics have caused a hard turn in another direction. But given that she's never been very good at sharing her burdens, it isn't too strange. Except that the absence of real discussion has become more and more pronounced since the visions started to hit. The harder she works at being lighthearted, the worse it's likely to be.

Tonight is different.

Standing in Richard's apartment, drinking Richard's liquor, Monica leans a hip against a wall and stares down the middle distance. She's tired in a way that's deeper than missing sleep. But it isn't the threats from the Entity or Adam or whoever else might have machinations in play. Saving the world, that's more of a shared weight. It's the personal ones that she has trouble with.


Richard sprawls back on his couch - one of the few pieces of furniture in his apartment - and looks over at her, one foot kicked up on the coffee table and an elbow hooked over the back of the couch’s cushions. A single brow lifts upwards as he regards her steadily, “Something’s eating at you, Monica. C’mon, talk to me. What’s going on?”

Monica lifts an eyebrow as she looks over at him, mirroring his own expression. “I was thinking,” she says, pushing off the wall, “that an interior designer would make a killing in the Safe Zone.” She crosses over, giving him a crooked smile before she takes up the spot next to him on the couch. “Not that the Spartan look doesn’t have its place.”

Circling his question seems to come easier than answering outright, but she spirals in a bit closer when she goes on. “My grandma is alive,” she says, her tone troubled even though it really should be good news, “and everything is crazy enough that I’m half sure she’s a clone or from another timeline or a shapeshifter spy of some kind. And sadly, I feel like that would be easier to deal with than if she’s actually just… her.” A beat passes before she looks over at him again, her crooked smile returning, “Easier to ninja kick a spy than messy emotions.”

“It’s an old habit,” Richard admits regarding his interior decor; glancing around the room before back to her with a brow still-lifted in a gesture that says he’s not quite letting her get away with that distraction. Then she explains what’s worrying her, his brow knitting slightly.

“How is— why is that a bad thing? I mean, if she’s alive, isn’t that good…?” He shifts to sit up more, snorting out a chuff of near-amusement, “I mean, I get that last part. Trust me, I do.”

“It’s not, it’s not,” Monica says, waving a hand as if dismissing her own worry. But the gesture doesn’t have much effect. “I didn’t have any family left after the war. I’m glad that wasn’t true. I can’t shake the worry, though. She’s— she volunteers with the Deveaux Society, matching families back up who got separated during the fighting. But— “ Something about it isn’t settling right with her, although Monica has to entertain the likelihood that it’s her own paranoia and nothing is actually wrong. Except that she thinks something should be.

“She manifested. She has some kind of TK. that’s weird, right? Nanas don’t suddenly become Evolved. I mean, no do if any grandma could, it would be Nia Dawson, but really. Manifestation this late?”

“Oh.” Richard brings one hand up, rubbing his fingers against his jaw thoughtfully, “She’s with them. That… well.”

He regards her for a long moment, gaze pensively thoughtful before he asks, “How much do you actually know about the Deveaux Society and what they do, Monica…?”

“Not much beyond the public spin,” she says, although she seems aware enough to know there’s more to it than they say. But that’s just common sense. “Ties to The Company, clearly. You know I don’t trust the rich and the powerful,” she says with a chuckle. It’s something of a joke, especially since he is both Rich and powerful himself. But, also not a joke, as these are the types of groups that their problems seem to end up stemming from.

“Oh my god, did they experiment on my Nana? Richard.”

That is the sort of thing she finds easy to ninja kick.

“Wh— no, I doubt that they experimented on her,” Richard shakes his head, a rueful smile tugging up at the corner of his lips, “They’re basically what’s left of the— good part of the Company, with some of the shade intact. They essentially control the government right now, although they can’t overplay their hand. They asked me to take a break after Nazahat and let them take over, and… I did.”

He leans back, gaze sweeping to the ceiling, “They’ve done a good job. Your Nana, though— how sure are you that she just manifested?”

Monica listens, a finger tapping against her glass. She seems skeptical, but at least willing to be wrong. “How sure are you that when they can overplay their hand, they won’t be the next people we have to bring down? I understand wanting to step back after… everything,” she says, rolling her shoulder— that it’s the one connected to her prosthetic is no coincidence, “but we’re back in it now. Keeping an eye on the ones who want to run everything. More or less.” She’s wrapped up with her own horse in that particular race, even if she’s not too keen on Yamagato running everything, either.

But Yamagato has Jiba. So Yamagato has Monica Dawson.

“Very sure. She definitely was not when I was living with her. And she said it was new. If she is who she says she is, well— Nana wouldn’t lie to me. If she isn’t, then who knows anything for sure? Not me.”

“A lot of people who were involved with the Company don’t remember a lot of things,” says Richard a touch dryly, looking back to her with a brow’s lift, “I could look into it if you like; dig up some old files, make a few inquiries to see if she was involved with them at all. If you’re really worried I could go knock on the witches’ door, I suppose.”

One hand lifts a bit, “But, does it matter? Really? She’s your grandmother.”

“Are you saying that so I won’t go break into their building and find out myself?” Monica laughs, just lightly, because the thought may have crossed her mind. “If you think they’d answer, I’d appreciate it. I would like to talk to them, too. Might be smoother if I don’t do it alone. If something’s up, I’d like to know. If it’s old Company shenanigans, I want to help her. You know?” Because it is her grandmother.

“It doesn’t. I just want her to be okay. I’ll stop waiting for the bad news any minute now.” Monica sets her drink down, standing up again to walk the length of the room. “I’m the bad news, anyway. Maybe she should be more suspicious.”

“You could probably walk in and ask for an appointment,” Richard admits, “You might be able to get some answers out of them— God knows they have enough, and if she’s working with them, they probably know everything about her.”

Then he’s frowning, pushing himself up to his feet and stepping after her, reaching a hand out for her shoulder. “Hey. You’re hardly bad news, Moni.”

“Maybe I will. I guess I could try that. Making an appointment.” It isn’t that it’s an entirely foreign concept to Monica, but it is one she’s still getting used to. Instead of sneaking in. Or barging in, if the occasion called for it.

She looks back when he touches her shoulder, expression full of a sort of bittersweet affection. “You know what I do for Yamagato.” She assumes he does, anyway. He’s always been good at finding things out, especially things other people want hidden. “I never really thought it mattered before, like it wasn’t even me, really. But then she showed up and she told me— she said I was a good person.”

Her work has been a lot harder since then.

“I have an idea.” Richard hasn’t dug into it too much, simply because he doesn’t think it’s his business; he has assumptions, though, ones her words solidify. “And you are a good person, Moni. Some of us— fuck, all of us— have done some bad things. But you’ve done a lot of good ones, too.”

His hand lifts from her shoulder to brush her cheek, looking at her sympathetically, “I’ve known you too long to say you’re a bad person, Monica. We all sacrificed everything for the greater good, once upon a time, and you didn’t hesitate to join us.”

"Maybe back then," Monica says, glancing to her hands for a moment— just a moment because the touch to her cheek makes her close her eyes and lean into it. "I left that person behind when I got this," she says, curling her fingers closed and fanning them back open again. "Maybe before that, even. When I walked away in Alaska, I left everyone I cared about to fend for themselves. And my family paid for that choice. Yamagato's offer was easy to take. You know my ability's always trying to make the choices anyway, and I have been letting it for a long time."

Her prosthetic drops to hang at her side and she uses the other when she reaches up to cover his hand with hers. The worst part about it, in her mind, is that she wouldn't change that decision— to take the offer. The idea of losing her arm again is too much for her to think any other way.

The fingers against her cheek splay out under her own, and he moves to step around her, Richard’s free arm reaching to loop about her waist and pull her in closer. “I can’t say you’re wrong,” he admits quietly, but with no judgement or rancor, “Nazahat… it broke us, all of us. Me. You. Peyton. Everyone, all of us…”

He closes his eyes for a moment, then opens them again to watch hers. “You don’t have to just go on autopilot anymore, Moni.”

His arm finds her pliable and easy to draw in, and she lets out a shaky sigh as she settles against him. "The universe, too," she says, reaching for a lighter tone but falling a bit short. It's a little too late to take cover under humor. His words get a sort of desperate laugh, too, but one that doesn't have any mirth to it.

"That's just it, Richard," she says with a shake of her head, "I do have to." Her lips press together for a long moment before she looks back at him again. "I don't even own the arm yet. I'm in a contract. I'm not even sure I could ever get out from under it if I wasn't doing the work." The work. A distancing title.

“Ah.” Richard’s eyes narrow ever so slightly at that. “You know, there are healers…” He trails off, though; corporate contracts probably don’t care about that sort of solution. He sighs, tilting his head down closer to her and saying quietly, “If you ever really want out, you know I could find a way, right? That’s what I do.”

"I can't ask you to do that," Monica says, her hand moving to his face, "It would put you and Raytech both in a bad spot." She shifts, just enough to press a kiss to his forehead. "I know you could do it, but I won't risk everything you built here. And what you're trying to do. I need to know there's one honest corporation in New York." She smiles softly as she sets back down on her heels. "If it gets bad— Well, I'll keep you in the loop. Okay?"

“Okay.” Richard closes his eyes. “And it might.” They open again, watching hers for a moment, “What do you know about Kam Nisatta, Monica?”

"Believe me, I know. It might already be." Bad. She's still working that one out. "Kam. Not much, personally. Professionally, she's my handler's boss. I mean, she's everyone's boss now. But before, my orders came from her. And now… I'm honestly not sure if I trust her or not. But there's a long list of people inside of Yamagato whose loyalties aren't clear to me right now. Since the bombing, I've had my suspicions about her and like, three-quarters of the security team."

“Damn. Okay.” Richard’s lips twist in a slight grimace, “According to what I’ve found, the previous host of the Entity was also named Nisatta… I can’t rule out that her and Adam aren’t using Yamagato and Praxis as proxies in some fight between them, honestly. He’s shown an absolute desire to kill everyone involved with the incident in the past…”

Monica lifts and eyebrow at that. She paid attention at the meeting, even if it didn't always look like it. It takes a few long moments, but she processes that little tidbit. "I… honestly can't help you rule that out, either. I've been wondering for a while if she isn't— if she didn't have a hand in the bombing herself. And Praxis definitely did. I also think they were setting up Eileen to take the fall for it. But when she took off," she says with a gesture toward the vague direction of New Jersey, "they lost their fall guy." Her hand moves through her hair and she lets out a long exhale. This part is a lot easier to talk about, even if it definitely means more trouble. "I've been investigating on the side, outside of Yamagato security. Going where they can't, keeping things away from potential moles, answering to myself, pretty much. Unfortunately, even if I find proof, I'm not sure what to do with it."

“You’re welcome for depriving them of that, at least,” Richard observes a bit dryly in regard to Eileen, his head shaking, “If you find proof— well. Just let me know, I’ll see what we can do with it.” He quirks a smile down to her, faintly, “Like old times, huh?”

Monica smirks at his first words. Of course he was the one to spook her. She can’t help but find that a touch amusing. If in a dark humor sort of way.

“Admit it, you missed it,” she says, her smile evens out, widening as she looks over at him. “I know I did. Endgame Part Two. Juggling a bunch of futures at once this time.”

“And on the eighth day, he got off his ass and went back to work,” Richard replies with a grin, shaking his head, “No murdering futures this time, though… trying to save them all. We’ll switch it up a little, wouldn’t do to get all stale, after all. We might have to come up with a new name, too.”

“The world is always gonna need saving. All of them,” Monica says with a crooked smile. It’s a smile meant to hide less uplifting thoughts. But either way, she is not going to turn her back on the opportunity to try to do some actual good. Mimicking a younger version of herself until she feels like she’s making up for the work she’s paid to do. “Might as well be us saving them. We weren’t too bad at it last time around.”

His last words get a more genuinely amused expression. “Oh, the fun part.”

“We can rest when we’re done,” says Richard with a shrug, “The same as always…”

He raises both brows a bit, lips twitching in a smile, “So is there anything else on your mind, or should I proceed to try and drag you into the shower or something?” The world might need saving, but not right now.

Monica’s smile tilts into a sly smirk at his question. “Well,” she says as if she needs to consider it, “I do feel it’s important to support your environmental pursuits.” Which is how she puts it before her hands take his— she’s not wasting water or time.

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