pearl_icon.gif richard_icon.gif

Scene Title TL;DR
Synopsis After nearly ten years without contact, an old friend asks Richard Ray what's been up in his life.
Date March 18, 2018


The interior of the shop is all dark-stained wood floors and brick walls, building old and full of original materials refurbished. There's the warmth and well-lived feel that'd be well-suited to a public house (a small one). Huge antique mirrors along three stations in the back help bounce light, and a small sitting area features simple furniture made of reclaimed palettes and old steamer trunks topped with grey fabric cushions, accented with gunmetal upholstery tacks. The floor is refinished, vintage random-pegged wood stained a deep mahogany. A couple of refurbished tablets rest on the seats, presumably for customers to browse digitized portfolios. A small set of shelves is tucked against the side wall, with hand-embroidered patches, stickers, and screen printed tees featuring the shop's logo. A huge metal sign is bolted to the exposed brick of the left wall, brushed aluminum cut in the shape of a winged skull with MARKED in an arc under it in 10 inch letters.

At night, it's backlit with tiny purple LEDs, an eerie glow that spills into the seating area. A 50s cigarette machine under the sign dispenses homemade candies wrapped in sachets of paper the size of cigarette boxes. An old wooden dragon, perhaps seven feet long, is suspended from the ceiling, likely reclaimed from the previous shop's basement treasures—it's been restored with a dark stain to match the floors. A seven foot mirror leans against the back wall beside a heavy wooden door marked OFFICE. Classic rock pipes in via powerful speakers bolted into the eaves.

It's been a very strange few weeks for Richard Ray.

He's been meaning to come back since his initial visit was cut short by the unexpected arrival of another acquaintance of his, but things just haven't worked out until today. The afternoon's sun is shrouded by clouds as he walks up to the front door in his usual street clothes - black bdus, sweatshirt, flight jacket with Chicago Air across the shoulders - and pulls the door open with a tinkle of noise, stepping into the parlor and pausing just within to let his gaze adjust to the change in lighting.

The interior of the tattoo shop is a bit dimmer than usual today, several of the overhead light flipped off in the front. Most of the illumination spills from the lit stations in the back, stations which are currently empty of artists or clients.

Pearl Valentin is sprawled on one side of the sitting area up front, nestled into the corner. She wears her usual uniform at work, which consists of dark colors and tattoo-revealing cuts. Today it's a pair of black jeans and a dark grey halter secured with two thin straps at neck and mid-back. Though the neckline is modest, it's pretty much backless. It's thus attired that she's kicked back sipping tea from genuine porcelain teacup, blue glazed flowers on white. It smells a bit spicy, probably a chai mate. She glances up as the door opens.

On the low table is a small tray with a teapot and an extra cup, this one empty.

It takes a moment for Richard to locate her, since he started off looking in the direction of the work area. As his gaze falls upon her finally, a smile tugs up at the corner of his lips, watching her for a silent moment.

"Still weird seeing you alive and kicking," he admits, letting the door swing shut behind him, "Given how long it's been that I thought you weren't."

Pearl sips and then lowers her teacup, the clean white porcelain nestled against the curve of her hand, red-painted fingernails lightly tapping the foot of it. She takes a slow breath, as if shaking herself awake, climbing up out of her thoughts. She sets her tea precisely on its saucer on the tray, then moves to rise. She stands there like she's waiting for him to join her. "You seem …" She pauses. "Different. Also," she lifts her arms, hands spread wide. "Surprise."
Ray's smile curves a bit more, still crooked upon his expression as he steps over to where she's stood up. Stopping within arm's reach as he looks down to her, wordless for a moment before he admits quietly, "I imagine I do. It's been a… hell of a weird decade, and I don't even know where I could get started to sum it all up." A deep breath's drawn in, then exhaled, watching her eyes as he asks, "How?"

Those amber eyes give little away, except that she's willing to meet his gaze. She doesn't blink, just looks back at Ray. "It's a pretty personal question you're asking me." Pearl swallows, and her lips part to add something, but she stops. She stops and glances down briefly. Takes another short breath, and looks up again, this time her gaze stays fixed on Ray's. "It's disorienting waking up in clothes so caked with blood they're stiff. And the smell. 1/10, would not recommend." She doesn't bother shaking long fringe from where it falls across her right eye. "I drank for a two straight days and split. Never went home again."

A hand comes up, the color of it darkened where a handprint appears to have been inked around his fingers and the back of his hamnd. Only she can tell that it doesn't look like ink. Richard's fingers reach out brush that fringe back from her eye, grazing almost tentatively across her brow if she doesn't draw away before he does. "I carried you inside," he says in quiet tones, "I had a— a medic check you out. It was straight through your heart. He said you were— were just dead. Even if there'd been a hospital…"

He draws in a breath, exhaling it slowly then, "Regenerator?"

Pearl doesn't move, though her eyes close as soon as his fingers brush her brow. "I wondered who'd put me in bed. Not for long. I mean there really only was you, right? To do it, who knew me." She catches his hand before he can pull away fully, ostensibly to inspect the handprint across his. She turns it a little, both of her hands coming up to take his, one hand splaying his fingers. "Yeah, but I didn't think I was waking up from that. I guess my body said fuck you. I never was very good at taking long naps." She grins, though the expression's gone almost as quickly as it flashed there. "At least you know I actually do have a heart." Lame joke, right? She smells like herbal tea rather than beer. Maybe she's grown up too.

Ray's hand is caught, and he watches her watch the marking on his hand; his fingers curling in to clasp hers lightly in return. "I always suspected, but I never knew for sure," he admits quietly, gaze lifting back to her face and a smile twitching up at the corner of his lips, "I figured you deserved a comfortable place to rest, anyway. I wasn't going to leave you on a table or something."

"Thanks, babe. Sorry about your, you know," Pearl's a quiet for a couple of beats. "Emotional trauma. Take a girl to meet your friends and she dies. Not the best outing ever." The tattoo artist's shoulders ease a bit, tension lessening. Maybe she's not a big fan of talking about dying, waking up from it.

She nods to his hand, and flicks a look up. "What happened here?" She brushes her thumb across the dark stain in his skin. "Peter Pan cut off his shadow?"

It's not a good question for her to ask, it turns out, if she's not a big fan of such conversation. "I died," Richard says quietly, watching her thumb draw across that shadowy stain to his skin, "I couldn't finish dying until I turned corporeal again. Called in some favors before I…" Silent a moment, softer, "Anyway. Managed to get healed. Left me this mark where he pulled me back from the brink."

Pearl's response to this information is simple. "Fuck." And vehement.

Her grip on his hand tightens a little, but eases back off almost immediately. She slides her hand fully into his, clasping it for the space of a few heartbeats. "Those are some good friends you have. Good favors." She shakes her head. "Dying fucking blows, don't you think?" Not that she needs him to agree with her for it to be true. Her shoulders draw up a bit and she swallows again, this time her lower lash line glimmers. She blinks it away. "We're fucking lucky we came back. Too many…" So many didn't. "Course now we have to carry everybody who didn't." She finally meets his gaze again, breath coming easier as she goes quiet, takes another breath. "I'm sorry you had to carry me for so long."

"Yeah. Yeah, it does," says Richard quietly, his fingers clasping hers in return in a firm squeeze for those heartbeats, "It fucking sucks. And yeah… too many don't, that should. I know a lot more deserving people than me that didn't get a second chance like I did."

His eyes lift back to her again, free hand raising up to brush his fingers against her cheek gently. "I'm just glad you're alive, Pearl."

Pearl smiles, a flash of teeth that crinkles her eyes. "You're strong enough to take it. I don't think it has to do with who's good enough, not at all. We

Pearl smiles, a flash of teeth that crinkles her eyes. "You're strong enough to take it. I don't think it has to do with who's good enough, not at all. We're just too damn dumb to rest." She shrugs and reaches up to take hold of Richard's shoulders, giving them a squeeze. "I spend most of mine time giving people physical scars to help them deal with their emotional ones. You want me to hurt you for a while, or do you want a drink?"

A broad grin curves to Richard's lips at that question, his hands lifting to brush against her sides just above her hips as she rests hands on his shoulders. "You know, if this wasn't a tattoo parlor I'd call that a proposition," he replies with a teasing note in his voice, "I think a drink'd do. We have a lot to catch up on, probably."

"Please." Pearl laughs, a husky little chuckle. "You call it a proposition; I call it a good time." She glances down toward her shoulder as if eyeing those hands on her hips, then narrows her eyes and looks up at him. "Still trying to get your hands down my pants, huh? Some things, babe. Some things just never change." She shakes her head.

"You started it," Richard replies with a wider grin, then, before jerking his head to one side, "You wanna go somewhere to drink, or you got something here in another hidden cabinet so I can tell you a story that no-fucking-body in the world would ever believe?"

"I usually do." Pearl's lips twitch and she slides her hands down his arm, shoulder to wrist, a slow drag of her palms as if checking to be sure he's intact. "I have bourbon and beer upstairs in a mini fridge. You want something else, we gotta go out." She nods to a door concealed behind a large mirror on the wall. "Not a lot of furniture, but the view's ok."

The mirror-covered door gets a look, and Richard chuckles softly. "Clever," he murmurs, looking back to her, "Bourbon'n beer is fine with me. I'm sick to death of champagne and wine, honestly, that's all anyone offers me these days."

Pearl's brows arch at that, both lifting. "Really. Wine and champagne? You trade in your regular crew for something a little more fancy?" She nods and heads for the door. "Nobody's keeping you grounded, huh? Move your ass upstairs for some humble beer. It's cheap and probably too hoppy." She switches away, patting his butt as she goes by, and flips the sign to CLOSED.

"I traded for a crate of home brew." Pearl heads toward the mirror, set to walk through. "Champagne though?" She reaches for the latch, popping it open and pushing the door wife. "Really? Oh, watch your step. Third and fifth are loose."

Marked: Second Floor

The second floor is pretty sparse, though the floors have been restored to match the random-pegged parlor hardwood. The walls here are old brick, just like the shop below. A woven purple hammock is suspended across the far end, under a huge, dirty window, heavy chain bolted into the bricks. Several strings of cafe lights are strung along the high ceiling. A large table in the center of the room has been sanded down and stained, varnished to a near-mirror shine—it's scattered with drawing implements, old books, and a few pans of watercolors and inks. There's nothing else inside but three steamer trunks, a restored vanity with dark jars full of fragrant loose leaves, and a fancy set of cold-steeping apparatus for tea. It's a little Victorian laboratory-esque. A dumbwaiter is set into one wall with a rusty, heavy metal door.

"Yeah." Richard steps after her, climbing the stairs to the second floor. He's careful not to trip on the third or fifth step, as warned, "It's a long story. All of it's a long story, really…" His voice wry, "…it's been a hell of a decade, like I said."

He stops just inside, looking around the second floor with a smile. After a moment, he saysq uietly, "It's very you."

"Yeah." Pearl agrees dryly. "It looks like I just moved in and otherwise it's just a little bit refugee meets bordello." She chuckles at that, gesturing toward the boxes. "There are some pillows in there if you don't mind the floor." Other choices are the table, some boxes, or the hammock for seating. "I need a couch, but haven't… just other things have been more important. Plus my neighborhood is a shithole, so they'd probably just break in and cut it open looking for drugs." She kicks a box out of the way and pulls open an ancient, lightly humming mini fridge. Two wax-sealed, stopper top bottles are rattled out, amber glass concealing the brew within. She kicks the fridge closed with her heel, steps over to the table, and puts both bottles down next to a few scattered sheets of watercolor paper.

"Yeah, like I said, it's very you," Richard replies, hiding a grin as he looks across the room to the hammock before stepping over towards the table for the moment; shoulders rolling back to shrug the fleece-lined jacket back, arms slipped out of it before he tosses it to rest atop a stack of boxes. "There's worse neighborhoods. I mean, it's a shade better than where you used to squat on Staten Island. At least there's not literally a brothel run by a psychopath across the street."

There's a snort of a laugh at that. "I do miss the caterwauling. Sometimes it's hard to sleep here." Not enough drunken screaming at three in the morning. Though there is some. "It's quieter. Nice not having neighbors on two sides as well as under and over." She bends to zip off her boots, stepping out and kicking them off in short order. A fat little goldfish is tattooed on the top of her right foot, swimming across it in single-needle black line. Her toenails are painted glossy black. She hops up to sit on the edge of the table, no mean feat since it's standing height and she's not exactly tall.

"It's charming compared to some of the places I've stayed since." She reaches behind her to grab hold of the beers, swinging them around to sit one on the table between her thighs. The other she offers to Richard. "Tell me."

"No room-mate, either," he points out in wry tones, stepping over to the table as she offers that beer out, fingers curling around the cool amber glass. His other hand twists to break the wax seal, working the stopper top out, taking all his attention. At least visually. He's probably thinking of where to start.

"A lot of this," he says as he finally pulls the top off and brings the beer bottle towards her in an offered toast, "Is going to sound completely fucking ridiculous, I'm gonna warn you now, Pearl. Like, 'lock me up in a rubber room and throw away the key' ridiculous."

"Dude." Pearl tips her bottle to chime neck-to-neck with his in a sharp toast. "We both came back from the dead and now we're drinking home brew in an apartment above a tattoo shop in Sheepshead Bay. This shit is already weird." Seriously. Who the fuck ever goes to Sheepshead Bay willingly? She makes quick work of the waxed stopper, thumbing the cork out of place. If she traded for a crate, she's probably been drinking them for a week or more, though. "Don't tease me." She wags her fingers in a gimme gesture.

"Trust me, that's nothing compared to the shit I'm about to tell you," says Richard in wry tones, bringing the bottle up to his lips and taking a swig of the home brew, eyes closing as he thinks about where to start, letting his memory drift back years. "Okay. So. Not too long after you… after what happened on Staten Island, I was hired by this douchebag named Adam Monroe - he's a regenerator too, only he's like a thousand years old - to go to Japan and steal something for him. He was working for a man named Arthur Petrelli."

The last president's father.

"They founded an organization back in the fifties they just called 'The Company'. They kept the secret about Evos, tracked them, hid the truth where they could, fucked with peoples' memories left and right. Anyway. So we get there, and I manage to steal the paper I'm after, because that's what I do," he explains, ever-so-humble, "It's one half of something called 'The Formula'. Both halves together can make this chemical that you can give non-expressives abilities with. Evo in a syringe. At this point, I concluded that my employers were evil sons of bitches, and altered a few numbers before handing it over."

Pearl watches Richard as he relates his tale, drinking small sips steadily. She hmms and nods at the mention of the Company, probably having heard something about them before somewhere. Though not on Richard's level of sneakery-theivery, she's never exactly been on the shiny side of the law, and also lives(ed) in a land of delights called Crime. "That's fucked up. Of course some asshole monetized it." She, ever the peanut gallery, says, "Good man. Fuck with the formula, keep the money. Kick the five thousand pound hornet's nest and scoot."

If she'd caught any of the very public trials, of course there was mention of the Company, the Institute, and other nefarious groups. Of course, television service isn't exactly reliable since the war in most places. "Yeah," Richard breathes out a chuckle, "I thought so too. Then Arthur came after me…" He leans his head back, looking to the ceiling, "Turns out he could steal other peoples' abilities, and had an arsenal of them. Ripped my ability out of me, took off my hand, and he was just getting started. A speedster friend of mine temporarily dropped him with a shotgun blast, and we took to running. Guy named Tyler brought me to someone he thought could help."

A sidelong look, "This is where the story gets weird."

Pearl drops the bottle to rest against her knee, fingers looped loosely around the neck of it. She leans back slightly, hand pressed into the surface of the table to prop her up. "That's an inconvenient complication. Arthur cheats." She nods, studying him as he speaks. "It's usually with a well intentioned friend that shit starts sliding sideways." She can't help but grin a bit, despite the seriousness. It doesn't last, though. "Okay." She drops her chin again in that little nod. "Braced for weird."

Ray breathes out a low chuckle. "God knows that Tyler had nothing but good intentions," he murmurs, bringing the beer bottle back up for a hearty swig. Dropping it back down to his thigh, he leans against the table and explains, "Tyler, as it turns out, was from the future. So was his friend — a Doctor Edward Ray, and his bunch of cohorts. They'd all broken out of an Evolved prison from the future and came back in time to make sure Arthur didn't win. Eddie had the ability to predict probabilities. He was a super planner."

Wryly, "He was also working against the Edward Ray from this time, who thought his plan was shit."

Pearl winces. "Jesus, time travel." She takes another drink, because she's gonna need it. "Like one fucked up continuity isn't hard enough to track." She shakes her head, "But Arthur's the hot jar of mayonnaise in this story, so we're doing our best to drop his ass in a dumpster where he belongs. If that takes time travel, bring on the Quantum Leap, Sam." She takes a long pull of that beer. It helps with the neuroplasticity.

"You have no idea," Richard mutters at the mention of continuity. He waves a hand vaguely, "So we won't be here all day… let's skip to the chase. We end up on the roof, Arthur boiling away into red foam under my boots after I injected him with a particularly unpleasant concoction his own scientists whipped up — turns out that being a regenerator has its disadvantages, he spread the virus to every cell in seconds — and both Edward Rays there, with two Tylers. Tyler's power was that he could switch peoples' powers, augment them, the whole nine yards."

He points with the bottle in one direction, then the other as he explains, "So future Ed, his plan is to overload Tyler and have him empower a quarter-million people at once as part of a plan to save the world from the Vanguard." End-the-world terrorist types. Well known in the media. "Current Ed's plan is to show up with Tyler's sister and convince him to stop. Future Ed died, future Tyler exploded, we thought current-Ed died, everyone lived happily ever after."

"Nobody actually lived happily ever after, of course."

Pearl is silent throughout all that, though the idea of being injected with a foamy goo maker targeted to regenerators does give her a moment's pause, ie another long pull of beer. She considers this plan-palooza with a side order fiesta of double-cross, then finishes off her large bottle of beer in one last swig. Surely the mental lubrication'll help all that sink in. "Some interesting friends you have."

"So, let's see… after that," says Richard, frowning at the ceiling, "We were dealing with a lot of Humanis incidents, racist attacks. It got— " His jaw tightens, "Pretty personal. My fingers got into a lot of pies around then. Old CIA operatives, Humanis infiltration of the government, the Triads, the Ferrymen, Phoenix. This crazy motherfucker tried to destroy the Statue of Liberty. I killed him, too."

He looks back down, turning the bottle in his hands, watching the way the dim lights play off amber glass, "Then the government recruited me for a mission."

Pearl's squinting a bit by now. Yeah, definitely she's doing that. Her bottle's empty, so she sets it aside with a thunk. "The attacks were widespread. Talk about shit raining downhill. Even the smallest towns had incidents." She sits up. "No good life choice ever started with 'then the government recruited me for a mission.'" She rests her hands on her knees, feet dangling off the table. She crosses her legs and leans in. "What did you do, Ray?" What did you do.

"Oh, before I get to that— " Richard looks to her with a wry half-smile, "I had my own crew of people by then, and we went back to Ed's old hide-out. He knew we'd be back. Had instructions, information. This started this whole thing where I spent the next few years hunting down things that'd fuck up the world and stopping them before they actually happened, which let me tell you, less awesome than it sounds."

A grimace, "Anyway. Operation Apollo. Turns out the Vanguard, headed up by Kazimir Volken, had a contigency plan if their first plan was foiled, which it had been. They were going to try and release a world-killing virus, if you're wondering. Anyway, the contigency plan was to nuke Antarctica and flood the planet."

He draws in a deep breath, "They sent us all over. I ended up in Argentina for awhile fighting this crazy motherfucker and his robot llamas. Don't ask. Then, Antarctica. It…" His gaze dips, "Gimme a sec, this wasn't fun."

Pearl takes a moment to consider that. The robot llamas are really not that strange compared to everything else. Really. Not that strange, but she's gonna need another beer. "Fucking scientists," she mutters, hopping off the table. Though she's headed for the fridge, she does pause before swooping up more libation, giving Richard's arm a squeeze. When he pauses, she stays put, hand on his arm, body in close to his. OldPearl might have punched him and told him to drink more before he goes on. Ten years on Pearl offers him the comfort of touch. No teasing.

At that touch, Richard brings one hand up to briefly cover hers - a warm press of fingers - before it falls away back down to his knee. He draws in a deep breath, "Long story short, we couldn't disarm the nuclear bomb. It was down at the bottom of a pit, Wagner'd killed or injured so many of us. I was in bad shape. Francois almost died trying to get to it."

A silent moment, and he admits, "I think maybe he died in that hole with me, actually."

He draws in a deep breath, "Did you— I forget. Did you know my ability? What I could do? I could turn into a shadow. Just nothing, blackness, made being a thief super-easy, let me tell you. I could bring things in and out of the shadows with me, too."

"We never really talked about all that, but I heard some things." Pearl smiles, leaning against him lightly, not really giving him any of her weight. It's just a press of her body. "My thieving I did the old fashioned way." Two thieves having out, never talking about their larceny. "Did you know there were a couple people offering a lot of money for your head on a platter? Course most of them didn't even know you were you." She hms. "Why you think I let you sleep on my couch?" She never really says yes or no, of course. She follows it up with, "Sorry about your friends." And then, "That shit would give me an ulcer. I'd have to drink and irresponsibly fuck my way through half the city to burn the stress off." She thumbs toward the fridge. "I'm having another beer. You want?"

The light press of her body against his side has him lean back just as slightly. "I'm not surprised, really," Richard chuckles softly, "There were a whole lot more later, who did know who I was." He lifts the emptied bottle in his hand, considering it for a moment before admitting, "Yeah, I think I do. This last part's not easy."

Pearl nods and reaches across him to take his empty, clinking it with hers as she gathers them up in one hand, then crosses to the fridge to grab out two cold ones. She stuffs the empty amber bottles into a box of them, clattering glass against glass none too gently. The bottles are sturdy make, and can take it. "You basically spent the last ten years saving the world from mad scientists and meglomaniacal dicks." And watching friends drop left and right.

Pearl returns with both bottles in hand, stepping in close again to hand his over.

"Oh, it gets worse," Richard assures her fatalistically, reaching out to accept the bottle she offers over. He turns his gaze to the bottle as he works out the stopper, so he doesn't need to look at her as he explains the next part.

"So I'm in a hole. I'd be bleeding everywhere if my blood wasn't freezing as soon as it came out. I've got several broken bones, I'm pretty sure. And I'm sitting on top of a nuclear bomb about to blow up and turn the world into a Kevin Costner film."

He draws in a slow breath, "So… I ate the whole damn thing. Absorbed it into my shadows."

Softer, "And it went off."

Pearl blows out a breath. She sets her bottle aside, thunking it onto the table. There's a moment of silence that falls between them. She turns her gaze to his, watching his face. Watching him take a whole lot of interest in the opening of his own bottle of beer. "Did it hurt?"

Ray closes his eyes, and he nods slightly. No verbal answer to that. "It took me awhile to pull myself… to pull myself back together," he says quietly, "Longer to get back to New York. Longer than that to find someone who could… make sure I was alive when it was all said and done. Almost too long, I think."

Pearl's hand finds the back of his neck. She presses it there, fingers curled around the nape, though they're a little chilled from carrying those bottles. Her thumb finds the base of his skull and she lightly rubs the muscle there, the place a lot of stress headaches start. "Why too long?"

There's a moment's tension at the touch, then Richard slowly relaxes. "Not sure how long I could've held myself together, honestly," he admits quietly, "I was on the verge of falling apart, and…" The beer's brought up, motioned vaguely in the air, "Anyway. Anyway. All's well that ends well. After that, more spy games, government shit, conspiracies, yadda yadd yadda…" A long pause, "Then the Institute showed up. I'm sure you've heard of them, and all the shit they did."

There's probably more there, something he isn't saying. Pearl leaves it be for now, letting him get his story out, in as much detail, or as little, as he likes. She has plenty of time to pry into it later. One thing's obvious, of course. There are a lot of things simmering under the surface. "You're alive. You're here." She mms, but doesn't comment on the Institute. It's pretty rhetorical. Obvs. "So you're, what, hanging out with the jet setting crowd now? Sipping champagne at swanky fundraisers with thousand dollar plates and fancy shoes? How'd that go down?"

"So…" Richard cocks his head a bit in her direction, a faint smile tugging up at the corner of his lips, "…turns out that when I was born, my godfather was supposed to be taking care of me. Dumped me into an orphanage instead. A lot of his plans were to get me together with his three natural children - who he'd also dumped along the way - and make it up to us. Make sure we survived what was coming."

"So ol' Eddie left us a bunker to survive the war," he admits, "My brother's a genius. Crazy, but a genius. We all got together, figured we'd make a company, try and help rebuild after the war."

He squints at the bottle in his hand, "I think our assets topped a billion dollars after all the paperwork last year."

"Edward Ray and a scavenger hunt and a secret bunker and secret siblings." All of that is certainly quite the meal to digest. Pearl sits for a moment studying the way the strung lights above shine off the amber-colored glass in her hand. "Hm." She nods. "So you have a family now. And piles and piles of money. That's pretty weird." She sips her beer. "And the robot llamas, too." Lest they be left out.

"I just… basically didn't make it past Virginia. Spent a lot of time performing unlicensed medical procedures when the world lost its damn mind." There's more to it, but Pearl's distilled it down. "If I never have to dig another grave again, it'll be too soon." She lifts the bottle again, this time to take a longer sip. Then she pauses to say, "It mostly wasn't me killing people. To be clear." She mumbles something before she takes a drink. Sounds a lot like 'Mostly.'

There's more, of course. She can tell that, and Richard can surely tell she can tell. But you can only explain so much madness at once before the person you're talking to can't digest any more. "I'm sorry," he says quietly, nudging his shoulder against hers and leaving it there for a moment, "It was a shitty time for the world. For everyone. We all lost a lot of people."

"Yeah." As ever, Pearl sums it up in one word, both a little hushed with sadness and edged in anger. She smiles then. The beer's done its work and kept her body warm through any chills threatening to settle in after such conversation. "It's hard being a survivor. But then again there's more beer for us."

"This is true," Richard admits, looking down at the bottle in his hand, "This is definitely true."

There's silence for a few long moments, before he adds, "I've missed you, you know."

Pearl smiles. "Of course you have." She crooks an arm around him and leans in again. "Everybody else is inexplicably impressed with your shit." She nurses her beer for a few moment moments, perhaps in silent contemplation of all they've lost and all they must still rebuild. Well, yeah. No. Because then says, "If you buy me a couch, I'll let you sleep on it sometimes."

Ray laughs softly. "It's true," he admits, leaning back to her, taking a swig of the beer as well and enjoying that silence for a few moments. "Deal," he finally allows, "And if you get tired of, I don't know, giving needle infections to vagrants and living in Sheepshead Bay, I assure you that I am a fervent believer in nepotistic hiring practices."

Pearl chokes on her beer, coughing a couple of times before she reaches up to wipe a dribble from her chin. "What the fuck? Do I look like I belong in the corporate world?" She snorts, which is a bad choice when you've just nearly choked on your beer. She coughs again. "Fuck. Unless you need somebody to throw assholes down some stairs, maybe I could get into that." She brushes a hand over her top, which has also taken some splash damage. "I have some rage to work out." Seems like the tea doesn't completely get it done.

"Do I?" Richard grins broadly at that, one hand lifting to thump against her back a few times to make sure she can still breathe, "I mean, shit, get some sort of formal training classes at the college and I could get you a position in the infirmary or something. Seriously, if it wasn't for my sister I'd be showing up to board meetings dressed like this."

A pause.

"Actually I do sometimes. The board is just me and my siblings."

"Do you have a collection of suits?" Pearl's amused again. "I'd like to see that." She has the beer leak under control now, though she does wipe her throat and then brush her hand across the outer thigh of her jeans. "I'm a medic. You probably never knew that because of all those times I threw beer bottles out the window at skeevy flashers and that one annoying couple in 1B." She rubs her forehead and admits, "I stopped doing it before we met. I hate pukers. Joke's on me. First week of my apprenticeship, someone vomited on my machine. I guess all jobs have their moments."

"See? There you go," Richard shrugs one shoulder easily, "You'd fit right in with.. uh.. people. We definitely have people working for Raytech." A long pause, "I mean they're interesting. Definitely interesting." There's another long pause, and he looks at the beer bottle in his hand, "…let's just say I wouldn't mind having someone on-site that was good at dealing with any bullet wounds that might come up. Or cranial trauma."

There's only a bit of a beat before she asks, "That happen often in your office?" Bullet wounds. Cranial trauma. She lifts one shoulder. "No promises, but I'll think about it. You can show me your office sometime. The break room. Coffee cart. Snack machines." Everybody knows Pearl has to have access to snacks. Good ones, not those stale, bottom-shelf gas station kind. "I own the building and I have a couple tenants upstairs. I'm mostly by appointment here." Which might explain why she was a bit surprised when foot traffic happened x2 last week. "Drink your beer. Jesus, I can't believe you work in an office."

"Christ," Richard laughs, bringing the beer bottle up to his lips, "Neither can I." He takes a hearty swallow of it, his eyes closing as he just savours the (slight) buzz he's gotten off the drinks. He doesn't drink as much as he used to. "My life's a badly-written action film, I think sometimes."

"I hope it's not." Pearl says, reaching over to set her second bottle aside, now that it's mostly drained. "If it were, your office building'd get taken over by a rival faction seeking the contents of your vault on the day I decided to clip on a visitor's pass. I really don't think a hostage situation in a locked-down elevator is the way to sell a work environment to potential employees." She smirks. "As an example."

There's a long moment of silence from Richard before he just starts laughing, doubling forward for a moment and thumping the beer bottle's base down against his knee. "It says so much about my life," he snickers, "That I literally don't find that to be an out-of-the-picture possibility."

"Right?" Pearl snorts and goes to dump her second empty in the box-o-empties. "I'm not walking into that place without a first aid kid, a knife, a baton, and at least a base jumping parachute. Seriously." She glances over. "Regeneration hurts, man. I'm jumping out the window, not eating a bunch of bullets. In fact, I'd insist any contract had a hefty amount of hazard pay and liquor bonuses."

There's a long pause before she just starts laughing too.

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