Welcome Complications


marlowe_icon.gif monica_icon.gif

Scene Title Welcome Complications
Synopsis Marlowe and Monica have a lot to iron out.
Date September 20, 2019

Marlowe's Apartment

Monica isn't exactly comfortable in Yamagato Park these days. Given all the givens, it's a little like purposefully going over to an ex's place because you left your favorite sweater there.

Except in this case, the sweater is a friend.

Which is why Monica ends up on Marlowe's doorstep. She even rings the bell instead of sneaking in through the balcony. For one— she's not entirely sure she wouldn't be arrested for doing so and for two— Marlowe has been noticeably avoiding her for a while now. So maybe breaking and entering isn't the best way to bridge that gap. Monica isn't even sure why the gap is there. And she really doesn't like going in blind.

But that's how it has to be sometimes.

Had Marlowe heard the doorbell? It’s difficult to tell as the seconds tick on by and there’s nobody answering the door. Long enough so that Monica might get the impression she’s there, but still avoiding contact. Eventually the telltale sound of a soft click and silent swing open reveals the engineer. Much hasn’t changed. She’s pulled her highlighted light-brown curls back into a bun, a pair of protective earwear slung over her neck but twin wireless ear buds dangle off her ears, paused in playing what music had been her soundtrack.

She’s in a Yamagato engineering jumpsuit, the futuristic design having been her common workwear while Monica was still with the company. There’s fresh stains of oil and grease accompanying the old.

What else is new, is Marlowe’s chilled expression now face to face with Monica again for the first time in months. She was right to compare it like visiting an ex. The sweater is wrapped upon said ex. Standing there with cold formality, she peers at Monica through an invisible wall of politeness. Invisible, as it poorly masks what Marlowe has always been unable to hide in her eyes: a tint of hurt. But what was once turned upon Monica as an indirect reflection of what Kimiko Nakamura had done, now slices a cut much deeper, more personal.

Yet, she steps aside, silently giving permission for Monica to enter.

"Okay," Monica says, drawing the word out as she takes in Marlowe's cold expression. "You're in a mood right now, and we're gonna deal with that. You want to get to it before or after I ask you for a favor?" She picks up a sheathed katana from where it rests against the wall and starts into the apartment. "It's not a Takezo Kensei, but it is a Monica Dawson," she says with a smirk toward her obvious unamused friend.

She sets the sword down on the table and turns to look back at Marlowe. Her concern about their friendship is hidden beneath an expectant expression. Outwardly, she's incapable of dropping the mask until she finds out what sort of footing she's on.

Is she in a mood? Marlowe arches up her brows, painted lips pursing. She might be trying to stay mad, but it’s hard when Monica brings in and sets down a katana. Brazenly. The churning inner mixture of emotions acts like a generator, pushing reluctant feet along and bringing her closer pace by pace. Gradually, there is also a look of concern that stamps itself onto her face. A soft wetting of inner lips. “You could have told me.” Once she says it aloud, the seal breaks and her words come faster. “Kimiko told me what you do— what you did— and what I was a part of. Even unknowingly. That was on me. It was… Naive of me. And maybe you did try to tell me, and I was too stupid to catch on. And, if I didn’t know any better then, I’m not sure if I know any better now. I mean, what’s even changed?”

She gestures to the luxury apartment on the whole. She looks down at herself, down the Yamagato Industries engineering jumpsuit, to a swipe of oil lightly staining her palm. The stain disappears under her curled, fisted fingers. Marlowe doesn’t look up to meet Monica’s eyes, her cheeks darkening and eyes moistening. Finally, she does lift her gaze, paused for a shuddering breath in. “Did you even know that it was all a lie? Kimiko said she never signed the papers.”

So… before, then.

Monica tilts her head as she listens to Marlowe's flood, her hands moving to her hips by the end. Her expression turns colder, though, as she responds.

"I know that's her story now," she says, starting with Kimiko's supposed lie. "It wasn't when she took my arm, my apartment, and my paycheck. And my medical insurance. She found out where I was going and is trying to retroactively attach herself to any success I may have had in Japan. She sent Godfrey to try to lure me back in. And she thought the same exact offer as last time would work again."

Which brings her back around to her own lie.

"I wasn't allowed to tell you. Or anyone. I might have ignored that for you, but— you didn't want to know." She runs her hand through her hair and fixes her attention back on Marlowe. "How many times did you fix bullet holes in my arm? How many times did I show up bruised or bloody? You're not stupid, Marlowe. You didn't want to know." It's harsh, handing her friend that responsibility, and she knows it. So she softens a moment later, also gesturing to the apartment. "I don't blame you. It's nice here. Peaceful. Beautiful. You have access to resources and comforts and the creative freedom to put them to use."

Godfrey? The name drop of the Yamagato business liaison gets her attention. But it also gets Marlowe’s thoughts pulling forward again, yanked out of the sludgey mire of self-pity by the harsh truths Monica points out. “I, I had a feeling,” she confesses, arms wrapping around her middle in protective gesture. “Ever since April. But you’re right, Moni.” She falls quiet at the softened afterthought, looking around to their luxurious setting.

Marlowe nods slowly, looking around the apartment that looks suddenly so very spacious - overwhelmingly so. “We - I - know that I’ve done a lot of things. Trying to help the Safe Zone recover. To help the nation recover. To help the people. To help them live, you know?” She turns back, eyes glistening wet, breathing uneasy. Her gaze strays to the spot of the missing arm, then back up to Monica’s face. And upon meeting Monica’s eyes, she sighs out heavily, loosening the tension with a shudder. She can’t stay mad.

“How can I help anybody if I can’t even help my friends keep themselves together?” she questions aloud, the tone twisting back dangerously towards self-pity, teetering on the edge of the pit. But Marlowe shakes her head, looks down at the floor briefly, and when her gaze lifts again she recalls, “You wanted a favor. I think, technically, I do owe you.” Friendship tabs and all.

Monica steps forward instead of getting to her business and wraps her arm around Marlowe. Because hugs are in order. "You do good work, Marlowe. You help people. And you don't owe me anything, you dumdum." When she steps back, she keeps her hand on Marlowe's shoulder. "I need you to know, when they asked me to do the job, when they offered me the arm, I wasn't myself. I had lost so much and I didn't… care like I used to. I let them talk me into it. But it's different now. I can't do it anymore. I haven't been able to do it for a while now. And I'm trying to make up for it."

Which is to say, she hasn't accepted her position back again.

But she steps back, over to the sword she brought with her, her hand laying over it. "This seems really unimportant now, but I was hoping you could unglue this sword from its sheath. I glued it together to get it through customs. Said it was decoration," she says, looking over at Marlowe with a crooked smile.

Marlowe scrunches her face at 'dumdum', fighting back the growing sting of emotion. She can't escape the shiver, the eventual sniff she must make and a swallowing down of the urge to throw herself at her friend. But she does lift a hand to cover Monica's on her shoulder, and her fingertips there clench around hers for several seconds as the woman speaks to past motives.

And that she's trying for redemption.

Marlowe lets go when Monica moves over to the sheathed sword, and the explanation of its presence triggers a faint almost-choke of a laugh. "You— you glued it? Oh my god, Moni," she exhales finally, stepping over to receive the forcibly peace-bonded weapon into her hands. Fingers explore the length of the scabbard, the guard, the hilt. Before her ability comes in to play, though, Marlowe glances back up to her, eyes narrowing in presumption. "You're not just using it to slice fruit though, are you?" she questions wryly.

"Well, you know, I didn't want them to confiscate it. You know." Don't you know, Marlowe? Monica leans back against the table, one ankle crossing over the other. "I had to think on my feet. Did you know the airport doesn't like super glue either."

Something got confiscated. But not the prize, so she seems satisfied.

Narrow eyes have Monica lifting her eyebrows, the accusation getting a smirk. "No. Champagne bottles, too." She lets out a heavy exhale, then refocuses over on Marlowe. "I was able to learn some new martial arts while I was out there. Useless if I don't have the right equipment to use them. If I ever have to sword fight anyone, I promise it won't be to the death." Because the most likely opponent is an immortal. But, semantics.

“They don’t like anything that makes trouble,” Marlowe agrees, unable to hide the mild amusement for Monica’s antics. Her semantics, however. A sudden sharp glance up fills with worry, followed by a guilty glance back down to the sword. Marlowe takes in a shallow breath, looking briefly shaken by her thoughts. But then she shakes her head stiffly, moving to a nearby workbench to avoid commenting. A measure of guilt blankets her expression, one she tries to hide by turning to the work in hand.

Her curls her fingers around the sword scabbard and hilt, and tiny blue-white sparks jump and sputter as she focuses on undoing the bonded material stuck to the sword. Seconds pass, fingers pulling and rolling the glue into a small ball that she sets aside. “I’m glad you didn’t use a whole tube,” she says, turning to Monica and pulling the sword out just enough to test it before setting it back fully in the scabbard. While her golden irises return to their normal brown, Marlowe holds the katana out for Monica to take back and draw out at her leisure.

Monica takes the sword, but instead of drawing it, she sets it down again to lean against the wall. She doesn't need to test Marlowe's work. She's bet her life on her friend's talents more than once, after all.

"Thanks," is her commentary, sincere even though it's short. And it isn't long before worry comes over her expression.

"It must have been a shock, when Kimiko let you in on the skeletons in the closet. You okay?" She tilts her head, a frown on her face. Those skeletons are very literal, after all. "Have you been able to process all that? All this?" She waves her arm as if to gesture to the whole of Yamagato. Beauty built on a foundation of blood.

Blood and Lies. Monica’s question and gesture turn Marlowe’s face towards the glimmering and neon glowing lights outside the floor to ceiling windows of the apartment. “Shock,” she begins softly, “isn’t how I would have described it.” Eyes still on the cityscape, she can’t bring herself to look back to her friend, not yet. There’s a lot of avoiding going on. “When they gave me access to the director’s files. When I saw what they had done to the arm - your arm - and the kill switches they had hidden inside it. When Nakamura practically confessed… to not trusting anybody, thinking we were all potentially infiltrated. I was angry. I was sad. I thought for a moment I would quit right then, after I’d already broken the fuck out of the president’s desk.” Briefly, her eyes shut out the sights. Marlowe breathes in deeply, and on the exhales opens them and finally turns back to Monica.

“But I remembered what you said before you left, Moni. To keep my eyes open.” She steps away, moving to a wall and running her hand along it, until she comes to a stop with her carefully manicured fingernails spread. “And I thought, what’s the use of keeping my eyes open if there was a curtain drawn? So.”

Once more, her eyes transmute to their golden color, and blue-white sparks crackle over the spot where her hand lies, sinks, into the wall’s liquefying material. Layers peel back to form a hole, revealing a hidden metal safe. Marlowe lifts her hand away once the wall’s secret is revealed, placing her hand instead upon the safe and undoing its tumblers in a more conventional manner of numbers and turning the lever. A form is lifted out: sleek, black, and five-fingered. Marlowe’s golden-eyed gaze blinks once, twice, and fades back to brown. “I haven’t even shown Asi. Because, I honestly wasn’t even sure I was going to keep it. But also… I like surprises. Or, no. I like solutions. Ones that come up to solve a problem.”

She offers out the limb for Monica to take like she had done with the sword earlier. “Foggy’s the only one who knew, and he’s no stool pigeon,” says Marlowe with a return of a crooked smile.

"The arm was the asset. Not me." That didn't used to bother Monica, the notion that she wasn't as important as the arm she was carrying. She didn't know about the kill switches, but she isn't surprised to hear about them. She does care more now, though.

"The president's desk, huh? I would have liked to have seen that."

She watches Marlowe, listening to her recount her feelings and hurts, her brow only furrowing when her friend starts to peel away her own wall. She doesn't speak for a while, especially when the arm comes out. First, she stiffens, bracing herself against the hope it represents to her. Remembering to breathe takes a moment or two, but eventually she reaches a hand out toward the arm, pulling back at the last second.

"You sure about this?"

About her.

About them.

A sharp pop of breath escapes her before the sound of an incredulous laugh. Like she couldn’t believe her ears, hearing Monica question their bond. A sound like the old Marlowe would have made. “Girl, you better take this arm from me before I slap your face with it,” she says without a hint of malice and a broader smile. Where Monica’s hand pulled back, Marlowe steps forward and presses the cool surface of the carbon-nanofiber interwoven, manipulated metal to her friend’s very much organic and warm-blooded skin. Her eyes don’t leave Monica’s face. “You’re not an asset,” she says gently, “you’re a human being. And, most importantly, Moni - you’re my friend.”

She persists. She insists.


The ‘but’ accompanies a soft sigh of regret and frustration, one Monica has heard plenty of times when Marlowe has been faced with a problem she can’t solve on her own. Because Reasons. Because, “I don’t know that it’s going to work out exactly the way the Cestus used to be, because we had Jiba before, so we need a technopath or supercomputer of sorts to run the computations real time. And… you had to be awake. We also had a whole medical science team making sure the nevrazene supply didn’t run low. I know, my personal projects don’t run cheap as it is. But some of this - all of this - means it might be awhile before there’s enough saved up in place to get it all together for you. I’m sorry about that, Moni.”

Monica takes the arm with a laugh, but appreciation in her gaze as she looks over at her friend. With the prosthesis in her hand, she looks it over, appreciating the aesthetics. Sleeker— probably because it doesn’t need room for bombs or whatever. Also black this time, which Monica can seriously get behind.

The but has her lifting her eyes again.

"First of all. No sorries. You just made me a piece of myself, Marlowe. Come on. We've got some hookups we can ask about, right? And I'm not letting you handle the money parts, either, don't be crazy. Asi knows cybernetics and she's a technopath, we can get her in on this. And Richard has a lab or six that we could ask him for access to. If he can forgive me for disappearing off the map. Again." Yikes. "But he's a good guy." He's forgiven her every other time she's gone ninja and wandered back in months later.

She can't help it.

"I'll look into the anti-rejection drug situation. There's gonna be a way to work it out." She will make a way, if there isn't one. "As for being awake— I— it's fine. Just give me a stick to bite down on or something and try not to judge me."

The mention of Asi comes as a reminder of the perceived slights against Marlowe’s trust. Her gaze dips briefly to the arm, lips pursed in a brief roiling of inner conflict. “But, do you trust her?” The question comes out shaky. She pulls away to give Monica full possession of the weight (light though it is) of the arm, allowing her to explore as she wishes. “And Richard… I believe he’s a good guy, too. Only thing that’s criminal about him still is that ass.” The comment comes with an inevitable upward smirk and a sidelong glance at Monica. Mmhmm.

She can’t help it either.

But anyway, the added notion of the anti-rejection drug brings her back to present daydreams, and she shakes her head slowly. “I don’t know how you do it,” Marlowe says as she gestures for Monica to come along, heading for the kitchen. Heading for the alcohol. “But I do know that more than anything, you’re going to be your own woman again.” The words are heavy with faith. With hope.

Marlowe opens the large fridge, pulling out a bottle of ever available chilled liquor. “The Cestus was named after the Greeks’ terminology. Guess it sounded sexier than what else came up in marketing, you know? Aesthetics.” She may have had some input there. Two glasses pulled out from the cabinets, and she pours. “But this arm is yours. You get the honors of christening it.” Hence. She nudges a tumbler over, looking up to Monica expectantly.

"I do trust Asi. She's the right kind of crazy, I promise. And I definitely trust her more than any of the other technopaths I know of." Monica brings the arm along with her as she follows Marlowe to the kitchen. Just try to get her to let it out of her sight at the moment. She only sets it down because she has to in order to take the drink Marlowe pours for her. "I do it because the alternative is to accept defeat. I'm not good at that." Even when she maybe should.

Her eyebrows lift in surprise when Marlowe offers to let her name it. She's silent for a long stretch, sipping on her drink in thought. "Fuck the Greek terminology," she says, matter-of-factly, "if I get to name it, I want to name it after strong women of color like the one who made it. You know we gotta name it after Misty Knight. Bionic badass. And when she and her amazing best friend teamed up, they used Knightwing."

Of course, they were also sometimes called Daughters of the Dragon, she's just going to not mention that part.

Glass lifted to her lips, Marlowe pauses before the first sip. The glass lowers, revealing the rest of her initial surprise and delight. “Holy shit, hell yes,” breathes the engineer, her smile widening to a broad, crooked grin. “I love it. Knightwing.” Monica can see the name being turned over, Marlowe’s gaze dipping to the arm’s length as if to determine where she could brand it in. But no, not now. Maybe later.

For now, Marlowe nods emphatically and lifts her glass again, toasting to the name. More than the name, she toasts to their partnership. “To the Knightwing. And to us, badass bitches. Never accept defeat.” Her eyes shine as she takes a drink.

She’s struck mid-sip with a stray reminder, spurred on by the naming of the arm. “Mm! Oh right! Since you’re back, I know there’s someone else who’s going to be thrilled to see you.” Sweeping away in sudden quick step, Marlowe walks to the other room around the corner, and from her place in the kitchen Monica can hear awakened R2-D2 beep-boops. The fluttering of wings heralds the appearance of a flapping African Grey parrot - Foggy - landing on the kitchen counter beside Monica. “Snacks, snacks, qua—” The bird cuts off as it spots the sleek cybernetic arm. And Monica. Food is temporarily forgotten in light of Foggy hop-waddling over and loosing a ready call of whirrs and clicks, the sounds of Monica’s former cybernetic arm associated to her. “Je t’aime. Je t’aime.”

That's a toast Monica is happy to make, and she downs the rest of her drink before she looks over at Marlowe with a quizzical expression. It hits her the moment her friend takes off to the other room and she sets her glass down just in time to see Foggy make his landing. "My baby!" She holds her arm out, inviting him up onto her shoulder to nuzzle with. "I missed you," she says, her smile bright as she leans her head against his.

When she looks back over to Marlowe, her expression can't match how much she appreciates all she's done for her. Is doing for her.

"Let's get you some crackers, Foggy," she says, gathering the bird and her friend to move back toward the living room. "We have a lot to catch up on. Marlowe's taking good care of you?" It's a tease. Marlowe is probably taking better care of him than she did.

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