Where Is My Prairie Song


huruma_icon.gif ryans_icon.gif

Scene Title Where Is My Prairie Song
Synopsis When the oracle's away, the cats will play.
Date June 09, 2018

Cats Cradle

The room is large, a mid sized stage with tattered curtains hanging around it and two spotlights that face it. There were a number of mismatched theatre seats arranged in a half circle facing the stage, a long dark purple rug running through the middle of them. A chandelier that is sometimes on and only lights up halfway hangs in the center of the room. Even when music is not being performed people congregate around the stage, drinking or smoking. A 420 Friendly sign hangs near a mirror hung up behind the bar.
The bar area has a few mismatched chairs and boxes for chairs. A lone armchair is placed near the bar, the owner usually occupies it when she is in. The bar is a bunch of wood and steel welded together and repurposed as a bar, there is a black glass that is fitted around the middle of often smear from people’s knees and boot heels. A really old television set with a VHS player sits behind the bar propped up on a stand. The bar is as well stocked as you can get nowadays, there’s even an exotic alcohol or two rumored to be under the bar. A modest grill stands in the corner right next to the bar, nothing fancy just greasy food. In the corner of the room near the stage and it’s green room door is another door that is usually locked.

Early summer comes with comfortable, humid evenings that simmer down from warmly toasted days, followed by the onset of chilled dark; outside of Cat’s Cradle the atmosphere is relaxed, early evening proving itself as summer. Clouds still linger, and the cooling breeze follows patrons as they open the front door of the bar.

Huruma made quite sure to keep her word when it came to dragging Ryans out of his house. It was almost less of a promise and more of a threat, but somehow, someway, she’s gotten him this far. The show is in an intermission, letting the band and singer take a short break between sets; so far it’s been a little more eclectic and classic in choices of songs, but with a blues style band and a solid singer, they seem to blend everything with a more down-to-earth vibration. The theatre style seats have been widened out a touch, providing some more space in the floor; people have since taken advantage of it to get on their feet and find a dance or two.

Conversation has flitted between this and that between songs and over a couple of drinks, and it is only at the intermission does Huruma seem to release some lingering tension in her shoulders. Her dress is simple, but flared smoothly at the skirt, hanging loose to her knees in a deep, rich green. Accented with only a geometric golden chain that finds itself between her fingers, it gets idly toyed with as she turns an expectant look to the man sitting next to her. Brows lift and one leg hooks over the other as she settles back in her chair.

“So what do you think? Is it worth my pulling you along?” Huruma’s lips turn up in a smile which reaches her eyes, her voice a playful velvet. Her ability affords her a large degree of personal observation, but not of someone’s opinions— only how they feel about those opinions. This one in particular seems important to hear, if only because she hopes to get something positive back. Besides— he likes bars. This is halfway. It’s a compromise.

A glass in his hand, Ryans’ attention is still on the stage, thoughtful. He’s been quiet a lot of the evening, though he does participate in the conversation. He foot taps with the upbeat songs, unable to help himself.

He is at least dressed decently, with a nice maroon buttoned up shirt and decent pair of dark blue jeans. The question gets her a sidelong glance. A small smile tugs up a corner of his mouth and his head nods slowly, “It has been nice getting out of the house,” he admits truthfully. “Thank you for being insistent.” He had tried to get out of it, but she persisted. He caved.

“You're welcome.” Huruma's smile edges into Cheshire territory. Persistence pays off, don't let anyone say otherwise. She does not say ‘I told you so’, but he may imagine her thinking it. Because she is. “I'm glad.”

While the venue’s lady is nowhere to be seen— at least out here— the faces are familiar, neighborly ones. He isn't the only person here to get out of the house, so perhaps that doesn't hurt. The Cradle is also known to be an old guard haunt, from what Huruma can tell. Nobody of the type around, but at least a couple of patrons snuck second looks. They are a little noticeable— and thankfully unbothered.

“You should have seen some of the band names that have shows here. They were ridiculous. Eve seemed assured, though?” A soft laugh comes with a shrug of one shoulder, Huruma's attention divided between the stage and Benjamin. The former regains some of the band, slipping back in after a breather. Huruma takes it as a cue to find her drink and polish off the last. “She helped me to choose the least… odd of them. Though I think my favorite was ‘Erotic Popsicle’.”

There is a huff of amusement, his own glass of whiskey toyed with; Ryans sends a glance at her out of the side of eye. “To be fair, there isn’t anything on that list that isn’t odd.” Or sounding like some sort of sexual innuendo. Okay, so maybe he is still a little old fashioned in that way, even though he doesn’t look as such. Brows dip down a little and his shakes his head, “Though I admit, that one sounds like your type of drink.”

The band back, his attention is back to them. It is weird, even just sitting watching a no name band in a old friends bar, Benjamin has a calculated look. As if analyzing everything that their doing up there. The way the fingers move along strings or the way the drummer moves to create the beat.

A scoff comes at his response that it sounds like something she’d drink; he’s not wrong, though. “You should try one sometime. You might even like it.” Huruma laughs, tinted lips pulling back as she turns over her glass to the next hostess drifting through collecting them. “‘Cocktail’ isn’t a cuss, Benjamin. Even James Bond drank martinis…”

With the young woman off to possibly get the older one another mix, Huruma leans back and gives Ryans a more considering look, long enough for him to realize that she’s watching him watch the band. Practically dissecting them. There’s an amused tic to her mouth for it. “Have you ever played?” Ahead of them, the band continues with the more bluesy tune. There is a sudden spark in that look of hers that he knows all too well— it means she’s decided that she's up to something. “Or are you just a dance man through and through?”

“I’m good,” Benjamin insists, with a smirk, at the idea of drinking something fruity. He’ll leave that to Huruma.

When someone is staring, it’s like an itch at the center of your back. You tried to ignore it, but your awareness of it makes the knowing worse. Finally, Ben looks over with a smile pulling his mouth to one side, as if asking what at you looking at?

The idea of him playing would appear to be an incredulous one. At least, in his mind. “Not something I ever considered doing, but I appreciate the art and skill involved. Especially, with the drummer where you have to be able to do several things at once, where a lot of us can’t even pat our heads and rub our stomachs.” Ryans shakes his head, “Not really a dance man either, but… you learn for those you care about.” It had been Mary who had insisted after all.

“Joseph Sullivan gave me my first piano lessons. I can understand the learning… thing.” Huruma definitely cared, given his want to help her. Too bad she ended up disappointing him for decades after. It's better now, in a lot of ways.

Despite the serious remarks, however, that feline look he found staring at him has remained- visible even in the dimmed show lighting.

“You know, we haven't danced in a while.” One brow lifts, her head tilting in a blatant hint. She'll make him have more fun, or so help her.

A healthy amount of fun, anyway.

Fingers tap idly to the beat of the music on his glass, though at the suggestion they pause and Ryans half-glances at her, his head turning her direction slightly. There is some consideration for the request.

“I don’t know,” is said softly by Benjamin. Last time they danced, he had been a whole person. He rubs his arm along the top of his leg, the ache of his missing hand wasn’t noticeable normally; but, moments like this where he is truly aware of the loss…. He feels it. She feels it, but he doesn’t show it.

Amazing how after all these years, something like that could make him feel a little inadequate.

Years of reading him inside and out affords her a touch of edge when it comes to what he doesn’t say. When Ben does not quite look back at her, there is a thoughtful pinch to her brow, almost imperceptible. It shifts some, a tip upwards before it relaxes. Huruma’s pupils fill up more of her shining eyes, the absconding gray to white of iris reflecting some of the stage lights.

He feels it, she feels it, he says nothing, she says-

-something, this time. It has been known to happen. Years have made them quite fluent in one another— idiosyncrasies and all. Huruma’s ability betraying his secrecy does him no favours either.

“Benjamin,” The teasing song of her voice has gone, a small smile and warmth what remains as she holds her hand out to him, casually inviting. “You may doubt yourself, but I do not.” Huruma persisted earlier to get him here, but with this it sounds different. No pressure.

There is a sort of growled sound that vibrates at the back of Ryan’s throat, like some cranky big cat. Blue eyes glance at the hand, brows furrowing in consideration. In the end, there is a sigh and Benjamin finishes of his glass with a gulp. He can’t exactly bring it with him.

Standing, knees giving a bit of a pop — damn old age — Ben turns towards her and places that one good hand in her own offered one, “I offer no guarantees.”

Grumbling aside, wasn’t that painless? Huruma stands as he does, taking his hand in hers. At first it’s still a little coaxing, her steps a touch measured. The shoes she wears are flat and hard-soled, putting her eye to eye as she leads him off with a backstep and a toothy smile.

“Don’t worry, I’ve got you.” She doesn’t need guarantees anyway— it’s not about dancing well in the first place. Though the current song is a little more than halfway, Huruma spends the next moments adjusting; his blunt arm is brought to perch at the wide angle of her hip, good hand staying cradled with her own. There, see? It works. He still works.

Whoever thought that a man like Benjamin Ryans could feel self conscious. Dancing in the quiet of a cabin is one thing, dancing among others is another thing. Still he lets her draw him out there on the dance floor, lets her guide his arms into place. He lets out a soft sigh, “I’m not worried.” Not exactly.

He studies her this close, guarded as always. It’s just who he is. Finally, though he starts to fall into step. He knows the steps, he just doesn’t like being out there like that, with those eyes on them…. And they will be once they really find their rhythm as they once did many years ago. Two predators on the dance floor.

The gentle, invisible miasma of the empath’s ability contracts in on itself, silently coiling in around them. It keeps close; the dim masks the first quest for rhythm almost entirely, and in that segue there are other people to divert attention off of them. Huruma’s features angle slightly downward, marking mentally on what he picks up faster than the rest. The intent look mirrors her movements, deliberate and leading until he settles into it and they become complimentary as one song ends and the next begins. A bluesy cover of a cliche sort of ‘band song’, but still good.

Today is gonna be the day, that they're gonna throw it back to you,

By now you should've somehow, realized what you gotta do,

I don't believe that anybody, feels the way I do, about you now,

Once she is quite confident that they've found a beat and glide into familiarity, Huruma lifts her chin again, lips curved in a dash of delight on her dark features; he may even feel it breeze subconsciously around his own mood. “…Like riding a bike, hm?”

“So it seems,” Benjamin murmurs in a bit of a rumble, only paying half attention to the conversation; the other half on what his feet are doing. He wasn’t doing anything so clumsy such as stepping on her feet; but his movements might be a little sluggish, like he is having to dredge up the memories of where his feet go.

However, after a few turns, it all starts to smooth out and soon it is much like it was at the cabin; as instinct kicks in and the two seem to slowly become one entity gliding across the floor.

Backbeat, the word was on the street, that the fire in your heart is out,

I'm sure you've heard it all before, but you never really had a doubt,

I don't believe that anybody, feels the way I do, about you now,

There is a lot more space here compared to the first time, and now those eyes he was already aware of. None of them stare, per se— it feels like passive admiration for someone who knows what to do, flitting looks and affirming murmurs beneath music.

And all the roads we have to walk are winding, And all the lights that lead us there are blinding,

There are many things that I would like to say to you, but I don't know how,

Huruma, for her part, makes sure that she does not get ahead of him; she even adjusts some steps as she moves alongside, all to favor his hand as a centerpoint. That accommodation comes naturally. The deep green of her dress sways around her knees when she turns, all graceful steps and swing of hip before drawing close again.

“I am happy that this time… There is not a dark cloud looming over our heads.” Not in the sense of Alaska, anyway. It weighed heavy in the days leading up, a consistent pressure. Huruma's eyes gleam faintly for a moment, and warmth in her core ebbs over to him, an ember passed over just to show that she truly is.

Because maybe, you're gonna be the one that saves me,

And after all, you're my wonderwall,

“Mmm,” Ben rumbles in agreement, it was nice. “Life wasn’t boring then, however.” It isn’t a complaint, more of a statement of fact. Whatever is coiled tight within him, seems to relax, movements less stiff. He is slowly finding that grace that he showed in the cabin. The grace that helped me cross a battlefield of feline robots.

However, he’s softer too, since he hasn’t been in those situations anymore. Things that kept his edge up. Retired life has him looking a little more worn around the edge. Still under it all, that hunter still remains, awaiting when it might be needed again.

“You should see the strawberries,” the ones she helped plant. “They are starting to bloom already.” A smile tugs up at the corner of his mouth, “I think you might have a green thumb after all.”

Today was gonna be the day, but they'll never throw it back to you,

By now you should've somehow, realized what you're not to do,

I don't believe that anybody, feels the way I do, about you now,

His mention of the strawberries brings an expression that matches with the flickery orange feeling she nudged out, eyes creasing at the edges and smile coming more flattered than before. “That didn’t take long.” Huruma actually sounds a tad surprised at this, her velvety voice rolling into a small laugh. “Maybe I do…” Although she doesn’t sound particularly convinced.

The dance continues at a comfortable pace, a middle ground; she is up one hand and never quite stopped the life they led before, but he certainly has her beat when it comes to resting, and she knows it.

“How- - how do you know when you’re… done?” Huruma asks in a slow hush, brows pushing together in a moment of depth when she meets blue eyes with her own. Her meaning is unclear at first, soon becoming more transparent.

“How do people like us- -” Me. “- -know when to stop… when it’s all we’ve ever known?”

A faint, fledgling part of her believes she deserves some rest too.

And just maybe— it scares her.

And all the roads that lead you there are winding, and all the lights that light the way are blinding,

There are many things that I would like to say to you, but I don't know how,

There is a sort of stillness that comes over him at that question. Ryans feels a little guarded, but there is no change to their movements. How does he answer that? He isn’t sure.

“We don’t,” Ryans finally admits, looking past her to the room around them. “I am not out there, but I have to remind myself everyday that I promised my family that I would finally slow down.” A small smile tugs at the corner of his mouth with that admission. “I think losing a hand shook them up and —” he sighs, “And the war…” They almost lost him then too. In fact, then it had been touch and go if he would have survived.

“Yes, I remember.” If she did not like the first answer, she doesn’t show it. It’s a difficult question, and subjective to a fault. Her mind veers elsewhere along with her eyes; they glance out to the band and the lights, the dim and the bar. A brief look of consternation passes over her brow before disappearing.

“You shook me up too— and I was there, but I don’t— remember much.” Stilted words come with an admission she has no explanation for. “It’s a blur, and then— the encampment. Medical.”

Huruma shakes her head once, clearing cobwebs out. A laugh passes through on her exhale, just as much a sigh. “‘Slowing down’ seems like a pipe dream. I’ve been on my own since I was eight. My life is a runaway train.” The laugh comes through a little more clearly this time, and those webs get rattled away in a shake of head once again. No use thinking so much about it, not just yet.

Rather than dwell, she concentrates on the last part of the music, pulling away and coming back in a slight turn, hand never quite leaving.

I said maybe, you're gonna be the one that saves me, and after all, you're my wonderwall,

I said maybe, you're gonna be the one that saves me, and after all, you're my wonderwall,

“I think…” Ben starts, just before she twirls out. Whatever he plans to say is left until she back in the circle of his arm. “I think that is just who we are,” his voice rumbles softly as he talks. “They always say that we fade away, but… not always. Some of us need to burn bright until the very end.” It’s obvious that it is who he wants to be.

“Some of us, get forced into just fading away.” He chuckles softly, guiding her around around dance floor in those final moments,. “Just don’t tell the girls how much I am hating being retired… I’d never hear the end of it.”

The circle of his arm is a familiar weight, tension in her back lessening against it. Reassuring. Huruma’s eyes watch the rise and fall of Ben’s chest as he speaks, voice all but in her ears. Those motes of heat at her core move in a bloom through her chest and into her head, the clasp of hands firming all the way to fingertips.

I said maybe, you're gonna be the one that saves me,

You're gonna be the one that saves me,

You're gonna be the one that saves me…

“I am… fairly certain that the girls already know. Or at least, Lucille does.” Huruma smiles some when she breaks the news. Sorry to burst your bubble. Whatever she was going to add falters on her tongue, full lips parting and closing to a slight purse, stifling the temptation to curve back. “I never intend to fade away. Not if I can help it.” The stifle breaks with the low notes of her voice, the feline smile sneaking quietly back as the song closes in.

The sound he makes at the back of his throat says that he isn’t surprised that at least Lucille is clueing in. “She’s a little more like me, than Delia who has always been a miniature version of her mother.”

Leaning back just a little more, to look at Huruma clearly, Benjamin’s studies her. Each turn on the floor they seem to fall further into familiar step. Almost like they can read each other’s minds. It’s perfect. It’s precise. The chuckle that escapes him is full of a sort of warmth. “I don’t think you ever will. I have known you far too long. I would hazard to guess that you will still be making the lives of war criminals hell, long after I am gone.”

“You make it sound as if I am going to live forever out of spite.” Which is not an impossibility. “God… can you imagine me at one-hundred?” Huruma laughs more openly this time, beaming back at her partner through a caught-up breathlessness, a thoughtful, curious gaze studying him studying her.

Cue her turn to give Benjamin a what at you looking at? smile, mirroring his from before.

The song’s instrumental coasts before it ends, the sound of it drawn out on piano and guitar, drums keeping the beat going in a classic blues jam stretch, ending strong and to a set of clapping hands and a couple wild whistles of appreciation.

“At a hundred…” Benjamin trails off with a odd look, but then it eases into a smile. “At one hundred, you will still be running circles around those young kids out there.” He knows none of them will live forever, but if anyone could… it’s her. “You’ll outlive us all.”

Unfortunately, Ryans can’t clap, so he just holds on to Huruma for a moment longer, “You still dance just as gracefully, compared to this old man,” he offers in compliment before loosening his hold on her.

At the notion that she will outlive them all, Huruma can’t help but wear a faintly sobered look, even if she knows he was exaggerating. Probably. She glances to the band and back again while he holds onto her, something invisible twisting and seizing under her ribs.

“You sell yourself short. You are perfect.” The return of the compliment comes naturally and from a familiar train of thought, words a murmur of her dusky voice for only Ben to hear. She likes to remind him that he isn’t as bad at things as he thinks he is.

The hands joined for the dance loosen some along with his hold, only for Huruma’s slender fingers to thread between his, the arm at his side firming the hold that he had started to drop a moment before. When the next song comes, the warbling, upbeat music in her ears is replaced by sudden, wild heartbeat. Her empath’s aura unknowingly bleeds a soothing warmth.

She presses her mouth to his.

Pulling away, it isn’t a jerking motion, but a sort of a gradual separation. His confusion is apparent, both emotionally and in the furrow of his brows. Blue-eyes study her for a long moment, as if trying to figure out some strange new puzzle.

When you have been friends with someone for so long, there is a sort of comfort level that comes with it — a certain level of expectation. Something like that…. It isn’t something that he had even imagined with Huruma. He has always seen her as more a part of his family then anything. The way a close and dear friend is often seen.

So this move is unexpected.

Shocking even.

Whatever decision he makes, she may already know in the jumble of his emotions, as he frees his fingers from the tangle of hers. It seems, at first, like he is going to completely pull away; however —

She finds his hand warm against the soft skin of her jaw, callused thumb skims across ebony skin. Those brows are still furrowed, but his eyes are thoughtful, as he leans in and this time, he kisses her.

The swimming heat in her head does not so much subside as it does redistribute, spanning back along her limbs when they first part. Her fingers between his stay loose in their grip, apprehensive- just as her pale eyes are, dilated black on white meeting the study of blue. Motes of confusion are less clear than his own, but still floating through her. Perhaps she has shocked herself nearly just as much, logic whipped up and away by a wild wind.

There has always been one thing lingering in her, gripped in the wrappings of her devotion to those she cares for most- - a feeling that always looked at him with light and longing, even after this much time. It is often at rest, lifting its head in moments like this one. Together.

Empathic hands clutch around them like a cloud, tender as they listen to the spiraling sounds in Ben’s head as if it were birdsong. His hand slips from hers. Huruma’s drops to rest against his shoulder, the missing link leaving a chill and a small crackle of dread, foreign and deep.

But it is the clasp of her senses around his that contest the cold in the spare seconds before his hand finds her face.

“…I- - ”

Huruma’s murmured words never come, muted effortlessly under the return of her kiss. Respite from the sinking in her chest floods warmth back into her veins, and the comfort of it trickles outward.

That look of confusion is still there when the kiss ends. His emotions a conflicted mix, with an large amount of uncertainty. The warmth is there, she can feel it, threaded through all the rest of them. That warmth might be why his hand lingers on her cheek, a moment longer until bodies swing past them, making him suddenly and painfully aware that they were still on the dance floor.

Straightening, Ben’s hand falls away and he takes a step back, putting a small space between them. “I— need to get back home.” If she was a telepath, she’d understand the response. But all she can feel is that conflict… even guilt. Sure he had other women in his life, but they were not Huruma. But also, none of them were Mary… where his thoughts always run back too.

The conflict was real and he needed to think.

Reading inner conflict is easy for Huruma, at least much of the time. When her own thoughts are in turmoil it gets a little more difficult. This time it's not a bad turmoil, yet his puzzling over her is something her mind tries quite hard to sort out.

Her eyes remain hooded until he takes a step back, the other patrons reminding both of them of where they are. The hand at his chest slips away to hover in that small space between, unsure. There are a lot of things she could say, when he seeks to excuse himself, but not before her senses examine the fineries of his feelings.

Of which there are many.

She has a guess as to where the guilt arises from, and it is of a mixed origin. Enough that her lips press together in a more heavy consideration, features thoughtful and at the same time apologetic. Not for the kiss, but the tangle he now feels. Huruma understands why he needs to go, yet there is a part of her that wants to keep him there.


She knows him too well to think she'd really stop him from leaving. That defiant part of her still wants to try.

Already turning, Ryans freezes when he hears his name. Eyes close for a moment as he works to calm his emotions and nerves. He’s acting immature running away like that. Taking another glance around, he moves to lightly grip her arm, just below the elbow and guide her off the floor. Out away from all of those eyes.

“I’m sorry…” he rumbles out softly, briefly touching her cheek again. For the reaction… for starting to run.

Swallowing, Ben considers his words carefully, his hand falling away again. “I need time to think,” he offers honestly. He needed time to process what had happened and the emotions and feelings. As a man who spends his life compartmentalizing his feelings, she has thrown him completely off.

Huruma’s ability keeps her attuned to his drive, his attempts to soothe his own frayed ends. He freezes, and she listens, eyes stilled. It proves easy to lead her from the heat of lights and the sway of others, his grip finding no resistance as she follows. Away from the opened floor, the air is cooler and her head lightens.

Eyes shaded by the turn of her lashes, that touch to her cheek receives a lingering hand at his wrist, fingertips brushing before he pulls it away again. Ryans’ apology, his admittance of what he needs— Huruma hears it. She accepts it, though silently.

“I know…” The dark woman’s murmur comes as her face keeps to the shadow of the backlights, not completely unreadable, still unsure. “I meant you no anguish…” And yet, that is exactly what she has done, her own despairing tracking in the soft velvet of her voice.

“You…” No. He needs it. “…should go, then.”

He does need it, yet he hesitates a moment longer. Ben looks like he is going to say something, she can even feel that build up to it, but… he stops himself. There is a short firm nod, “We’ll talk again soon,” he promises, as he turns to go. It feels genuine when he says it. He isn’t lying.

Benjamin just — needed to think and to reconcile with the ghosts of his past.
In his mind, she deserved someone who could be there for her…. and he wasn’t sure he could. She didn’t need that pain.

Ben may not vocalize the word, but Huruma feels the meaningful tide behind it. It’s a promise, heartened in the way that honesty usually is. Still it stings, just enough.
“We will.” Huruma’s certainty returns somewhat as she pins that promise to him, her features evening out, mouth in a small purse of lengthened thought. She will hold him to it, there is no doubt about that. The firmness of her look as he turns to go says as much. She wishes she could read minds, just once in a while.

He’d know that he has been there for her.

They’ve watched each other’s backs for this long. Nothing’s changed. Not really.

A sigh leaves her lungs through her nose in a quiet hush. Be patient. “Goodnight, Ben.”

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