You Know Me


huruma_icon.gif ryans2_icon.gif

Scene Title You Know Me
Synopsis Huruma needs a friend; Ryans wrestles some guilt.
Date June 15, 2019

She had her family. She had Megan. She had the girls, Wolfhound, others. Only a few have heard some of her more erratic thoughts after the attack on the convoy Dajan and Riya were a part of. She is angry. She is confused. She is betrayed, sad, a rainbow of things that she has no idea how to interpret yet.

The one she is most familiar with is the anger. It festers, heats, wrathful and itching.

Megan's been a balm, where she can.

Yet, Huruma's not sure what she wants out of her rage. Or the rest of it. The empath cannot influence herself without perspective, and nobody knows that more than Megan and Benjamin. Huruma's wires aren't quite the same. Never were.

Maybe that's why there is a voicemail left for Ben Ryans timestamped at the dead of night. Maybe that's why she sounds like she's had a few drinks and thoughts muddy together, distraught in tone.

Maybe that's why when she says, "He had to have known," amidst words such as the names of her children interposed with "ambush" and "Yamagato" and "Adam"- - it becomes cause for concern. Ryans may not even parse it the first listen through. This isn't something that happens, much, where Huruma's wheels lose a hexnut or two. Wobbling on treads.

She gets dangerous and unpredictable like this; somehow it has all slid right through her hard work to not be, and right between her ribs.

Huruma is supposed to be the poised one. The calculated one. The one that knows when a knife comes sliding out of a sheath for her back. She didn't know this time. She should have seen it coming. In her guilt and confusion and anger, she seeks out the ones she loves, even if it's just a message or a voice.

When the old man had finally thought to check his phone, Ryans was surprised at the voicemail that had been left for him. He hadn’t rushed to return the call, deciding to find himself a beer (warm at that) and settle himself on the porch of his small home. He was already missing the old place and… yes, even Ruma.

Settled and phone dialed, Ben glances at the beer that he probably won’t open until after the call… instinct said he might need it. Not to mention it was tough to do both with only one hand.

Why was he being so stubborn about asking for that limb from Richard?

When Huruma picks up, she might not recognize the number, but she hears that familiar rumble of Ryans' voice. “Huruma. I got your message. How are you holding up?” He doesn’t sound worried. In fact, he sounds calm, but then again… she knows him well enough to know he is probably worried.

When Huruma picks up, she doesn't recognize the number, but she hears that voice she's waited for. Even over the line, the tension in those first few seconds is palpable. It does not quite pass, though, even when she answers.

"…How do you think?" It's not snappish nor angry, just melancholy. With the low pitch of her voice it sounds all three. "Sorry, I- -" Yet, she somehow apologizes for it regardless. "Thank you. For calling back." Huruma knows work is work, though maybe that is her doubt talking for her. Something in the background whirrs in a doppler as it passes her by, and then it's gone behind the click of a door.

"I don't… remember all of what I said. In my message." Huruma isn't embarrassed much, but that- - she very much is. In the interest of transparency for both of them, she adds, "I cannot tiptoe around this anymore, Ben."

Ryans already knows this, of course. It was inevitable.

"He came after them. He'd already been coming after Riya's wife, for her company. It was too easy to attack the Yamagato people who picked them up. There's no way he didn't know- -" Huruma's words are a murmur to the outside, perfectly clear for him.

"Coming after them here wasn't attempt, it had to be- - posturing. To scare her into compliance? Likely also to intimidate me?" Even though Mihaja admitted to falling in with HERON and Praxis, it is herself that Huruma comes to blame.

"Avi had come to be before, and afterward, Kimiko Nakamura… I've been selfish. And it has come back to me." After the names, her voice shifts, cracking and then lowering into a growl of guilt and anger. Only then does Ryans get silence enough for him to speak again; her thoughts were building up for too long to stop until now, and he can still hear her breath, a tight, small sound.

The silence stretches, Ben lets it extend for a long moment. He knew exactly who she was talking about even if she didn’t say his name. “Their okay then?” It’s the first thing he asks, even if he knows the answer. “That is a relief.” If any of them had died, the conversation would be much different. It takes a moment for him to realize he’s rarely met her children, yet she was a fixture in the lives of his.

He watches someone pass by on horseback in the dark, only his eyes move to watch it, but the distinct sound of hooves on asphalt comes through in the dead of night. “He may very well want your attention,” is the old man's thought, “A threat for your compliance.” Maybe. Adam could easily take her family if she turned against him. He understands the turmoil that she was feeling. He’s been there before. In fact, she had been there. He glances at his arm, his sleeves rolled up against the heat. Marks in a half circle, so faint that they are easily missed.

Huruma had put them there the day she helped him save his girls.

“You’re a threat and he knows it,” Ben points out. On her own, Huruma has always been a force.

Even though Ben lets the quiet last, she doesn't start up again. Brows knit at nothing, the rage contained in her jaw making it more difficult to relieve the tooth-grinding tension there.

"Yes. They are okay." is the one thing Huruma says first. There comes the muffled thud of one thing leaning on another; she leans back into the wall, sinks. "It was some… powered clone of a girl. Dajan dropped a bridge on her, more or less." More or less. Saying it out loud makes it a little less of a stinging point. "She got away, though."

"I know that he knows. I know that I am. I know things. Not everything." Her voice goes soft, tension reappearing in the cadence of words. Huruma's tone lifts and changes rapidly, her snarl with it. She smacks a frustrated fist into the wall beside her, leaving a furrow behind.

"He trusted me." Huruma's angry breath leaves her, lungs empty as her head comes back out of the red. The changes are too fast to be good, one emotion to another and back again. "I see through everyone." A shake, indignant, then confusion, and grayness. "I know he trusted me. In more than one world he trusted me. But now- -"

"I don't know how to feel, there's just too much. Megan's been trying to help me, just… I was selfish. Didn't talk sooner. And now he's threatening my- -" 'children' gets stuck before it even begins, choked back like a swollen tongue. Ben knows how Adam changed the course of her life, in his own terrible way, and clearly so does she; her voice strains, hurt. "In doing nothing to betray him, he's done it to me."

The ex-company agent lets her vent. It is obvious she needs it and he understands. “Are you going to hunt him down?” Benjamin doesn’t mean literally of course… or maybe he does. Unfortunately, he has no real advice for her. However, she does confirm what he already knew about her.

There is a heavy sigh out of his nose. Okay, maybe Ben does have something. “Unfortunately, the only way you will understand his reasoning is talking to him. It is a risk, but you are a very capable woman.” There is a momentary pause before he adds, “If you need me when you do, let me know.”

Even just letting her vent makes an entire world of difference. She knows he's listening, even though he says nothing. Perhaps that's what she wanted, needed, however one puts it. Megan always offers the consoling, Ryans the silent ear. Huruma is quiet too, in the aftermath of her words, fueled as they are. By the time she does hear him, the wall she leans against feels all too comfortable, the dark only dotted with the shine of moonlight and the electric glow of phone screen.

Huruma's eyes settle on the sliver of light coming inside, dust motes passing through.

"I don't know." On one hand, Huruma very much wants to hop in the Tlanuwa and fly to California. On the other, there is a plan, a time, a place, an effort to take into account. It is emotions versus reason. The sigh from her is at the last, a wordless 'I will', because she knows he'll have her back. She drags a hand down her face. "I need to figure out a way to confront him without jeopardizing our moves on Praxis, or else this will eat away at me. You would want answers too, wouldn't you…?”

There is a huff of bland amusement at the question. Would he want answers? “You know me, Huruma. If he had made an attempt on my kids, we’d be well past talking.” There is a certain growl to the man’s voice when he says that last, one that brings up memories of a battlefield. “The why doesn’t matter at that point.” Only that he made the attempt.

“Even an immortal can die.” And he has a particular skill set for that. He’d find a way, even if he has to sacrifice himself to do it. “But, we are not talking about me, we are talking about you. You have to decide what you are going to do. Where the line is and then stick to it.”

He was quiet for a moment and then simply asks. “Are their lives worth less than your loyalty to him?” Its something for her to think on.


Although Adam has a place, the twins and Badrani have more now. Huruma’s answer is immediate, and surprises even her with its quickness. A quiet comes after.

"Yes, I know you." Huruma's response is measured, touched with a note of affection, primarily for his bluntness. It's nice to hear it. "He's broken a bridge, and there are few ways to fix it. I would like to hear it all from him. But the kids… I may have not wanted them, but now that I have them again- - nothing would be the same."

A small growl, next. "I want so much just to - - throttle something" She obviously self-censors. Kill. She wants to kill something. Maybe if she directs that feeling to something deserving.
“I suggest pointing all of that energy at him and his people,” Benjamin comments with an unseen smirk. He knows now that she wouldn’t just kill people now. Both of them had grown. Whoever said you couldn’t teach old dogs new tricks?

“If you need any help right away with Adam, look at LuLu and Berlin.” I have no doubt those two would help you in a pinch.” Ryans looks up into the darkness above, partially obscured by trees. He watches the stars glimmer brighter then he ever remembered before the war. “I trust LuLu to act in my sted. She’s a smart girl. I see too much of me in her, but don’t tell her that.

In the darkness, teeth flash with amusement at a thought. Luckily there was no one to see it. “She might try jumping off a dam or hijack a space shuttle to prove she’s a Ryans.”

No one sees it, but Huruma can almost hear it. She laughs faintly into the curl of her hand against her face, leaning there with ear to phone.

"She already gives me palpitations. She'd best not. Then again she's taking after both of us, so given the chance she would probably, say, invade Hell." Huruma knows the image is a special one; it's the first analogy that came to mind. "I know they'd help me- - I do not know if I could deliberately put Nathalie in his path, though…"

She knows why, hoping Ben does too. Less explaining.

"And Avi might try to skin me, if I did." Huruma does her level best to not laugh, though Ryans can hear it in her voice all the same. Dry, less melancholy, still morose. A weight remains idling on her shoulders. "I know some of our old associates are still in town. Until now I'd been content telling the Hounds what they needed. Until now this hasn't tested my patience. So it sounds like I ought to open my address book."

“She probably would,” Ryans grunts out about his eldest. Lucille had really taken to Huruma. It should. He noticed.

And she wasn’t wrong about Avi. He would have a fit if Berlin got hurt, but that hasn’t stopped Ben from enlisting the girl’s help or taking it when offered. It took him many years to realize he needs to loosen the hell up.

“Sounds like a good start, but be careful. You don’t know who is still working for him or who isn’t.” Benjamin still worries about her and declaring war on Adam was probably not smart, but as a parent, very necessary.

Lucille is certainly a bridge between worlds, so to speak. Even Delia, Pippa. A lesser extent, Ingrid. Benji. At least Lu is looking up to family, right? Huruma relaxes a little more on her end, shoulders sinking and heart heavy enough to settle in her chest. Maybe she can feel that 'loosen the hell up' for herself, despite only encountering it in recent years.

"Did you do easily forget I can see deception?" She laughs softly, though she knows he remembers. He is just being careful. And caring. Huruma doesn't remind him of that part.

"He had a middleman for certain things while he was in town years ago. Michael Green, if I recall." Huruma makes a point to say the name, just in case. "And there's another, worked accounting angles towards the end of things, closer to Alaska. Godfrey Wells. Right now he works for Yamagato, so I know precisely where he will be." The low voice on the line pauses for a time, long enough to prompt curiosity.

"I can't …let him try it again. But I will be careful. I know him and he knows me, and if it was him and not someone undermining his authority… he will know my intent. It could be baiting me, more than the twins, but- -" Pain lists in her voice, still. "I have to find out. Principle."

"…Thank you, for calling. I know you're, ah. Working. Wherever you are. With horses." Yeah, she heard that one. "I know you didn't have to."

The grunt she gets from the other end of the phone is a form of saying ‘you’re welcome’ without saying it. “You’re family.” Is Ben’s way of blowing it off further. If she was there, she’d know there was guilt behind that statement. He hated keeping this from her still. Secrets were never a good thing even when necessary.

“Let me know what you find out,” Benjamin offered conversationally. “You have my number and I check messages often.”

After a moment, Ryans rubs his scarred arm along his stubbled jaw. “I’ll keep my ear to the ground and see what I hear. Maybe you should touch base with Richard and Liz.” See if they have found anything new is what he doesn’t say. She knows. .

"Maybe." A yes, that is. Huruma's thoughts stray and return, circling around the rest. "You know I will tell you what I find." Though she can tell things are being kept from her- SESA is still like its forebears in that way- she knows he's doing it for a reason. She just has no idea what.

Curse him and his 'retirement', and all that jazz. She'll still be helping him, and he helps her in his own way.

"If you'd like to get ahold of me I will answer my second number more quickly." Just in case. Huruma seems reluctant to let go, even if her panic and pain has calmed. "Love you.. - -" She pauses and just rolls with it. Not the first time she's said it, just, well, rare for her to use words. "- - take care of yourself. Or else." Not the same without the joke of a threat before going. "Bust some chops for me while you're out, hm… ?"

There is a stretch of silence at those two words. Small on their own, but heavy with meaning. Brows furrow for an unknown reason, but not because he doesn’t feel those same emotions. Just that those words are not easily spoken anymore.

“I know,” is what is rumbled out quietly in return.

Which is as close as she’ll get to the same admission, an acknowledgement that he heard her and that he knows how she feels. “I’ll talk to you soon,” he adds in farewell, ending the call on that note. No goodbye, just a soon.

The phone is tossed on the porch next to him and the beer replaces it. He hated keeping things from her like that… He had to do that to Mary, too.

A soon is as much a reassurance as it can be.

Huruma closes her eyes briefly, mouth tightening in a closed smile. She knows that there is love in him, she's an empath. Hearing an acknowledgment of it is just as rare as her verbalizing it, and her quiet says enough for her gladness.

The end of the call earns a small laugh, unheard but she expects he hears it in his head.

"Mm, okay, Han Solo." A thumb closes up the phone in her hand, and she slides it away from herself over the bathroom tile; a half glass of wine replaces it, her back sinking once more against the wall. She can do this.

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