|Summary||Ciel visits Richard shortly after Staten Island.|
Whether or not Richard Rider has been reinstated as a full-time X-Force agent is not exactly clear. Or, at least, it's not been publicly announced. What's known is that he's a lurking presence around the base in the days after Staten Island, after a day or two of recovery time so that he was stable to transfer down there. A week later, and he's feeling fit enough to have become absolutely stir crazy and taken to escaping his recovery room to try and find -- something familiar. He doesn't really find anything, probably because there's nothing to find. He shies away from the crowds of people who would have been his friends and fellow agents in a different life, and instead finds himself on one of the several roofs that X-Force headquarters boasts. He sits on the edge, feet dangling, and considers the distance to the ground.
Ciel arrives from above, appearing from nowhere in a sudden burst of twinkling light. She hovers for a second to get her bearings, and in doing so, her gaze lights on Richard. She freezes midair, staring down at him with eyes wide and openly curious before she moves forward. She's been out to play, not to work, and she's dressed for such. Her jeans are tight, her shirt a mass of purple sequins, and her hair, left loose in wild waves around her face, is streaked with brilliant cyan. She drifts downward, coming to rest on the roof's edge a few feet from Richard. "You're not thinking about jumping, are you?" she checks. "Because you're heavier than you look.
"What?" Richard startles a touch, head jerking back and up and settling on her with kind of an odd expression, like what are you doing and why are you dressed like that. It settles after a moment into something a bit more generic and polite. "Oh. No, I mean, that wouldn't do much good, would it?" His mouth curves into the barest hint of a smile. "I've got even more bodily instinct than most to prevent death from falling."
"You don't think you /could/ fall?" Ciel answers, tilting her head with curious interest before she flashes him a brilliant smile, wide and wild. She takes a hop-step toward them, then drops carelessly to sit a scoot or two away with legs dangling in kind. "That'd be an interesting experiment. I mean. If the end didn't mean--" She lifts her hands, spreading her palms and smooshing them together for effect. "--splat."
"Well, that's pretty demonstrably not true," Richard says, glancing down at his own healing body. "That I can't fall, I mean. I fall pretty good sometimes."
"Ah, well," Ciel answers, smile stretching a tiny bit wider. "Unusual circumstances. I mean, really fucking unusual, right?" She leans sideways, tipping toward him with a hand stuck out. "Ciel," she says.
"Rich," he replies, reaching to clasp her hand in a firm grip. "More unusual for you guys at this point, but." His smile is quicksilver-fleeting, there and gone again.
"Yeah," Ciel says, her voice edged in a laugh. "I know." She rocks backward again, tilting in the other direction to dig in a back pocket for a pack of cigarettes. "Guess so. I read your report. Fucking wild."
"I've barely read anything," Richard admits. "Too much to read. Don't even know where to start. When did we even move to DC?"
"When--" Ciel starts, then stops, tapping a cigarette out as she looks at him. "Shit. You /were/ before the move. That's been-- I mean, we've pretty much /always/ been here. Since--" She breaks off again, biting the name 'al-Sahra' off behind her teeth before she can actually say it. Instead she clears her throat and says, "I moved in with Jean-Paul in-- what, like '26, '27? And they'd been here for years by then."
Richard 's brow furrows, like he's trying to reconcile ages and possibly sexualities in his memories. "Jean-Paul -- Beaubier?"
"Mmm," Ciel confirms, dipping her head to prop the cigarette between her lips. She pauses long enough to bring a lighter to its end, breathing it to warm life, before she supplies, "He's my uncle."
"Oh," Richard says, and then "/Oh/. His sister? Wasn't she--" Awkward.
Ciel's fingers tighten against her cigarette, and she flicks Richard a sidelong glance before she queries a flat, "What."
Richard considers a few responses, the heels of his shoes bouncing lightly against the side of the building. Eventually he says, "Nothing."
It's probably the best response, given the circumstances, because Ciel at least does not jump into either defense or offense. Instead she snorts, leaning back, and draws smoke deep into her lungs. "So," she says after a good, long moment of silence. "How's it feel to be home?" That's a safe topic, right?
"Never actually lived in DC before," he says with a tight sort of smile, like hah hah I'm so funny right.
"Broad use of the term," Ciel acknowledges with a tip of her head. Her own smile is loose, as if there's been a drink or two in her recent past, and she tips her head back to blow a stream of smoke into the sky. After a beat she glances at him again and checks, "You want a smoke?
"Never got in the habit," Richard admits. "Despite Iz's corrupting influence." He glances over at her, almost a little skeptical. "You sure you're not related to her instead of Jean-Paul?"
Ciel answers with a laugh, loose and easy, and her hair moves in windswept waves across her shoulders with the motion. "Not even corrupted by her," she promises with a wink. And then after a beat, "Isabel /smoked/? Isabel /Weiss/?"
"No, of course not," Richard claims nonchalantly. "I mean, except for all the time. We dated. Bet that sounds pretty weird now."
"The smoking sure as hell does," Ciel answers, watching Rich with an edge of skepticism. She twists her own cigarette, playing more than smoking, and then rolls a shoulder up in a sequined shrug. "Not that weird. I mean. I knew that already. Your file is kind of-- detailed.
Something a bit darker wrestles across Richard's expression, a tension creeping across his shoulders. "They've got who I /dated/ in there?"
"It's more like-- um. Interviews, that sort of thing." Ciel gives Rich a smile that's meant to be supportive. "I mean, it's not like your complete /history/. But for a while it was every little detail they might possibly be able to use to look for you. I don't think they had any idea what or how, but they fed it all into-- fuck. I guess that would've been when they were still using Tompkins Square for research, yeah?" She shrugs, and adds, "Didn't work." Just in case he's unclear.
"Oh." Richard rubs the heels of his hands lightly together, his gaze drifting away, his expression thoughtful and a bit distant. "Nice to know they were looking, I guess."
"X-Force legend," Ciel tells him, all cheerfully assured. "I mean. Damn. I was barely born when you disappeared--" Thanks Ciel. "--but I heard about you-- I don't even remember when. Early.
"For what, disappearing?" Richard snorts quietly, his gaze dropping between his knees. "Not even for something I really /did/."
"Pretty sure disappearing is a thing you /did/," Ciel answers, but she looks sympathetic as she tucks her cigarette back to her lips and looks over at him. There's a beat before she says, "I'm pretty sure the oldbies remember you for other things. If it helps."
"And now I'm the one who got thousands of people killed on Staten Island." Richard lifts his hands and spreads them wide.
Ciel winces, turning away with a deep inhale. "Shouldn't watch the news," she says, chipper and easy. "They'll get over it. I mean, not-- um." She breathes a little deeper, this time for air. "Not the thousands of people. But that wasn't /your/ fault. We were the ones that stopped that shit."
"That's nice of you to say," Richard replies, his smile sad, "but it was. It was my fault. We brought them back here."
Ciel freezes a little, her expression going still before she turns her head to glance at Rich. "Like. On purpose?" she says.
"/No/." Richard straightens back up at that, gaze swinging back around to her. "No. Never on purpose."
"Did you open it?" Ciel asks, meeting Rich's gaze with an edge of demand. "Was that you?"
Richard examines the demand in her face with something akin to resignation. "I don't have the power to open rifts," he says simply. "But yes, in the way you mean. We opened the rift. We were supposed to come home."
"Holy shit," Ciel breathes, staring at him with her cigarette drooping loose at the corner of her mouth. And then a second later, harder, "What did you /think/ was going to happen?" She plucks her cigarette from her lips with a sharp yank.
"We thought we had time," Richard says simply, his gaze pulling away again. "The Wave wasn't there when we opened it. We didn't -- open it in the middle of a firefight."
Ciel finds herself speechless, and for a long moment she simply stares at Rich, gaping at his profile as he looks away. She jerks her cigarette up for a last long draw, then grinds it hard against the rooftop at her hip.
"I've been responsible for losing more lives than that in an instant," Richard says, his gaze and voice both distant.
"Over there?" Ciel says finally, and this time her voice is edged with a judgment not unfamiliar to someone who was once acquainted with a Beaubier.
"Yes," Richard says, something hardening in his voice in response, despite his claims of responsibility moments ago.
"And you opened it," Ciel says, as if she can't quite believe the truth of it. "On purpose. A gate between that world and ours."
For a moment, he's silent. And then he says, "Yes."
"Fuck," Ciel says, her gaze hard and bright on him. And then an instant later she tilts forward in free fall from the edge of the building. She disappears through a portal in a blink. The glimmer of her next portal is visible in the distance, and then gone into nothingness.Richard does startle the slightest bit when she freefalls, but then her portal appears and she disappears into nothing. His shoulders slump, and he looks back out at the horizon. Ah well.