|New Is Hard|
|Location||Tompkins Square Park - Mutant Town|
|Summary||Huruma keeps Richard company while he eats lunch.|
| During daylight hours, the park is pleasant enough, if not ever truly safe. Concrete paths criss-cross a green space liberally shaded by trees, while the north end boasts basketball and multi-purpose courts of cracked and pitted concrete. The playgrounds have long since been abandoned, and most of the equipment is rusted and broken, while the pool sits empty save for rainwater. It's often filled with teenagers who've long since abandoned school and those who can't find even the shelter of a squat to call home.
Drugs are freely traded at all hours, but when night falls, the park becomes a veritable marketplace of illicit substances. Interested parties come to Tompkins Square from all over Manhattan to partake, if they're sturdy enough to brave Mutant Town at night. After twilight, the park and surrounding areas are home to drug-fueled parties and violence in almost equal measure.|
Richard has clearly just been visiting The Meat Shack across the street. He has a pita wrapped in paper, filled with charred chunks of delicious pork with various sauces and accoutrements. It looks pretty delicious. Since there's no room inside to sit, he's found himself a bench across the street on the edge of Tompkins Square Park. It's early afternoon, so there's plenty of activity in the sunlight still, and he watches the comings and goings of folks idly as he chews. Mmm meat.
With February coming and going, the snow has been melting and reapplying for a couple of weeks; it's like getting teased with the possibility of a spring. Huruma has taken to wearing her lighter, flared coat in hopes that just maybe she can pray it into existence. Maybe? Just a little sun? For whatever reason she is passing through the park, it edges to the wayside when she feels the familiarty of a mind on her distant senses, and her approach down the path sways to purposeful when she spies Richard eating alone, coming up on him with a pause in her step. It's okay, she's not here to steal his food. (She couldn't outrun him anyway.) "This seat taken?"
"Hm?" Richard's clearly not in a particularly attentive mode: he has to glance up to recognize her after she's asked. "Oh. Hi." His mood is thoughtful and somewhat distracted; the more chronic melancholy is sitting lower in his mind. "I mean -- no. No one's sitting there." He scoots over a bit, although there's already plenty of room for her.
"Hello." She replies, amused. To Huruma's credit, she does not sit down ultra-close when she notes the scooting, coiling down onto the bench nearby with hands in her pockets, hood drawn up over the top of her head. "I think if they expanded with seating, they would have so much more business." She narrows a short look at his food when she refers to the Shack, one leg snaking up over the other, jeans dark and warm.
"I dunno, I think they're doing okay," Richard says, glancing back at the busy Shack. "Probably keeps the right stream of people going in and out. Or -- something like that." He shrugs and takes another bite, chewing slowly.
"They are. I admit I eat there probably more than I ought to." Huruma's hands tug out from the caves of her pockets, resting up on the curve of her thigh instead. Her lips curled in a restful, faint smile, she waits until Richard is mostly through chewing to say something else, but her attention is abrupty torn away by something down the length of the sidewalk. When she looks up, her mouth flattens and her nostrils flare; there's a young man huddled in a winter coat making his way down-- but when he sees her looking at him, he immediately stops, turns, and flees.
Huruma's expression shifts when she leans back, pleased with herself.
It takes Richard a few moments to realize that Huruma's attention has been drawn elsewhere, and then he watches the man she's focused on stop and turn and continue on his way. "Uh," he says. "What was that, exactly?"
"His bad decisions." Huruma's features warm when she speaks now, the chill gone. "He and his little friends thought that preying on people in this park at night was a brilliant idea. It was some months ago now that we taught them otherwise-- I truly did not expect to see his face around here again."
"Ah." A faint, quiet smile twitches at the corners of Richard's mouth. "Sounds downright heroic, Huruma. People are gonna get the wrong idea about you."
"What can I say? I prefer my territory clean of interlopers." Huruma lifts her chin up, eyelids heavy and full lips pursed. She's probably teasing. "Not my fault that it reads as heroism, is it?"
"Well." Richard takes another bite, considering this question as he chews. Finally he swallows and says, "It's a bit your fault, yeah."
"Psh." Huruma makes a dismissive noise, though it is soon followed by a low laugh. "Truthfully? Maybe I am more heroic than I let on, hm? Rohan may tell you otherwise, but of course he has the most bias."
Richard's gaze catches on a trio of young women with a variety of obvious physical mutation as they laugh their way across the park a short distance away. "And why is that?" he wonders.
Huruma is sharp enough that she picks up on the center of Richard's look just as he did with hers a moment ago. They are comfortable and laughing-- it's nice. "The bias? He's known me the longest, of those here-- much of that purely as a fellow mercenary."
"So you're saying the longer someone knows you, the less heroic that'll inevitably find you?" Richard says in preliminary conclusion. "Kind of sad."
"Something of the sort." Huruma tips her head, blinking slow and away from the girls out in the park. "It does not help that the mercenary life is what it is." She is sure that Ciel will tell anyone about that even if they didn't ask. So it goes. "But now we are both trying our best to be-- new-- so-- perhaps it will change."
"New is hard," Richard murmurs, not without some sympathy. His gaze slides to some other folks lingering in the park. "It's hard to outrun your past, even if you're as fast as me."
Huruma's laugh sits down in her chest, a warm, slow sound despite the topic at hand. "Very true. I am starting to think-- why outrun when you can just make rude gestures?" Not that she would, mind you-- other than Richard, Huruma's the only one around that keeps a clean mouth. "Cause it to turn its back on you in shame?" That works, right?
"I don't think it really works that way," Richard says quietly.
"A girl can dream?" Huruma massages one hand with the other on her lap, smill harboring a lingering smile on her lips while she watches her hands work. "I have been a chameleon for so long that sometimes I do wonder if it is actually my decision to try and be different, or just one more adaptation. So much easier than it sounds, isn't it?"
"Yeah, that part's not usually my problem. More like I was just -- always trying to find that place I was meant to be. Not figuring out how to be in the place that I am." Richard finally turns to look back at her, his expression curious. "It doesn't sound easy at all," he says in mild disagreement.
"I suppose not." Making light of change is just one more thing. Huruma is not good at it-- so she belittles it. "I've never really looked for where I was meant to be. Might have saved me some heartache." The dark woman laughs, this time short and just a little derisively at herself.
"Well. When I say that, I really just meant I was always looking for the bigger battle." Richard's mouth twists somewhat sardonically. "You know, the best place to display heroics. It was a long time ago." Not /that/ long.
"I see." Huruma's boot bobs at the toe from where she has her leg slung over. "I've felt the need to impress. Not in the same way, of course. When was the last time you did something to look like a hero, then?" A smirk inches forth to her mouth.
Richard hesitates. Then he says: "I think it'd depend on who you asked." He tips his head. "How about you?"
Maybe she'll ask around. Huruma's expression is curious, pale eyes on Richard, a faint glimmer behind them. "Most days, if you want to be technical." Her mouth pulls back with a chuckle, the edge of her nose giving a tiny wrinkle of amusement. "But I know what you're asking." Stop teasing him! "But the last big one? Ah, hm. Had to be bringing down a helicopter." Huruma's hand lifts conspiratorially. "Do not tell anyone that it was already flying low." She winks, playfully.
"I would never," Richard says in solemn promise. He crumples up the wrapper from his lunch. "We did tangle with Revelation out in Colorado, which was kind of nostalgic. Not -- in regards to them specifically, but -- you know. The whole 'dealing with terrorists' thing."
"Ah. Yes. 'dealing with terrorists'." She nods, once. "I heard some things about what happened. That they attacked the caravan for your cargo?" Huruma's curiosity takes over, at least for a spell. "Very much sounded like something some of them were not prepared for." Inexperience is the number one killer of heroes for hire.
"What do you expect?" Richard says on something like a sigh. "It's not a team of agents. Or mercenaries. Plenty of them have never been in a fight before."
"Only so much that can be taught, too." Huruma echoes his faint sigh with an exhale of her own. "Do you think that they will show up again? Or do you think this was a unique event?"
"You'd be surprised," Richard says in murmured reply to Huruma's first words. To the second, he huffs a quiet breath. "They'll be back," he says. "In some capacity. Terrorists like that don't just disappear into the ether."
"I mean to say, do you think we will clash with them again? Should I concern myself with whipping the weak into shape?" One of Huruma's brows arch higher, and she stifles a laugh behind her mouth. "I have never run into them-- not overseas. We had our own demons to contend with. And ourselves."
"No idea. It'll probably depend if we end up with another job involving something they want," Richard says, mildly enough. He glances over at her, the lift of his brows somewhat skeptical. "Never dealt with Revelation? Or terrorists?"
"Revelation. Not to my knowledge." Huruma looks away and back again. "Terrorists, yes. And sometimes I have been the terrorist." Look. These things happen. Totally. "Where did we get that job, do you know? What were they moving that those people wanted?"
At this, Richard /does/ laugh, although it's a somewhat tense sound and he's left pinching at the bridge of his nose. "Me," he says. "I'm where the job came from."
Huruma's brows lift in tandem, her mouth pinching to one side in momentary confusion. "You? You hired them, or someone you know did? I am going to assume you had no clue the cargo was as hot as it ended up being? I cannot picture you as the type to risk someone's safety."
The muscle in Richard's jaw twitches. "Technically, my brother hired them. But I -- brought the job to Jeremy. On his behalf." He hesitates again, then says, "I knew it /could/ be hot, but I didn't think--"
"--that it would be Mount Doom hot?" Huruma finishes the thought for him. "Did your brother? Perhaps he was ...mistaken as to the skill and purpose of our Company."
"I was up-front with Jeremy, and he took the job," Richard says with sudden shortness, frustration and guilt mingling in his emotional landscape. "No one -- got seriously injured."
"That's right." Huruma does not sound as if she places blame on Richard or Jeremy-- rather, his brother. It's easier. She doesn't know him. "In any case, it is done with, which is for the best."
Richard's shoulders sag, and while his snappish anger eases without further press from Huruma, the guilt darkens. "Yeah," he says, looking back off at a father and daughter making their way around the playground. "It's done with."
It is difficult to hide much from Huruma when it comes to negativity playing chords on people's hearts. Moths and flames, and all those fun metaphors. Still, she does not offer any reassurances of it not being his fault. The guilt is deep enough as it is. Instead, she follows his gaze, the corners of her eyes softening when she spies the same.
"Anyways," Richard says, although he doesn't offer up much else to change the subject to. His mood is greying rapidly.
"I will probably stop by Open Mic at Oddball later tonight, if you are interested." Huruma shares, her velvety voice relaxed. "Talking to you after the last time was-- it helped." It's not a grand scheme to lift his spirits, just an admission.
Richard looks back over at her, surprised -- both visibly and, you know, to her sense of him. "With what?" he asks.
Huruma does not quite manage to hide all of her sheepishness; she looks away, to her hands, one palm rubbing over her knuckles before she blinks back up at him, mouth firmly in a line. "Disquiet."
Richard falls silent, his expression a study in quiet thoughtfulness as he studies her. And then he says, "I get that."
One normally wouldn't attribute 'stage fright' after the fact, so there must have been a reason that Huruma forced herself up there. Getting back on the same horse, though? Another story-- part of which was simply having someone there to validate her. She smiles, white against brown. "Thank you."
Richard offers a slight, simple nod in reply. "Maybe I can make it around tonight," he says. "I could--" He pauses. "Is this something you'd rather not have too much of a crowd of people you know for?" he wonders.
Huruma's smile wavers just slightly when he pauses, and she takes a moment to consider the question that comes next. "Maybe just-- I think that I would be fine with a few." Her tone is decisive on this, once she makes up her mind.
"I wasn't gonna bring a party," Richard assures her in solemn promise. "But I also didn't want to -- you know, ask Jeremy or someone. If you didn't want me to."
Huruma laughs a little at his promise, the corners of her eyes betraying some actual joy out of it. "It would be fine." No parties, deal. She's not there yet.
It's not that Huruma's joy is /literally/ infectious -- she's not messing with his emotions, after all -- but there's something shared in the way Richard's slight smile responds to hers. "Okay," he says.
Huruma angles forward, hands running flat over the length of her thighs as she stands from her seat in a stretch. "I hope to see you, then." Her air is pleased, and just a little calming. "I should go.""Sure thing," Richard says with a lingering smile. He still has the trash of his Meat Shack lunch held between his hands, but he seems content to linger on his bench for a while as she leaves.