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2046-05-19 Fallen Shadows

From X-Factor

2016-05-19 Fallen Shadows
Date Posted 2016/05/20
Location Irene's House
Participants Irene, Vega
Summary Irene explains what happened to Mikhail the best she can.
Related Logs 2046-05-19 Luck Whispers
 
IrIrene.jpg VeVega.jpg
Earlier, in the afternoon, Vega received a quick update from Irene regarding the Mikhail situation. It was brief and to the point.


Irene: Caruthers contacted me. Sounds like he found a place for Mikhail to go for a bit. I'm going to help them pack.

Irene: Should be fine. Will call if anything gets fishy.


It's late into the evening when Irene follows up her earlier message, later than would be expected, maybe, though she isn't always the most prompt with messages.


Irene: I was wrong.

Irene: Everything got fucked up.

Irene: I'm fine.

Irene: This is probably not news you want in a text though.

Vega: Are you okay?

Vega: Fuck. I will be there shortly.


Short is relative. It still takes Vega some time to commute from Manhattan to Irene's house across town, even by a mix of subway and the air which cuts dramatically down on traffic. She doesn't overly bother with subtle as late as it is, dropping down into the shadows close to the house and tugging her hood free of her pink hair. Her stride is quick as she takes the short steps up to the door in twos and knocks.

Short is relative. But the time is such that Irene can anticipate about when Vega will arrive once she sees the response to her messages. So she is waiting nearby the door when there is a knock, opening it only seconds later. Instead of letting her friend inside, she steps out onto the small, covered stoop in front of her house and closes the door behind her. There is already the slight, acrid scent of cigarettes wafting off of her as she steps past Vega into the night air.

It's still a little warm outside, though it's cooled considerably by now, and still damp from the rain. It's fitting. Irene takes a breath of the cooler air, staring into the dark of the night for a moment before turning even darker eyes on Vega. As straight as she stands, as careful as her movements are, there is still something unsteady in her expression, like her stability belies a failing of structure integrity beneath. "Hey." Her hair is still a little damp from a shower and she has changed from what she wore earlier today, though she's still in a t-shirt and jeans. A different t-shirt and jeans. Ones that haven't been cut and stained.

"Hey," Vega answers, her voice soft as her gaze takes over Irene. She shifts slightly on the steps as the other woman moves past her to step outside. Palms lifting, she presses her hands against Irene's shoulders as if some of the unsteadiness in her expression could be bolstered by a physical support or just to confirm that she is okay for herself. "You okay?" Her own dark eyes slide over night blackened eyes with concern.

Irene's chin tilts up just a little when those hands press against her shoulders, but she doesn't shrug off the contact. "I'm okay," she says, with a soft snort of air that's a little too bitter to be a laugh. She smiles briefly, a poor showing of reassurance. "I'm always okay." That's not what Vega means, though.

Vega nods slowly, a frowning pulling at her features as she regards Irene with concern. That isn't what she means at all. She doesn't contradict her friend, giving her broad shoulders a squeeze before releasing her. "What happened?"

Taking a deep breath, Irene lets it out heavily and unsteadily, turning away from Vega once she's released. It takes her a moment to recollect her thoughts, the action subtly visible on her face with thinning lips and a tic in her jaw as she shifts it. Ultimately she begins with the thing that weighs most heavily on her mind. "Mikhail is dead." She doesn't soften her words, blunt and brutal and covering a raw mix of anger and sorrow.

Hand fall to her sides, curling into fists and pressing into the line of her thighs, as Vega watches Irene turn away. It takes a moment for her friend to collect her thoughts. Meanwhile, her own tension is held in the nervous tremor of her fingers and caught tight against her palms. A hitch of breath greets the news, teeth clenching sharply. "How did it happen?" They were just moving him out…

Irene clenches her jaw with a visible flex of muscle and an audible crack. "Ugly," she answers between her teeth and then sighs deeply. It's not really the answer. Or at least it isn't all of the answer. She moves to sit on the steps, maybe not trusting herself to keep standing through this conversation. Maybe that's smart. Her hands shake briefly as she digs a cigarette and a lighter out of a pocket, lighting it and blowing out smoke on another heavy sigh before continuing.

"I was helping him pack. Apartment was a fucking mess." It's always the odd things that minds end up fixated on. "Guy kicked the door down and stabbed him. Just...out of fucking nowhere." Irene pauses briefly for a breath, this one not smoke-filled. "I'm fast, but I'm just-I wasn't...I was farther into the apartment. I just...I couldn't get there in time."

Closing her eyes for a moment, Vega resists the urge to wince at Irene's answers, her features drawn tight and composed as if of stone. /Ugly/. They've seen a lot over their years as cops and it is not a word used lightly. She waits a beat before joining Irene in her seat on the step, legs folding slowly under her in a gesture that is almost too smooth. The mix of mechanics and martial arts adding an unearthly grace in the shadows, the edges of her hoodie hanging long over the pale tips of her fingers as she folds them across her knees. Her gaze never slides free of her friend, mouth still to let her speak. Not even the cigarette gets a comment.

"Fuck," she breathes, smoke ringing her head. It casts her the pale pink of her hair in a haze, dark eyes sharp beneath the shock of her bangs. "You can't… fuck. I am sorry. It happens, but I am so, so sorry Irene." She pauses, collecting her words. "Ambulance didn't show?" There's an edge of bitterness there for Mutant Town. Some of the worst response rates in the city.

The smoke drifts upwards and fades into the dark and drizzle. Irene hardly even sees it, hardly even seems to see anything around her for a moment. She makes a quiet noise of aching agreement as Vega curses, taking another slow drag of the cigarette. The apology isn't acknowledged beyond the haunted look in her eyes. With her other hand she scrubs at her face, the depth of her weariness visible in the action instead of bruises and lines. "They came," she says, breath rasping. "They could have-" She breaks off, pressing her lips together and shaking her head.

"It was too late?" The words aren't much louder than a whisper, curling in Irene's ear. Vega's hand slides along her shoulder, gently rubbing her back as she scrubs at her eyes.

"We were too late. I should have-" There are so many options visible in hindsight, so many should haves, Irene can't settle on just one. She swallows them all instead, holds them inside, where they claw at her mind. What if... "Shit," she hisses, bowing her head and pressing the heel of her hand against her forehead, the line of her jaw sharp and jutted.

That hand continues its slow path up and down Irene's back, silently consoling as Vega watches her friend with worry written into her features. There is nothing she can say to soothe that pain. Not really. But she tries. "You can't… You know that. You can't go back and save everyone," she says lowly.

"I let it happen." Irene shudders, hands clenching against shaking, even with the cigarette still held in one. "I /stood/ there and-He just fucking /murdered/ Mikhail!" The anger that had been simmering beneath the surface suddenly erupts, her voice strained and raw with the violence of the statement. Her lungs shudder as she takes a breath. Her whole body shudders as if there's a battle raging inside her.

There is a curl of fingers over the cap of Irene's shoulder as Vega takes a moment to breath. The slow slide of information spooling through her mind as she tries to gather her words, her hand anchoring her friend's shuddering body. "I've never known you to just stand." It's not something Irene does. "He had a knife, Irene." There is only so much one person can do.

Irene has slipped past the point of being able to tell the story coherently, with all the details in the right place and everything in the right order. She can't keep her distance from it anymore. She's had too much time to run through everything, over and over again, with all the possibilities and blame and guilt. "I thought-I thought he was going to heal him. I /knew/ it was a bad idea. But he was bleeding out and-" She spits all of that out in a near ramble until she can't, visions of blood and shadows filling her thoughts, making her choke on her words. "Fuck. Fuck!" The cigarette is crushed in her hand for lack of anything more significant nearby to destroy.

There too much to be told. There is only so much that Vega can do to anchor Irene in his moment, the heat and weight of her hand against her friend's shoulder. Her jaw clenches as her friend speaks, trying to work out the words to say. A dark line creasing her brow. Reaching across the ash, she gently collects Irene's palm to brush away the still warm cinders. "Hey…" It's just a soft note of sound. "Who was going to heal him, Irene? The medics?" What happened? It's a question she still hasn't answered.

There's nothing soft about Irene now. All of that is buried under layers of tense muscles and hard anger. She pulls her still partially ashy hand away from Vega, clutching it into a fist hard enough that her knuckles stand out white. It's into the night she stares for the space of several heartbeats, but it's not the dark street she sees. It's a different kind of darkness, unforgettable and still leaving damage in its wake. In the space of these beats she is silent, except for quick, shallow breaths. "Luka," she begins, biting the name out with a slight pause between first and last, "Zdravkovic." Her voice rasps with raw anger, throat tight. "He murdered him. He /murdered/ Mikhail," she chokes out on a sob.

Vega doesn't fight for the possession of that hand, letting her own fall between her knees again. Her fingertips are caught between shadows, the same ones that burrowing beneath her bangs under the porch light over head, leaving her eyes all the darker as she tracks the darkness in Irene's features. As if any motion, however subtle, may help her comfort her friend. The darkness of the street is familiar. The streetlights illuminate its concrete edges in pockets of warmth, the mosquitos and insects buzz distantly, more distant still is the call of sirens across the city that never sleeps. The name spoken finally is also familiar, but wholly alien in its intonation. It drops heavily, falling through her stomach to crash unsettlingly. Lifting a hand, she presses it against her lips, eyes wide with horror. "...what?" The escapes on an unthought breath, shivering in the air. "Oh fuck. What?" She heard it. She can't quite comprehend it.

"I could have killed him for it." Irene looks like she might still want to, talking to herself more than Vega as she says it. And for a bit, that's all she can manage to say, expression crimping tightly as she shakes her head. It's not so easy to dispel what she saw, what she knows. And it's not easy to explain, either.

"Oh fuck." The words are muffled by the curl of Vega's hand over her mouth, dark eyes wide with shock as she tries to wrap her mind around what Irene is saying. The ends of her fingertips press sharply into her cheeks. "Oh fuck. Oh." Exhaling shakily, breath hitching with each shift of her ribs, she doesn't quite succeed in that wrapping of mind over reality. "He /killed/ him?"

Finally, Irene uncurls her fists, so she can put her face in her hands, fingertips pressing hard against her eyes. It doesn't matter how hard she presses. No mark is left. No pain is felt. She breathes, short and ragged, quick along with the fast pace of her heart. And she nods. Yes. He killed him.

It's as if those ragged breaths wear at Vega's own breathing, tearing it to shreds as her shoulders shake in shock. Lifting a trembling hand she wraps it slowly around Irene's shoulders, leaning into her friend. Her own body shivers with repressed emotion, dark eyes hot and damp as she tugs her close. "Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. I'm sorry," she mutters, words whispering against her hair.

Vega mostly succeeds in tugging herself closer to Irene. The older woman might as well be a statue, except for the way her figure shudders with each breath, pulse thrumming rapidly beneath warm skin. Desperately, she fights back the panic attack creeping up her spine. "Yeah...," she whispers, breath hitching. It feels like she might go on for a moment, but she doesn't. She can't. She's staring into the distance again, back in time, seeing shadows. No tears spill from dry eyes, too spent for such a spilling of emotions.

If Irene will not be moved, Vega will shift closer to her, clutching her tight against her tight against her side. Her cheek leans into the older woman's shoulder, dampened by her still wet hair, fingers biting into the curve of her shoulder. "Fuck," she murmurs again. There aren't words. It is too fresh to her for panic to set in, a dull but intense ripple of emotion pooling inside of her. The stones throw to begin a tsunami. "I didn't… We couldn't. You couldn't have known. /I/ didn't know," she says slowly, frantically.

You couldn't have known. Irene twitches at the words as if struck by a blow. I didn't know. She laughs once, short and bitter. "I knew..." Her hands shake. She balls them into fists and tucks her arms in tightly against herself. It's less like a hug and more like she's bracing herself. "I saw...evil." She still sees it.

"You didn't," Vega reminds, voice urgent but soft. "We all thought… I thought he only healed. Dangerous, addictive… but not destructive. You didn't know." She reminds her. She reminds herself. She doesn't shift her hold around Irene. "What do you mean?" Shadows cross her features, brow drawing low over her eyes.

"He's a /fucking vampire/, Vega," Irene snaps, looking over at her friend with a gaze made of ghosts and fire. "I saw him /suck the life/ right out of Mikhail. He-he...pulled all the shadows in the room to him. His eyes were so dark...so hungry..." The fires in her eyes die down for a moment, leaving only the ghosts. "Jiangshi...he murdered that boy and then he /laughed/ about it." Fear wars with anger across her features, but in the end she just looks defeated. "I failed. I can't even save his soul now."

Irene's voice cracks at the air and Vega can almost feel the heat of the flame, flickering with ghosts in the shadows. Her arm slips slowly from around her friend, features flinching as if struck. There is no fight in her, mouth opening as if to protest. There are no words. "I…" Her hand doesn't fully fall away, sliding down Irene's back before her features harden. "Whatever it was, whatever /he/ was… he is just a man and a mutant, Irene. That boy's soul isn't his."

"No he fucking /is not/." Irene slams a fist onto the step she's sitting on, not quite hard enough to crack it. Then she's on her feet, pulling away from Vega, braving the dampness of the night a pace away. "He's a /monster/!" She shouts, pacing a short distance, expression briefly hurt before hardening with anger again. "He's /evil/."

Drawing her hands back, Vega crosses them across her chest as Irene pulls away. Her dark eyes track her steps into the night's damp, jaw set hard and tight as her teeth crack together. "Of course he's a /fucking monster/ he /killed/ a kid," she bites back, white knuckled hands biting into her sides.

"I know! I was there, watching, and he just-" Irene breaks off again, pressing fingertips to burning eyes. Her legs threaten to give out on her, so she sinks to her knees on the sidewalk path to her house with a short breath.

"Fuck." Jumping to her feet as Irene sinks to her knees, Vega doesn't waste time in rushing over to her friend's side. "Hey," she whispers, bending down next to her and brushing a hand over her shoulder. "Hey. Come on. Let's get you inside."

"Fuck." Irene echoes Vega, but she does so quietly, sounding a little hoarse. For a moment it seems like the suggestion to go inside isn't even heard, then she slowly pushes herself up from the ground to stand again. "I need a drink. Cigarettes aren't doing a fucking thing." Because /that/ is the problem.

"Well, the alcohol is living in a very large bottle inside your house," Vega says, drawing a hand around Irene's waist to help her up. She'll help whether her former partner likes it or not. "We'll get you a drink." It won't solve the problem, but it won't hurt. "You've fucking earned one."

Irene is too emotionally wrung out at this point to really put up a protest beyond a deep sigh that may not even have anything to do with Vega at all. "Not today I didn't," she denies with a shape of her head and a far-away look before she moves towards the house. "But I'll take one anyway."

"I'm pouring you one regardless," Vega decides despite any denials. Arm wrapped around Irene, she'll usher her friend inside and see her imbibed and put to bed before heading home. "Come on."

"You too." They head indoors again. Irene walks with a firmer step than might be expected, though her muscles are all still tensed. The emotions haven't gone away. She's just forced them down again, pushed them aside, clawing her way back to being steady and stable. Even when she's still fractured underneath.

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