|2046-09-24 Secrets and Consequences|
|Location||Avenue B Apartments - Laundry Room|
|Summary||Dirty laundry comes out. They go away with clean laundry.|
| A dozen ancient coin-operated machines line the walls of the apartment's laundry. Four have been upgraded to take electronic transfers, and as such, there's often a line for their use. Plastic chairs sit back-to-back in the center of the room, and a table is tucked in one corner next to a pair of vending machines.|
| It is a fall evening. The weather is warm and overcast.|
The humm of the dryers rumbles through the walls that connect to the apartment laundry, gently vibrating through the poorly insulated space. It's a sound that is somewhat muffled and somewhat alerted by Ian's presence, seated on top of the dryer rather than sensibly in a chair. A well worn paperback of poetry is wrapped around his hand, pages bent from years of dog-earing favorites. It's well worn appearance matches his, hoodie tattered and jeans worn at the knees. A pair of less beat-up keds hang on his feet, crisply white with their laces neatly tied.
Ciel appears with a bag slung over her shoulder. She's clearly needed to do laundry for a while - not because she's dressed down, but because she's dressed up, in a yellow and white dress with a flared skirt and tight-fitted bodice. Her ponytail and tennis shoes are a little at odds with the look. She pauses in the doorway as she spots Ian, grinning swiftly. "Hey!" she says. "Tell me there's a machine free so I don't have to drag this down the street?"
Caught up in the pages of his book, Ian doesn't immediately look up as a body shift into his periphery but Ciel's greeting is enough to draw his attention. It's also enough to recognize the voice. His brows furrow a bit as he looks up, offering a flat, "Hey." Jerking a thumb at the washing machine next to him, he shrugs. "All yours."
Ciel marks both furrow and tone with a briefly surprised expression, but doesn't comment on it. Instead, she gives him a quick flash of a smile and answers, "Thanks," as she moves to drop her bag to the floor with a heavy *thud*. She spends a moment digging for correct change before dumping her load into the washer and setting it to start.
In answer to her thanks, Ian simply shrugs and outwardly goes back to his reading. He isn't really reading though. His attention is distracted by Ciel, watching her occasionally from under his furrowed brows. As if trying to analyze her like an injury and figure out what caused it.
It takes Ciel another moment to get everything settled and then turn into a lean against her washer. She spends a moment fiddling with something behind her Eyes before she blinks her gaze over to Ian with a wry smile. "Do I have mustard on my face or something?" she checks.
Ian would not make much of a covert agent. His small book of poetry doesn't provide much cover. Unusually, he doesn't return her smile, watching her with clear green eyes and an expression more suited to an operating table. She's been stitched up enough to be familiar with it. His hands are still and he doesn't fidgets. "No. Just trying to figure out..."
Ciel, on the other hand, made an excellent covert agent. She waits patiently, her brows swept upward in expectation as Ian watches her.
"Why'd you lie to me?" Ian says softly, directly and with a hint of hurt along the edges of his words. As that was too vague, he adds, "That month. /Space./"
Ciel's expression shifts briefly to broad surprise, and then swiftly settles into a rueful curve of a barely-there smile as she looks at him. She rakes a hand across her face for a beat, then says, "Who told you /space/?"
Scoffing softly, Ian hops down from the dryer. "Does it matter?"
"Little bit," Ciel says, tilting her head as she watches him. She's silent for a beat before she sighs and spreads a hand. "You'd already talked to Eleanor," she says. "It seemed kind of shitty to out her lie when she obviously didn't want you to know what'd happened."
"So long as everyone is lying to me /together/," Ian bites out, shifting a shoulder. "Great. Glad it's a team sport." He shoves his paperback in his back pocket and eyes the timer on the machine.
"It's been classified for a very long time," Ciel says, quieter and still in her lean. "And if someone you work with didn't want to deal with it, then I wasn't going to be the one to mess that up. Maybe she needed to process. It wasn't exactly pleasant."
"Yeah but it wasn't just you, Ciel." Ian's mouth flattens in a thing line. "You all disappear for a month and each person tells me a different lie. You don't think I would have cared that you all got sucked into space?"
"Did I say that?" Ciel answers. Her own expression sets into something quiet and stubborn. "Look, Ian. I'm sorry that you found out that lots of people told you a lie about something kind of terrifying that happened to them and that you think it's somehow a reflection of what we think of you. But it wasn't a reflection of what /I/ think of you and I'd bet that it wasn't particularly a reflection of what anyone else thought of you, either. It was big, and it was scary, and the government was involved when we came back."
Ian stares at her as her expression sets, green eyes fixed and focused. His own jaw ticks as if he is chewing on words before settles a hand atop the dryer, looking at it and not at her.
Ciel watches Ian for a beat of silence, then says more quietly, "If Eleanor needed time to process, or if she was scared to tell, or-- /whatever/ her reason was. I wasn't going to take that away from her. If she hadn't-- I don't know what I would have said. Maybe I would have told you. Maybe I would have kept keeping secrets it used to be my job to keep. But none of it would have meant I thought you didn't /care/."
"No. It just means I'm not a part of... whatever secret circle you guys have over there at X-Factor," he says finally. That didn't bother him till now, until this. His dryer buzzes with the sound of being done. Reaching down, Ian grabs his basket and roughly stuffs his clothing in it. "The funny thing is, you could have told me and never mentioned Eleanor. I wouldn't have known." He shrugs as he lifts his basket and meets her eyes briefly.
"Yeah you would have," Ciel says quietly. She gives Ian a faint smile. "You're not stupid, Ian. You would have put it together." She glances briefly behind her, as if X-Factor's circle might be standing there, before returning her gaze to Ian, steady and quiet.
"Apparently not." Ian doesn't sound like he believes that - not really. He doesn't hold her gaze for long, breaking it to look towards the hall. Holding his basket in his arms, he shifts to move around her and head towards the stairs. "See you around, Ciel."Ciel's sigh is quiet and resigned when he looks away. She nods anyway, stepping to one side to let him pass more easily. "Later, Ian," she says.