The Truth Will Out

Cast: date: '4 September 2012'
place: 'Watch HQ'
participants: 'Cedric, Ruth'
synopsis: 'Agents of the Watch mourn the disappearance of one of their own.'
log: " A chill wind blows across the windows of the Watch HQ office, and grey clouds scud across the sky. It's past normal quitting time and the Watch office is mercifully quiet. Most people have gone home for the day, but there's noise of someone moving about, and the lights are still on.\n\n Cedric is going desk to desk, moving mice and seeming to be checking something on each computer. He moves with almost his usual breakneck speed and ridiculous energy, and looks to have cleaned up a good deal, gotten a shower, and such. Karvol Vapour Rub and cigarette smoke make an incongruous and rather unpleasant aroma combination on him, but at least he seems functional, which is an improvement over the last few days. \n\nEver have a night where sleep just doesn't come easily? It would appear that Ruth is having one such night. There was some milling about on the lower levels, restless wandering mostly; a brief trip down to the labs to look at this printout or that, and then she made her way up the stairs. Her footsteps are always eerily silent, and she's making no polite attempts to be heard at the momentafter all, it's well past quitting time.\n\nAnd so, the only indicator of her presence is the abrupt click and creak of the door being pushed open. She's dressed as she always is - dark, concealing clothing, gloves and boots. Her hair's left unbound at the moment, falling just past her shoulders in tousled waves. Perhaps she looks a bit paler than normal, but otherwise it's the same Ruth as ever.\n\nThe jacket that she'd left on Darkholme's chair disappeared last night.\n\n Cedric stops abruptly as the door opens and closes with eerie silence, and looks up at the creak. He's warmly dressed in several layers of clothing against the chill in the office, and he wears a dark and wary expression. \"Oy, someone there?\" he calls, a definite note of congestion in the rough baritone. \"Show … oh, hi Ruth. What were you about yesterday, leaving that dodgy bird up here alone?\" There's a trace of annoyance in the question, but he seems to accept her presence without question. \n\nRuth gives a light rap of her knuckles against the door after it falls shut, as if to wordlessly answer his question. When Cedric's eyes settle on her, she lifts two gloved fingers in a lazy sort of waveand she may've been about to voice a greeting, but what comes out at the question is a mildly incredulous, \"What?\" that borders on sounding like 'Wot?', one brow spiking upward. \"Not a bloody babysitter, Ced.\" she points out - literally pointing it out with a finger extended and tipped in his direction. \"S'not my job to tend to the new lambs.\"\n\n Cedric eyes Ruth for a moment, then shrugs expressively and sits down at the next cube over. \"Don't reckon she's Watch at all. Reckon she might be a spy and was just winding us up with that story of hers. Knows too much and not enough. I filed a report.\" He grabs the mouse and moves it briefly. When it doesn't turn on, he nods satisfaction, then turns the chair to look up at his fellow agent. \" Didn't like her being in here alone. System logs don't show unusual accesses.\"\n\n After a moment, he pauses, expression darkening. \"Are you all right?\"\n\n\n\"Yeah?\" Ruth asks, expression flatlining as she glances sidelong at the stairwell door, lips pressed to a hard line. \"Think she'd've been able to get up here, if she weren't one've us?\" is asked after a pregnant pause - her face has gone rather unreadable, but no doubt she's mulling it over. \"Sorry mate,\" gets muttered out as she strides towards her own workspace, hands jammed into her pockets. She doesn't immediately offer up an answer to his question; instead going through her own little evening rituals - desk lamp on, blinds closed, a few files shuffled about. It's busy work, really, certainly not intentionally dragged out to avoid responding. \"I'm fine.\"\n\n There's a silence from the other side of the cube wall, and Cedric is audible, continuing to move desk to desk. Finally, he seems to finish what he's doing and comes back to the area where Ruth's desk is, grabbing a chair from another cube and plopping down in it to study her. \n\n After a moment, he pulls the hood up over his head and says, \"Thanks for looking out for me, Ruth.\"\n\nRuth, upon closer study, looks… sick. Paler than normal, and when her sleeve tugs back as she reaches out to aim the too-bright lamp at herself, the veins threading along the inside of her wrist are greenish. She does not appear to appreciate this moment of study from Cedric. \"'course,\" she manages after another pause, gloved hands settling over the keyboard but not actually… doing anything just yet. \"It's what we do, right? You're lookin' a bit better, leastwise.\" There's a moment, not likely to go missed with his eyes on her, where she looks past him - towards David's unchanged desk, and her lips purse just slightly.\n\n As Ruth looks over at David's desk, Cedric's eyes follow, and he frowns just slightly. There was something …. Shaking his head, he stands up like a bolt and looks back at Ruth. \"That reminds me … there was something you wanted to ask me yesterday before I left.\" Absently, he shoves the chair back into its rightful cube with an overly hard push that sends it skittering into the desk with a *clunk*. He still sounds congested and he's not moving with /all/ of his usual speed, but he seems to be recovering.\n\nRuth blinks once at the loud *clunk*, head turninga little too fast, faded eyes cutting towards Cedric again and tracking his movements hawkishly. \"Was goin' to ask about Darkholme. If you'd seen him about.\" Another pause, too long to be considered a comfortable silence, her gloved hands still motionless on the keyboard. \"Then I read the reports and had my own answer. No one's seen him about.\"\n\n Cedric blinks at the question. Darkholme. Last time he'd seen him was…. \"He never came back?\"\n\n And that's when everything from that night, Gloom-suppressed and well-suppressed, comes flooding back. Slowly, by steps, the IT admin moves over to lean against the brick wall, one arm supporting his head, the other hanging limply by his side in a pose that can only be described as stricken. \"/Fuck!/\" His head is down, shoulders tense. \"Fuck.\" \n\n\"No.\" Ruth answers flatly, quietly, jaw clenching tightly enough that the muscles can be seen working beneath skin as she looks back to her hands, studying the dull shine of lamplight against her gloves as if it were something intensely interesting. But the sound of Cedric's footfalls has her lifting her head again in short order, and she's watching him take those slow steps towards the wall. \"You didn't\" she starts, swallows thickly, and haltingly rises to her feet. \"…you didn't know?\" Not that he can see it, but her face falls - just slightly, the corners of her mouth drawing downward, a brief, crumpling break in that flat mask.\n\n \"I knew. I heard him scream.\" Cedric's answer, when it comes, is in a broken voice that is thick with bitterness and self-recrimination. \"The monster had me … and it didn't care. The prey was all that mattered. And then … nothing mattered. It … tore the thing up. Because it wanted to. Because I … /enjoyed/ it.\" His shoulders are shaking, now. \"When I … got control again … I knew he was missing. And it didn't matter. Nothing mattered. That … /thing/ did it. And it's my fault. I didn't check. I never checked.\" \n\n Abruptly, he raises a fist and /slams/ it into the wall in frustration, end-first. He'll be lucky if he didn't break it, and will /definitely/ have a good bruise at least. \"It's not me, I swear it's not me….\"\n\nRuth's few, halting steps taken towards Cedric end at the word 'scream', putting her just a few feet shy of him. She sucks in a breath through her nose, nostrils flaring slightly, and listens in silence. A hand, previously clenched to a fist at her side, lifts and settles over her mouth, fingers curling in tightly against her cheek.\n\nThen his fist connects with the bricks, and her head snaps up again, two more steps bringing her close enough to lay a handnot on his shoulder, no, it hovers a few inches shy of it, a splay of fingers in the air that tremor slightly as she breathes out, \"Ced…\"\n\n\"It's not you. You didn't\" her hand drops, useless, to her side. \"He might come back.\" She doesn't even sound as if she believes it.\n\n If Cedric notices the hand reaching for him, he doesn't move immediately. The fist that he slammed into the wall joins the other one against the wall, head resting on both forearms, hands clenched into fists. \"Couldn't control it,\" he goes on, thickly. I tried. I couldn't. That /thing/ got it out. Damn it.\" The words are still full of bitterness, anger, and self-recrimination.\n\n At the mention of David possibly coming back. \"After what was down there….\" He's breathing hard. \"I /hope/ he's just dead. For his sake.\" He shakes his head, mutely, his forehead on his arms. \"I'm not a monster, Ruth.\" \n\n\nHer comforting gesture aborted, Ruth shoves her hands into her pockets and puts a shoulder against the wall, looking down and awayat the wastebasket nearest to them, at the way the carpet's curling up 'round the edges where it meets the wall, at basically… anything else. But eventually she pulls her gaze back up to him, studying what she can of his face in profile, silent for several heartbeats. When she does speak, it's quiet, barely above a whisper. \"You're not a monster. No more'n I am. There's a war in you.\"\n\nLetting her head rest against the wall, she wets her lips and adds softly, \"Took his jacket. Thought… you know, I'd just give it back later. Like he'll just come tearin' out've a shadow next week. But I know better.\" —another crumpling frown as Cedric's breathing quickens and she leans in just a centimeter or so, breathing out a low, \"Shhh. I know you aren't.\"\n\n Cedric's face, seen in profile, is crumpled up in anguish, eyes squeezed tight. Every muscle in his frame is spring-taut, his hands clenched as memory courses through him. That one hand is already beginning to turn red, but he doesn't seem to care. \"No. I hope he's dead. For his sake. At least that means /they/ didn't get him.\" If his voice sounded congested before, it's barely understandable now, but there's no sign of tears. \n\n He is silent for several heartbeats more at the reassurances, but gradually, oh so gradually, he starts to relax. Just a little at first … at least he stops shaking. At length, one arm drops, as if something is slowly releasing. \"I'm sorry, Ruth.\" \n\nWith his eyes tightly closed, he can't see Ruth pulling a hand free of her pocket. But, after a long moment, Cedric can feel the light press of fingers against his shoulderwith several layers of his clothing between his skin and her gloved touch, it's not an entirely unsafe gesture, but one she took long enough to make. The moment is fleeting, lasting just a few seconds before her hand's drawing away in a light brush of fingertips trailing down the sleeve of his lowered arm, slid back into her pocket once more; a mutely offered companionable comfort. \"Not your fault.\" If she means anything she's said this evening, it's that. Her tone's not entirely even as she speaks those words, and she lets her head tip back a bit more against the bricks, gaze wandering up along the ceiling tiles.\n\n Still not completely sure he agrees with that assessment, Cedric nonetheless nods. Even with all the layers of clothing and gloves between his skin and hers, she can feel the bunched muscle beneath her hand - the man is solid. At the touch, though, he looks up, finally straightening from the wall, and swallows hard. He studies her for a long moment before dropping his eyes. \"Thanks. He was your partner, wasn't he?\" The question is low, quiet, and filled with concern. Now the paleness makes sense. \n\n\"Worked together, now and again,\" Ruth allows, slender shoulders rising and falling shortly - it is, perhaps, as close to an agreement as she's willing to come. Already distancing herself from it all. Faded eyes track along the edges and corners of the ceiling tiles, studying water damage stains and chips in the panels. \"Such a waste.\" Inside of her pockets, she's thumbing the outline of her keyring as she turns her head back towards Cedric, dry-eyed, pale, managing a tight and utterly disingenuous smile. \"But that's the way've of it, isn't it? So I'll keep his jacket, then. It's good to have something.\" That lie of a smile fades as she leans away from the wall, head tipped down far enough that a fall of hair conceals her face as she mutters out, \"Ought to have that hand've yours seen to.\"\n\n For a long moment, Cedric simply watches Ruth soberly, dark eyes still reflecting the anguish from earlier. It's showing signs of easing, though, and he half-lifts a hand as if to reach for her in turn. Then, he remembers the stricture, and himself … and drops it abruptly. \"Yeah, might as well keep it.\" He's not looking at her, but rather at the floor. \"Reckon I'll give it another week or two before reassigning his box. Just to be sure.\" \n\n At the mention of having the hand seen to, he twists it to look at it. The back side of the hand is beginning to swell, although not quickly enough to indicate broken bones. \"Yeah. Hope it's not broken.\" He flexes the hand very carefully, wincing. \"Do you want to come with me or should you get back to work?\" \n\nThere's no obvious flinch away from Cedric's own attempted, then aborted, reach — but her head tilts enough that Ruth can cut her eyes towards his hand, not wary but… aware. \"Just to be sure,\" she echoes quietly, taking a few more steps away from the wall, shoulders slowly rolling back to her usual rigid posture. A breath's drawn in, then expelled, eyes falling closed momentarily. \"No - should get back to work. Got a few things to tap out before I go home.\" She regards him for a moment, not entirely able to keep the corners of her mouth from tugging downward to a ghost of a frown that lasts all of a few heartbeats before she's turned away, moving back towards her desk. \"Goodnight, Ced.\""
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