This Thing of Darkness I Acknowledge Mine

Cast: date: '27th November 2012'
place: 'Postal Underground'
participants: 'Mattie, Jack'
synopsis: 'Dark conversations about the past'
log: "\nJack's hidden and humble abode shows no sign of entry, but for an agent of the Watch with keen senses, he gets that sense of something not quite right, of something different. It's hard to put a finger on just what it is: a scent in the air that doesn't belong in this place? That sixth sense of someone being close by, even when a cursory glance fails to reveal their presence? The tiniest ruffling of the air from the slightest of motions? \n\nEventually, the path leads him to the couch where Mattie lies, asleep. Most of the story is told in the tableau she presents: her usually pale skin is a touch flushed in the cheeks and there's a sheen across her forehead that suggests a fever; a wastebasket sits next to her, though thankfully it's empty; her hand curls around a bottle of Aspirin; her sweater's sleeve is torn and the three ragged slices indicate it was done by something with claws. Now and then, she shivers in whatever fretful sleep she's found.\n\nFortunately, the tired Jack doesn't just succumb to ignorance and crash down on the couch when he arrives home. That'd be awkward. Who knew that taking nursing classes would be so useful, or that he'd have such a persistent repeat caller. This probably isn't what they talk about when using the word 'house calls'. In one of the cupboards attached to the wall, he finds a little first aid kid and pokes through it while taking a swig from a bottle of orange juice. Best get the liquor too, just in case.\n\nHe takes a seat down on the arm of the couch, looking across at her and leaning to get a better view of the wound to see if it needs more stitching but he doesn't wake her quite yet, figuring she may well need the rest. The old furniture protests quietly as he leans back to try to get comfortable on the meager bit of space he has left, considering his options.\n\nThe wound is in fact only to her sweater, from the looks of it; perhaps the trench, too, though that's thrown over the other arm of the sofa. It looks like this time she's evaded the claws so she won't actually need Jack's haberdashing skills put to the test on her flesh. \n\nThe very slight motion of the couch moving is enough to wake her, which means she's either a very very light sleeper or was close enough to break the surface anyway. Her eyes open and she reaches up a hand to scrub at her eyes. \"Sorry,\" she says, though it's interrupted by a yawn and she sits up. \"Yours was the closest place. I … this is why people shouldn't show me where they live. I have a list of hidey holes for when I need to crash.\" Her words are light, but she looks away and down, contrite for invading his space.\n\nThere's some small relief there, at not having to be the patcher. \"See, there's me thinking you're just trying to get into trouble to get me to play doctor again.\" he counters with a smirk. He doesn't look bothered by the intrusion; but most home invaders are less easy on the eyes and tend to leave with your stuff instead of falling asleep on your couch. In place of the hard stuff, he offers another small bottle of oj across while scrutinizing her.\n\n\"You alright there, darlin'?\"\n\nThere's some small relief there, at not having to be the patcher. \"See, there's me thinking you're just trying to get into trouble to get me to play doctor again.\" he counters with a smirk. He doesn't look bothered by the intrusion; but most home invaders are less easy on the eyes and tend to leave with your stuff instead of falling asleep on your couch. In place of the hard stuff, he offers another small bottle of oj across while scrutinizing her.\n\n\"You alright there, darlin'?\" The apology is waved off with the first aid kit, before he sets it down on the makeshift breezeblock and wood board side table. \"S'alright. So long as you don't bring anyone else down here. It's close enough to be convenient for that kind of thing, I guess.\" That kind of thing being crashing out when in need. It's only slightly forced; the concept of opening up his space to others is a hard one to get comfortable with but he's making an effort.\n\n\"It was on the train, actually, so it was pretty convenient, I must say,\" Mattie says, reaching for the bottle and wincing slightly. She uncaps the bottle and takes a drink, before pulling out her cell phone to check the time. \n\n\"I'm okay. It's wearing off. Like clockwork.\" She stands up and picks up the trash can, preparing to move it back to wherever she moved it from since she no longer needs it. \"It's kind of like a hangover. You think you're gonna die for a while and then you just want to.\" There's a wry smile at that, but there's too much truth in the comment for it to reach her eyes. \n\n\"Anyway. I wouldn't show anyone else, I promise. It was just this or pass out on the platform, and I'd rather not wake up in a hospital bed, if you know what I mean. So. You know, thanks.\" Returning from placing the trash can back where it goes, she nods to the med kit. \"And thanks for preparing to bandage me up again.\"\n\n\"Yeah, sleeping on the platform wouldn't be the best idea. Someone might shave off your eyebrows.\" he replies wryly. Obviously that's the worst that could happen. A shoulder raises in a 'don't mention it' sort of shrug, \"It's like homework. Extra credit, or whatever you call it.\"\n\nWhen she stands, he moves from the arm — which is uncomfortable — into the corner of the sofa, with obvious relief at finally getting to sit down and relax. He does continue to watch her though, as if she might relapse into vomitous fever at any moment. \"What happened, then?\"\n\nWhen he asks another question, Mattie looks uncertain for a moment— she'd been clearly planning on leaving him to his solitude. She sits again, though on the edge, picking up her trench coat, which does in fact have a shredded arm. The two layers of fabric kept her from being mauled, it seems. \"It was pretending to be a person, riding the train. After everyone else got out, and it was just me left, it came at me.\" She makes a face. \"Had to possess it. Got it off the train and into a bathroom stall. Killed it. Called cleanup, came here.\" The explanation is offered in terse fragments. \n\nShe picks up the Aspirin bottle, shaking out a couple more and shoving it in her pocket, then swallowing the pills with a chaser of the OJ. \"Nothing interesting. How was your day?\"\n\nLeaning, Jack grabs his discarded messenger bag and begins to rummage while listening. Despite the invasion, he still looks slightly surprised by her intention to leave, \"Oh, I see how it is. You want me for my grade A digs, but then scarper rather than face the prospect of my company?\" There's a little snort of amusement, clearly just giving her a hard time rather than being genuinely hurt at the notion.\n\nIn the bag, there's a sandwich from Subway. Foot long, but already cut in half. No reluctance there in offering her equal share after unwrapping the outer layer. The response to the story is just a nod, accepting the capable handling of the creature with no surprise at all. \"Eh. Busy at the garage, then had some leads t'follow up on. Bollocks though. Just some bloody kids playing about, I reckon an' left over halloween costumes.\" Not everything that comes across the desk is going to be a bad thing. There's plenty of humans that are dicks, after all.\n\nThe food is waved off, and the bottle raised. \"This is more than enough for the time being, thanks,\" she says, leaning back into her corner and setting the coat back down. \"That's good. That it was just kids.\" Not that it means any reprieve for the city of London from the Others; in another neighborhood, it won't be just kids, on any given night. \n\nOh, there's some relief there now; the offering was out of politeness but he's all too happy to have it to himself and given the refusal he's not ashamed to show it. Breakfast, lunch and dinner all combined into one sub roll. A reply is delayed by some munching, \"S'all okay, darl'. Just means I have to wait to scratch my arse until later. Think I'll survive. Just be sure to knock, yeah in future. 'Case I'm naked or something. Not that I'd know if you were showing up to perv on me.\" A crooked little grin comes with the sidelong glance and he gradually sinks down more into the comforting embrace of the couch.\n\n\"Company is good, anyway.\" he continues, more seriously. \"Been stuck with the kids all day, an' then old people all night.\"\n\n\"I knocked,\" Mattie says immediately, cheeks coloring when he speaks of being naked. \"And then I came in, because, yeah. That whole feeling like you're dying thing. Sort of sucks all the fun out of possessing creatures from another dimension and making them kill themselves, you know?\" Another wry grin accompanies her words. \n\n\"You're good with them. The kids, I mean. Probably the old people, too. With most people in general, except I guess Teresa and that theater guy.\" She studies him for a moment, watching him eat. There's maybe a little jealousy in the tone.\n\nJack's smile grows a little at the colouring and the commentary, and perhaps at how easy it is to just say things jokingly and earn a response. The compliment — even mixed with jealousy — gets a curious expression, lip curling into an uncertain look. \"The kids are just like me, when I was that age. Someone had my back, an' maybe if it'd happened sooner then…\" A slight pause, \"things would've turned out differently.\"\n\nConvenient silence is provided by sandwich eating. \"Most'f the time I just say what's on my mind, it's easy t'pretend like everything's peachy. An' I don't mean in that womanly 'I'm fine.' way.\" The grin flickers back for just a second, \"S'how I grew up. You act like nothin' bothers you and be irr… irest… Don't let shit drag you down, or let people see it bothers you. Keep smilin' at them the whole time. Unnerves people sometimes.\"\n\n\"I… I know something happened to your brother, but…\" there are plenty of secrets within the Watch, but the basics on any of the agents can usually be found out, \"Did you have parents?\" It's an awkward question, a personal question, and Maggie immediately looks apologetic for having asked it. \"I mean, you don't have to talk about it. It's just… you're so different from most people I know. So different from anyone I would have met, if all the shit that happened didn't happen, you know?\" If the Gloom hadn't annihilated her life and made her a city street rat by age 15 instead of the suburban princess she had been raised.\n\nA flicker of something, guilt or anger maybe. It's covered by a smart remark, \"Nah, I just appeared one day out of thin air.\" It seems more intended to buy some time to organize a response as his thumb pushes at the last bit of bread.\n\nHe shrugs eventually, \"Not really; I mean. Yeah. Course. But they weren't parents. My old man was a cunt, and the old girl figured it was best to stick around and get beat by that drunken wanker an' let me an Dan go live on the streets at eleven.\" Slowly, he crumples up the wrapper, fingers curling in hard as it's crushed as though imagining it were something else. He continues, quietly. \"Fuck knows where they are now.\" Clearly he's no intention of looking for them.\n\nHer brows furrow at the smart-ass answer first with mild irritation (either at him or herself, it's hard to tell) but then Mattie looks away at the rest, nodding once and swallowing. \"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to pry,\" she says quietly, before looking back. \"Maybe that's why you manage better than I do,\" she adds thoughtfully, but shrugs it away. \n\nHer hand lifts to touch his shoulder lightly, then drops away. \"Sorry,\" she murmurs again. \"I guess there's a reason no one really asks, huh?\"\n\nThere's a small smile offered in acceptance of the apology, another shrug. It is what it is. \"We did alright.\" That's relative, perhaps. Although he doesn't go into the hows, since recounting a life of juvenile crimes is probably unendearing.\n\n\"That fucking \"haunted house\" though. Should've known it was a bad idea. Too good to be true.\" It's kind of like a plaster (or a band-aid!). If you're going to peek under it, may as well rip it off quick and replace it, get the words out while the going is good. The tone becomes somewhat flat, \"He went down into the cellar, to grab a few quid from the stash so we could buy booze.\" Briefly does he glance at her, with uncertainty but also an implication, \"Went down but never came back out. Were no other way out from there, neither.\"\n\n\"Younger or older?\" she asks, simply and quietly, pulling her feet up to tuck under herself, arms wrapping around her knees. Apparently she's enough at home now not to worry about her feet on the couch; luckily any blood's dry by now. Her green eyes are solemn as she watches him; whatever fever she'd had has broken, the flush from earlier now faded to her usual shade of pale.\n\nNot even the couch worries about feet on it. It's seen better days by far; not that it's disgustingly dirty. It's just comfortable in it's disheveled state and happy with who it is. \"Younger, two years.\" The crushed wrapper is thrown in an arc over to the waste bin, rattling around the rim before dropping into the middle. 3 points.\n\nHe stares that way quietly for a while, contemplating. The topic compels him to finally reach for that liquor he'd brought out for medicinal purposes, taking a big gulp then finally turning his gaze upon her. \"Guess you never know right, maybe he's still in there.\" The hope is a lie. Just something repeated often enough mentally that it's easier to go with it than consider the alternative.\n\n\"Mine was older, a year,\" she says quietly, turning to look at the trash making its way into its goal. There's a very slight shake of her head at his dim hope — in her mind, it'd be better for him if he wasn't still there, after all this time. \n\n\"I'm sorry,\" Mattie murmurs, the refrain having a different tone this time than her apology for crashing at his place and her apology for bringing up a painful topic. This one is the 'sorry' that you give someone who's lost someone important to them. \"Do you ever wish that the things we have in common — us Watch folk I mean,\" lest he think she means the two of them specifically, \"weren't so terrible? We all have this bond that makes us different from everyone else… that makes it almost impossible for anyone else to even begin to understand us. Let alone the whole not wanting to endanger them thing. But it's not something we can talk about. Not easily, anyway. Not without… wishing you hadn't.\"\n\nThat apology just gets a small nod and then there's more food for thought. It's not like he has a happy childhood to compare and contrast, there's always been that malcircumstance in his interactions with society at large. Youths on the street, all from unpleasant places and thrown together to scrape by as best they can on the fringes. Similar, perhaps just on a different scale. One group to identify with, the rest of the populace to avoid and be misunderstood by.\n\nMaybe that's why he's got no answer to that, after digesting it. There's been a whole lot of wishes made over the years and they've come to nothing. \"What about you then?\" he asks, looking back at her with a tentative expression that makes plain there being no requirement to answer.\n\nShehe presses her lips together, and it seems she might shut down, but then she speaks. \"In hindsight, I guess Kurt — my brother — had had a Gloom encounter of some kind. He got super withdrawn and depressed. My parents thought it was drugs, but I don't think so, not anymore.\" She looks away with that same expression of guilt he'd had a few moments before. If only she'd known what to look for back then. \n\n\"I was coming late to a family thing after a… a school thing. My grandpa's birthday. My whole family was there, except me.\" Her voice is flat, her brow knit as if she's concentrating hard on something. \"By the time I got there, the entire police department was there, I think. They never released the information because they were afraid of getting copy cats.\" She huffs a little at that, though there's no humor in the small laugh.\n\nThere's sympathy there for the shared sting of how clear things are in retrospect. Reconciling the past with the greater — if unpleasant — understanding of the present. No commentary, as he tries to imagine having multiple people to care about and be care about by, then having them all taken by the Gloom in one fell swoop. Just one was tough enough. Another swig, and he offers over the bottle.\n\n\"Sorry.\" he offers up quietly, in that same manner as she'd done for him, genuine. \"Were they good people, your folks?\"\n\nThe threat of losing lunch is apparently past, since she takes the bottle and then a drink long enough to be more then mere politeness. She nods. \"It was pretty close to perfect, my life then,\" she says and her voice is a little thick and more than with just the heat of the alcohol. \"Ended up on the streets, and then in the Gloom, came out the sparkling personality you know now,\" she says in an offhand manner. \"When I came out and learned what I could do, I spent more time than not invisible. I think sometimes it's my default state, and that this is the abnormal state for me.\" \n\nShe hands back the bottle. \"I'm sorry I suck at being a person. I'd say I'll get better at it, but I don't think that's true.\"\n\nThe curve of lips is slight, but well meaning. \"Funny, I was going to say you turned out alright, all things considered an' that they must've done a good job.\" Accepting the bottle he stares at it a while, fingers drumming against the glass in erratic sequence.\n\nIt's raised in a toast after a time, \"To the people what gave us our good bits.\" he states solemnly, returning it to her if she wants it. \"Somewhere out there, there's plenty'f little girls living their perfect lives still thanks to what you do on a regular basis. No doubt whining the whole bloody time because they can't have an iPhone 5 or go on dates with boys on school nights.\"\n\nThe toast, Cockney as it is, makes Mattie both smile and turn away to wipe away tears. \"Sorry, it's been a rough day. You ever have a migraine? And even when the pain stops, you feel like you got hit by a semitruck? It's kinda like that when I do the bodysnatching stuff. And you know. Stupid emotions to go with it.\" She takes the bottle and another swallow or two, then hands it back. \"I'm about as alright as a three dollar bill, I think, but at least I know it.\"\n\nHe looks away in turn, giving her 'space' to recover. There's no tears from Jack, just a flatness in the eyes, world weary. \"Don't worry 'bout it. Three dollar bill'd be useful. Plenty of shit what costs 2.99. You do a lot'f good stuff for people who'll never know it; reckon underneath that bitchy exterior is a big soft fluffy bunny.\" That last part is a stretch and he knows it, resulting in a crooked grin forming around the neck of the bottle as more gulps are taken.\n\nA thumb is hitched toward the bed off at the end of the room, \"You're welcome to crash out here for the night if you want, I can take the couch. Or another room, or whatever.\" He doesn't sound bothered by the possibility; it is a comfortable sofa.\n\nIt's telling that she laughs at the bitchy remark; once upon a time, she wouldn't have. There's a glance toward the exit, mulling and thoughtful; but it's cold and dark and maybe not a long way home but she's not feeling up to fighting any demons tonight. \"You don't need to sleep on the couch. I apparently can sleep like a rock here,\" she says, patting it affectionately. \"Let's put some stupid movie on and pretend we have something less tragic in common with one another for a while.\"\n\nThere's more whiskey to increase the rock-esqueness, \"Don't say I didn't offer.\" She'll have to take it back so he can get up and work the tv. It's all high tech down here, with a VCR and everything. Next to the couch there's a stack of dated movies that were probably a haul from a closing down video rental store judging by the stickers present on them all and he nods for her to pick her poison. \"I like bacon, an' I'm a truly fucking terrible dancer.\" he suggests, forging a path into the unknown banalities in search of some mundane common ground to strike a tent on.\n\nShe leans over the arm of the couch, poking at the videos and finally settling on Clerks, which she hands to him. She settles back on the couch, this time for comfort rather than company, head on one cushion and legs draped over the arm. \"I like bacon, and I'm a great dancer, but not in, like, this century,\" she says. \"I can swing dance, but I have no idea how you're supposed to dance to music today. The only difference between a stripper and the girls in the clubs that I can tell is a tiny bit less fabric and a pole.\"\n\nThe case is popped and fed to the clunky old machine that probably weighs as much as a modern television. It's still serviceable though and the picture isn't terrible when there's no comparison in the room. \"See, we can eat bacon and I can step on your toes while you keep moving my hand off your arse.\" Common ground achieved.\n\nFlumping back down on the sofa, he flashes her a smile while stuffing the bottle in between two cushions in the middle where it's in easy reach. The remote works after a thump or two. If the drinking keeps up it's possible that no one will take the bed and both will just pass out before the end of the movie.\n"
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