08.14.3013: Rebooting
Summary: Nitrim goes to see how Rook is doing. There is awkwardness, advice, and a little bit of reconciliation.
Date: 14 August 2013
Related: None.
Ithaca Nitrim 

Ithaca's Apartment — Blue District, The Ring
The door of this musty, basement apartment bears several chains across the spanalong with multiple locks, electronic and mundane. Inside it is almost empty, Spartan to an extreme. There's just one, windowless, main room serving as the entire living space, and a small bathroom. The bedroom consists of a mattress on the floor in one corner. The kitchen is nothing but a counter with a small sink, microwave, mini fridge/freezer, hot plate, and electric crockpot

Along one wall rests a small tattered loveseat and a coffee table which looks to be an old trunk of some sort. The rest of the space is taken up by computer equipment, resting on scratched up Plexiglas sheets propped on rusted old filing cabinets, stools, chairs, anything that could be used to support the flat surfaces. The walls are plastered with page upon page of code and mathematical calculations.

14 August 3013

Rook's place hasn't gone anywhere since she left it. Not like anyone in their right mind would want to live in the windowless, basement apartment of the Low Orbit on the Ring. She has changed the passcode for the door though, so old keycards don't work in it. She's currently bundled up in front of her computers, her breath frosting in the air, which is frigid, as the climate control on this level is on the fritz again. Last time it was sweltering, now it's more like Niveus. She has fingerless gloves on, a wool hat crammed on her head, a scarf, a peacoat that has seen better days, and a blanket over her lap to keep her leather-clad legs and boot-clad feet from freezing.

The voice, the old and familiar presence, reaches out through the corridors to brush against Ithaca's mind. Like a shadow, haunting the hallways, Nitrim Khournas announces his approach directly into her mind…like a whisper.

It's me…I'm coming.

Turning the final stairwell, Nitrim's heavy boots lead him down onto the landing. Sword batting quietly against his hip, his gloved hands slide into place behind his back as he nears her door.

Rook's eyes gloss over white as she telekinetically unlocks the door for him. He can hear the clicks and clacks and buzzes from the other side as she does so. Even outside of the apartment he can feel the cold creeping under the door. "Open," she calls.

A small, familiar smirk forms at the sound of the door unlocking as he approaches. His breath starting to fog, his flaming serpent aura humms to life to warm his bones in the frigid basement. Fingertips flexing, they press to her door and turn the handle, opening it. As he presses through the threshold, his eyes immediately scan the apartment, looking for signs of growth and addition, and looking for the woman in question, herself.

It seems to be more subtraction than anything. Rook's tucked all the drugs away out of sight, and she sold her bedframe again to pay the money she missed paying back to the Syndicate when she went walkabout. It's the reason she doesn't have a black eye at the moment. Her hair has grown out a little, though she still has the black dye in it at the moment, where it peeks out under the hat. Her computers are all humming away at capacity, and her ratty sofa, old mattress, and trunk are the only real furnishings other than computer gear. The ashtray at her elbow is overloaded with cigarette butts, and there's another cancer stick in her mouth. "Beer in fridge," she notes.

Nitrim's eyes come to stop on the mattress on her floor. The bedframe. She seemed comfortable with the bedframe. Hiding his frown, he dips his head into his hands to light the cigarette dangling from his lips and crosses behind her to her kitchen. Pulling out two beers, he cracks them each open and offers her one. He leaves her, heading back to her sofa where he sits and leans forward, elbows on his knees. "I'd ask where you went, but you'd tell me away."

"A walk," is Rook's response. A bit better than 'away' but not much, considering she was gone nearly a month. She continues typing for a few moments more, before hitting the enter key and watching numbers and symbols scroll down her screen searching for something out there in the Infosphere. She turns in her desk chair and takes a sip of her beer, looking at him expectantly.

"Well there's definitely enough space for that on the Ring…" Nitrim trails off, tugging away his leather gloves as his stark-white eyes signal the warming use of his powers. Where she's cold and wrapped, he's in comfortable weather as he sits back on the sofa to watch her. Of course, with only whites in his eyes, he settles for pointing them towards her. He stares and sips from his beer, until he finally breaks the silence. "To say that I wanted to check in and see how you were doing seems so…arrogant a thing."

Rook purses her lips slightly, before she takes another pull off the stub of a cigarette in her hand and crushes it out with the rest. "Yes." She's agreeing with him. She blows the smoke out of her lungs and tucks her fingers under her armpits for warmth. Using her psychometry constantly would be too big of a drain on her.

"Well then I won't say that, then," Nitrim snorts a cloud of cigarette smoke and brushes his claw-ringed fingers through his hair. His gaze turns to the floor as he slips the cigarette between his lips for another pull. "But you should probably know these last few months have succeeded in taking a maul to everything. I haven't exactly gotten through this unscathed."

"Oh?" Rook asks, a brow arching slightly. She lights up another cigarette with her palm, the inner heat helping keep her warmer. She looks a teensy bit incredulous as he looks like he's doing just fine.

"Devon Grantham sending waves of telekinetic force against Soleil?" Nitrim replies with a tilt of his head. "Flint Grantham suddenly deciding I'm an unwashed traitor of some sort? There's a number of cracks that have formed, and I've been getting very fucking sick at the jokes my own house makes at my expense." His lips curl into snarl over the end of his cigarette, letting a little anger out. "And I'm now at Landing, in the belly of the beast, chasing all of this shit down like a bloodhound with little backing."

Rook tilts her head very slightly as she listens to him. Her brow furrows. "Soleil." She says it like an epithet with a shrug. "Should have your back." Clearly she thinks it's his fiancee's job to help him now. She gets up and heads into her kitchenette to pull a frozen pizza from the fridge. In this temp its extremely frozen. She pops it into the zapper to heat it up.

"Oh, she does. But with the banns and all of the work I'm doing this stupid little house of cards I had built came tumbling down. To be fair, I think I'm ready to move out of the Blackspyre." Nitrim's eyes trace her as she heads to the kitchen, keeping the conversation going as he pauses for a sip from his beer. "There's just no telling how any of this is going to go anymore, but like I told you, this is the life I couldn't choose against. Choices have been made for me."

"Always a choice," Rook replies. She pulls out her plastic plates for serving. "Just don't like consequences," she points out to him. She sips from her beer and leans on a kitchen cabinet while waiting for the pizza to be done. If he was fishing for sympathy from her, she seems fresh out. Or worn out. She looks tired and a little bit blank in the eyes.

"And if you chose to just let the Syndicate fucking deal without your help? Fuck'em?" Nitrim shakes his head, delivering the words quietly, with a lack of defiance in his tone. His eyes trail back to the floor and he searches it for meaning, finding little. "The things I'm working on could decide thousands of lives; the lives of my family. There are some things I cannot say no to, Rook."

"Still a choice," Rook responds. She shrugs. "Don't say can't. Say won't. Own it." Ding! Goes the zapper and she fishes the cardboard-like pizza with its chemically-enhanced cheese topping out of the device and onto the plates.

"I guess that's one way of looking at it. You know when I was younger I thought of trying to give up my name. I don't think I would have survived the wrath at the time." Sensing incoming pizza, he sets his beer down on the drunk and scoots to one arm of the sofa, giving her room to seat herself. It's an old ritual returned. "Why is it that I'm so complicated and you're not, Rook?"

"I don't care," Rook replies, as she sits on the other end of the couch and puts the plates on top of the trunk-turned-coffee table. "You care too much." If she shrugs any more it may become calisthenics. She takes a bite of the pizza which managed to make it up to luke warm.

"Fuck, you know it's not that simple for me. But — fuck…it is." Nitrim snarls as he reaches out for his pizza, drawing the plate into his lap. Taking up the pizza, it lets out a loud crunch as he takes the first bite. It takes like unhealthy, which makes it taste like comfort. Unlike at polite society dinners, he talks with his mouth full. "I think someone's about to royally fuck my House. Weekend at the brothel fuck. Expensive fuck."

"Deserve it?" Rook asks, glancing over at him, though her eyes never quite meet his. "More important than Chantry?" she adds in, so she can scale the crises he brings her properly. She takes a few bites of the pizza between sips of beer.

"So far it's looking like no, they don't deserve it. You know me, though, I'm all theories and paranoias, and the last thing I want to do is act like a fucking idiot about what I worry might happen." CRUNCH, another bite is taken as he eats quickly to get it while it's warm. "They might be connected though. Someone in the Chantry is in bed with the Hostile, and I worry that same someone might be feeding ideas to the King."

"You do that a lot." Worry about what might happen. Or act like an idiot. Or both. Take your pick. Rook grimaces at the possible connection to the Crown's recent decisions and she sets the crust of her pizza down, feeling her stomach flop at the though. "Bad." Like a Twinkie the size of New York bad.

"Yeah, well, what can you do? I can get into these places and you can't. Would you walk away from it all if you were me, knowing the things I do?" Which she does know these things, because he tells her. He finishes his slice and sets his plate down, settling his booted foot on the trunk beside the plate as he nestles into the corner of the sofa with his hand over his eyes, exhausted. "My other dilemma is that I wonder about the respect the people I'm working to save have for me. I'm doing this because it's right, but right now…at the least, Victor can go fuck himself with a sword."

"Yes," is Rook's succinct reply. She would walk away from it. Maybe not for the same reasons, but for her own. She looks a bit confused at the Victor person and the attached anger. "Don't do shit for respect," she notes to him. "Respect isn't real. Just words. Just views. Do it because you choose to."

Nitrim reaches out for the cigarette he's left in the ashtray. Tapping it with his index finger, a crown of ashes falls down into the basin. He leans back, slipping it between his lips. "You know that's why I do it," Nitrim lets her have this victory. She is the laser beam of accuracy on his mentality towards his House. He does do it for respect. "You know, you might be able to make more money doing therapy than hacking, Rook. Not a single thing gets by you."

"Talk less, listen more," Rook notes as her credo. Then she makes a face. "Therapy? Whiny fucking people. No." She shudders a little at the thought of counseling overwrought housewives whose husbands visit the brothels too often. She tips back her beer for a deep swig.

"Money comes with chores," Nitrim interns, his head shifting on the sofa to look over to Rook. The most recent cloud of smoke is blown over the top of her head. "Besides, if I talked less and listened more, what would we do?"

"Nothing," is Rook's response. She's not real good at holding up the other end of a conversation. "Not me. Others. Talky ones," she clarifies.

"And how awesome would that be, Rook?" Nitrim laughs, reaching back out to ash his cigarette. "Dear Diary. Nitrim came over today. We sat on a sofa. We looked at things. We ate a pizza." Oh the musing. With a sigh, the black lord of Khournas puts his other boot on the trunk she uses as her coffee table. "In all seriousness, though…are you okay?"

For a moment it looks like Rook might not respond, or maybe the crocodile part of her brain wants her to lie, for a quick end to that discussion. She's not capable of it really, though. "No." It's simple, to the point, and the truth. She's not okay. But she doesn't have the words to explain well. "Nevermind."

Well…there it is. The look on Nitrim's face is a sign that he saw this coming, and he can't tell whether or not they should talk about it. He turns his hips, pressing his back against the arm of the sofa. It's a bad sign. "Are you still mad at me?"

Rook shakes her head at the question. And that might be worse. She's not mad. She's not sad. She's not anything. She's just sort of numb in regards to him. "Over it," she notes. But she's broken inside somewhere, and she recognizes it.

"I know that this isn't going to make anything better," His voice lowers, eyes tilting to the negative space between the back of her head and the wall. "But I'm starting to realize the things I do that are wrong. The biggest sin I commit, always, is giving other people hope and then stabbing them in the throat." He rolls his eyes at himself, bitterly shaking his head. "I'm sorry. I really am. I say that too much nowadays."

Rook isn't sure how to respond to that. She worked hard on her walkabout, visiting the most isolated parts of the Lashes, to carve out anything related to her emotions, but there is that wrenching, pulling pain in her chest again at his words. She just nods to him, briefly, before forcing herself back to eating pizza, anything to not have to talk about it.

As silence settles in, Nitrim flares the heat up around him just a little to ward off the cold that nips at his legs. Is it actual cold, or perceived cold? Regardless, the silence is awkward, and it forces Nitrim back to his plate of food. He leans out over his knees and lowers his gaze to the floor on the opposite side of her room, eating in silence.

She's eventually out of pizza and excuses. Rook sets the plate aside and leans back on the couch, her legs splayed out like a rag doll's on the floor, and her hands tucked into her arm pits. "Hate this," she whispers, frowning.

Finishing the last bite of his food, Nitrim lofts the plate onto the coffee table and reaches out for his beer. Despite her dozens of layers and her furry hat, he's warm, and the press of the ice-cold beer to his forehead gives him a brief respite while he tries to find the right words to say. For once, he has none, and continues to stare at the floor.

Rook scrubs her gloved hands over her face and gets up to go sit back at her computer. "Database is still running," she notes, back to business. Data is something she understands. It's concrete. It's orderly.

"Are you sure I can't like — get you a space heater or something for yourself down here?" Nitrim breaks his silence, pausing for a sip from the bottle. "Do you think we maybe actually damaged the thing that one night?" Awkward scratch at the back of his head, but it is a valid point. The walls quaked. "I gotta admit, I really hate the fact you do all of this work and don't have a nicer place."

"No charity," Rook says almost sharply. "They're fixing it," or so the landlord told her. The mention of that one night has her shoulders hunching up by her ears. "Stop," she requests. She rubs at her forehead. "Not your problem. Stop trying to fix me."

"I'm not trying to fix you, Rook. Seriously. I know I don't owe you anything, either." Up comes the defensive, finally, as does another cigarette. "I just don't have a lot of friends in the world and you and I have been watching each others' backs. I have shit I don't need, and you have shit you do. Fuck, people line up to make me comfortable."

"Give it to her," Rook says through gritted teeth. Soleil, obviously, his wife-to-be. "You are hers. Be hers. I'll take care of me." She lifts her chin at that, defiantly. Nothing is more painful than having someone who broke your heart offer you help.

She can't see him, not with her back turned, but the sigh that escapes his lips is audible, as is the sound of the springs on her sofa as he rises to his feet. Undeniable as well is the sound of a beer bottle being drained and set down empty on her trunk. The light from above casts a shadow as he passes her into the kitchen, stopping at the sink with the plates and the empty bottles.

Rook's face, from the kitchen side of his view, is twisted in pain. Her eyes are closed and her fingertips pressed to her brow as if she can push aside her feelings by kneading them away. The tremble she's experiencing isn't from the cold. Doubly so as with a horrendous squealing, clanking, and one giant CLUNK, the heat comes back on.

Nitrim raises his green eyes to the ceiling, watching like a character in a horror movie trying to follow the sounds of a horrible creature scampering through the pipes above. As the heated air starts to flow in from the vents above, he turns his eyes back to the sink and scrubs the dishes clean. One by one, he sets them aside. See? Nobles do know how to clean dishes.

Rook swallows as the heat begins flowing back in rapidly. "Sorry," is all she manages to get out. She's trying. She's just not succeeding very well at being ok with everything. She wasn't very good at everything that she was previously ok with either. Fish out of water, this one.

There's a quick intake of air when Nitrim plucks the cigarette from his lips, breaking the suction. He shakes his head towards the ground and lets out the cloud of smoke. "You didn't do anything wrong, Rook. You're doin' just fine, alright?" He reassures, patting her arm as he passes her. Lowering his head, he resumes his haunting on a slow walk towards her door.

Rook just sits there, listening to him depart her crappy apartment to return to his noble life. "Wait," she says quietly. She opens a drawer and digs out the camera he'd sent her a while back with the photos on it. The one that came with the rose, and the vodka. "Yours," she says, handing it to him, her eyes on the floor.

Turning to lean against the wall beside her door, Nitrim's brows lift as she offers the camera to him. His chin dips as he looks it over and cracks his nameless, unsure smile. Head canted to the side, his brow cocks like a curious dog. "Did you take any pictures with it, Rook?"

Rook nods once. "On there." She took them for him, before everything went to hell. Ones of people in the Oubliette, the homeless, the lost, those in the grip of the various drugs they get their hands on. All superimposed with photos of the rich section of the Ring, with people with multiple homes, with a purpose in life, and wrapped in designer fashions. Ironically, the pairs of photos have the subjects in nearly identical poses. "Yours."

Satisfied, Nitrim returns the nod of her head with one of his own. He reaches out to take the camera from her, turning it over in his hands as if to judge its condition. He doesn't seem to care, but it gives him something to do before he slips it into the inner pocket of his coat. "Rook?" He looks up, eyebrows tilting in the center. It's the same look he gave her before she threw things at him. "Let's not have this be the last time, alright? Coffee. Next week?"

He seems intent on making it impossible to get over him, but Rook nods silently. She heads into her bathroom, much as she did after she threw that spoon at his head. "Coffee." It's a small agreement, but more than she probably should give.

Not having the door code anymore, Nitrim reaches into his pocket and pulls out the keycard. Turning it over in his hands, he walks over to her computer desk and leaves it beside her keyboard. As the room starts to heat up, he reaches for the door handle and lets himself out.

Rook takes a hot shower to shake off the chills, and clear her head. This is going to be tougher than she thought.

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