(2018-03-06) When Here And Now Cease To Matter
When Here And Now Cease To Matter
Summary: Eddie and Ida, together again.
Date: 2018-03-06
Related: None
Player Characters: Eddie, Ida

----| Underground Coffee |----

Stealthed away underneath the creaking wood floors of the bookstore above is Port Angeles' most secret coffee house. The Underground has an exceptionally well stocked array of gadgets, ingredients and highly trained staff, the trifecta of which will serve you almost any coffee beverage known to man.

The concrete floors and plaster walls look tie-dyed in swirls of butter and cream, accenting the stronger yellow of the artistic brickwork exposed here and there. The latter is most noticable in three separate gas fireplaces taking up much of the wall facing the street, providing cozy ambiance in cold weather. The back wall, meanwhile, showcases one of the perks of this daylight basement: access via french glass doors to a tiny pergola patio.

Blond-wood and russet velveteen banquettes and booths provide seating, the tables sturdy specimens of driftwood with copper tops.

Eddie's been spending a lot of his off hours here, lately. He doesn't have many of them, the way things have been going, but tonight he's managed to set aside a few hours to catch up on his reading and indulge his nostalgia. He's sitting at the same table he always does, the table, with a stack of books and magazines and newspapers laid out in front of him and a pair of one-armed tortoiseshell reading glasses crookedly perched on his nose. He's finished three large paper cups of coffee already, and he's working on number four as he thumbs through the book at the top of the stack. Poetry, weirdly enough. T.S. Elliot's Four Quartets.

It's a quiet night, even for an out of the way place like this. Most of the tables are empty, and the barristas have turned their attention to their phones. Just how the detective seems to like it. He turns the page.

I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope…

There is a time for the evening under starlight,
A time for the evening under lamplight
(The evening with the photograph album).
Love is most nearly itself
When here and now cease to matter.

It's warm outside, more like a balmy May night than early March. The stars glimmer sullenly through heavy cloud, the air hazy with stagnant moisture. And yet, when the door bell upstair goes jingle jangle, there's a bit of a cool breeze briefly finding its way down the staircase and through the room. It carries with it a faint whiff of something. Something long ago familiar to Eddie's nose, softly sweet, softly spicy. Undetectable to regular humans given the stronger scents down here of coffee and desserts. Then the staircase, shadow moving, familiar footsteps. Time looping in on itself, eating its own tail, deja vu and strangess.

Eddie takes a breath and closes his eyes, sinking further into memory. The room is cooler still now, and he seems to recede into the distance somehow without ever moving, his shoulders speckled with droplets of cold winter rain that no-one else can see. No-one but the Lost. He doesn't seem surprised. Memory can do strange things to the senses, and he comes here to remember. He takes another breath and opens his eyes and tries to find his place again, tracing his finger along the page. Wait without love, for to love would be to love the wrong thing…

Another breath, and he furrows his brow. His imagination isn't that good. Slowly, maybe fearfully, he looks back over his shoulder toward the stairway.

Legs, legs like noone else, as always. Curvaceous form dressed in an outfit like she stepped out of an old detective flick, as always. Shimmering bright color of flesh and hair, insect eyes like a smaller, somewhat more human mirror of Eddie's own. A touch more strangeness to the familiar looks, proof that he's not just having a very vivid dream.

She stands there at the bottom of the stairs, looking around the room, moments going by until… until… And their eyes meet, and there's that smile. Surprise, joy, grief, relief.. Hesitation. He can see her say his name, then she's walking over.

"Ida?" Barely a whisper, addressed to nobody.

Eddie is pretty good at keeping his feelings off his face, when he wants to be. It's a skill he practices at a lot. Not enough, now, not if he'd practiced that and nothing else for all the years he's been alive or a hundred extra on top of it. Shock, at first, and then a fleeting thing approaching hope, just for a moment before he crushes it out like a cigarette. He stands up so fast he nearly knocks over his chair and does knock over his coffee, soaking the books and papers left on the table. Confusion, now. He takes the readers off, slowly, leaving them to dangle limply from one hand.

In the past she wasn't usually much for touching, was she? Here-then-gone, light as air handshakes, brief clasps of shoulders, leaning in against. But now (she's already at his table, their table, how did that happen?) at least right now, in this moment, Ida shows no such reserve. There's a hidden tremble to her tall form, eyes a little narrowed as if she's looking into strong light or walking into the wind. She reaches out, those alien fingers brushing over his shoulders, then past. Embracing him, breathing in.

"*Eddie.*" It's her voice, there's no change there. He's never heard that little quiver to it, though. And she continues, softly, "Please be real."

The glasses clatter to the floor and lie there, forgotten. Eddie doesn't move, that dumb look of confusion frozen on his face even as she approaches, even as she reaches out to touch him. Then she has her arms around him and is squeezing, and he has to take a breath. That smell. He melts, like late snow on a warm spring day, leaning forward just to keep his legs beneath him. Another breath, ragged this time, like a sob. There are no tears when he pulls away, though, taking a step back and nearly stumbling over his chair.

"Ida?" he asks again. Then, with a visible effort of will, he brings himself back under control. He studies her face, skeptical, his eyes lingering on hers for a long moment. Noting the differences, maybe. "No," he finally decides, eyes narrowing. He looks around the room, searching for something. When he doesn't find it he turns back toward the staircase and marches toward it, books and glasses and girl all left behind without a second glance, steps rigid with anger.

"Hey!" the barrista calls after him, attention drawn away from instagram for a moment, "Hey! You need to clean that up! HEY! YOU BETTER HAVE PAID FOR THAT BOOK!"

What to think, what to say, what to do. "Eddie." There's his name again, floating through the room, mourning and regret against his anger. "Eddie wait." There's rain outside, one of those sudden torrents that do nothing to cleanse the air.

"Eddie, *please*."

There's a brief glance at the table as she's already moving to go after him, steps quick. "I… I don't know what happened."

Eddie doesn't hear the voices calling after him. Up the stairs, through the bookstore and to the door, he throws it open with a fury he's never shown before and marches out into the rain. Still searching for whatever unseen thing he's looking for. "You had me going," he says, his voice a low growl, getting louder as he continues. "You really had me going. I should have known, I should have known when I couldn't leave town. WHat's the matter? You haven't got the juice to fake Seattle? Where are you?" He looks up, but there's no reply but the rain coming down.

"Come on! Come out!" He's moving again, into the street, this time. Port Angeles has grown a lot in the past seven years. It's busier, now, and even at night there are cars in the street. One of them squeals to a stop as the detective appears in its headlights, honking its horn, and Eddie spins around to fix it with a withering look. Literally, as one of the tires flakes away and pops, suddenly twenty years older than it was a moment ago. "You might as well! I'm done, falling for all of this! You overplayed your hand! Who the hell do you think I am, that I'd fall for this? You think I'm some lovesick kid?"

He spins around, and looks at her for the first time since he left the coffee shop. "You didn't even get the eyes right!" Even yelling, his voice is weirdly muffled, like by a wind that isn't there. His mantle, different than before, and stronger than it ever was as an Autumn.

"Because I changed too! You're not the same either!" Ida's outside now, a hand raised to shield those gleaming eyes against the downpour, her colors shimmering vivid in the dark like some exotic jewel on black velvet. "Eddie even if this is all fake" - she understands what he's thinking - "you can still get hurt, I've seen it." She might be crying, but with the downpour and the dark who can tell? She joins him in the street, empty hands held out somewhere between beseeching and showing she's defenseless. Moving closer, eyes searching his face, steeling herself against all the wrath, the outrage. Voice low. "The last thing I remember clearly is us getting drunk with Lucas after the spiders."

"Please. I need you. I need you to be here. I don't want to fall asleep again."

There's a break in the honking when the tire goes away, and a curse of surprise and confusion just audible over the rain and the shouting in the street. Eddie ignores it, staring up into the sky, waiting for an answer that doesn't come. "I said goodbye to all that a long time ago," he continues to rant, but he's losing steam, "and I guess you don't know her very well, either. She wasn't the hysterical type. She didn't cry. Sure as hell not over—" he falters, and takes a step back as she approaches, studying her like a dissected frog. He's listening, now, though, and the war going on behind those big bug eyes is plain to see.

A sad story. A pretty face. That face. "Oh, Christ," he says, losing the war. The guy in the car starts to get out, and Eddie shoots another brief glance in that direction, rusting away the door handle before he hurries to get out o the street, motioning for her to follow.

"A lady is allowed to be a little rattled after certain events." Dignified, this. Maybe a bit more familiar than the earlier pleading. Then again, this isn't exactly the good old days, is it? She follows after, stepping over a rapidly forming puddle as the rain continues to hammer down like someone turned on a faucet. The trench is holding up, crimson leather glistening like fresh blood in the night. Her turn to watch him now, intently enough that he can probably feel it. Like she's double checking. Lost paranoia.

That does sound more like it. Eddie looks back over his shoulder, heading back in the direction of the bookstore. He wants to smile. He doesn't allow it. Aside from the mantle, he looks the same as he ever did, give or take eight years. He's even wearing the same coat, or else he must have put a lot of work into finding one just as badly abused. "Doesn't make sense. Doesn't hold up. That's not when—" whatever he's about to say catches raw in his throat, and swallows it back down painfully. "That's nearly a year before it happened to anybody else."

He pulls open the door to the bookstore and steps inside. He looks back over his shoulder, water dripping from his nose, holding the door open behind him.

"I don't think I like the idea of being first choice, no." She follows, nodding and smiling a little, that familiar courtesy. Back in the light. The rain patters against the windows, dim staccato music. She pats her pockets, offers him his glasses. Searching his face. "Do you still have your office, or did that change too?" Little details. Gold dust left behind from where her skin touches him, gleaming then vanished. The sweep of her lashes has diaphanous webbing at the outer edges, literal tiny black wasp wings quivering in the air between blinks, there then gone then back again with the rise and ebb of magic. A certain chitinous glint over and around the jointed parts of her body, the metallic gold harder edged there. Hair sparkling like it's woven from crushed jewels, yet still silky feeling. And she has teeth, all the better to eat you with.

"That's about all I've still got," Eddie says, trying to keep any bitterness out of his voice. He doesn't completely succeed. He closes the door behind her, staring at the back of her head for a moment before he steps forward, taking the lead again and heading back downstairs. He's silent on the way down. Maybe he doesn't know what to say. At the table, their table, the barrista is busy cleaning up the mess he left. She shoots them a dirty look when they come into view, but he cuts her off before she can say anything. "Forgot my phone in the car," he lies, fumbling into his coat for his wallet and then into his wallet for a twenty dollar bill. "One of those chocolate ones, for my friend. Keep the change."

That does the trick. The barrista goes away to fill the order, and Eddie goes back to the table to inspect his soggy books. "Oh, and there's a guy up there who needs a tow, maybe you better call somebody."

The silence lingers, and Ida lets it at first. She nudges one of the splashed books, then pats gently at the cover with a paper napkin. There's some improvement. She gives a polite, closed smile to the barista as the latter goes on her way, then turns her gaze back to Eddie, before once more looking down at the book. Pat. Pat. "I remember trying to call you. I could never get through. And then I remember not remembering to call you any more." Her hand clenches down on the napkin, sharp points tearing through the tissue. "I strongly dislike this." She considers the soggy torn up paper in her hand, then drops it in another whole square of napkin, bundles the whole thing up and pushes it to the side of the table. She hasn't taken a seat yet, but doesn't seem awkward about it - more like she's not quite ready to relax enough for that just yet.

Consciously gently she opens the book, checking the interior for any damage from the liquid. The cover's held the coffee at bay, pages turning freely. A section of text has been underlined.

We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion

Eddie watches Ida fuss with the books for a while, wanting to smile, again. He forces his eyes away and goes to look for the glasses he dropped earlier. They aren't where he left them. "I looked for you," he finally admits, his face turned safely downward in his search. "Enough to know you were alive, anyway. After that I didn't figure it was any of my business." They're not under the table, either. He gets a hunch, then, and goes over to the garbage can. Bingo. He fishes them out and folds their one arm and tucks them into his pocket, shooting a look at the shrugging barrista.

"My memories are… cobwebby. Stuck in amber." A particularly horrifying fate for a bug. "Everything is sepia toned and in parts. Supposedly I was travelling the world but it's these stock photographs of famous places. I found a bunch of postcards in my pocket, I…" She sighs, lips firming. A glance over at him. "Don't you find it strange that you didn't try to contact me? Or— was there something that made you think I was fine? Because the memory of trying to call you, of not being able to get through, it's…" She drifts off again. The wings in her lashes tremble and twitch over the alien eyes, that and the pulse in her neck revealing agitation that her face politely masks.

Ida removes her soaked trench coat, draping it over a nearby empty chair to drip dry before finally taking her seat at the table. She looks up at Eddie, a faint smile at the interaction between him and the barista. Waiting.

Eddie frowns a little while longer at the barista as she goes to work making Ida's drink. Nothing he's looking at disintegrates, at least, and he finally returns to the table, standing behind his chair and gripping the seatback with both hands as he considers his reply. "You left," he finally says, "or I thought you did. I assumed you had your reasons." He pulls out his seat and sits down, running his fingers through his hair to wring the water out. "But you're not the only one who's memory's playing tricks on them, these days. I guess I better explain what's going on. The rest we'll figure out."

And so the newly returned is brought up to speed by the sleuth, and Ida and Eddie spends the next while in a low voiced conversation. The rain eventually fades off into a misty nothing, though the other patrons in the coffee house remain sparse. The night moves on as the pair of Lost try to re-familiarize themselves with one another's changes, slowly, gingerly trying to bridge past what's been torn and broken. The battered book of poetry remains open on the table, for the moment ignored.

Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning.

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