(2018-04-11) Something Bitter
Something Bitter
Summary: Eddie and Ida finally have a talk about Sophia. It could probably have gone better.
Date: 2018-04-11
Related: None
Player Characters: Eddie, Ida

----—-| Ida's Place - Temporary Room |

The lobby of the apartment building is a simple affair in durable brown polyester carpet and sandy stucco. The flood of beige is punctuated here and there by brass details. Faded paintings of alien fruit adorn the walls, a touch of artificial green given by fake palm trees in the corners. The "front desk" is just a rickety table and suspect old chair in front of a thin set of doors leading into a cramped, musty office.
Ida's apartment is number 103, tucked away behind the swollen bulk of the old elevator. The best thing this place has going for it is that it is a western room, and in the afternoon (like now) it is filled with soft light filtering through the faded blinds. It's a studio, shaped like a L with the door at the northern end, the kitchenette in the corner with all those windows, and a door to the bathroom opposite. The floor is varnished squeaky knotty pine to match the cabinetry, trim and doors. The walls are painted a faded shade of blah, the ceiling is an aggressive style of popcorn, wounded here and there by recessed dim lights.
And it looks like the occupant is ready to depart at a moment's notice. The shelves in the narrow pantry are barren, wiped clean and white. An inflated air mattress, single size, lies on the floor at the foot of the L. The bifold closet doors are open, revealing wire hangers dangling from an unpainted wooden pole. At the bottom is a hardshell suitcase and a gym bag, the latter partially unzipped to reveal neatly folded clothes. The only break from the pattern is a pair of folding stools in the kitchen: they are military issue, 'urban night' camo color with matte black steel frame, each also having a back pouch that's filled with stuff. It smells very nice in here.

Eddie has been acting weird lately. Awkward and distant, focused more than usual on the work and evasive about everything else. He's been like that off and on since Ida came back into his life, but things seemed to improve for a while after their find at the bookstore, until suddenly they weren't. It might be a surprise, then, that he's turned up at her door, finally making good on that invitation, a bottle of bourbon with the cap sealed in red wax tucked up under his good arm. How he got into the hallway without a key and without buzzing up… well, she's known him long enough that that probably isn't a surprise at all.

Also, given the security at this place it's a step down from her old apartment in that fancy old building up in Uptown, the one she'd shared with those two crazy women. This one is solid lower class, easy to get in. Ida greets him dressed like she's ready to go out, trench on and everything. "An unexpected surprise. Please, come in." She steps aside, revealing the interior of the place. It smells nice. The afternoon light adds that soft warm glow like an amateur photographer might add to a picture to make it romantic - but the real thing is a pretty effect. Still, the place is clearly not viewed as a home by the current resident. She locks the door behind him (the triple bolts are clearly a recent addition, and permanent enough that she gave up whatever safety deposit might have gone into this place) and stalks over to the kitchen, unfolding both the stools. "I believe I have a pair of glasses for that. Do you want any coffee or anything else?" She hasn't really been reacting to his weird behavior, behaving as usual to his face but she has been away from the office more. Doing her own thing, whatever that entails.

One day he's going to find out what that entails, when things aren't so busy. One of the many drawbacks of the present situation: not enough time for recreational spying. He steps inside and looks around, not just at the absent decor but at the locks on the door, into the corners of the ceiling, up (squinting) into the recesses of the lights. One gets the impression he's keeping count, when he gets to the windows. It's a quick enough survey, for all that thoroughness. He has a lot of practice. Satisfied, he follows her over to the kitchen and sets the bottle down on the counter, seal still unbroken.

"Coffee'd be good, if it's made. You don't need to make any on my account. I like the furniture," he says, examining the fold-out stools with some amusement, "excellent for covert maneuvers." He unzips the pouch on one, of course, to peek inside at whatever's in there.

Six windows in the kitchen, two (high and narrow up by the ceiling) in the 'living room', four recessed lights. No visible cameras or microphones, though up in the corner by the vent there's a weird tiny bundle of cut off copper wiring, something recently removed. No visible signs of mold, refreshing for this kind of place in the Pacific Northwest. And that smell, a nice smell of coffee and warm spices, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves mixed with sweet citrus scents of orange and lemon, and something faintly minerally and cold trickling through the background, raw steel from freshly honed knife edges, and the warm notes of leather and old papers. She has books hidden away somewhere here. Suitcase, maybe?

One pill makes you bigger… The pouch contains a multitude of tiny ziplock bags, most of them old enough to have gone a bit yellowed. It's a miniature pharmacy, albeit one with a definite military edge. Active combatants in a shadow war would use this stuff. Things to make you stay away for up to 72 hours, things to make you sleep for 72 hours, things to make you sleep forever, things to make you happy, things to make you calm, things to hypnotize you, all kinds of little nice and nasty pills and capsules. And yes, the vast majority would be highly illegal. But again, clearly old, potency at this point unknown. Along with the medication there's also some all weather matches, zip ties, a tiny roll of black nylon webbing and a roll of thick black tape.

"Well, it is instant, but you might like that." Ida makes no comment on his find, instead moving over to the fridge. Within there is a half gallon of milk and a metal jar of some fancy Italian coffee. She grabs both, then takes the two empty, clean cups by the sink and goes about heating up water in the dinky little microwave. "Sadly, I am out of honey. But there is sugar, I would not make you drink something unsweetened."

Eddie lets out a little whistle at the stash. He retrieves a baggy full of capsules and sets it on the counter, opening it up and taking one out for closer inspection, all one-handed. It's orange at one end and transparent at the other, and full of little orange balls of something. "The 30s," he says, clearly impressed, "I haven't been able to get these since Eris left town." He rolls it around in his fingers a while, nostalgic (and tempted), then returns it to the bag and the bag to the pouch, zipping it back up. "I'd ask where you got these, but I don't think I've got the security clearance."

While she makes the coffee he goes ahead and twists the cap off the bourbon, the wax cracking with a muted but satisfying sound, leaving little flakes of it across the counter. "I don't just eat sugar, you know," he says, wafting the open bottle under his nose and setting aside once again, "Rotten things are just as good. Where were you headed, when I showed up?"

That gets a smile and a nod from her, Ida showing her dimples for the first time since he came into the place. "Not to mention, at this point you would have a very tricky papertrail to work through." She considers the bottle for a moment, then opens up the pouch in the other stool and fishes out two small stainless steel shot glasses. It seems this is where all the fun things are. She rinses them out in the sink before sliding them over next to the bottle. Physically close to him for a moment, close enough to smell more of that Ida scent, almost feel the warmth - then gone again as she moves back over to the mattress. Restless, taking off her coat and draping it across the bedding. Finally responding, "I have a bag of that kibble you like, it is under the sink. In the rubbermaid box." Stalking back over to the kitchen, her smile still lingering. "I was going out." The smile grows enough to bring back the dimples.

"Is that a challenge?" Eddie asks with a grin, looking again at the pouch of illicit goodies, the gears in his head already turning. He snorts a laugh at her response to his earlier query. Ask a silly question, right? He's almost back to normal for a little while, between the teasing and that scent and those damn dimples all going to work, reminding him of better times. That's not all they remind him of, though. They remind him why he came over this afternoon in the first place, and he turns his head away and busies himself filling up those shotglasses, and then immediately emptying one of them. He taps the edge of the glass a couple of times and starts to say something, and can't, so he repeats the procedure. "Sophia came by the office while you were out," he finally says.

"Of course she did," and well that's a very natural and calm response. … It actually is. She does not seem at all surprised, even. Ida takes the other glass, smelling it, sipping it, watching Eddie over the steel edge of it. "I thought that was why you were acting like a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. It was either that or that I had somehow misjudged something between you and me which, well." Instead of taking the intended seat in one of the stools, she pushes herself up to sit on the kitchen counter. She's tall enough to make it look comfortable, and Ida enough to make it look elegant. Especially with the way those long legs cross just so. The eternal question: is it hose or her skin that is shimmering? The light in here makes her almost glow. "I am guessing she wants to start something."

Eddie has to crane his neck a little more than usual to look her in the eye, up there. That's probably the idea, of course, and under other circumstances he might be amused. Probably he still is, somewhere at the back of his head, but his face is grave when he speaks. "She wants to end something," he says. "She knows how to find the fifth crown, and how to use it. This'll all be over soon, one way or the other." He doesn't seem as happy at that prospect as he ought to be. Not happy at all.

The microwave dings, and he goes to get the water out, another opportunity to look away.

"Mmm. She got to you." Ida twists around enough to open one of the cupboards, revealing more sempty shelves save for a few cans of this and that, and a box of brown sugar packets like one might find at an office. "Of course she did. She is beautiful and she needs your help." Those words could be accusing, in another context, but her tone is affectionate. "It is a very well made trap. I do not fault you, it seems to have been tailored to you. Maybe because normally you are one of the most suspicious of us. Then again, you have memories of her now in your head, yes? That is hard to fight." Considering her glass, "Impressive, really. If I was not personally involved I would probably be more so."

For a second Eddie looks genuinely insulted, until she gets to 'and she needs your help'. After that he just seems annoyed, at himself more than anything, and even that passes quickly enough. "You still think it's a trap," he says, taking the cups from out of the microwave and placing them on the counter. "Of course you do. Anyone ever tell you you can be a little paranoid, sometimes?" That's delivered with a smile, as a joke, or maybe even a compliment. The smile doesn't last long either, though, fading into a kind of thoughtful expression. "I thought about it," he says, "of course. I thought the same thing about you, you might recall. So I did some digging."

Making the coffee, the scent mingling pleasantly with that of the bourbon, Ida takes the paranoid comment with a smile of her own. "It serves me well. And what did you find?" She pushes one of the cups over to him, with the box of brown sugar packets there for his pleasure. She adds plenty to her own, stirring it in.

Eddie goes to work doctoring his coffee. He starts with the whiskey before he gets to the sugar, but adds plenty of both and goes back for more after his first sip. "Receipts. Some notes I kept on her case. Hospital bills. A scar the size of a quarter and the shape of a starfish, right here," he taps himself on his right side, between his chest and his belly. "Proof of the work she had me doing seven years ago. I found most of it a few months ago, but it didn't mean anything. Just another case and some more bad luck, until I remembered." The fingers of his good hand go to fidgeting a little, and he starts to reach for a cigarette, then stops himself. "It smells nice in here. I'd hate to spoil it. Bum one of yours?"

"I still do not believe, but I will support *you* in whatever path you opt to take. Which, by the sound of it, you have chosen." Ida rises soundlessly to her feet, going back over to her bed and the trench coat, rummaging through the pockets to pull out the pack of smokes. Turkish, tarry, dark and short and plump, she offers one to the sleuth before reclaiming her position. The legs criss cross just so, and she slouches in a way that somehow flatters the line of her waist. Damn Fairest and their tricks. She pulls out a cigarette of her own, and there's that half of a heartbeat's wait to see if he offers a light.

"Have you?"

Eddie sticks the cigarette in the corner of his mouth and produces a sturdy wooden kitchen match from out of nowhere, striking it one-handed on his thumbnail. He holds it out to Ida, the closest they've been all afternoon, then shakes it out and flicks it into the trashcan once he's got a light himself. He takes a drag and holds in a while, thinking. "I don't know," he finally says, letting the smoke out with the words, "I don't knwo that I've decided on anything, since some lady shoved a crown between my fingers four months ago. Things happen, and I get knocked around from place to place. It's more physics than it is psychology. The only path I see is forward, to the end of this. I think she can take us there."

"Sounds frustrating. I never cared for being controlled by the whims of others. Do you not get tired of it, or perhaps-" Ida pauses, having a sip of her own spiked coffee. Judging by the way her lashes briefly dip down, and the hint of a smile again, she approves. "Is it a case of the blows are coming so fast all you can do is duck, weave and wait?" She raises one leg up, nudging at his own with the tip of her shiny black leather shoe. "You can be decisive. When you want to be." She goes back to having her legs crossed properly, or as properly as is possible, that is.

"Of course I'm tired of it," Eddie says with a snarl that burns up like flashpaper, leaving nothing but the ashes of melancholy and exhaustion as he continues, "I'm tired of all of it. I'm tired of everything. I'm just tired." He goes back to his coffee, out of range of those legs, at least as far as touching goes. He swallows some and wishes he'd laid off the sugar, for once. Something bitter would suit him just fine, right now. "But we're all being controlled by something. These days, especially. Try and leave town again," ouch, "and see how long you last past city limits, if you don't believe me. Until that thing is dead and the deal is done we're all dancing on the same strings."

"If I could leave, do you think I would?" She's watching him a bit more intently than before, though it's hard to tell what emotion is going on behind those strange eyes. When she next speaks, Ida's tone is once more affectionate. "Of course you are tired. You have been trying to save everybody over and over and over again, no matter how loudly you claim otherwise. Because it is what you do. You try to help and save and fix and mend and make it better."

"Being around bad people must get tiresome, I imagine."

That's the million dollar question, isn't it? Eddie looks down into his coffee and shakes it around and watches the film of sugar at the top dance around, like maybe he'll find the answer in the shapes it makes. If he does, he doesn't share it. "What other kind of people are there?" He swallows what's left of the coffee and replaces it with bourbon, and then swallows that too. It was a dumb idea to mix it with anything in the first place, knowing what he came here to talk about. "I remember more than working for her, but I guess you figured that out already. I wouldn't get too upset about it. She'll be leaving soon, too."

Ida's eyes narrow, minutely. She doesn't reply.

Eddie lets the silence linger for a long time. It doesn't seem to bother him, not anymore than he's already bothered, anyway. "After that, I guess we'll all be making our own decisions, again. As much as we ever do. We'll see what happens then." He rinses his cup out in the sink, actually cleaning up after himself, and douses what's left of his cigarette. "Thanks for coffee. Enjoy the bottle." He heads for the door.

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