Relationships are Hard

The lights are down low, with Johan stripped to the waist, looking out over the city of Denver from the massive picture window that dominates one wall. The lights are all on, with the city laid out before him. He's silhouetted more than illuminated. He doesn't need to see, afterall.

A rucksack is on the floor near the door, along with his combat armor. When the owner of the building likes you, you can use the damn freight elevators to your hearts content. When you can fly, you can do so much more. He sips his drink, the clink of ice resounding in the otherwise silent room. "What can I do for you, Ms. Depiavia?"

Kassandra steps in, holding the door for Aladriel. She glances around the room before fixing on the man, "Ah, you are here after all." Her voice is quiet, tight, the faintest edge to it. "I was actually coming back to apologize again to Marcus for my mistreatment of him as well as Alexander's rudeness, but that can likely wait."

"Likely." The man steels himself internally. This is going to be a bumpy ride, and the destination is unknown at the moment. He sips the drink again, one hand trailing down to set it on a stool. "Marcus says there was an accident with your personal electronics."

"Ha!" Kassandra says, "Apparently an email caused a massive disruption of the machine. I had to reboot it rather forcefully." She steps further in, glancing over her shoulder to Aladriel before back to Johan. "Why?"

Aladriel's a little slower into the room, because she has to compose herself. And when she's inside, its..well… she looks ready for a verbal scuffle. She doesn't greet, because she's looking curious at the personal electronics incident. A trace of a smirk crosses her features, but still, she stays quiet.

The man looks over his shoulder, face half lit by the cityscape. His features torque in to a mockery of a smile. "The internet is a scary place, Ms. Depavia. Hello Ms. Cindel. What can I do for you both?" He doesn't move to offer them drinks.

A beat passes. Then another. Kassandra waits for a third before asking again, "Why? Why did you let me sit here and spill my guts, make a fool out of myself. Why did you smile and pretend to be happy for me, only to leave and send that mail out. Why not tell me to my face." She doesn't necessarily phrase the comments as questions, more as an itemized list she is ticking off.

Ally lets Kassandra go first. Moving up behind the woman, the mage moves to the side of the elf and listens to her, concern touching her face. She's hearing all of this for the first time, so she looks to the man called…whatever he's called, for his reply.

He quirks a brow, turning to lean his back on the plate-plastiglass window, feeling the coolness of the outside temperature through the material. He closes his eyes for a moment. "Before I answer, I want to know.. what level of honesty do you want? Professional? Personal? Somewhere in between? The problem with questions, Ms. Depavia, is that they have multiple answers, but few -ever- want more than the one they want."

"I see. Is this where we are now? I'll take any level of honesty at this point. You expect me .. us .. to follow you. I've expressed my displeasure with having these little games played when Alexander did it, and now this." Kassandra pauses, collecting herself and visibly trying to calm herself, "What do you want, Johan? I told you, which I apparently shouldn't have, because now we are a threat to opsec. Because you feel that we will somehow have a problem working together."

Ally's lower lip curls under her teeth as she listens to Kassandra and though she was expectant at hearing Johan's response… she finds herself talking just a little bit. "I've…well, I've got an idea. Don't know if its right, but I think I maybe understand, in a small way."

Johan thinks that over, as he lets himself slide down the window to squat on the floor. "Have a seat." He says, one hand gesturing to the couch. "YOu told me because you have professionalism. You told me, because you knew I would find out. You told me, because you had a level of concern you knew I would act on. As for what we are now… thats a very complex question, and one I have been forced to answer far sooner than I had wanted. But please, Ms Cindel. Your observations."

Ally looks towards the couch, but she doesn't make a move towards it. But she stays looking there as she starts speaking. "You are the way you are, Samuel, because of everything your life has given you, showed you. All you've seen and done. Its why you always are a closed book, all locked up and always examining everything and.. cold.
You function better that way if you're closed off and don't get emotional. And the opposite of that is me. I… it's very hard for me to be cold. To not feel, and be…the closest I can come to you. You've seen me be that way too, with…with Meg. If you could have told me then how to avenge her, I would have, well, done you proud."

Ally paces a little bit. "And because I'm so open and emotional and opposite of you, you think I, and others…we can't do what you need to do. We'll make mistakes, get clouded judgement…act illogically. But I guess, the only thing I can say to that is… I *need* to be that. I need to care. Because caring makes me try harder.

And you're worried cause I'm involved with Kassandra and that'll screw everything up and get people hurt. But… I won't. Because I care for each and every person on the team…and for Kassandra, thats what I can use to push myself harder. Just like I think you need to be apart to function what you think is best…I know, I know I will be better for everyone because I care for them. It'll push me to be better.

And…and I know that might mean bad things that I don't want, at some point. But we're trying to, for this special thing, protect a whole world. And I care about the world, too, cause my friends are in it, and my daughter is in it. Thats why there's a balance. A team of me's would…probably be not good. But with a mix… I really think it'll help us."

Johan listens to the woman as she goes on with her observations. His arms come up to rest his elbows on his knees, fingertips pressed to each other. He watches, giving her his full and unequivocal attention, despite the shadows of the room. No one has asked to turn the light on, and he doesn't need it. How to respond. Ally does not do well with criticism. Kassandra may react poorly to a rational critique of her romantic partner, and vice versa. "Ms. Cindel." he says, his voice low and gravelly.

"You make my case for me. You say clearly, that you will act in emotional, irrational fashions… and that is a very scary thing for me. I need to know that my team is going to function in a way I can understand to use it effectively." He stands then, just as fluid and silently as you please. "Lights."

The Lights come on, revealing a sweaty, dirty Johan who apparently was in the process of undressing when the women arrived. "Ms. Depavia. I will answer your question, all of it. But I want both of your words, that in no shape or form, will my words leave this room."

Kassandra is still standing where she was, hands in her pockets. The lack of light didn't seem to overly bother her, although she does raise a hand to cover her eyes as they come on. "Who would I talk to?" she says quietly. "I have very few people I speak to anymore in any capacity." She seems withdrawn again, letting her hand fall again, back into her pocket. "I will not speak of this to anyone." She looks quickly to Aladriel and then back to the floor, as if afraid to look at her for too long.

Ally's eyes squint and then blink rapidly as the lights come on, and it serves to diffuse some of the frustration that shows on her face, an understandable reaction for her. She wants to say more, it shows, but she holds her tongue and puts the force of the words she would've used into her steps, ending her pacing back beside Kassandra. Seeing the elf draw back within, Ally reaches out quickly, a light touch of fingers along KAssandra's wrist before her hands drop back to her sides and she awaits Johan's words. Only at the last does she remember she needs to say something. "I'm not prone to gossip, so don't worry about me."

Johan exhales, one hand rising up to sweep through his dark hair. "How to say." he says, looking, for the moment, actually lost for words. "There are two leaders of this 'group' we have. And we have two very very different views of what we are doing. This has been apparent since day one, and it very much affects the way we lead." He exhales, reaching now for the drink (looks like ice water) he had been sipping when you came in.

"Alexander is the touchy feely nice guy. He gets to fuck his team mates, he gets to be the good cop. He gets to make the patently unprofessional moves and think with his dick, launching war and conflict after war and conflict, forgetting that the rest of us are not invulnerable. I don't get to be that man."

"Instead, I get to be the professional one. Because its who I am, and what I do. A lifetime in the shadows, while he's been here a few years with some military counterterrorism before that. One of us, has to walk the hard line and make the hard calls. He says he can make those calls, and I trust him, but I also trust him to find some way, some more resource intensive way, usually invovling magical dragon crystals, the four winds, a sage smudge and reading from the torah, to overcome what for me, was a fifty cent problem. Am I making sense here?"

Kassandra nods quietly to Johan, shifting her weight. By accident or chance she moves a smidge closer to Aladriel; the movement doesn't seem to be gauged for a reaction, but perhaps out of some need for comfort. She doesn't reach for the other, but perhaps just the knowing she is close is enough, "You are making sense, yes."

There's no poker face with Aladriel. She reacts to everything as its say, interest changing to momentary amusement before dulling down and drifting towards a more neutral look. A quick bob of her head to affirm she's following, before her eyes slide to Kassandra, affection there for the moment before they go right back to Johan.

He nods then, collecting his thoughts. "So here we have the Mission. This big fucking thing that the Draco Foundation, and apparently, if you believe, a dragon, have laid at my feet. So I do what I do, and I get professional about it. I draw a line in the fucking sand. I cut the globe in half. I accept that everyone in the city behind me is going to die, that their descendants, that their entire existence is going to be -wiped out- so that maybe, maybe I can save Atlanta. That you." A gesture to Ally… "Are going to die.." A point to Kassandra. "So I can save her."

"It's hard math. And I treat it like a fucking mission, a job, a fucking -calling-, something to be serious about. Because Alex isn't. Now, call him on the carpet, and he'll tell you he does, that he knew Dunk, blah motherfucken blah, but in the long and short of it, he's out there picking fights with gangers and fucking his team mates when he should be providing leadership, not cock."

"I sat there and I listened to you, Ms De… Kassandra, because I was happy for you, but also sick inside. Because I was hurting. Not because you found happiness, but because I can't do that. I can't find that comfort in sliding an inch closer to someone. I can't be weak, I can't be vulnerable. I can't find comfort in my own team, and as Janie has so clearly pointed out… I can't find comfort outside the team. So I swallowed my own petty jealousy, made you breakfast, congratulated you, then left to go kill 18 people in Colorado Springs."

A pause. "And on the way, I sent out that memo so you would despise me. Feel attacked by me. Revile me. Because the truth is, I got too close to my team. I got too -enmeshed- emotionally. I don't know if it was your pheromones, or your own personal charm, but I felt like I had lost something myself. And I cannot allow that."

Kassandra sighs.

"I am sorry. I am sorry that Alexander thinks mostly about his carnal desires or his need for invulnerabiltity as some sort of defense mechanism to get him through the day. I am sorry that .. all of it." She shakes her head, clearly not able to find words. For the last two days, her ability to speak coherant sentances has gone right out the window.

"i can understand your reasoning, even if I hate it. I can understand, logically, what you are doing." She looks up from studying the floor, eyes going to Aladriel first, always, then to Johan. "But, and this is an important thing, I HAVE to have someone to care about, or else this whole Mission becomes meaningless to me. If I can't connect, if I have to wall myself off from the world for much longer, I am going to lose whatever it is that lets me want to help, want to find a way around this problem. I .. I don't know how to explain it." She sighs again, bottom lip trembling before she can catch herself, trying very hard to put back up the carefully constructed walls of aloofness, of not caring.

Aladriel's reaction to what she's hearing is so plain: it's sadness. There is a difference between sadness and pity and it is most definitely the former. Her thoughts are gathering about all she's just heard and its good that Kassandra gives her more time, and, from the look and nod, hits many of the same points she may have as well. Before she starts talking, Ally lays a hand on Kassandra's back briefly, a touch just for touch sake. "And I agree.. I… I wish you could let yourself be that way. I think I understand, but I just couldn't do that. It's knowing there's someone at home for me, some happiness I have," she looks to Kassandra, "Or for a long time it was the hope of finding that happiness, to help me go. But just cause you're that way and I'm, or we're another way… it doesn't mean we're broken, or unusable. Its an asset too in its way."

"Perhaps." Says Johan after a drink of his water… "You misunderstood my missive. I didn't say you couldn't work, were not worthwhile. I said I did not wish you to work together. Tactically, my decision is sound. Emotionally, Alexander's decision is sound. I know this. He knows this. The middle ground is somewhere between 'can trust you not to drop what your doing to heal Kassandra' and 'can trust you to not drop what you're doing to heal any team mate'."

Kassandra takes the time to collect herself, still looking at the ground. Whatever walls she manages to put up are shaky at best, full of cracks and loose mortar, "I don't know what will happen. I do not know how it will affect things. I think it will work out and not be a distraction. I think that I'd rather work with her than sit at home or some hotel room where ever the team is, wondering and waiting to hear what happened. That, to me, is worse somehow." She swallows, "I think that it matters as much who the partners are as much as the situation exists. Some people cannot handle any adversity within a relationship. Others are all the stronger for it." She shrugs, shaking her head, clearly out of words again, one hand rising fitfully to make a 'whatever' gesture.

"I don't have years of experience to throw at you, or…. lots of practical examples," Ally says quietly, trying a different tactic as she gets the idea that she's not getting very far with her initial ways. "But… you should be able to trust me to not just do what I think is right, but what I'm told by someone I trust, and what I perceive. I want to learn to think like you, so I don't make mistakes. But I'm not a dummy now, and though I'm not as good as you…I would make smart choices, even if I was feeling a lot of emotion. In that godforsaken house, Lilith got hurt…but I didn't rush to her, because I had to do something else and she seemed okay. I would protect physically you before Alex if I had to make a choice on my own, because I know that he's tougher. And I would heal the person who looked the most grievously injured, or the person who I think, in the absence of being directed, would be most important to have well in the immediate."

Something in Kassandra's words -gets- Johan, and it shows. He lets his shoulders slump a bit as he turns back to the window, his back to the women. He leans on the window, a forearm pressed to the glass, horizontal to the ground, his head to that forearm. "My first wife, Julia Redbird. She… didn't know what I did for a living. All she knew was that I worked for the government and I was gone for months at a time and was never the same when I came back. She used to say something like that, Kassandra. I never… appreciated it.."

"Not until I was in Dubai, on an op I couldn't get clearance to leave. I lived in Chicago. Had a large loft on the Near South Side, not far from Soldier field. Had a view of the lake. I remember watching the video feeds from Chicago after the blast. It was… everywhere. I knew what time the blast went off. I knew where my wife, where Alicia, my daughter, where my father and mother would be. They would be in my loft, having dinner. I watched for two months, hoping for some call, sitting in a hotel room, unsure what the hell had happened, waiting for something that never came. I'm not convinced you two are going to run off and have a genetically cloned child yet… but I won't do that to you until I have a clear… and present… reason to do so."

Kassandra looks horrified at the story, eyes widening. She shakes her head, looking back at the floor as the man continues, not quite knowing what to say to something like that. Her head jerks up at the mention of 'genetically cloned child', looking quickly to Aladriel then back to Johan then to anything else, be it the floor, walls, sofa, whatever, mind racing. Something to fill the air, to move that sentence to the back burner.

"I .. I think that is all we are asking for, a chance. While others may have had problems in the past, we are not those people." She glances to Aladriel again, ask if looking for help on what to say.

Tears are truly blinked away at the story that Johan relates, and that story hits home to her in more ways than one. She looks to Kassandra with moist eyes and in that moment its hard for her to be supportive cause she tells something she's never really talked about: "When I was fourteen my mother went into Chicago. She…went away a lot, but she always came back. I didn't truly understand enough about there…I just figured she'd be back like all the other times. And she wasn't back when she said she'd be. Or later. Or…ever, I guess," she concludes, taking a deep breath before letting it out slowly.

"But we are who we are. We all leave the same lives. We're…she and I… we're not the people who don't understand. We know the risk, we know that making something just about us at the wrong time could mean something terrible for everyone else. And we're not going to do that."

Johan cracks his neck, a single staccato line of pops that moves from the top vertebrae all the way down his spine, like a snake. He turns back to the women, his features set in a deadpan monotone, flat expression… "So, to answer your question, in its entirety, both professional, and personal, Kassandra… I did what I did because I am caring in the only way I am allowed."

It's her turn to be supportive. Kassandra reaches out, gently touching Aladriel's arm as she concludes the story about her mother. She doesn't say anything for a long moment, letting both Ally and Johan's words sink in. She finally says, "I am sorry." It is unclear exactly who that is aimed at.

She glances to Johan after another pause, "I understand. And we'll all find a way to deal with this, one that fits the Mission as well as our lives. I think there is a compromise that can be reached in all of this. We are .. well, we are all the family that most of us have. A dysfunctional family, to be sure, but any team worth its weight ends up leaning on each other in different ways, and complimenting each other.".

Ally gives a little jump as she's touched as though she honestly was not expecting it. But it gets her to look at Kassandra and it helps her from getting too deep into old, painful memories. "What she said," Ally agrees in a low voice. "And we will. We… we've barely had a chance yet to all get in this together. When we do…it'll be really good."

Samuel nods. "You ladies… uh…" he looks down at himself. "Relax. Talk. Leave… I need to shower and clean my weapons. You caught me just as I got back from Colorado Springs… so forgive me."

"That was not a demand you leave, not at all…"

Kassandra raises an eyebrow, the previous comments coming back. "Ah. That explains the cryptic messages I got from an aquaintance of mine regarding some individuals passing on." She nods to Samuel, "Go. Bathe. You stink."

With a nod, Johan steps out of the room.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License