|ʝąɱęş (blazed) wrote in paxletalelogs,|
@ 2017-10-10 16:53:00
|Entry tags:||loki, sigyn|
Sometimes when I'm alone
Who: Nish and James
What: A reunion as James is moving in (and sushi)
Where: Pax Letale Lobby
When: October 9, 2017, about 5pm
|It had been a long day at work, and Nish had caved on the way home, stopping for takeout sushi. Her only plans for the night had been pajamas and Netflix, though the idea of texting Jen to pop over after her shift was currently making her smile. |
She headed past the concierge’s desk with barely a nod for Stephan, takeout bag in one hand and cell phone in the other, too busy typing out a text to notice anything else. She absently hit the call button for the elevator, just about to hit send on her text.
It wasn’t like he had a tonne of stuff. James had always believed in living a simple existence - simple, classy, elegant. His bachelor pad on the second floor of his new building was taupe and grey, accented with different colours to break up the monotony, warm and flattering light from desk and table lamps, refurbished bookshelves stuffed to capacity. You know, grown up - actual wine glasses instead of red solo cups or mason jars, towels that weren’t white (they got dirty too quickly), and sheets changed more than four times a year.
So since he didn’t have a lot of things, and was eager to leave a life that never quite felt right behind, he could pack everything in his car and drive off to greener pastures. Or, in this case, beachier ones. He’d never lived by the beach before and looking forward to it - the beaches here were different than the ones in Ireland, which were oftentimes comprised of tiny shards of coral and seashells in different pastel shades.
He was unpacking his car right now, in fact, carrying in two boxes marked ‘dishes,’ when he approached the lift. “Can you hit the - “ Then he looked past the boxes he carried. Which he nearly dropped due to clear surprise. “...Nish?”
Nish did drop her phone. “Shit…” she scrambled to pick it up, a much easier problem to deal with than the one in front of her. She scooped it up and glanced down at the now cracked screen, her brain still trying desperately to make sense of what it was hearing, what it was seeing.
Her eyes locked with his, a surreal sense of calm making the moment feel like a particularly vivid dream. “James…” she whispered the name she never thought would cross her lips again. “What...what are you doing here?”
James’ response was a little more colourful, more along the lines of “shite and onions!” thus honouring the novel Ulysses. One of his favourites. But it was warranted, since he saw Nish drop her phone (did he already feel bad about that? Oh yes, definitely, cracked screens were a bitch) and he almost lost his grip on the boxes he was carrying. Which would have meant shattered dish pieces all over the floor.
Luckily, he managed to hold onto them, shifting them in his arms. “I’m sorry,” he apologised, referring to her now-busted phone but he ought to be saying that for other things too. One thing at a time. “I didn’t mean to startle you - well, I’m moving in. Just about to,” he grinned sheepishly, accent curling around the words - smooth like a mellow river, not so gruff and rough like some from Ireland could be. “Christ, it’s good to see you.”
Something inside clenched at her heart when she heard those words, the familiar lilt in his voice, making her feel as if the floor had dropped out from under her.
The elevator dinged open, and he leaned against the door to make sure it didn’t shut in his face. “Want to come up? I’m just on the second floor.” He couldn’t believe she was really here and balls, he had so much to say.
’Do it,’ the Loki commanded at once, leaving no room to argue. Instantly, she felt her feet follow him into the elevator, her expression registering her surprise at her own actions. “Uhhm…” she looked down at her cracked phone in one hand and her sushi takeout in the other. She had bought enough for two, though he wasn't at all who she'd been anticipating sharing it with.
“I got sushi…” she heard herself say as if from far away, the voice in her head which had so far been an annoyance to her, now leading her around like a marionette. The doors opened again, and she followed him out on autopilot.
“Oh? The ones with the crunchy stuff in it, maybe? Or cream cheese,” James smiled easily, setting the boxes down by the door of his flat so he could rummage for his keys and let them in. “Think the plates are in these boxes. I’ll get us drinks, what would you like?”
It was a bit of a mess, but that was due to the chaos of moving in - he couldn’t stand an unkempt place, so it would be tidied up as soon as he was unpacked. He’d already started, and had gotten some furniture from both Goodwill and Craigslist (there were ways to do it, the best ways to shop - and he liked repurposing things anyway) so at least now they wouldn’t have to sit on the floor.
There was a sofa, and a rustic coffee table comprised of finished crates, where he headed. No need to get all fancy and eat at the kitchen table (which had boxes on it anyway). “I can’t believe you’re here, Nish. What are the odds, right? I’m just - you look so beautiful,” James found himself telling her, that being really the tip of the iceberg when it came to all he had to tell her. “But right then, drinks.” He’d just go get those.
When he said that, she finally found her voice again, shaking her head as if to clear cobwebs. “I don't drink…anymore,” she added, now feeling awkward on top of shellshocked. She was standing in his apartment, surrounded by things that were his, none of which was even remotely familiar to her. And he was here, like he'd stepped out of one of her dreams - or nightmares - and she was frozen waiting for the other shoe to drop.
But it was a small apartment. And in all of his things, she didn't see anything female. “Is…she moving in too?” she asked, a mixture of hurt and anger flaring suddenly in her stomach.
He was actually glad to hear that Nish had quit drinking. James knew she had an addictive personality and, well, he would prefer her liver to be functioning at top-notch levels for years to come. “No worries, love, water it is,” he nodded, not even missing a beat as he grabbed two bottles from the fridge. There wasn’t much else in there - he needed to go grocery shopping, but that was further down on his to-do list.
Slicing open the box containing dishes, he made quick work of finding two plates for them - silverware was another issue, but he’d be fine with chopsticks. Though at least with plates they didn’t have to be complete heathens. He was in the middle of bringing things to the coffee table when Nish asked about the fictional woman he’d allegedly cheated on her with (and bollocks, he was truly a terrible liar - she had to have sensed something was off about that, like how out of character it was for him).
“Ah, no - “ Carefully, he set the plates down. “There is no her. You might want to sit, this is a long story.”
She swallowed, the roiling emotions in her stomach battling each other for dominance. She did as she was told though, silently settling down on the couch and letting the bag of sushi rest on the makeshift table.
She wanted to say something, anything, but words didn't seem to exist in her head right now. She was about to get answers for questions she wasn't ready to ask, and found with embarrassment that her hands in her lap had begun to shake. She quickly occupied them with opening the takeout bag, Hoping to cover her reaction.
“Nish - “ James sat next to her, briefly placing his hand over hers. Just to help quell the nerves - and he gave her a reassuring squeeze before letting go. This wasn’t how he expected to go over everything, but he was here and she was here and it would be stupid to continue on with her thinking he could ever, possibly cheat on her. As if there was anyone else out there for him but her.
He reached for one of the water bottles, twisting the cap off. Then he took a long swig, because his throat suddenly felt like it was coated in sawdust. “One of my patients was the son of a mobster. A mobster who was in pretty deep and - well, he knew that seeing a psychiatrist would be dangerous. Turned out, he was right. He was killed and...I had to go into Witness Protection after that.”
Shite, it had all been such a mess. And happened way too quickly - yet James had no choice, he needed to get all his affairs in order and just cut ties fast, because the longer he dallied the more of a risk it was. Not just for him, but for his loved ones. “When you go into Witness Protection, you’ve got to leave everything behind. I told the worst lie I could think of - so you’d be safe without me.”
If they were married it would have been different, but even then. How could he expect her to just drop everything? It was a hell of a lot to ask of someone. Even if without a doubt, he knew he’d have done it for her in a heartbeat.
She focused on his hand on hers, swallowing again to prevent any of the words she didn't have from escaping. Her mind worked overtime, pulling apart what he was telling her, fact checking with what she knew about witness protection, thinking about what this meant about all the things she thought she knew.
“So…” her voice cracked and she cleared her throat. “So you didn't…” Her hands fell twisted in and out of each other in her lap as she resolutely did not look at him. She felt as if she couldn't breathe properly, her heart making it's presence known against her ribcage.
James reached out again, his touch gentle. Ironic, considering how rough his skin was - those years of slinging drinks, he had suffered from ‘bar hands’ quite a bit, dry and cracked thanks to the constant exposure to water, spirits, and acids thus needing a special salve to not render him a crocodile; he curled his fingers around one of Nishka’s twisting hands. Just - to prove that he was here, and he wasn’t going anywhere.
“I never did. There was never anyone else,” he uttered quietly. “I don’t expect you to drop everything for me now but you should know that I...love you, Nishka, I always have. And I’m sorry, I’m so sorry for hurting you.”
The thing in her throat migrated to her stomach, joining the rest of what was already churning down there. Changing the blend of emotions into something completely new and strange - guilt.
He sat back a little then, finishing up with opening the takeout - plastic containers of sushi and little smaller containers of fresh ginger and wasabi. Were either of them even still hungry? Well. Eating would be a good distraction, either way. “I’m sure you need some time. This is a fuckton to deal with.”
She nodded silently in agreement, still processing everything he had just told her, but glad of his observation. Her eyes focused on the food in front of them, boring a hole into a piece of uru maki.
“I'm…” she hesitated, taking in a shaking breath and then finally forcing it out. “I'm with someone…” she said. Even though she and Jen resisted defining their relationship, it was still...something. It wasn't love, they both knew that, but there was affection. Trust. Caring. Jen had been there for her through a lot, but James...
She reached forward and picked up the container of spicy mayo, popping it open to give her hands something to do. “I never thought I'd see you again,” she said quietly, finally meeting his eyes, hers shining with unshed tears.
James didn’t quite know what to say at first, but the more logical side of him told him that he couldn’t be too surprised. Why would Nish be saving herself for him? That was something he had done, sure, but she was beautiful and vivacious - and whomever she had decided to be with, well, he had to try to look at it as a good thing. Because he wouldn’t want her to be miserable and alone.
“I understand,” he replied, and he forced himself to mean it. But it felt like he’d been stuck with knives, between each of his ribs, his heart cracking down the centre. It wasn’t worth much without her anyway, just kind of a useless hunk of organ-muscle.
He was quiet for a moment, then he looked up at her - there was hope in his eyes; they glittered crystalline, blue geodes. “Who knows, perhaps - things will work in my favour. I want to say I’ll give up, but it’s been too long and I just can’t.” Maybe it wasn’t right, but he couldn’t sit back and let Nish slip through his fingers - though at the very least, he wanted to make up for the hurt he’d caused. “Will you forgive me though, do you think?”
She had to look away. Her words, which had always served her so well her whole life, seemed to have deserted her. Even Loki seemed either unwilling or unable to help her now. It was all too much too soon. In the span of about ten minutes she'd learned he was in LA, in her building, that he hadn't cheated on her, that he'd been in hiding.
That he'd never stopped loving her. And that she was in fact the one guilty of what she'd hated him for all this time.
She stood, stepping away, slipping her shattered phone in her pocket and hugging herself. “Three…four years, James,” she said, the name still feeling strange in her mouth. She fully expected to wake up from this at any moment. “I can't...I need more than fifteen minutes…”
“Of course,” James wiped his hands on his jeans, standing up too. “Take all the time you need. But just know that you didn’t do anything wrong, alright? No matter what happens, I want you to be happy.” Even if it wasn’t with him - which was a difficult pill to swallow, yet necessary. He didn’t own her - and while the natural pull and magnetism he felt, when it came to Nish, couldn’t be denied he would do his best to respect her relationship and let her make her own decision.
He really hoped she chose him, though. They were just - this love wasn’t simply one milkshake, two straws. It was messy, it was an unstoppable force of nature, it was utterly complex and wonderful. James would always feel something for her - he’d never move on completely, that was the truth. Maybe enough to where he could be with someone else, to love, but completely moved on? Doubtful.
“And at least stay and eat? After all, it was me who rudely interrupted you with your takeaway,” he smiled, and it was a bit sad yet he managed. Nish’s eyes briefly closed, an almost laugh finding it's way out at his observation. Same old James.
“We can just...catch up.” No talking about feelings required right now.
She still felt disoriented with it all, off-balance with shock, but she nodded. “I am hungry,” she admitted, this time the soft smile on her lips was genuine. She sighed, the tension leaving her shoulders, and sat back down next to him, keeping a respectful distance between them as she picked up the chopsticks from the table.
“You wouldn't be the first ex I've befriended,” she said with a smile that was sad and amused at the same time. She handed the second set of chopsticks to him, holding his eyes for a little longer than necessary before looking down at their shared dinner.
“So...how did you find me?” she asked, picking up a piece of nigiri and dipping it in spicy mayo before popping it in her mouth. She had surprised herself by ending up in LA; she'd originally been planning to move north, but somehow ended up at Pax instead. As if she was supposed to be here.
James went for the spicy tuna - both that, and something chock-full of tempura and other such goodness for the filling. He also could drown in spicy mayo (it was a toss up between that and eel sauce) so he was glad Nish had a couple extra containers.
“I don’t know, I was bartending and then when I finally testified and the sentencing came down, I just decided to see where the wind blew me,” he admitted, chopsticks going for a dip before he annihilated one of those complex sushi rolls. “I packed things up and drove. Looked around at a few buildings but this one seemed to feel right, for some reason. It drew me in. Seems like an interesting place, hm?”
She swallowed, nodding and chuckling. “You could say that.” Where could she even start? And how to explain without sounding like one of his patients? “This...I've never lived anywhere like this before,” she said carefully. She chose a piece of the tuna roll as well, looking at it thoughtfully for a moment. She had been here, living with all of these strange events for so long, that she's just adapted to it. But now, even thinking about explaining to an outsider brought back to her how strange it all really was.
“I feel like I should be warning you away from here,” she said finally, speaking quietly as if they might be overheard. “There's been...strange things going on. Like…X-Files strange…” she popped the tuna roll in her mouth before she could say any more.
“X-Files strange,” James repeated, wondering what in the everloving fuck that could actually mean. “Like aliens, ghosts, things of that nature? Is the place haunted?” he grinned in a good-natured way, not actually expecting that it would be correct. Sort of.
She grinned and made a face as if to say ‘well, don't say I didn't warn you.’
He supposed he’d see in due time, however. And he trusted Nishka - she wouldn’t just make up a story for the hell of it. “I’ll heed your warning, love, but I’m not going anywhere,” he added, snagging another sushi roll. The rest he’d leave for her since this was her dinner anyway - it would be rude to chow down when it hadn’t been intended for him.
But no, he definitely wasn’t going anywhere. James was no chicken shit, so, he’d see what was in store for him. For them.
She chuckled, part of her marveling how easy it was for her to slip back into old patterns with him; chatting and joking and sharing a meal. She caught herself sneaking a good long look at him while he was busy picking another roll, but quickly averted her eyes when he looked back at her.
“Well good,” she smirked, “though if you get the shit scared out of you, I'll be the first to say ‘I told you so.’” She watched him put down his chopsticks and immediately shook her head. “Ohh no you don't,” she teased, her old playfulness starting to come back now that she'd loosened up a little. “You gotta help me eat this...that roll,” she said, pointing her chopsticks at the one neither of them had touched, “that's her favourite, I never did like eel. It's all yours,” she laughed, but then her face fell just a little. Her.
“Umm...Jen,” she explained, “she's my…” she chewed on her lip, shrugging and assuming he'd get the idea. “I was texting her when I sort of.. bumped into you...”
That was actually a lovely sound, just like the rest of her - James was simply glad to get to hear it again, since in his opinion, Nishka didn’t have an opportunity for those light-hearted moments very often. She’d been through so much and he put her through even more - and it was a shame she didn’t laugh too often, since she had a face that was meant for smiling and happiness, not headaches and heartaches.
“I’d say I’m sorry for eating her dinner but then again - “ His smile turned a tad mischievous, and he simply rolled with the switch to something more somber - didn’t let it get dragged down that road, rather, and he swooped in with his chopsticks to grab the roll she indicated. “Trying to put me in a sushi coma, I see. I’m onto you, darling.”
She laughed again, the smile returning to her face, and this time, to her eyes. “Ahh, what she doesn't know won't hurt her, she teased happily, taking another nigiri and popping it in her mouth.
He was quite curious about how he’d potentially get the shit scared out of him, but again, that was just one of those things that couldn’t be explained or understood unless you lived it. At least he knew someone in this building already? That was a positive spin to put on it and he tried to be positive whenever possible; he wouldn’t break the camaraderie that was as easy to them as breathing, not when there was so much to come.