Who: Ren Solitaire and Rey Smith What: Rey has some news for Ren When: Friday 25 October, lunchtime Where: Diner Warnings: Discussion of magical crimes
Curiosity would kill the damn cat and Ren knew it, but that didn't stop him from pulling open the door to the diner and glancing around the space for Rey's face.
It had been a surprise to see her at work, and not a pleasant one, and the news she'd brought wasn't pleasant exactly either. Jamie wasn't wrong, probably, to push back against the idea that he didn't care or it didn't matter. Even if he'd like it to be true - it wasn't. He did care still. You couldn't, no matter how much you'd buried yourself right under your parents nose, completely run away from family.
When she wasn't here yet, there was something almost like relief, then annoyance - what if she didn't come? - and then an immediate seek out of the best place to sit. This was determined to be a booth in the back of the diner where Ren's back was to the wall, and he could easily see anyone walking their direction over the back of the booth and over Rey's head.
He ordered a coffee, and took one of the menus and waited a little anxiously.
Rey wasn't exactly looking forward to this discussion either; there was nothing good about the news she had to deliver to B--Ren (she was eventually going to get used to that name, but not today). And he was volatile on a good day, which this was not. Ren's history with Luke was complicated. Rey thought there was blame on both sides. But Luke wasn't here to hear what she thought any more, well, not most of the time, and Rey was pretty sure Ren didn't want to hear it either.
She thrust her hands into the pockets of her jacket as the door to the diner closed behind her. Ren was easy to locate even in the back of the room. He was tall enough that nobody could miss him, even if his presence wasn't visible to most the way it was to her.
"Hullo," she said, doffing her jacket and moving to settle into the opposite side of the booth from him. "How are you? I hope everything is going well." For all that she'd been raised in Scotland, Rey had the hint of a British accent that sounded as if she'd inherited it from Ren's mother.
Ren glanced up at her, and pushed a menu her direction, even as an eyebrow raised at the formality of the question. He didn't question the formality though, or even the questions, instead he just reached for the coffee that he'd been brought and took a sip.
"Sure, you've just shown up out of nowhere, told me Luke is dead, and that you're staying at my parent's house. Everything's swimmingly fabulous."
"When you put it that way, I suppose not." Rey took up the menu and looked for the combination of most filling, least unhealthful, and cheapest thing on the menu. She'd been hungry often enough that the value of food for her wasn't in taste and quality so long as it met a bare minimum. She just didn't want that hollow feeling at the end of the day. When the waitress brought her some water, Rey put in her order for coffee and a breakfast combo, while Ren ordered the pancakes with eggs on the side to go with his coffee.
She waited for the waitress to leave before continuing, "I can try to break this kindly or I can just tell you what I've learnt and what I think, and we can work from there. It's up to you."
"I'm not interested in platitudes and diplomacy," Ren returned, but although the words were blunt, his tone lacked any harshness. He frowned for a moment, trying to figure out where this was going. There were questions he had, and mostly he wanted to know if this was likely to impact him. "I've made a life here," he added. Alright maybe it was a far cry from the life he'd thought he wanted, but she didn't need to know that, even if she might without him saying anything. He put two hands on the table, wrapping them around his coffee mug. "Just tell me what you've learned."
Rey looked round to see if anyone was in earshot, and nudged a couple of people who seemed like they might be paying attention to mind their own business. "Luke was murdered." Before Ren could say anything, she continued, "No single opponent could have overwhelmed him, but if you get enough people together, you can use the power of darkness to snuff out life. In this case it looked like cancer, and that's what's on the death certificate. But what really did it was that he chose to stop fighting and pass on--" into the existence that Ren knew of from their joint training "--rather than grasp those powers to fight back.
"I thought he might have tried to warn you, but I suppose he respected your desire not to have contact even over your safety. Because it was the Snakes. And now that they've done for the last fully trained member of the Order, there are two things keeping them from finishing it completely." Lips pursed, Rey looked at Ren, not figuring she needed to say any more.
Ren had spent several years trying to pretend that he didn't know half the stuff he did, and it had been only within the past year that he'd begun to pull back on any of the things Luke had taught him, and only then when it had been necessary - first with Hannah, then with Claire's difficulty. But as he looked over the coffee at Rey he frowned, and as she continued talking he frowned more deeply.
"I don't think he did," he muttered, not sure if he was offended or not. On the one hand, he'd made his preferences real clear, but on the other hand if there was something … "You think they're going to after us?" He raised an eyebrow, pushing the immediate fear down because there might not be anything to worry about. "I mean, I've disappeared for a reason, Rey."
Except she was here now, which means if they were tracking her they might track him. Fuck. "I have no interest in the Order, or anything about it. I haven't for years now."
"It doesn't matter if you're interested or not, if they're interested in you." That came out a little more brusquely than Rey had intended it. She continued more calmly, "I assumed you disappeared because you didn't want to talk to your parents, and probably to Uncle Luke as well. But if you think someone's after you--I didn't come here to find you, but I'm not going to leave you to them. Your arguments with Uncle Luke died with him." She shrugged and took a sip of her coffee.
"So, instead you brought them to me, potentially," Ren pointed out, irritably. Even if she said she hadn't known he was here, the fact remained that he was, and even if she hadn't intended it… He waved a hand. Getting angry about it wouldn't really help. He didn't want something else on his plate. He wanted to focus his energy on helping Adrian, but…
He sighed. "So what are you doing here, then? Like, where are they?"
"I don't know for sure. My guess would be the Capital. It doesn't matter where any given group of them is. I think what matters is where the leaders are, and since they're even more secretive about their actual identities than we are, that's hard to say." Another sip of coffee, and, "As for me, I'm going through Uncle Luke's things, seeing what answers I can find, both about the Snakes and about some things that Luke said--" Rey held up a hand "--which is a long and complicated story that I'm not trying to be evasive about. I'm just interested in finding out where things went wrong for Uncle Luke.
"Speaking of which: there may prove out to be some things of your grandfather's in the boxes I lugged down here. If you want them, I'll set them aside for you."
The waitress reappeared with their food and for a moment Ren was silent, letting the plates be sat down, and he waited, watching her until she was gone before he turned his attention back to Rey. If they were in the Capital the question would be where, and how to track that down. Unlikely they would be showing their hands too heavily.
"Maybe someone here has heard something," he told her. There were people, Newt, Claire, Adrian, maybe even. They probably wouldn't know, but it might be worth asking. All of them had knowledge of the supernatural in some frame of reference, and could at least keep ears to the ground. He reached for a fork and looked up, seriously. "I do want. Nobody else in the family will give a damn about them."
Given that the only person left in the family besides Ren was his mother, and Rey knew that she'd had a complicated relationship with her father, it was an easy request to grant. "Sure. I'll let you know when I find something." Luke had had his own issues with his father, but it had been clear to Rey that Luke come to a better and healthier equilibrium about it all than Leah had been able to. He had kept some mementos of his father's career and it only seemed right that they would now go to Ren.
"And I'd appreciate hearing any news you can find. I don't have connections here yet." Most of Rey's connections, who had really been Luke's connections, were, of course, in Europe and Britain. She'd had some time to look up some of his acquaintances but in the interest of keeping a low profile, hadn't done so. Perhaps, she thought, as she dug into her breakfast, this would be a better way of approaching the larger problem.
"Thanks," Ren offered, almost as if he didn't want to, but mostly the words just sat weird on his tongue, not something he normally offered to her. This whole situation sat awkwardly because the last time they'd been together - well, he'd been younger and more angry and more jealous. Not that he wasn't any of those things right now, cause Jamie was right, it was hard to not have some jealousy, but it was different. He thought.
"I'll stick some feelers out," he told her. "There's some people I trust - might have heard something."
And if they hadn't, then. No harm done probably. He took a bite of the pancakes, chewed, swallowed, and glanced back up at her. "So what are you doing at the house?"
Rey was a surprisingly nice eater for someone who devoured her breakfast at the speed with which she ate. Her words were only very occasionally mangled by chewing. "Officially I'm taking some time to recover from Uncle Luke's death. I was with him up until the end, and they say it takes a year, so that covers the next six months.
"There are still a few affairs to wind up but your mother has most of the financial business in hand. There are lawyers for dealing with the money, what little of it there was." Rey pointed her fork, and the piece of egg on it, toward Ren, "There's actually a bequest for you once the insurance is all wound out, so I'll make sure you get that as well. Probably about a grand. If you don't want to talk to your mum about it, we'll work it out some other way.
"And as far as the house goes, I'm--working on further studies. Independent studies, I suppose, since I no longer have a teacher." There were stories of the old masters coming back to teach the living after their time, but Rey hadn't had that happen. Certainly not yet. And she knew looking for Luke that way was madness, so she was inclined to let him show up on his own terms if he was going to.
Ren grumpily wondered if it took a year if you didn't care, and decided that answering that question was probably not a great idea for his mental health. He ignored it, dug into his pancakes, and only looked back up when she mentioned lawyers. "I don't --" he started, and then just finished his sentence by eating more pancakes, grumbling 'Whatever' with his mouthful.
It was frustrating to him how together she seemed, and how easily plotted out everything seemed to be. He'd never felt that confident about anything, including moving to Repose, although it had been settled after a while here. "Yeah, so you'll be here for a while," he stated unnecessarily. "I don't want to talk to my parents right now. And if I do, then I'll do it on my terms." He stated, sitting up and giving her what he hoped was a piercing glare. "So, don't go talking about money and where I am with her. When it's sorted, we can figure that out."
He took a drink of coffee. "I've got my own stuff I'm working on and I'm not interested in your studies, or bothering you, or whatever." He put the mug down. He wasn't interested in her being here either, or the news she'd bought but he couldn't put that away. He pressed his lips together, his face suggesting the distaste he felt about what he was about to say: "We should keep in contact though."
"Sure." She had been put here for a reason, that reason probably had something to do with Ren, and Rey might not like it but she understood it. She pulled a pen from a pocket of her jacket and scribbled her phone number on a napkin, which she shoved across the table to B--Ren. "There's always the local network, too. You let me know what you hear, and I'll let you know what I hear. I'm not here to mess up your life. I just want to do my own thing. And I don't want to be in the middle of your fights with your parents. I told your mother I'd deliver the message if I saw you, and I did, and that's done now." And on that note, Rey went back to making quick work of her breakfast.
Ren took the number and stared at it for a moment before sticking it in his pocket. He didn't know what he'd been expecting. After all, it had been a while since he'd really been around her and he really didn't know adult her very well. This was a sobering thought on several levels, mostly because he was quietly realizing that he couldn't assume she was going to be like Luke would have been. And that meant actually figuring her out, which probably meant spending some time doing that. And it was impossible to wonder if she'd know something that could help Adrian. This thought made him frown, but he wasn't talking about Adrian with her.
He returned to his own pancakes. "Okay. Yeah. I will."
And maybe that was that. Not… forever. He wasn't stupid enough to think there wouldn't be more at some point.