|Karin Shepherd | Tiamat (sheltering_sky) wrote in paxletalelogs,|
@ 2011-09-09 23:25:00
|Entry tags:||eris, tiamat|
these wild hearts run
Who: Charlie & Karin.
What: A random run-in.
When: 6:34 p.m.
Notes: Completed log.
It had been weeks since Karin had slept through the night; longer since she had begun hearing and seeing things she knew could not be there. She felt her exhaustion to the very marrow of her bones, bowing the line of her back, weakening sinewy limbs, dulling the gleam in her eyes. She had been tired before - she had taken her boards so seriously, she had all but lived on stolen naps and jolts of caffeine in the months she had spent preparing for the tests - but had never experienced anything of such magnitude. She felt haggard, worn thin, and there was no end in sight. So she turned to the solace of physical exertion, hoping against hope that if her mind could not be quieted, perhaps her body could be driven into submission, thereby granting her at least a night’s hard-won peace.
So she had taken to the shore, running the first two miles hard and fast, until the pain shooting through her shins had driven her almost as mad as the irrational thoughts still banging around in her head. Frustrated, she tore the earbuds from her ears, leaving them to dangle loosely around her neck, blaring Mastodon’s Crack the Skye out into the world. Her teeth sank into her lip, worrying at its swell. She ran another half mile in such a state, until at last she saw a silhouette that seemed oddly familiar. As the woman came into view - a sizable dog at her side, Karin noticed - she was at last able to put a name to the steadily growing shapes.
“Charlie?” she asked, slowing first to a jog, then a walk, as she drew up alongside the pair. “Good to see you again.”
The voice broke her concentration, and Charlie glanced up to place it - only to see Karin coming into view. She had no mp3 or music player of her own, instead content to just let the sounds around her filter through her ears and provide a backdrop to her semi-daily runs. They were more for Jack’s benefit, to keep the large dog in shape and not feeling pent up inside of her tiny one-room apartment. Her first thought, upon hearing and seeing Karin, was to either turn and run in the other direction, acting like Karin had mistaken her for someone else, or to run past with the same assumption; but then the other woman was drawing too close, and any idea of escape was thrown out the window. From her previous two meetings with her floormate, Charlie was fairly surprised to have Karin greet her in such a friendly manner. A hand rose and briefly waggled fingers in lieu of a spoken greeting.
“You run here often?” It could have been an actual curious inquiry, or perhaps more likely checking to see if Charlie should avoid taking this route in the future. Of course, there was nothing necessarily off-putting about Karin, the woman was perfectly cordial and helpful, especially the other night when Charlie had woken her at an ungodly hour in the morning due to inebriation. Most people would have liked to avoid Charlie after such an event, so perhaps she ought to be taking Karin’s friendliness for a good thing.
“Lately, yeah,” Karin admitted. “It’s pretty peaceful most of the time, and a nice change from the gym.” She reached up to the cuff stretched high along her arm, turning off the music now wafting noisily between them. In spite of what had brought her here, Karin smiled, unwilling to project her troubles onto someone else, particularly sober and during the light of day. There was no call to be a downer now, with the sun still shining down on a quick and casual meeting.
“And this must be Jack.” She looked down to the dog, careful not to lean over him or into his personal space; though she liked animals, she had no desire to test the diligence of this particular one when it came to protecting himself and his master. “He’s beautiful, Charlie.”
Jack took a step forward, carefully and thoroughly sniffing this new anomaly into his day. Charlie gave no yank on his lead, instead carefully watching the dog - he was good around people, and had never hurt anyone, but on the other hand she wasn’t going to let others prod the dog into doing something in self-defense. But after a moment, the dog came up with a whuff, his tongue lolling happily out of his mouth, which was split in what seemed like a large grin.
“Thanks - he’s all right with people,” she responded, as though to say it was all right to touch or pet if Karin wanted. Jack loved the attention, and Charlie was just glad no one had questioned her keeping such a large pet in a small space, or keeping at pet, period, when she quite honestly didn’t even like animals. Anyone who heard her talking to the dog could suspect that she had the canine for some other reason than merely keeping a pet, but if they knew the kind of kibble she spent good money on along with the amount of time lingered in just playing and petting the stupid thing, it would quite easily be revealed that Charlie truly cared for her ‘dumb dog.’
She let her mouth fall into a hard line, wondering when it would be coming, the general reprimand for her actions. The “please don’t do that again, or I’m going to have to report you to the building officials”, and then the list would start, of all her little wrongs, which would add up until she would be asked to leave. Of course, it was always ask, never told. People were always damned particular about the words they used.
She might have waited forever, for all Karin’s interest in chastising her. The night in question was not forgotten, but it meant a very different thing to the event’s supposed victim. In Newport Beach Karin’s friends were few and far between. Though Fee would stop by unannounced, she was the only one who did; oddly enough, Charlie’s unexpected, initially belligerent visit had felt something like home, where Karin’s space had belonged equally to whatever acquaintance needed it at the time, a makeshift halfway house for the hungover, depressed, dumped, and drunk. There was, however, a small sliver of a lecture beginning to work its way to the surface, even if the thrust of it was not entirely what Charlie foresaw. Karin bit her tongue against it as she leaned down to the dog, gently scratching behind his ear after having been thoroughly sniffed and approved of.
“So,” she began, drawing out the word. She looked up to Charlie from beneath dark lashes, green eyes darkening as she considered what to say. Her smile was soft, unassuming, as nonthreatening as she knew to make it. She was earnestly curious, wanted to help if she could, but wanted just as badly not to be offputting in her questioning. It was a difficult tightrope to walk, particularly given her presently sluggish, sleep deprived thought process. “How did things go with your friend?”
The new direction of the conversation threw Charlie for a moment, but she balanced out quickly. Memories of the night when she’d ended up complaining on Karin’s couch were scattered at best, and it surprised her that she’d opened up regarding her insecurities and questions directed toward a certain someone; she’d been trying to keep a tight lid on that little can of worms, though it was quite obvious that she was failing in that respect. Her eyes widened, trying to do so casually and not come off looking as though Karin had just thrown her a curve ball. Instead she narrowed her eyes, choosing to play dumb and stepping around Jack as he suddenly decided to weave the lead around her legs as something caught his interest behind her.
“How did what go with who?”
Karin kept her gaze solidly on the squirming dog, content to seem distracted and as little a threat to her neighbor as she had seemed to the dog. She suspected Charlie might prove the more difficult opponent in that particular game. She felt the girl draw away from her, the distance between them at once growing in both a literal and figurative sense.
“Your friend,” she answered, her voice patiently, deliberately even. She reached back out toward the dog, her slender fingers and short-bitten nails scratching softly at his back. “I didn’t catch his name. But you were going to try to patch things up with him. It sounded like it had been a pretty bad fight.” Her dark brow arched; again she chanced a glance up to Charlie, heavy lids hiding the renewed brightness in her gaze. “So how did that go?”
Charlie frowned, disliking that Karin was proving difficult to deter.
“It...hasn’t...really,” she replied, wishing she’d come up with some lie instead, but she’d never been very good at those. Picking up her feet, she stepped over the bright red leash that connected Jack to her, and squarely placed the canine between her and Karin, as though he would become a living shield that would stop the other woman’s questions. Charlie offered no further explanation, perfectly willing to let the conversation drop right then and there simply because of awkwardness.
As far as shields went, Jack made a relatively pleasant one. Karin gave him one last pet, straightening up from where she stood over the dog, brushing fallen fur from her hands as she did. “I see.” She flashed a small smile, forcibly tamping down her curiosity and innate drive to meddle. Though she had not mentioned their earlier meeting to her sister, she suspected Fee would have told her to keep her opinions to herself; it was clear her neighbor had no interest in pursuing this line of inquiry, regardless of how pure Karin’s intent may have been. She drew a deep breath, nodding almost sadly. “Oh, well. All things in time.” For some reason the moment the sentiment slipped past her lips, it brought her a strong sense of melancholy, so deep and unshakable that for a time she was silent. She shook her head, in at least an attempt to clear that dark thought.
“Sorry I asked,” she said, and realized that for all her curiosity, she was sincere in saying it. “You know, you’re welcome at my place any time you need. I like company, no matter what we talk about.” She quirked a smile, giving a small, self deprecating laugh. “And there’s always room for one more on my lumpy couch.”
Charlie was incredibly unsure about what she’d done to apparently endear herself to this woman - part of her wanted to accuse Karin of being up to something malicious, though in no way did the woman’s actions hint at such a thing, let alone prove it. Wrapping the lead around her fist, Charlie dropped the length of it once more, giving the dog the slack.
“I’m not plannin’ on makin’ those kinds of visits a regular thing,” she started. “The drinkin’, I mean. It was an accident.” Of course, when she was inebriated her mind had other thoughts, but on the other hand, Charlie found Karin’s offer not unkind, just unjustified. She wasn’t a stranger to lonely days and nights in an empty apartment, though she’d usually done such things to herself through her attitude, even if it was something she’d never admit. She looped the leash around her hand again.
“You gave me pretzels, right? Where ever there’s food, I’m usually there,” she added, as though acquiescing to Karin’s invitation in the only way she knew how.
Karin chuckled, nodding as she did. “Yeah,” she said. “I’m glad I had them. I don’t usually keep snacks in the house, but my sister won’t eat a lot of the healthier things I try to keep around.” Her green gaze flickered over her guarded neighbor, making a valiant attempt to read her body language, to try to know what she might require of this conversation. More and more as the stilted back-and-forth progressed, Karin could not help but feel that what her neighbor truly wanted was simply to be left alone. To do such was anathema to Karin, wholly against all she felt was her duty as an erstwhile confident and potential friend. Again she thought - knew, truly - Fee would have disagreed, but that was a conversation for another time. In spite of a growing concern she was overstepping her bounds, Karin could not resist one final press, hoping a hasty retreat afterward might still achieve the desired result.
“But listen, don’t worry about the other night. I’m not judging you. I’m glad we could talk then.” I just want to help, she might have said, but bit her tongue against it. “I won’t keep you,” she added quickly. “But I am glad I saw you. And Jack,” she said, smiling down at him.
Surprise and perhaps a touch of embarrassment coasted over Charlie’s face. She was one who rarely wanted, let alone needed (or so she liked to think), to discuss her problems with others. Even as a child, the only thing she’d ever needed was an escape, a way out from the inevitable confrontation and ensuing problems. From what she could remember of the night at Karin’s apartment, she had felt strangely relieved after talking over her problems with the other woman. And of course, talking to Rylee helped after the strange events surrounding her mother’s death, and talking with Cat about Rylee as well. She frowned, more at herself than at Karin, a little disturbed at how loose-lipped she was apparently becoming.
“Maybe,” she started, sounding out the words carefully, trying to pick her way carefully through her own mental minefield. “Maybe I could bring some beers, or somethin’ over. Just to pay yah back for what yah gave me.” It was a start, and of course Charlie would probably be kicking herself later for offering such a thing, but she had to admit to a small portion of her mind that the prospect of sharing an evening with someone other than her silent canine companion did sound appealing.
Karin’s smile was immediate and genuine, its wattage reined in only by sheer force of will. It was a better response than she could possibly have expected, and an opportunity she did not intend to waste. “That sounds great,” she said, nodding. “I’m on days for a while, and more often than not I could definitely use a beer or two at the end of my shift.” She gestured, open-palmed, toward Jack. “He’s welcome too, if he doesn’t mind a new place. I don’t post much to the forum, but I do read it pretty frequently. Whenever you guys want to come down, just let me know. Maybe next week or something?”
Charlie gave a brief jerk of her head, maybe a nod, maybe a spasm - whether she was starting to feel anxious about her offer was unclear, as she did her best to not show anything beyond an apathetic mask.
“He’d be fine,” was her only reply, in reference to her dog. Neither did she post in the forums often, only when it was a crucial need (such as telling certain someones what they should and should not do), but it would be easy enough to send off a message to Karin regarding her impending intrusion of apartment one oh seven. Her mind rattled through her work schedule, not unsurprised to find it all over the place as usual, but finally zoned in on one evening that she had free. Any time she had some hours to waste, she’d go and bother Rylee, but maybe it would be a good change of pace to try something different.
“I think I’ve got next Thursday evenin’ off,” she continued, blatantly shocked at her own ability to suddenly be sociable. Maybe Karin was desperate and what was why she was willing to inflict herself with Charlie’s presence - that thought made her wince inwardly, wondering once more what she was getting her self into.
“Perfect,” Karin said, smiling broader still. She had expected equivocation, perhaps some hedging on the date, but Charlie left her pleasantly surprised. Still, the ready acceptance left her far from prepared. In her mind’s eye she went through her cupboards and refrigerator, largely bare of edible snacks or desirable beverages. The bag of pretzels remained, half-eaten and likely stale; there were the remnants of a bag of Newman’s Own mock Oreos she had purchased for her sister. The fridge was still more sparse, bearing only a pitcher of filtered water and a few bottles of Framboise, compliments of her sister. A trip to the grocery store was in order, she knew. “I’ve got some lambics in the fridge you’re welcome to, but feel free to bring over whatever else you might like. Anything you’d like me to pick up?”
Charlie shook her head, giving Jack’s lead a yank to notify him that they were going to be off again. The dog moved to his feet easily, tail wagging excitedly as he remained between the two women.
“I said I was bringin’ the beer, don’t need much else.” Jack stared straight ahead, transfixed by something either on the horizon or some smell; Charlie stared at the dog, quite ready to be gone by this point. Maybe she could find some way out of the invitation, or just plainly not go. She’d never been one to pussy-foot around any subject, and starting now felt strange. Her gaze rose to meet Karin’s, brows jumping up her forehead expectantly.
“So,” Karin said, giving an anxious little laugh. She reached down, plucking her earbuds from where they’d fallen to her chest. She popped one into her ear, fumbling a bit with the other. “I’ll let you two get back to it.” Bending a bit at the waist, she waved a little farewell to the dog. “See you Thursday, Charlie!”
Charlie gave a brief nod, pulling Jack to lead him in the opposing direction from where Karin was headed. She walked for a few steps, with her dog content to pace at her side, for what seemed like once in her life going over and over the events that had just occurred. She’d actually just set a time and a place to go hang out with someone. Her general actions were always to drop in, at a moment’s notice, where ever and on whomever she liked. And then she’d breeze out again whenever she liked as well, using the fact that she was imposing on those poor souls in order to make an unlamented escape.
Rather than dwelling on the strangeness of what had just occurred, Charlie shook her head to clear it and then picked up the pace to resume her run.