Henry’s ears picked up a low scraping sound in the otherwise silent building. He followed his ears to face the general direction of the sound, turning around to the emergency exit door. He frowned, deciding that after what had happened, simple confrontation would be the easiest option.
He sighed, walking towards to door and grabbing it by the handle. He pulled- causing the door to strain before the latch eventually gave way and broke off from the door, exposing the peeping tom. Henry stopped, deciding not to press forward or approach the man any further than he already have. They both just looked at one another, in varying states of confusion and shock.
Eventually though, Henry decided to break the pause.
And so there was Brooks, a deer in the headlights, the door quite literally being broken open in front of him. He stood there, hunched, a pocket knife with blade deployed clutched in a right hand. The discovery of a massive fucking lizard prompted him to back to the opposing end of the alley, the hand clutching the blade close to his midsection, not that it’d be of much use.
And as the ragin’ reptilian broke the silence, a long silence proceeded soon after, Brooks’s eyes darting between his possible escape routes and Henry himself. Unsatisfied with the tight quarters and such a hulking potential foe, he simply played along, piping up in an accented voice best described as somewhere between choking on gravel and throat cancer, with the Appalachian dialect showing through in force.
“Woah, eh- Who- Who the hell’re you?”
Henry put his hands up, palms facing the man in an attempt to show him that he meant no harm. It was likely not exactly disarming, but it was better than nothing. “My name is Henry-” He said, his left hand moving to point at the FAMA insignia on his uniform. “I’m associated with FAMA. Heard a lot of noise and…” He trailed off, realizing that he was rambling. “Sorry for- surprising you.”
Henry breathed, allowing his hands to fall to his sides. “I take it you heard the shots too?” This was a difficult situation- because there were bodies in the building, and he had made a deal to help with Tiamat. He’d have to try to keep this man out of the building if he could- but if he found a way inside, he’d have to lie.
Shit, it was law. FAMA, no less. A risk he couldn’t take. “I did, yeah. Ain’t usually my business, but the shots were a little fuckin’ close for comfort.” He slowly and deliberately folded back in the blade on the knife, guiding it into a pocket on his jeans. He seemed on edge, almost if it wasn’t what he was expecting. Law already here, situation under control enough for a fucking greeter to meet him at the door.
“You alright?” Henry asked, seeing how things had played out, it was completely reasonable to assume the poor man was only a few steps away from having a heart attack himself. Henry decided not to press him for why this had decided to investigate the sound of gunshots and conflict. That was some textbook horror movie first victim shit- but this man was too old and smelt too much like gunpowder to be that naive. “What’s your name?”
Brooks darted his eyes, looking the reptile up and down, sizing him up perhaps. “Is’ uh, Jacob. Jacob Riley.” He seemed to relax a little seeing as the conversation didn’t start with his Miranda rights. Satisfying enough for him, he reasoned, playing into the officer’s questions. The edges of Henry’s lips curled up in a small smile at this.
“It’s nice to meet you, Jacob.” The giant sighed. “Listen, I’m going to be calling this one in in a few minutes. You should get going before the cleanup crew gets here. No reason for you to get caught up in all the paperwork and red tape.” he explained. He looked away, glancing behind him and cringing at the acidic smell of the rapidly deteriorating REAPER agent. It was strong enough that even the man could probably smell it now. Especially if he was familiar with the scent of dead REAPERs.
Eager to avert his own attention, Henry returned his gaze to Enoch. “You going to the festival tomorrow by chance?”
“Is’ Jake, what folks call me.” He clarified at first. “N’ yeah, I’ll be there. Wouldn’t miss that shit. Crowds ain’t to my fancy, but the food n’ hooch are worth it, yeah?” Brooks chuckled a bit, grinning to reveal teeth stained yellow, damaged by years of coffee and cigarettes. “Yeah, I ought get goin’.” The stench hits him. He knows it too well. To say something? No, play it cool. It’s a new life.
“It was, eh, nice meeting’ you, too, Officer- Henry, was it? Yeah.”
“If you see me there, I’ll buy you a drink. Think of it as an apology for scarin’ you.” Henry said. “Take care, Jake.”
“Real kind a’ ya’. You too, Officer.” Brooks gave his farewell, turning off towards his Dodge silently. His expression turned. Careless, Brooks. Fucking careless. New life and you were this close to throwing out the goddamn window because some shots and a fucking lizard man spooked you. Real smart. He slammed his car door, turning the key, before spinning the tires as he took back off to his original destination.
After Amanda's sudden arrival, the day passed quickly. It was a sudden and dramatic- but not entirely unwelcome change. There was something homely about having another person in his dwellings. She livened up the joint to say in the least, the house felt warmer than it was before. Perhaps that radiance was the nostalgic love he carried for her in his heart re-awakening. He does the polite thing, and gives her his room, deciding to take the couch as he is not yet ready to share that level of intimacy with her yet. When she was squared away, the young man excused himself outside. To escape the situation, not think at all, and overthink- he's not sure, as he finds himself doing all three not long after his feet touch the coarse beige sand. It's surprisingly peaceful now that the sun has gone down. Matt takes a deep breath of the salty gulf harbor, and the smell carries wistful memories from what seemed to be forever ago. This is where he had visited many times with his family, way back when he was still young and naïve and silly. This was also the place he had made his home two years ago, so long ago now that the memory seems airbrushed with a layer of rosy powder.
Matt isn't sure how long he stayed out on the beach. He returns to his home long after the sun has disappeared over the horizon.
Matthew suggests that they go to the festival. It's more out of necessity than it is desire- any reason to escape the small, claustrophobic home that was suddenly only so because of the nature of his relationship with the second person occupying it. And excuse to socialize, laugh, to ease the tension. As he drives, searching for parking, he cant help but notice the festival this years. The streets are filled with jovial people, families, children, friends, all meandering through the open air market with smiles and laughter abound. The cloudless blue sky stretches above the commotion, polished with friendly sunlight and the promise of the vacation season. There are booths lined up everywhere, with cheerful vendors selling everything from ripe produce to candies, fresh seaweed to glass vases. It was an annual event, the city has adopted an infectiously merry atmosphere that just can't be ignored. Even more so than in previous years.
He casts his eyes away from the window and finds himself caught on Amanda. The conversation had been... nonexistent- and she had done exactly what she always did whenever she clammed up: Distract herself with her phone. Matthew found himself smiling at the familiarity, but also noticing how beautiful she looked in the glow of the sunlight. She wasn't quite as green as she had been two years ago- she was a woman now. She was beautiful. He felt his mouth dry up and averted his gaze quickly when Amanda looked up from her phone."Hey, Matt, remember cousin Nikki?"
He opened his mouth to respond when she showed him a picture of an insect that was way larger
than it had any right to be. His mouth dropped, instinctually saying "Holy-" and then following up with "Nope. Nope. Nu-uh." His grip on the steering wheel tightened and he breathed. He wasn't particularly afraid of insects, but he was mostly normal. That was a big
bug. He sheepishly looked over at her. "You were always the brave one between us." he says, friendly mirth in his tone.
"But, yeah. I remember Nikki. How is she doing? Staying out of trouble I hope." he says, giving Amanda a knowing and dangerous, but friendly look. Referencing their... incident a few years ago.
He'll have to tell Israel about this one when they find him.
@Ruler Inc@Spoopy ScaryPresent
It's midday. The sky has dressed herself for the occasion, traditional silk skirts the color of forget-me-nots. The sun hangs overhead like a warm, shiny button, the heat of a Florida summer in full effect.
It's a lovely backdrop, Henry thinks— almost like a canvas sewn together by messy cloud stitches. In her haste, the sky has scattered other fluffy clouds across the sky in an attempt to mask the imperfections. Charming, really— the sun has always been impervious to criticisms anyway.
Flocks of Seabirds and Pelicans dot the cerulean blue sky, casting the ocean, always in sight in the beach town, aglow with gold foam and small waves. The city in the distance shines bright as ever though, and Henry stands the Formica-topped tables in the courtyard of a small restaurant. The waitress told him the food wouldn't be much longer. He gave her a small smile and excused himself outside, and now he stood by the curb of the road, a half-empty glass of lemonade cradled between his palm. Simply enjoying the day— the salty ocean breeze making the otherwise hot and humid weather feel far more tolerable.
Unlike many other FAMA officials, Henry wasn't dressed up in body armor. The idea had been to give the public eye a view of FAMA that wasn't quite as militant as it appeared to be. Thus, he had been instructed to stick with to his regular officer uniform. He wore thick, form fitting grey spandex on his chest, padded with an extra layer of black body armor in some locations with yellow accents. It wasn’t particularly special or stylized, but it was comfortable and it fit him- two things that didn’t go hand in hand often. His legs were covered by cargo pants. His feet and tail, per the usual, were bare. It was the closest he had to casual clothing, really. Due to his size, mostly. As an official it fit the situation well enough. His full suit of body armor truly had no equal. It would make him appear more like a military juggernaut- an impenetrable wall of kevlar and gunmetal. For a festival it would be intimidating, and unnecessary.
He could have waited until five in the evening, but when he saw the festival lights and the bright colored food trucks, he couldn't resist coming a tad early, if only for nostalgia's sake. Vendors lined the roads, children, parents, and couples alike wandering about the area. It is crowded, and he struggled to get through without bumping into people. Eventually deciding to grab a snack rather than try to weave through the never ending tide of people. Now, here he was. Waiting for his food.
He notices fairly quickly that everyone is holding a balloon, all in varying shades of color. Some sit at benches, holding pieces of paper in one hand and a pen in the other, deep in thought. Other people already have their papers tied to the balloon, and are holding it tightly in one hand whilst talking amongst each other, laughing into the warm summer day.
Everything around him is joyous, people are laughing and the atmosphere is happy. Even so, he can't help but feel somber, no matter how hard he tries to cheer himself up. His eyes eventually come upon the concert stage, standing down near the end of the road. People mill about, getting seats early or simply enjoying the view. It is a beacon with a million brilliant sparkling lights that flash a wide array of patterns, inwards and outwards like a wave from the center towards the red and white coaches, in zig-zags and in bright alternating flashes. It stands empty, the festival’s show nowhere in sight, but it’s still beautiful.
As he brings his lemonade up to his face for a drink, he notices a nearby vendor calling out to him and approaching, dressed in the food truck’s uniform. Her hands are full of paper and balloons, and she finally approaches him, out of breath but with a cheerful smile on her face.
"Officer!” She says, having gathered that he was associated with FAMA given the large insignia on his chest. “I see you haven't gotten a balloon or a piece of paper yet! Here, you can pick what color you want!" The girl says cheerfully, waving the balloons in her left hand vigorously in front of her face. Henry opens his mouth to say something, but ends up simply staring at her, somewhat confused. Both by the question and how easily the woman had approached him, but luckily for him the girl notices.
"Oh! You're not from around here, are you?" She asks, in her chirpy voice. He nods at this, and the girl continues, "Well, you certainly look like you’re right at home in this weather.” She gestures to all of him, and Henry tightens his jaw. She either doesn’t notice, or does and chooses to move right along.
"So every year during this festival, everyone who's gets a balloon and a piece of paper. You're supposed to write a wish on the paper and at four, we all let the balloons go!" The girl finishes with enthusiasm while bouncing up and down, and nearly letting go of the balloons in the process. Henry, oddly enough, feels touched at the festival tradition. He picks a dandelion colored balloon, and nearly trades it back the moment he is handed it, but manages to restrain himself. He plucks a fancy piece of paper from the girl, who bounds off immediately after in a flourish of pale blue and white. One side of the paper is decorated with gold and red patterns, while the other is simply plain paper. He glances around, trying to find a flat surface to write on, opting to use the wooden support for the restaurant porch when he finds none.
He places the paper, white side facing him against the support, the string of the balloon tangled in his fingers. being extra careful not to put his weight against the structure. Many mistakes and accidental damage have made him quite good at this. He glances out at the road, then up at the sky, which is still clear as ever. He pulls a pen from his hip with his free hand. He absentmindedly clicks it in and out, thinking long and hard for a minute, trying to decide what to write. What did he wish for?
Henry hesitates for a moment, before his pen hits paper and he starts to write. He scribbles the wish in quickly but meaningfully, before returning the pen to his hip and rolling the paper into a small cylinder. He ties the end of the balloon onto the paper tightly, but not so tight so it doesn't crush the fragile paper. It's difficult with his meteor hands, but he doubles, triples, quadruple knots it just to be sure and tugs it to make sure it won't slip. When he is finally satisfied, he holds the balloon in one hand while staring at the crowd that mills all around. A multitude of colored balloons pass by, and he can hear the laughter of children as they talk to one another and their parents about their wishes."What did you wish for, Mommy?"
Laughter, high and charming like bells, "Honey, you're not supposed to tell anybody your wish, otherwise it won't come true!""Huh?"
More laughter, that fades as the two walk away from him. He stares at the paper attached to his own light yellow balloon, and smiles softly.
'Don't tell anybody, huh?' he thinks to himself, before looking up at the sky. He doesn't have much of anyone to
The restaurant doors suddenly open, and a waitress sticks her head out, fluorescent light from inside the building spilling into and mixing with the day.
"Henry?" she calls out gently. "Your food is ready."
The great reptile was never one to shy away from the call of food. To him, the largest burgers and heaviest steaks were closer to finger food- but it was fuel in the tank. He had ordered a burger, grabbing his snack with a polite "Thank you."
before he was out the door again. The burger, down the gullet before he had even stepped outside the building. It didn't take long for Henry to find Drake- his body armor smelt metallic and ionized. He was speaking to that odd girl from yesterday. At eating a hotdog. Typical, Drake always is either talking to a girl or has a Weiner in his mouth."But, yeah, you're speaking to officer Drake Blackmore, FAMA special forces first class."
Henry can't help but do a mental facepalm. That was quite likely the most boot thing he had heard out of Drake yet. The girl doesn't look too put off, though; just nods and continues talking. Drake – or should he say officer Drake Blackmore, FAMA special forces first class – listens. The girl's back is turned to him, but he's big enough that Drake can likely see him now. The giant gives him a curt but friendly wave as he approaches."Mah names Barbara Kimble. Most jus' call me Bobbi
the girl announces as Henry gets closer. Henry gives Drake a look, like, See? That's how you tell someone your name.
Drake's fairly good at recognizing unspoken communication, probably because of all the time they've spent together, so he'll likely get the message. The giant stops a few feet away from them, leaning against a palm tree that, despite being large and well established, still
tilts some against his weight. He's been through this song and dance before, and if Drake was trying to get laid then Henry was going to let him finish shooting his shot before interrupting the conversation. He was many things, but he wasn't going to be a cockblock.
@Ruler Inc @EclecticWitch