hello all i’ve archived this and turned it into a real life blog so follow @unwynd for more subpar content
i am….tempted to put this on its own blog instead of using a sideblog but also i have so many threads i don’t wanna lose HMM
wavebraek / joel.
the thought of it makes you laugh and you even let the smile stick around for long enough that she must see it; god, your face crinkles and cracks with the effort of moving it that much, for once out of the sheer satisfaction of doing it and not out of necessity. it’s not some lie you’re tryna pass off to tess or your contacts, you ain’t faking it neither, just trying to get by. it’s real.
(you like this kid, in spite of yourself. typical joel, tommy’s voice rings out in your head, always getting in your own way.)
“oh yeah, people had all kinds of weird jobs back then. some people’s only job was just to play cd’s and talk on the radio, and they’d get paid a whole hell of lot to do it.”
money is kind of irrelevant. you know of it, but bartering gets you further when you don’t end up with a gun in your face or trying to scam you out of your food no matter what. you two have spent far too long with aching knees running away from assholes with guns who’d rather see you full of bullets than swapping a knife for a sweet walkman and a candy bar.
“why would anyone pay anything for that?” you wish the fire was higher, but the risk of light flickering through the fogged-up windows is something that already puts joel on edge, and you can’t remember a time where your shirts didn’t stink of wood smoke and dead people. your fingers splay out, hands spreading atop the fire to spark some kind of life into them, and you can’t help but watch him when he laughs. he’s a grumpy fuck alright, but sometimes, he is alright. he listens. and he answers your questions. and he’s not going anywhere.
“there’s a tape deck in the car. must be old.”
wavebraek / joel.
(you don’t want to tell her what you think: that right now is about as the same as you can remember, folk killing other folk over the same shit they been killing each other over for centuries. except now it’s got an uglier face. a more desperate hint to it. but there ain’t nobody out there trying to keep things the same, no matter what their intentions might have been at the beginning.)
“okay. yeah, i think i can manage that.”
god, she’s so much like sarah sometimes it aches in places you forgot existed. that cavity of your chest feels close to caving in sometimes in a way it hasn’t since – well. well, just since.
“before, we had these places you could go to and get real lessons. from professionals, y’know. they were - community centres, mostly? think maybe you would’ve liked that.”
when this is all done, he could teach you how to swim. when this is all over, you could find a quiet place where you two won’t be bothered and he wouldn’t have to lug you around on a wooden pallet because the sight of water that you can only see pitch black in makes you uneasy. the goddamn water. you don’t mean to sound presumptuous, even in your own head, but when this is all done, you two can be left the fuck alone and you’re better with a gun every time you’ve gotta use it, and you hear your heart thumping hard and fast in your ears before you know what’s happening.
“it was someone’s job to teach people how to swim?” you like it when he tells you about before – how people went to school even when they were old, and how the old posters, bleached in the sun and blowing, tattered in the wind showed a completely different side to whatever you’ve heard about before before.
“man, that sounds like a weird job. did you guys have people to tie your shoelaces too?”
wavebraek / joel.
you ain’t a man of too many words. never have been, not even when things were easy - easier, you ain’t generous neither - but she’s got that look on her face that always somehow manages to get under your skin. she’s got a way of that: scratching your surface.
“i mean, it weren’t perfect but it was better than – well, whatever we’ve been doin’. not sure i really understood that at the time.”
maybe. joel talks and you listen – calls you a wisecrackin’ son-bitch or tells you not now, ellie, ‘cause you’re two wrong moves away from being on your own again, and that terrifies the shit outta you, and you dig your fingers into the hooked tab of the canned soup you’d both shared and you twist it until it falls off in your hand. you don’t look at him, but you’re cross-legged and inching as close to the low fire as he’ll allow, before you continue.
“there’s gotta be something out there, right? like how it was before?” before. you don’t know any before. your before was military pens and armed patrols. sometimes joel tells you about it all.
“you could teach me how to swim.”
@wavebraek / joel.
“boston feels so far away.” not geographically, but – well, also that. but the time you’ve spent on the road, slinking through the shadows and praying to whatever’s out there that you can hold your breath and your nerve for long enough to allow a clicker to limp past, it’s all changed. you’ve changed. (you hold that knife with white-tight knuckles and you don’t sleep as much as you used to. people look at you like you’re some freak show because you’re just reaching five feet and there’s an old comic sticking out of the busted zip of your backpack.)
“do you think we’ll ever go back to something like that? not like. boston. but. i don’t know.”
wavebraek / amma.
oh this is just borderline masturbatory. does she really think amma is so fucking stupid? there are enough hokey crime shows out there for her to know that csi: lesbian here isn’t going to goad her into confessing anything important. so far, all they have is teeth and her lawyer says that it won’t be enough to convict. or, at least, not in any real way.
(her records will be sealed, her life will be boxed up, and when she turns 18 they will give her an apartment and find her a job and she will finally be free.)
“and what is that, exactly?”
“i’d like you to tell me that, actually.” actually, you’ve read the reports. you’ve read with detail the torture they’d been subjected to, ropes, teeth, death and all, but you stay quiet and stare back over at her until she wants to talk. you have ways of making people talk – whether it’s the push-pull of conversation that eventually lures it out, or the one-up she might have on you. (if you have to goad her, you will. you couldn’t do that. look at you.)
“anything you say to me can’t be used in your prosecution. i work with the fbi, but i don’t have or want any prosecuting power, and i’m not particularly interested in the politics of law enforcement.”
you don’t care what she’s done as anything more than an academic interest. you don’t squirm easily, and it takes more than a medical report to turn your stomach. (you read natalie keene’s whilst eating a sandwich. you had to put it down a couple of times.)
“i’m interested in the research. what made you think the way you think, and do the things you do. i’d very much appreciate your input.”
honestly there’s nothing that can compare to creating OCs and imagining scenarios with them with a person you trust. i don’t even mean in an shipping sense, either – just you and your friends making up people that also friends and imagining them in ridiculous, hilarious, adorable, angsty situations. like holy shit the knowledge that they are enjoying themselves with what you create and you’re enjoying yourself with what they create and you’re both just having the time of your fucking lives playing barbie with your own creations, safe in the knowledge that they aren’t fucking judging you or thinking ill of you for the silly little scenarios you’re imagining, no matter how cringe they might be. no cringe zone. just friendship.
it’s pure, simple bliss y’all
wavebraek / amma.
the game is up. well. mostly. camille comes by with a lawyer and that same pathetic look she plasters on her sad, swollen face, like a dog abandoned in the street desperately awaiting its owner to rear up around the corner.
this woman is new. clean, neat, possessing a sense of togetherness most people do not, and she supposes it must be her mentality which sets her apart. amma has an unwillingness to fall for the great lie of the universe: that people are anything more than simple matter; perhaps this woman thinks the same.
“fbi, wow.” she aims for genuine. just a little girl awed by the big bad lawman. “guess i really am in trouble.” like she’s been picked up trying to buy liquor. god this is boring.
“i have nothing to do with your arrest. and i’m not a cop.” you don’t believe the heavy-handed bill tench approach is the best way to get any information out of anyone. you’re… a softer approach. a sit back and listen. you hide behind your Solitary Pursuits, behind books and research papers that you’ve spent the last three years typing up, in the basement next to the burnt coffee. you have your own way. tench is half way across the country on another case, and you tuck a strand of hair behind your ear as you wait.
you’re looking straight at her – she’s no more than thirteen, fourteen max, and you want to root around her brain. finding out why someone would do something like this, or how they could provides the necessary framework for future investigation. your work here is meaningful, even if it means placating a child in an orange jumpsuit. you’re always surprised to see prison grime.
“i would like to ask you about what you did.”
@wavebraek / amma.
you’re used to the basement – quantico kept you chained to the coffee machine on the lower levels, books either side that pile up in your office. wind gap, missouri, is a little nowhere-town that stares back at you and doesn’t blink without watching your every move. (you won’t stay long – a county jail isn’t somewhere-enough to keep a brewing serial killer with a thing for teeth. you figure she’ll chew her way out if they’re not careful.) wind gap, missouri, is a tumbleweed lull of midwestern niceties that sound an awful lot like the scrape of an empty beer can scuffed across the middle of town under the heel of a worn-out converse boot.
you lean back against the chair, your leg folding over the other. (you have a notepad resting against your lap and a pen you click every so often in your free hand.) there’s a buzzer that sounds, loud, hostile, and in she comes.
“good afternoon. my name is doctor carr, and i work with the fbi. what would you like me to call you?”
wavebraek / debbie.
“isn’t that why we’re paying you?”
debbie gives a look over the rim of her coffee and yeah, okay, maybe this is a risk. going in with an unknown variable - quite literally, 9-ball put her in touch but player unknown? how fucking pretentious - is definitely not her first choice of modus operandi. time doesn’t really allow her to be picky and they need another crew member.
“you do your thing, let me worry about the rest.” a quick glance at her watch. they’ve got time. “can you do it or not?”
if there’s ever a reason to do anything, it’s money. principles be damned, you don’t really give a holy fuck as long as it stays away from you and keeps the gas topped up in your trailer and paying your electricity bills. you’re not exactly a cryptid, just – cautious. the next time you see her, you’re sure to have changed your hair, and the same three tank tops you alternate between with a hole that’s starting to spider out from the hem at the bottom will have been burnt.
“please. i can do it.” questioning your talent isn’t a good way to go about it. the cardboard falls away from the cup and you don’t dare glance back over at her.
“it’s an on-site job. i’m gonna need a couple days to prepare. ID, uniform. that kind of thing.”
wavebraek / debbie.
debbie flicks through the catalogue - earmarks a couple pages, not really paying too much attention to what it is because this is an airport and no one gives a shit about what they’re talking about.
“what do you think? it could work. it’ll take a little grease money but we could definitely pull it off in a week. two weeks.” a beat. “week and a half.”
you wonder, briefly, how many people make their way through this place in a day. you wonder, even more briefly, on the flow of contraband in and out of this place like it’s a fucking drug cartel. the old guy in the corner walks with a limp, and you eye him, but mostly, you hold the coffee under your nose and let it burn the top of your lip for a moment too long.
“well, no one said you weren’t ambitious.” you live on the internet – figure it’s easier to gauge the push and pull through a dim screen than to squint at the floor-to-ceiling windows and the sun that steams through them. you pick at the cardboard wrap around your cup, and you allow one leg to fold itself over the other.
“ten days for all that? tight turn around. it’ll take three to get anywhere in their systems.”
wavebraek / root.
root choses not to comment on finch’s billions, wondering if sameen knows just how much of it she’s already liberated; it’s an expensive business they’re in and root knows how to spend cash like there is no tomorrow - which, incidentally in their line of work, there very well might not be. she has her own money. it’s just more fun to spend someone else’s.
“it’s one of those awful orthopaedic mattresses he thinks help him but absolutely don’t, so no surprises there.”
(root has the dog tags still around her neck on a chain, worn like a ring, clinging tightly to this small piece of sameen as if it might keep her grounded.)
does the mention of the bed here mean she isn’t welcome in the penthouse?
“oh. that’s – a relief. i was a little worried you might have thrown it all away.”
“figured i had bigger things to worry about than your night light.” that’s the reason why it’s still occupying space in the back of your wardrobe – because, since root’s been gone, you’ve been busy. like it’s some goddamn superhero movie, except the shiny, american hero of all superheroes decided to settle more arguments with a glock and a few pounds of c4 than a good old fashioned babying and a stern don’t do it again. you never bought into superhero movies for that reason.
you only mention the camp bed because it gives a logical and practical reason as to why root should not be staying here. not to mention the fact that, if something were to pop up to say that she wasn’t actually dead, she and the machine would be sitting ducks and samaritan would storm the castle before you could even leg it from across the city.
“you also need to buy a new mug. the last one broke.” you broke it, too, and there’s a scar across your knuckle from where the shards split your skin and dotted blood across the kitchen counter. you know it’s a bad idea to smash anything into hard surfaces when they’re in your hands, but there’s something cathartic about shooting bad guys and making messes. you figure root knows what that means, so you don’t really elaborate – your hands are busied again with a cloth and a wire brush, but it’s a concession that you figure she’ll end up back in the penthouse one way or another. don’t stay on the camp bed, but buy a new mug because you’re one short.
wavebraek / root.
there’s my girl she almost says, but it feels weird to say it so instead she bites her lip and casts a look back over to lionel and mina, who are trying very hard not to look like they’re listening. she has the audacity to wave, fingers waggling at lionel who abruptly turns away. she has missed his obliviousness. his brusque way of caring and not at the same time; it might be enjoyable if it wasn’t so unbearably fucking annoying.
i broke your lava lamp. root snaps back to sameen. her arms drop –
“oh.” it had been a carefully debated buy - the first thing she ever bought for herself, on her own in a motel just outside nashville at sixteen - with bright purple aliens inside that she had custom made; it’s not important in the grand scheme, but it was hers. her first real thing.
“that’s okay. it’s just a lamp.” root thinks she has broken much more precious things of shaw’s so this she can forgive without thinking too hard about it. “you’ll just have to buy me a new one.”
“i mean bear broke your lava lamp. or something.” you keep a box of stuff that you didn’t unload in the back of your wardrobe, but aside from that, you’ve pretty much de-rooted your space. there are one or two things still littering the penthouse that quickly became both of yours. there’s a dish towel you think started off as hers, and it’s got some stupid nerd slogan on it that you don’t want to understand, and a cushion that your mom picked up when she first got there, with That Questioning Look because it doesn’t seem like anything you’d pick out (it’s dark purple, fuzzy, and you’re not sure where it came from either. root’s always the answer.)
“you liberate some more of finch’s billions and i’ll buy you a hundred.” money’s not a problem, but it’s more of a statement thing. the machine makes sure you don’t starve, as long as you listen and sometimes even when you don’t.
when a machine is more human than you, you’ve kind of gotta look at yourself and question it a little. (i chose you for who you are. root doesn’t think you’re wrong, or bad, just that you Are. and you have to remind yourself.)
“finch’s bed down here is shit for your back.” sorry mom. “i have… some of your old shit.”
wavebraek / root.
“it’s offensive to be that rich and that chintzy.”
shaking her head, she pivots on her seat and goes upside down so her hair pools in a neat little puddle underneath her head on the floor, feet swinging in the air above her. sameen looks unbelievably grumpy. i could think of a few ways to cheer you up.
(the girls she has brunch with are desperate and bored, eager for salacious details of the new urban - read: gay - couple who have moved in and it’s fucking hilarious to root. she hams it up with the details. lambasts her play-away wife who treats her like a trophy to be ignored on the shelf when it suits, answers their prying and borderline offensive questions with wicked fantasies and half-truths, gives as good as she gets when it comes to mimosas and basic bitchiness, oh my god did you see what elizabeth wore to the potluck last week? tragic. god knows how much longer this is going to go on, but for now she’s living her grand design life.)
“sweetie. as if you even have to ask.” root scoffs. "we go in, mingle a little, drop a few hints that i’m looking to spend all your money on stupid shit, cause a scene to buy me some time, et cetera… easy as pie.”
you’d be concerned that root fit this part so well, if you didn’t know root for who she was – she is a rolodex of different aliases and characters that she strips out of like skin. grace is simply one of many in the revolving door of people root can live as, and the more you listen to her, the less you’re sure that the accent is entirely fake. every time you think you know something about root, you find out something else that blows everything else away like little pieces of shrapnel.
everyone has a part to play. yours is the rich doctor girlfriend from the city yearning for a different life – you let root take care of all the dramatics. you’re happy to stand there without having to talk to anyone, but every time you see any of them, they launch into a rowdy chest-thumping, beer-bottle smashing caveman rabble about women’s asses and their newest investments (read: expensive ways to burn money on shit they don’t want or need, but want to make other people think they want and need).
“so do i get a heads up when you go all kill bill on me?” you’ll mostly want it right away – the less time you have to spend talking to these assholes, the better, but there’s a part of you that already knows that, no matter what root comes up with, the scandal of the neighbourhood will only spur you further into their field and you’ll no doubt end up invited to the next guy’s thing that involves smacking a golf ball as hard as you can across a field and pretending you have any interest in it at the same time.
wavebraek / root.
root can see this for what it is: the rubicon. whatever she says now will set the tone for what comes next, no taking it back or changing her mind or bending to the will of something they cannot possibly hope to control. if her implant was on the machine might be telling her what to say, but for the moment she is glad it is not; this has to be her promise. it has to be about them.
“don’t sound too excited about it, sweetie.” yes, i’m back for good. “but if your mom is staying around too, then i’m really going to need to up my game. she seems the unflappable type.”
(once, accidentally on purpose, john walked into the penthouse to root in nothing but shaw’s t-shirt - it had been worth it to see the look on his face, like a tomato being squeezed in a fist.)
“lionel totally has a crush, by the way.”
“well if lionel likes his arms attached the way they are, he’ll keep it in his pants.” it’s not so much a threat as it is a promise, and one that he’s sure to understand the moment you glare at him from across the room. (you think he gets it. he knows what’s off limits. calling root crazy brings out a reaction you never expect, whether it’s conditioned because it’s what she would do, or if it’s something latent in you, you don’t know, but that, and your mom… he’s starting to see what’s going on. where he stands. it always pays to have some law enforcement.)
root is back. for good. you don’t know what that means for the two of you, but that’s nothing new – you never really understood any of it, but it works. root sends you both on some sort of ridiculous needle-in-the-haystack mission and can’t help but make some kind of comment about your ass. you roll your eyes, and end up all sheets and sweat, and you’re pretty sure that’s always root’s primary objective. or at least, secondary.
there’s a silence that settles over you both for a moment. you’re thinking. processing. you don’t know what to say to half of what root comes out with except for rolling your eyes, but you ignore the barrel of the gun your fingers slide over now, and you pause.
“i broke your lava lamp.”
wavebraek / root.
“oh my god.” root - grace - peeks through the curtain at the neighbours who live directly across from them in the cul-de-sac and points, eyes flicking back to shaw over her shoulder.
“that sofa is fucking hideous. honestly, for people who are stealing a lot of money from a lot of people, you’d think they would have at least slightly better taste. this is just sad.”
“you done stalking the neighbours yet?”
you’ve worn more dresses in the past few days than you’ve worn in the last few years, and you have a feeling that root packed your wardrobe because you don’t think you’ve ever seen this amount of lace and suit pants, and you haven’t even checked the goddamn bedside table. you have suspicions. root’s never been one for subtlety. (she allows you one hoodie, a big, black, and enveloping thing that almost drowns you but you like it, and while she drapes herself over a chaise longue like she’d just walked out of the great gatsby, you’re wrapped in the hoodie and hunched over the nearest table with a dismantled gun laid out before it. you’re preparing, the same way she should be.)
“so. dinner party with the carmichaels. i take it you’re good enough at snooping to plant a couple of bugs in their bedroom.”
wavebraek / root.
(you’re rotten, her mother’s voice sounds off in her head, you’re a rotten little girl who plays rotten little games and you’ll never be anything else. it had been a fit and was forgiven almost as soon as it went but the words have always stuck; the twisted mouth, the spit that had landed on the floor as her mood grew more and more vicious. samantha forgave but root never forgot.
is that what she has done? played a bad game of risk and lost what was most important – except. shaw isn’t lost. she’s right here, in front of her, but something feels off and root can’t quite place her finger on it.)
her fingernails dig into the sides of her arm against the effort of not reaching out again. but finally seeing sameen lets her breath for the first time in months and finally, finally, finally she feels easy where before there was only a tightly twisted knot of tension. root lets go of the anguish for now, willing herself to smile properly.
“– he’d be good to bear but i think your boy prefers the wilder lifestyle than whatever lionel can offer.” a beat goes by. root nudges shaw with her hip. “it’s good to be back. i was getting really, really bored without you all.”
“i think you missed the part where i said the dog is mine.” you wrestle him for enough space in your bed to sleep in, and you chuck him bones and the very very very last corners of your sandwiches because he looks at you with those eyes – doesn’t dare beg, because he’s trained like a good little soldier, but where you don’t understand people, you get him. the little fucker wants your pastrami. and as good as lionel might try to be to him, he’s not having him. bear sits at the bottom of your bed and scratches at the doors you don’t want to open because he thought he heard root’s voice, and you roll your eyes and distract him with a tennis ball from across the room.
it’s good to be back. i missed you. i’m really fucking happy to see you. root’s laying it on thick and you stand there like a stone and ignore it because you remember the last time you saw each other, she held your hand and you shot a few samaritan ops like it was a date and you two were watching each other’s backs whilst playing mini golf or something.
“i’m sure you found some way to amuse yourself.” you did. you decided that they all had to die. they took her from you, and sat you through months upon months of drug-induced torture, and anyone involved with any of that has more than enough blood on their hands for you to justify it. (you think even your mom would take up arms if she knew any of it. she doesn’t. she just makes sure you’re eating and sleeping – ish. sometimes. that’s still kind of hit and miss, but it’s not your fault.)
“so… you back to bug me for good?” it’s a very roundabout way of asking if she’s staying, or if this trip is just one stop in the big picture – you want her to stay. or at least make up her mind. flitting in and out isn’t exactly the permanence you’ve been trying to cling onto.