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Private recognition

Discussion in 'Pandopolis City' started by Kristin Ortega, Sep 17, 2018.


  1. [​IMG]
    15 SEP, Y108

    Fuck, her head hurt.

    It'd been a long fucking day, and there was no end in sight. It was her sixth murder in the last week, which wasn't shit compared to the sheer volume of death in Bay City, but it wasn't the number that bothered her. At first glance the killings seemed random. Varying ages, genders, even species. But the one thing each of them had in common was the fact that they'd all arrived in Pandora in the last month or less. They had no connections in this world, no one to miss them. One might call that a coincidence, but Detective Ortega knew there was no such thing in her line of work. Everything was connected.

    She nodded to Dr. Skye as the woman headed off down the street. As irritatingly perky as the scientist was, Ortega knew a competent asset when she met one. She lingered there on the steps of the library for another minute or two, took the time to simply breathe and clear her head. It'd been a gruesome scene, the victim barely old enough to be considered an adult. The murders were starting to take their toll on her. She kept feeling like she was missing something. Some piece of evidence that would link it all together. As long as she failed to solve the case, more people would die.

    It wasn't the only thing bothering her, but it was the only thing she could bear to focus on.

    She glanced across the street while she stood there, noticed the same man from earlier in the evening but didn't let her gaze linge on him in any way that suggested she recognized him. Adult male, looked like he was of Asian descent. Dark-skinned, sharp eyes. He'd been prowling around the edges of the crime scene since she'd arrived. It made the hairs at the back of her neck rise, but she wouldn't confront him. Not until he gave her reason to.

    Ortega let out a breath of air through her lips, directed it upwards to blow a stray strand of thick, wavy hair away from her eyes. Then she trotted down the steps to the street and turned to head toward the bus stop down the block. She saw in her peripheral vision when the man crossed the street and fell in step behind her, felt her stomach flutter with anticipation. Up ahead she'd have to take a turn to get to the bus stop. Maybe she should make a little detour.

    When she came to the corner, Ortega rounded it without pausing. Once she was out of view she turned and pressed herself up against the wall and waited, eyes narrowed and gun drawn. She heard the lightest scuff of boot just before the man came around the corner after her and in the next instant she'd stepped away from the wall with her weapon up and pointed at his face.

    Takeshi Kovacs likes this.
  2. [​IMG]
    Takeshi had seen the newsreel on a broken screen hanging over a little noodle bar in the Undercity, the one deep below Elysium. He had no idea how he’d ended up in that world but he had and people had seemed to know him, he seemed to be part of that world and curiosity had made him stick around to find out why. Because what the fuck else was there in a world that could literally destroy everything you’d built in the blink of an eye?

    The most confusing part of it all though, wasn’t the world destroying itself and remaking itself anew, no, the most confusing part was the first time he’d caught his reflection and for the first time in decades, he’d seen himself looking back at him. Somehow he was back in his original sleeve, the body he’d been born into and the people of the Undercity knew him, respected him and the shitty security jobs were long gone. So was his reputation as a terrorist and murderer of a club full of kids. Fresh start, no ties.

    Perhaps that was why it had taken him so long to reconnect to the people he’d known before. He hadn’t known where they were, how to find them, no way to communicate. So he’d done what he always did, he built something, got comfy and then he started poking around. He’d found Rei quickly enough, but Ortega had been harder because she was lost in the thousands of Pandopolis and part of him had considered not reconnecting at all with her. After all he’d told her she would be better off without him and he still stood by that. Maybe this was the universe telling him to leave her alone now, let her get on with her life. At least until he saw her face on the news reel for some sort of serial killer case she was working. They were set up outside some library. Takeshi identified the place and took the first unregistered shuttle down to the city he could, got a ride over to the Library and stuck around to watch the show from the benches. He still wasn’t convinced he was going to approach her, it was just nice to see she’d made it through the end of the world and had landed on her feet.

    When people started to emerge he watched patiently until the familiar head of dark hair emerged and stood on the steps, she dismissed another woman and stood there for a moment. He shouldn’t have come here, he should have known seeing her in person would be too tempting. He should walk away right now. She’d never find him. She’d never know. She could go back to her life with Ryker and be happy.

    I told you, you don't get to decide this for me.

    Love was a fickle thing, people did stupid things for love. Takeshi knew that sometimes, if you loved someone you had to be a stranger to them. He could tell himself that a thousand times in his head and yet when she set off down onto the street, Takeshi cut through the curious crowd of onlookers who always lingered at the fringes of a crime and followed her. He didn’t know why. He shouldn’t. He should let her go. But the damn temptation just to see her face was too much. He quickly became aware that she knew she was being followed. Her pace became less distracted, the movement of her walking posture stopped being relaxed and straightened slightly. She rounded a corner and he knew exactly what she was going to do. If he was an idiot it would have worked.

    Takeshi turned the corner expecting her to be there, and sure enough there she was, stepping out from the wall with her gun pointed at his face. In one shockingly fast movement he leaned left, removing his head from her line of fire, and brought his right hand up to her wrist, disarming her with the highly-trained efficiency of a professional (and no small touch of glee at being that fast once more).

    It was good to have this sleeve back. Ryker’s was fine but this one had the muscle memory, the training, the military grade neurochems fresh in the bloodstream and not a single cigarette craving. It felt fucking amazing.

    ”Does that move ever work?”
    He asked and flipped the gun around to hand it safely to her handle first so she didn't get the wrong idea.
    Kristin Ortega likes this.

  3. [​IMG]

    The man reacted with impossible speed, quickly and efficiently disarming her. Ortega didn't wait around to see if he'd turn her own weapon on her. As far as she was concerned that was his intention. In the next instant her riot stick was off her belt and in her hand jabbing toward his sternum, an attempt to knock the breath out of him. She hoped to have him double over or stumble backwards so she could get her fucking weapon back and then arrest him for assaulting a goddamn police officer.

    The riot stick never reached him. Instead it went clattering to the cement as he knocked it out of her hand in another display of that blinding speed that was starting to infuriate her. By that time his question had finally sunk in, as did the fact that he was trying to hand her gun back to her. She pressed her lips together and glared. There was a beat of silent during which she didn't move, and when she finally did it was to snatch the weapon back in a single, angry motion. She stepped back to put distance between them, her gun held at the low ready in case he tried anything else. He was clearly more than just a man. Had they been in Bay City she might have pegged him as being on those military grade neurochems. The ones lowly city detectives like herself definitely didn't get.

    But they weren't, so that meant he had to be something else.

    "Try that again and I'll put your ass on the ground," she snapped, and from the way she said it, she seemed to genuinely believe it. She wouldn't make the same mistake twice. Next time she'd just shoot him and not bother trying to subdue him. "What the fuck do you want?" Obviously there was something he wanted or he wouldn't have approached her like this. Wouldn't have been lingering outside of the crime scene. Her eyes narrowed as she tried to piece it together, something nagging at the back of her mind, a thought that couldn't quite form.

    Takeshi Kovacs likes this.
  4. [​IMG]
    He’d give her the credit, she was fast with the riot stick and if he’d been a regular man she’d probably have floored him or at the very least given him something to stop and think about. Takeshi didn’t fancy the bruises today though so he deflected the riot stick’s attack, disarmed her of that weapon too and then patiently held the gun out so she’d get the point. This wasn’t an attack or a fight. This was…what was this? Him supposedly trying to avoid her, to let her live her own life free from him? It was going well. He supposed now it was more of a test to see how long it took her to work it out, he’d already pissed her off judging by the look on her face so it was only a matter of time.

    He smirked at her threat of putting his ass on the ground and while Takeshi did not doubt for a minute that she would do her absolute best to make that a reality if he did try anything, the fact was he clearly wasn't trying anything. If he was, he’d have done it by now and he’d have done it with her gun. Nevertheless he lifted both hands and raised them into a half-hearted ‘surrender’ gesture to indicate he wasn’t planning on anything. The half smirk on his face might not have made that look quite as sincere as it should have been but he couldn’t help himself. This was turning into something entertaining. After a moment he dropped his hands and regarded her with amusement.

    ”Firstly, I’m great, thanks for asking, how are you?” Takeshi replied sarcastically, ”Secondly, I was thinking we could start out with a coffee? Or something stronger. I know you’ve been working a difficult case...” He shrugged slightly, indicating he was okay with either option.

    He knew how that might come across though, like he was some creepy guy trying to ask her out for a coffee with no context or introductions, just an assumption that she would say yes. He half hoped she did, he half hoped she made it as awkward as possible so he could just casually drop it into the conversation like a pebble in a lake and watch her reaction.
    Kristin Ortega likes this.

  5. [​IMG]
    There was something about this asshole that rubbed her the wrong way. The flippant humor, the way he talked to her like they were lifelong friends. That uncomfortable feeling in the back of her mind grew stronger. There was something about the way he spoke - the cadence of his voice, the way he held himself. It nagged at her. Had they been in Bay City it might have clicked, but the moment the thought popped into her head she dismissed it, didn't even really consider it. Because there was no Stack technology here. There were no sleeves. So it wasn't possible. Slowly she lowered and then holstered her weapon.

    "Who are you?" she finally asked, eyes narrowed and sharp on his face. "And cut the bullshit." She was exhausted, she was on her last leg, and she didn't have the patience to be jerked around by some cabron she'd never even met. Or had she? She couldn't shake the feeling that she should recognize this man, though she was certain she'd never seen him before. There was something in her that responded to him in a way she didn't normally respond to strangers. She couldn't put her finger on what it was - on why he felt familiar - and it made her irritable, impatient.

    This was not how Ortega had envisioned her night panning out after the crime scene. She wanted to get home, run herself a steaming hot bath and soak for a good hour, maybe two. Let the grime and the stress of the day melt away. Have a beer or three, then pass out in her bed with Grey Wind sprawled out beside her like he'd taken to doing lately. She was pretty sure that goddamn wolf was the only thing holding her together these days. That, and the fucking billboards of RoBo she passed every morning on her way to work. Robb Stark, urban rapper. What the fuck was that about? It had to mean he was alive in this world somewhere, though. She'd find him eventually, and try not to think about the fact that she hadn't heard even a whisper about the other two men in her life.

    Takeshi Kovacs likes this.
  6. [​IMG]
    Who are you and cut the bullshit? Wasn’t that a loaded question. Telling her would be kind considering she looked tired and stressed but it would also be far too easy and he suspected even if he dropped a few of the alternative names he’d gone by at one point or another, the clue might be too easy and simple for her considering she knew a little more about him than the average person did. No he wanted her to figure it out, wanted to see how long it took her, and just coming out with a name was going to cut the fun short. At least his fun anyway, it might just continue to make her even more annoyed with him than she already was but if that wasn’t a clue in and of itself he didn’t know how he could be any more obvious without just coming out with it.

    ”Mmm, I don’t think so, that’s too easy.” he replied with a smug smirk and looked over to where her riot stick had landed when he’d knocked it from her hands.

    He held up both hands to indicate he really wasn’t planning on trying anything and then bent and picked it up off the floor slowly and precisely. He closed it down because he didn’t intend on using it and he didn’t intend on her needing to use it on him either. Then he offered it back out to her again and the smug smirk was gone to be replaced with something a little more sincere as he met her gaze. Sure he wanted to milk this for as long as he could and he wanted to test her but he didn’t want her to kill him when she realised who it was that was yanking her chain along and he knew she could pack a mean punch.

    ”I thought you’d be quicker at this but I guess that case must really be pushing you to the limit if you’re not thinking straight.” He said, not intending to prod her temper but express understanding as well as give her a little bit of a nudge in the right direction. ”How many is it now, six? The news said they were unrelated but you don’t think that, do you? So what’s their connection?”
    Kristin Ortega likes this.

  7. [​IMG]
    She'd never seen this face before, but that smug smirk was so familiar that the sudden sense of deja vu almost made her dizzy. She watched him bend down to carefully pick up the riot stick. She was silent as she took it back from him, the anger and irritation in her expression having shifted into something more like appraisal.

    'I thought you'd be quicker at this-'

    She felt the pieces shift into place but it didn't help. Instead it made her feel like her whole world was tilting sideways because how. It wasn't possible in Pandora and yet here he was. If there had been any doubt left in her mind it was snuffed out by the time he'd finished speaking. No one else talked to her like that. No one else got under her skin so effectively.

    He knew details about the case. Which meant he'd been hanging around long enough to learn them. That made her angry for some reason but she was too distracted by her confusion and the lingering disbelief to analyze why. She reached up to scrub a hand down her face, biting the inside of her lip as her hand dropped away and rolling her eyes upwards as if beseeching the higher powers for strength.

    "How?" She finally asked as her gaze settled back on Kovacs. There was nothing like joy or relief in her expression. It'd hardened even, shut down. It wasn't because she was unhappy to see him. There was just too much shit going on inside her head for her to deal with right then. She'd thought he was gone. Or dead. Maybe both. And here he was in all of his flippant glory, acting like she hadn't been out of her mind with worry and fear. Like she hadn't been scouring databases and news reports for any hint of his name. So she focused on the obvious questions, the logical questions. Like how this had happened. When. And why the fuck was he just now approaching her?

    Takeshi Kovacs likes this.
  8. [​IMG]
    He pinpointed the moment she realised who he was and he wasn’t sure exactly what kind of a reaction he expected but the closed-off irritancy wasn’t really one of the options he’d considered. He’d expected her to be annoyed on some level, whether that annoyance was to a level of swearing at him in Spanish and then clouting him upside the head or just shouting obscenities at him for disappearing for a few weeks, but the way she scrubbed a hand down her face and then looked towards the sky as though beseeching help from the sky gods was unexpected. She was more tired than he’d thought she was if this was all the anger she could muster.

    ”No idea.” Takeshi replied with a shrug because honestly he really did not have an answer to that question.

    One moment he had been in Elias Ryker’s sleeve which had become comfortable and familiar to him and then the next he had woken up in the middle of some sort of Undercity gang exchange and people were calling him ‘Kōshukei’, The Hangman. He’d jerked awake and the room as a whole had flinched nervously before they’re begun chuckling like he’d told a joke of some kind. He’d mostly been coasting along with whatever the hell was going along, piecing together parts of what seemed to be some sort of life he’d been inserted into. The moment the meeting had been over though he’d excused himself and found the nearest reflective surface. There was no mistaking the sense of disorientation of being spun up into a new sleeve, Takeshi had felt off balance, it wasn’t a feeling he’d felt for a long while but he still knew it when he’d felt it. Sure enough there was his own face staring back at him.

    ”When it was all over with, I came round in this sleeve in the middle of some kind of meeting.” He explained without actually explaining what the meeting had been, or that he’d probably startled a few people and come across like he was losing his mind for a moment. ”I have no idea what happened to the other Ryker-sleeve, just that this is…” For just the briefest moment, Takeshi actually looked sincere as he pressed his hands to himself, ”-me. I’m me again.”

    He couldn’t explain how strangely satisfying that actually was, how nice it was to look in a mirror and see himself for once and not the face of Elias Ryker staring back at him. He hadn’t had this sleeve in a very long time and yet it felt like going home, the disorientation had passed quickly, he’d not had a single cigarette craving for weeks, despite the slightly bizarre circumstances, Takeshi Kovacs was once again comfortable in his skin.
    Kristin Ortega likes this.

  9. [​IMG]
    He answered honestly, and Ortega felt some of her anger ebb away as she listened. She caught herself watching him more closely than usual, taking in the nuances of his expressions, the way he moved. The way he held himself, the sharp intelligence in his eyes, even the earnest way he pressed his hands against his chest - it was all so Kovacs. Yet there were new things to take in as well. She didn't have to crane her head back so far to look him in the eye. Refreshing, but also strange.

    And somehow .. this sleeve suited him. Or maybe it was because he was so at ease in it. This was him. The real Takeshi Kovacs. Kristin stepped closer, her expression softening. She lifted her hands to his face, smoothed her thumbs over high, broad cheekbones. Her eyes moved over his whole face, just taking him in. "Mucho gusto," she said quietly, and her lips twitched into the beginnings of a smirk. To some degree it did feel like she was meeting him for the first time. Or maybe that she was seeing the real him. Takeshi Kovacs as he'd been born.

    Abruptly she dropped her hands and stepped back, and the smirk morphed into a glare. "Why the hell didn't you come sooner?" she snapped, all softness gone from her as she scowled at him. It wasn't like she was hard to find. She was in the same goddamn place she'd been in before the Calamity. Even if something had stopped him coming physically he could have picked up a fucking phone. Sent an email. Something. Anything to let her know that he was okay.

    Takeshi Kovacs likes this.
  10. [​IMG]
    Kristin’s annoyed expression softened and she drew closer, Takeshi dropped his hands to his sides for a moment and watched her as she reached up to touch his face. She didn’t look quite as petite as she had before, not now the angle was a little different and Takeshi was no longer towering above her like a giant. He would miss that, miss being the tallest man in the crowd with a good view but it was worth the loss to be himself again. To feel the pads of her thumbs move over his cheeks as she adjusted to this new look Kovacs, he couldn’t help but smile a little at her greeting, like they were meeting for the first time all over again. Only the circumstances were less awkward and this was really him and not her boyfriend with another man spun up inside him. This was just Takeshi Kovacs and nothing else.

    ”Hi.” He replied, the small smile twitching into a full smirk because they really were finally meeting one another properly now.

    The moment of joy was short-lived though because in true Kristin Ortega style she dropped her hands, stepped back and her face turned right on back into an angry glare before she snapped at him. If he wasn’t already used to it, Takeshi might have gotten whiplash from the speed with which she turned her mood right around. He blinked at her and his jaw clenched slightly. There had been a very good reason why he’d not come any sooner. It was because he’d not planned on coming to find her at all but a thousand years in the deepest level of virtual torture wouldn’t have extracted that fact from him. She’d be beyond pissed considering their previous conversations on the subject. So he lied.

    ”I was kind of in the middle of something.” He retorted, ”The people I was around weren’t the kind of people I could just get up and walk away from. Listen, I don’t know how the end of the fucking world went for you when you came round but I was in some sort of weapons deal with a room full of very twitchy people with guns calling me another alias.” A lie shielded by the weight of the truth was the best lie to tell, because she could even check it out if she wanted, it would be all pass as true. It probably said something about how little Takeshi wanted to admit to the truth that he’d rather her know he was up to something incredibly shady over the fact that he’d planned on letting her live her life without him in it. ”I came when I could get away. I saw you on the news.” He opened his hands slightly, ”So here I am.”
    Kristin Ortega likes this.

  11. [​IMG]
    His reasons didn't cut it for her. Not because she thought he was lying, necessarily. Just that... if he'd wanted to find her before now, he could have. He could have reached out without leaving wherever it was that he'd been. All it took was a fucking phone call.

    She didn't push it, though. Mostly because she wasn't sure she wanted to know. Instead she ran a hand over her hair, pushing it out of her face, and turned to keep walking toward the bus stop. She shifted over on the sidewalk so that Kovacs could fall into step beside her. "This one makes seven," she said, picking up from the question he asked as if they'd never talked about anything else. "Different ages, genders, even species. But all of them arrived a month or less before they were killed. No family. No friends. No one to go looking." She pressed her lips together and frowned, working over the details in her mind. It wasn't even a question, talking to Kovacs about it. Technically it was against protocol but if there was anyone who would see patterns that Ortega hadn't, it was him.

    "Something feels off about this one." A muscle ticked in her jaw as she thought about it, her eyes only half seeing what was in front of her. They came to the bus stop and she moved to stand in front of the bench, but didn't sit. "The murders have happened all over the city. Different districts, different times of days. Two happened so close together that there's no way it was the same killer in both places unless they can teleport." Which... wasn't off the table. But Kristin's gut told her it wasn't that simple. Her gut told her there was more than one killer, especially considering how differently each victim was killed.

    She watched as the bus rounded the corner before finally looking over to Kovacs. It was jarring at first, seeing this strange man standing next to her. Except it was him. The real him. Which meant she might actually never see Ryker's face again. She was fully aware of what a fucked up thing that was to think, but Ortega didn't even have words to describe the clusterfuck of emotions twisting in her chest. Her eyes danced away from Tak again, the faint frown lingering.

    Takeshi Kovacs likes this.
  12. [​IMG]
    Kristin turned to walk away ad Takeshi took the cue of her stepping aside to make room for him that he was welcome to join her. He fell into step alongside her and for once his strides were almost matching hers rather than outpacing her with longer legs. He listened as she answered his previous question. Seven murders in one week. That was a lot. That was prolific if they all had the same underlying M.O. That was the connection though, they had all recently arrived and none of them had made roots, that was the thing that connected them. She’d obviously identified that much even though she said something felt off about it all. The thing was, working out the why. Why target newcomers to that level? They clearly didn’t think they needed to hide because the bodies weren’t concealed so whatever they were up to it was bold and confident.

    Didn’t sound like it was just one killer and had Kristin not mentioned that they happened so close together it couldn’t just be one person, he might have suggested that line of thinking. That was a lot of killing in a short period of time for just one person. So if she followed her gut instinct and it was more than one, again the question was why. What was there to gain by killing these people? There had to be something in it for the killers.

    ”Anything missing from the bodies? Anything taken? Trophies?” Takeshi inquired like they were having an in-depth conversation about nothing more concerning than the weather, ”Anyone these people had contact with when they arrived? The killer, or killers if you think there’s more than one, sound like they’re killing for a reason rather than by compulsion. They’re not ashamed of it either if they’re leaving the bodies out in the open.”

    A bus, the one Ortega had clearly been waiting for slowly pulled up to the stop and Tak glanced across to her. He hadn’t even planned on letting her see him let alone talk to her. He wasn’t even sure he should be talking to her about this – not because he believed in protocols but because he didn’t think he should be involving himself in her life anymore – and if he got on that bus with her, didn’t that kind of mean he was making an assumption? Despite his envoy intuitions he couldn’t read the look on her face as her gaze danced away from him and she frowned. He could see she was tired, that this case was pushing her to her limits and that perhaps it wasn’t just the case either that had stressed her. Or why she had been angry about him not coming to find her immediately. There was something he hadn’t asked about because he didn’t know if he wanted to know the answer. Because when she told him they were still together it would only hurt him.

    ”…what happened to Ryker?” He said, ignoring the bus.
    Kristin Ortega likes this.

  13. [​IMG]
    The bus pulled to a stop in front of the curb and Ortega started to board, assuming that Kovacs would come with her. In hindsight it was a pretty big presumption on her part. Who was she to assume he wanted anything to do with her anymore? Maybe he'd finally decided that there were better things out there for him. Better people than Kristin Ortega.

    'What happened to him?'

    She hesitated with one foot up on the step and turned to look at Kovacs. "No sé," she replied shortly, and swallowed over what emotion it was that crept up her throat because it filled her with shame. Part of her was... relieved. She hoped that Elias was alive and well wherever he'd ended up but on some level she knew that they'd reached a point where they were no longer good for each other. Pandora had apparently reset everyone after a fashion. People who'd died during the Calamity had woken after as if nothing had happened at all - except for all of the new, traumatizing memories. So she knew that if he was still in Pandora, he was alive. She hoped he found a place for himself, found a life that wasn't filled with the hurt and anger they'd brought each other. There'd been love too, of course. But sometimes love just wasn't enough.

    Sometimes it was. Her eyes lingered on Takeshi's face, a question in them that she didn't utter right away because she thought maybe she shouldn't. But the words found their way out, because while Kristin Ortega was a strong woman, there were some things she was powerless against. Takeshi Kovacs was one of them.

    "You coming?" She hated herself a little bit for that. Because she knew Kovacs would assume that the only reason she asked was because Elias wasn't there. As if he was some kind of second-string choice, and that wasn't true. It hadn't been true for a while now. But she knew how it sounded. It was just that she didn't want to let him out of her sight just yet, not so soon.

    Takeshi Kovacs likes this.
  14. [​IMG]
    Kovacs did not go with her. He remained on the sidewalk and watched her as she stepped up onto the bus. At her words he felt surprised and for a second his eyebrow ticked upwards and then he schooled his expression. She didn’t know where Ryker was. In his head he’d imagined Ryker would be her first priority as he always had been, after all the efforts she’d gone to to protect his sleeve when they’d first met, the distress she’d been in when he’d disappeared in Pandora for a while. He knew how much Elias Ryker meant to her and he’d therefore made the logical and reasonable assumption that she would therefore have located him immediately once Pandora had settled. But to not even know? Was he alive? Presumably he was. Presumably he was out there somewhere. But she didn’t know. That also meant something else too…it meant that like himself, Ryker had not reached out to her.

    He felt a stab of guilt in his chest. He’d not reached out to her because he’d thought she would be with Ryker and instead he’d isolated her because she’d had no-one. He should have checked. He should have found out sooner. His expression faltered for a moment and he wasn’t sure what to say. To apologise for assuming incorrectly and for taking so long? To tell her the truth by way of explanation for that like it justified him? He couldn’t tell her that. He couldn’t make her incorrectly think he was over her in any way, shape or form. He couldn’t give her the wrong idea that he’d wanted any of those things he’d assumed about Ryker to be true and selfishly he was relieved and he was glad the other man wasn’t around now. Ryker had never liked him, for good reason, but he’d left Ortega alone. Takeshi had considered it but ultimately he’d not been able to do that to her. Ryker had. That wasn’t alright. They’d both been wrong to do that to her.

    He knew her question more than likely came from a place that was lonely, that she was only asking him because Ryker wasn’t there, like some sort of obstacle had been removed so he could play second string. But that was also the reason why he stepped up onto the bus after her once he’d glanced briefly down the street (ostensibly to ensure he hadn’t been followed from the Undercity himself). Ryker wasn’t there for her and she needed someone, he was the only one here so that job fell to him even if she might be disappointed by it being him.

    He paid his fair and moved along to a quieter part of the bus with her, opting to remain standing and reaching out to hold onto one of the poles in the centre of the aisle to steady himself. He wrapped an arm around it and leaned nonchalantly against it even as the bus rocked and pulled away. He made not falling over on a bus look effortless but his mind was clearly elsewhere because he was frowning and his gaze was distant.

    ”I fucked up.” He stated and wrinkled his nose after a long moment of silence, punctuated only by the low rumble of the bus engine. His gaze focused back onto her, ”I should have found you sooner.” It wasn't an easy admission for him to make, Takeshi Kovacs could be full of bullshit and excuses when he wanted to be but this felt different. It felt like for at least this moment, she deserved an honest response out of him.
    Kristin Ortega likes this.

  15. [​IMG]
    The admission didn't come as much of a surprise. Kristin just looked at Kovacs, one hand grasping the bar directly in front of his though she didn't lean against it the way he did. She understood, to an extent. She'd told him he didn't have the right to choose for her but he did have the right to choose for himself. And why should he come back to a fucked up situation when he had every chance to be free of it? She was glad he had, but part of her wondered if he'd come to her because he didn't think he deserved anything better.

    "You're here now," she finally said, and lifted one shoulder in a shrug. There was nothing to be done about any of it now. She was still annoyed as hell that he hadn't at least let her know that he was okay, but they were past it.

    The buses were much faster than that clockwork shit had been back in the old Pandora Town. They reached Ortega's district in minutes, and were soon pulling up to the stop just down the street from her house. She led the way off the bus and toward her place. She had a city-issued cruised but she tended to opt for public transpo when she could. Saved money, and she liked watching the people. Sometimes she heard useful things, too.

    "Where are you staying?" she asked, and slid him a glance just before she turned up the walkway to her place. It was a small house - two bedrooms, one and a half bath. It still felt too big most days. Or maybe empty was the better word. Grey Wind's presence helped. In all honesty he was probably the only thing that kept Ortega from going insane in what would have otherwise been silence. There was something to be said for having another living, breathing creature in your space. It made a difference, even if it wasn't the presence you wanted most.

    Takeshi Kovacs likes this.
  16. [​IMG]
    She was right, he was here now. Kovacs didn’t see it that simply though, he knew he’d tried to distance himself from her partly because he didn’t want to necessarily continue hurting himself but more importantly because he’d not wanted to continue hurting her. Ever since they’d met that was all he’d done to her, he’d hurt her and he’d manipulated her and he’d even pulled her down a road that had seen her lose her arm and her family, then in Pandora her continued loyalty had seen her be punished and lose the man she loved, the man who had brought her to him in the first place. It was all because of him and there was no denying that. Him being here now may not have been for the best, it was selfish.

    Takeshi fell to silence after those words, because he had nothing else to say to them. Apologies did not come easily to him and he was still questioning his role here, what he thought he was going to achieve by reconnecting with her. The strange thing was with Ryker’s absence now clarified it was only fuelling the part of him that thought coming here, coming after her, was a good idea. If she’d told him Ryker was fine, that he was waiting for her it would have hurt but he would have respected that and maybe now she knew he was alive and well he’d leave it there (or so he told himself). But now he knew Ryker wasn’t even in the picture anymore? There was simply no way he could walk away. So here he was, with no clearer picture of what he wanted or what he could achieve than before.

    The bus journey didn’t last long, the transport was far quicker than the clockwork buses of the previous Pandora though they were still far slower than the transport available in Elysium. Nevertheless he stepped off the bus after her and didn’t expect the question she raised, though he had a smart ass answer right up his sleeve that came effortlessly.

    ”Who says I’m staying?” He replied back though there was humour in his voice rather than sharpness and there was a smug smirk dancing at the corner of his mouth.

    He supposed he should have noticed it earlier, if he’d really looked at her, studied her the way he often studied new people, he might have noticed the odd stray hair on her clothing. But he’d been distracted by the fact that she was alive in the first place, that she was okay and the tiredness and exhaustion in her face. He hadn’t been looking to her clothes to pick up on it. Consequently as she pushed open the door to her house, Takeshi was somewhat startled by the huge fucking animal that she suddenly seemed to have gained since the last time he’d seen her.

    ”What the fuck is that?” He blurted.
    Kristin Ortega likes this.

  17. [​IMG]
    Takeshi's snark was met with an irritated glare and twist of her lips, though otherwise Ortega didn't acknowledge it. It was a simple fucking question, but or course Kovacs couldn't give her a straight answer. She wasn't sure what she'd expected.

    Of course, his reaction when she opened the door and Grey Wind loomed into view more than made up for Ortega's previous annoyance. The dire wolf stood far enough back that he didn't block her from entering, but his large yellow eyes were fixed on Kovacs and the fur along the back of his neck was raised. There was the softest of rumbles from his chest - not loud enough to be called a growl but the warning behind it was clear nonetheless. The wolf was nearly full grown now - or so Ortega fucking hoped or she'd have to get him his own house. His back came to her waist, and when he lifted his head it was easily at her shoulder.

    He was a goddamn horse. Inconvenient. A bottomless pit that nearly a third of her paychecks went to feeding. The thought of doing anything else with him never crossed her mind, though. He was Robb's, and Robb was out there somewhere. He'd find his way back, and Grey Wind would be here waiting for him when he did.

    "Relax, gran lobo," she soothed, and walked in the door without any apparent fear of him. "It's just Kovacs. He and your hermano are great friends, si?" There was a ring of sarcasm to Ortega's words. Grey Wind's ear twitched toward her but he otherwise kept that sharply intelligent gaze on Kovacs. He didn't move from where he stood, so Kovacs would be forced to pass right by him in order to walk beyond the foyer. And once he had, Grey Wind would follow the pair watchfully, clearly discontent with Tak's presence but accepting it because Ortega did.

    "This is Grey Wind," Kristin explained as she shrugged off her black leather jacket and hung it up on the coat rack that stood next to the front door. From there she walked through the hall and into the kitchen. "He's Robb's companion. Staying with me until Robb gets back." He would be back. She didn't consider any other option and she had the impression that Grey Wind didn't, either. The wolf seemed expectant, vigilant, not like he was grieving.

    Ortega paused as she reached the end of the hall and glanced back toward Kovacs. Her lips tugged into an amused smirk, something almost smug in her expression, like she was enjoying this a little more than was strictly necessary.

    "He won't bite," she said, then added, "I don't think." With a shrug she turned away and walked into the kitchen, tossed her badge onto the counter and set her holster and gun beside it.

    Takeshi Kovacs likes this.
  18. [​IMG]
    Takeshi had not expected in his wildest dreams that Kristin would open the door and he’d be met by a wolf the size of a horse. Large yellow eyes were fixed onto him and he could see the hackles along the animals back rising in warning before a following sound stated very clearly that the animal did not welcome him here. Since when the fuck did Kristin own a wolf? Since when was she an animal person? If he thought about it he realised he should have seen the signs, the stray hairs on her clothing were a giveaway but he’d not been looking that closely at her, he’d just been pleased to find her alive and safe enough. The wolf was a genuine surprise and Takeshi didn’t get caught out often.

    Kristin waltzed straight past the monster and her words gave him a slight hint as to where the creature had come from. Apparently Takeshi knew the true owner of the wolf but that didn’t narrow it down until Kristin put a name to the man. Robb. This thing was Robb Starks. Why in he hell did Robb Stark own a giant walking rug? Takeshi blinked at the animal, then furrowed his brow and decided if he wanted to get in he was clearly going to have to walk past it. Presumably it wouldn’t swallow him whole though Kristin wasn’t exactly forthcoming on proving otherwise.

    ”Reassuring.” Takeshi bit back but after a moments hesitation he moved forwards and turned to the side to slide on past the big animal. It made no effort to make room for him so he was forced to slide along the wall until he got clear. He glanced over his shoulder and back to the creature for a second, unsure if he should be turning his back on it but it didn’t seem too bothered, just turned around and strolled after them both, wary eyes fixed on him as though he was unwelcome but tolerated. He felt right at home.

    What he did pick up from her explanation though was that Robb Stark was missing, or at least she didn’t know where he was and she felt responsibility to look after his…pet? Steed? Whatever the fuck this giant thing was. So where was he? Out there somewhere lost? Dead? From everything Tak had seen it seemed like Pandora had undone everything that had happened, if you died you came back somehow or some way, but if Robb was still missing...well maybe he hadn’t been so lucky after everything. Although Kristin seemed to be expecting him either way...

    ”So Stark hasn’t turned up yet?” Tak raised an eyebrow and glanced back to the wolf, ”That’s a long time for someone to be missing.” He looked over to Kristin, they both knew that the longer someone was missing for, the less likely it was they’d turn up alive in the end. Pandora was messed up but it wasn’t that big was it?
    Kristin Ortega likes this.