Tying Up Loose Ends

I puIled open the glass door, my eyes scanning the room for the man I had agreed to meet. Never having met him before, the best I could guess to help me find him was to look for the most suspicious guy in the place. After a moment, I spotted a man with a hat pulled down low over his face, dark sun glasses, and monotone clothing sitting in a small chair near the back, facing the door. I smiled half-assedly and headed for the back, flopped down in the chair opposite his and set my bag down on the ground next to me. "You Messi?"

He looked up with a smirk, knowing it was me.  "No, pretty sure I'm fairly clean."

I ran a palm over my face for a moment before sighing. "Fine, you prefer I use your real name?"

Messi: "I'd really rather you didn't, actually.  Just saying that anyone else would have given you a funny look for that.  I'm assuming you're Dia, then?"

I replied, "Of course. You knew who I was as soon as I walked in the door. It's not like I tried to hide any of the signs." With that, I pointed to the various symbols of the Fears sewn into my bag, most notably the operator symbol. "At the least, I'd have had an interesting day, walking around this city. Might have even gotten into a fight or two."

Messi yawned and slipped his hands under his sunglasses, pushed them up a bit as he rubbed his eyes.  "So you're here to meet Eddie, right?"

Me: "Among other things, yes. I'd have preferred you simply give me the address."

Messi: "What, my address, or Eddie's?"

Me: "Eddie's. I have no use for yours. I already had it." He narrowed his eyes at me, and asked me, "...how the HELL do you have my address?" I grinned and pulled a small writing pad out of my pocket, setting my phone on the table to do so. I flipped through the pages until I hit the one labeled "Don't Shoot the Messenger", and showed it to him. "This right? I know it is, I just want to see if you'll lie."

Messi: "...I can decline to answer, you know."

I laughed and ran a hand through my hair. "Sure, sure. Just like I can decline telling you how I got ahold of all these names, addresses, and phone numbers. But your saying that pretty much confirmed it, anyway."

Messi: "So you're not gonna tell me how the fuck you got ahold of that, are you?"

Me: "Temper! Why do you care? It's my having it that's important, isn't it?"

Messi sighed and shook his head.  "So how you liking New York, then?"

Me:"The parks are nice, as are the museums. The people.. not so much. I could do without the crowds."

Messi: "Yeah, the whole place sucks.  Anyway, I'd recommend that you, you know...never visit that address." I laughed and held up my hands in defeat. "I'm not going to go strolling into a trap. Besides, your friends might recognize me. I don't wanna catfight with that little religious extremist friend of yours. What was his name...? Screwtape?"

Messi: "Yeah.  Nee-chan might not take to kindly to you, either."

I giggled and started watching the people prepare the coffee over at the counter as a distraction. "Aww, and here I thought we could sit and reminisce about old times. You'd think she'd like me better after that the shit that happened this fall. Not my fault her David-sama decided to play with me instead of her."

Messi: "...I shouldn't even ask how you know her, should I?"

Me: "Do you really wanna know, hun?" He shook his head and fell silent for a few minutes. "Sorry you won't get the chance to meet Poe." I closed my eyes and nodded. For the first time, I acted like I was serious about the whole thing.

"Yeah. She's my favorite. It's probably best that I don't see her. I..don't want her to get into any more trouble. I can't guarantee I wouldn't hurt her partner. That's who she's off with right now, isn't it?"

Messi: "Uh...no. They'd actually be in here with us working if she was with him. I think she's spending time with Nee-chan."

I shrugged and looked down as I tried to hide my disappointment from him.  "How's she doing, by the way?"

Messi: "She's...pretty good.  Better than she has been."

Me: "And you're together now, right?  How's that?"

Messi: "Yeah.  She's kind of hard to gauge at times, but she seems...happy.  Or happier, at least."

Me: "You two seal the deal yet?"

He broke out coughing, clearly embarrassed.  "It's been open and out there for less than a month.  Do you really think that Poe, of all people, would be up for something like that this soon?"

Me: "True. Um, look, can we get this show on the road? You gotta have other shit you'd rather be doing."

Messi: "Yeah, sorry.  Let's go.  The cab should be here soon."

After I gathered my things, we walked outside. He came to stand beside me, and shifted his weight awkwardly as we waited for the cab to arrive. I fished a cigarette pack and lighter out of my bag and pulled a cigarette out. My hands shook for a moment before I could get the lighter to strike and light the damn thing, and tossed the pack and lighter back into my bag afterwards.

Messi: "You smoke?"

Me: "Yeah. Kind of a requirement for the life I have. Only vice I really have anymore."I took a drag, and watched the tip flare red before I let my arm drop back down to my side. I looked up to watch the smoke for a few minutes before I spoke again. You ever wonder if there's something we coulda done different? Something that would have changed this messy situation?"

He shrugged.  "Not really.  Nothing I could have done, other than, you know, let my own brother die."  He looked at me, smirking a bit.  "And was that a pun?" I glanced over at him and shrugged, smiling. "Maybe." A cab pulled up.  "C'mon, let's go." I  nodded and opened the door, motioning him to get in, before I followed suit and slid onto the seat.

We sat in near-silence during the trip. Messi paid the driver as they left, and stepped out.  "We've got a bit to go yet.  We'll have to walk, though."  He pauses, then speaks a bit more quietly.  "So is this really the only reason you're here?  To visit Eddie and the husks? I find of kind that hard to believe." I waited for a young couple to pass us before speaking. "It's my first priority. I had other business to take care of while I was in town, but that's mostly been taken care of now."

He shook his head.  "Why travel all this way to see what you can see somewhere else?  Why here?" I looked down for a moment before giving a sad glance off to the side, staring off into space for a minute. "This place matters to me. Those people deserve better, and they likely wouldn't get it from anyone else. Besides, like I said, I had other things I needed to take care of. Some of it really important. This is my last stop before I can go back home and sleep in my own bed. I'll be glad to see this place in my rearview mirror, to be honest."
He asked me why I was there, and I paused before answering. "A contact in St. Louis wanted an interview. A.. friend of mine needed some running money, some help. My exfiancee needed a reminder to keep his mouth shut. A few other odds and ends. You know. The normal."

Messi  nodded, stopping in his tracks in front of an obscure looking building.  "Well...we're here.  I want to talk to Eddie some, and then...I don't know.  Spend time with the others.  I don't know what to do or say, but...I'm going to at least try." He looked over at me.  "What are your plans, exactly?" I fiddled with a stray thread to my shirt for a second before I answered him. "Color with them. Give them some pictures. Talk with them, tell them some of my stories. Talk to Eddie, maybe.. maybe have a few conversations you don't need to hear." He nodded.  "Guess we split for a bit here.  Take care of our business here.  That sound good?"

I wandered inside to go talk to the husks. I sent Eddie a friendly wave as I dropped down next to a familiar looking body in the middle of the room. He took a few steps toward me before noticing Messi behind me. I could visibly see as the gears turned in his head, working out why the two of us were here. Why we were here together went unsaid. I'm not sure I would've had an answer if he asked, if I were really being honest. Eddie eyed me a bit suspiciously at first, but after maybe half an hour he stopped acting like a pack of Runners were going to come in with torches and pitchforks.

Messi and I both made our rounds through the room, trying our best to cheer them up. We both knew it wasn't going to change anything, but at least for me.. knowing that we tried was better than just letting them be alone all the time. It was oddly like going to a nursing home, with a little more insanity and much more sadness. These people were stuck with no ways out of their own heads. Their handler was overstressed and in the middle of a social relations nightmare. Speaking of, I did wind up speaking to him a little. He was surprised to see me there instead of trying to hide or run. He knew as well as I did that New York wasn't the best place for me to be. Showing up at a Husk den was one of the biggest gambles I could make.
I gestured a bit to his bottle of pills, and asked about the state of his dreams.

We fought, and talked, and I even managed to make him laugh a little near the end. He reluctantly agreed to.. help me some, in exchange for some information I still had on the area. He not so kindly suggested I get the fuck out of town after this meeting of mine, to which I agreed wholeheartedly. There were.. more details, but that's the extent I should probably mention. Messi places a hand on my shoulder to get my attention. "Hey.  You ready to go?" I glanced at Eddie, who just turned his back on me and walked over to the table full of notebooks over at the side. "That's probably the best goodbye I could have expected."

He nodded.  "The cab's just got here.  It's waiting for us.  You hungry?" I let my hair hang forward in my face before nodding. I paused for a second, and then shyly took Messi's hand for a second. "Can you.. can you just pretend I'm a friend of yours for a while, while we eat? I.. think I'll need it, but.. I'll understand if you don't want to." He smiled a bit wistfully.  "I don't make friends anymore, but...you might at least count as an acquaintance. Shouldn't be too hard to pretend." I tightened my grasp on his hand, waved to Eddie with a sad smile.  I pulled Messi outside with me, letting him follow along just behind me as we got into the cab and told the driver where we were going.

I leaned my head back against the seat, looking for all the world as if I were about to take a nap. Messi looks over at me.  "Oh, yeah, you've been busy for a while, haven't you?  Must be tired."  He pauses, realizing what he's doing. "Right, sorry, I'l let you sleep." I shook my head and mumbled under my breath to him, "No, if I sleep now I'll stay that way. I just.. my eyes hurt. I've been doing alot of driving lately. I wanted to close them.. just for a minute.." He  nodded.  "So where do you want to eat?" I raised my head up long enough to crack an eye open at him, glaring as I spoke to him."You know this town the best. Pick your favorite place, I'll pay. Just don't ask any more stupid questions."

Messi: "You've gotta have some opinion, though.  Fast food?  Fancy restaraunt?" He smirked. "Candlelight dinner?" I growled for a second before I caught myself doing it. "Messi,  so help me god if you ask me again, I'm going to start calling you by your real name for the rest of the night." I rested my head back against the seat and starts tapping my other hand against the door just under the window, trying to stay awake long enough to get to where they're going.

Messi just kept pestering me. "You like Italian?  there's a decent place with pretty good food that's not too expensive in the area." I sat up and glared at him. "Will it make you stop asking questions? Then yes. I love Italian. Let's go." Messi  nodded and wisely decided to shut up for the rest of the trip. When the cab pulled to a stop, I handed a twenty to the driver and started making shooing motions at Messi. "Go on. Open the door, I'm not opening it into traffic."

Messi asked me as we entered, "Hey, how old are you, exactly?" I asked him if it mattered. He rolled his eyes, and replied. "I'm not gonna get wine if you can't have it." I sighed long sufferingly and pulled him over to wait for our server. "Old enough." I put on my most charming smile as an older gentleman in a server's outfit came over to us and gushed about the restaurant and the decor of the place. I coyly asked if we could possibly get a booth towards the back, if it wouldn't be any trouble. Messi mumbled in my ear as I spoke to the waiter,"I'm gonna make sure they ask for identification, you know."  He grinned a bit.  "But come on, let's eat."

I paused to glare at my 'date' in the middle of my conversation with the server before I turned back and began to act the ditzy young lady once more. The server's smile turned more manipulative as he glanced downwards at my chest before he agreed and lead us toward the back. I dropped his hand long enough to slide into the booth and started asking silly questions about the drink selection and the dinner menu. After he handed me the menu, I pretended to look it over before I ordered. I paused long enough to ask for Messi's choices, asking if the man taking our orders would mind getting them a few appetizers as well.

I waited long enough for the man to be out of earshot before I turned back to Messi and dropped my fake smile. "What? I'm hungry.." Messi shrugged.  "And I haven't had much of an appetite for a while." I unwrapped the utensils and fiddled with my water glass for a minute before murmuring, "Well, when you have people harping on you about your eating habits, and half-serious threats about what'll happen if you don't.. you learn to shut up and eat." He shrugged.  "It might also have something to do with finances.  Used to eating less."

I stopped fidgeting long enough to stop and look him in the face. "If you're hungry, eat whatever you want. Order more, if you want, hell, order enough to bring home to the girls. It's not like I'm going to bitch about it." He shook his head.  "We don't go hungry.  And besides, last time I stuffed myself, I ended up throwing it all up." I scoffed, "That's not what I said, now is it? Either get some more, or I'll just have bunch of food ordered to your apartment. Your choice." He growled, and even though I couldn't see his eyes through the sunglasses, it was clear he was glaring at me.  "We don't need your fucking pity."

"It isn't pity, you prideful jackass. My job, the one I get paid for the one I don't, is to help people I fucking want to. Pull your head out of your ass long enough to see that. I trusted you enough to let you see my face. You think I'm going to pity the guy with my secret?" He shook his head.  "We don't want help.  That's that. The sentiment is appreciated, though." I sat back and pouted for a second before shrugging. "Long as you aren't a dick about it, I don't care. So.. out of curiosity.. why are we still out and about? I eat as much as the next lady, but aren't you the same guy that refused to even let me see you over skype? What's your deal?"

I had obviously not made any efforts to alter my appearance or hide my face, and for the first time seemed to realize I hadn't. He shrugged.  "I had to show you there in person.  Not exactly an easy place to find, and I didn't want you calling me every five minutes to ask for directions.  Besides, it's what the hat and sunglasses are for. Not too many people anymore I'd even remotely consider an acquaintance, and if you're going to make the effort to come all the way out here, I might as well at least show you around some."

I thought about it a moment before agreeing and thanking him, apologizing as an after thought for being suspicious. Our appetizers arrived at that point, and I took the distraction gratefully. Messi looked down and continued eating, our table falling silent. After a few minutes of awkward silence, I looked up and blushed a tiny bit before asking him something quietly. "So, this isn't an interview. We, ah, we don't have to act like someone just died, you know. So.. would it be that big of a deal if I asked you to take off your disguise?" He paused.  "Not now.  But yeah.  I will." I asked him when, and he replied, "Eventually.  When we're not in a place where I'd draw so much attention looking like shit."  He looked up at me.  "No pictures, though."

I smiled sheepishly and looked around. "What would give you the notion I'd take a picture of you?"

Messi: "Just a precaution.  You might try to out what I look like."

Me: "What if I promised never to show another soul, or Fear for that matter?"

Messi: "I'm also not particularly photogenic.  And I don't put much stock in promises of people I've met once.  No offense."

I shrugged and went back to eating. "Whatever."

Messi: "I'm not a people person.  You've maybe noticed."

Me:"I am. Maybe you've noticed."

He looked down at this, and what he said next surprised me. "It's a shame we met under the circumstances we did."

I raised an eyebrow and looked over at him curiously. "What do you mean by that?"

Messi: "I dunno.  I just think we would have gotten along fairly well."

I smiled rather widely. I let my hair hang back in my face again as I looked down at the food without really noticing it. "Yea, I.. I think so too. You seem like a decent guy, when you aren't biting my head off or calling me ugly names."

Messi: "Like I said.  Not a people person."

I laughed. "That's your normal, then?"

Messi: "Well, it's...more intense, I guess."

Me: "Uh... huh. Well, I'm not normally the flaming inquisitive bitch that I act like. I.. well, I don't think that'd be a good idea to tell you, but.."

I had an idea then, a way to trade with him for  his trust. "I'll tell ya what. I'll tell you a secret, if you'll tell me one. Doesn't have to be important."

Messi: "As long as it's off the record.  I don't want you sharing it."

I grinned. "I'm sharing everything else, but these two things, i'll strike from the record. Yours and mine. Well... yours, at least." I opened my bag and rummaged around for a while before I pulled my little wordpad out. I flipped to a certain page and showed it to him. "Do me a favor and look at this page again."

Messi "...Yeah.  What about it?"

Me: "Same thing you saw earlier, right? Now look at the other side of it." I flipped the page over and shows him the other side, pointing to a certain address. One we had just been to. "See anything familiar?"

Messi:"...how long have you had that?"

I thought for a second, visibly making counting motions with my fingers. "Um... since fall."

Messi: "Then tell me...why in the HELL did you even let me know you were going there?  You could have just popped in and out without even letting me know."

I flinched and chuckled nervously. "Because... of the secret I'm about to show you." I leaned over to the side to rummage in my bookbag again before I came up for air with a very odd and extremely decorated notebook in my hand. Careful not to jab my hand on the safety pins attached, I straightened up and held it up in front of him. "Any idea what this might be?"

Messi: "Just a guess, it looks like your crazy book."

I rubbed my temples with my other hand for a moment before I handed Messi the notebook with the other. "Yea. You could call it that. It's, well.. it's yours now. It's the reason this was my first priority. That and well, you."

Messi: "The reason what was your first priority?  And what about me?" I fought the urge to facepalm. "My meeting you, that was the first priority. I told you that earlier. Just.. just hang on to that for me, yea?"

Messi: "...you came all the way up here just to visit me? I'm touched, but do you mind if I ask just why the fuck that is?" I closed my eyes and resisted the urge to start raising my voice.

Me: "That notebook in your hands happens to be incredibly fucking important. I'd.. appreciate it if you took care of it for me. It recently very nearly fell into the hands of people that would use it against me, or just plain blackmail me with it. And you're.. pretty much the only one I'd trust not to give a fuck about it."

Messi idly started to page through it, and I put a hand out.

Me: "Don't do that, not yet!"

Messi: "You'd trust me with this?"

Me: ".....Yes."

Messi: "Geez, why not?  You handed it to me, why can't I look at it?"

I gritted my teeth and reached out for the notebook in a half-assed attempt to take it back. "Because, damn it, I said not yet. This is likely the only time I'll ever get to meet you, and I'd prefer it if you didn't see the shit inside until after I left, you get me?" I looked down. "Look, if you want to look at it, I guess I'd be okay with that. Preferrably, after I leave. Just... avoid the back until we're done."

Messi: "Okay, I get it.  I'll look at it later."

I visibly calmed down and stopped leaning over the table into his face, returning to my side. I sighed and waved a hand at him in irritation. "Go ahead and ask your questions, I can tell you want to."

Messi: "Okay.  First of all, why are you giving this to me? Second, what makes it so important?"

Me: "Because part of it's written to you, and because you're the only person I'd trust with all the information inside. Don't get excited, the information on the Fears or most of the people I work for (or with) isn't in there. Which leads me to your second question. It's important because... it talks about who I was while I was a Gatherer, and hell, even before that. It has a few of my less catastrophic dreams, some prophecies, hell, even some information about my life now that no one knows yet. And... it has my real name in it. Some pictures..."
I covered my face in my hands and took a breath as I thought about the possibility of Gallows or Ferus getting ahold of it, as they almost had. "You can see why it'd be important for someone I can trust to have it."

Messi idly started paging through the book from the back, not really looking at it.  "So what am I supposed to do with this?"

I winced as I saw him looking at the pages I specifically asked him not to look at. "Hide it. Look at it, if you want. Just make sure no one gets it. Hell, put it under your mattress or at the top of your closet for all I care. But.. it's the last piece of me before the Fears came into my life. Please.. please protect it for me. I wouldn't beg if it weren't important."

Messi: "And why didn't you just mail it?  Why did you give it to me in person?"

I blushed and started to avoid his eyes rather studiously. "Erm... well, first of all, mail delivery fucking sucks. Shit gets lost, and I wasn't about to trust anyone with the damn thing unless I had to. Second, it's.. it's fragile. And time-sensitive. And third, well... other reasons."

He looked down at it.  "I'm gonna have to write a hell of a report for you, aren't I?"

Me: "W-what makes you say that?"

He tapped the cover with a finger.  "Well, I caught a few names in it, and it looks like I'm not the only one it's addressed to. I guess it's fine if you're handing all your final words to me. It's kinda my job, after all."

I looked up quickly. "Do not share the front page with anyone."

Messi: "Why not?  What's on the front page?"

Me: "Look at it real fast. It has my Gatherer name, my real name.. and.. at least three of my personas written down. I can't let people know those names, or me as anything but Dia."

He  nodded. "Right.  Well, I don't really think it matters after you're dead, but I'll keep the private information out of it." He swallowed the rest of his wine before calling the waiter over for the check.

I nodded and zoned out, trying to deal with the fact that I finally gave up my notebook. I looked up and pasted on an overly bright smile for the server, saying goodbye as I stood and grabbed my bag, still zoned as I waited for the man to finish with my card."

Messi: "I could have paid for myself, you know."

I snorted and went back to my fidgeting until the server came back with my card, threw a random bill on the table for the tip and walked out without waiting for Messi to catch up. He threw a bill on the table and follows my out.  "Hey, um...thanks for the notebook, I guess?  And thanks for coming to visit, you know...them." I shook my head sadly, my good mood having left me as soon as I had told him the real reason for my having been there. "You won't be thanking me when you read it. I expect I'll get quite a few angry messages and phone calls, and I'll probably ignore them unless you have something besides yelling to do." He looked down, slowly removing his hat. Underneath, his hair is a mess. Just a little too long, and definitely unkempt.

I turned to him in surprise. "I didn't expect you to do that, you know. Aren't you afraid I'll tell someone what you look like?" I smiled despite myself and reached up to try and make some semblance of order out of his hair, trying not to get too close to him as I did so. The hair refused to cooperate, which just made me try harder. He pulled me back, removed the glasses, and looked at me.  "I think I look generic enough.  Especially if I clean up a bit." His eyes had very noticeable dark circles under them. He looked like he hadn't slept in a week. I dropped my hand and held my arms out  to my sides as if to say "See?" "I don't know what to say, I mean.. the best I could do to make it fair would be to show you the scars from.. before. I don't really think you'd be interested."

I looked up at his face carefully as I tried my best not to show anything looking like pity or remorse in my eyes. It would only set him off.  He chuckled,"Yeah, I know, I look like shit. Guess that's what happens when you've got a stressful workplace environment."I smirked and made a little box with my fingers out in front of me, like I was trying to look through a fake camera. "You're cute." He blushed and kicked his feet at the ground and grumbled at me for that one.

"Yeah, laugh it up. But yeah, if you've got any ideas on how to get these dark circles out, by all means." I laughed just to fuck with him. "I can't help it bitches wanna fuck me. Man, woman, whatever, they all like what they see. You? Yeah, you're cute too. Why don't you try sleeping? And if not that.." I thought for a second. He chuckled.  "Poe and Nee-chan seem to love L so much.  Don't know why any lady would, considering he'd look like this in real life."

Messi grinned before looking solemn as he stuck his hands in his pockets and hunched over. I squeeed rather loudly, then blushed and covered my mouth. "THAT'S what it is! Oh my god!" I shut myself up and backed up a couple of feet, trying to act like I didn't just go fangirl as hell. "Also... vitamin K cream, consuming vitamin C, and putting cucumber slices over your eyes should work."

Messi smirked, "Vitamin C's the one in orange juice, right?" I giggled. "Yes." He nodded. "Well, I...I enjoyed meeting you, Dia." I smiled and tipped an imaginary hat in his direction and waved before I walked up to just in front of him. He looked down at me with a frown, visibly uncomfortable. "You'd better get going, though, huh?" I leaned up on my tiptoes, kissed him on the cheek, and told him goodbye. I grinned and walked off in the opposite direction as his apartment, disappearing around the first corner I could find. As I left, Messi rolled his eyes and put his hat and glasses back on.  "Fucking flirt."


  1. Heh, He's got room to talk. He did a bit of teasing back I noticed :P

    Anyway it sounds like you two got on pretty well and I think it was really nice of you to visit those completely broken.

    Judging by your conversation and the notebook handing over; you're clearly prepared for possibilites but still Dia...be careful.

    1. Oh, he's very sweet when he doesn't realize he's doing it. It's okay, though. I know Poe's a real nice gal. I know better than to mess with that. Too much.

      The husks needed it. And the notebook.. is a backup plan.

  2. How adorable. What a couple.

    I'd love to stick a needle in both of you... Hehehe

  3. So, you met up with Messi and the Husk.

    What are the Husk?

    Well, um...I feel the urge to give you a hug. Like if I can go through computers and hug you, I would.

    1. The Husks are the Hollow, the Hallowed, the whatever the fuck you want to call the broken dolls that occur when the Fears fuck with your head too fucking much.

      Thank you for the thought, love.

  4. I believe the image of Mr. Messenger trying to act like L for you just gave me an "Oh god that's adorable" reaction. If only Mr. Messenger's place on the shipping grid hadn't already been occupied...
    Hey Dia? If you can help it, don't make Mr. Messenger write that report too soon.

    1. Yes, he was extremely cute. I had a fangirl moment. His place on the shipping grid... care to explain? ;)

      I'll try not to die any time soon.

  5. I'm glad you had a good time in New York, I really should have done more site seeing when I was up there. I'm impressed that you trusted him enough to give him the book, but then again, of all the people you could've given it too he is one of the less dangerous ones, I suppose.

    See you around

    1. It's his job, after all. The only thing to trust him over is the timing. ^.^

  6. Your perception of my intentions seems slightly skewed.

    -Don't Shoot The Messenger-