|Buck Rogers|| Phone, email, word-of-mouth-- whatever the most convenient of means, Buck Rogers has contacted Isabel Welsh. The message is a straightforward one: 'Come meet me at the park near the Eiffel Tower after lunch, sweetheart. Got something important to tell you.'
There's a light drizzle this day from thin, dispersing clouds. The sun's light is gentle and muted, leaving the great tower slick and glistening. A number of bystanders have umbrellas, though many of the younger sorts have simply accepted getting wet. A wheeled cart with an overhanging curtain selling fresh pastries is being pushed along through the park on a little cobbled footpath, and to its side, seated on a bench near a line of dark thin trees, is Buck. He looks to the left. More trees, the tower. He looks to the right. A small fountain, a pale white ring encircled by two greater ones, with a high-set arched spout spilling wet across them. He doesn't have an umbrella. The rain taps against his head and body like curious fingertips. His arms are wrapped around the bench, shoulders rotated back, as his hands grip the underside.
|Isabel||Email is the easiest route these days: Isabel Welsh has been lying low since a recent visit to the Quarantine Zone. But she's always got time for an old friend. Even one who scares her a little, sometimes.
She arrives via the little cobbled footpath, clad in a light gray raincoat trimmed in red. She waves to the vendor cheerfully enough, though she declines to buy any pastries. She's already eaten. Besides, she's looking for someone.
And she finds him quickly enough: Buck isn't the kind who can be too inconspicuous, with his size and mass. Smiling faintly, she moves to join him, pausing in front of the bench. "Hello again, Buck. Should we move indoors?" she asks, seeing the rain that covers him.
|Buck Rogers|| "Nah," Buck replies, turning his head and looking at Isabel. The rain runs in shiny rivulets down the bronze of his cheeks, staining his beard, his lips, dripping down over the armored jacket that shows a host of stitched-up cuts and tears. "It's a nice day. Take a seat, beautiful. Had to be me telling you this. Before you heard it through the news." He unhooks one of his arms from around the bench and reaches to the small of her back, pressing upon it and herding her around him to the cool bench seat adjacent him. He waits for her to seat herself, and then affixes his gaze to her-- steady, calm, intently focused. In a gesture of familiarity and old comfort, one he hasn't demonstrated in some time, he brings the opposite hand now to the top of her head, petting her.
"Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine died together during a raid on an Umbrella lab in Siberia. I'm sorry, kiddo. I know you were crushing on him hard."
|Isabel||Even Isabel isn't immune to the old gesture, and she does seat herself next to him, meeting his eyes. Even then, though, she's a bit wary. If he wants her to know something before the news brings it up, it won't be something good.
But even expecting bad news, she blinks and stares at him wide-eyed for a long moment. Jill Valentine she didn't know, but Chris Redfield... "Oh, no. Oh, no, no, no, no..." she murmurs breathlessly, shaking her head in disbelief. Or maybe it's denial. "That can't be right. Not Chris!"
|Buck Rogers||The shaking of her head beneath his hand earns Isabel a sympathetic look from the brute. His eyes are gentle, his mouth curved in easy smile. At some point he removed his glove so that the warmth of his hand might be felt by her. "He's gone, sweetheart. He went out with his girl like a hero." His hand slides from her head to her shoulder as he turns a little, attempting to draw her into a sidelong embrace, scooting her right along the bench. "A three-way joint operation between the BSAA, the FBC, and Russian Spetsnaz mobilized a few hours after an inside source exposed the facility location. When we hit the surface structures, we encountered heavy resistance. Spetsnaz put most of them down-- but there were undead mixed in, indicating a breach in the underground labs. We fought our way through. Got all the information we needed, but in the escape, well.. things went south." He speaks in the tone of a man holding back; brushing over details and being vague and abstract so as not to fill the poor little girl's head with visions of her hero-crush's ghastly demise. "He didn't make it out."|
|Isabel||Isabel gets scooted, her eyes falling away from his as the truth of what he's saying sinks in. Even with the details glossed over, she can imagine a lot of it. She heaves a gusty sigh, relaxing against Buck for the first time in a very long time.
She needs the support. She suddenly feels very empty inside. If Chris went out with his girl, as Buck is saying, then everything she felt came only from her side. As always, she was just a friend.
Maybe she could've lived with that. She'll never have the chance now. If her face is growing damp after that realization... well, it /is/ raining.
|Buck Rogers||"Umbrella's Asian branch suffered a huge blow; it's all but collapsed. That makes two of its global branches down, and you know what they say.. once is accident, twice is conspiracy. Umbrella Europe can't distance itself from two of its sister branches being evil, soul-sucking parasites." It's a small victory, in the wake of her not-quite-beloved's death, but a victory all the same; Umbrella has been hurt, and part of the megacorp toppled, just like Redfield always wanted. Buck's hand on her shoulder is a heavy, steady presence, giving her a light squeeze. "Maybe one day, if you want to hear it, I'll tell you the whole story of what happened. Blow by blow. But for now, baby girl.. he went out like a man." He inhales deeply, that broad chest expanding beneath the jacket as his shoulders flex. "I'm here for you, bell."|
|Isabel||"I wish he weren't gone," Isabel murmurs, sniffling. "But if he had to go, I guess that's the best way, making Umbrella suffer for what they did. It's what he wanted," she adds, remembering what he said once when she visited him in the hospital. "I guess the real pity is that he couldn't sink the whole evil bunch. Umbrella Europe is no innocent bystander. I mean, look what was in their labs in /this/ city."
Which is now spread all over the Paris Quarantine Zone. What kind of innocent bystander creates zombie pathogens in their labs?
She can't put her arms all the way around Buck, but she tries, hugging him as best she can. "Someday I'll ask," she promises quietly. "Just not today."
|Buck Rogers|| Buck's head tilts down and his lips press to the girl's crown. The gesture is fatherly. "Not today," he agrees, reaching up to brush the tears away from her eyes. "But the bells are tolling. Umbrella Europe'll go down, too, sooner rather than later." What will rise from the ashes of that corporation remains to be seen-- but in Buck's eyes, hidden from all, it's something beautiful, lethal, and setting the world on fire.
A proper phoenix.
"You're a good girl. You'll be okay." As her arms try in sorrowful futility to wrap around his too-thick torso, his hand slides to her upper back, patting it slow. Once, twice, three times-- a steady gentle clap interrupted by brief bits of rubbing, as if one might soothe a teething child. "I got sick of hotel rooms. Finally picked up a loft apartment here in the city. Temporary-- but with the BSAA asking for my help, I've put my vacation plans on hold.. 'sides, wouldn't want to leave Celeste, not with her probably pregnant. I'll mail you the address. Make you a spare key. Mi casa es su casa, any time you like. Shouldn't be alone right now."
|Isabel||"We can all look forward to that day... and speaking of Umbrella Europe, I do have some footage to edit. If you've been watching my videos, there's about to be another one," Isabel recalls, squeezing Buck's middle a little tighter.
She smiles a little, recalling the perky Goth girl. "So you're about to be a daddy, then? John Lennon was right about life, that's for sure. I'll try to stop by when I can. I just hope you can put up with a nagging guest," she adds, a little of her old impishness coming to the fore. She hasn't forgotten him trying to distance himself earlier, even if she doesn't bring it up often. "I'll be by, promise. I'm staying at the Chateau de Chat Gris. Just leave a message with the landlady. And don't stare at her nose. 'Tis a rock, a cape."
Nerds and their literary references...