Jed didn't figure it was any use to tell Red some story about why he was going out. He probably caught Cherry's whispered "lunch" as they left - or at least her thought of it. Being around someone with Red's ability kept you honest, that's for sure! "You can stay here if you want," Jed offered.
"Nahhh, think I'll go out fer awhile. Take a look around and see if I can find any likely places we can rent. We need a theater or an old club - somethin'," Red said, shrugging on his coat. "When'll ya be back?"
"Meet me back here about one thirty-ish." Jed grabbed Red by the arm as he headed for the door. "You aren't going to go check out whatever it is you saw Cherry knows, are you?"
"Nooo," Red smiled tightly, shaking his head. "Not 'til we come back. I ain't wastin' my time on it if it aint the target. We need a place ta stay an' do our thing. That's a 'fer sure'."
By the time Jed got to the restaurant where they always met for lunch, Cherry had already ordered for them and broken into the wine. She was dressed in her usual sort of street attire and sunglasses.
"You weren't exactly being true with me when you said you trusted this guy," she waved a finger at him as he joined her. "How can you say you trust someone you've only known a couple of days, Jed?"
"He's slept in my apartment three nights in a row now. I'm still breathing and all my stuff is still intact. If he's anything, it's overly chatty," Jed laughed. "He's been straight with me about himself, where he's headed any why. Besides, I want to meet his boss."
"Who is this guy anyway?" Cherry broke off a slice of her pizza and started eating.
"He was a commander of a Spec Ops unit - one of the most decorated units in the War. He's real good at what he does and he's pretty picky about who he selects for his team from all I've heard. Do you remember the hostage situation at Wall Street?" Cherry nodded, her mouth full. "That was them." Jed dug into the manicotti sitting in front of him.
"Yeah?" Cherry sat the slice down and gave Jed a hard stare. "Why do you think I'd want to work for Xian and the government? I was on the other side, remember? You, I can understand, but me.... Why? Gimme a good reason, Jed."
He basically repeated the list of reasons that Red had originally given him. "Besides, maybe the rebel-faction is turning ugly, Cher'. What if they're the ones making people mutate? You said yourself they should have started mutating long before they did. Right?"
"Yeah, I did." Her brow furled as she sipped at her wine. "Really? Damn, that's a scarey thought! Could just as well be the govvies too, you know."
"The rebels' 'army', such as it was, was pretty soundly defeated. The government made it's point in spades, Cher'. They're gonna be hard-pressed to mount another full-scale assault. No one left wants another war...no one with a brain. So, why not create a 'new' army of mindless mutants they can manipulate? They get enough of them and set them on a city. You know as well as I do most of these people here we deal with are easy targets for those things. According to Red, that's what happened in KC. They overran the place. Clearly, they can't produce large quantities of them and let them loose. Someone would notice, and in any quantity they might not be so inclined to leave town. Why would they? Maybe they're putting chips in them, to tell them what to do. Did you ever think of that?" Jed poured himself some wine. He was disturbing himself truthfully, by the things he was saying to her.
Cherry sighed. It was time she said something - past time really, but he wasn't leaving her any more room to stall. "What I've thought about Jed is losing you. You know...you're the only person in this whole city I trust...even if you did kinda fib to me about Red. I don't wanta lose you Jed." Cherry laid her hand on his arm. He could tell that the words were hard for her to say. "I wouldn't know what to do with myself, if I couldn't see you ever again." She bowed her head, staring at the paves beneath their table. "If you go with them, I want to go too. If you don't, then...business as usual?"
She was looking up at him from over the rim of her glasses now. Jed reached over and lifted her chin upward. "No Cher' - not business as usual." What did he say now? There was a long pause as he gathered his thoughts. "I wouldn't want to leave you here, either. If you'd be willing to come with me if I go, then if I don't...you're comin' home with me. I don't like you living by yourself. I don't like that you go out stalking the UG half the day and night, looking for mutants and scumbags. You're takin' a big chance with someone I care about." He reached for his wine again, his hand trembling slightly. Did he really just say all that? The wine glass felt like an anchor. Why was this so hard for both of them?
"I can take care of myself," Cherry said, a little too defiantly. Then she shook her head and was silent for a long moment. A short, sharp laugh erupted from her throat. "Okay, so I'm pushing my luck - but it's all I know anymore, Jed. I've been taking care of Cherry for a long time now."
"I'd take care of you Cher'," he said. "Look at it this way, if we join up with these people - if they'll take us - we could both be putting what we do best to good use, instead of sitting around vegetating in this place, scavenging through junk and debris - taking chances. We'd have some direction in life, and be doing something to help those who need it most...the people that aren't like us - able to defend themselves. Isn't that why you do what do? To keep innocent people from getting hurt or worse? I try to help people out by getting them things they need, so they don't have to go scavenging for them."
"Yeah...basically that's why I do what I do, but don't think I'm admitting any weakness - except...except for you." There was a long exhalation after that.
"Well," Jed smiled at her, digging into his pasta again, "if it's any consolation Cherry B, the feeling is mutual." He paused before taking a bite, looking at her again. "Why was that so hard?"
Cherry laughed softly, shaking her head. "I dunno, Jed. I just...I never had any feelings about anyone before, except my family. Pffftttt - I don't even know if any of my brothers are still alive. It's kinda new for me. I guess growin' up in a house full of boys - you know, I was always just 'one of the boys'. I've had to be tough all through the War and never allow myself to feel anything, or I would have shot myself in the head a long time ago for some of the things I've had to do."
"I know the feelin' darlin'. I know it well. So...let's eat before this gets cold."
"What if they don't want me but they want you, Jed?" Cherry interrupted after a few bites.
"They'd probably want you before they would me, since you're the local expert on the UG. And why would you even ask that Cherry? It's both of us or no dice. What if they just wanted you?" He had to ask, half smiling at her.
"No dice unless you're part of the deal...and after all I just went through to tell you in my own way that you're special to me, why would *you* even ask? You know, I'm buyin'."
"Yes, dear," he laughed. He had to let her, knowing it gave her the feeling she was still in control - at least for the moment. "Will you do me a favor and just go back home and get your stuff for the trip, and come to my place?"
"I only came out to have lunch with you. I'm not gonna pass up an opportunity to make 500 credits. Hell no! Yeah...I'll do that. I will. Promise."
This conversation is a turning point for both of them - whether they know it or not.
Thanks so much for your comments, faves and views dear friends. Thank you for reading - those who do. It's all appreciated, as are your own inspiring works!
Do have a wonderful day/evening!
Oh, tomorrow night will be a small break from stories. There was a member of the 'side show' as Art called it, that you all never met - Frank. I'm not going to give his bio though, because that would give something away.
Table and food from Doc Mike B's "Italian Restorant" a freebie here.
Ciao for now,
Oct 11, 2012 2:39:58 amby ZanderXL Homepage »
This is quite a change in scenery from the worn down, blasted neighbourhood where they live. Cherry changed her look too?
And so the truth is revealed over pizza and red wine. I hope they have chance to further explore their feelings for each other, now they're out in the open.
Nice change of pace.
Oct 11, 2012 9:54:43 amby ZigZag321 Homepage »
Great scene and awesome, heartfelt dialogue! Cherry's different look threw me at
first too. Does she wear a wig when she goes out? Is she disguising herself? I
hope I didn't miss something that makes me sound like a dumb ass. But I also want
to say that this look is AWESOME for her! She has such a great, great face and
I love what she's wearing for this meeting. What a cool jacket! Once again you
pulled me right into the scene! Totally fantastic work!!!