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The soft patter of rain against the windscreen of his hummer blended nicely with the muted melodies that were drifting from its speakers. Left hand planted on the wheel, Harlow left his free arm to rest atop the centre console, more or less relaxed into the contours of the driver’s seat. Today had been a long time coming, but it didn’t make the process any less arduous. Too many steps to take. Too many variables - things that go deeply left. For all he knew, she still wasn’t in her right mind. It was hard to imagine anyone could be when they underwent loss. For him, he wouldn’t necessarily claim it was easy, but he’d seen enough to process it differently. Not to mention, his views on death and transition were coloured by more than just the science of it.
Today, though? He was typically good at calculating how things were going to pop off, but there was really no telling what would meet him at the door - assuming anyone was home, literally and figuratively. Reaching into the breast pocket of his jacket, the brunet fished out a stick of gum and popped into his trap. It would give him something else to do while he thought. Driving was too easy and required too little concentration on his part, so this would have to do. Besides, coffee breath surely wouldn’t help his case when it came down to introductions.
At the very least he had a plan to come in quietly. No big theatrics, no overwhelming details, just the basics. Trust was hard enough to come by under regular circumstances. Either way, maybe a little time to start the grieving process would be on his side. Three weeks certainly wasn’t long enough to sort your feelings, but hopefully it had been enough time for her to read over the letter Kota had sent her way. Maybe she was interested enough to set her grief aside for a few minutes and they’d actually get somewhere. Either way, it wasn’t really up to him entirely.
Three weeks ago, he’d been standing among other solemn memorial attendees. Friends, family, and everyone in between. While he hadn’t really introduced himself beyond a name and offering his condolences, he hoped she might vaguely recall his face.
Harlow pulled around the bend and into a smoothly paved drive, throwing his truck in park and cutting the engine a moment later. A deep inhale did little to prepare him for whatever was to come next, but he hopped out all the same, already committed to the outcome, whatever it might be. Regardless, he’d done a hell of a lot of thinking on his way here, and this still felt like the right decision. The alternative was… definitely less pleasant, to say the least.
Striding to the front door, he put one boot in front of the other and took the steps two at a time. His long legs cleared the distance fairly quickly, and before long, he was laying a moderate knock to the front door. There was a vehicle in the driveway besides his, but there was no telling if that was hers or his. Okay, well, there was, but he wasn’t beat for feeling like anymore of an asshole.
Overhead, it was still dreary, autumn chill already overtaking the trees and what was left of the florals. Despite the mugginess, the air felt good. Maybe all this grey calm would serve his intentions well in the end. Patiently, Harlow awaited an answer, be it silence or otherwise.
Ideally by the end of the conversation, if it happened at all, she’d be willing to keep in touch and learn more. He definitely had to wonder how she’d been kept in the dark about herself all these years, and he had to wonder about her family. Maybe adopted? Possible she never met a single soul connected to her bloodline. That, he’d seen before. Either way, as far as he was concerned, this was the right woman. Ultimately, bloodline would tell for sure, but this was a start.
Harlow ran fingers through hair so black it shone blue and tucked his hands into his back pockets. His eyes scanned the mostly empty streets, save for a couple of kids who were playing in the front yard of her neighbours across the way.
It's been three weeks since the funeral of her now ex-partner. The man she thoguht she had been head over heels in love with. The man she dreamed of marrying one day. A small sigh passed through the woman's lips as she looked up from the bedroom floor. She was surrounded by boxes and clothes. She was packing up Jonah's belongings and going to donate them to the nearest home, or shop that would take them. The clothes were all different sizes from over the years, so she hoped someone would be able to use them. Her eyes wandered to her bedside table just then as well.
A couple of days before the funeral she had gotten a letter. A letter she didn't want to think about. The letter contained a lot of information that she didn't think was possible. When Jonah had seen it, the two had gotten into a huge fight over it. Jonah had been drinking and seeing the letter in her hands, and the words within the letter seemed to set him off even more. The way he started yelling at her. When he threw the beer bottle in his hand, was when Cassida lost it. She started fighting back.
She never once raised her voice at the man. She didn't like to argue, and yet that's all they had been down for the last couple of months. They would make up a couple of days later, but they never stayed mad at one another. That night though was different. She felt something stirring inside of her, something dark. Something that really scared her. As soon as the glass bottle had shattered above her head, everything else went black. She didn't remember what happened after that. All she did remember was the red and blue lights, and the cops pounding on the door.
A couple of days later the funeral was held. That's when she had seen the stranger in the crowd. She felt like she had known him from somewhere. She couldn't think of where, but just something about him drew her attention. There was a knock on the door and it startled her. It drew her out of her thoughts as she came back to the present. She looked down at herself and removed the pile of clothes on her lap. She then pushed herself up and headed to the bedroom door. She grabbed a hair tie on the way out.
She wasn't expecting anyone. It wasn't too late in the day either. The woman walked down the stairs and paused to look at herself in the hall mirror. She was in a pair of sweats and one of Jonah's old t-shirts. She pulled her long hair up into a bun and sighed. She wished she had a bit more time to prepare, but didn't. She took a breath as she unlocked the door and opened it. She saw the male standing there and her heart skipped a beat. She was just thinking about him, and here he was.
Was he a mind reader or something? She opened the door and looked to make sure the screen was still locked. “Can I help you?” she asked. She hoped it didn't come off as sounding rude, but she didn't want to entertain anyone at the moment. She had other things to worry about, but for now she'd see what the stranger needed to say. She looked him up and down as another question fell from her lips. “What do you want? Why are you here?” she asked, this time a little bit of ice dripped from her words. She stood there with her hand on the knob waiting for the stranger to speak.
Quite the welcome wagon. For three weeks bereaved she looked like she was holding up pretty well. Well, save for the look she was giving him. He wasn't all too sure how to feel about that part. Still, it would've taken far worse to scare him off. Given his size, Harlow stepped back and down a step so they were on something closer to eye level. Didn't exactly want to scare her off just yet, and having a big brute of a man looming in your doorway wasn't exactly saying ‘friendly encounter’.
“We met a few weeks back - at Jonah's services. My name's Harlow.” His shoulders went back a bit and Harlow shifted his weight, leather creaking softly as he settled on the opposite leg. “I believe my brother Kota sent you a letter.” There was a soft drawl there when he spoke but nothing too finite to indicate exactly where he might've blown in from. “I was hoping you might afford me a bit of your time to chat.”
Though, why would she? In her eyes, he was a recurring stranger who hadn't once appeared until the day they'd put her ex's memory to rest. As far as she was concerned, this could very well have been a misplaced visit, and if it weren't for the fact that he was technically on official business, he would have very well left things where they were. Duty, however, bid him appear before her now.
“You don't even have to invite me in; I'm primarily here to introduce myself. From what I understand, he might have passed along some information about someone we're close to. Someone who is sure you're her blood kin. If that's true, then there's a lot to discuss, but that's only if you're willing to afford me the time.” After all, he wasn't one for forcing interaction beyond a certain point. He'd stated his cause and the ball was in her court.
Of course, if he was correct, Kota had avoided anything to do with the pack, but he had made mention of their many attempts over the years to track her down on behalf of her family. Technically, it was also her pack, but those terms wouldn't mean much to her at this point. The letter itself had essentially detailed their attempts to make contact for quite some time, but after a point they'd lost all their leads. She'd become a ghost, and they'd been working ever since then to re-establish some lead on her whereabouts.
It was only recently that they had discovered that her significant other had been thwarting their efforts. However he'd been able to block their tracking methods, they had yet to discover, but in time they would be able to puzzle all of that out. Their main priority, as far as he, Kota, and the elders had discussed was to keeps tabs on her and hopefully bring her back home. Well… to her new home. Assuming he was able to gain her trust and convince her that travelling states away on a soul-searching journey was just what she needed post-loss.
Harlow would only be in town for about a week. That was all he could manage this time of year. Especially with the summit coming up? No way in hell could he sacrifice preparations for something that integral, but he could spare a week of his vacation time to follow up on a lost pack-member. Those endeavours were always worth it in his book. Even if it meant never finishing any project he ever started… ever.
As the man spoke she recognized the name Kota. The name that had been written on the outside of the letter and inside as well. She didn't know why but it seemed to stir something inside of her. The man spoke his name and she took a breath. Harlow was his name, and he had seemed to have come a long way. The best thing she could do was let the male in and get off his feet for a little while. “I do have the time yes. As a matter of fact I have all the time in the world now.” she said.
She reached out and unlocked the screen door and pushed it open. She didn't know if she could fully trust the male, but it was a start. “I just ask that you take your shoes off and leave them by the door.” she said lightly. She stepped aside and let the larger male into the house. She shut the door behind him, and nodded towards the living room. She excused herself and went upstars to grab the letter. She did have a lot of questions, and wondered if he'd be able to answer them. What would she lose by asking?
She opened the bedside drawer and grabbed the letter. She looked at the photo of Jonah and she felt her heart drop. The way he looked in the photo was her favorite. She reached out and touched the frame lightly before she turned and made her way back downstairs. “Give me a few more moments while I make tea. If we are going to be speaking for awhile I'm going to need it” she said lightly. She then made her way into the kitchen and placed the letter onto the counter beisde her. She was scared of losing the letter for some reason.
He seemed to know about it, so why was she worrying so much about it leaving her sight? She shoved that thought aside as she went about making the tea. She grabbed the kettle and filled it with water. Her mind spinning with the memories of Jonah being in the kitchen with her, twirling her around and then dancing with her in the kitchen. She missed him so much, it hurt. She tired to keep those thoughts from overtaking her. She placed the kettle on the stove, turned the stove on, grabbed a couple mugs and waited.
As she waited for the water to boil she grabbed a couple tea bags and placed them in the mugs. She didn't know if he wanted something to eat as well. She grabbed a tray and placed the mugs on top of it. She found a plate and placed some chocolate chip cookies on the plate as well. As the kettle started to whistle she removed it from the heat and poured the water into the mugs. She placed it back on the stove, grabbed the letter from the counter, picked up the tray and headed back into the living room.
“I'm not sure how you want your tea, but there's sugar on the tray as well.” she said as she set the tray down. She moved to a chair and sat down. She pulled her legs under her, as she placed the letter on her knee. She fiddled with the corner as she tired to fight herself from asking question, after question. “Since you seem to know about this letter. Care to explain?” she asked. She then reached over and grabbed her mug, wrapped her fingers around the handle and started dipping the bag in and out of the water, falling silent. Waiting for the male to explain what he was here for.
Something about the way she said that struck him a little dark, but she didn't seem like she was in any particularly deep place of distress, so he would let it go. For now, anyway. Clearing the steps, Harlow uttered a quiet thank you and respectfully removed his boots. They were well maintained, leather, huge as hell despite being tucked as much out of the way as possible. Once that was squared away, he made his way into her living room as instructed, casting a glance back in the direction of the staircase his alleged charge had disappeared up.
Whatever she was up to, he would take the opportunity of her absence to give the place a once over. Was there something here? The space felt off to him in a way he couldn't quite place. The smell, for one. There was a sharp undertone to it that didn't sit well with him. He noted the photographs that littered a few free surfaces. Some of them were photos of Cassida and Jonah, and the others mostly had family or groups of friends they had in common.
Interesting… what kind of family could someone like Jonah have had? It was horrible to think he'd have to break her heart eventually about him, but it wasn't like the illusion could last forever. The truth always came out eventually, and as difficult as it could be to face, it was only then that you could get a clear picture of things. Seating himself only when she had reappeared, Harlow nodded in acknowledgment of her request. “I'll try not to take too much of your time, I promise.” That was, unless she had quite a lot to ask him about. It wouldn't have surprised him if she didn't have the bandwidth right then to deal with all of that.
Harlow sat with his fingers interlocked, feet firmly planted on the ground and postured slightly forward. “Well, for starters, thank you for the hospitality.” He had considered not accepting the tea, but he also knew very well it would be a sign of deep respect on his part. Thus, he took the time to prepare a cup as well and quietly sipped for a moment as he gathered his thoughts. After a minute or so, Harlow gently placed the mug down and lifted deep, caramel-coloured eyes to meet hers. “I'm here on behalf of the Chalá·at. We have strong reason to believe you belong to a bloodline of the Hoh People. I know it might seem awfully strange for someone to show up now out of the blue, but believe it or not, they're been searching for someone very precious who was lost. Assuming our sources are accurate, which we've taken great pains to ensure, that precious someone would be you.”
How exactly did he avoid discussing how they'd been unable to approach in recent years? That might get complicated with the involvement of Jonah. Then again, maybe it was for the better. “Kota, my brother… he was actually tasked with taking up the mantle of your ongoing search. He made contact with your Jonah sometime back, but… shortly after they met he was unable to make contact again. Were you ever made aware of that?”
It had been, what, a year since then? Before that, he had sent a first letter, but when he hadn't gotten a response, he'd decided to take a trip. That hadn't yielded much, though. “Kota, he met briefly with Jonah a little over a year ago. Jonah had expressed some concerns that this would be too overwhelming for you, so my brother agreed to meet in a neutral space - just the two of them. He offered over some information, photos, an address, a number--any of this sound familiar? He ever tell you about anything like that?”
Harlow had every reason to believe that her ex-lover had gotten rid of every trace of proof Kota had provided to substantiate his claim that she was Chalá·at blood. And now here they were, likely about to hit a hell of a roadblock because he was challenging the integrity of her late partner. Well, not directly. More like inquiring about whether or not he had ever clued her in, but surely she would come to the conclusion that someone had lied. Would she be willing to believe it was Jonah who'd kept the truth from her?
Cassida let the male explain. As he was she was getting more and more confused. Was she really this so called precious thing they had lost? What was this Chalá·at that he was speaking of? That's when Jonah's name was spoken along with Kota's. She kept silent as the male spoke. When he asked his questions she didn't know where to really go from there. She slowly lifted the mug to her lips and took a sip of the hot tea. She was trying to stall and figure out how to answer the stranger's questions. He seemed to know a lot about Jonah and that worried her a little bit.
Was Jonah in some sort of trouble? Plus why wouldn't he have mentioned meeting with Kota over a year ago. She lowered the mug towards her lap and shook her head once more. “Sadly no he never mentioned anything about it. I mean if he would have, I would have remembered him going wherever it was that your brother and him went too. I don't see why he would have kept that from me though. We told each other everything. I'm pretty sure your brother might have been spinning tales” she said softly.
She didn't want to upset the male, but he had come into her home asking about this letter. Asking all these questions about Jonah. She then took a breath and started to speak again. “Is Jonah in some sort of trouble? Because if he is I don't have any sort of information to provide you. Even if I did I wouldn't be telling a total stranger in my home. I would be with my lawyer in a police station.” she said as a small icy note laced her voice. She didn't like someone she didn't know questioning the man she had been engaged too.
Even if he had been in trouble, he would have at least warned her. Told her that if something was going to happen to him, to watch herself. He would have set up some sort of protection. Or at least she had hoped he would. She didn't know for sure. She bit the inside of her cheek as her mind wandered back to the first part of what Harlow had mentioned. What information did they have about her? Why was she this so called precious thing? She then cocked her head to the side as her eyes locked on his.
“What is this so called Chalá·at? I've never heard of it. Also if I was so important wouldn't you, or someone else done more to find me? Why wait until I lose the most important person in my life? Send me a letter, and then you arrive? Why am I so important? Are they some sort of cult?” she asked as she leaned forward and placed the mug back onto the coffee table. She then reached out and placed her fingers along the letter on her lap. She looked down at it, before handing it to Harlow.
“There's some mention of the Chalá·at, and I didn't know what it really meant.” she admitted. Once the male had taken the letter from her fingers, she leaned back against the chair. She had a couple of other questions running around in her mind, but decided she would wait and sak them in a little bit. She didn't want to keep him longer than she had too. At least she might get a little bit more information. “Is that your brother's hand writing? And how in the hell did he get my address? How did you get my address?”
“Are there more of you people watching my every move?” she asked. That same icy tone was back. She was all of a sudden scared. Did she need to get someone to park outside of her home? Did she had to go back to her parents? She didn't know. Depending on what Harlow had to say, it would help make up her mind on what to do. She pulled her legs back up under her, as she waited. The silence getting a bit awkward.
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