Life From The Outside

No matter how horrific the storm, the skies will always clear eventually.

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RR Cullen
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Life From The Outside

Post by RR Cullen » Wed Oct 30, 2019 2:18 pm

Quiet. Just how Isuelt DeRomiano liked it. Quiet enough to hear herself think. Her life over the past year had simmered and become more routine, calmer. With her track record, this is usually where she would bolt. Time to leave in search of...well, if she knew that, she'd be happily ever after someplace. The Scathachian never knew what she wanted, not really, nor why she wanted it. It was as if her soul craved chaos, unrest. Perhaps, as someone once told her, she thrived on drama, on stress. Her body and mind only truly focused when they absolutely had to: in the pinpointed moment of battle, in the instant of explosion, the split second she heard a scream for help. Maybe that was her true home: not a place, but a time. Was she forever chasing the sensation of adrenaline, a pounding pulse, rapid breathing? Was she always taking flight looking for that next fight or flight situation? Is that why she never stayed in a relationship? Is that why she never stayed in one place too long?

Quiet. Quiet enough to hear herself think. It wasn't always a good thing.

Isuelt's strong back was pressed up against the stone edifice on the roof of the First Goblin Bank of Rhydin, next to one of the corner gargoyles that adored the building's rain gutters. Her chin was lowered, letting the sparse and sporadic moonlight brighten the crown of dark hair atop her head. Her black lashes were slightly shaded toward the street, though her espresso eyes saw nothing. Not that there was no activity tonight, but that she wasn't seeing. Apparently, tonight her sight was turned inward, remaining vigilant on why she seemed so restless about not being restless. This life, this routine had become nearly cemented: Sleep, eat, watch, arrest, pray, sleep, eat, watch, arrest, pray... And yet, she felt secure with no real desire to run.

Perhaps this is what scared her most of all.

"You planning on robbing the bank?" The voice almost startled her, so deep was she in her own private thoughts. "Or do you just come up here for the view?"

Her head snapped back to look past her shoulder to see Watch Sergeant Richard Cullen standing there with something of a cocky grin on his lips. For a moment, Isuelt was embarrassed and wondered how long he'd been standing there. She let out a rather large exhale as her heart rate simmered. She worried that she was losing her razor-sharp edge.

"I'm only asking because you're setting off a few alarms." After a pause, Cullen's next words seemed to fall out of his mouth, perhaps a bit too quickly. "I mean...that the bank had installed lately...and...see, they're up on the roof here..."

Isuelt turned around slowly, her back pushing off the stone. The Watch Sergeant's recovery allowed for one of her own. She wasn't sure what she was more disturbed by: her impending stagnancy or her failure to hear him coming. "Evening, Cullen..." She employed her usual response to him.

"DeRomiano..." He returned the favor.

"Sorry," her hands, vacant of gloves this evening, were shoved into her pockets just in front of her blades. "I didn't know they were here."

"No, you wouldn't have. Just apparently had them put in this last month. Something about extra protection from a slight surge of the usual stuff around here. S'possed to be in a while ago, but that blizzard slowed things down. Guys told me that they were unsure if they even worked right yet, since they're still testing 'em..." He reached up and scratched at his salt and pepper stubble, rambling now.

"I guess they do." Her chin turned to the left and sat parallel with her shoulder as she looked past the edge of the building and stared at the street below. The Judge took a moment to wrap up her earlier thoughts and tuck them away for further exploration later.

"Everything okay, DeRomiano?" Cullen noted that she lacked her usual wit that would have probably resulted in some smart ass comment to him or a joke about his response time. She was uncommonly quiet and something about that disturbed him greatly. He was nearly sure he was about to be told of some heinous new threat or a grotesque finding. He braced for it.

"Mmmhmm." A slight nod as she looked back to him was her only response. It did little to win his confidence.

The Sergeant's legs started for her and she took it to mean that he had some new case for her. How convenient that he would find her up here setting off the alarms. Efficient. Isuelt straightened her posture and raised her chin, preparing herself for whatever horrific news he had for her.

"Issy," stopping just short of her, he raised his arm and placed a hand on her shoulder. The wool of her cloak beneath his fingers was frigid to the touch and he deduced that she'd been up here on this roof for far longer than any tripped alarm indicated.

She exhaled and looked at directly at him, he was only slightly taller than she was.

"Iz..." he used a familiar term that only a handful of people in the city would dare. Though, truth be told, he'd earned that right. "I've known you for quite a while now. Worked with you pretty closely through some tough cases and one thing I know for sure is that you aren't yourself." Cullen was quiet for a pause as he let that sink in. "What is it?"

Her dark brows tightened and her lips set themselves in a firm line. Her gaze at the Watchman sharpened and he just about tensed himself thinking she was about to deck him.

Her shoulders lifted and fell suddenly and she sighed through her words as her body relaxed, "You know, it's absolutely nothing." Well, she didn't exactly lie. Isuelt's lips curled in a soft smile, "I think it's time for bed and a bath, that's all. Long day."

"Mmhmm." Cullen's nod was sharp, but not as sharp as his attention on her. She's not telling him the whole truth, but that was her right. She had no obligation to even tell him that much. "You take care of yourself, okay DeRomiano?"

A side-swept smirk as she nodded and began to side-step the Sergeant, "Yeah, yeah, yeah..."

As she moved away from him, he continued, "I mean it. This city needs you at the top of your game." He said this with such total conviction that she actually paused in her steps and turned back to look at him. Tall and lean against the moon's light, his salt and pepper stubble showed off more salt than pepper. His broad shoulders cut a sharp outline against the background, arms folded over his chest. Isuelt thought at that moment that he looked more like a Watchman than she'd ever seen. Not behind a desk, buried in paperwork, but a strong man out in the middle of the city he fought so hard to keep order in.

"Yes, sir," her words were quiet, nearly whispered; had there been a breeze at that moment, Cullen might not have heard the Scathachian. But the winds were kind and he caught not only her reply, but the subtle hint behind them. He thought for a moment it was weariness, but the use of her word 'sir' puzzled, and in fact, disturbed him all the more.

Cullen tried to piece together what was bothering her, but that was not something he could do in one night. "You don't work for me, Issy. If anything, I work for you." He nodded, the hat on his head causing a bit of shadow play on his face.

Isuelt smiled at that for a moment and then dipped her chin to him as she moved to the fire escape (gods forbid she ever use the stairs). "I'll remember that, Cullen..." And she disappeared silently, letting the darkness encompass her. After all, this was more her style, not languishing around on rooftops getting surprised.

Cullen stared after the space in his line of sight that was once occupied by the Judge, smirking to himself. "And by the way...I'm getting a promotion..." But that would have to wait for the next time they met.
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Re: Life From The Outside

Post by RR Cullen » Wed Oct 30, 2019 2:19 pm

"....And you know, another thing: this disappearing act you pull....well, yeah, it's getting old. I mean, I don't know who you think you are.... No, no, no. That's kinda sounding pompous. I mean, don't be a dick Cullen." He was pacing back and forth along the opening of the side street facing the Marketplace. He was expecting the Scathachian any minute as they had set up the time to meet and discuss some of the cases he was working in. She was late, as usual. As Lieutenant Cullen reached up to scratch his salt and pepper stubble, he shook his head and continued muttering to himself, "You know just come out and tell her. You know, be honest. Just say it. You don't need a big build up, a production. In fact, that would probably make it worse. Yeah. Yeah, that would make it worse." From the scratchy edge of his jaw, his fingers reached up to run through his hair. The Watchman's legs halted as he lightly chuckled to himself, "Oh, sure...yeah, that'll be easy. What the hell are you, a man or a mouse, Cullen?"

"You know, I've never found myself wondering that." Her voice came from nearly right above him. Startled, Cullen looked up quickly to see the brunette leaning against the fire escape's platform, her curves encased in black leather. "In fact, I've been fairly sure that you're a man." Isuelt's dark brow thinly arched as she smirked below her. Even from one story away, she could see the blush on the cheeks of the Watchman.

Isuelt's hand grasped the last of the railing and took the last jump down to the street level expertly as if she'd been waiting all day to do so. As she landed and then straightened her knees, bringing herself to her full height, she eyed Cullen as if she were at an advantage. Which, it all fairness, she probably was.

"I....I didn't....didn't think that....I thought that....you...you were uh..." Cullen stammered, silently wondering just how much of his soliloquy she had heard.

Mercifully, Isuelt entered into business mode. "So, the situation in Old Temple, how are you wanting me to publicly hand this?" Her hands moved to her hips, coming to rest just above the hilts of her blades. "I mean, covertly, you know I'll do whatever you need." Or whatever I feel you should need, she mused to herself. "But officially, do you want the Watch and the Scathachians to take any kind of position with this?"

Her mercy afforded him the time he needed to scramble his poker face back into play and find complete sentences again. "Yeah, officially. Officially, we are not looking to make any kind of statement. Of course, the Watch is already on record as saying that there has been an increase in violent crimes in the district from last year and that they are not looking into any pattern, but rather is spending their resources on keeping residents safe." He shuffled his foot and ticked lightly at a stray pebble. "But you and I both know something's up."

"Something's up." Isuelt echoed.

"Yeah." Cullen lifted his eyes from the ground to the Judge. He knew she wasn't stupid. Far from it. "So officially? Nothing really yet."

"But what do you need from me?" She dipped her chin just as a shadow passed overhead as the sun tucked itself behind a cloud.

He sighed and let out a long breath. He wasn't entirely sure she wasn't playing with him. "Probably not..." he let slip, barely above a whisper.

"What?" Isuelt leaned her head forward a bit, both brows lifted.

"Nothing. I'm thinking that a bit of sniffing around is what's needed. I mean, it's Old Temple, it ain't the damned West End. We just don't have that kind of criminal activity there usually." Cullen spat out quickly.

Isuelt nodded slowly, in complete agreement, "Not a problem. I'll see what I can dig up."

"And in the meantime, see if you can put a few of these bastards through a wall, eh?"

Her lips curled slowly. It was sentences like that that she loved to hear. "It would be my pleasure."

"Anyway, just hang tight for now with any, uh...official-type stuff. But in the shadows? Do what you do best, DeRomiano." Cullen's green eyes narrowed as he curtly nodded. If nothing else, he had complete confidence in her abilities to contain nearly any situation. "Give 'em hell."

"Sounds good," with her words still hanging in the air, she turned on her bottle to go.

"Hey!" Cullen was surprised by the sound of his own voice just then. Isuelt stopped and turned to look over her should at him. After a light swallow, the Watchman locked down his usual tone, "Careful out there." It was a lame recovery, but a recovery nonetheless.

Isuelt's smirk was only half visible over her shoulder, but its power was unmistakable. "Of course.....Lieutenant." An ivory flash of teeth in her grin as she turned and started away from the side street and toward the Marketplace.

As soon as she was out of sight, Cullen forcibly exhaled as if he'd been holding his breath throughout the entire conversation. Leaning against the stone edifice, he ran a hand through his hair, "Jeez, Cullen, grow a set, will ya?" As a punctuation mark to his self-effacing moment, the sun came out from behind the cloud and cast a brilliant beam aimed right for him. A hand rising to shade his rolling eyes, he looked up at to the mid-afternoon sky, "Thanks..."
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RR Cullen
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Re: Life From The Outside

Post by RR Cullen » Wed Oct 30, 2019 2:42 pm

Richard R. Cullen’s fingernail had been absently tapping at the corner of a stack of papers on his desk for about nine minutes now. Insofar as paperwork went, the lieutenant was relatively caught up. He wasn't really sure of why things were so quiet, but he rarely mentioned that they were. He wasn't stupid. He'd grown up in this city and knew all too well about the curse of evoking the word "quiet" around these parts. Still, he wasn't sure whether to blame the winter weather for keeping people honest, and more importantly inside, or whether he should give credit to the ladies with the crimson sashes.

Cullen hadn't seen or heard from Isuelt since the blowup he'd sported on his birthday. He couldn't blame her, he'd acted like a complete asshole. And the fact that months had gone by without him seeing her felt like the most severe punishment he could imagine. He had been singularly cranky this holiday season; he hadn't really blamed it on any one thing (though he was sure the Watchmen in the precinct were taking bets), but it had occurred to him just this week that this was the first Winterfest in recent memory where he hadn't at least touched base with the Scathachian leader. She was almost always at the Governor's Ball or other festivities, helping to keep them orderly and safe. But this year he hadn't seen her, nor had he had any word from her about any criminals she'd brought in. It was like she had disappeared. And while he knew that was an untruth, it still felt as real. He still felt empty. That was the cause of his "Bah-Humbugging" and it was sobering to realize.

In fact he’d been fighting his instinct for quite some time. Perhaps even years. And that was more than grating on him; it just wasn’t his personality to ignore his gut, to deny his instincts. But this was more than a passing fancy on his part. He?d been working with Isuelt for close to seven years and Cullen found it harder and harder to pass off his feelings toward the striking Scathachian leader. But he would belittle himself thinking that if he were to voice any feelings, he would fall in line behind a hundred other fellows in this city alone. So, he kept quiet (begrudgingly so) and kept his self-reprimand in order. Besides, she was assertive. It didn’t take a genius to see that. If Isuelt wanted more of a relationship with him, she would have made it clear. But he didn’t have time for this sort of sophomoric nonsense anymore than she did. The angst of love, especially in this city, in this line of work, was more of a hinderance than anything else. He wasn’t a poet, he wasn’t a troubadour, he wasn’t a romantic by any stretch of the imagination. These sort of teenage fantasies would have to stay just that: fantasies.

In any event, these thoughts were drowning his mind and keeping his focus from where it should be: work. Cullen grumbled under his breath for what possibly was the hundredth time today and ran his hands roughly over his stubble, trying to wake himself from these fruitless reveries. With a resounding exhale, he leaned back in his chair and stared at the paperwork before him. “Fuck it,” he muttered as he pushed back from his desk and stood up. As he grabbed his coat on the way out he nodded his head, figuring that a break from paper-pushing out in the cold air would do him good. After all, he’d already had one cold shower today, maybe this would work better.

Cullen wasn’t even really sure of where he was going until he ended up there: the gates of the Scathachian Sanctuary on the Northwest Cliffs. About two heartbeats before he pulled the bell, he thought about turning around and leaving. Of course he then figured that with neighbors like the Scathachians had and the sort of work they did, they probably had all sorts of was of seeing him come, stand there like an idiot and leave. And the least thing he wanted right now was to appear to be a complete buffoon.

“Now or never, asshole,” he murmured under his breath through an exhale as he reached up and gave the bell pull a heavy tug. He heard the bell echo behind the door and it wasn’t long before the door was opened by a young woman with curly blonde hair. Cullen thought for a minute, searching Isuelt’s intel for the woman’s name.

“Yes, how can we help you?” Sheryl’s bright blue-gray eyes narrowed for a moment. She knew this man. She looked him over, trying to place him.

“Sheryl, right?” Cullen’s brain had come up with his answer first.

“Yes.” Sheryl blinked and finally caught up with him. “Detective Cullen, right? From the Watch?”

“It’s lieutenant now, actually.” He couldn’t help but smirk, sending the stubble on his cheek for a sweeping expression.

“Oh, well that’s...congratulations, Lieutenant!” Her sunny disposition was always a mirror to her golden locks.

“Well, thank you.” The ease of Sheryl’s smile and the genuine sentiment behind it couldn’t help but lighten Cullen’s mood. He was quite disarmed for the moment and seriously considered if the Scathachians weren’t in fact nymphs or sirens the way they were able to elicit such a response from even this hardened Rhydinian. “Uh,” he cleared his throat quietly and recovered himself, “I’m looking to speak with Isuelt. Is she here?”

Sheryl, who had stepped back to allow the lieutenant entrance into the Sanctuary, canted her curled head to the side, “Oh, I’m so sorry. She’s currently in Old Temple and is not due back until tomorrow. I could get a message to her, if you’d like?”

His disappointment was short-lived as it came to him that he needed to see Isuelt more than actually talk to her. “No, that’s all right. I’ll catch up with her there.” He turned to go and stopped dead in his tracks. He turned around to look at Sheryl, he wanted to acknowledge her kindness. “Thank you, Sheryl. Have a good day.”

“Thank you, Lieutenant Cullen. I wish the very same to you!” Her lips curled softly, “And a happy new year to you as well!”

Her wishes were so genuine, so heart-felt and her expression was so sweet that this grizzled Watchman could actually feel himself blushing. He meagerly waved at the young Scathachian as he backed away. And if he had tripped over a rock or even his own feet, he wouldn’t have been surprised. Luckily for him, his steps were sure as he strode off the property. Though all the way to Old Temple Cullen pondered the nature of these priestesses of the goddess of war and why the hell he felt the way he did around them. He wondered if other men fell prey to them as easily. He began to see where their true weaponry was. Even the young Sheryl garnered the same sheepish, weak-in-the-knees sort of reaction that he had always felt around Isuelt. “Damned enchantresses, all of them.” Cullen mumbled as he contemplated the femme fatales in the crimson sashes.
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Re: Life From The Outside

Post by RR Cullen » Wed Oct 30, 2019 2:43 pm

Old Temple was no rougher than any other part of the city. In fact, before recently, it was one of the quieter precincts. “That’s because the gods used to mean something to the people around here.” Cullen muttered to himself. He had been continuing his inner monologue through most of his trip from the Scathachian Sanctuary on the far Northwest Cliffs of the Seaside district all the way to Old Temple; alternating between muttering and silence. He didn’t think it strange that he was talking to himself, in fact it usually helped him think. Though he did sustain a few fleeting glances from passersby as he vocalized things like, “This used to be the holiest section of town; now look at it.” Shaking his head, he passed the Temple of Divine Light, a place where as a child his parents would take him often. Richard Cullen was a third generation Rhydinian and his grandparents were part of the generation that propelled this city to the status it held now as a powerhouse in trade. His great-uncle was part of the workforce that helped to erect the newer sections of the Temple of Divine Light and he was actually buried just beyond it in the Rhydin Cemetery, as were all of his family. He could see the gates of the cemetery in the distance and sighed. It had been a while since he?d visited his parents there, but tonight was not the night. Tonight he had other sentimental business. Even still, he know that his family would turn over in those graves if they could see what this precinct had become: peppered with dance clubs, shops and strip clubs in and among those holy temples.

Cullen sighed heavily and looked back to the Temple and the tower that rose like a beacon against the night sky, trying to prove that this city was more than just a crime-ridden cesspool. Maybe there was still good in people, more people than he gave credit to. Maybe there truly was something worth fighting for here. He certainly thought so, but why did so many outsiders flock here and end up helping. Like Isuelt and her Scathachians. Like Isuelt?s allies, the heroes and vigilantes who did more than their part to help keep the citizens from harm. And keep them safe for what? To stay alive, fall in love, marry, and have children that could visit them when they were buried in the Rhydin Cemetery? Cullen’s brows lowered into a scowl.

“Not liking the look of the steeple tonight?” Isuelt’s voice slithered into his ear and shook him from his poetics.

Cullen nearly jumped as he turned to stand toe to toe with the Scathachian. She chuckled at his surprise; it wasn’t as if she had actually startled him in that sense, it was more that she appeared almost before his thoughts were going to be led straight to her.

“Damnit, DeRomiano. You trying to give an old man a heart attack?” He clutched at his leather-bound chest, though it was more for show than anything. If his heart was racing, it wasn’t from being startled.

“You’re hardly an old man, Cullen.” Isuelt smirked knowing that the last time she saw him was on his birthday. “Even if I know how old you are.”

The two stood in silence for a few moments, Cullen was convinced it was awkward.

“Tell me what brings you to Old Temple tonight, Lieutenant.” Isuelt uttered.

“You.” Simple truth.

Isuelt’s dark head turned to look at the Watchman. Her eyes took him in: he looked tired, maybe frazzled was the better word for it. Though Isuelt knew that his workload had been light as of late. He didn’t seem ill, but he did seem off. Still, the way he studied her back was almost beguiling.

Cullen held her gaze as long as he did, and he impressed himself. He usually was wont to look away or feign some grumpiness. But this time he looked at her until it was the warrior who finally looked away, and he relished every moment of it. “Yes, you.” He took a deep breath, pretending that he held the upper hand in some chase. “I’m going to spend the night with you.” There was a pause and as Cullen looked back to the high steeple of the Temple he smiled to himself, “Or a night soon, anyways.” He could hear Isuelt turn to look at him once again and it was possible that his smile grew a tad. “I’m going to go on patrol with you,” he finally offered as he looked back to her, aiming his chin as sharply as his gaze upon her.

“Cullen…”

“It’s already decided.”

“By whom?”

“Me,” he grinned fully now before he sobered into seriousness. “And I really don’t care what you say. It’s happening. And I don’t care if it’s here in Old Temple, the WestEnd or wherever. Or really whenever. But I will be accompanying you. At least one night.”

Isuelt drew a slow, deep breath. “I don’t think you’ll like it Cullen.”

“Oh, I beg to differ.”

She continued to shake her head, “You’re not going to like some of the things I have to do, or the manner in which I do them.”

“Oh, I beg to differ.” He arched a brow.

“This is serious, Richard.” She had flirted with the best of them before, but she felt that this was indeed perilous work and she didn’t want him thinking otherwise. “I... How to put this? You’re not going to like some of my methods.” Each syllable was tasted on her tongue as she tried to usher the severity of what went on in back alleys. “I wouldn’t want you to think ill of me.” A slow nod as she tried to accentuate her point.

“Oh, you mean like that guy last year from that Sanctuary dance club that you gutted and beheaded and left outside the city gates?” He held up a hand as she was about to say something, “And when I say gutted, I mean that you pulled the entirety of his intestines out and smeared them about gods only know where, Iz. That murder that was like a goddamn slaughter house event. Yeah? That guy? Methods like that?”

Isuelt shut her mouth without a sound being uttered. She inhaled and looked back to the street before them. She did think it was a small miracle for a man of Cullen’s standard and character to not haul her in for the murder. But it was for Jewell; and she would have done anything for her. Isuelt’s dark eyes blinked and glanced at the pavement.

"I want to see what you do, how you keep all these people safe. And I swear to God...no, I swear to your goddess...hell, I’ll swear to all of them that I won’t hold you responsible for these methods of yours for one night.” She glanced at him, eyebrow arched and he held aloft one finger, “For one night you get a pass, DeRomiano. Got it?”

She sighed heavily as she was currently weighing the offer. She knew that the Lieutenant was a man of his word, he always had been. But was he up for what needed to be done? Would he stand with her? Would he stand in her way? Try to talk her out of doing whatever it would be?

Cullen turned toward her and reached up to take her shoulders in his hands. His fingers gently squeezed her flesh beneath the leather. He felt as if he could drown. Instead, Cullen swallowed and dove into the deep end, “I just...I want to be with you. I want to make sure you’re safe out there. Just one night, that’s all I ask.” His gruff voice was barely above a whisper and almost tender; and for the first time in more years than he could remember, he wasn’t thinking about needing sleep, needing food, needing a cigarette. He just needed her.

Cullen could hear the far off clock tower strike. Eleven at night and here he was, freezing his ass off. Not that he would ever admit it. "So...uh...this pickpocket I put you on, you've been trying to find him, right? We had about ten reports in the last three weeks of people getting robbed after being in this area." The Watchman, rubbed his hands together to keep them warm and he could see the last of his words hanging in the air as a form of smoke. Smoke. See, now that got him thinking of a cigarette again. Maybe he didn't want a cigarette, maybe he was just hungry. After all, he'd met Isuelt here shortly after one would have a late dinner; but truth be told, he felt a little too nervous to eat.

"Only ten, huh?" Came the reply from the Scathachian after a beat as she smoothly straightened her crouch and stood next to Cullen on the roof of the publishing house called Black Cloud Ink. "I count nearly ten a week." She smirked as her eyes never left the scene below them outside the RTS main station. She had agreed for the Watchman to join her on patrol and they were back in Old Temple.

"Ten a week?" It Cullen a moment to catch up with her. "You've seen him? The pickpocket?"

"Yep." She quietly nodded, still watching the meager activity below. The 11:15 would be due soon and with it, the last crowd of the evening.

"Well, when the hell were you going to share it with me, DeRomiano?" He huffed. And Cullen was genuinely annoyed that she'd seen this criminal several times and none nothing. Did she think this was too far beneath her? A common pickpocket? Well, what would happen if he pulled a knife on someone? Is that what she was waiting for? "You just gonna let this guy run all over Rhydin taking whatever the hell he wants with no consequences? Don't tell me that this is what your patrols are like, Iz, 'cause that's bullshit." He stared at her. How dare she be as cool as a cucumber, not even looking at him! "Not exciting enough for ya? Leave that sort of shit to me? Oh, I know, let's wait until he kills someone! Yeah, that'd be good." The smoke from his mini-tyrade hung in the air for a moment before Isuelt turned her eyes to look at Cullen. And without a word, without a movement, she talked him down. The Lieutenant sighed heavily and shoved his hands in his pockets. "Sorry," he mumbled. "Hungry I guess." Sheepish looked good on him just then.

Isuelt smirked and looked back to the station, some of the vendors that set up just outside were nearly done for the evening. They were waiting for the 11:15, too. It was only a few seconds more before Isuelt tossed an apple to Cullen, who clearly wasn't ready for the instant production of food being thrown at him. But to his credit, he only bobbled it and didn't drop it. The Scathachian was still sporting a smirk as she focused her attention on a small group of vendors talking amongst themselves as the train whistle was heard in the distance.

"It's early," she spoke aloud, almost to herself, and resumed her squat.

Cullen followed suit and knelt beside her. He also looked to the Scathachian to see where her attention was pinpointed. The merchants. He, in turn, squinted toward them though in a moment. Then, fumbling once more with the apple, he tried to reach into his coat to grab a set of binoculars he had on him. Fiddling with them only a moment before he looked through them to 'report' what he saw. "Looks like umbrellas, scarves and gloves-type things...the other is a..." He refocused the binoculars, "Magazines and...Rhydin Post, looks like." He scoffed, "I don't know why. Tomorrow's issue will be coming out in a few hours anyways..." He glanced to Isuelt, thinking he was being humorous, but her game face was on. Cullen shrugged to himself and looked at the last vendor, "And this one's got, what is that, food? Nothing he's cooking there, I hope. Doubt he's got a permit for a food cart outside of Marketplace. You know, we tried to let the food trucks and carts go outside of the Marketplace and all we got was a lot of pushback from the established vendors there. They said that if people could go to carts anywhere in the city, then what's the use of having anything in the Marketplace. Can't say I blame them, personally, I mean it makes sense..."

"Shh..." Isuelt's voice was stern and clipped and stopped Cullen immediately. The train was pulling into the station and it's last, long whistle meant go-time for anyone that was waiting on passengers. After a few moments, the first of the group began to pour out into the street. Some commuters (those with little to no luggage) and those who were traveling (that made good work for the porters, pending good tips). Some folks stopped at the vendors and picked up a couple of things here and there. Isuelt looked like a cat about to pounce just then as she watched.

Cullen knew how high up they were and moved a hand behind her, just in case she fell off the roof's ledge. "Careful you don't lean too far off the--"

"There!" Isuelt's voice cut through the night. She pointed toward the right of the last vendor, the one selling fruit and a few bags of nuts to some passengers.

"Where?" Cullen immediately snapped the binoculars back to his face and furiously tried to focus, lest the Scathachian let the pickpocket get away again. "I...I don't see..." He saw the vendor and two customers, one of which was paying the other was still picking out what she wanted.

"Behind them, to the right. About a foot below everyone else." Came Isuelt's velvet whisper.

Cullen refocused and aimed his attention where he was instructed. "There's no one there." The area where Isuelt indicated simply fell off into shadow. It was too dark for him to see. "Gods dammit, this guy...if he gets away with this shit one more time... Sick of people thinking they can just..."

"Almost..." It was as if Isuelt was waiting for the increasingly heavy water drop to fall from the faucet's mouth.

"...Do what they want to do around here and to hell with the law. Wait...I can't..." Cullen was silently cursing his eyes and the binoculars, but then took a deep breath, hoping he wasn't too useless to the Scathachian or she'd never let him tag along again. He moved the lenses so that he was looking mostly at the sidewalk just before the shadow when he saw it. Two feet. His breath caught as he carefully moved the binoculars upwards, upwards, slowly, slowly... until he saw the hand which belonged to those feet deftly reaching into the handbag next to the woman who was just about done with her selections and pulling out what looked like a coin purse. "Gotcha, you bastard! This is the last pocket you're going to pick! The last person you're going to rob..." Though Cullen's victorious tone was stifled as he finally saw the pickpocket's face. The pickpocket who had been surgically plaguing this area for months. The one that no one could seem to find. The one that was responsible for allegedly stealing a sum of around 500 gold total. "It's a... he's a fucking kid..." Cullen was a big stunned. Sure, he'd seen kids as pickpockets before, but this kid didn't look to be more than five years old. He sat back on his heels and lowered the binoculars. The Lieutenant just stared at this tiny child who had nimbly just robbed a woman, disappear back in the shadows and take off down the side alley.

"Yeah." Came the whispered response from the Scathachian who finally looked back to Cullen.

"And you knew it all this time?" He turned his head and looked at Issy who nodded slowly. "Then why didn't you say anything?"

"I wanted you to see for yourself."

Cullen indeed had seen. The small hands, the dirty clothes. He was amazed the kid was wearing shoes. He probably had stolen those too. "How long you been watching him?"

"Long enough to know that he didn't really pose a threat." She paused, "That woman looked stuffy. She probably deserved it." Isuelt smirked. "And long enough to tail him a few times back to the orphanage. He gets in and out from a sub window in the basement." She glanced to Cullen.

He sighed heavily and shook his head which then immediately lowered. There were some things in this city, Cullen knew, that had no reason. Those were the types of things that ripped your heart out when you least expected it. A sucker punch right to the gut. The two of them sat on the roof of the publishing house for a long time. Long enough for the woman to realize she'd been robbed and begin yelling at the vendor like he had something to do with it. Long enough for the rest of the passengers to go their own ways. Long enough for the vendors to pack up and head home to rest up before another day of peddling their wares.

"Why have you watched him all this time?" Cullen sighed dejectedly.

"I wanted to keep him safe." It was an odd reply. One that hooked a questioning expression from the Lieutenant as he looked to Isuelt. "He's small, Richard. And he has no one else. I know what that feels like." She paused and had to look away from Cullen. "I just wanted to be sure he made it home okay. That no other, bigger crooks got to him." She sniffed once.

Her answer seemed to satisfy the Watchman and Cullen silently nodded. "I'll uh...go by the orphanage in the morning...see if I can't have the precinct make a donation or something."

"Make it later in the week. Let him get his rest tonight. He'll be tired in the morning. He never goes out two days in a row." Isuelt turned her head and smiled to Cullen. "You're a good man, Richard."

"Yeah, yeah." Cullen reached back into his pocket to put away the binoculars. His hands came out with the apple Isuelt had given him. "Share it?"

Isuelt leaned forward and steadied Cullen's hand holding the apple as she took a bite. Then, inhaling through her nose as she chewed she looked back down on the quiet city street. Cullen, meanwhile, followed her in taking a bite. The two of them remained on the rooftop until the apple was finished, alternating bites. Cullen thought this was one of the more peaceful nights in recent memory. They found the pickpocket, but they were both okay with not bringing him in. And they were both okay with letting the petty crimes go unchecked. In fact, they were both more than happy to. Never in a million years did Cullen think the night would go like this. But in a way, he was more than glad it did. He was still cold, though.

"Thanks, Iz." He stood up finally and reached a hand down to the Scathachian.

"For what?" She got up, and did him the favor of letting him help her.

"For showing me that there is more in this city than right and wrong. That sometimes in between that black and white area there is gray and inside that gray can be something worth seeing. Worth feeling." He meant every word.

His words got to her. "Richard," she smiled warmly, "It's my absolute pleasure." He was a good man, she knew this.

"Come on," he returned her smile and then turned to head back toward the staircase on the side of the building.

"Where to?" The Scathachian followed.

"For teaching an old dog a new trick, you deserve a reward."

"Oh yeah?" She chuckled.

"Yeah. We're going to the Hangman." Cullen began descending the stairs. "I owe you a bourbon and some dinner. No saying no." He grinned at her, the stubble on his chin fluctuating.

"Well, in that case you should have said something sooner. It's freezing out here." Isuelt winked and headed in behind him.
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Re: Life From The Outside

Post by RR Cullen » Wed Oct 30, 2019 5:14 pm

[Following the exeunt of the Scathachian Sisters from Rhydin]


“Are you shitting me?” Cullen’s mouth hung open as he gaped at Isuelt who was hovering just inside his office door. She was dressed in an uncharacteristically casual manner: black jeans and a slouchy gray sweater. Her hair was pulled back into a clean and simple ponytail that swung gently past her shoulder as she canted her head at the Lieutenant. After a long, silent moment, Cullen sighed heavily and continued. “Get in here and shut the damn door.” Isuelt did so and then walked toward his desk to sit down on the corner of it. She turned her body to face him where he was standing over by a filing cabinet. He had now shunned the paperwork so that he could fully aim his attention at Isuelt, his hands on his hips. “What the hell happened? Why?”

Isuelt drew a slow, practiced breath and began the excuses she’d been writing in her head all day. “Well, there was a threat to the Island. They have gone home to defend it.”

“All of them? When the hell are they coming back?”

“No, Janie has remained behind to watch over the Sanctuary and the Temple. And I don’t think they are going to return.” She paused and watched Cullen as she was sure the expression on his face was a precursor to his head actually exploding. Isuelt raised a reassuring hand, “Things have settled down around here remarkably, Cullen. It is the opinion of the Scathachians that Rhydin will be left in your very capable hands. The Watch seem to have cleaned up a lot of the filth running around and under your leadership, this end of town has simmered in an unprecedented fashion. And you know I’m right!” She quickly added that last bit before he could object. She sighed lightly and smiled softly to him. She knew he couldn’t resist that, “Richard, you’re doing great work here. The city owes you more than they know.”

Cullen simply exhaled his swallowed objections and hung his head as he shook it lightly, his hands still on his hips. He thought long and hard for a moment while Isuelt watching him methodically. She was precise in the words she chose and careful not to divulge too much information. “Well, DeRomiano,” Cullen looked up at her finally, “Just answer me one question?” Isuelt lifted an upnod to him. “Why in the hell didn’t you go with them?”

This was the question that she knew would be asked. And she wasn’t exactly sure how she was going to answer it. She didn’t want to lie, but she sure as hell didn’t want to tell him the truth. She was not ready to let the information be public knowledge that she had been effectively kicked out of the Scathachian Order for what would be considered war crimes. “For this, they don’t need me.” It was only a half lie. Though Cullen’s arched brow and half smirk displayed his skepticism. Isuelt tread cautiously. “I have other ways in which I may better serve.” Only a half truth.

Cullen stared at her for a long moment. Oh, how he did enjoy doing so. Finally he shook his head, “Look, Iz, you don’t want to tell me? I get it. Fine. Frankly?” he started over to her, “I’m glad anyway. You coming here and telling me the Scathachians have left Rhydin is one thing, but if you were telling me that you were going with them? That would be just about the worst thing I can imagine.” He paused to take her in. She was quiet and he knew she was hiding something. Still, he had been completely honest with her thus far. “I don’t care about why you didn’t go, I’m just damn glad you didn’t.” Cullen smiled at her and had there not been a knock on his door, he just may have proceeded to confess a bit more to her. But as it was, a second knock came which elicited a cranky, “WHAT?!” from the Lieutenant.

The door opened for Sergeant Caffery, a younger patrolman who had recently been promoted himself. “That group that we rounded up in Old Market after the St. Patty’s day party have started coming around from their hangovers. You wanna talk to ‘em?” He nodded to Isuelt, who was no stranger to the precinct house. “Ma’am, sorry for interrupting.”

Isuelt was still sitting languidly on the corner of the Lieutenant’s desk, she simply waved a hand to the young Sergeant.

Caffery looked back to his Lieutenant who was muttering something under his breath, “Sorry, sir?”

“Yeah! Yeah, I’ll be there in a damned minute!” Cullen gruffly turned and slammed shut the file drawer which had been open this whole time. Caffery nodded and headed back down the hallway toward the drunk tank downstairs. Cullen stood silently cursing him and the open door he had left. Finally, after a deep sigh, he turned his angry brow back toward Isuelt. “Sorry, where were we?”

Isuelt stood up, “You were about ready to get to work, and I was about ready to get going.” Cullen’s silent berating of the young Sergeant reached biblical proportions, in his head anyway. Still, the annoyed expression on Cullen’s face couldn't be mistaken and Isuelt took pity on him, “It’s all right, Richard. Go do what you’ve got to do. I promise I won’t disappear on you in the next few weeks, okay?”

“Yeah, fine.” He seemed marginally relieved. Watching Isuelt as she headed toward the open door, he wondered just how much she was hiding. After all, her secrets had secrets. That much, at least, he knew. “Hey!” He called out to her just before she rounded the threshold out of his office. She stopped and looked back to him. “You’re not going back to that Island, right? Right?”

The effort it took for her to smile gently to him was more that she thought it would be. “No. I’m not going back.” She let her voice softly hang in the air a moment more before she headed out of his office, for fear of revealing how heartbroken she truly was.

“Well,” Cullen muttered to himself after she had gone, “At least that’s something.” He headed out of his office in the opposite direction.
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Re: Life From The Outside

Post by RR Cullen » Wed Oct 30, 2019 5:14 pm

There was a knock on Lieutenant Cullen's door, to which he tossed a gruff clearing of his throat in answer. The Watchman continued as if this were a routine response of his superior's. "Someone to see you, Lieutenant. She doesn't have an appointment."

After a beat Cullen quizzically looked up at the Watchman. Who the hell makes an appointment to see him? "What?" Cullen arched a brow and watched the younger officer step aside. Isuelt was standing behind him. Cullen all at once leaned back in his chair and tossed his pen upon the blotter, exhaling as he did so. "Well, I was hoping you were around here somewhere." He eyed her carefully, "Glad to see you're not dead." Cullen added that last bit mostly for the Watchman who was making his way back down the hall.

Isuelt sardonically lifted her brows, "Thanks." She slid inside his office and took up a lean against his desk.

"You-" He nearly stuttered, "You know what I mean." Cullen folded his arms over his chest and watched her as she perched herself on his desk. He hated not seeing her on a regular basis. He hated that everything with her lately was up in the air. But as he assessed her, he noted that she looked different than the last time he had seen her; the last few times, to be honest. "You look..." He searched for the right words. He didn't want to seem creepy and he was well aware that his office door was still open. "Rested."

A smirk flashed against her lips that quickly grew into a smile. "Thanks." She pushed a strand of dark hair behind her ear. Almost always pulled back, her hair today relished its freedom of hanging in loose waves well past her shoulders. "Sleep does that."

"You're sleeping well?" He really didn't mean for that to sound as slimy as it came out.

"Yeah, actually. Got a new place." She paused for a moment, still smirking at Cullen. There was something about actually watching him squirm that placated her, fascinated her. "Got a new job."

"What? Really?" He sat forward, genuinely surprised if not altogether thankful. That would mean that she wasn't up and leaving for good, right? "Uh...here? Like, in Rhydin?" Playing down the desperation.

"Yeah. Here in Rhydin." She grinned. "You're not getting rid of me that easily I'm afraid, Cullen. Sorry."

A simple scoff from Lieutenant. He was curious, however. "Doing...what?" He looked her over once again and noted the simple changes in her wardrobe. Black pants, though they were not leather. Black shirt, though it was of the T-shirt variety. Belt, though it held a tactical pouches rather than swords.

"Call it security. But for a company based here in Rhydin and not some far off island." She tapped a boot toe lightly on the floor. "Anyway, I was just coming by to let you know."

Cullen nodded. "Well, thanks for that."

"And to see if you were free for dinner."

It may have been Isuelt who was perched on the edge of the desk, but it was Cullen who nearly fell off his chair. "What?"

"Dinner. Do you have plans?" She inclined her head.

"Uhm...no." He was hoping she was really asking and not him fantasizing about it again.

"Good. Then why don't you meet me at that new place on the water south of the Market?" She stood up. "I'll tell you more about the new job then." Isuelt couldn't help but smirk at the look on Cullen's face. "Sound good?"

It took him a moment to find his tongue. "Uh...yeah, yeah. Sounds good. What time?"

"You tell me."

"Eight o'clock?"

She nodded, "Perfect." Isuelt turned and headed toward the door only to call out over her shoulder as she left, "Make sure you get all your homework done before then."

Cullen could only offer her a goofy smile. Truth be told, at this moment he could care less if he ever signed his name to another report again.
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Re: Life From The Outside

Post by RR Cullen » Wed Oct 30, 2019 5:15 pm

The young sergeant in front of Cullen's desk had been talking for a few minutes, but Cullen hadn't really heard a word he'd said. He was reclining in more of a slant with an elbow on the desk and his lips being twisted about by his fingers as he stared blankly across the room, lost in thought.

As if his blink brought his hearing back into focus, as soon as his lashes touched he heard the sergeant, "So anyway, here's most of the incoming files on the new recruits and their...uh...arrests." The sergeant dropped a whopping pile of papers on Cullen's desk. To which Cullen's reaction was a resounding brow arch and a sardonic glance to the young man. The sergeant could feel the agitation he had instantly added to his lieutenant's lap and he sighed, trying to back track a bit, "It's not like they are all bad, it's just that since the Scathachians left us, and we had that recruitment drive...well...everyone is trying to be balls to the wall vigilante style."

Cullen sighed heavily. As if he needed to be reminded that the Scathachians had abandoned the city for whatever the hell Isuelt had talked about, some sort of war. Well, they were at war here in Rhydin, weren't they? Every day! And what was worse, even though Isuelt claimed that she was not going with them, he hadn't seen her in weeks. It felt like years. And that only made him crankier than usual.

The sergeant was still droning on, "...remedial training for the new recruits on security warrants and homeland threats to further streamline their arresting citizens on more than mere hunches..."

Cullen waived him on as he once more glanced to the mountain of paperwork that would probably result in nothing more than paper cuts and a headache. "Yeah, yeah, yeah. Whatever. Just tell them to stop stirring shit up, would ya? Contrary to popular belief, I don't live for signing my goddamned name to the bottom of all of these fucking papers you keep giving me."

The sergeant rocked back and forth on his feet as he was cut off. "Yes, sir."

"Just-" Cullen rolled his eyes and fought the urge to push the new arrest reports six inches to the left and off his desk into the trash can. "Just make sure they aren't so damn hyper all the time, got it? Not everyone here is a criminal." Cullen sighed, he was not trying to be an asshole, he just wanted to concentrate on other things besides superfluous arrest reports. Like just what in the hell had happened to Isuelt and where had she gone.

The sergeant smirked and nodded. He completely agreed with his lieutenant. "Yes, sir. Don't worry about it. I'll get on 'em." He nodded and clipped his stance as he turned and walked from the office, leaving the door open in his wake.

Cullen sat back, the chair creaking as he did so. He reached for a cigarette and his lighter, staring after the door. A snap and his smoke was lit and for a moment he indulged in the inhale. Only a few moments later, as he leaned forward and exhaled did he reach for the pile of files and push them six inches to the left...and right off his desk into the trash.
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Re: Life From The Outside

Post by RR Cullen » Wed Oct 30, 2019 5:16 pm

"So, things are going well, then?" Cullen glanced up at Isuelt a few times before he actually asked. His eyes were pivoting between her face and his early morning coffee; and he was trying to decide which was a more welcomed sight.

"Actually," she paused here and leaned back to briefly take stock of her life. "Yeah," she smiled softly at him, finding herself at complete ease. "Yeah, it's actually going pretty well." She was unsure if she was more surprised than she should have been at that.

"That's good." Cullen sipped at his coffee, still watching her from over the rim of his cup. He couldn't get over the change in her in the last few months. Of course, she'd always been attractive to him, striking in fact, but these days she was absolutely beautiful. Her eyes were clear, her cheeks were bright. She smiled more easily and her mood was lighter than he'd ever seen it. "Regular hours and all that?" He guessed she'd been seeing more sleep and proper nutrition than she had had in years, and she didn't smell distantly of whisky either.

"Mmhmm," Isuelt took a big bite of the omelette on her plate, nodding to agree with Cullen's question. "Something like that." After she'd fully finished her mouthful, she elaborated. "Well, I mean the hours are definitely better. And, hell, I get paid!" She chuckled at that. "Beats walking the streets. A girl's got to do something for a living, no?" Cullen laughed and she continued, "Anyway, it's uh...it's a lot like what I used to do. Just not as, I don't know..." She took a sip of her coffee, thinking over her next words, realizing the truth in them. "I guess I just needed a break from being in charge. Sometimes it's good not to be running uphill with the weight of the world on your shoulders." Isuelt glanced up to Cullen and winked with a smirk on her lips, "You should try it sometime, Richard."

"Yeah, well," he grinned to her. He really did love the way she said his name. The Watchman cleared his throat, getting his thoughts back together. "Did you, uh...um...You know, I enjoy these breakfasts with you." They had met a handful of times for an early morning meal in the last few weeks. Cullen just getting ready to start his shift and Isuelt either getting off or starting her as well, depending on the day.

"Me too." She lifted her coffee to him in salute before another sip.

"Did you want to, I don't know, maybe meet me again tomorrow?"

"Sure, Cullen." She lifted another forkful of breakfast to her lips.

"For dinner. Again." He swallowed what felt like a beach ball.

Isuelt's eyes looked up at him, she wasn't oblivious; she knew that he had had feelings for her for some time. And while their first 'date' didn't go disastrously, it wasn't really more than dinner. She took her time and finished what she had in her mouth; she put down her fork and lifted her gaze to directly focus on Cullen. He gave silent thanks that he was already sitting down, he knew his knees may have buckled.

"I think that would be good, Richard." She replied quietly. Isuelt smiled as she watched the obvious relief was over his features.

"Great! I know this new little place on the south side that I think you'd like." He leaned back against his chair, feeling energized and a little emboldened. "So, can I ask you another question?"

Isuelt paused in her coffee lift to eye the Lieutenant cautiously. What else would he have up his sleeve? "Sure..."

"Did you ever think about...would you ever think about joining up with the Watch? I think you'd make a great law man. Woman. Person." He fumbled over his worlds though his brows lifted in hopeful coaxing.

"Oh, I don't know, Cullen," she sipped. "You know me, I don't like too many rules. And I know that the Watch is full of all sorts of rules and regulations and I don't know, maybe a little too much like the Scathachian Order? I mean, it's militaristic in its structure and all. And I'm not really a fantastic team player these days." She winked, trying to let him down easy.

"Well, what if you...worked under me?" He didn't even blush at his double entendre. Instead, he was too busy lost in the fantasy of getting to see her every day.

"Richard..." She began, "You're an incredible cop. And you've got a career here that is, well, it's legacy-worthy. You're clean, you're hard-working, you're full of integrity and people look up to you. They trust you to always do the right thing. I wouldn't want you jeopardizing all of that because of some stupid shit I'd be sure to pull or some protocol I'm sure I'd break." She leaned forward just as he was about ready to interject, "I know you've put your reputation on the line for me before, covered for me. I can't ask you to do that again, especially if I was actually a Watchman. In your precinct, no less. I don't think that would go so hot for you. I could never have that on my conscience; that I did something that made you fall from grace. And I know that you would; you'd sacrifice yourself for me and whatever idiotic thing I did. And I just...I couldn't live with that." She regarded him for a long moment. After a while, Cullen conceded a nod. She was right. He'd do anything for her. He sipped at his coffee, not quite as exuberantly as he did moments before, but not quite miserable either. After all, she had at least agreed to dinner with him. He'd have more occasions to try and sway her to his line of thinking. Isuelt took the moment to add, "Besides, I sort of like where I am now."

"With Batten?" He watched her carefully.

"Yes," Isuelt smiled and nodded before she offered the correction, "Katt Batten."

"You work for his sister?"

"Well, kind of. He’s not around right now and I answer to her, so..."

"Yeah, well sister or not, Batten's crew doesn't exactly operate with the Watch. They kind of have their own agenda..." To which Isuelt nodded again, this time with an eyebrow arched, as if she were letting him in on a secret. "But I guess that's sort of your thing, isn't it?" Again Cullen watched her lovely brunette head nod. He sighed and leaned back again to simply admire her.

There was a comfortable silence between them as they worked to finish off the rest of their breakfast and coffee refills with a bit of polite conversation sprinkled in. As they paid for their meals, they noted that the sun's first rays began to peek out from the darkness beyond the window.

Cullen sighed, "Time for another day."

"A good day." Isuelt echoed. "You watch yourself out there, Lieutenant." Isuelt stood up and Cullen soon followed.

"You too, DeRomiano." He smiled at her, stealing one more sip of coffee before he walked with her toward the door. "And uh," as she held the door open for him, he continued, "How about if this time, I come pick you up at your place tomorrow night?"

She thought about that for a moment then nodded. "Okay. Toujours le Vert. 7 o'clock."

"Deal."

"Deal."

"See you then," Cullen was working on keeping his smile from being too goofy.

"See you tomorrow, Richard." Isuelt lifted a hand and smirked at the Watchman before she turned and headed toward Batten Tower.

For a long moment Cullen watched her head out, thinking that breakfast this morning had gone better than he had expected. And that would be enough to fuel his good mood all the way until quitting time.
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Re: Life From The Outside

Post by RR Cullen » Wed Oct 30, 2019 5:17 pm

"Sir...sir?" It was about the fourth time the patrolman had actually said that before Cullen looked up from staring at the baseboard in the corner of the front room of the home in the south of the Old Temple section of the city.

"Hmm? What?" Cullen eyes blinked and refocused on the patrolman who was standing there with his paper taking down the official report of the burglary. Very quickly, his gaze then toggled back the older gentleman sitting on the couch of what used to be a very neat and tidy living room.

"I asked if you'd like to take an official statement from Mr. Remming here, sir. He said he lost his spare key about five months ago." The patrolman paused here, in case the lieutenant wanted to jump in. But Cullen just proceeded to look between the two men and finally nod. So, he continued, "Yeah, and he was thinking that we should look into his old partner from the shop he used to own in the Marketplace..."

"Oh well, then..." Cullen straightened his posture and cleared his throat, "It seems like you have things well in hand, why don't you take the last of the info and let me know when you're ready to uh..." He seemed to lose his train of thought once more. Cullen looked back to the homeowner and smiled before he turned and left the room. Leaving the patrolman and the elderly gent to simply stare at each other wondering if the lieutenant actually even heard a word of what had gone on in the last fifteen minutes.

Once out of the house, Cullen walked past another patrolman talking to a few women. He presumed they were the neighborhood gossip patrol since he overheard snippets of the conversation as the women were talking over each other.

"...always such a nice man..."
"...never locks that door though..."
"...cheap as they come..."

Cullen paused at the end of the walkway to the small house and looked up as the breeze came up. The mature trees at the end of the street started to gracefully sway and move together. Cullen took a deep breath as he watched them, hypnotized, thinking about his last night and early morning while sporting an absent grin on his lips.

"Afternoon, Lieutenant."

The voice nearly made him jump. Cullen immediately cleared his throat and regained his gruff scowl. "Afternoon, Captain."

"You feeling all right?" Captain Dorsey eyed the longtime Watchman, whom he'd known for the better part of twenty years.

"Yes, sir. Doing well, thank you. We will uh...get this burglary thing locked down for you. Seems to only be contained in this section of Old Temple right now, which is a good thing. So, nothing to worry about. Nothing but thieving so far, which is another positive. But not ruling out completely unrelated cases and any-"

"Save it, Rick. I'll read it in your report. I'm not asking about the case, I'm asking about you." Dorsey arched his brows as he looked to his longtime friend.

"Me..."

"Yeah, idiot." Dorsey smirked. "Kate and I were wondering if you'd like to come by for dinner. Talk if you wanted to." He shrugged lightly. The two men had grown up together and had gone into the Watch as rookies the same year. Dorsey had been instrumental in recommending Cullen's last promotion, as well as in giving him a home-cooked meal (via his wife, Kate) every few weeks or so. Dorsey had had a soft spot for his friend who had never been married, far too busy as Cullen would say. He and Kate had perpetually been trying to set up Cullen with woman after woman. Truth be told, it was more Kate's project than Dorsey's, but he was a smart man who went along with most of what his wife suggested.

"Thanks, but I'm actually okay." Cullen smirked.

"Oh sure you are. When was the last time you had a decent meal that didn't consist of coffee, cigarettes and whatever the hell wasn't turning green in the fridge?" Dorsey folded his arms over his chest.

"Last night, actually. Went to that new place on the south side that opened up a few months back. Had a date."

Dorsey could have been knocked over by the slight breeze that came up just then. "A what?"

"A date. You know, guy and a gal get together. Maybe go have something to eat? Maybe a walk? Maybe more?" Cullen grinned.

"You're shittin’ me," Dorsey ribbed him.

"Nope. She was a real woman and everything. No plastic." Cullen made a slight face at Dorsey, referencing the 50th birthday gift that some of the guys at the station (Dorsey included) had teased him with: a blow up doll.

Dorsey chuckled and slapped Cullen on the back, "Atta boy, Rick. I knew you had it in you." Cullen just shook his head. "Is that what's gotten into you lately?"

"What d'ya mean?" he looked to Dorsey.

"Well, you just have seemed a little...I don't know...off lately. And you missed the security briefing this morning regarding the new governor."

"Oh shit, that was this morning? Sorry, D."

Dorsey waved a hand, "Don't worry about it. I covered for you. I said that you were home in bed with the flu." He paused and looked at his friend. "I'm hoping now that you were in bed with something much more pleasant."

A gentleman doesn't kiss and tell. Cullen simply smirked and shrugged a bit. But it was the last smile on his face that confessed everything that Dorsey wanted to know.

"Atta boy," came another pat on the back. "Anyways, you finish up here and meet me for a drink after work. I want to hear all about her." He turned only briefly before stopping and looking back to Cullen, "That is, unless you're meeting her. In which case I fully suggest you ignore my invitation. She's probably a hell of a lot prettier than I am."

"Yes she is." Cullen spilled the truth of that statement with every fiber of his body as he nearly beamed at his friend.

Dorsey may have been taken aback a bit by just how smitten Cullen seemed. He only thought it over half a second before he added, "Bring her by the house then, for dinner. Kate and I would love to meet her."

Cullen nodded as the two men heard the Watchmen wrapping up their business with the burglary behind them. "I'll do that. But not tonight. Tonight she's coming to my place. I'm cooking."

"Get the hell out of here." Dorsey was shocked beyond measure twice in one conversation.

"No really. Maybe we'll swing by later next week. I've got some other things planned for her this week." Cullen grinned.

"You dog." Dorsey lifted a hand and chuckled as he started off. "Have a good night, Lieutenant. And make sure she doesn't keep you in bed past noon tomorrow."

"Yes, sir." Cullen grinned as he watched the Captain head out, surprisingly proud that the two patrolmen behind him had heard exactly what Dorsey had said.
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RR Cullen
Junior Adventurer
Junior Adventurer
Posts: 10
Joined: Sun Oct 06, 2019 6:33 pm
Location: Usually the Old Temple precinct.

Re: Life From The Outside

Post by RR Cullen » Mon Jan 06, 2020 5:53 pm

“Oh sure, I’m positive that’s exactly the way it happened.” Cullen chuckled as did the Watchman he was conversing with. “Yeah, keep holdin’ on to that fantasy, Talen.”

“A guy’s gotta do what a guy’s gotta do.” Talen’s dark head nodded as he smirked. “Take care, Cullen. See ya tomorrow.” He raised his hand and headed quickly across the street.

“Yeah, see ya.” Cullen echoed his colleague’s sentiment and then shoved his hands in his front coat pockets to continue in the direction the pair had been traveling. Seeing Cullen out and about in his precinct was something of a treat for the citizens of Old Temple. He was no longer content to sit and stew in his office, but he was more readily in the sunshine, seeking fresh air and actually enjoying this side of the city. He was headed toward a small bakery to pick up some fresh pies for Bernadette. Her favorites were bramble berry and chocolate silk. Cullen was going to see if either were left for the day and bring them to her as a surprise. Things were going pretty well for the lieutenant and the bookkeeper. She was far less evasive and aloof than one Isuelt DeRomiano; and she could find far more time to dote on Cullen than Isuelt ever could. The blonde was winning Cullen over with her cooking as well. Tonight she said she’d be making game hens with lemon butter: a favorite he never knew he had until Bernadette cooked it for him. Albeit, the first time she ever made him that dinner she did it in an apron, a necklace and nothing else. In fact, the few times she’d served that meal, she’d never failed to ‘entertain’ him afterwards. Cullen was grinning just thinking about it. Still, he thought he’d bring dessert as his contribution tonight; halfway knowing that they wouldn’t even get to it until breakfast tomorrow.

Cullen was so invested in his daydream that he only faintly heard the jingle of the bell as the bakery door opened right in front of him and he just about ran over the woman coming out. “Isuelt!”

“Jeez… Hey, Cullen?” As soon as she had rebalanced the two boxes she was carrying she looked in obvious surprise at the man who had nearly caused her to dump the croissants all over the sidewalk. “Holy…uh…hi. How are you?” She recovered nicely, or so she thought.

Cullen’s gray eyes sparkled as he smiled at her. “It’s good to see you. How the hell have you been? Happy New Year!”

“Yeah. Good, good…” She looked about and let the door shut. The two of them were standing just outside the entrance, glancing each other over. It seemed like decades since they’d talked.

“Good to hear it. I’m good. Just picking up some pies. Well, hopefully…” He looked up and glanced through the window. They didn’t look too crowded in there, but sometimes that was good and sometimes it was bad. Sometimes it meant they’d been picked over for the day. “You didn’t notice if they had any bramble berry pies left, did you?”

“Uh…” Isuelt blinked and shook her head. “I don’t know. I know there was some pear tarts and a few apple pies left.”

“Nah,” Cullen shook his head. “Bramble berry is Bernadette’s favorite. Or chocolate. So, it’s those or nothing.” He chuckled lightly and looked back to Isuelt.

“Things still going okay with her?” Isuelt lifted her brows slightly.

“Honestly, yeah.” Cullen paused before he proceeded. He didn’t want to appear to excited, for fear she’d take it as an insult? He still treaded lightly around Isuelt, just as he always had. “Things are going really well. She’s uh…well, she’s everything I guess I didn’t know I needed. You know?”

Isuelt paused and studied Cullen. His face seemed different to her. His smile was easy, his eyes were brighter, he stood taller and even his hair looked better. Happy. That was it. He looked actually happy. “I’m glad for you, Richard. You deserve it. Really.” She was completely truthful.

Likewise, he took the time to appraise her. Isuelt looked refreshed and at ease. Certainly more casual than he’d ever known her to be. Her change must have also been just what she needed. “Thanks. You look good, Iz. You know that, right? I’m guessing things are going pretty well over at that tower.”

She smirked lightly, he always called it ‘that tower.’ As if some god-forsaken business was constantly conducted there. “Yeah, actually.”

“You get that raise or new position, or whatever it was that you were after?”

“You know, I got something better. Well, better in the fact that it is different, not actually what I was going for, but I think this probably suits me better.” She smiled.

“Safer?” He wasn’t holding his breath.

“Sssssort of?”

“Yeah, that’s what I thought.” Cullen chuckled at her. “Well, still keep your head down over there. I can’t watch over ya when you're all the way up there in the clouds.” He grinned.

Isuelt smiled. “It’s ok. I’m a big girl.”

“Oh, I know,” his hands were thrown up.

“It’s good, Richard. I promise.”

“I’m proud of you, Iz. I am.” Cullen said after a beat, “I’m proud of us, too.” Isuelt lifted her brows lightly at that. Cullen took a breath and continued, “Probably not you, but I was pretty beat up about you saying you didn’t want me any more.” Isuelt instantly felt a pang of regret deep inside and was leaning toward feeling uncomfortable. Until Cullen added on, “But actually I think it was the best thing for me. Really. You taught me a lot. About how to balance life, how to handle things as they’re thrown at you. Sometimes literally.” He joked and felt more at ease as he saw Isuelt smile back at him. “I want to thank you.”

“Stop it, Richard.”

“No, really. Thank you for helping me see through my life-long bad mood. It’s a lot easier being happy and just going with the flow instead of being pissed off all the time.” He spent a few moments just looking at her. Bernadette or no Bernadette, he’d never tire of simply gazing at the sultry, statuesque once-Scathachian. “Thank you.”

Her voice was softer, Isuelt was totally taken aback by his candor. “You’re welcome. Richard, there are few people in this city that I truly admire and hold in as high esteem as I do you. Nothing will ever change that. Thank you for helping me take a step off the high dive. I didn’t really think that was something I ever wanted again. A relationship. But you helped me to see that constant seclusion isn’t always the way. People are good. Thank you for reminding me of that.” She would have reached out to grip his shoulder or even give his hand a squeeze were it not for the boxes she was carrying. Instead Cullen leaned forward and graced her cheek with the softest of kisses. Isuelt drew a slow breath; even now, he still sent a little shiver down her spine.

Cullen felt the old fireworks too, but this was today and not years or even months ago. And he was due at Bernadette’s place. He knew somewhere deep inside that he would always have feelings for Isuelt, and he was okay with that. His voice was as near to velvet as Isuelt could remember when he finally spoke again in a soft tone, “I have to get going, Iz. I do wish you every happiness in this new life of yours.”

She sighed, her heart swelling for all the times he’d shown her nothing but unselfish kindness. “Same here, Richard. She’s a lucky girl. Take care of yourself, huh?”


“I’ll see you around.” Cullen smiled at her, his features were as warm as ever.

“Yeah,” Isuelt smiled back at him. “Have a good night, Richard.” She nodded and watched as he turned to open the door to the bakery; tossing a wink to her just as he did so. Then the door shut with a muffled jingle. "Happy New Year." Isuelt turned and headed back down the street toward home, sighing lightly as she did so.
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