Eugene Matthew wonders where home is, and if he's even looking at it. A lone, errant clawtip stirs the sand below him, the Joker sat perched carefully on lonesome driftwood. The Island - nobody had ever told him where it was, and a sigh in tune with the wind is Eugene Matthew's only breath in tandem, the only crack in an otherwise unbroken mask of silence and disheartened stoicness.
The waves, with their idle lap against soft-sand shores and a gentle whisper, organic, aren't forthcoming with an answer, either. Eugene Matthew knows he's looking east, but without context the information is useless to him.
Waverly's toes shift in the sand as she meanders, leaving footprints for the tide to wash away. Salt wind ruffles back her hair, leather boots swinging gently in a hand.
Always looking for him, it seems, following him, sliding into the moments of his solitude like Waverly was meant to be there all along. She's a constant note in the music he moves to, now. Low and sweet and unobtrusive. When he wants her, she's there, with the laugh or the soft word, the kiss. Waverly's eyes water against the heat shimmering up from the grainy white sand, sun aflame in a glorious dance, a phoenix dipping below the curve of the world only to be reborn the next day.
One reddish blotch wavers near the water's edge, and she smiles.
Eugene Matthew's face, the light reflecting in the glass of the lenses perched on his nose, both seem to try and vie with the coat he wears for redness. An odd sight, one he's not privy to.
A wind, laced with the day's humidity and the scent of one familiar lifts Eugene Matthew's hair, a hand sweeping its fingers over the ear and through rough strands. And that scent - his nose is rather sensitive, these days - with the soft pad through sand lets him know he's not alone, and who was responsible for seeing that so. Eugene Matthew doesn't need to look to call her name.
"Waverly," a voice in light tenor shatters any spell of silence, he tilting over to lay flat on his back as he looks up at her, grinning wide. He doesn't seem to care about the ruined wordlessness.
Waverly's lips curve in an involuntary grin, laughing at him. He looks more feline than usual, flat on his back and scruffly with sand.
"Hey, stranger," sings out, raising her hand. Picking her way along the driftwood and shells, Waverly sways to a stop near his head, with an awkward lean down to brush the hair from his eyes.
"What're you doing all the way out here? Daydreamin'?"
Eugene Matthew's grin calms itself, edging slightly away from his face as she leans towards him. He's not unhappy to see her, but the silence had been too momentary a refuge, at least today. "Nnh, a little."
Waverly's lips press together, judging the look on his face. "Well-" She takes her time with one stray lock, fingertips lingering against his skin before she straightens. "I can let you alone, if you don't want company," she offers. Waverly knows the feeling of having so many thoughts swirling in your mind that sometimes what you need is sunset and quiet.
The laugh-lines around her eyes wrinkle with her smile, understanding. "I was just heading to Kitt."
Eugene Matthew's hand reaches above him, fingers gently brushing at just above her ankle before they flop away, like some kind of dead fish. "-nawh. I was jus' thinkin' about you. How d'ya do it?" his smile remains strong, sincere.
Waverly shrugs one shoulder, lashes lowering to shade her eyes. "Oh, a girl has her ways," she replies with a tease. Dropping her boots in the sand, she flops to her knees, then stomach. Her cheek cradled lazily in a hand as she watches him.
Eugene Matthew watches her drop to his level, yet still inverted; the sight makes him grin, like it's some sort of joke. "I was also thinkin-" he confides, lip dipping slightly, "I'unno where th'island even is."
Waverly drums her fingers along her cheekbone, small frown tugging at wind-chapped lips. "Somewhere in the south Pacific, I think," she muses. "We have an old volcano, makes sense. There's a whole belt of little islands in that part of the world."
Eugene Matthew's face reblossoms in a grin. He hadn't even thought of that. "You're real smart, y'know," fingers grip through the sand, the hot grains feeling pleasant against the fur. "So I guess east would be- where home used t'be."
Waverly tilts her head bashfully, trailing one finger through the sand in a curving line. "Oh, not really," she brushes off the compliment. "I've just-" a pause, throat-clearing. "I've thought about it too."
Eugene Matthew smiles still, eyes redirecting themselves towards the skies in lieu of an easy view of the ocean. "I bet this place had a name. B'fore it was 'Improbable Island'," he pronounces the name with all the posh he can muster. "Wonder wha't was."
Waverly kicks her legs up over her back, feet glinting with sand that sprinkles down over white cotton. "Hmn, maybe- wait, what's that thing called. The hippo-snake thing. With the funny name?" An amused smirk drifts across her face. "You know."
Eugene Matthew lip upturns once more in its gymnastics, one gleaming incisor poking past his lip before he thinks to reign it in. He remembers tattoos, and a curious, suspicious mixup. Those Eugene Matthew had spent so much time and pain on getting inked had been long faded and scored by fur and fire.
"Blair Hippo," he recalls, one shoulder shrugging in doubt. "Prolly na' that. I bet this place wa'even more beautiful 'fore th'network got to it."
Waverly nods slowly in agreement, face smooshing against her palm. It's adorable in a ridiculous sort of way, paired with the puzzling expression on her face, brows furrowing in thought. "Yeah- maybe something like 'Costa della Luna'. Something pretty."
Waverly amends with a small snrk, "Though probably not in Italian. Probably French. Wasn't there a French Polynesia?" she rambles idly, adding a squiggle to her sand-picture. It's slowing taking shape, the sweep of a wing.
Eugene Matthew's torn between scooting up to sneak a kiss to her nose and not ruining her sand-picture. He opts to stay where he is. "Heh,"he grins. "Luna. I know wha' tha' is," he murmurs absently. "An'- well. You know how Ytin plans t'leave." Eugene Matthew hadn't wanted to bring it up, but- if he can't share his thoughts with her, then who?
"Tha's prolly a real long trip. Even by air." He leaves the implication hanging.
Waverly's fingertip slows, the swift lines of a gull under her gaze. "Yeah," her words come after a few moments of thought, unreadable in her expression."Yeah, she told me. Maybe she'll just- get to another island, first. One close-by." Waverly swirls a little circle for a beady, sharp eye. "I mean, there must be people, I mean- governments- monitoring all the seas and skies round here. Someone'll pick her up." There a note to her voice that says at least, I hope so.
Eugene Matthew tilts his head back, attention away from the air and towards her little drawing. It's an uncomfortable position, his head craned so, but he wants to watch. "Well-" he actually giggles. "I used t'be part a' the people who did, remember." Eugene Matthew's flights didn't all have a violent objective, after all. "Well. Na' 'round here. I jus' mean s'possible. But if they did, they'd jus' put her back here, y'know. Selfish a'me t'be okay with that, maybe."
Waverly's eyes flick up at the giggle, an answering smile tugging up the corner of her mouth. "I guess that's true, they would. I just- you know, I just hope she gets through okay. She was talking about-" a wince. "Guns and stuff. I really hope-" Waverly, the more she considers it, though, can't help but think that this is exactly the case- "she doesn't try and do anything stupid. Like shooting her way through those guys."
Eugene Matthew's lip presses itself into a line. "Maybe. If she tried, she'd-" and he can imagine it; a sea of munitions and explosions rocking a tiny blimp, like a leaf in a hurricane. "She wouldn' last." Eugene Matthew reaches one of his own fingers, the clawtip adorning it smaller than a finger and better to detail with. And he begins drawing with her, adding a smidge of detail to a wing. "I wonder-" he trails off, as though it'd never been said at all.
Waverly accepts this artistic contribution companionably, shifting her arm out of the way so he can see better. "Yeah," quietly. "Like I said, I just hope she-" and then, in a rush- "I just- I don't really want her to go at all."
Waverly pulls her hand away from the drawing, letting it flop uselessly against the sand. "I just don't have many people left, you know," she murmurs, averting her eyes.
It's almost as if she's afraid, where she's going with this, an odd tension in Waverly's voice as she makes a decision that maybe she'll regret in a minute. "Neither of us do. Um-" and she just spits it out, with some effort, not meaning to have brought it up but suddenly faced with the opportunity.
"Matt, I- I kinda wanted-" Waverly swallows nervously. "I've been meaning to talk to you. We never really- talked. About this. Us," tilting her head a second towards him."Especially- I- I see how uncomfortable you are being in the manor. I know it's still bothering you," Waverly says somewhat cryptically, but knowing he'll understand without thought. "I just- think we should talk."
Eugene Matthew had set to answer her, his agreement with thoughts on Ytin's staying or going swallowed down as he instead waits for the torrent of words to tumble out her mouth and past his ears. That claw sticks in the sand, mid-sketch and idle as his eyes close. Eugene Matthew swallows past a lump in his throat, already seeing where the conversation's going to lead before she even finishes her words. And even worse still is that he finds himself agreeing; a talk has been long in coming.
"It-" Eugene Matthew allows a gentle smile to touch his lip. "I' took 'til no one else was left f'us t'find eachother. I'unno if that's sad, or-" No, his mind amends. Just sad. "I'unno. M-Muriel," a stutter on the name; he hasn't uttered in a long while.
Eugene Matthew breathes in, deeply, inhaling the ocean's salty-brine. It smells like a guilty pleasure, like a child enjoying a stolen cookie. Undeserved."Muri an' I, even b'fore she died, we were driftin' apart. Tha' doesn't make it better," he predicts.
Eugene Matthew could feel it; the strain of a marriage between two people, forced by either party with a grin to all those watching. A rickety bridge that wouldn't hold under the weight of anything significant. "I can guess what y'mean. Yer thinkin'-" Eugene Matthew's frown takes a dramatic downturn. "If I hadn't lost Muriel, we'd never be. Tha' righ'?"
Waverly's silence doesn't bode well for the negative. She's gone very still, now, feet again in the sand and gaze cast downward. After a long moment, she gives a single nod.
Eugene Matthew's eyes are still closed, but he knows her well enough by now to feel the nod even without the benefit of seeing it.
Waverly can feel the silence between them, thick enough to cut with a knife. She knows he's waiting for her to speak, so with a shaky breath she does.
"I- I never would've said anything to you, Matt," voice barely high enough to hear above the roar of waves.
Waverly continues after a moment, hesitation in every syllable. "But you started looking at me like- like that, and then the catnip, and-" a short laugh, no humor in it. "I never really fell out of love with you, see. Just buried it."
Waverly chances a quick look at him, but his eyes are still closed, face unreadable. "And I don't doubt that you love me back, it's just- this isn't going to work if we're not honest with each other. And I- I have thought that. I just need to know-" Waverly bites her lip, with a lump in her throat that she has to swallow past. "need to know what you're feeling. Thinking."
Eugene Matthew's silent, digesting the words and the thoughts, feelings, emotion and need behind them. His mouth opens to suck in a tiny little breath, almost a minuscule gasp, soft and low. "The truth is-" he begins, a pensive frown marring his expression.
Eugene Matthew pauses for a beat. Perhaps for dramatic effect, perhaps simply to think. "I can't say. I dunno what woulda' been if things had been different. Bu' the man who does would make a fortune, see."
Eugene Matthew opens those blues, finally, he surfacing a little smile at her. "Wha' I do know, though, is even though it may not make much sense t'us at th'time, an' we may fight it an' disbelieve it all we want- bu' there's no sense regrettin' anythin'."
Eugene Matthew decides to perhaps justify that. "Everythin' we do, everythin' we feel, experience, dream, hope. It all brings us t'where we are. If things had been different, I wouldn't be who I am. Neither would you."
Eugene Matthew's smile becomes a little shaky. He's not saying what he means very well, but his eyes seem to plead for understanding. "What I'm sayin' is- I might have regrets, bu' I don't regret today. I love you. One reget is tha' it took me so long t'find out." Eugene Matthew finally pulls that claw from the ground, living a tiny divot as he points it at her.
"Bu' I remember wakin' up from a nightmare an' seein' my guardian angel. An' that changed my life."
Waverly stares back at him, eyes liquid amber in the last dregs of dying light. That also might be helped by the fact that they're slightly teary.
"I'm glad," she whispers, the relief and emotion etched deep into her face. "I'm not an angel, though," Waverly chokes out with a little laugh, and he can hear some of it in her voice, too. "I was just taking care of you." But maybe that speaks for itself.
Eugene Matthew seems to think so, at least, a bright smile working its way over his mouth. Slowly, hands plant themselves at his sides and push just enough to give him the leverage to flip on the spot, facing her belly-down, instead. "Are too," Eugene Matthew snickers. "I know who t'go to if it ever happens again." Not that he's particularly hoping for that turn of events, but knowing ol' Horatio's sense of humor- well.
Waverly grins, reluctantly, his own smirk infectious as always. "Well," she reaches out the short distance to beep his nose with a fingertip. "You know I'll be there anytime." Anytime, said tenderly in the way she always does, sounds more like Waverly's saying I love you. And maybe that's how she's meant it all along.
"And I wouldn't mind so much if it did," she giggles. "Though it might be, uh- well. Some of the logistics wouldn't quite work out." She quirks an eyebrow, teasing.
Eugene Matthew opens his mouth, of course to deliver some smart line or another, but after turning the comment over in his mind, his lips seal themselves. No, that's unacceptable in polite company. So, instead: "little... little rat-thing. Probably cute."
Eugene Matthew puts as distasteful, disgusted spin on the word 'cute', as if it were a vile poison. For some reason, he seems to strongly detest any allegations of adorability.
Waverly nods in agreement, mocking his tone just a bit. "Absolutely," with a wide grin, she rolls her eyes upwards, as if picturing that very image. "With cute little whiskers, too."
Eugene Matthew reaches forth a handpaw to give her shoulder a gentle shove, though the good humor is not so easily erased from his face. "Never again." Which, of course, means he's doomed to absolutely repeat it again sometime for the saying of it.
Waverly hunches her shoulder against his shove and wags a finger at him. "Now, don't tempt fate," she warns laughingly. "But anyways. I wouldn't mind." She props her cheek in that hand, again, grinning at him. Just gazing, steadily, as if Waverly were trying to memorize the hills and valleys of his face and make a map of it.
It's dusk, now, and silky moonlight pours in from the east, over the ocean and sparkling like silver fishes on the water.
Eugene Matthew wrinkles his nose, perhaps in some belated answer to the earlier nose-beep as he studies her right back. "Well," one elbow digs itself into the sand, and he points at her again, "I guess tha' means y'also volunteer t'carry me places."
Eugene Matthew doesn't follow up on the conversation, though, then turning his head away and placing the cheek in that palm to watch silver-drop moonlight play along and over the waves. He couldn't see land, even during the day.
Waverly studies his face in profile, now, the boyish, rounded features and stubborn chin. He looks so young, she thinks, and yet she can see the darkened circles under his eyes and the faint scars- courtesy of Mr. Entwhistle.
On impulse, Waverly raises her hand and curls the palm over his cheek, thumb rubbing slowly against one sickle-shaped mark. "You're not the same person," she murmurs, echoing his earlier words. "But you have the same heart and soul, and that's never changed."
Eugene Matthew smile curves, felt under her thumb as a stretch of skin. "Some people woul' say that's all a person is. I'unno about that, sometimes," a gentle puff of air sighs from his nose, in time with a gentle whisk of wind as his eyes drift closed. Eugene Matthew leans into her hand, just slightly. It's a feline gesture, of course.
"Wanna see somethin'?" the grin gets stronger.
Waverly tilts her head inquisitively, amused. His voice has the bordering enthusiasm of a little boy about to show the girl next door a big, fat slug. "Hmn?" The gentle caress slows a little. "Heh, sure."
Eugene Matthew doesn't exactly have a slug in mind, and it's nothing so disgusting; still, he smirks hugely at her, that same infuriating expression as always as he neatly tucks his hands beneath him and pushes to a kneel.
Eugene Matthew crawls, just a bit, until he's over the drawing of the gull, lifting his fingers over it and twitching them in readiness. "You watching? Good," he grins, then plunges that hand through the earth, displacing sand too easily. Eugene Matthew reaches in, up to his elbow, tongue poking out as he fishes about before his expression brightens. As he pulls out, a sudden squawk fills the air, the flapping of wings through moon-glittered sand making such a noise.
Waverly watches with the wide eyes that little girl might've had, slightly puzzled, and then the sq-WAUK rudely shatters the moonlit silence of the beach and sends her scrambling backwards. "Augh!"
Waverly blinks, now on her rear in the sand and hands splayed out behind her for balance. She stares. And then has to laugh, face suddenly lighting up with incredulous delight. "Matty, what-?"
Eugene Matthew laughs, too, to finish her sentence. The gull - now whole, alive - he pulls out from the sand, the fingers of one pawhand wound tightly in its feathers. More struggles, more squawking protests before he finally lets go, allowing the fowl to fly.
Eugene Matthew watches it soar out over the ocean, and he hopes that it'll be out of sight before the sand it's made from drops into the seas. Hands on hips and with an enormous grin, he looks on top of the world. "Hee." He flops down next to Waverly, then, Eugene Matthew hugging an arm about her shoulders.
Waverly watches with him, admiring the smooth flight of the graceful wings, before she's glomped and turns her face into his shoulder, giggling. She leans over to wrap her arm over his waist and leans into him, sighing. "Mm mru mmn," sounds Waverly's unintelligible mumble against his shirt, hugging tight. The roar and swoosh, the low rhythm of his beating heart is for a moment louder than the ocean's.
Two faint giggles float up on the sea-breeze, lost in sighing wind.