(1940-01-12) Going to Pieces
Details for Going to Pieces
Summary: Heavy-hearted, Rena returns to Takeshi's homes to gather the rest of her belongings. She then has an unexpected meeting with another complication in her life.
Date: 1940/01/12
Location: Takeshi's Home
Related: Mending Things

The Cube - the only Japanese house around Horizont Alley - has been noticeably (and sadly) darkened for the last week. Its owners seemingly gone, it has rested quietly. Not even the snow has been swept away from the front doorstep, lending an even stranger air of loneliness. Rena has not looked forward to this task, but, it needs to be done. The last of her belongings need to be gotten from the house, and she needs to make sure for Takeshi's sake to lock… and re-lock the door when the time comes to leave.
The young redheaded woman approaches the house with slowing footsteps, dreading the walk up to the door. Breathing a faint sigh, she approaches the unusual triangular front and withdraws her wand to unlock it. Slipping quietly inside, Rena dutifully removes her shoes and leaves them beside the door. With Takeshi gone, here is no longer any need; and yet, she can't bring herself to disrespect his particular needs.

Charlie hadn't realized how close he was to the Odori home. He'd been wandering the Mysticked District (he'll never forgive the British wizards for that tongue-twister) looking for possible places to live now that he's got a slightly more regular income. As he steps out of the latest tenement building, he looks over to see the Cube, and chuckles ruefully with a shake of his head. But he pauses when he notices the door open, and his eyes narrow. Who leaves their door open when it's blowing snow outside?

Slipping his hand into his pinstriped coat, he withdraws his wand as he approaches the house. Maybe Rena doesn't want him in her life any more, but that doesn't mean he has to let her get robbed. He needs to send a message that this house is off limits. He creeps to the door, pressing himself to the wall outside, waiting…listening. The moment he hears movement inside, he rushes inside, wand extended. "StupeFFFUCK!" He throws his aim high the moment he sees a familiar ginger head. But it hardly matters. The botched incantation sends a surge of magic right back up the length of his wand, producing a backblast of energy that blows Charlie right out the door onto his back in the snow.

Poor Rena. Standing in the middle of the dimly lit and very empty house feels so cold, destitute and painfully silent. She does her best to swallow back tears as she stands in the middle of the main room; but, she does fail in the end. Two hot tears spill over and run down her cheeks. Of course she's got to move on, but the guilt and shame of what she's done still bite painfully at her inside.
Regaining some little resolve with a sniff, she raises the back of her hand to her cheek to brush away the tears. Charlie's abrupt entrance causes her to freeze in place, big-eyed and open mouthed. It takes her a moment to utter any sound: "Charlie!" She cries out, aghast.
In an instant, she's out the door and in the snow beside the poor man: "Charlie! What the bloody… Are you alright?" Rena asks, panicked.

Charlie lays spread-eagled in the snow, his wand poking up a few feet away. He wheezes painfully and blinks rapidly as he gathers his senses. When Rena's face comes into focus, he gives her a boyish grin. "Hey, dollface," he groans. "I thought I was in heaven. Now I know it for sure. I see an angel."

Genuinely concerned and upset, Rena brushes back the hair from Charlie's forehead with her hand and gives him a long, hard look: "Charlie Johnson, you… you idiot!" Of course, once that is said, she hugs him tightly.
Releasing him then, she scoots over to retrieve his wand from the snow before scrambling to her feet. Brushing some of the snow from her clothing with a few quick smacks of her hand, she returns to Charlie, offering a hand up: "Do you think you can get on your feet? I can 'elp. I may be little, but I'm strong."

Charlie smiles softly at the hug, in spite of the pain he's in. He groans as he sits upright, wobbling just a little. He's not too proud to take her hand as he gets to his feet. "I thought you were being robbed, red. Door wide open. Someone's movin' around in the dark. Usually not a great sign. Sorry for givin' you a scare."

"I appreciate you watching out for me and all," Rena says, now helping to brush some of the snow off of Charlie's coat. "I were just… coming back to get the last of my things." Her voice quiets, and the movement slows briefly.
"You'd better come inside. 'Ow many times do I 'ave to tell you that you'll catch your death of cold out in the snow?" She asks, flashing a weak smile and offering Charlie's wand back to him. A sudden thought seems to startle her, then. Looking down, she realizes far too late that she's standing in the snow, in her stocking feet. The painful cold and wetness sink in abruptly, and she lets out a sharp gasp, bolting back into the house.

Charlie tucks away his wand, and then suddenly she's off. "Dammit…I'd have carried you!" He hollers, but it's too late. He shuffles after her, knocking snow off of his shoes at the door, but it doesn't even occur to him to remove them before stepping inside. "So…what's going on, doll?" It seems pretty obvious, but he'd rather not say the wrong thing just now.

Shivering, Rena does what any Muggle would do… because she never has quite adapted to the way these people function. Hitching up her skirt enough to unclip her stockings, she rolls them down quickly to remove them. Still being in her own overcoat and half-turned away, she is mostly concealed.
Standing up straight once more, Rena's hand brushes over her forehead, and she looks as though she's hurriedly fighting off a dizzy spell. "Things kind of went to hell," she answers honestly. "Went to hell a half-dozen ways, and I found myself suddenly very much divorced and trying to find my feet again." Pausing, she shakes her stockings straight and sighs: "I know what you're going to say. I wasn't avoiding you. I was avoiding everybody. I didn't feel like seeing anyone." Can she be blamed for that?

Charlie doesn't mind the show one bit, even if he can't see much. He knows very well what a woman taking off her stockings looks like, and it's a lovely thought, if nothing else. Rena's explanation brings a furrowed brow of concern, and a heavy sigh. "Jesus, red. Seriously?" He runs his hand down his face. "I don't get it. I thought this is what you wanted."

"Yea…ain't that a kick in the 'ead?" Rena asks, again flashing that weak and mirthless smile. The place was devoid of chairs to begin with, and so, little wonder there are no places to sit, now.
Still fussing needlessly with her stockings, the redhead's eyes remain downcast as she runs them through her hands slowly, again and again. "Things were always pretty bad. Then, with Unity passing… family didn't think England was safe anymore, and wanted to move to Japan. I couldn't leave, not my home, not my country - my people. We 'ad another big fight." Here, she shrugs her shoulders, clearly upset, despite trying to act like she doesn't care. "Then I come to find out all this time… for months, 'e'd been drugging me to keep me 'appy, 'e said. Keep me 'appy, my foot… Keep me from being a pain in the bloody arse and arguing about things, is more like it."

"He was dopin' you?" Charlie does a lot of bad things, but even he draws the line somewhere. "He couldn't just offer you a drink now and then? Damn, Rena. You're better off without this palooka. Don't you shed another tear for him." He steps nearer, letting out a sigh. "I'm sorry. I shouldn've said that. It ain't easy turnin' your life inside out. Listen, how about you lock up here, we go get a drink, and then I'll come back and help you finish. Whaddaya say?"

Rena lets out a slightly bitter and unexpected laugh - one masking the inclination to shed more tears, despite Charlie's words. "A drink?" She asks, moving over to a trunk. Unlatching it, she lifts the lid and points to two very distinct bottles of liqor tucked inside carefully, and glasses beside. One, a bottle of wine, and the other, a bottle of the Sweetwater Brewery's best: "Gifts from friends that were never opened. One for my marriage, the other for rescuing bloody 'Ogwarts. But, Takeshi didn't drink, and so, we never opened either. Could just as easily do it n…"

A troubling realization seems to wash over Rena once more, just as she reaches for one of the bottles. Her words cease, and she shrinks back, timidly. "I… on second thoughts, I'd better not."

Charlie refrains from rolling his eyes. Figures that her odd ex-husband is a teetotaller, as well. "Are you kiddin'? A drink is exactly what you need right now." He kneels by the trunk, looking over each bottle, and selects the Sweetwater. "It'll settle your nerves, seeing as I set them on edge, tryin' to get the jump on you." He looks up at her with a devilish smirk, offering the bottle up.

The young woman looks genuinely scared - not of Charlie - but the bottle. Is it fear, or is it some deep seated worry lurking in the background?
Biting her lower lip and quickly shaking her head, Rena moves back and sits down on a much smaller trunk. Crossing her arms over her lap, it's an oddly defensive position for her to take, and certainly unlike her. But, of course, she's been put through the wringer, lately. It could explain things. "Please, you can 'ave one… but it's better if I don't." She says at last.

Charlie knows fear from fear, and something isn't sitting right. He sets the bottle back in the trunk, rising up, only to crouch on the balls of his feet in front of her. "Heeey," he says softly, reaching for her hand. "You wanna tell me what's goin' on? I ain't ever known a soul that'd turn down a drink after a bad break up. Talk to me, doll."

There is one thing for which Rena has no talent in this life: Lying.
Blushing deeply, she can't maintain eye contact with Charlie for more than a second. Her chin drops down, and her gaze falls to her lap - and there, it remains for some time. Clearly, she is struggling with more than just the breaking up of her marriage. It's something far deeper and more extremely.
"B-birdie and I… I mean I'm not sure… But he'll do right by me. I know what you think of 'im, but it's not true…" She falters, scarcely able to get the words to come out, given how tight and strained her voice is, now. "Charlie, I think I'm expecting."
There, she said it.

Silence falls, and grows, filling the room like a tangible presence. Charlie is frozen where he is, staring at Rena with wide, dark eyes. Every old instinct he has screams at him to get out now. Just leave her to her fantasy life with her fantasy man, for as long as that might last. She can have this baby and he'll be free to live and steal and revel as he pleases. But damn it all if he doesn't genuinely like this girl, and double damn it all if he'll let some nose-in-the-air Brit in a uniform dictate his life, or hers. "But it could be mine," he says plainly, stating what she wouldn't. "It could be mine, and not his."

Rena swallows hard. She still can't look up; she still can't bring herself to look at Charlie. However, without even realizing it, she is shaking her head, almost imperceptibly in denial. Her arms clutch around herself in a trembling embrace, and the colour seems to begin draining from her face. "It was such a short time ago… surely it isn't." She says, her brow furrowing as she tries to sort out the days in her mind. It's all been such a blur since then. "I mean, I 'aven't felt anything beyond what you might call woman's intuition. But… but it was there, plain as plain in the leaves. Not even just once." She says. Go and figure that she's superstitious enough to be into Divination.

"'Surely' nothin'," Charlie protests. "Did your leaves tell you I ain't the father? No, don't even answer that. There ain't a cup of tea in the world that's ever done me any good." Charlie stands up and begins to pace, his lips pinched tightly. "Let me guess. You told Chuck, and he wants to marry you right off. Gee, couldn't have seen that coming." His voice drips with sarcasm.

Finally, these words bring Rena's gaze back up to Charlie. His sarcasm is not above her intelligence to detect, and her expression is one of mixed emotion: "If it's true and I am expecting, then yes, 'e wants to marry me as soon as possible to make things right. Not that 'e didn't want to in the first place… And 'is name is Charles - or Birdie." She adds, her fingers tightening a little into her coat. "If it some'ow turns out to not be true, then there's time."
Glancing away, Rena shifts a little uncomfortably, saying: "He's got plenty of things to say about you, too."

"Oh, I'll bet he does," Charlie mutters. "Lemme guess. I'm just some lowlife tryin' to have my way with you. I have no idea about the so-called 'true love' between you. Oh, let's not forget the favorite. I'm American. Some 'bloody Yank' couldn't possibly understand how a proper British gentleman behaves." He tucks his hands into his pockets, leveling an arched-browed gaze at her. "Am I gettin' warm?"

If Rena weren't feeling so peaked and out of sorts right now, her cheeks might flush with colour once more. However, she simply remains pale, and her gaze darts back to Charlie, unsettled: "Some of it, yes… You can't blame 'im when I can't even say I know 'alf the things about you that I know about 'im. I don't even know where you work or what you do for a living." Stopping herself, the young woman places her hands beside her on the trunk to steady herself before continuing in a genuinely hurt way: "'E says that you're not the sort of man you trust with your money or your wife. And you like to play mind-games on me, mixing me up."

Charlie snorts, shaking his head at Rena. "Well, you ain't exactly given yourself a chance to get to know me, have you? Soon as you found your flyboy, Charlie was yesterday's news." He steps nearer, looking down at her with barely contained frustration. "Do you think I play mind games on you?"

Is Rena just soppy like all females? One has to wonder at times. Her reaction to Charlie's words and his open frustration is not entirely unexpected, given his experience in talking to her about hard things. She begins to cry.
Unable to maintain eye contact again, she quickly looks away and lets out a stifled sob: "I don't know. I'm just a stupid, uneducated girl from the waterfront. What do I know?" Here, her words are cut off by a distressed sniffle before she can continue. "You make me feel as though I'm the worst person ever lived. I never meant to 'urt you like that. I never meant to make you feel that way. I can't bear 'urting anyone… and that's all I ever seem to do anymore." Now, she turns aside, propping her arms on the larger trunk so that she can bury her face.

"Jesus, doll. You think I'm the one that's got you all mixed up? Look at what that stuffed shirt has done to you." Charlie crouches again, laying a hand on hers. "You think I grew up with a silver spoon in my mouth? I guarantee your flyboy did. It's written all over him. I'm from the streets of New York, kid. Best break I ever got was a letter from Salem. I grew up the same as you did. You wonder why you feel mixed up around me? It's 'cause I understand you, and I know you sense that. I get you in ways he never could. He doesn't know what it's like to have to make somethin' outta yourself when the whole world is tellin' you that you're nothin'." He chances an attempt to pull her arm back to coax her face out again. "I know you, and you know me."

Rena wants so badly to object, to defend Faulkner. Of course he wasn't REALLY born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Upper-middle-class and the like… but, compared to kids who grew up on the dark side of life, anything looks like silver. It's all context and relative to the situation.
Sniffling again, Rena turns her face when Charlie gently tugs her arm back. When her gaze meets with his, she says: "I've got to turn it around, Charlie. Look at all the awful things I've done… the mess I've made of my life. If I'm 'aving a baby, I've got to do the right thing." A pause, and Rena adds: "Birdie only just managed to make me stop wanting to run away. Now I just wish I could disappear. I'm terrified. I'm scared sick."

Charlie sighs, resting a hand on her shoulder and rubbing gently. "Chuck wants you to think the 'right thing' is marrying him. Even if you're carrying my baby. How the hell is that 'right'? There's no right thing in life, doll. There's only the easy thing and the hard thing, and the easy thing usually ends up being the hard thing in the long run." He sighs, lowering his head. "Don't do this. Don't let him rewrite who you are. He will ruin you."

Rena visibly cringes when Charlie again says that the baby might be his. How could she DO this? How could she make such an unholy mess of her life? If she really were a Muggle, she would be an outcast from society for what she's done.
"How would it be right if the baby belongs to 'im?" She asks, her voice very small. It works both ways. If it belongs to Charlie, of course she's doing him wrong; but, on the other hand, if it belongs to Faulkner (and she's pretty damn sure it does) then she would be doing him wrong, as well.
"'E loves me for who I am. I know you don't believe me. And 'e wants this… 'e wants this child, and to be a family." Rena says, desperately trying to sort things out in her own mind.

Charlie sighs and stands upright. "If you're so damned sure of yourself, why are you even arguin' this with me? Love is a word people use when it's convenient. It's a way to put someone off their guard so you can get what you want from them. He wants a pretty young bride. You want some kinda stability, because of what your husband did to you. So you'll rush right into another marriage without thinkin', and you will regret it one day. I don't need tea leaves to tell me that. Love won't save you from that. It's what sets you up for the fall, kid.

"I know you don't like what I'm sayin'. But you know damn well that I've always talked straight to you. I was the one who helped you stand upright when your husband was knockin' your feet out from under you. I was your safe place. So, if you feel bad about treatin' me that way…well, you should. You tossed me aside when I became inconvenient. Maybe I ain't Mr. Perfect, and maybe I ain't promising you a fairy tale. But I'm still standing here, trying to be your friend in spite of it all. I don't know a lotta people that'd do that for anyone."

"Do you think I want you gone from my life?" Rena asks abruptly, her voice wavering with emotion and fear. Everything is so messed up and torn apart inside of her right now. Last night, she was able to sail on a happy cloud… and now, she's been brought crashing down, again.
"Is that what you think? That I want you to go away and never talk to me again? If that were true, I wouldn't 'ave panicked when I thought you were hurt just now." She says, trying to prop herself up. "And 'ow can you say that all he wants is a pretty, young bride? 'E was a bloody confirmed bachelor until I came along and wrecked 'is life." Pausing, she reaches into her coat pocket and produces a letter. "I told 'im that 'e was better off without me. I told 'im that I should go away and never come back. But 'e wouldn't hear of it. Read it. Read it if you don't believe me about 'ow that man feels about me. Please?" She then begs, plaintively.

Charlie sighs as he takes the letter. "Trust me, red. When a man it lookin' at forty in the rear-view mirror, he isn't looking at a beautiful, energetic woman half his age as a wrecking ball in his life." He unfolds the paper, taking the time to read it carefully…perhaps twice. "Ah." He glances up to her, his expression unchanging, the letter dangling before him between his index and middle fingers. He lifts his brow expectantly at her, waiting silently.

Rena watches Charlie read the letter with concern and anxiety painting her features. The remark about the difference in their age is enough to leave a lingering blush in her cheeks, but she refrains from comment. Faulkner may be older, but he isn't dead. She can attest to that, even if it would be poor taste to say so.
When it comes down to it, and the only word Charlie can say is "Ah," Rena seems utterly confused and nonplussed. "Ah? That's all you can say is Ah? What do you mean by it?" She doesn't really know.

Charlie folds the letter up and offers it back to Rena. "I don't mean anything by it. I'm not sure what you thought that letter would convince me of. He sure writes pretty words. I'll grant him that. Did I need to write a poem so you'd listen to me? I thought telling you that you shouldn't doubt your worth was enough. I didn't know this was the trick."

"That's the only thing you take away from it?" Rena asks, quietly. Taking the letter from Charlie, she gently tucks it away once more into the pocket hidden within her coat. "I did listen to you about that - I tried to… I 'ave such a 'ard time believing it from either of you. I try so hard…"
Rena's shoulders slump, and she pitches forward slightly, holding her hand to her forehead suddenly as if feeling unwell. Closing her eyes, she leans heavily on her hand, her elbow propped on her knee: "Bloody room, stop spinning!" She whimpers.

Charlie drops down to kneel in front of her, pressing his hand lightly to her cheek. "Take deep breaths. Don't close your eyes. Fix them on a spot, like my shoe, or something." He shrugs almost meekly. "My mom used to get dizzy spells."

"Did… she?" Rena asks, struggling to pull her wits together and focus madly on something else. All the colour has washed away from her features. Now, she doesn't look pale - she looks downright frighteningly ill. She tries to raise her head, but, to no avail. Her lips begin to form another word, her body sags as she slips into a dead faint. Clearly, it's not an act or a put-on, either. If it weren't for Charlie being there, she would wind up in a heap on the floor.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa," Charlie is well-positioned to fold the collapsing Rena right into his arms, saving her from a tumble. "Rena? Shit. Red? Wake up, doll." He gently lowers Rena to the floor, laying her down. Lightly tapping her cheeks, he hovers over her. "Rena? Come back to me, babe."

For a very long time, Rena simply doesn't respond to Charlie's efforts to bring her back. She lays there unconscious, her breathing shallow. It seems as though she isn't going to wake up so easily. Sheer exhaustion, coupled with mental and emotional turmoil may be the cause, but there is no way to ask a damn woman who's fainted and lying prone on the floor what's wrong.

After being unable to rouse Rena for a full minute or so, Charlie swears and scoops his arms under her, hoisting her into his arms. "Time to see the doctor, kid." Thank goodness no Healer was present to hear him call them doctors. He pauses only long enough to shut the front door on their way out, heading for the nearest business with a Floo connection to take her straight to St. Mungo's.

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