When Ray comes in, he is hidden behind sunnies and under a straw hat.
“Aruba again?” Ava asks.
“What? It’s a dis... oh.” He’s fidgeting with the bobble and drawstring, sliding them tighter, up and down his neck.
“We do this every time, Ray,” Ava complains. “You really don’t need to bother.
“Look, you’re not in trouble, you know. I can’t fault you for visiting your—“
“She’s not my—“
“I didn’t say she... Ray?”
He sniffles. His eyes are red and glassy, now, as he pulls those shaded sunnies off. Ava shifts. Sara likes to joke that Ava’s allergic to emotion. Ava never thinks she’s as bad as she really is until she’s faced with actually having to provide comfort.
“Do you— you know what? I think I’ll go get Nate.” And with that, Ava disappears into the bowels of the Bureau.
Ray sits cross-legged on cool concrete. When nothing comes in or moves for ten minutes, the air slows with a huff, and lights switch off. He’s stiff when he stands. The soles of his feet prickle.
Well, he could either process here, alone and silent and in the dark, or he could do the same in front of Nora’s cell. (Visiting hours though there may be, the cell’s frosted glass remains just that cruel amount of frosty enough that Nora’d have no idea Ray was visiting unless he spoke. He psychs himself up to say something, every time, and never manages. Every time, his voice sticks, or she seems like she’s sleeping, or she’s in thinking, or...
He knows he’s meant to talk, and he always wants to and intends to, but it seems too invasive and he feels too clumsy.
He doesn’t second-guess much, usually. Usually, he has little cause to. They call the life-changing shots as a team, and Ray’s own, personal choices are trivial, or can be adjusted with fairly little trouble.
With Nora, it’s important and it’s final and he’s scared.
Nora is never scared. He’s heard her cry behind that glass, and still maintains the belief.
Because Nora handed herself over, smiling gently. Nora sits in that cell every day, and if she complains — he doubts she does — there’s no one to hear it. She is braver and more brilliant than is at all reasonable, and she has made a beautiful, brave, terrible choice.
“I can see you, Ray,” she croaks. It’s been half an hour or so of sour, buzzing silence. “I can, every time.”
“Nora,” he says. “But... frosted glass?”
“Just your silhouette, then,” she corrects. “A bit fuzzy, and not much colour in it, but I know it’s you. I can see just well enough, and besides, who else would it be?”
A beat of silence.
Then, “You deserve a true redemption,” Ray says. “This is terrible. I’m so sorry.”
“I chose this, Ray. Remember?”
“Ray,” she interrupts. He can’t really tell if she’s happy or sad. “Thank you for visiting. Say you’re welcome.”
“You’re welcome,” he mimics, obedient but hollow.
“There you go. Thank you, Ray. Really.” She hovers her hand to the glass. “We’ll talk again next time, too?”
“Yes, of course, Nora. You’re— you’re just so, incredibly brave. I wish I could do something to really help. I wish I could save you.” He sounds on the verge of tears, and she’s not far behind.
“Talking to you helps me. I’ll be out of here one day. Maybe. And Ray? You’re brave too.”