The Only Cure
Log Title
Summary: The continuing saga of Reighner and Corinne comes to a head after the Spotlights show is canceled.
Date: 120 ACH
Related Logs: Anything with Reighner and Corinne

Spotlights Carina - Pyr Hotel
120 ACH 23777 Souls

In the sea of sports, there is a small island of non sports related propaganda. That is Spotlights. Hearkening back to bygone days of flatscreen projected images as entertainment, Spotlights is a dim place, the intimate tables never holding more than four people. The low lighting is broken from time to time by its namesake, occasionally a cone of light sweeping slowly through the area, though the effect on the air, laden with a harmless mist generator is more of the beam of the light visible than shining harshly on anyone. The air is quiet, with the occasional lone piano music heard drifting through the air. The bar is polished glass and chrome, catching and reflecting the light when the two meet, otherwise the subdued offset lights give the place a sensual glow. One wall holds a low curtained stage, which at times draws back, and the spotlights fade, and a classic film plays at scheduled times. The bar serves drinks and food, though the emphasis is on the drinks, and the food is limited. All the glassware is sparkling clean and of crystal. Martini glasses, whiskey tumblers, daiquiri glasses and Brandy Snifters, Spotlights has it all.

Contents: Corinne Reighner Wireless 834

Exits: [DR] Dressing Rooms [O] Out

Well this is kind of depressing. There's definitely not a concert going on here at Spotlights, and since the liquor dried up and the rations got so low, hardly anyone ever comes here anymore. But there's Corinne, sitting at a booth with a glass of water, elbow on table and cheek smooshed against her fist.

Reighner walks into the club, fully expecting it to be packed. He holds a single yellow rose in his right hand. His eyebrows flatten, and he slows, visibly confused.

Corinne is about the only person here, save for the bartender, who looks more like a decoration than an actual worker. Corinne catches the movement of the door opening and someone entering, but she doesn't look in that direction. "Show's cancelled," she calls out.

Reighner squints in the direction of the voice. He probably needs glasses. He nods to the bartender as he walks up to the booth. "Why?"

A middle-aged, balding man standing about 5'10 tall. His face is weathered and starting to crease. Thin eyebrows lay atop brown eyes, a narrow nose, and a prominent and dimpled chin. His hair is mostly black with some white strands.

He's dressed in a pale blue dress shirt. Barrel cuffs, spread collar, and well-fitted. His collar is secured by a thin black necktie ending at the beltline. He wears a pair of black dress pants and black dress shoes.

He wears a matching black suit jacket. Single breasted, double vented, peak lapeled, and two buttoned. The thin stripe of a matching pale blue handkerchief peaks out from the suit's breast pocket.

Corinne glances up as the person moves closer, looking irritated by his approach until she looks up and sees who it is. Lowering her hand from her face, she straightens herself into a less slouchy position. She glances over him, eyes grazing the rose in his hand, and she smiles a little ruefully. "The sax player quit, there's nothing to drink or eat, and apparently a bunch of military types are off on some mission so no one expected a good turnout. Nick figured it was best to postpone." She pauses, then adds, "Sorry, I should've called so you didn't have to waste a shuttle trip."

Without asking, Reighner slumps into the seat opposite hers. He exhales and offers her the rose. It doesn't look particularly polished — at least the thorns are out. "Well, now's as good a time as any."

Corinne accepts the rose, her rueful smile shifting into a more genuine one. "Thanks," she says, inspecting the flower thoughtfully. "It's pretty. Where'd you find it?"

"I know somebody who has an illegal growing operation," Reighner answers. He folds his arms on the table and shows some serious cuff. He explains, with a quirk of an eyebrow and a shrug, "Uses too much water, doesn't make anything edible."

"Well, thank you for the inedible contraband," Corinne replies, looking at Reighner more closely. The cuffs get her attention first, of course, but she works her way up from there and grins. "You're really good at following directions," she observes, setting the rose down carefully before reaching for her water.

Reighner does his best to seem unamused by that. He asks, thinly veiled, "So, this is the second time you've mentioned Nicholas."

Corinne arches her eyebrows, sliding the glass closer to her without lifting it. "Is it? Well, he's the one who books my shows." She pauses, then adds, "And he's a friend, I suppose."

"From the Destiny?" Reighner asks.

"Yes," Corinne replies, looking faintly amused. "I've known him for about a year or so." She has a sip of her water finally, watching Reighner's face over the rim.

The doctor keeps his emotions close to the cuff, so to speak, although his machinegun-like questions may be revealing. As she drinks, he looks out. "This place's changed a lot."

Corinne still looks rather amused, but she glances around when he does. "Mm," she agrees, then swallows her sip. She pauses a moment, then smirks. "Nick's not exactly my type, you know. I prefer men who are attracted to women."

Reighner takes this bit of news in stride. "Hmm?" His eyes slide back, his voice casual, "Oh, well, good for him." He clears his throat. "So what was the surprise?"

Corinne sets her glass down, glancing briefly towards the stage. "I wrote a song," she reveals, turning her head and dropping her gaze to the table. "I was looking forward to singing it."

"Oh yeah?" Reighner lifts his eyebrows. He seems very pleased. "Let's hear it."

Corinne is not a humble person by nature. But at that request, she tips her chin towards her chest and chuckles a touch nervously. "I don't know," she says, glancing across the table without lifting her head. "You really want to hear it?"

"Sure," Reighner answers, grinning. "Take your first pass at a more forgiving audience."

Corinne smirks, sitting up straighter. "All right," she says, sliding out of the seat. "You'll have to forgive my skills as a pianist, though." She starts moving towards the stage, but not before she picks the rose up off the table. "Come sit a little closer," she requests as she moves.

Reighner slides out of the booth. "How much would a private concert have netted you, back on the Colonies?" he asks as he follows her. He picks a seat close to the stage, facing it.

"Not enough for me to do them," Corinne replies, climbing the short set of stairs that lead onto the stage. She slips onto the piano bench, setting the rose down next to her. "I didn't play on the Colonies. The Destiny's always been my gig, and they always wanted way too big a piece of the proceeds for me to be even slightly interested in playing intimately for some rich, fat CEO." As soon as her tone turns derisive, she puts a lid on it and glances back down at Reighner, grinning. "You get this for free."

Reighner smirks. He laces his fingers and leans in expectantly.

Corinne takes a moment to gather her bearings, playing a few preliminary chords with her foot on the soft pedal to mute them. Then she stops, takes in a breath, and begins playing in earnest. She wasn't lying about her skills as a pianist needing to be forgiven - all she can manage are the chords, without any improvosation. But her voice, unamplified as it is, takes the focus off the piano entirely as she sings:

The liquor's gone, the pills are too
And this headache's only cure is you
But you keep walking, yes you do
Walking out my door

I can't see straight as I walk that line
Between feeling ill and feeling fine
But it'd all be clear if you were mine
Baby, of that I'm sure

The chords shift somewhat, indicating an upcoming change in the song.

As the song keeps along, Reighner's expression changes. His smirk slowly flattens and he starts taking deeper breaths.

Corinne has to look at her hands as she plays, which is probably a good thing. She plunks through a few more chords, then continues in her smoky alto:

There's nothing left of anything
That could take away this pain
I can't eat, I can hardly sing
This sorry, sad refrain

She manages a bit of deviation here on the piano, hitting a few single keys before leading back into the same chords from the beginning.

Reighner unconsciously straightens his upper body and tilts his head up a notch.

Corinne continues playing, but the piano grows increasingly quiet as she nears the end of the song:

I try to sleep, but sleep won't come
I try to write, but my hand goes numb
I can see what you're running from
Baby, I'd run too

But my body aches from head to toe
My mind's a wreck and my thinking's slow
Yet somehow, I still seem to know
That the only cure is you

By the last line, her hands are off the keys, and her eyes are closed, angled straight ahead. When she's done, she continues sitting like that, still and silent.

By the end of the song, Reighner's upper body hangs precariously over the table, with folded arms acting as tripod. His mouth is slightly agape, his eyes fixed on her person. He doesn't say a damn word.

Corinne opens her eyes, still looking straight ahead for a few seconds. Then she shifts, picking up the rose and swinging her legs over the side of the bench to face Reighner. She studies him, her expression almost sheepish. "So there it is."

Reighner clears his throat. He sniffs and leans back. The chair creaks underneath his weight. "It sounds good," he says, voice strange.

Corinne stands from the bench and descends the steps, then takes the seat across from him. She nods shallowly. "Thanks. I've never really written a whole song before. I guess withdrawal is good for something."

"Yeah," Reighner answers. "It does remodel the neurons." His eyebrows twitch, and he seems to be studying her. "Listen. Was that…" He points up at the stage, and then he points between them a few times.

Corinne looks amused by Reighner's hand signaling, but only briefly. Her expression sobers, and she looks plainly at him. "Don't make me explain it, because I can't. I like you. Take it or leave it, Matt."

Reighner clears his throat again. He clasps his hands together and looks down at the table. "Corinne." If one was paying attention one would note that this is the first time he's called her by name. "I don't…" He looks up. "I don't really know what to do with it. I'm…" He pauses, hesitant. "I have feelings for you. But…"

Corinne keeps her eyes on his face as he looks down, studying intently. When he looks back up, she swallows and attempts to look a little less intense. She doesn't say anything as he trails off, but her eyebrows lift, and she leans forward, waiting for him to continue.

"It hasn't even been four months yet," Reighner continues, voice quieting. "Sometimes… sometimes I still wake up and think my wife is with me." He seems to leave it at that. He tightens his jaw, rippling the muscles on his cheek, and looks back down.

Corinne nods, slowly. She looks at the table, quiet for a few long seconds. "I can't even imagine," she replies at length. She looks up. "I'm sorry. I don't mean to pressure you, or… whatever it is I'm doing. I don't even know what I'm doing."

Reighner meets her look. "I don't." He puts the heel of his hand on his cheek and runs his forefingers through his forehead. "I don't want to disrespect her." He puts the hand down, and says, with almost palpable reluctance, "I'm sorry."

Corinne looks at Reighner's face for a long time before she opens her mouth to make a reply. "There's nothing a person could possibly say to argue with that. I would feel insensitive even trying." Her jaw tightens and she swallows, then she looks down. "But I want to, anyway. Gods damn it."

"I'm sorry," Reighner answers, voice barely above a whisper. He pushes back and moves to stand.

"Matt," Corinne pleads, leaning over the table to reach for his hand in hopes of keeping him from standing. "Don't, please." She looks at him, her expression imploring and accusatory all at once. "You wore blue. You brought me a rose, while we're all slowly starving."

He could say that she's making a scene, but who would see? Reighner won't let his hand be caught. He tightens his jaw again. "I know." He looks pained. "I'm… I'm sorry. I shouldn't have done those things. I've been leading you on."

Corinne pulls her hand back, staring at him in disbelief. She blinks a few times, her eyes moving subtly as though she were replaying something in her head. She stands now, reaching for the rose she had carefully set on the table in front of her. "I'm sorry for your loss. I really am. But you know that life has to go on, and who knows how long we even have left. No one deserves to be that alone, Matt." She shakes her head, then lets out a breath and a word. "Goodnight."

"Please," Reighner mumbles. "I'm sorry. I just." He takes a step back and shakes his head. "I just don't know what to do." He says, "I'm sorry," for the final time before turning around and walking for the door.

"Admit that you're human," Corinne says to his back as she watches him go.

The good doctor doesn't reply. He moves quickly and is soon out the door.

It's a good thing the rose doesn't have thorns, because Corinne's frustration is so dramatic, that the thing is crushed into something almost unrecognizable by the time he's out the door.

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