Part of the Through A Glass, Darkly Arc
Summary: Hudson visits Alvina after her arrest. Her prison experience is more like a sleep away camp than actual punishment all in thanks to Hudson's influence. Under the observation of the guard, the Landons' navigate the subtleties of Meri's agreement to clear up the misunderstanding and how the potential blowback of this news might affect their children.
The guards might have had orders to arrest Alvina and throw her in jail, but they knew better than to make the experience too authentic. Her cell was a private one, in the werewolf wing, surrounded by those containing women who, for one reason or another, had reason to be loyal to the Landon empire. They included Milo's mate among their number, thrown in the clink with suspicious timing for alleged street vandalism. The women were friendly enough and talked to Alvina, and nobody bothered them. The small bloc received hot food three times a day, library books from a cart, and were permitted to exercise in the yard with the general population. No shifting was allowed except once a month under controlled conditions.
On the third day of this, Alvina was summoned to the office of the prison guard commander.
"How has your stay been? Is there anything I can do to improve it?" he had asked wearily, before pushing a paper bag across his desk to her. Inside had been several cannolis. "Your bail hearing will be in a few days," the man had continued. "You're allowed visits tomorrow. I hope you only have good things to say about my institution."
Back in their cell bloc, Charlotte - Milo's mate - had found nail polish and offered to paint Alvina's nails for the occasion. It doesn't quite feel like sleepaway camp yet but the mood among the women is high. They'd all congregated in Alvina's cell, since a number of comfortable beanbags had mysteriously appeared there earlier, along with an extra pillow for Alvina's bed.
"I thought we'd have to knife a bitch in the showers by now," comments one of the women, Cindy, who is braiding her hair in Alvina's mirror. "This is a surprisingly chill gig."
"I don't think it's another gang," comments another of their number, Denise, who is paging through a year-old edition of a popular women's magazine.
"Who, then?" asks Charlotte.
"Someone trying to mess with Hudson, or Alvina," guesses Denise, prying two pages apart. "This is sticky for mysterious reasons," she comments distastefully. "You got enemies?" she asks Alvina.
Alvina’d done just as Hudson had instructed; say nothing to the guards. Once she was situated in her cell and gotten to know the other women, the ordeal was less grueling. She had her suspicions about why Milo’s mate was incarcerated a tick after Alvina but she knew well enough to not ask questions. The other women only affirmed that mindset along with other notable tips such as ‘don’t pop off to the guards, that’s a man’s game’. Be polite, gracious, quiet; all things Alvina was experienced in being.
She’s grateful for the easy going and knowledgeable company of the other women, along with the safety their private wing bought them. It’s unexpected to her, perhaps not everyone else, when she returns from the commander’s office with sweets.
“I told him it was a lovely establishment.” She recounts, wrists propped for painting purposes. Alvina echoes Cindy’s sentiment. She’d been terrified of potential violence, especially since she was known as a ‘fruffy well to do’. Turns out being in the mob has perks, even in prison. Even if you’re involved by association or marriage.
The other women speculate on who could be causing the Landon’s so much trouble. No doubt it has a sizeable impact on them too, so they‘re just as invested in solving the riddle as Alvina and Hudson are. Denise’s question catches her off guard (though it shouldn’t). Does she have any enemies? Is Eleanor her enemy? She’d practically threatened her. Alvina frowns. There are a few people she can think of that dislike her (strongly) but no one she could pin the blame on in good conscious. “I’m guessing whoever is messing with us has something against Hudson.” She didn’t want to say she didn’t know much about his work. So she scuffs with indifference, fanning her nails, playing it off.
Hopefully, Hudson would have good news. He’d have to bail Charlotte out too. “We should look into getting a swimming pool in here.” Alvina half jokes, wondering if Hudson’s prison time would be like this. She scrunches her nose at the sticky page. A certain prissiness has built up alongside her entitlement that’s only visible in situations like this; when she’s expected to be a mobster’s wife.
Denise pauses in her flipping around her magazine. "Well I'd say whoever it is has royally ticked him off now," she says dryly, exchanging a glance with Charlotte, who is giving the look that signals the conversation should stop. Denise seems indignant. She's not running any orange lights here. "What?" she asks Charlotte, "We all know he's gonna find a way to get her out. This is a temporary vacation. At worst, she does her time with the ankle bracelet."
"I agree," quips Cindy, knotting her braid and coming back to sink into a beanbag. She nudges Alvina's foot with hers playfully. "You're going to come out with a nice rep of being a bad bitch who went to prison though."
“Perks!” declares Charlotte, sliding the polish over to Alvina and flattening her hands on the book they’ve been using as a flat surface. “Now me.”
Alvina can’t imagine coming out of this with a bad rep just for being IN prison. Going to prison might be a different story. One, she’s sure, will be published readily by the same reporter who’d already escaped their (Hudson’s) grasp before. If she was the mob Queen, these women were her ladies in waiting. It’s strangely satisfying to feel so important, even in prison! She hopes Milo is coming to visit Charlotte.
Alvina's special treatment is not yet at an end or close to it. The following day, they lead her to a quiet room away from the rest of the visitor stalls. She's cuffed to a desk and told to wait.
Hudson is shown in some five minutes later. He looks unshaven but otherwise like himself. Immediately he takes stock of Alvina, though says nothing until the guard who'd let him in leaves, shutting the door behind him. His face gives him away beforehand though: he's relieved she's not roughed up, relieved to see her in the flesh.
"Hey," he clasps her free hand across the table and squeezes. "Is everything OK? You got put with Milo's girl and everyone else?"
Alvina’s under no illusions when she’s lead off to a different room to wait. She’s cuffed to a table, eyes searching the door hungrily for her husband. As soon as he’s lead through the door she tries to stand, cuffs clinking with tension before encouraging her to remain seated. “Hudson!” Her face reflects his relief. She’s elated, near the point of tears, when he takes her hand.
“Baby…Hi.” She sighs loudly, when they are finally alone, squeezing his fingers tightly. “Everything is fine. I’m with Charlotte and everyone else.” They are nice women but their names escape her in this moment. “My gods, I’m so glad to see you.” All the little touches of comfort here were one thing but being away from her family was the real punishment.
“Are you okay? The kids?” Are they asking questions about what happened? Given the dramatic scene in which she was taken away. Was he sleeping? He looked rough around the edges. “I miss you so much.”
Hudson can't help himself: he grins like an idiot, his wife's relief at seeing him doing a lot to swell his heart and undo the damage from these past few stressful days. "I'm glad, I'm really glad to see you," he says, squeezing her hand again. He feels like he has everything to tell her and also nothing at all.
He'd happily sit here and stare at her for longer, but she's asking him questions. "Fine, stressed, but you know. I miss you too," he trips over his responses. His face falls as he pauses before continuing. "The kids know. They're taking time off of school but it's in the papers, so I had to have a talk with them. The girls took it.... you know, well. Basically said like, you know, mom's being accused of something because people don't really understand werewolves and get afraid of us sometimes. But, you know, she didn't do anything wrong and it's a big misunderstanding. But they need to be big girls and help with Bryce - he definitely didn't understand - until it's all sorted out." Hudson shrugs, grimacing. "You know, they're really worried and stuff but they're being really brave and good. We have been talking a lot about being a werewolf and why people are scared and how the girls need to be aware of that reaction and how it makes them feel." He licks his lips and glances around them. No sense of whether anyone's listening, but he's not sure he minds if they hear this anyway. "I talked to Meri, she said she's going to clear everything up so you should be out soon. At least on bail while they process her statement, OK baby? I miss you very much."
Alvina's heart swells with Hudson's boyish grin. The softness he shows his family gets her every time. It's short-lived, the elation of their reunion, in the face of educating their children about werewolf racism. It persists even in a city run by werewolves. She looks down at the table and studies the metallic shine of her handcuffs. Despite what the women ‘loyal' to the Landon Empire said, there was plenty of shame being here. Most of which involved her children. What if they doubt her word now? What if they feel jeopardized? Like their parents can’t protect them always? Of course, Bryce didn't understand. She hoped he wouldn't remember this. Alvina tries to cover her mouth with her cuffed hand but it clinks against the bar again. "Our children," her voice breaks with pride. Their girls are strong. They are Landons! Moreover, Hudson's handling of their werewolf lineage and their *feelings* on the subject makes her proud to call him her husband. Prouder still that they are his children. It goes without saying that Hudson should tell them that mom's fine. That she's safe and this will all be over soon. Meri's name surprises her. Alvina squints at him uncertainly. "What did she say?" Clear everything up? The hairs on the back of her neck raise, hackled with frustration. It was already in the papers! It wouldn't undo the embarrassment of being jailed (no matter how nice the accommodations) or the confusion it grew in their children. She didn't think Meri was responsible nor did she blame her in the least. Her frustration was born out of being unable to erase the stain this mystery person put on them. That Meri would have to lie to save Alvina’s skin despite Alvina turning her against her will. Alvina just wanted to know who heard enough to compose this truth with compelling enough evidence to result in her arrest. Hudson soothes her, saying he misses her in the way only he could. It conveys a sureness that it will be okay and she's eager and able to believe him more now. "Okay," she relents, squeezing his hand again with a brittle smile.
Hudson is proud of the girls too. Hudson had told them that the guards had silvered him for their own safety, and he'd let them because he hadn't wanted any misunderstandings. They had had a long but heartrending conversation about the importance of cooperating with law enforcement even when the charges are unfair and wrong. Because werewolves are viewed as violent and dangerous, anything viewed as aggressive could make a guard quick to act to protect themselves. It is far better to be safe than sorry, even if it's hard to swallow one's pride or manage one's anger. Luna, in awe, had asked to see the healed welts on his wrists. Harper had wanted to feel silver for herself. (Of course that had been a no.) It had been an actual teachable moment.
Hudson can see the alarm settling in his wife on the subject of Meri. There's only so much he can say under potential observation. She seems to understand that, at least, and doesn't push him though he can tell she has questions. "Meri's really confused how this even happened," he continues, carefully. "Like, you know, it's completely fake news. But we'll get it cleaned up, just frustrating. Anti-wolf BS." He leaves that there. "I appreciate that you have a good attitude. Your bail hearing's soon, the lawyer says that should go fine. You'll get one of those ankle bracelets probably. All the other moms will think you're hardcore, won't cross you at the PTA." That... might already be the case. He grins in a manner that's intended to be encouraging. "Small perk of this otherwise annoying situation."
Alvina tenses when Meri's name makes a reappearance. She knows there are probably other parties privy to this conversation (the other women had warned her guards would be listening) so she doesn’t explode hysterically when she thinks about the possibility that Meri’d turned her in. They’d had such a good talk last time, Meri’d said she needed time and Alvina understood. It wouldn’t make sense for this to be tied back to Meri or even Khitti. Who else knew but Eleanor? And even then, Meri said Eleanor didn’t know but had made her own inferences. “It is frustrating…” She agrees, after a controlled exhale. He comments on her attitude and she offers a small smile. “Gotta set a good example for the kids.” As nice as the lush prison gig goes, Alvina’d much rather be home with some government grade jewelry. Besides, she wasn’t in the business of violence. Diplomacy was her adornment, if any other action was necessary it would be Hudson who decided and executed it.
She groans dramatically after mention of a ‘hard core’ PTA rep. “I don’t want the other parents to exclude our kids just because they incorrectly assume I’m a wild werewolf.” And honestly, she hadn’t gone around bragging about her lycanthropy. Most parents assumed, given her children and her husband. What sort of mad Human girl would get involved with a werewolf? Did she not listen to the cautionary tales of young maidens who are swept away by beasts in the woods, never to return? Look at that ridiculous grin. “Cut that out!” She laughs. He knew being ‘feared’ was not on her approved list of quantifiers for the ‘Alvina Landon’ brand. The light mood is what really encourages her. He’s making it sound like an open and shut case.
Hudson looks like this is the first he's hearing of people excluding their children. The way Alvina has put it suggests to him that it's happened on some level before, or it's a concern that Alvina tries to manage secretly, because if he were to find about it, his reaction would be ... "Who's excluding? Do I need to talk to anyone?" he asks, confused, his amusement evidently only fleeting. His wife's distasteful expression suggests that this conversation was over before it even started. "Well anyway," he decides to return to the more pressing topic of her being sprung from prison (in a law abiding manner). "I missed your face," now that he's here looking at her, he's forgotten all the things he wanted to tell her about between now and her arrest. He leans over the short table to give her a peck on the lips. It's done quickly because he has some concern that anything more substantive would result in the guards coming in and cutting things short out of fear that he'd somehow leveraged a make out session to slip her a weapon. His glance toward the door afterwards suggests he's expecting some type of rebuke anyway, but none comes. He settles back into his seat. "Everything good with the baby?" he asks Alvina, in a softer tone, once that's done. "I hope now that we know it's just a waiting game, you just use the time until the bail hearing to do whatever you want. I mean, within reason, I don't really know what you do for fun in prison. Are there books?"
Alvina’s quick to cut him off on the subject of discrimination and bullying. “No, but we’ve always been worried about it. It’ll be more of a concern as they get older.” He offers to ‘talk’ to someone and she frowns. “Hudson…” she sighs with classic wife inflection that he’s strayed too far from the path. He counters with sweetness and it softens her eyes again. “Stoooop,” she feigns shyness but does flush when he passes this chaste kiss across the table. “Go away,” she purrs. A subtle implication she’d prefer the opposite. His concern reminds her where they are and why a table’s separating them in the first place. Being a werewolf is not at all as glamorous as certain romance novelists have alluded to. “Everything is fine with the baby,” She echoes, taking back her hand temporarily to cradle her stomach. Despite Hudson’s warnings after the ‘biting’ incident occurred, she couldn’t imagine that he’d let them put her down. In her pregnant addled fantasy, he’d burn Cenril to the ground before he let them kill her. Romantic in thought (somehow) but less so in practice. You always want to know your partner will throw down in a literal us v them scenario. “We do have books and fingernail polish.” LUXURY. “Do you think they’d let you feel ‘em kick?” She asks, looking towards the door after he does, aware her keepers could come separate them at the suggestion.
Hudson has a reckless streak and would probably try to burn Cenril to the ground if he felt it would help. For now, though, cooperating within the confines of the law enforcement process was the best route, even if it was mildly humbling. Humbling for their detractors too, because at the end of the day the prosecution against Alvina would be dropped if he and Meri's scheme worked as planned. The public perception was probably where they'd suffer the most, but it helped that Alvina was pregnant. She was very sympathetic. The accidental baby was doing them a solid. "I don't know, let's see," he says, and gets out of his chair, moving carefully so that his body is facing the wall and his actions can be supervised. He waits for Alvina to turn in the chair to do the same. "No interruption yet, let's do this," he comments, whereupon he very slowly lowers his hand to the peak of her pregnant belly. He moves his palm to follow the pressure of the baby's kicks, and he smiles, feeling the peaceful moment expand between them. "Thank you," he says to the blank wall that he knows serves as a magical viewing pane. He spoke too soon: the door opens. A guard looks apologetic. "Time's up."
Alvina, even handcuffed in a literal prison, can’t believe how sweet her husband is being right now. Maybe it’s the absence of each other that makes this small action bring her dangerously close to tears again. This entire pregnancy served to solidify the structure of their wolf’s relationship, which softened their human hosts (naturally). She wasn’t thinking about the public image. Her concerns are short sighted; get back home to her children. To her family. She doesn’t quite understand why he’s moving and facing the way he is - she isn’t familiar with guard or prison procedure beyond the restriction of no touching (again, the experience of her ladies in waiting). When he thanks the wall, she assumes he’s thanking an unnamed higher power and doesn’t want her to see his face while doing so. Who is this man, her husband?! She whispers his name with blooming affection, free hand brushing his cheek right before the guard arrives. Her head swivels from the guard back to Hudson, who is moving his hands off her stomach. The grief of being away from him is renewed, deeper than before. She hadn’t realized how desperately she’d missed him until he was being asked to leave. She wasn’t ready and says as much while knowing her melancholy couldn’t be soothed entirely. He’d post bail. He’d come back and take her home. She believed in him. “I love you so much,” she whimpers, not knowing what to do with her body. “Can I please hug him?” She asks the guard with wide, glossy eyes. Her bottom lip trembles on the refrain, voice splintering like glass.
Hudson had been definitely making sure the guard didn't think he was handing Alvina a weapon. He isn't generally the type to pray, except as duty requires such motions to be made around holidays and other public-type events at which it's appropriate to give thanks to a power higher than himself. In any event, he hadn't thought this small effort at tenderness toward his incarcerated better half would move her like it apparently has. She looks set to cry when the guard interrupts them. "I love you too," he tells her, adding, "Don't cry, it's alright," before straightening to prepare for the guard leading him out. Alvina's not ready, though, she pleads with the man to let him hug her. Hudson draws in a breath. The request isn't likely to be granted, except it is: the guard dips his head. "Make it fast," he says with gruffness, and watches as Hudson wraps his arms around Alvina. His lips brush against her temple, "Miss you, love you, it's OK," he says, the moment short-lived because guard wastes little time in clearing his throat and calling it to an end. Hudson squeezes her forearm as they separate. "I'll see you soon, at bail."
Alvina has a loose handle on the reasons she’s overly emotional. Pregnancy hormones were the top runner. Hudson’s embrace is there and gone before she can finish her relieved sigh at the guard’s permission. Her hug is a weak one armed whisper across his back, that trails back down to brush his hand before he moves away. It’s too fast but even this private visitation is a luxury. Their hug was another luxury afforded, no doubt, by his position. “Miss you,” she echoes, watching his outline blur through warm and dramatically plump tears.