I Need To Know

Participants:

vf_isa_icon3.gif vf_kaylee_icon3.gif vf_shaw_icon3.gif

Scene Title I Need To Know
Synopsis Isabelle just needed to know..
Date January 18, 2019

Reistance Camp


The evening glow of the moon shines down on the temporary camp for the Resistance. Most people winding down for the night, ready to sleep with one eye open or until Eve runs out with a bullhorn to wake everyone up.

Isabelle Ashford had other plans.

Striding with purpose towards the tent of someone she can now call.. a friend, the pyrokinetic looks nervously up at the sky and ponders not for the first time what the fuck she is doing. The subject of her not remembering what happened to her to place her in that orphanage with Richard Cardinal, her parents, the car crash. Isabelle had never asked Liz too much about what she knew, only the bare basics and basically shit was weird.

“Hey,” knocking on the flap of the tent of the telepath she's looking for. “I need a favor.” Straight to the point, blunt that's Isabelle. The nerves curl in her stomach and she clenches her fist, the air around her and the tent raised from a chill night to a tropical evening, balmy.

“Come on,” is the amused response from in the tent.

Inside the tent, Kaylee is in the middle of pulling socks on still healing feet. A bucket sits to one side smelling like flowers, still steaming a little. Even though her injured feet are exposed to the elements the rest of her is bundled up. Tents are only so warm. Her prized possession, her oversized army jacket, keeps her especially warm. Though a little makeshift heater, powered by a big candle sits in a back corner. Though it only takes the edge off the biting cold of the winter time.

The pyro gets a bright smile from the telepath. “Pull up stool.” She nudges it with a foot. It’s not a normal stool, kinda on the short side. Probably meant for propping her feet up. “Luther brought it to me.” Amusement continues as she talks about the grumpiest member of the resistance. “Said Eve gave it to him and said I could use it.”

Entering the tent Isa’s eyebrows raise at her fellow traveler’s condition, “You have got to do something about those toes,” Shaw wanted to find socks, he was a sweetheart. As she enters all that bitter chill is vanquished with the balmy heat coming in with Isabelle, her eyes flick to the heater and large candle and she squints her eyes before closing them and tilting her head back a notch, the heat levels out and Isa smiles as she opens her eyes, “Is that good?”

“It's so strange still.. not being negated if that makes sense.” She doesn't miss it that's for sure but being able to flourish in her ability after cutting it off felt very freeing for the pyro. “Oh god, Eve.” Rolling her eyes Isabelle squats on the stool and looks over at Kaylee. “She's crazier than your god damn father and I'm not saying I was happy to hear she was killed back home but…” she wasn't exactly sobbing big crocodile tears.

“How's.. er… how's your head feeling?” How's your telepathy? Can you help me discover what I'm not remembering from my past? These questions bounce in Isa’s head but she doesn't ask that yet.

Looking at her feet, Kaylee’s smile slides away. “I know. People keep telling me that. They are better than they were. Luther feels confident I’ll be back out with him on patrols in no time.” He probably didn’t say it outright, but the telepath has her ways of knowing.

The heating of her tent brings an appreciative smile, “Oh lord that heat feels amazing.” She was starting to wonder if she’d ever remember what warmth was. Living in tents in the middle of winter sucked…. alot. “I admit. I’m jealous of you and Shaw,” Kaylee gives her a teasing grin.

“My ability?” She finally asks after her fresh socks are on. Toes wiggled happily, before tucking them cross legged on the cot. Shifting over incase the pyro would rather sit there. “Working perfectly fine… and I don’t miss being negated one bit. My world is noisier than yours, but I never realized how much I missed it, until Dad forced me to negate myself.”

There is a moment of awkward silence, before Kaylee’s eyes narrow a bit with curiosity “Why do you ask?”

“You missing the heat of that old studio aren't you?” Isa counters with her own slow smile. They were roommates for a time, it was a tight fit. The heat in the tent settles and Isa stretches an arm back, “You’re welcome to sit with me whenever.” Especially what what she's thinking about asking the blonde woman who started out as a frenemy.

“I..”

There's a bit of confusion on Isabelle’s face and she drags a hand through her brunette hair, “There are some things that don't add up in my life. Card and I.. we were raised together in an orphanage but apparently I have a sister.. but she's my adopted sister..” Wrinkling her nose at the confusing situation, “I don't remember.. having a sister.. I don't remember much before the orphanage really but I always just thought it was because of the accident.” The one that killed her parents, the Ashfords. “I want to ask you to look in my head.” It's a scary thing, Isabelle's fear of psychics and their ways of knowing things they shouldn't, but there's trust in her eyes for the woman in front of her. “Would you.. mind doing that for me? Showing what is going on?”

There is a bit of a chuckle from the telepath. “The heat, yes… You two all over each other, not so much,” Kaylee teases mercilessly, her smile having a bit of a mischievous quality. It turns a bit into something more genuine as she continues, “But, yeah. I miss it. Though, this place feels more like home. Maybe it’s all that looming threat of danger.”

The question gets a sharp arch of the telepath’s brow. “You think this Charles guy locked your memories up, too?” A telepath long dead, but so very powerful, Kaylee was rather in awe of the ghost that seemed to haunt the memories of her friends. “Sure. I love a good mystery as much as the next.” The chance to actually see what she can do too much of a temptation. Not to mention the woman loved her ability.

Something catches Kaylee’s attention, her head tilting just a bit as if she hears something. She leans over a litte to looks past Isa to the flap of her tent. “You can come in too, Shaw. We’re decent.” There is clearly a tease in that comment too. The telepath has been in a far better mood than she’s ever been. Even in the Hub she was distant and moody, yet here she was joking and being a bit more sociable.

Though Shaw knew that Isa was going to visit Kaylee for some personal matters, and initially figured he would stay away and let the women talk, the curiosity has lead him to approach the tent and maybe try to eavesdrop. It’s rude; he knows that too. When he’s caught by the telepath, the skulking shadow retreats at first with the sound of a couple of backwards flustered steps.

But he’s there now, and they know he is, so the man shuffles forward and pokes his head into the tent flap and blinks at the pair of women. “S-sorry, I thought…” What was he thinking? Already, his train of thought has derailed, and Shaw scrubs his fingers against his hair like the action might unearth the buried concept he’s trying to retrieve. In the end, he gives up and slips into the crowded tent. Since there’s little space to be had, he finds a spot between them and folds down to a comfortable squat. “Is everything okay now, hamim?” he asks, although the glance to Kaylee’s feet is a telling one from Shaw.

“Definitely reminds me of home,” with how desolate it is. The last timeline was a paradise but it was a clean, immaculate and just kind of too nice. This wasn't quite right either, Isa would keep jumping until there was one that was just… right. Kaylee’s calling out to Shaw has Isa’s form wheeling around to look towards the entrance of the tent.

Blinking, Isa chuckles and looks towards her partner, “Hey curious cat,” leaning forward she pulls Shaw to sit next to her making sure to place a kiss on his lips with a mischievous look towards Kaylee, “Don't you miss this roomie!” They have come a long long way.

“I've got some weird things.. in my past.” Things they've talked about, “She’s gonna take a look.” A slightly nervous glance is given to the woman she's asking the favor of, “Can you take two?” Because Isa trusts Shaw and it's time she stop hiding herself from him. She wouldn't repeat the mistakes of the last timeline.

The telepath wrinkles her nose jokingly at the display of affection. “Not at all.” Though in the end the pyro gets a good natured grin. To be honest she was happy for them, even if she was secretly jealous of what they had.

The question of bringing Shaw, has her brows lifting a bit. “I haven’t tried,” Kaylee admits. “But I can try.” Her head turns a bit and she looks at a space next to her. It could even end up being four of them in there. “I’m curious if I can.” Turning her attention back to the pair, Kaylee rubs her hands together to warm them up.

Ignoring the pain in her feet, Kaylee slides off the cot and kneels in front of Isa. “I can’t guarantee we will find anything or that I can break through what has been done, but we’ll try.” That said, the telepath reaches out to touch the woman’s temple and holds out a hand for Shaw to take. “You don’t have to go if you don’t want to.”

Whoever decides to go, Kaylee wraps her abilities around them, and falls down the rabbit hole that is Isabelle’s mind.

Shaw never rejects the kisses from the pyro, probably because there’s always an element of surprise to them. In a way he doesn’t expect the affection, only remaining ever open and inviting for it. There are many things the man doesn’t anticipate, though he’s been trying. One of them being to pay more attention than usual to the going ons of his friends and “family” while they stay with the Resistance.

Leaning against Isa’s leg as he sits beside her, he remains with his face turned up to her when the pyro describes what she’s here for. A blink of his dark eyes later, Shaw turns to Kaylee when the telepath moves closer and offers out a hand to him. Shaw hesitates, but with a glance to both women whom he trusts implicitly, he reaches out to grasp Kaylee’s hand. “Cheaper than therapy,” quotes the young man softly.

“Anything you can do.” And Isa means it, gripping Shaw’s shoulder for support she feels his weight against her and steadies her breath, the heat stays consistent no sudden rising with the oscillating emotions roiling inside of her. Liz had said once to her that sometimes it was good not to know, some truths too painful but Isabelle could no longer live her life in ignorance. She wanted to know her roots, she wanted to understand.

Closing her eyes after Shaw and breathing slowly Isa nods her head, she's as ready as she’ll ever be.


But then…


Dawn.

High cirrus clouds streak across the Manhattan skyline. There's a crispness to the air this morning, and the rooftop patio of the Deveaux Building glitters with frost that formed overnight. A large greenhouse sprawls across much of the roof, connected to a penthouse apartment. There's no pigeon coops here, and the masonry on the stone ring and cherubs looks pristine. To the southwest, two blocky skyscrapers rise up parallel to one another, putting a rough timestamp on this vista.

Kaylee can feel the cold wind on her cheek, playing at her hair, making her eyes water. This New York is foreign to her, without scars from the bomb or the calamities that followed. It's just noisy, crowded, and cold. It feels like standing on an alien planet, and finding that the life on Mars isn't that different from back home.

Ms. Thatcher.” Nor are the people.

The man standing behind her in the doorway to the penthouse isn't familiar. Tall, dark-skinned and having a salt and pepper dash in his short-cropped hair. His suit is an immaculate midnight blue and pinstriped with cobalt, the same color as the carnation in his lapel. “Something tells me you're trying to open doors you'd be better off keeping closed.”

She does not know his face, and yet instinctually she knows his name.

Charles Deveaux.

Eyes open on the scene and there is surprise. Even a touch of confusion as she turns in a slow circle to look at the scenery. The place familiar and not all at once. Curiosity carries her to the edge, hands resting on the edge as she leans to look over. «Wicked,» Kaylee murmurs to herself.

Stepping back, she reaches for the minds of the others, but…

The voice behind Kaylee startles her out of her action and has her turning quickly to see the man. «Mr. Deveaux…» How did she know that? «… you’re not wrong, but Izzy has questions about her past and I believe the answers are in here somewhere.» Kaylee glances past him and around him, but soon her eyes alight on him again. «I understand where she comes from. I don’t remember much of mine either, what I do know was told to me and a lie at that.» There is a soft sigh as her ability uncurls from around her. «I can’t check my own mind, but at least I can do this for my friends.»

Charles closes his eyes and shakes his head, smiling gently through Kaylee’s assertions. “Been a while since I saw a young woman with so much determination. It’s a familiar stubbornness, I’ll give you that.” Stepping out from the doorway, Charles walks with an easy gait one hand in the pocket of his slacks and the other gesturing toward the blonde telepath in front of him.

“You think you know what’s in here,” Charles says of the house behind him, “but you don’t. Not really. These doors were closed for a reason, to help your friend, and with each one you open you break a part of her that was glued back together when she was just a child.” There’s less gentle touch in his voice now, more firm, paternal. “Maybe in another life, you’d have the ability to do what you think you can do without breaking a window or messing up the carpet. But you can’t.”

A frown creases the corners of Charles’ mouth as he looks across the short distance between he and Kaylee. “But, here’s the worst part of it all. You can probably already tell, but I can’t stop you from doing what you want to do. I’m just a road sign, posted along the way. It doesn’t stop you from driving off that cliff… it just warns you what a bad idea it might well be.”

Things he says has her ability pulling in for a moment, Kaylee’s expression is mixed. Brows flick down in a furrow. Uncertainty. Hesitation. Her head and gaze dip down at that weight of his words. As she goes over them, she stares at the ground between them.

In another life, Kaylee might have taken his words at their full weight. Truly given them thought.

But. this was not that life.

Blue eyes flick up and her ability unfurls again, tendrils reaching out for that house to touch and taste the wards on it; while she looks at this figment of a dead man in the eyes. «It’s not our choice to make, Mr. Deveaux. Isa is able to make her own decisions.» Her hands are helds up to each side of her as if offering them to someone. Her ability pulling at the minds of her friends. «I appreciate the caution, but… I think I’ll let her decide.» There is a touch of worry, but she is determined to see this through. «Just like the last time with Liz.»

The look from Charles to Kaylee shows no recognition there, just uncertainty. “Whatever you do,” he says with a sense of finality.

“Know that it’s on you what happens from here.”


Elsewhere


Church bells chime softly in the distance, echoing through the nave of an old stone church. A winter’s chill hangs in the air, and the stone floor and walls do little to keep out that cold. Old wooden pews line the floor in two rows, leading up to a wooden pulpit flanked by racks of votive candles. Behind the pulpit rises a wooden sculpture of Jesus on the cross, head bowed and stained with blood. Behind him, a stained glass window gives the sculpture an ethereal quality. The double doors out of the empty church are open, emptying out onto a busy Manhattan street where cars buzz past and pedestrians walk by.

In the back, though, past the pews and opposite of the direction Christ’s head hangs, a narrow wooden door is wrapped in chains. Wisps of smoke spill out from beneath it, as though chains could somehow hold back a fire.

Shaw and Isa wake up together on a pew at the back of the church, her head resting on his shoulder. Kaylee is across the aisle, laying down on the pew across from them, hair spilled over the edge of the pew. The chill in the air is the same, but the scenery for her has changed.

If only a little.

Eyelids fluttering open Isa stretches out and looks down at Shaw before looking over to Shaw and then their surroundings. “..there better not be any fucking nuns here.”

It should be soothing this place of worship and if Isabelle was religious it would be so but instead the “memories” of nuns not being so kind leave her with a bad taste on her mouth and she closes her eyes briefly as she pulls herself to her feet and offers a hand to her partner before spotting their friend, “Kaylee… are you alrigh—” Hazel eyes take in the chained, smoking door near the trio and they narrow as she turns slowly to face the door head on. “That's it then.” There were truths she was being denied and they were behind that door that seemed to hold back fire. The smoke curled around the edges of the doorframe.

Looking down at her hands she tightens them into fist and looks straight ahead at the door.. “Let's fucking get it over it with.” She feels that anxiety, that frustration.. turning into anger.

Hazel eyes reflect glittering flames in the irises as emotions flood her and she practices the training afforded to her by a bastard of a man. Whether this was a mistake or not she was here now and she really didn't want to turn back no matter how much it creeped her out. Frustration at herself for being afraid of what she may find out about herself, she’s lived blissfully unaware of the greater things at work in the.. universes but ever since the pyrokinetic has first traveled. Something had changed in her. It led her to science for a time and it now leads her here, at least she wasn't alone.

Blinking awake, Shaw also peers around the surroundings with an initially disoriented wonder. The inside of a church is not his environment of familiarity either. "No nuns," he utters after a quick scan. And a glance up. "No flying ones either." Izzy's mention of Kaylee refocuses him and he sits up straighter in the pew. "Hamim?" He checks over to where the telepath lies, and also pushes to his feet. First steps are taken to slide out from between the confining pews. Shaw glances down, brow furrowing, and reaches a hand out to run it along the sanded, polished wood. Like a study in textures. Realizing that this is within a mind. Isabelle's mind.

He turns to Isa and his other hand reaches for her balled fist. Dark eyes look to her like a study in expressions. "It's ok," he says softly, a reminder of their presences.

One moment she is standing on a roof top, the next Kaylee is waking up on her back. For a brief moment she wonders if she was kicked out, but then she can feel the tether between her and the others, the curl of her ability around them. «I’m fine,» she answers even though the question was never finished. Gripping the back of the pew to sit up, her expression is thoughtful and uncertain.

The smell of smoke draws her attention to the door. Liz’s had been wet and the hologram of Charles said it had to do with what happened in the memory. «You have a choice to make,» Kaylee tells the woman softly as he gets up and moves to stand by her at the door. «Whatever memory they blocked, might have had to do with your ability.» She looks at Shaw, briefly, before looking at the woman next to her. «If they blocked it, the trauma of it must be significant.» What kind of friend would she be if she didn’t warn her against it.

«They blocked it for a reason,» Kaylee advises, closing her eyes and lifting a hand to bring up an image of the man she had just talked to. «This man, Charles Deveaux, was in Liz’s head too and warned me off opening her door; just like here.» There is a significance in those words. The telepath looks at the man long dead. «But, I don’t remember much of my past and everything I was told about it was a lie.»

A pair of bolt cutters appear in Kaylee’s hands and she offers them over to Isa, «If we open this door, I //can’t close it again. He’s right. I’m not that strong.//» It was easier to force something open, then to push it back into place. The weak spots have already been found, it was up to Isa to finish the job. She had to really want it.

Gripping Shaw’s hand in one while she eyes the bolt cutters that are sitting in the other Isa's eyes widen she guesses it has something to do with her ability as well.. staring into Kaylee’s eyes it's a wonder she's not breaking into sobs instead she nods firmly, “We’ve come a long way together.. thank you.. for doing this. For being with me,” a gentle squeeze of Shaw’s hand and she's letting go to grip both handles of the cutters.

Her pursuit of the truth had gotten her alternate selves life turned completely upside down.. but still she had to know. Isa didn't like to be lied too, she related with Kaylee. Their whole lives had a been a lie both and here they were chasing after the ragged pieces leftover from a time probably better left forgotten. She felt an emptiness though something she was wanting to fill, to understand. To hold onto.

Before she can stop herself she moves forward and cuts the chains with a loud snap.


Elsewhere


“Baby, baby calm down. Baby stop. Stop!

Flames.

Isabelle isn't sure why she's surprised by their presence. Maybe it's the intensity of the heat, maybe it's the anger and gut-twisting revulsion building up in her stomach. Maybe it's because this is hauntingly familiar.

Kaylee and Shaw are thrust into a raging inferno, struck by a wall of intense heat, eyes and lungs burning from the acrid smoke of combusting furniture and flesh. Glass explodes as wi does pop from the heat, and it takes a moment to even understand where it is they are other than hell itself.

It is an apartment, suffocating in darkness outside of every window, lit only by the roaring pillar of flame in the middle of the living room. A sofa and chair have completely caught fire, belching black smoke and roaring with a curtain of yellow flame. Standing between those two pieces of furniture over the broken remains of a metal and glass coffee table is a black silhouette that was once a little girl, shrouded in flames. They rise off of her, fan out against the ceiling and push carpets of fire across the peeling paint.

The child is Isabelle. Her older self recognizes her in an instant from a perch on the broken fire escape that can't reach the street. Isabelle is outside of the apartment looking in, staring in through a window into a dark, horrifying corner of her own soul.

There's another woman in the room. Tall, dark haired, crying. She's laying on her side, cradling a burned arm to her midsection, and there is an unrecognizable and charred body laying beside her, billowing with smoke and embers. “Belle, stop!” The woman cries, her exits from the apartment blocked off by smoke and flames. “Belle please!

The pyroclasmic silhouette of a child turns toward the woman, and extends a hand roiling with smoky flames. She does not intend to.

Fire and heat is like second nature for Isabelle but the power of the flames here in her own personal hell surprises her and even through the window she can feel the skin blistering heat building as she watches from on the fire escape. “Oh shit..” Hazel eyes widen as they take in the sight of herself and who could only be her mom. The dead body she can't make it but… “Mom..? Dad..?” The pyro’s fingers are pressed against the glass as she watches her younger self unleash the fire within, the same fire that still burned inside of her now. “No no no! Stop! What are you doing?!?” Banging on the glass with tears falling from her eyes, smoke rising from her cheeks.

“No!” Isabelle is so close but so so far from this moment in time, she knows she can't change this but it still horrifies her. She's powerless. Kaylee tried to warn her.

Gripping the window frame outside, Isa presses her nose close against the window pane looking through the smoke and flame with wide red eyes as she murders her own parents.

Having lived with Isabelle for years now, Shaw is not entirely surprised by fire. Rather, the fact that the world around him has gone from cold and wintry weather to an inferno in a box in the blink of an eye is surprising. Disorienting. For a man who's never experienced the shifting scapes of mind and memory, the sudden change is what's startling. For a second or two, he worries if this is how teleportation feels like. And all the negative things that he associates with teleporting.

It's not quite the same as leaping through a black abyss of a portal.

Immediately, Shaw's reaction staggers him a couple steps backwards from the central heat coming off of, well, everything. He covers his nose and mouth with a sleeve from the smoke, shies away from the sound of exploding glass. A quick sweep of the room, and he's reaching for Kaylee's hand and looking for Isabelle. The older one. That banging on the glass tilts his ear, draws his eyes her way.

The realization hits that they're inside with the Girl On Fire, while The Lady With Fire's stuck on the outside.

When she had realized that Isa was going to go for it, the telepath had braced herself for something to happen. Whatever was on the other side of the door, it wasn’t going to be good. Kaylee was more right then she realized. Nothing can prepare a person for being surrounded by smoke or the intense roiling heat of an inferno. Instinct has Kaylee cringing away from it all, giving a harsh cough against the smoke and pushing her sleeve against her nose.

Panic starts to curl through her, Kaylee has been in people’s heads and manipulated them, but it has never been like this. Liz’s trip had been a short one and she hadn’t had a lot of time to really understand. Nor was she immersed in a memory that could have the potential to kill them.

The brush against Kaylee’s hand startles the telepath, causing her to jerk away from Shaw’s reaching hand. A wide eyed and startled look is angled his way, relaxing only enough to take the hand of the man she often sees like a brother.

This couldn’t really be real could it? If only Kaylee could concentrate past the fear and panic.

Mommy!” The young Isabelle shouts, afraid, and the true horror of the situation is laid out to the three. This isn't something vindictive, this isn't the wrath of an angry child, or a tantrum gone wrong. This is a terrified young girl who manifested a power she couldn't control…

Please help me! Put it out!

And ran to her parents for help.

In the glass of the apartment window, Izzy can hear the screams from inside the apartment with crystal clarity, for they're burned inside her own mind’s eye. The cold outside the apartment is gone, and for those inside the heat only grows. Kaylee and Shaw bear witness as the young Isabelle runs into her mother’s arms, and the horrific end to this personal nightmare plays out.

The flames burn too quickly though, and night turns to day like someone flipped on a switch. Where once there were roaring flames, suddenly they gutter out like the gas was turned off. The apartment is cold, cold like an autumn morning, and yet smoke still rises from the charred remains of the tenement, where Izzy sits curled up between the fire-blacked bones of her mother and father.

The young girl is gone, the block on this memory removed. The horror that was kept from her for so long now broken down. A terrified young woman manifested a power she couldn't control.

And turned to her parents for help.

It's like a knife in the gut, Isabelle’s legs give out and she slams onto the fire escape with her knees, eyes only for the younger her. For the mother who tried to comfort her but couldn't, there she lies surrounded by smoking bones of her family. Her shocked expression slowly slips into an expression of sorrow as her lip trembles and tears fall even more than before. This is the family she was seeking, just charred bones.

Shoulders shake as anger mixes in with the sadness, anger at herself. As if it was Isa’s fault for manifesting when and how she did and while she had before burned flesh with no remorse, ended lives with a wave of flames.. this was different. It felt different.

Hands pressed against the window pane as the night becomes day and she watches as the younger her lays there surrounded by black. “Fuck fuck.” Isa whispers over and over to herself, the guilt didn't take long to attach itself to her heart.

She killed them.

Shaw's grip is firm once he has Kaylee's hand, for once looking like he's not panicked in the face of the fire. "Come on," he calls to the telepath, tugging Kaylee along the walls around towards the fire escape where Isabelle stands. That's the plan, anyway, evacuating and treating their surroundings like a full on reality. "Eanqa'!" he coughs out, reaching for the pyro until the surroundings shift suddenly again.

The amount of blinking he does isn't uncalled for. "What… oh." Then, to the charred bodies on the ground. "Oh. Oh, Isabelle…" His hand reaches again, but this time it's to place his palm against the glass gently on the window. "Help me open the window?" he asks Kaylee, though there's a checked glance to the young woman on the floor. Quieter, Shaw whispers, "Can she see us?"

The telepath allows herself to be tugged along; even so, her eyes - watery from the smoke - are on the charred and burning bodies. «I warned her,» Kaylee whispers under her breath, though Charles’ words are still fresh in her mind. Whatever damage is there, uncovering it will be the blonde woman’s fault; because only she could let loose such horrible things.

Then it changes, the thick smoke gone so suddenly it starts the telepath some. That was weird. The sudden chill makes her skin prickle, but it also snaps her out of whatever she was stuck on. «What?» Turning, she sees Isa on the other side of the window. Gently, she nudges Shaw aside. While her ability works to unlock the window that separates them from the fiery woman, Kaylee answers her friends question. «No. She can’t see us. That is only a memory, something that already happened.»

The window clicks and slides open with unseen hands, and the faint scent of smoke comes wafting out of the apartment. There is a stillness to the air, inside and out. No noises of the street, just a muffled high-pitched whine, is if everything outside of the apartment building had simply died and was replaced by a tinnitus hum.

After Kaylee opens the window, Shaw notices something past where the young Isabelle now lays amid the charred remains of her parents, something visible now that the smoke has cleared. There's a door, wrapped in chains, with muffled voices coming from behind it.

Tumbling inside as the window opens as her hands were against the glass, Isabelle crawls forward to the younger version of her cradled in charred bone and ashes, her hand stops short of the girl’s face trembling as she looks on with terror in her eyes.

Touching the burned carpet on the ground, Isabelle stands slowly all the while staring down at the death and destruction she had wrought, that she hadn't been able to control. Shoulders quake as tears rain down her face, she doesn't look towards Shaw or Kaylee, she might not notice them currently. This is what she wanted, she has to keep going forward. “Let's go. There has to be more.” Her tone is shaky but finally her eyes leave the mess below her to find the faces of her love and friend. Her face a mix of anger, sadness and something.. else.

Mouthing the words, ‘only a memory’, Shaw stands aside while watching the window with Isabelle on the otherside. The muffled voices coming from that cold apartment turns his attention towards it given that the sound contrasts with the faint whining hum. But his concern is Isabelle. He’s never seen her so distressed, maybe even moreso than when she’d come back to the apartment after the Pinehearst bombing.

So instead of pointing out the chained door first, he goes to the woman and reaches his arms out to her. “I don’t understand what happened,” he admits quietly, “but your answers will come, Eanqa’. Maybe… maybe the next door will be better.” There’s always that bit of hope, at least in Shaw’s tone. The man turns towards the chained door, regarding it and then Kaylee. He nods slowly, readying for what comes next.

Watching her friends for a moment, there is a flicker of sadness. Nothing they will see, something fleeting and a touch wistful. Finally, Kaylee’s gaze tips down and away, turning to look at the door as it is pointed out. Taking a deep breath, she nods with a new sort of determination, even though anxiety is twisting and clawing at her stomach.

The telepath didn’t really like doing this to her friend, even if Isa wanted it.

There is a glance around for the dead telepath and his doom-calling before she approaches the new door. Hands run along the chains, slender fingers playing along the lengths. She isn’t really looking at them, her attention is turned to the seeking tendrils of her ability, each weakness investigated. Her jaw tightens and Kaylee yanks hard at the chains.


Elsewhere


“We need to move her to foster care, Charles. She doesn't deserve this.”

Fluorescent lights drain the color out of a concrete hall lacking any windows. The black stripe of paint along the wall is broken up by a tall number 5 stenciled in black, before continuing again. Opposite the black stripe and number, are rows of metal doors and floor-to-ceiling foot thick glass walls broken up by concrete partitions. On one side of the glass, Charles Deveaux stands with his head bowed and hands in his pockets, sullen. Beside him is a tanned man with a neatly trimmed beard, dark hair and eyes and a crisp black suit.

On the other side of the glass is a young Isabelle, hands clenched into fists, screaming a wordless howl as flames engulf her body and roar blue-white against the glass, lighting up the hall and both men observing her.

“I know,” Charles admits, resigned to the truth. “She doesn't have any family here, not really. I don't feel it's safe to leave her with an agent. But…” Charles looks to the man at his side. “Why Do I feel like you have a suggestion, Faruq?”

The name may as well be a gunshot. Down the hall, Kaylee, Isabelle, and Shaw stand together on the other side of an open cell door. The apartment behind them is gone, and while the scene is dramatic… it is revelatory to Shaw for reasons beyond the obvious.

That is his uncle.

The change in scenery makes Isa blink, she's in a prison there behind glass, engulfed in blue-white and there are two unknown men talking about her fate, “No family.. here..?” A look over to Shaw and Kaylee with wide eyes and the pyro steps forward, going for the window to lay her hand along the glass. “Don't worry you little shit.” She whispers hotly against the glass, eyes rimmed red and smoke still rising from her cheeks, the tears haven't started falling but she's only looking angrier. The training from Kaito wasn't doing all of the work at this moment she was lost in a spiral of emotion. “One day you won't be caged.” She promises herself with a close of her eyes and dip of her head.

Isabelle’s head turns towards the two men and she glares openly at them both. “So these are the two who decided to throw me in the system?” Sizing them up Isabelle paces around them, almost as if she's on the hunt but it's all for not because they aren't really here just observing the thought infuriates Izzy. The darker haired woman looks at Shaw with eyebrows raised, he knows that look. She would murder them if she could, like she did her parents.

He might never get used to the constantly changing scenery, but Shaw takes most of the rapid shifting in stride. The change in scape feels briefly overwhelming, but once he’s taken a few breaths and there aren’t robots or gunfire coming after them, he’s back to calm observations.

Until it’s not. The sight of younger Isabelle locked up and out of control brings a catch to the man’s breath. Then he hears that name, and straightens considerably as if he’d been slapped across the face. Shaw blinks, wide eyes turning to stare in the direction of the two men. Particularly the man in black. After a few shocked beats, he breathes out a single word, “Khaali.” He recognizes his uncle, frozen in place with surprise.

«I recognize this guy,» Kaylee comments from her spot a bit off from the others, finally stepping forward and looking at Charles. «His name is Charles Deveaux. He’s… He //was a telepath like me, but that is all I know about him. He is the one that tried to warn me away from opening these doors.//»

A part of her feels a need to defend her fellow telepath, looking at the girl engulfed in blue flames and the two men. «I mean, I know that the system wasn’t great, but it seems like a huge improvement from wherever this place is.» Her attention focuses beyond the two men to Shaw, brows lifting when she notices his staring at the men. It was clear he recognized one, «You okay, Shaw?»

As if to answer that question for Shaw, Faruq speaks up. “Yes,” is confident. “I'd like to place her with the Ashfords,” Faruq says as he looks away from the blue flames to Charles, who raises one brow in response.

“The Ashfords?” Charles looks uncertain, shoulders squaring.

“We already placed one exile there, and given that this one is naturalized it only makes sense that we keep an eye on her.” Faruq looks over to Isabelle’s burning silhouette again. “We did this to her, Charles. The least we can do is own that. She's a child manifestation, synthetic, Arthur won't let you just make her disappear.”

Pinching the bridge of his nose with forefingers and thumb, Charles nods slowly and focuses on the young Isabelle behind the glass. His brows furrow, a visible exertion of his ability, and her flames gutter out as her expression shifts to one of gentle neutrality and pacified sedation. Charles steps over to the intercom, noticing that it's already on, and looks momentarily embarrassed.

“Isabelle,” Charles says softly, “I suppose you heard all of that, sweetheart?” Slowly, Charles takes a knee to get down to Isabelle’s height. “I'm going to make everything better again… I promise.” Behind Charles, Faruq watches anxiously.

“Did you just say your—”

She's cut off as the men continue talking and her brow furrows even more. Huh?

“Definitely better than.. this.” Isabelle's eyes travel and follow Charles as he gets closer to the glass and the blue fire behind it. “Synthetic..?” That makes Isabelle blink and rear back looking down at her hands. “What did they do to me?” Is asked softly as those hands shake. What had she done herself? Exiles? The questions were burning in her mind and she shuts her eyes at the sting of all of this, more tears falling and sizzling to vapor around her. Throwing her hand out the pyrokinetic holds onto Shaw’s hand. The doors were open, they needed to see the rest. She needed too but she couldn't believe.. just how horrible things were back then for her. “This..” she's at a loss but she strains to hear more of what the three projections in the memory are doing.

Answering Kaylee with a shake of his head, Shaw remains stricken by the sight of his uncle and the sight of the blue flames capturing the young Isabelle trapped within the containment unit. The conversation between the two men seems to go beyond him as well, but then he turns to Kaylee and his Isabelle.

"That man," Shaw says of Charles Deveaux. "And my uncle. They could make people like us?" he utters in question, as if either of them could answer and confirm. But as Isa grabs his hand, he blinks down and up again. He works a reply to the telepath. "That's - he is my uncle. After the accident, after… I lived with him. My aunt Dima. And Hiba and Hassan. But I wasn't there when… when…"

Shaw's eyes glisten as tears threaten and his throat bobs with the swallowing of a tight knot. His fingers curl around Isa's.

«Sounds like you were not naturally born evolved, they made you one,» Kaylee says from someplace behind the two. These were not for her, she was just the guide to help. «Didn’t Liz say something about a formula?»

It wasn’t Kaylee’s place to comfort the poor confused man, but still she moves to his other side and rests a hand on his arm, a show of support and that she is here for him. Her eyes move back to Charles as she watches him, openly curious about what he plans to do to make things ‘better.’ In truth, the woman was in awe of this dead man. If only…

“I can help take the hurt away,” Charles says to Isabelle through the intermediary of the intercom, and then he says no more. And yet, Isabelle’s eyes and expression betray a wordless conversation. Though it should be confined to their minds, it instead echoes around them like wind in this place that is not but thought and memory, if at times it may feel real.

I can take away your pain. That's my gift, Isabelle. I'm sorry we weren't able to save your parents. Charles slowly moves to stand, keeping one hand on the glass. Your mother came such a long way to be here. I'm so sorry. There is genuine sympathy in Charles’ voice. Just relax. Soon… the past will be…

A shudder rocks the mindscape, like a feedback loop, a memory of a loss of memory. A description of nothing against a silhouette of something. It sends a throbbing pain through Kaylee’s skull, an ache that shoots up through her sinus cavity and behind her eyes like a migraine. A blind spot forms in her right eye — or so it appears in her mind — and everything ripples like it was made of smoke and ash…

…and then loses cohesion.


Elsewhere


It haunts Isabelle. A photograph in a frame.

A woman smiling at her, slouchy salmon colored sweater hanging off of one shoulder, bright blue eyes. Her dark hair is swept back, smile wide. Bella Ashford, her mother, rests inside of a wood frame sitting on a lace-draped table in a field of infinite darkness. Isabelle looms over the photograph, taken one week after she was born.

But that's a lie.

Because as Isabelle stares down at that photograph, she knows that face is a lie as well.

A spotlight comes on in the dark, not far from Isabelle. Shaw and Kaylee are there, seated in a pair of ratty old cloth-upholstered recliners set side by side, save for a high end table set between them. There's a lamp on the end table, a hand-carved wooden lamp featuring a white-bearded fisherman in a yellow raincoat and black boots smoking a pipe. It's a garish thing. Dusty.

There's a photograph in a frame there too. A raven-haired woman with severe brows and high cheekbones is pictured there. She's young, maybe in her early twenties. Isabelle knows that face now, too.

It's the face of her mother. She knows this, a concrete fact that she is resolutely certain over. She doesn't know her name, just that she was her birth mother and that Isabelle burned her alive when she manifested. Her birth mother.

She sees the other photograph of Bella Ashford. Her adoptive mother.

How much family could she lose? How much family could be taken from her?

The moan of anguish rises from Isabelle's throat as she sinks to the ground on her knees, the light and darkness in this space playing on the emotions she feels inside, "Noooooo." She whispers weakly and twitches. Not her mother. She killed… "Mom.." And she didn't even know her name. The pyrokinetic kneels there on the floor, head bowed in shame, in horror, in disgust for herself. Looking to her hands with watery eyes she can barely make them out. She killed her mother. She killed her mother. She killed her mother. The image of her parents burnt to a crisp burned in her mind.

It's the first time she wished she never had her ability, she wishes.. perhaps that she had never lived. "He said," her voice is weak and doesn't carry the usual attitude in it, "That she traveled so far.. to get here." Only to be murdered by her own daughter.

The mental voice of Charles Deveaux is not one Shaw will soon forget. Nor his uncle’s face, which had started to dull with time, then brought fresh to the fore with this strange memory in Isabelle’s past. Shaw has been confused before. Unsettled, even. But nothing quite on this level. And they’ve been jumping through interdimensional timelines.

When the mindscape changes again and he finds himself seated on a recliner, Shaw instinctively starts to curl in on himself, staring around. He searches for the familiar, and finds Kaylee first at his side, then…

“Eanqa’!” He’s practically leaping off the seat, rushing to where Isabelle kneels. Hands reach for her, and his distress pushed away in the moment as he hugs the pyrokinetic. Fingers slip through her dark hair. “It was an accident,” he utters in an attempt to comfort. That’s how all the hospital nurses and doctors sounded when he woke; that’s the tone he remembers.

“It’s not your fault.”

When the pain hits, Kaylee stumbles a little. Hands going to her head as the ache shoots through her head. A soft groan escapes her. However, almost as soon as it happens, she finds herself in a chair and the pain and blindness is gone.

What?

While Shaw leaps for his love, Kaylee stays where she is and shutters against the sensation she just felt. The lingering ache has her closes her eyes for a long moment and leaves her feeling tired. This was all so new for her. She was learning on the job so to speak. So while Shaw comforts Isa, the telepath reaches out looking for other doors that needed to be unlocked. However, she doesn’t open them, if there are any.

Blue eyes finally open and Kaylee asks, her voice strained from pain and exhaustion. «Do you want to continue, Isa? Or should we stop?»

There has to be some saving grace, there has to be a reason for all of this. To make it worth it, to make killing her birth mother worth it. Shaw's touch has Isabelle's body trembling as she hugs him close with wide eyes ahead of her. "I killed her.. I killed her."

The pyrokinetic repeats this a couple more times before she seems to snap out of it to look towards Kaylee with red rimmed eyes. There's a choice here but the need to understand why.. why any of this had to happen. It drives her, "We have to.. keep going. We—" She needed to know the whole truth, even if it killed her.

Shaw hunches protectively around the traumatized woman, one hand rubbing at her back and the other wrapped around her waist. "It's not your fault, Habibti," he whispers as she repeats herself, "It's not your fault."

He pauses as she stops and snaps out of her reverie, and the exchange between the women causes worry. "But…" Shaw starts up a soft protest, but it's the sight of determination in Isabelle's red-rimmed eyes that gives him pause. His tongue tip wets dry lips, and Shaw looks off into the darkness surrounding them.

"My uncle," Shaw says after a couple blinks as he remembers the disturbing scene moments ago. He unwraps himself from Isa, hands going to her shoulders and dark eyes searching hers. "He said, 'We already placed one exile there.' He said, 'We did this to her.' He said, 'Arthur won't let you'…" A blink, a pause. "… 'make her disappear.'"

Shaw swallows down, breaking eye contact with Isa and turning to Kaylee. "Maybe we can go to Pinehearst Tower? Oh, but it…" He frowns, recalling the explosion of the building in the last timeline. He looks apologetically, helplessly, to the pair of women, most of all at Isabelle. "I'm sorry, Eanqa'."

There is a short nod, «Well, all the doors are open. Anything else, is repressed by you.» Kaylee looks around her and closes her eyes. «Let’s see if I can….» Brows furrow as she concentrates, next to Isa and Shaw an old TV, one of those old cupboard ones with the dial, fades in next to them. The old technicolor screen hisses with static. The telepath lets out a huff and climbs out of the recliner.

«What do you want to find?» Kaylee asks, her hand coming to rest on the TV, the knob clicks to the left and a picture comes into view. The scene they had just left, it’s a bit grainy, like TV when they were young. She is still new to this after all, fumbling around and getting her bearings. «I’ll do my best for as long as I can.» The pressure behind her eyes, isn’t something she’s felt since the left their own world.

Izzy is silent as she looks towards her friends…family and she nods over at Shaw, "I want to know who this other exile is.. if I met them.. where my parents and I.. even come from..?" The woman's voice is small and broken and not laced with hellfire as it often seems too but there's a flicker inside her as she feels that pressure, that familiar lingering anger. "I want to see when they made me synthetic."

She doesn't know much about what this could mean but synthetic means some sort of experimentation is involved and Isa knows that much, she squeezes Shaw's hand and tries to look him hard in the eye. "Are you okay?" He's Her rock , she can't crumble to pieces if his world is shattering as well, she'd need to be some sort of strong so that they can lean on each other. "This is.. your uncle.. Faruq."

"I really didn't think we'd be meeting like this." A nervous laugh that erupts into a sob but Izzy catches herself with a finger held up into the air.

“My… family,” Shaw confirms when Isabelle notes about his uncle. It’s still such a strange reminder, and Shaw’s insides twist in discomfort and confusion. He doesn’t allow it to make it up to his expression this time, though, and nods slowly to the pyrokinetic. “I’m okay,” he says softly, then turns to watch as Kaylee makes a TV appear, like magic. The feat amazes him, but he seems to draw an understanding from the item and what it’s meant to do.

He moves to grab one of the recliners in this dark space and pushes it closer to the TV, then hurries back to Isabelle to help her get up and into the comfortable chair. “Channel 3 for output,” the man murmurs as he sits upon the recliner’s arm, leaned close to Isabelle.

There is no words from Kaylee, she only nods and closes her eyes, brows furrow as she starts to flips through the woman’s memories. Looking for something that could maybe be want she wants. The TV knob starts to click through channels as she does, pieces of Isabelle’s life flash by; starting with the last memory they found and progressing backwards. Until it settles on a memory.

“ —on’t want to just sit here and do nothing.” At first she is just visible on the screen of the television, a woman that Isabelle has come to recognize as her birth-mother, without a name to put to it. She paces in the middle of a living room, tethered as she is to a cord phone attached to the wall by the kitchen. She has the handrest cradled in one hand, receiver tucked between shoulder and chin, brows stern and jaw set. “No, I don’t care about that, I want to know what the test results are.”

Not far away, seated on the sofa, is a toddler that can only be Isabelle. She is doe-eyed and rapt, listening to her mother talk in sharp, frustrated cadence to whomever is on the other end of the line. “I told you, Doctor Morrison isn’t returning my calls. He said it was routine bloodwork, so I— ” she’s cut off by the other end of the line. “No— ” but she isn’t relenting, “No,” she affirms again with a brandishing of her free hand at her unseen target. “No you— you listen. Is my baby sick? If— no I am not taking her in to have more b— are you threatening me?” She pulls the receiver away from her ear to glare at it before slamming it down with a resounding clack and a ring of the bell inside the phone.

Fuck them,” she says without much care in front of her daughter, turning to look at the wide-eyed Isabelle. “Oh, no, no, not you sweetheart.” She walks across the carpeted floor, crouching down in front of the wide-eyed and silent Isabelle. “It’s okay sweetie,” she says with a brush of one hand over the toddler’s cheek, “Momma’s gonna bop those doctors in the nose until they give us a straight answer.” Then, with a forced smile to hide her fear she asks, “Who wants to go get hot dogs?”

The vision fades with a hiss of static. What felt so real in the moment returns to a television in the dark, with Isabelle, Shaw, and Kaylee gathered around it. With Isabelle having been so young prior to her mother’s death, there likely aren’t many retained memories with more integrity than that, likely aren’t any that have the details she’s looking for. So many channels, so little on.

When the vision fades, Kaylee lets out a breath like she’s has been running a marathon. Even really looks like it; tired and worn out. “That’s everything I can find… I don’t see anything else that I can grab on too. We don’t always keep our youngest memories.” She lets go of the TV and it starts to fade to leave them in darkness and eventually pulls them out of Isa’s head and back into the tent; there is a cringe as she folds into herself some… The pain the rips through her head is excruciating. Hands press to the sides of her head as if it could help, but then wetness, prompts her to wipe at her nose. When she looks at her hand, she’s confused by all the blood on her hands. It’s never been that bad before. Huh… She looks at the others.

Izzy's eyes shake and she sits there and listens. And waits. And listens. And before she can control herself she's tearing out of the tent. Away from Shaw. Away from Kaylee. Tears threaten to leak freely but she shakes her head and runs.

She runs until she cannot keep going and even then she pushes on, the sobs and screams have become ragged and wretched at this point and with wild eyes the brunette sinks to her knees and hangs her head. Lifting her hands they shake and the flames that she had come to rely on, to love even, now she feels some twisted way about them. They killed her family, no she killed them. As those flames burn bright and Izzy screams into the air. She doesn't notice as her eyes are closed and steam rises around her.

The palest flicker of blue on the edges of orange flame.

It takes Shaw more than a few moments to reorient his eyes out of the surrounding mental darkness. When the sensation returns that he's holding Kaylee's hand, it's too late to realize his grip is loosened. Isabelle tears out of the tent, and he topples to the side where he had been leaning against her. He catches himself, blinks rapidly and looks momentarily confused by it all.

Shaw calls out to the fleeing woman, but by then she's beyond earshot. The man looks lost, until he turns back to Kaylee and notices the blood. Alarm catches in his expression, and he scrambles up, immediately moving to attend to Kaylee, pulling a scrap of cloth from a pocket to wipe the blood. As he helps the telepath in halting the bleed, the man casts a worried look back over his shoulder to the tent flap.

His next utterance is soft, thoughtful when he murmurs to himself, "Pilate then said unto him, 'What is Truth?'"


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