Take The Fall


elaine_icon.gif robyn_icon.gif

Scene Title Take The Fall
Synopsis I’ll take the fall
For this now
I won’t be scared
I’ll tear this down
From earth to stars
I’ll take this away

Robyn Quinn makes good on a promise, for once. Results are at times mixed.
Date March 2nd, 2018

Yamagato Park

Vacation days are supposed to be for relaxing, unwinding - letting loose from the stress of the week. The few days Robyn Quinn gets back in the New York City Safe Zone she absolutely considers vacation days - a welcome escape from the intensity and tense atmosphere of being in Rochester. The few she's had before it have been spent at the market, or with Dirk.

But now, she stares at her phone, and at a business card. These days are supposed to be vacation days.

So why is she doing this?

She takes a deep breath. Because it's the right thing, she tells herself, as she has so many other times this month. This is long overdue anyway. When she'd made this promise, it had been just after Christmas. Here she was now, the beginning of March.

She'll call indeed. With a moment more hesitation, she begins to dial, waiting for someone to answer.

Ring. Ring. Ring. Ring.

At first it sounds like no one's going to pick up, but then there's a sound on the end of the line and a voice after that.

"Hello? Elaine Darrow speaking."

Her voice is chipper, but professional sounding—she likely used her personal number for work as well and with an unknown number, this was labeled as work in her mind. The crossover between personal and professional was a blurred line these days anyway.

For a brief moment, Robyn hears Elaine's voice and forgets that they've only spoken once in six years, that they no longer have the familiarity they once had.

"I told you I'd call," comes across the line in a french accent weakened by a mediocre connection. After a moment, Robyn's brain catch up to her mouth, and she sighs. "It's Robyn Quinn," she adds, in case the accent made it hard for Elaine realise. "I'm in town for today. Thought I'd make good." Finally.

There's a long pause on the other end of the line. Long enough that the connection could have been cut, but Elaine's voice comes over at last.

"Wasn't expecting you to." To call, she means. "But if you're in town, do you want some coffee or something? Doesn't have to be coffee." Another long pause. "Just to chat."

That's fair. Robyn wasn't sure if she would, though she isn't about to tell Elaine that. Given the tone of their last meet - as amicable as it possibly could be - it would be reasonable to assume both would go their separate ways, like the ending of an epilogue in a movie or book, never to see each other again.

New York is much too small for that.

"Sure." It's the barest of answers Robyn can give. "Whatever you'd like."

There's an affirmative noise from Elaine on the other end. "Alright, ever been to Yamagato Park? I know a decent coffee place there." She rattles off an address. "I'll meet you."

Yamagato Park. That would make sense, Robyn flipping over the business card in her hand to better look at the logo on the other side. She scowls a bit, but reflexively nods. "Alright."

And then the call ends. Not even really a goodbye, save for the tone of how "Alright" was said. Robyn doesn't realise her gaff until after she slides her phone back into her purse - phone etiquette seems to be something else that has fallen to the wayside in the last few years.

It takes her a bit of time get to Yamagato, at the mercy of public transportation and her own feet, not owning a car and no longer possessing a scooter with which to get around. Once she's admitted into the incredibly out of place corporate complex, she doesn't waste time in making her way to the address she's been supplied with. Little about Yamagato Park itself interests her, after all. Unless this coffee shop actually is really good.

Arriving there, dressed in an outfit similar but slightly more subdued than the one Elaine had seen her in two months before, she pushes the door open and looks around. She feels immensely out of place here. Uncomfortable. For a variety of reasons.

Seated at a cozy corner booth, Elaine looks up as Robyn enters. She's dressed simply, a tunic-style dress and leggings with boots—fashionable without really trying. Her hair is pinned back neatly, or it would be if the shorter strands didn't keep escaping and falling into her face. Layered hair.

The redhead offers a wave, a simple lift of the hand and slight incline of the wrist, just enough to indicate her presence. The shop itself is a bit of a rarity. It's a mom-and-pop ecclectic sort of place with mismatching cups and saucers and experimental blends. In front of Elaine is a pale green cup with delicate white flowers painted on it. As soon as Robyn is within earshot without shouting across the shop, she speaks up.

"I got a matcha green tea latte. It's really good, if you're into matcha. I can recommend other drinks if you wish." And then she switches to French. "«We can talk this way if you're more comfortable, Robyn.»"

Robyn offers a look in Elaine's direction, a nod of acknowledgement. She doesn't go immediately to the booth, instead veering to the counter. There, she purchases a cup of simple dark roast coffee, black. It's only then that she makes her way over to join Elaine. She is silent at first, considering. "«Would you believe am I more comfortable in French these days?»" is actually a more verbose answer than she had been meaning to give - more comfortable indeed.

"English is…" She trails off, looking down into her cup of coffee. She never finishes the thought, instead finally looking back at Elaine. "«I'm not doing this out of obligation,»" she offers initially - after all, her obligation was fulfilled last time. She was told so. "«Though I'm not honestly sure why I am,»" she admits. Her lips quirk side to side, gaze returning down to her coffee, a one eyed reflection in the dark liquid staring back at her, so she drinks to disrupt it. She falls silent after that. She's not talkative. "«Just… that I wanted to.»"

"«I'm not surprised at all. We all fall into our nuances and it's nice to speak something that isn't Japanese for a while. It's almost relaxing to fall into a different tongue.»" Elaine lifts the cup to her lips and sips carefully, not wanting to burn herself on the very hot beverage.

"«You're right though. You aren't doing this out of obligation. You gave me a sense of closure when we last met. I honestly didn't think you'd call. But if you aren't doing this out of obligation, why do it? Why did you want to?»"

Robyn is simply silent when Elaine poses her question. She sits there, watching her coffee ripple as she sets it back down in front of her, never up at the other woman. "«I…»" She wrinkles her nose. "«Does it matter?»" She's actually not trying to be avoided, she just- why is ultimately irrelevant, isn't it? In the face of the fact that she made good on her promise. She lets out a huff. No, that's probably not going to fly this time. "«I don't know»" is the honest answer. "«It felt like the right thing to do.»"

While Robyn never looks up, Elaine only looks away briefly to drink from her cup. Her gaze stays mainly on the form of the other woman in front of her. "«Intentions matter, that's what. I appreciate that you think this is the right thing to do, I just question why. Are you trying to make yourself feel better?»"

"«That's a trap.»" Okay, now Robyn looks back up at Elaine. "That's a trap question and you know it.»" There's no right answer - if she is, she's being selfish. If she isn't, clearly she never felt bad and that's not good either. Her eye on Elaine, she tries to hold the other's gaze this time. "«I don't talk to many people anymore, Elaine. Save for Nicole…»" There's a trail off there, and a laugh. "«Colette's sister.»" If Elaine ever met Nicole, Robyn can't honestly remember, but Nicole's surname is one she chooses not to share in this moment. "«My roommate, Dirk.»" From Studio K. She knows Elaine and him met. "«And, rarely, I see Gillian,»" Jolene's birth mother.

"«What's past is past,»" she states, similar words spoke to Hana Gitelman a month before. "«And I can't change the past. I told you that.»" She is not, after all, a time traveller. Also, she hates time travel, it complicates things too much. "«Does that mean I can't seek to do better now?»"

Elaine presses her lips into a firm line, her thinking face. Robyn's familiar with it; it's the look she has when she's unsure of what to do and has a big decision in front of her. She breaks it by sipping her latte. Letting out a slow, deeply held breath, she nods.

"«If this is you extending an olive branch, I accept. To be honest I've only got a handful of friends myself… I find my job fulfilling when my life isn't. Yamagato has a way of becoming your life in a way. It has been good for me. But I would like to be your friend again, Robyn, if that's what you're interested in. It may be hard, for a while, but… I think it can be done.»"

An olive branch. Sure, that's a word for it. Not incorrect, but she's not sure the emotion, the intent behind such a gesture is quite the same. "«SESA is my life.»" She sips up a bit straighter, taking a sip of her coffee. "«And now, so is Wolfhound.»" Which, if Adel had been talking to her mother at all, may speak volumes in and of itself. "«I have never done well with friends. Even before the war.»" After all, Elaine said it herself - she is shit at relationships. That didn't just mean romantic ones, in Robyn's eyes - her web of "friends" back then was rife with abuse, mistreatment, and complication, usually at her fault.

"«I am not who was back then, Elaine.»" She shakes her head - you can just look at her and tell that, before she even opens her mouth or does a thing. Her head tilts back a bit, looking down her nose at the taller woman. "«The truth is, I prefer to be alone these days.»" She falls silent for a moment, a briefly familiar thoughtful expression on her face. "«I…»" She purses her lips. "«I still like to see people happy, though. Believe it or not, that does include you.»" A choice of words might have been better, given there situation, but there it is.

Elaine's lips curve downward, just slightly, as she takes another sip. Her eyes focus once again on Robyn, another deeply held breath escaping. "«I never said you had to be who you were, Robyn. You left that woman behind when you left me. It was then that you changed, that I no longer knew you. And I don't know you, especially not now.»"

Fingers tap on the table. Nervous… or waiting for something? "«You're a contradiction, Robyn. You prefer to be alone but you want me to be happy. I was happy with the idea of a friend, but now I'm wondering if I jumped the gun. You don't want friends. I don't know what you want from me.»" She rubs her temples.

Elaine's words, true as they may be, cut to the quick. "Not the first person," is spoken in English this time. "To say that." Robyn takes a long sip of her coffee - it burns her tongue, but she doesn't mind - and then she sets it aside. "But I never said that." She looks up, trying to catch Elaine's gaze again. "Prefer to be alone." She shakes her head. "Not to be lonely." She closes her eye, sinking a bit into her seat. "There's a difference." A long exhale. "Sorry. Not… used to this." Not anymore. "So… yes. Friends."

"We can keep doing this. Awkward coffee meetings. Maybe sometime we can go on a walk. Friendship doesn't mean complicated. We keep things simple. We talk about our days, what we can of them anyway, we chat… we do what casual friends do and we see how things go." Elaine makes the suggestion before sipping her latte once more.

"I'm not going to lie, this is very awkward. I don't know how to act around you. We were once something and now we're not and that empty space is always going to be there, it's just a matter of figuring out where to put that empty space so that we can be friends, that it's not just awkward."

Robyn reaches up, scratching at the back of her neck as her gaze moves off to the side. She could certainly make this more awkward if she wanted to. "Last time, you said that." She resists the urge to say it will never not be. That's not a future she wants. "I know." She takes a deep breath. "I don't- know what casual friends do," she admits after a moment. "Never had casual friends. Not really." She lets herself stay slinked down in her seat. "We can figure it out."

"So we hang out. Like we used to. I mean, not exactly like we used to, but we hang out. We chat, we do an activity, and wish each other well. Don't have to be good friends right away." Elaine pauses. "Or at all. Let's go with whatever you're comfortable with, since you seem to be the one with hangups about friendship. We'll hang out when you have some time off. But you're right… we'll figure it out."

"I-" Robyn's expression is cross, and it's hard to tell if it's with herself or with Elaine. "I don't-" She wrinkles her nose. "Jesus fuckin' christ," she exhales. "I don't have- hangups, I-" Hand moves from the back of her neck to her face, rubbing at her eyes for a moment. "Y' think this is easy f'r me? I tired- so hard t' not become someone I didn't want t' be, an' instead I walked right int' it." As if a dam broke, suddenly something a bit more familiar comes spilling out, hands hands gripping tightly on the end of the table. "I tried t' save myself, but myself kept slippin' away. An' now I don't remember how t' be myself. So I'm- sorry if it seems like I have hangups, I'm just fuckin' leanin' how t' be me again."

It's about this point that Robyn releases her outburst. She takes a few deep breaths, and closes her eyes. "«I'm sorry»," she says quietly. "«You're not… the only person I'm seeing again for the first time in years. I- didn't mean…»" Her shoulders slump. "«I'm sorry, Elaine.»"

"There's the Robyn Quinn I know," Elaine says at last, leaning forward a bit. "The kind of person who opens up, who finds things hard and isn't just cold. I know you're in there. But the thing is, Robyn, you can't be yourself anymore. You have to forge a new you. But it doesn't have to be someone you hate. Learn to loosen up a little. Figure out how to let someone or something close."

She sips more of her latte. "«You don't have to apologize. You're figuring shit out. I can't have been easy to see again, I sure know it wasn't for me, and it shook you up. Made you think. Think good and hard and figure out who you want to be. And your friends will be there to help you… and if you don't have friends, you make them. I promised you twenty or more years of my life when you did the same. I would be remiss if I didn't fufill that promise in some way. I'll still be here for you, Robyn. Just in a different way.»"

There's a lot of instincts that conflict with each other. The desire to tell Elaine to fuck off. The urge to tell her that she doesn't hate herself. The urge to get up and run away, as fast as she can. The urge to look away, to try and let the moment pass. The urge to change the subject to - who knows really, maybe Nicole and Pippa Varlane could veer this conversation elsewhere.

None of those happen, and instead Robyn sits there like a deer in headlights. Twenty years. It keeps coming up, and it freezes her in place. It takes a toll on her each time. Her eye closes partway, and her gaze moves down to the table. "«You don't have to keep any promises for me I didn't for you.»" Her lips quirk side to side. Every instinct in her is telling her to run right now. That this was a mistake.

"«When you said my name, at the Vault, I didn't know who it was,»" she admits. "«I almost pulled my gun. Those are the kinds of instincts I have now.»" She's not sure how this is relevant. It feels lik it is though. "«I'm probably an alcoholic who keeps flasks and big crystal decanters of whiskey in her office. And I don't talk to people if I can help it.»" That's the kind of person she is now. "«Do you know who works at Wolfound, Elaine?>" She looks up at the other woman, eye still half lidded. "«Colette- Jesus, she goes by Demsky now, I think. Lucille Ryans. Avi Epstien. Adel Lane. February Lancaster.»"

She takes a deep breath. "«And each of those people I have to face with the utmost professionalism. All the time. I have to be proper, respectful, and detached. Because I'm their observer now.»" SHe purses her lips. "«Sometimes, I don't think we have a choice in who we have to be.»"

“«I’m calling bullshit. You don’t have to believe me if you don’t want to, but bullshit. You’re only like this because you’re choosing to let yourself be. I could be like you, absorbed by all the corporate bullshit that goes on. I could completely absorb myself in work but I don’t. I don’t because I choose to make a life for myself and to go out with friends and meet new people and open myself up.»” Elaine’s latte is finished off, and she stares over at Robyn.

“«You can be professional and kind, respectful but firm, detached but not cold. It’s called learning when to restrain yourself and when to be open. Right now you’re just kind of a bitch and I mean that in the nicest way possible.»”

Robyn regards Elaine with a cold look emblematic of exactly what it is they are talking about. You don't understand she wants to tell her. It's more complicated than that. Other thoughts float through, before tilts her head back again, and settles on the same words she offered to Nicole recently. "«I know what I am,»" she retorts. Just because it isn't the person she wants or used to be is irrelevant. She knows what she is now.

This whole conversation is starting to feel familiar, in fact. She looks at Elaine a moment longer, and then off to the side. She doesn't know what to say next. She doesn't have anything to say next. "I'd like to be friends," she finally offers, after what feels like an eternity. "It will always be awkward." That's her personal assessment of this the situation, taking in everything Elaine has said and suggestion, everything she herself feels in this instant, and how she thinks Elaine seems to feel in this instant.

Seeing Elaine again dredges up a lot of feelings. Bitterness. Anger. Regret. All of them aimed squarely at herself. Lingering sentiment she doesn't dare entertain at the moment. Frustration over the idea of choice and the illusion of it. Disdain for where she finds herself. Solace in the idea that it's all irrelevant because it's too late to change anything.

"Is it worth it?"

“«What you are is different than who you are. Just remember that. Some of that can change.»” Elaine nods her head slowly at Robyn. “I would like to be friends as well, as awkward as it’s going to be. Maybe at some point you’ll open up, you’ll let your guard down. I’ll see the real you.” There’s the tiniest hint of a smile.

“Is it worth it? Absolutely.”

Robyn isn't so convinced, but she asked for a reason. Sitting back up straighter in her seat, she exhales sharply. "It will always be awkward," she reiterates. She worries. Like she told Elaine last time, she never had a chance to think. And snow she is. And that was an emotional minefield she is hesitant to cross.

But then, she did return the call. That's something.

"Well. There it is."

“For the record, I’m glad you called,” Elaine says, looking in her empty cup as if to find one last sip. “This has given me some perspective. On you, maybe on myself. On relationships, on people… just perspective overall. Life hasn’t been kind to you, Robyn. It’s changed you. I’m just glad it hasn’t changed you in irreparable ways. Maybe I’m being too harsh in my assessment, I just feel very strongly about this. About you, I suppose. Things have changed a lot and will never be the same, but you’re still important in my life, I want to see you happy too.”

Unable to hold back a rueful chuckle, Robyn shakes her head as she finishes her cup of coffee. "I don't understand why," is an honest truth. She doesn't. They haven't been friends in longer than six years, if you want to be truly honest. But then, Robyn is still of the thought that Elaine should hate her. "Don't… pity me," is a more forceful ascertation. "My life is what I've made it." Her expression thins. "Wouldn't be here right now… if Colette hadn't convinced me." To stay. Something that's been on her mind a lot lately.

"Settle for getting by," is both what she thinks Elaine should want to see of her, and what Robyn expects out of her life.

“Then I should pity you. Settling is never the answer. If I wanted to settle I could have gotten married several years ago and had a toddler by now. I could have had that picket fence idea of a family but I didn’t settle. I wanted better than just a life someone thought I should live. I also could have settled for just teaching languages, never using them for something amazing, something worthwhile. So don’t settle, Robyn. Never settle or you’ll miss out on the opportunities offered to you,” Elaine offers her a wry smile.

“Haven’t you already made yourself into a position where you should be fulfilled? You sound like you’re important. You said your job is your life… so live your life in a way where you’re happy.”

Awkward silence indeed. Elaine isn’t sure what she can say to that. She’s positive but there’s only so much she has to give some who, to her, is a void of emotionlessness. She clears her throat. “Be important then,” she offers slowly, as if making a offering of meat to a terrible creature. “Make yourself someone they can’t do without.”

I have, she thinks, and it's only put a target on my back. "Sometimes," she replies, looking off again, "being important isn't what it appears." She closes her eye and sighs. "Sorry. I keep being contradictory." She looks back to Elaine. "Fancy a walk?" Because if they just sit here and stare at each other any longer, Robyn is going to start to regret this whole endeavour, for so many reasons.

“Maybe being important isn’t about your job, it’s about being important in peoples’ lives,” Elaine nods at the suggestion of a walk. Grabbing her purse, she gets to her feet. “Need to stretch anyway,” she says, looking in the direction of the doorway. Walking gave them purpose, a purpose they both needed at the moment. What did they have to talk about? Life had pulled them apart violently six years ago and now coming back together, what did they even have left in common?

“Inger’s doing well.”

For something she used to do all the time with people, walking was something wasn't sure what to do with. It just seemed like something that wasn't sitting around, staring at each other and stirring up thoughts. So, silently, Robyn rises to her feet, following quietly behinf Elaine. At least, until Inger comes up.

Her eyes widen in surprise at the mention of her cat - well, her cat by virtue of apparent abandonment by whoever "Joy" and "Kurt" were, if she remembered right. That nametag was long, long gone. Still, her pace slows, eye cast down towards the ground. "You still have her. Wow."

A small smile creeps up on her face, thinking about that long forgotten squished face calico cat. "I'm glad. Better off with you, anyway." And that, for once, isn't self deprecating - it's the truth. "Make sure she lives forever."

And that's really all she knows to say about that, taking a deep breath as they walk about outside. "What do you do?" she finally asks. "For Yamagato."

Elaine makes her way along at a slow pace, headed in perhaps some random direction but she certainly makes it look like she knows where she’s headed. “Yeah, I rescued Inger before everything got crazy on the 8th back in 2011. She meowed a lot but stayed in my bag and let me save her. She’s a real trooper. She likes my new apartment. I’m sure she will live forever, spoiled little princess that she is.”

As far as her job goes? “Translation. A lot of it is just day-to-day stuff. Phone calls, meetings, lots of Japanese speaking staff needing English translation, some Chinese from time to time. My one job takes up what could have been five translators to do the same thing—and I’m more efficient than they could be. Sometimes there are even special projects. Really, I found a job that needs me and uses my skills for once. I love it.”

"Good." Robyn remembers how much Elaine liked language, liked her ability. "My job…" She rolls her shoulders. "Used to a bit of everything. Law enforcement. Investigation." A small bit of a smile. "Evolved FBI." SESA isn't original, but they get the job done. "Now though… simpler, but more complicated." She looks off to the side as they walk, though she never quite puts Elaine in her blindspot.

"I moved to Rochester. To Wolfhound. I'm their… liaison now." She leaves out why, for now. "Observe. Report. Coordinate." It's becoming a mantra. "Probably… for the better." She holds up a hand, clenching it into a fist. "Vision keeps getting worse. No ability. Probably off active duty in a few years." Not that she wants pity, but it's true.

"It's been good," is the counterpoint to that sadness. "I enjoy it."

“Wolfhound’s watchdog, eh? No wonder you’re the way you are. Even if you enjoy your job, there’s the fact that you aren’t a part of something. I’m so sorry. I wish I could offer advice for that but I don’t know what advice to give.” Elaine frowns slightly as Robyn elaborates on her problems. “Nothing the doctors can do for your vision? Some Evolved specialist or something you can go to?” She sighs. “I’m sorry, I’m not helping. I just want the best for you, you know. I want to see you be happy.”

"A hen in the wolves' den," Robyn offers, rather than the other way around. "I wouldn't tell anyone. It's a bad situation." Her eye flicks over to Elaine. "I need to have a talk, with Adel. Soon." She is her biggest worry, moreso than February or Colette.

"It is what it is." At least when it comes to her vision. Robyn learned to accept this years ago. She's lucky she can still shoot as well as she can, and in some ways the handicap has done her well, forcing her to actually pay attention to the world around her in a way she never did before. "My eyes were damaged. In 2011. It's like I was born without colour receptors." Because she burned them out, quite painfully. "Light filtering contacts help. I keep one eye covered, though. More efficient."

She falls silent again. "I still don't understand." She looks up at Elaine, frowning. "Why you're trying. After what happened." She looks back ahead, huffing out a breath. "Not that I mind. I don't deserve it, though."

She shakes her head. "Sorry. I'll… get used to it." Hands clasp behind her back as she walks, lips quirking side to side.

“You can’t let them get to you. Stay firm.” Elaine nods at the mention of Adel. “She and I keep in touch. Haven’t really chatted with her in a while, Sable either. My job’s been my focus for a bit, job and the new apartment. I’ll have to show you it sometime when you can pull yourself away. Maybe lunch or something. It’d be a nice change up from coffee.and walks.” She laces her fingers together behind her back.

“I loved you once, Robyn. Things like that don’t fade lightly. Now, that doesn’t mean I’m in love with you now, but it means that you once meant something very important to me. I respect that. I think greatly of you and think you deserve the best that life has to offer. So that is why I try. Have you gained my trust back? No. Some things don’t repair or take a long time to. But you mean something to me the same way Sable means something to me. Someone you don’t give up on, regardless of where life puts them.”

I loved you once. Robyn stops dead in her tracks. She's still listening to Elaine, but again, that feeling of being like a deer in headlights surges up in her. She know this for a fact. She expects this. She knows what happened, after all. Her hands fall back to her side, and she stares ahead.

She knows this is the case. That it's expected. And still those words feel like a dagger. The kind you never expect, the kind that comes when you think you're in the clear. Just when you think you've made it to the end of your story, fate reveals it has other plans for you. Straight through the heart. There's a difference between thinking you know something, and hearing it put so sharply. It catches her so unexpectedly, her breath hitching for just the barest of moments.

She swallows, before she starts walking again. She just nods in response. She doesn't dare say anything. This is just yet another shift in her perception of the world, another in an ongoing series, and the second presented to her by Elaine Darrow.

I’ve said something wrong. Elaine thinks as they walk, the silence falling over them again, this time less awkward and more poignant. Or maybe I said the right thing. Either way, something she said had registered in Robyn’s mind and it’s left Elaine hoping that she did the right thing. The silence begins to bother her. Speaking would ruin the moment, would break something that she felt was supposed to happen, So instead she hums slightly as they walk.

It’s one of Robyn’s songs. Take The Fall.

It isn't recognised at first, that song. But as Elaine hits the strongest part of the melody, it becomes impossible for Robyn Quinn to not recognise the song. She wrote that song fifteen years ago. How could she not recognise it? She doesn't stop this time, but her pace slows noticeably as she listens.

She can't help what happens next.

Whereas last time it had been Elaine Darrow who cried, now it's Robyn's turn. For all she's tried to appear unflappable, even despite the outburst earlier, this time it all breaks down. As she stares down at the ground as they walk. Her face begins to well up with emotion. She tries to hide it. She waits until Elaine comes back to the beginning of the melody.

And then she starts to sing along.

"I’ll take the fall
For this now
I won’t be afraid
I’ll walk my line
Won’t stop me now
I won’t be afraid
I’ll take the fall
For this now
I won’t be scared
I’ll tear this down
From earth to stars
I’ll take this away

Elaine can hear the sudden sniffle that starts to give away into a bit more honest of a cry as the words trail off, Robyn stopping as she reaches up to wipe at her eye. "You're fuckin' cruel," she says quietly, enough that's hard to tell if there's any venom behind those words.

Elaine couldn’t have anticipated the exact reaction she got. The tune had been stuck in her head since she had first seen Robyn that day and in a way she just hoped to share, to help Robyn reminisce. She hadn’t expected such a powerful response, not with singing, not with the crying, not with the cursing of her name.

“Your songs are still beautiful, moving. I miss the days you made music.” But right now, words are feeling wrong. Elaine’s a little misty-eyed herself. So instead she moves in, a slow and timid attempt at a hug, ready to jump back should Robyn show the slightest inclination of disapproval. She can’t express herself in words, her medium of choice, so she must resort to action.

"That was another life," Robyn half chokes out, trying to regain her composure. The gesture, the hug, is met with her freezing up, at first not even sure what's happening. She doesn't relax, but she lets it happen, placing a hand on Elaine's shoulder. "I don't play anymore. Sing. Write. No time, desire." She lets out a held breath. "Sorry, I just-" she swallows again. "It's been years."

She stands there, letting the hug run its course, never pushing it away but never feeling comfortable fully embracing it. Her arm does move slightly tighter around the other woman. "Last time was just after the war. Made a demo. Took the SESA job instead." And that was that. A decision made about who she wanted to be, and still wants to be.

The hug is only held a moment or two when Robyn doesn’t really react to it. Even with the tightening of the arm, it speaks enough to Elaine. She slowly backs off, giving Robyn her space again. “Well, Robyn Quinn had a good run with her music. If you ever hear of her taking it up again, you let me know.” She smiles faintly. “Maybe SESA was right for you. Maybe you needed a fresh start. I know I did.”

Elaine laughs. “I needed something, anything, once things went to shit. If it weren’t for Sable and Adel I don’t know where I’d be. But that didn’t give me purpose. My new job does. I feel like an important part of things. I hope that I continue to be. I hope your job gives you that, if nothing else in your life gives you those feelings.”

Robyn proves somewhat reluctant to release Elaine's arm as the awkward hug ends, something that catches her by surprise as much as it may Elaine. Clearing her throat, she shakes her head. "It does the job." Which is an honest answer, all things considered. A hand reaches up to lift up the band across her eyes so that she can wipe that one as well, adjusting it and her hair afterwards.

"Thank you," she offers back quietly. "That means a lot." About the music, and the good run. Robyn knows, after the war and after the trials, with her strange appellation of "war hero" and the lingering fame she could cultivate from that, she could probably be a star if she wanted to be.

If she wanted to be.

She doesn't ask about Sable or Adel. She needs to remain detached from Adel, as much as possible, and Elaine is enough of a hurdle for now, before adding Sable into the equation. "Better than a bookstore again," is what she offers. She does miss Ichihara, though.

Elaine might be slightly surprised at the way in which Robyn slowly releases her, but it makes sense in her head. When was the last time someone hugged Robyn? She hurt a little for the woman, not sure just how lonely her job left her. Still, she smiles at the other woman. “I’m happy to be honest,” she says about the music.

“Maybe better than a bookstore, but there was something simple about it. We were just starting out at that point in our lives and now we’re something else, someone else. For better or for worse. I feel like for me I’m better than I was. I may have made mistakes along the way but I’m happy where I am.”

"Mm." Robyn nods response. She tries not to think about it too hard, though she thinks it's true - that Elaine is a better person for everything that happened. It's something that Robyn will, at some point, have to consider herself. For now, though, she simply nods. She fights the urge to say thank you again, about her music.

"This has been… nice. I think." The hesitation, she feels, is natural given the situation and the feelings she has about it, numerous and conflicting. "I mean. It has, but…" She trails off, shaking her head. Words are hard. She rubs again at her visible eye. "Don't… tell Adel, if you see her." Kind of an afterthought, but an important one.

“I know the two of you will be having a working relationship now. I won’t say anything to her. You’re entitled to have your own personal life outside of work.” Elaine chuckles lightly. “I’m not sure what she’d think knowing we were actually talking.” She shakes her head. “But don’t stress yourself. Just let yourself have a life outside of work. If that means you have to keep Adel at arm’s length for a time, you do that. I won’t say anything to her that you don’t want me to say.”

"It's… complicated." Like so many other things. Her lips thin, and she lets out a sigh. "I can't talk too much about it." Even though she kind of already has? She rolls her shoulders, before falling silent again. This time, though, there seems to be something almost resembling a smile on her face.

“Complicated I understand,” Elaine replies. “But I know your job is probably top secret. With Adel working that makes it more complicated. You can’t talk about it, I get it. But you just tell me what you can when we chat about work, ‘kay?” She smiles, shaking her head again. “Personal lives aside from private lives.”

Robyn opens her mouth to speak - it's a different complicated, not something so simple. If people knew Elaine was Adel's mother - somehow - well, that would certainly complicate her life. But she just nods again. "Do you work today?" She stops and looks over at Elaine, head tilting slightly askew. "I'm not keeping you from anything?"

“I have some work I can do at home, it’s nothing that I can’t do later.” Elaine offers Robyn a small smile. “Don’t worry about complicated. My lips are sealed.” She looks back to the other woman. “Come on, let’s just walk for a while. We don’t need to say anything, just… walking. It’s nice having you here.”

And it was.

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