A Failsafe


diogenes_icon.gif isis_icon.gif

Scene Title A Failsafe
Synopsis Because it's all come full circle…
Date April 24, 2019


There is a reason why there's only one area in New York City called the Safe Zone. The ruins aren't exactly ideal for neither cohabitation nor leisurely strolls, save for the more adventurous souls. The ones who want to spice their meeting spots even further, there's always the fifth floor on a dilapidated, abandoned building. Leftover, ruined furnishings inside suggest it was an office building once, but now it's just a former shell of whatever it once was. Half of one of its sides is now rubble on the ground beneath the building's feet, creating one hell of a terrace per each floor on said side. It makes for a pretty nice view into the district's sad state of affairs, even if it's perhaps not the safest place to admire it.

Seated on one of the better preserved chairs, Diogenes is facing the view. It's midday, and the wind near-perpetually blows softly into the floor. Nonetheless, he's dressed pretty lightly, a pair of worn jeans and a navy plaid shirt, sleeves rolled up to his elbows. He is literally twiddling this thumbs, looking out to the crossroads the building's positioned near.

"I come here sometimes," he notes, and then sighs softly. "Ruins in general, I mean. A little too frequently, lately. It's a good place, though."

He thins his lips in brief thought, and then cranes his neck to look to another. "What's on your mind?"

By the time they had reached the top of the stairs, the redhead's eyes were lively and golden with the knitting knot of anxiety. They remain so now, the time that it takes to disentangle such unfounded, ridiculous fears three-fold what it takes for them to plague. The condition of 'coming down' leaves the small, slender woman rigid in comparison to her partner. Dio's voice seems to call through the twisted mess that is Isis…

Sitting beside him, her denim-clad legs pulled up to her so that her chin can rest on her knees makes her appear even smaller than usual. She raises both brows, but it still takes a moment before a muttered, "Huh?" coincides with her turning her head to meet Dio's dark gaze. Blink blink. "It's beautiful… in its truth, if that makes any sense?" She offers an lopsided smile.

"I was worried or… wondering about you, is all." Mostly. "I'm going on a short trip soon and just wanted to, I dunno, check in before I left." She straightens a bit, chin coming up over her knees. "Just a short one this time. Promise."

Diogenes inhales deeply and tightens his interwoven fingers together. His facial features remain steady as he directs his eyes to regard the destruction again once more. "I'm sorry I have struggled to keep in touch," he offers, simply. There's a subtle, affirmative nod; a gesture more for himself than the redhead. "It's nothing serious. Nothing out of the ordinary, at least. Just a few questions I can't really seem to find answers to, and I feel compelled to stop before I find them, y'know?"

With a derisive snort, he stretches his legs out and crosses them at the ankles. Likewise, he crosses his arms and finally looks to Isis again.

"I'm aware of the irony. The man with the power to paralyze is paralyzed by thought. Anyway." He pauses, his expression still neutral. "Speaking of overthinking. If we were any other random pairing, checking in before a short trip? Probably pretty normal." Finally, his expression shifts; he inquisitively cants his head to the side and raises both brows. "Visiting relatives? Business trip?"

"Are they questions that actually have answers? You know, the kind we can find on our plane of existence, in our lifetime?" The woman's reply is one of genuine curiosity, a familiar note upon her alto vocals. The natural inquisitiveness is enough to override the last vestiges of her unease - her feet shift gently to the floor and she fluffs her crimson hair with a quick comb of her small, pale fingers.

"Life likes to play on the ironies, I think - makes one really question 'fate' and all that." She shrugs, though, so as not to delve too deep down that particular rabbit hole. Instead she turns her face away when Dio points out the 'normal'-ness of her desire to check in. Her silhouette toys at the thought of a scowl that never properly forms. "Maybe I'm a little normal these days. Maybe… some things are worth caring about. Occasionally. Sometimes. Maybe." There's a flicker of reflect hazel as she steals a quick side-eyed glance Diogenes's way to consider his reaction.

"Business," she answers finally. Her pale lips part a few times eve with her visage turned to the crumbled horizon, but they never finds appropriate words to elaborate enough this time around. Instead, they find: "Will you still be here when I get back?"

here's a slow, subtle head shake in response to whether or not his questions have easy to find answers. There's even a slight twitch of a corner of his lips, but the grin never arrives. He doesn't add to the topic, even if judging by the restless thumbs rapping against each other, he has a fair bit to share on that. Perhaps later.

In fact, he remains suspiciously quiet throughout. The comment pertaining to normalcy very nearly gets him to talk, at least, going by the way he tightens his jaw and thins his lips again, before his expression becomes neutral again. Even after Isis caps off her words with a question mark, there's a bit of a delay. "I'll be here," he relents, eventually. "Sorry, it's not doubt, it's… I just wanted to give you a real answer, not empty reassurance. Yeah, I'll be here. If you need someone to talk, or… something else." The implication for the latter is somber, even if he's quick to defuse the tone by giving Isis the most exaggerated wink.

After the world's least subtle wink, a small smirk remains on his lips. He raises a single digit and wags it at Isis. "Normalcy is a deceptive concept. I know I used the word first, but I disagree with myself half the time anyway. I think we can…" The finger that's been pointing at Isis all this time moves to tap Dio's chin. It takes him a few moments to continue. "I think we can partake in normal things, if that makes sense. Being normal? I think that's the root of humanity's most poisonous thoughts. If there's normal, there's abnormal, and then comes the question of what is it you do with that which doesn't fit your neat lil' frame."

His hand suddenly splays its fingers and he emphatically shakes his head. "Sorry, old habits die hard, I guess." The words pour out at a rapid rate. "Look. I can pretend it's not weird for a bar to send you on a business trip that warrants checking in with me. The city shrank, but its secrets grew. I just hope you have told somebody." The way he raises his brows and inclines his head, he doesn't need to say just in case out loud.

In all that is said, that which visibly rocks the slender redhead is the simple, suggestive offer made alongside the conspicuous wink. There's a couple of blinks in subtle surprise before Isis's attention refocuses on what follows. When Diogenes finishes there's a lengthy silence. She bends down at plucks up a small pebble of dislocated concrete and idly rolls it about her palm, weighing it as she is most assuredly weighing her response.

"Something else…" The echo is Isis's way of acknowledging, of not letting go; but as unwilling, or unable, to risk any more in the topic than Dio already has. What she does manage to do is hold his gaze a time as she repeats the ambiguous phrase and nods some form of agreement.

After a moment Isis leans back, a more playful tilt warming the cool exterior that a pale complexion provides. "Hey, you never know - maybe I'm going to practice 'flair' - where we flip bottles, or take a management seminar or some shit. It could happen…" Her smile shows that it clearly, though, is not what is happening. With a chuckle she admits, "Different ‘business’. I got looped into this-… I don't know, support group?" She squints and looks back down the lonely pebble in hand. "So no, I haven't told anybody." She looks up sharply, lips parted. But, bitterness keeps her silent. Still, she doesn't need to say the words aloud, not to him: Who would she tell? Even if she was willing to admit such weakness. "Other people looking for answers and solutions and whatnot…" she rambles off and suddenly tosses the pebble out over the edge a few feet away from them, letting if fall several stories away with a little tap-tick-tap.

"Man, what I do inside my head, you do outside of yours," notes the man, sinking into his seat and turning his eyes to the ruins ahead. He slumps far enough that his pose is nearly comical - he's nearly prone on the chair - yet his expression remains pretty serious.

"Support group, huh." Nothing else need to be added between the two to make it known that Diogenes is already silently flipping through a lengthy list of possibilities inside his head. "Feels like there's a lot of those, nowadays," he murmurs softly. "That's not what I'd call them, but something tells me that's not how you view them, either." Then comes a grunt; it's a sound of displeasure, and a more prominent shake of his head confirms its tone. He rises from his seat, grabs the back of the chair and swiftly spins the skeletal remains of what once was probably a waiting room's chair. When he sits back down, he's facing the redhead's side, his forearms rest on the chair's back, and his widely spread feet rest at either side. His gaze is heavy, but he doesn't wish to pressure the woman, a notion he attempts to show by not drilling holes in her and instead occasionally glancing sideways to the ruins.

"I don't know how to put this, I'm still not that great at the more cushy stuff, but you've survived over the rougher years, yeah? Or, uh, even if you trace it further back, we joined the Ferrymen. We helped people. We did that. We tried to. Others depended on the Ferrymen, and on us two among them." Pause. "You stuck around, even. You gave to them way more than I have."

His gaze remains on the floor when he asks her, "What makes you better than them?"

When he looks back up, he flashes a faint smile. It looks forced, but it's an attempt to defuse the acrid question nonetheless. "I refuse to believe you survived those years completely alone. And you came here, you followed that letter. And you outgrew that call, you're here for more than that, now." The dark haired man slowly, almost carefully leans forward. "Independence is strength to a certain point. Past that point, it becomes a weakness. You need a failsafe. I'm not selfish enough to demand that it's me, but I sure as hell expect you to have one."

"Sometimes it's only an inkling of all the shit that is really going on in my head," she adds, looking at the edge of jagged concrete over which the tiny pebble has long since disappeared.

Red hair flips quickly over her shoulder as a jerky reaction has Isis's hazel eyes back on Dio. "That is how I see them," her voice is too high. It's defensive. She can hear it and amends her statement in a quieter tone that hints at some manner of apology. "Rather, that's how I want to see them." The woman posing as Joanne, registered as Tiffany, known as Isis, and born as someone else entirely visibly slumps under the weight of her friend's last question, though. Elbows on her thighs, she lets her face fall into her hands.

"I have to be-…" not better than them, just… "-stronger." Her palms catch her words and try to muffle them, turning them into vibrations that leave goosebumps down her bare forearms. A deep breath and she flips her hair back, unveiling a visage of set determination. "Because there are more people worth helping than I have power enough to save. Because there's more bad people than their are good. If those of us that are willing to help aren't better or stronger it all goes to more shit." She nods once before she dares to turn that facade of determination on Dio. Even still, when she looks to meet him it cracks around the edges, it doesn't quite meet her eyes at it once did.

Her throat works roughly past a tight knot therein. "I do need a failsafe. I'm not selfish enough to demand it be you either." Stalemate.

Again, Diogenes raises a single digit to wag it at Isis, although this time it's sideways rather than back and forth. At least, at first. A determined forward swipe of his index finger comes the same time as the first word. "First of all, that's playing dirty, turning my own words against me. Secondly, that's a very self-destructive view you have there." He plants both his forearms atop the chair and leans forward again. "The heroes who delude themselves into thinking they stand above the helpless masses, they're on the same wavelength as the villains who do the same. We're not heroes. We're not gods. We're human. We're all weak in our own way. One man's strength counters another man's weakness."

At that, he starts undoing his shirt. "Actually, let me show you something. You know me, right? You know I used to think the same way, yeah?" Once he sufficiently unbuttons his shirt, he hooks the neckline of the T-shirt underneath and pulls far down enough to reveal a scar on the right side of his upper chest. "It took me just a few months on my own after leaving New York until someone decided to adjust my attitude with a single bullet. Alone, I would have probably bled out somewhere scenic, but I received help. Help I didn't refuse, help from ordinary people trying to eke out a living. The farmers I told you about. And I helped them in return, helped protect their place. That's how humanity works. That's when it works."

He exhales a quick, ragged sigh, pausing briefly.

"If you want me, if you let me, I can be your failsafe."

Dark lashes narrow around bronze-green eyes. "When have I ever not played dirty," she quips back. Silence is granted as second point of interest is raised and then show-and-tell begins. When the dark haired man reveal the scar Isis prickles visibly, shifting restlessly in her seat - for all appearances ready to climb out of her skin, or at least out of her chair.

She licks her lips in a thoughtful way as her fingers twitch on her lap. What with self-restraint still not her strongest attribute, however, her hand is raised. This is something new - the way she reaches out, the way her fingers hover over the long-healed wound waiting for permission - touch, even the possibility of it, was enough to set a younger Isis on modes of fight or flight.

Her gaze remains on the scar as he speaks, and even still as she responds. "That's how it's supposed to work," she agrees. Her voice is far off, lost in the seedlings of thoughts that Dio's words have watered and sprouted. "That's how it might have worked. You know, as much as I was afraid of the war. Every day. Part of me hoped that in the aftermath we'd have a fresh start. But," she looks up at Dio. "We've come full circle. We're back where we started. It's all on repeat until something gives." She chuckles without any true mirth.

"I don't want to be a superhero. I just want to protect the people I love." She finally touches the scar. "When I fail, don't let me pull you down, too, okay?"

Perhaps Diogenes actually expected Isis to reach out for the scar, seeing as he keeps it on display, stretching the fabric of his clothing. The man keeps still too; whether it's because he's not entirely comfortable with the idea himself or he doesn't want to add to Isis' own, is anyone's guess. Whatever the reason, it's also the selfsame reason why he averts his eyes and looks off to the side. When her finger actually lands on the scar tissue, there's another uneven exhalation. When he looks back up to Isis, there's a lopsided, uncertain smile on his face, this time genuine.

"I think we do have a fresh start," he suggests softly. "The world's still in flux. What we do today, that will shape tomorrow. You have to believe in and act the way you think it's supposed to work if you want to see it work that way some day. Now's as good a time as any to start." He loosens the grip on fabric, which causes it to rise up. It serves as a sort of warning for Isis' hand to withdraw, so that he may button up his shirt again.

"I'd like to think I'd sooner fail doing something I believe in than live in apathy, but yes, the plan here is mutual success."

A moment after, "Is that your acquiescence? Will you let me help you?"

The fingers test the scar tissue uncertainly, as curious about its past, as its texture, and as to the whole strange situation in which she finds herself //poking/ at it… But, she withdraws her exploratory touch quick enough and folds her hands carefully, just so, back into her lap.

"Do I acquiesce?" She smiles brighter than she has since they arrived. She pushes to her feel, drawing her hands up overhead and indulging a languid stretch as she looks over the horizon one last time. "Oh, I suppose I'm inclined to accept your gracious offer of assistance," she deliberately drawls out in a teasing way, but her expression of amusement and gratitude intermixed is no less sincere for her tone. She turns back to her friend…

"You can start by helping me down four god-awful flights of friggin' stairs."

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