A Long Road


elaine2_icon.gif robyn4_icon.gif



Scene Title A Long Road
Synopsis To recovery, to acceptance, to trust. It's what they all have ahead of them.
Date April 29, 2019

Kaleidoscope Studios, Robyn's Flat

The workday over, Elaine found herself with an overly large bag with the logo of a popular sushi restaurant in Yamagato Park, and she also found herself outside of the door to Robyn’s new apartment. The weather hadn’t been terribly cold, but it was windy, so she was bundled up with coat and scarf. The door is knocked on, loudly but not aggressively. It’s just a warning, an announcement to her presence.

"Apartment" is not the word Robyn would use, but it's been a good one for simple ease of explanation. In truth, she owns this whole building now - her proposal to turn the lowest floor into the business combined with the state of Bay Ridge made it just barely possible with the money she had available to her.

But most of that plan would have to wait. SHe wouldn't be in a position to put that plan into action quite yet, so instead she'd focusing on moving things in and geetting things out of her old apartment as soon as possible.

For once, there isn't music playing from inside. So Elaine can clearly hear RObyn approaching the door, pulling it open with a blink - as if, as per usual, she had forgotten the other woman was coming by. "Oh. Oh!" She smiles, stepping back and motioning Elaine inside. "Come on in, hon."

“I know I didn’t say I was bringing food but I got hungry on the way over and got some takeout.” Elaine slips inside the doorway once Robyn lets her in, and she looks over at the other woman. “I have ungodly amounts of sushi and equally ungodly amounts of rice and noodles. I may have gone overboard but I had a hunch you might need some leftovers.”

Furrowing her brow, Robyn watches Elaine as she comes into the room, tilting her head just the slightest bit. "Sushi? I don't think I've had sushi in…" Years, though she trails off before finishing her thought. The door is closed, and she stands there for a long moment before making her way over to her.

Leaning up and pressing a kiss to Elaine's cheek, she grins and motions to a card table that is acting as a temporary eating surface. "Feel free to set up your spread," she say with a muted cheerfulness. "I'm actually really glad you came by today."

Returning the kiss on her cheek with one of her own, Elaine makes her way over to the card table with the plastic bag. “I made sure they threw some plastic forks in, in case we needed any. Chopsticks too.” She proceeds to set out several containers with rolls of sushi, a container of sticky rice, and two different pan-fried noodle dishes.

“Are you happy to see me or are you happy to see food? Sometimes those things can be terribly hard to distinguish between. Trust me, I know from experience.” Elaine grins widely over at Robyn, clearly teasing.

"What a stupid question," is a mildly dismissive remark as Robyn rolls her eyes. There seems to be playfulness behind it, but sometimes it can be hard to tell. She reaches up, tapping two fingers against Elaine's cheek. "You, hon. You." A mildly exaggerated grin is what Elaine gets from that, Robyn turning away. Predictably, on the table, there's two glasses set out, and what looks like cocktail ingredients from possibly the night before.

"I am certainly glad to see you, but that's not why I'm glad you came by." A hand moves to her chin, looking thoughtful for a moment, before looking over at Elaine. "I had something I wanted your opinion on."

Elaine can’t hide the grin that remains on her face from all the teasing. She makes sure to open the containers and set the utensils close at hand before she turns her full attention back to Robyn. “Well, at the very least I sure know how to give opinions. And I’m also touched that you wanted my opinion on something.” She breaks apart a pair of chopsticks and skillfully lifts up a piece of sushi.

“So what is it?” The redhead stuffs the sushi into her mouth once she’s asked the question.

Furrowing her brow, Robyn regards Elaine with suspicion for a long moment. "Why wouldn't I want your opinion?" is an honest question tinged with hint of accusation behind it. Another moment passes before Robyn shakes her head and sighs, looking down at the food.

"Do you remember what I told you about my last mission with Wolfhound?" Her expression flattens as she makes her way back towards the kitchen - an actual kitchen, rather than the sort of nook she and Dirk had in their apartment. "The one where I was with Rue and Dearing."

Disappearing into the kitchen, she returns a minute or so later with two paper plates and optional forks in hand. "There were survivors that we brought back with us to the Safe Zone." A beat. "I assume you've heard of Matt Parkman?" After everything in 2011, after that Albany Trials… it was hard to have not heard of Parkman, at least in Robyn's estimation.

It takes a moment for Elaine to finish chewing, but she nods her understanding before that to keep the conversation going. Once she’s done with the piece of sushi, she looks to Robyn. “There were survivors?” That has her attention, and she ignores the food for a moment. “… and yeah, I’ve heard of Parkman. What does he have to do with the whole thing?”

Her attention remains on Robyn. This conversation has more serious implications, she feels like, and food can wait.

"Of course there were," is a somewhat flippant remark from Robyn, giving a small roll of her eyes. "Wolfhound isn't an assassin outfit. We were supposed to bring back anyone alive we could." Which is why it's probably good she didn't end up finding some of the Institute figures that others did - she can't promise an encounter with Peter Varlane wouldn't have ended with one or both of them dead.

She looks down at the food, but doesn't seem much inclined to eat yet. "Parkman's son and his mother were there," she settles on after a moment, choosing to cut to the chase. "His mother didn't make it," she adds in a low voice a moment after, before glancing back at Elaine.

"He was in SESA custody for some time after. I suspect after that, he was going to be released into the state-sponsored foster system." A beat passes. "I suppose he still was."


A voice rings out from somewhere else, rooms away. It is neither familiar nor an adult. Suddenly, pieces begin to slot together for Elaine.

Robyn the internet is out again!”

“The foster system is a load of—” Elaine’s brought to silence at the child’s voice. She remains in silence for a moment, observing Robyn. This was clearly not a turn she saw this conversation going. Her attempts to wrap her head around things are visible on her face as she slowly looks at the food. She gives Robyn a ‘we’re not done with this conversation’ look before her gaze drifts down the hallway and she calls loudly.

“Hey! There’s sushi and noodles out here if you’re hungry!” She looks to Robyn, her voice returning to normal volume. “I guess it’s a good thing I got extra.”

Well, so much for the build up. Robyn freezes when Matty calls out to her. Eyes flick over to Elaine at her response, and then down to the food that she still hasn't touched. Quickly, Robyn begins gathering up the cocktail ingredients that are on the table - she certain isn't trying to hide them from Matthew, but that doesn't mean she wants to leave them lying around.

"Surprise!" said with a cascading sense of enthusiasm and a self amused grin forms on her face. It's an act, of course. She had hoped for Elaine finding out to be more elegant than this, but here they are.

She looks over towards Matthews room, and then back to Elaine. "It didn't seem right to turn him out into the system," she admits in a low voice, before standing up and shouting back to Matthew. "I'll check it in a moment Matthew. We have a guest, if you'd like to come and meet her. She will be here a lot and it'll happen one point or another, so might as well get it out of the way now!"

A smile is flashed to Elaine as Robyn slips back towards the kitchen with the two glasses, lime juice, and some maple syrup in hand.

There’s no response immediately, just an awkward silence that comes from the other side of the floor they’re on. But then there’s a distant click of a doorknob and the graceless thudding of a preteen’s heavy footfalls across the floor. What comes around the corner is a wiry boy just about to be struck about the head and neck by the club of puberty. His brown hair is mousy and tousled, eyes wide, and posture slouched. He’s all thin limbs and willowy build, looking nothing like the stocky silhouette Matthew Parkman is remembered as in photographs and documentaries of the world before the war.

But this Matthew Parkman isn’t a parallel traveler from another world, isn’t from a distant time or some other science-fiction reality. This Matthew Parkman is a boy, and one who is awkwardly fit into his skin. He levels those big, expressive eyes on Elaine in silence, then looks at Robyn with uncertainty as he asks, “is this your sister?”

Oh, Matty.

“I think that would be a little weird,” Elaine says with an honest laugh. “I’m Robyn’s girlfriend. Also, don’t feel obligated to stay out here after you get your food, I kind of used to retreat from new people for a while myself. I just wanted to meet you since we’ll both be here all the time.”

The redhead leans over just a touch to get on his level. “Just between you and me, if there’s anything you need but Robyn’s already said no… let me know. I might just hook you up.” There’s a wink, but it’s not at Matthew… it’s at Robyn and accompanied by a mischievous grin.

Robyn had been waiting to see Matthew's reaction, lingering at the threshold out of the kitchen and watching with curiosity. If he gives one she doesn't end up seeing it - she's too busy looking at Elaine with a reaction of her own, one of surprise. Girlfriend is not a word Elaine had been choosing to use to the best of Robyn's knowledge, understandably given their history.

That said, it also potentially opens a can of worms Robyn was not at all prepared to engage. She steels herself for any questions that may come, but tries to hide it from showing on her face as she makes her way back over.

"I heard that," she remarks with a faux chastising tone. Turning her attention back to Matty, she smiles and nods. "Elaine has been a friend of mine for many years," which is maybe stretching the truth more than a bit given the several years they were out of contact and arguably estranged from each other. "She's good people. You can trust her; I certainly do."

Matthew’s nose wrinkles for a second, puzzling out something, then in the most disinterested tone he can muster says, “Oh, ok.”

It's not that complicated.

“So are you gonna move in here too? Because I like to take long baths,” Matthew gets right to the meat of things, tentatively making his way over to the table like a new housecat presented with an unfamiliar guest. Suspicious, but also in search of treats.

“I’ve got my own place, it’s over at the Cresting Wave apartments in Yamagato Park, pretty high tech. It would be very hard to convince me to move elsewhere,” Elaine says, pointedly not looking at Robyn. Instead, she focuses on the eleven-year-old.

“I’ll be over here often, though. I tend to bring food with me, so if there’s anything you’re particularly fond of, I’m always open to suggestions. I’m pretty good at baking, you can ask Robyn if you don’t believe me.”

Robyn eyes Elaine as she tries to sweet talk the child in her care with promises of treats and other such things. "I think you would like her cat," she says a bit dryly, smirking at the thought of the smoosh-faced kitten. "Inger is absolutely adorable."

With that, she makes her way over to the router, bending down and glancing at it. "I think it's just a routine outage, Matthew. If it stays down much longer, I'll restart it." Looking up at Elaine, she shrugs. "It's nice to have internet again reliably out here, but it still has it's moments. Not like your fancy Yamagato tech."

Staring at it a moment longer, she rises and makes her way back to the table. "So, Matthew. Do you know how to use chopsticks?"

Matthew eyes Robyn and Elaine for a moment, looking at the chopsticks and then back in the direction of his room. It's clear that he's weighing his options, then looks back to the chopsticks and shakes his head in the negative. “You have a cat?” He asks of Elaine, lingering by the table awkwardly but not really taking a seat. “I've never seen…” a cat before, is what he was going to say. But instead he just stops and looks down at his feet.

Awkwardly, Matthew takes a step away from the table and makes a noise in the back of his throat. “I'm… gonna go back t’my room,” he says softly, nervously. He's uncomfortable in his own skin, even if he doesn't want to be.

Elaine catches the look and the way the kid wants to retreat, and her look softens. “I’ll bring Inger over. I think you’d like her… her face is all smooshed like she ran into a wall and it just stuck like that.” She laughs a little at the thought, but she looks at him, trying to determine if he actually wants to retreat or if that’s his default.

“Chopsticks take some practice, but they’re a lot of fun. I didn’t learn them until recently, but now I use them all the time. You can always pick up new skills. If you want to go back to your room, that’s alright, but I’ll show you how to use chopsticks out here, if you’d like.”

A frown crosses Robyn's face as she watches the young boy step back and begin to move away from them. She glances over at Elaine, thankful for the other woman's presence at moments like this. "I think that's a lovely idea," she remarks in a low voice, re: bringing over Inger. Matthew isn't the only one that would appreciate the chance to see that adorable cat.

Eyes turn to Matthew, and she offers him a small smile. "Alright, Matthew. But if you change your mind, we would love to have your company." Sometimes she talks to Matthew more like he's a reluctant friend than he is the child in her care.

Her attention turns back to Elaine, offering to the other woman in a low voice. Je lui donnerais un chat, mais prendre soin d'un jeune est déjà assez difficile," she remarks. And then, a look of realisation dawns on her face. "Matty… have you ever wanted to learn a language or anything?"

Uh oh, Elaine. Robyn's putting you on the spot.

“Not really…” is Matthew’s dejected response to both the question of linguistics and the offer of using chopsticks. He looks down to the floor, over to the table one last time, then turns and heads back in the direction of his room. It’s been hard, adjusting to living in the Safe Zone, living with Robyn, losing his mother. His world has been destroyed and rebuilt, and he barely has a frame of reference for who he is in that world.

As Robyn and Elaine see him go, it’s clear this is going to be a long road. Recovery always is.

Elaine’s gaze travels from Robyn, to the retreating Matthew, back to Robyn. She smiles the sort of sad smile of someone shrugging, moving to serve food on her plate. “I used to be like that, right after my parents died. I didn’t really know how to be otherwise. I can’t blame him, he’s been through a lot. I just wish I could help more.”

Instead, she helps herself to the sushi.

Letting out a sigh, Robyn sinks into her chair a bit. She certainly isn;t going to force Matthew to join them, but concern shows clear on her face. "He'll come get some when we're not around," she assures, watching his door carefully. She glances over at Elaine, her head tilting a slight bit. It's been so long and she's seen Elaine come so far that she sometimes forgets what life before Magnes, Sable, and Quinn was for the polyglot. That she, too, is an orphan.

"What was it like?" Robyn asks in a low voice. She's never really asked Elaine this question before, what life was like before they met. She's heard bits and pieces of course, but nothing too in depth on the subject. "What is he going through right now?" She seeks understanding, that much is clear. Their experiences aren't the same, but maybe Elaine can offer some insight.

Seeing how Elaine has turned out, though… there's hope yet, Matthew.

This isn’t the first time in a while that Elaine’s been thinking about her life after the bomb. It’s run through her head a bit as of late, no particular reason she could come up with for it. So her answer is mostly prepared when Robyn asks of her own experiences. She sighs, just a bit, the tiniest hint of a frown on her features.

“It was unstable. Imagine standing up on a small raft, water rolling beneath you. You aren’t in the water but you’re wobbling around, nothing to hold on to when you desperately want to be secure. I wanted to be me, whomever that kid was, I just wanted to feel like a kid and not like I had to take care of myself. Because I wasn’t a kid after that, no one let me be one.”

She stares at a piece of sushi for a long moment. “Make him feel safe, let him know he can trust you, and take care of him so he doesn’t have to take care of himself and therefore stop being a kid. That’s the best advice I can give you. It’s what I would have wanted. Almost had that with the Lighthouse but that was already after I really was able to be a kid. I was almost an adult by then.”

Robyn is quiet for a long moment before she nods. "I'll do my best," may not sound too confident, but there's conviction behind the words as her gaze lingers on the door to Matthew's room. Hopefully there's room for her to be the surrogate mother he needs when all is said and done - only time will tell, though.

Huffing out a sigh, she looks over to the other woman with an appreciative smile. "I'm sorry, by the way," she offers as she reaches over to take Elaine's hand. "I didn't mean for you to find out quite that way." Eyes flick off to the side. "…or quite this long after he came into my care." It was in March, after all. "So thank you."

And with that, she slides her chair a bit closer to Elaine, a cheshire grin forming on her face. "So. Girlfriend, huh?"

“That’s okay, I’ve been a bit busy with a few things myself, I should have come to see you far earlier,” Elaine says, squeezing the hand offered to her gently. “I guess we’ve both had a lot on our plates.” She laughs, looks between the door Matthew retreated into before looking back to Robyn.

“Girlfriend is probably the closest we’ve got to us. It seemed safe and it seemed like something a kid would understand. Besides, it would be awkward to introduce me as a friend and then if he caught us being a bit more romantic kind of question if we were telling the truth. Got to build that trust. Trust’s important.”

"I don't know," Robyn remarks, finally turning her attention to the sushi in front of her. She grabs one with her fingers like a philistine and pops it into her mouth. "Matthew is bright. He catches me off guard with it, sometimes. I think he would have understood just fine. He never questions the things I think he will."

Looking at another one of the pieces of sushi, she grins and leans her head against Elaine's shoulder. "For what it's worth, I like you too," she confides as though she were a young girl responding to a crush that had just come out to her. "Want to grab the wine and have a glass in memoriam to my social life."

Not that she's upset about it.

She chose this, after all. And she wouldn't change it at all.

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