A Springtime Picnic


alia_icon.gif delilah_icon.gif elisabeth2_icon.gif everleigh2_icon.gif gatter_icon.gif ace2_icon.gif pride_icon.gif richard3_icon.gif seren_icon.gif walter_icon.gif

Scene Title A Springtime Picnic
Synopsis The Raytech family comes together to celebrate the coming of spring.
Date March 20, 2021

Raytech Industries Campus: Zimmerman Memorial Park

The illusion of a building is re-created at the park without structural walls. More of a three-dimensional plaza than a park, the green building is highly visible in this still re-developing area. The structure references the industrial history of the area. The frame is galvanized steel construction, woven with steel cables, and wrapped in a diverse selection of scented, deciduous climbing vines. The MFO Park landscape is most interesting in its vertical scale. On the ground plane, there is minimal vegetation, most is covered by pervious paving surfaces. One area is covered with recycled glass and slightly sunken. Within it, seating in the form of large lounging benches invites visitors to the outdoor living room. A lily pad shaped pond, fabricated in steel, is filled with water and plants.

Some clipped shrubs connect the interior/exterior spaces, and vines climb from the ground on steel cables both inside and along the invisible walls. The use of cables creates the illusion that the vines climb on the structure, without actually interfering in the frame’s integrity. Planting boxes are located on upper floors, continuing the climbing green surfaces that define this structure. Open frame stairs lead upward to walkways inside the frame. Cantilevered balconies extend the inside/outside space, and provide more seating options. The open top offers a view of the surrounding district. At night, the park is lit internally.

The delightful natural fragrances of the climbing vines that stretch up the park’s trellis-like structures mingles with the scent of barbeque, welcoming the employees of Raytech Industries to the newly-opened environs of the Zimmerman Memorial Park for the yearly company picnic. A couple hundred people getting out of their labs and offices, enjoying fresh food, and getting to know one another and their families in a relaxed environment.

God knows that after the events of the past year, many of them need it.

There’s laughter and conversation everywhere, children running together with the unbridled joy of youth, tables loaded with food - fresh fruits and vegetables from the greenhouse and meat locally sourced from farms out in New Jersey. The whisper-whine of tiny motors is sometimes audible beneath the rest of the gathering’s noise, as Spot™ units in Raytech’s colors trot about carrying trays of snacks and bottled water for people.

There’s no alcohol yet, but after nightfall it’ll come out, when the party goes 18+ and the families bring their children home - or check them into the overnight childcare facility that normally serves single parents that may have to work overnight shifts.

Richard’s dressed down for the occasion, but knows he can’t completely dress down, so he’s wearing a black blazer over a red polo shirt, black slacks, and black shoes that’ll pass a glance but are still running shoes. “Ricky! Careful,” he calls over to his son with a tolerant sigh as he notices him trying to climb one of the trellises, stepping over and reaching out to pluck the boy off and set him down on the ground, “No climbing, buddy, okay?”

“But daaaaaad…”

“Uh uh. No ‘but dad’ me. You’re gonna break your neck. Go keep an eye on your sisters, you know how nervous Aurora gets around strangers. And robots.”

The child pouts for a moment, but seems to take heart with being given the responsibility of protecting his younger sister and goes scampering off in their direction to be a good brother.

Seren is doing a job of keeping themself together after how last night went. A night out in Wonderland, having forgotten that today was the company picnic. But missing out on this wasn't something they'd dream of doing, so they're here, of course. Just… trying to keep it together.

It mostly has worked out. The stone table they're seated at is covered over in moss bearing tiny flowers. A winged tiger sits before them, his face cupped in their hands. Baird's stripes are white, his body black, and swirling with a rainbow of moving neon paisley and other designs.

A healthy bottle of water is sitting on the table beside them, the moss slowly growing up its side.

"You look so pretty today," Seren praises Baird, who chuffs self-consciously. Looking like this last night at a nightclub was one thing, but he's only grown both larger and more ostentatious since last night's brush with—

whatever it was Gatter had given Seren.

"Come on, don't be like that," they balk at him. "Today's a day to relax and be glad to be around everyone." Baird's cheeks blow out in a huff of a reply.

At least the weather was nice today. Tomorrow called for a bitter blast of Winter's Revenge Against Spring, but today was nice.

For a change, the wife of the CEO isn't in her usual business (cop-casual) attire. Elisabeth conceded defeat to the girls' pleading and is — of all ungodly things — wearing a light green sundress with a lacy white shrug to cover her shoulders and a pair of white canvas Ked-like shoes. She's caught her hair back in a French braid that matches both Aurora's and Lili's. Blue eyes are watchful of the company's scampering children, but she's not particularly wary. Just normal parental caution.

There's a faint smirk as she observes Richard plucking their son off the scaffolding — that was bound to be a full-time job today. Kids of all sizes love climbing. But her trajectory takes her past where Seren and Baird are sitting first, where she pauses to grin at them both. "Love your party gear, Baird," she murmurs to the illusion-crafted creature. "Seren, how you doing?" She rests a hand on the back of Seren's chair, noting more details of Baird's lovely colors. "Aurora's going to love the colors."

Alia is so not in what one would think of for 'top officer' of a company for this trip. No, she's wearing a hoodie, that has a music staff across the back of it. But instead of normal notes, there's yellow arrow buttons in the order 'up up down down left right left right' followed by a red B button and a green A button. A set of jeans,some tennis shoes, and a set of stretchy black gloves finish off the outfit as she looks over the set up, and makes sure the SPOTs with food and drink responsibilities are properly set up… and are not overcrowding the kids. No reason to start the day off on the wrong foot after all.

Blending personal and professional pursuits has never been Everleigh's forte, but a company picnic is exactly that. She's not there to give professional treatment, but the handful of Raytech employees she's seen in that capacity means that she's going to have to try doubly hard to aim for an attitude that puts more of the emphasis on the personal side of things. Dressed in a maxi-length floral print dress and a knitted shawl with colors that transition from bright at the top to darker at the bottom, the look's completed with comfortable leather sandals.

She can't hide a smile when she notes the children at play. Everleigh doesn't approach anyone at first, simply watching— that, unfortunately, is a professional habit that seems to carry over wherever she goes. The antics of the kids are certainly enough to keep her watching them, at least, less like an adult being concerned about safety and more a look of some part of her wanting to play too.

The older that he gets, the more that Walter seems to become that Big Kid looking out for the Little Kids. It's not exactly babysitting, but— Delilah doesn't need to worry, and realizing this is a double-edged feeling every time it comes up.

Watching him with the others comes with that taste of wistfulness. Tastes like punch, which Dee is sipping at in between socializing and peeping at others doing the same. At some point she's come up to linger near Everleigh, tossing the other woman a grin, "I always get on the park equipment, mine hates it. But I love the bloody carousels on the old ones."

The kind that winds up and flings children off at high speeds. Red hair loose around her shoulders, her dress aqua and retro, Delilah seems right at home at a Garden Party.

Elisabeth's approach sees Seren let go of Baird's face, no longer squishing it like a baby animal's even though he remains seated between their knees. They look up with a small, sheepish grin, and even Baird turns to peer at Elisabeth with a grudging amount of pride. His head lifts, gold eyes peering at hers as he chuffs again, bringing Seren to chuckle at whatever only they hear in that noise.

"Doing okay," they answer in good humor. "Me and Baird actually got out for the first time in forever last night… getting back to something closer to normal after recovery. Felt like winter really put a stall on all that. Didn't want to get out or do anything for such a long time." They shake their head with another small laugh, reaching for the water behind them.

"Baird, though, I think he's tired of sticking out like a sore thumb. He's gotten used to less stares… and that's just not in the cards today." As much as they try not to grin at their familiar's misfortune, a small one works its way out anyway. Baird protests with a mewling whine, the blackened Pegasus-like wings on his back partly lifting out to show his feathers are ruffled before settling down again.

"But that's fine, because he loves attention from the kiddos, right?" Seren asks knowingly, and the creature narrows his eyes in thought. With a more open grin, his summoner answers for him, "Yeah, we'll be all right."

A company picnic! Exciting.

Dr. Albert Gatter is in high spirits., and dressed for the occasion — he's wearing a light orange jacket with a red pocket square tucked in the breast pocket over black shirt and pants. This is, perhaps, not exciting in the same way last night had been, but… that's fine. You can't go wild every night, after all, and besides, this is exciting in a different way — a chance to get out of the lab and meet and greet!

Also there's free refreshments, being borne about by meandering robots, wonderful. It brightens his day to see technology being used in the spirit it should — to improve the quality of life. Gatter snags a bottle of water, taking a moment to take stock of the situation and figure out which direction he should strike out in first.

Grinning at the familiar — which is how she thinks of Seren's companion these days — Elisabeth nods. "I'm glad to hear you're doing some socializing. The weather's turning nice and everyone really needs more fun out in the sunshine," she tells Seren with an easy smile. Now that she thinks about it, there hasn't been a drinking night in ages. Might have to remedy that.

Glancing around as people start making their arrivals, the blonde observes in a mild tone, "I'm sure as soon as Aura catches sight of Baird, you're both going to be surrounded by them. Richard's already had to fish Ricky— whoops. Hang on." She holds up a finger to Seren just for a minute because her darling daughters have been sighted and the littlest one is inching her way up one of those things. Her voice never rises, but it's clear to Seren if they look over in the same direction that the child in question hears just fine. "~Aurora Morgan, down on the ground. If you don't like the Spot near you, stand near Alia or Daddy or me.~" Or, hell, any one of the familiar faces in this place.

Sighing, Liz turns her attention back to Seren. "As I was saying — Baird's distraction skills could be immensely useful today!" She grins.

The grin is returned when Everleigh looks over in Delilah's direction. "Being a mother is a great excuse to get the opportunity to relive some of those experiences. He may make faces at you for jumping on, but they certainly aren't as weird as the faces everyone makes when someone without a kid jumps on."

She lets her attention go back to the kids. "I'm very envious of that energy. After a certain point people start to think that being an adult means you can't have fun." With the grin still there, Everleigh looks back to Delilah. "Don't let anyone ever tell you not to jump on those carousels, they're absolutely delightful."

"Ain't that the shit?" Delilah seems to agree with the musing over non-parents climbing in, and how it's usually those who get the hairy eye. "I'd rather see someone doing all of that than standing around wishing they could." One shoulder shrugs, brown eyes pulled away by Elizabeth's voice raising to Aurora, then Baird, more lovely than usual. Oh, wow, that's new.

"I, ah, yeah. Never." Both brows shoot up when Dee looks back to Everleigh, mouth caught in a smirk. "Nobody tells me what to do." She has references for that.

"I like your suit." One Dr. Gatter is snuck upon by a child. Walter is there, a pouch drink in one hand and hair mussed, similar in shades to the Doc's colors. "Dunno bout the black, that's kinda Mr. Ray's thing." But hey, at least this ten year old likes your jacket.

Usually one for her skirts and dresses, today Ourania Pride wanders the park in a silver blazer and matching pants with black pinstripes and lapels. The shirt underneath is black lace, buttoned low and probably held in place by dress tape and a prayer. Maybe an Expressive ability? None can really say.

Regardless, a strand of her blonde hair, held back on one side by three small braids at her temple, is tucked back from her face. Her make-up is done in that effortless sort of look that actually takes quite a bit of effort to achieve. A steel blue shadow smoked out that complements the color of her eyes. She’s not on her partner’s arm at the moment, but it’s highly unlikely that he’s wandered very far.

Taking the whole weekend off from her night job had been a difficult decision, but this was more important than any song she could sing on stage. Ourania seeks out Richard’s face and lifts a hand to wave, ready with a smile if she actually manages to secure his attention.

Seren tries not to crack too amused a grin when Elisabeth has to break off in the middle of the conversation to engage in some active mothering, but a small one out of sympathy makes its way out regardless. "Be careful what you wish for, ma'am. I don't control this train, I just ride it, and things might turn out very Where The Wild Things Are if left to its own devices."

Will it? Won't it? The statement isn't followed by a wink, but they lift a hand to ruffle the top of Baird's head, the maw of the tiger opening and baring teeth in an attempt to buck the touch off the top of their head. Not now, Seren, they're busy being a distraction. And such a one they are, with curved orange and white-tipped teeth that could almost remind one of candy-corn.

Lifting their head up, line of sight wandering, they catch a glimpse of Delilah taking a look at Baird. Likewise, they see the woman nearby her, and with a pop of their brow, they lift their water-bottle-bearing hand, three fingers parting from the side of it to emphasise their wave to Delilah … and Everleigh.

Everleigh can't hide a broader grin at Delilah. "I believe it. You don't really seem like the kind of person that takes things sitting down," she says, following the redhead's gaze as she spots Baird. It takes her probably a few more seconds than she'd like to admit to realize that the brightly colored creature was the same one she'd seen at Wonderland. That realization leads her gaze to Seren and she offers a smile in their direction as she waves. The wave isn't solely directed to them, mostly because she's well-acquainted with a good portion of those assembled.

"Can't say I see myself playing on any playground equipment any time in the near future, but at least I can enjoy the weather," she notes as she glances back over to Delilah for a moment before she looks to Elisabeth. "The weather's perfect for something like this, I was worried it might end up being too cold for the kids to really play," Everleigh's expression is amusement. "I'd say this couldn't have been planned any better, but then this is Raytech and I wouldn't be surprised if someone found a way to give us a nice day. You're looking lovely, Liz. Doing well?"

"Hm?" Gatter asks, glancing over to the fiery headed boy who's gotten the drop on him. "Thank you," he says, offering a grave nod, his gaze moving back to sweep over the crowd. "It's Mr. Ray's thing because he has good taste. Black coordinates with everything, and it's heat-efficient. Especially with the right materials."

Gatter glances over to the small child again, tilting his head. "Enjoying the picnic?"

"If you ignore the air quality it's nice, anyway. Luckily we're fine here." Delilah doesn't go too far down into the rabbit hole that is lingering fires, instead focusing on some of the newcomers making their way to the gathering. "

"Heat efficient?" Walter parrots, chewing on the end of the straw of his drink and squinting thoughtfully up at the doctor. "I thought black kept stuff hot." He murmurs, brows up a moment after. "Yup! Everyone always makes the best food at these." See, he has good taste also. "Do you work here too?" You never know unless you ask.

The little one that Elisabeth was projecting her voice to, a no-nonsense voice that was not shouting at all, looks up with the expression that says But Mom! And then the sandy-haired girl reluctantly climbs back down. Her brother, at the base of the structure by now, grabs her hand and pulls her off in another direction. There are plenty of kid distractions going on.

Elisabeth keeps blue eyes on Ricky and Aura for a long moment, and then she searches out her husband's sunglasses-hidden gaze to shoot a small grin with a roll of the eyes in his direction. Your children seems to be the message there. When her gaze returns to Seren, it's with a laugh of delight. "Just what this place needs — more Wild Things. Swear to God, Seren, I think that ought to be the theme song of this company."

As Delilah and Everleigh arrive within greeting distance, Liz moves to give them room to join. "Hello, Everleigh," she replies warmly. "So glad you could join us. I'm doing… all right." The things that aren't all right, the therapist already knows and it's not business for today. A brief, affectionate hug is offered to Delilah, and the blonde asks, "And where's my favorite troublemaker?" with a grin. "He hasn't been spotted by Aura yet or I wouldn't be verbally dragging her out of trees."

Elisabeth gets the short answer in the form of Delilah glancing up and skimming the horizon of the party, a thumb jerking over her shoulder in the direction of Gatter and Walter.

"Making friends." A pause, dark eyes narrowing. "And probably making trouble, yeah." Not that Delilah stops him from talking to strangers at a friend picnic. Go wild, squirt.

Richard spreads his hands a bit at the look from his wife, flashing her a roguish smile back that says ‘what can I do about it’. They are his kids, after all, and there was a time that he spent more time on rooftops than walking along the street.

He still spends some time on rooftops, but less than he used to.

Attention caught by Ourania’s wave in his direction, he walks along over with a smile, “Doctor Pride! Glad you could make it, I wasn’t sure if you would, actually. I know you’re a busy woman these days…” A chuckle, “You’re looking good today.”

Above, a rainbow washes through the air as prismatic-winged butterflies swirl about in a trailing cloud. They’re artificial, related no doubt to the ones in the lobby, deployed merely as decoration for the event.

There's been a woman wandering around the edges of the Park for a bit now, never in sight for too long to be recognised but never out of sight long enough to be forgotten as she moves among plants and displays, alone as far as anyone can tell.

Dressed in a white sundress and a matching wide brim hat and an id card tagged to her lapel, it's only when she wanders into the busiest part of the gathering that anyone catches sight of her. Long brown hair frames a familiar face as she turns and looks around like she's looking for a familiar face.


Merely listening to the flow of conversation around them, Seren's reached a point of contentment with the state of company around them. Sipping from their water, they pause on seeing a familiar face on the edge of the crowd.

Their brow lifts up first, their posture righting second. Baird's ears flick as he looks on a delay, amber eyes narrowing in interest even as his summoner perks up.

"Is that… Miss Graves?"

Elisabeth's head whips around so fast, she might get whiplash. "What?" Her voice is shocked. And she seeks out the person that Seren is looking toward, her blue eyes wide.

"There you are, darling," comes a voice by Ourania's side, one belonging to her fiance. Harry Stoltz is dressed down today, comparative to his norm. He wears a long, cable-knit sweater the color of burnt cream to ward against the weather that's still just a bit too chilly for his tastes, and passes off a drink to Ourania that looks suspiciously like a mimosa for how it bubbles.

He matches her bold with tame, and her smile with one of his own. "It's good to see you again," Harry tells Richard warmly. "This whole thing really couldn't have landed on a better day. Spring can be so temperamental!"

For a moment, his eyes lift to the butterflies above, a flicker of appreciation in the green-grey of them. "Never fail to find something new to marvel at when Raytech's involved," he murmurs more to himself than his company.

The smile Everleigh gives Elisabeth is one of understanding. "You know, one of these days I'll be asking people that question and I'll get some more positive answers. One day." The tone of Seren and Elisabeth's voices and their body language quickly have her turning to see what they're so surprised about. The new presence seems to have enough of an impact that she's keeping an eye in that direction.

"I'm going to hazard a guess and assume that there's something off about this situation," Dr. Madison notes, her tone lowered.

"Color's a factor, but not the only one. For typical environments, it matters more than it wicks well," Gatter offers off-handedly. Still, the child's assessment of the food here is spot on, and Gatter nods agreement; free food is, indeed, the best food, and it's even better when already good food is free.

The boy's question earns another nod. "I do," Gatter answers. "I'm assuming you don't, but that someone in your family does." He considers for a moment. "Do you think you'd want to work here, someday?"

Ourania leans in a little when the man she signaled to makes his approach, a playful smirk cutting across her face in response to his compliment. “Don’t I look good everyday, Mister Ray?” Undeterred by the colorful display overhead, she opens her mouth to say something else when Harry arrives at her side once more. Instantly, the blonde’s posture shifts, leaning back and drawing her spine up straight, away from their little one-on-one conversation to open it up.

Merci, mon phare,” she chimes cheerfully, accepting her drink — which is probably not alcohol at this hour, while the kids are running around. Maybe. Look, don’t ask questions you don’t want answers to, Richard — and winding her free arm around Harry’s back, fastening herself to him in a display of contented solidarity.

It’s her partner’s murmur that finally has her lifting her head. “Well. I’m glad to see the people who do the pretty science have been hard at work. Much easier to appreciate, that.” Ourania turns her gaze back to people watching as she takes a drink. But it’s one face in particular that sees her head tilting to one side as though it would bring the bearer into better focus. Confusion knits her brow together. Layered memory confounds everything further. “E—” The vowel sound is given half a voice before its aborted.

Reaching out to nudge Richard’s shoulder with the knuckles of her hand wrapped around her glass, she lifts one finger from its chilled surface to point out the wallflower in the white hat. “Who is that?” she asks quietly.

"Always, Doctor Pride, but particularly today— ah, yes," Richard smiles too-widely as Ourania's significant other makes his appearance, "And I'm sure it's good to see you again as well, ah— sorry, names, I'm so bad at them. What was it—" He snaps his fingers a few times as if trying to bring his name to mind, "for some reason I'm thinking face cards but I know that's not quite right…"

It might be best for them that the good doctor finds something to distract him at just that exact moment.

At the nudge, he turns his head— and freezes, eyes widening a little. "Graves?" It's softly said, not shouted, although admittedly a part of him wanted to shout it.

"Uhm… nothing bad…" Maybe. Elisabeth's voice trails off a bit as she tries to assimilate how the hell to react to Aislinn's presence here. When did she get out of prison?? It's funny how some things are automatic these days. At the same time she's sorting it out, she slants a look sideways with a soft whistle that carries with a subtle boost in a straight line right to her husband's ear. A questioning look, a slight jerk of her chin, and without words she's already asked do you want to talk to her or shall I?

Though watchful, Liz isn't assuming (for the moment) that there's a threat from the woman. It's merely second nature after all that's happened to be cautious. "At least, I don't think so," the blonde completes her thought, looking back to the small group she's standing with. "Just unexpected." The smile she offers is easy enough but she's clearly uneasy. She's taking a mental headcount of attendees and of locations of the children, she can't help herself.

Harry's head lifts, the warmth of his smile unerring when Richard has to go fishing for his name. He lets out a soft chuckle. "Harry is a kingly name after all…" he remarks in gentle offhandedness, trailing off in the middle of even saying it given how Richard's attention is likewise shifted. His eyes move to follow line of sight.

"Speaking of names having meanings…" he remarks to himself again, shifting his posture just slightly. It puts him more firmly in between Ourania and the unassuming, woefully appellated woman in the distance. "I'm wondering if that one wasn't on any list?"

Well, if Elisabeth's declared it's not an issue, then Seren's like to agree. Bottle set aside on the table behind them, they come to their feet and without a word begin to jog away in the newcomer's direction. "Miss Graves!" they call out excitedly, and Baird the black-and-neon psychedelic tiger goes padding after them.

Beaming a smile, Seren gushes as they get closer, "It's been such a long time!"

Any thoughts of a flirtatious smile for Richard’s compliment are banished by the presence of her partner. Which, as it happens, suits her just fine. Especially when Richard starts to lay his metaphorical cards on the table. Ourania’s fingers curl against the knit of Harry’s sweater, avoiding digging into him, but he can’t possibly miss the way she tenses up while wearing none of it on her face. That mask of hers is securely fastened.

The various greetings confirm half of what she already thought she knew, and she’s grateful for the unintentional distraction she’s provided that particular bloodhound. “It’s alright,” O murmurs to her fiancé, recognizing the way he shields her, even if he doesn’t. “I know her.” Her head tips to one side slightly. “After a fashion.” She sips from her juice and Sprite, grateful for the sugar boost after the previous evening. “Shall I introduce you to Dr. Gatter?” She’s already starting to move them in that direction.

The call out gets the woman to stop, looking in the direction of it's source with wide, surprised eyes. They then drift to the tiger alongside of her and she backpedals just slightly. She looks one way and then the other, before laughing nervously.

"H-Hello…?" Adjusting her hat, she pulls up the badge attached to her lapel and sighs. "Right." Her expression thins, and she offers a nervous smile to Seren, hands clasped in front of her as she waits for the other to reach her.

Delilah's wholly unsure of who this face is to some of them, and so seems to gravitate in line with Everleigh as folks shift attention. She catches the brief pointing of her son, gesturing across the room at her for the sake of the man he's speaking with. Between keeping an eye on Walter and the feel of the others, Dee is quiet for a moment.

"My mum does." Walter's pointing, however vague, does catch line of sight with the woman with red hair to match, who on inspection is just giving her son an odd look of ascertainment. You do you, kiddo. "But me? Nah, I dunno…" His blue eyes slide past Gatter towards where a couple approaches, only to pop back to the doctor again. "I'm only okay at science." As a kid, it so often just gets lumped together with no categories of types of sciences. There's likely something he is interested in— but without specifics, Walter's answer wasn't too deep.

"I like soccer and field hockey, though, I'm definitely good at those." Maybe if Raytech ever starts a softball team.

Nothing bad and something off have very different meanings to Everleigh, so when Elisabeth gives a reassurance that things are fine, her concerns don't seem soothed. While she's got partial attention on the 'Miss Graves' that Seren is speaking to, she's mostly scanning the faces of those around who've caught sight of her. Body language, after all, is a huge context.

Alia meanwhile has picked up that at least a few people are suddenly seemingly upset. Or at the least, tense. And thus she's watching the going ons with some care. One or two of the SPOTs shift positions subtly, to offer better runways to being cover for various people, including the kids, in case something isn't as friendly as it seems… meanwhile, Alia shifts herself closer to Aurora, the only person that putting a SPOT near would be counter productive.

She'll ask later what it is that has people surprised.

"Well, there are lots of different kinds of science. There's the experimentation, but there's also engineering — putting things together, building things. Making things work." That's definitely his favorite thing… but he manages to stop himself from starting to talk about it, because he'd probably get too carried away.

"Soccer's good, though. I was never much good at it, but it's really popular a lot of places in the world. Europe goes nuts over it… though they call it football over there. What we call football here in America isn't a thing in Europe; it's a distinctly American pastime," he explains.

It's at this point that he spies a familiar face coming his way — Dr. Pride, with what looks to be a plus one in tow. "Well, well. Look who we have here," he murmurs. "Dr. Pride!" he says, calling a greeting to his comrade, a smile forming on his face.

Just as Gatter is heading towards Ourania, Richard is moving away and towards the woman that’s drawn so much attention. His steps unhurried but measured to take him along as swiftly as he dares without things seeming off for the guests in attendance.

“Doctor Graves,” he greets, eyebrows raising slightly over the edge of his sunglasses, “What a surprise. I thought you were still…” In prison. “…elsewhere.”

It’s a social occasion. He can’t make a scene, so he circles around the subject.

Looking a bit overwhelmed, Graves's eyes slowly widen as she slowly looks from Seren to Richard. Doctor Graves. Letting out a small chuckle, she hangs her head slightly and sighs. Gingerly she reaches up and plucks the badge from her lapel and shakes her head.

"Wouldn't that be nice?" Turning it over in her fingers, she smiles before offering it out to RIchard. "Your secretary was insistent I take this and wondered where I'd been, told me everyone was out here. Though she… Her words didn't match her tone. It was was all very offputting."

Looking up to Richard, she shrugs. "She was mistaken though. I'm not the doctor in the family." Slowly, she offers a hand over to Richard. "Elspeth Graves. Aislinn's my sister. I'm sorry about the confusion. I wasn't sure what to expect."


Seren looks back and forth between Richard and Elspeth, lingering a few paces away with their hand on the top of Baird's tiger head. "Oh," they breathe out in surprise. Their gaze flits between the two before looking down at their summon. The black and red-piped Raytech jacket they're wearing is zipped partly, against any breeze that would come by, but also to lend them a little more professionalism.

"I'm Seren," they introduce themself with an offered hand. "I really enjoyed working with your sister. She's not been around here for… months now, though."

A year, honestly. It feels like an eternity and only a blink of time both.

Successfully steered away from the intrigue, Harry exhales away a sigh tasting of a temporary exasperation, eyes eventually tearing away from the mystery Graves. She's successfully intercepted by Richard directly, so surely it'll be fine.

He looks ahead to Gatter when his attention is directed that way by the nature of the fond greeting given to his fiancée. Harry smiles thinly to the stranger. "Ah, so you're the troublemaker my Ourania ran afoul of last night," he greets in a warm tease. "At last, a face to put with the name."

Elisabeth, whose blue eyes have remained partially on what's going on over there and partially on Everleigh and Delilah, tells her companions as Seren moves away from them, "Dr. Graves is an employee that I thought was still… out of town." No one's business what Aislinn was doing, as far as she's concerned, if they don't already know. She can't help keeping an eye, but nothing is really happening and the kids are loose in here. So her attention is definitely a bit split, but she looks at Dee and Everleigh more fully. "I'm sorry. I'm terribly uptight all the time right now." The truth of the matter is she's actually calmer than Everleigh usually sees her — as if being uptight in whatever way she's currently uptight is somehow better than her usual low level of anxiety about nothing happening.

There's a sheepish grin at Delilah and Everleigh both. "Sometimes, I swear to God, my life is completely inside out. We had a few things happen at RayTech recently and now it really feels like I'm home." After all, someone tried to kidnap Abby!

Gatter’s smile is met in kind by Pride. It turns a bit sheepish when Harry calls her out on her antics the previous evening. “Albert,” she greets warmly, dropping the T off the end of his name as she so often does. Except, of course, when she’s making the formal introductions. “I’d like you to meet my betrothed, Harry Stoltz. Harry, this is the esteemed Dr. Albert Gatter.”

Taking a sip of her drink she continues. “He does all the fun science, with the physical and visual results that people who don’t understand science can appreciate.” Lest either of them think she’s putting herself down, she swiftly continues on. “He’s going to take humanity to the next level. Prosthesis, cybernetic enhancements… Albert makes me look like I’m playing with crayons.”

Ourania smiles slyly. “But I can rewrite DNA with my crayons.” One brow lifts. “That’s the science most laypeople can’t appreciate, because they don’t see it with their own eyes. The end result simply gets taken for granted. The only way I’m going to be remembered is if I get an infectious disease named after me.” She leans in toward Gatter for a little impromptu brainstorming. “What do you suppose they’d even call it?”

Gatter's grin widens as Harry speaks; his suppositions are confirmed by Ourania's formal introduction. "Only an occasional troublemaker, I assure you, and if you're not getting into at least the occasional bit of trouble, why, what are you even doing with your life?" he asks. "But! It most certainly is good to be able to put a face to the name, Mr. Stoltz; Dr. Pride speaks most highly of you," he says, beaming with delight; he extends his right hand for a shake.

Ourania's self-depreciation draws a slightly more sardonic expression from Gatter. "It doesn't do much good to design a prosthetic if the body you're grafting it onto can't support it; taken for granted, perhaps, but integral nevertheless," he remarks. The comment about an infectious disease draws a thoughtful frown. "Mm. Ourania's Syndrome, perhaps? Pride Syndrome sounds like something that'd be more suited for psychology."

Despite the repetition of what Gatter asides to him— of course he knows football— Walter mostly seems amused, for some reason. Maybe in that he picked soccer because this is America. If he'd said football, he's sure Gatter would have assumed handegg. For the moment, he's perfectly fine with being passed on in favor of an interaction with Dr. Pride— because he can eavesdrop none the wiser just out of sight.

Arms linked loose across her stomach, Delilah too watches Seren and Richard approach the woman that most seem to know; she's out of the loop there too, but she knows when to pay attention all the same. She gives a nervous laugh in reply to Liz, brows knitting with a mostly-mock concern. "Please don't say it like that, god. You're going to put the jinxiest jinx up, and then I'm gonna have words for you."

"Like Kooper-Angel Syndrome?" Gatter and Ourania's brainstorming sesh is briefly interrupted by the question, the off-frame source muffled only slightly by the cookie that young Walter is talking through. Hi. He seemingly hasn't moved from where Gatter left him. Big blue eyes between them, though, so at least he also appears very Interested, as kids go. "We learned a little 'bout that in school. How people have to get shots for their cyborg parts."

Well. Close enough.

As if summoned on cue by the mention of the word "psychology", Everleigh turns her attention to the conversation of syndromes and science. "You know, I've seen some pretty incredible art done with crayons," she notes. "You can't compare acrylics to ballpoint pens, crayons to colored pencils, watercolors to oil paint. Different sort of creation, but creation all the same." She pauses. "Naming syndromes after doctors always bothered me. If I'm being immortalized for discovering something, I'd rather it not be something no one wants."

"Yes, quite," Harry agrees with a touch of audible distress— for the topic, surely, and not that Everleigh Madison is in their presence. She gets a meaningful glance nonetheless before he looks back to Gatter first, and Walter second— if only briefly casting his eyes to the smaller of the two. He accepts the hand offered to him, palm and fingers chilled in the shake.

"With any luck, perhaps instead of some disease, you could be named for its treatment," he suggests to Ourania with a lift of his brow. "For the good you do with those crayons of yours rather than the unpleasant truths they sometimes highlight?"

"Yes," Gatter says enthusiastically, pointing to Walter. "Very good, young man. Kauper-Engel Syndrome." He frowns, regarding Walter a bit more closely. "Kauper-Engel isn't actually an infectious disease, but it is named after its discoverer. It is also very much a significant bane for my work… and something we very much need those crayons of yours for, Dr. Pride."

Harry's adverse reaction to Everleigh goes completely unnoticed because Gatter is instead focused on Everleigh now being here. "Exactly so, Everleigh!" he grins at her art analogy. He chuckles, too, at Everleigh's talk of naming a cure after Ourania. "How about it, Dr. Pride? If you've got some time left over after your current case is resolved, want to name a cure for Kauper-Engel?" he asks, grinning.

Pride has been shaking her head to the previous suggestions. “Nobody’s going to say they have OS. They’ll think you have the latest version of YamaOS and not even feel sympathetic.” Unless it’s like Windows ME. Everyone would wince for that one. “OD is out. So I suppose—” Her musing is cut short by the arrival of the third doctor to their conversation.

The shifting beneath Harry’s surface shifts something in her as well. Her smile is a little tighter for it. “Doctor Madison,” she greets with more formality than she otherwise would. Especially given they were just gathered at the same venue not 24 hours ago. “I promise,” she insists to her impromptu pep squad, “that I’m not discrediting my own genius.” Even if she’s absolutely poking fun at herself right now. “All I’m saying is there’s no flash to what I do. And that’s fine. It really is.”

It might be a little nice to do something with just a bit of sparkle to it, but that’s not her stage. The matter is set aside by her entirely as Ourania turns her attention to the small redheaded boy in their midst. She’s pleasantly surprised by his knowledge, a small smile curling up the corners of her mouth. But something inside of her stills when she watches him. It isn’t a calm, but an emptiness. “Walter Trafford, you little scamp,” she teases. “Where were you hiding that cookie?”

Does she feel a disturbance or is it her imagination? Unconsciously, Ourania leans a little closer to her partner. To draw herself away from her own woolgathering, she gives Gatter’s question some consideration. “Only if I get top billing on the name of the treatment. Pride-Gatter is really the only acceptable combination. Unless this one,” she gently nudges Harry in the ribs with her elbow, “decides to make good on his threat.” She makes a show of lifting her ring finger away from the curl of its sisters around her drink. “I could entertain the notion of Gatter-Stoltz.”

At the revelation, Richard's eyes widen - and then he laughs softly, shaking his head. "You look so much like your sister— ah, my apologies for the confusion, Ms. Graves," he offers, reaching out to clasp the offered hand, "Richard Ray. I'm sorry about the receptionist, she can be a bit…"

"…much, sometimes."

He clears his throat, since the less said about Sera, the better. "You're more than welcome to join the general festivities now that you're here, but I'm sure you were here on some business - is there anything I can help you with before I encourage you to pet the rainbow tiger and enjoy the barbeque?"

Seren gets a bemused look - there's no way they don't know, is there? - then back to Elspeth.

The smile that Elspeth offers back is pensive at best, head hanging a bit. "I would hope so," she remarks in a low voice, an undercurrent of sadness riding just underneath her words. Her eyes slip down to regard the, uh, rainbow tiger as it's mentioned, the woman swallowing a bit uneasily.

"I'm used to being mistaken for Aislinn," she offers with a bit of spirit back in her tone. "Which didn't used to be a problem." Before, you know. Everything last year. "I wasn't sure what to expect, to be honest. I don't exactly know much about what Aislinn did here. We haven't spoken for years, for— reasons."

Ones she doesn't feel like elaborating on.

If there's any business she has, anything she wants to ask about, she puts it aside to take the advice of attempting to pet the rainbow tiger, a wide smile offered to Seren. "It's a pleasure to finally meet you, Mx. Evans."

Everleigh is content to listen to the chatter revolving around science and naming things, but something in what Ourania said seems to interest her more than that. She turns her head just slightly, her gaze flicking from Ourania to Harry instead, observing the interplay silently.

It's interesting, being able to drop something into the midst of a bunch of scientists and watch them juggle it gleefully. Walter doesn't entirely miss the fun in it, smile flickering in and out when he gets the Looks; the details get a little muddied for him, but what he does know is that nerds like to be nerds with other nerds.

"In my pocket dimension, duh." Cookie crumbs on his shirt, Walter rocks on his heels and brushes his face with the back of his hand; for all the sauce, he's smiling earnestly back up at Ourania, cutely oblivious and sipping from his juice drink. "Gatterstoltz sounds like a Pokemon. I kinda like it."

Encouraging and goading aren't the same, but he certainly seems entertained. Delilah, watching from afar, is keeping a visible eye on him.

"Well, even young Walter approves. It sounds like it's settled then!" Gatter says, clapping his hands together once with a certain mischievous glee. "And to be fair, Gatter-Stoltz does have a nice ring to it; much better than Pride-Gatter, in my humble opinion. So when's the wedding?" he asks, looking expectantly between Harry and Ourania.

As Harry doesn't have a drink to choke on, he smiles warmly in response to the question, not missing a beat. "Far enough out I think there's time to begin said research first before worrying about its naming conventions, and take care of proper planning for such a grand event."

He turns his head to Ourania at his side, the arm around her back ruffling the back of her shirt affectionately. "With your academic recognition on the line, we'd better get on that, shouldn't we," he remarks with good-natured humor, a corner of his mouth pulling up in a smile at their expense.

Ourania’s brows lift at Walter’s explanation. “A pocket dimension? Well, that sounds handy. I wish I had one of those.” This time, her nails do dig in to her partner’s side, but only for the barest moment before she catches herself and forces her hand to relax to a more comfortable curl of her fingers. All the while, she’s smiling. “I always wanted to play games like that,” she says of Pokémon. “But nobody ever bought me a GameBoy.”

Please, don’t ask what that is.

For the topic of marriage, Miss Pride’s eyes cast downward demurely. Far enough out. But he promises something grand, so she affords a glance up to her Mr. Stoltz, her smile small, but present. “I suppose we should make preparations to get that particular show on the road.” Then she glances down again, as if she might be embarrassed or at least uncertain of what to say next.

Seren looks back and forth between Richard and Elspeth both— aware enough they're missing something now, even if they're not certain of the specifics. They flash a smile nonetheless, determined to not let the mood tank now. "It's wonderful to meet you, too— I'm sorry about the confusion a bit ago."

Happy as ever to be doted on, the black-bodied tiger of Baird leans into the hand on his head, his fur soft and his headbutt of persistent quality. He comes to a sit, wings folded on his back primly and his long tail curling around his haunches and paws. The neon rainbow of patterns along his body swirl in color as he purrs, the thrum of it traveling up into Elspeth's palm.

As fantastic and unbelievable as he looks, he sure feels real. Baird opens his amber eyes to slits and peers up at Elspeth. Hello there, new friend.

"Oh." Clearly Elspeth hadn't been sure what to expect when she reached to pet Baird, but the perceived reality of the creature causes her to light up with a mix of elation and curiosity. "This is amazing!" she breathes out, reaching forward and rustling Baird before enveloping the creature in a hug.

Eyes shining and smiling wide, it's a moment before she sheepishly clears her throat and leans back. An apologetic look is angled at Seren as she rises back to her feet. "S-sorry. I'm not like my sister and I've been, um. Away from the world for a bit, and in the UK, just—" Her smile wavers a bit as she looks down, then back up. "I haven't seen anything like this. It's so great to see it for myself."

With that, she threads a bit of hair behind her ear and offers a hand out to Seren. "No worries about the mixup. Like I said, it… its nothing new."

As things off on the side there seem to be going well, and she's not perceiving any of the sorts of things that make her turn into what one person called Combat-Mode Barbie (Kain is a brat), Elisabeth's body language eases to a more neutral and casual watchfulness. The kind that moms have when lots of kids are on the loose. Her smile is easier as well, but her eyes hold surprise.

She remains where she is for the moment, offering Ourania a nod and a smile of genuine pleasure. She's glad to see her friend, and she offers Harry the same brief nod as well. "Okay… well, now that Richard and Seren are just hanging out talking and Baird has charmed her, it's definitely nothing to be concerned about," Elisabeth says to Everleigh, darkly amused at her own rampant suspicious nature and aware that Everleigh sees a hell of a lot more than people really think about.

"I'll excuse myself to go say hello when our newcomer doesn't look quite so overwhelmed by people approaching. If it's not Aislinn, it has to be her sister." There's a subtle flash of something that crosses her face. Regret? Guilt, maybe. The few times she did see Aislinn Graves, she remembered both of the sisters from a long time ago and a horrible place far away. Elspeth was one of the first people Liz met there. And though she'd been attempting to locate her, nothing had come of that so far either. Until now.

"Meanwhile," she adds, shaking herself loose of memories of another place and time as much as she can, "do either of you know the gentleman there, speaking with Ourania and Harry?" Elisabeth's nod toward Gatter is brief, but she doesn't recognize the man at all. Not that she expects to recognize every employee — RayTech is not where her attentions are mostly.

"Yeah, right? So do I." Walter counters somewhat more shyly, scratching at his cheek and patting crumbs off of his chest. "Mum said there was a guy like that with the Ferry a long time ago. I think he's still around, I can't remember what else there was…" He got stuck on 'magic pockets'. Both shoulders roll in a shrug, exaggerated as littles do. This catches him a glimpse of the fiber-optic looking Baird—

"Oh dang, look at Baird… " Boy instantly decides he's going to say hello, looking up with a chime and a grin before turning his head towards Seren and Baird, and by extension the encounter with Elspeth, "See ya round, ZZ Top."

"Oh, that's Doctor Gatter." Delilah answers Liz, eyes following Walter as he hops up to Seren and Baird, finally comfortable to stop watching him so closely for the time being. She threads hair behind an ear, smile lopsided. "He's a recent hire. Right now he's working with the cybernetics crew, I think? That kind of specialist."

The wedding conversation seems to have caught Everleigh's attention enough to raise a bit of an eyebrow at the planning of the big nuptials, her gaze flitting from Ourania to Harry and back before she abruptly lets her gaze move to Walter. "Well then, you said a pocket dimension," she turns her full attention to the child. "What other things do you like to keep in that dimension of yours?"

It's a very clear attempt to steer away from what could be an awkward conversation for more than one of those there.

Richard makes a little ‘later’ gesture with his hand to Seren, head shaking just enough to be seen. He’ll have to explain the situation to them later, if they’d missed all the dramatics— he shouldn’t have been surprised. Seren lives in their own world in some ways.

He smiles at Elspeth’s reactions to Baird - she’s certainly different from her sister - and waves off her apologies, “Don’t be ridiculous. It’s good to meet you, and— well. I’m always happy to have people see what we’re doing here. I know things are, ah, different overseas.”

A Spot trots through the festivities with a cooler on its back, currently open to reveal the deep green of what a label on the cooler declares are spirulina popsicles. Nutritious!

Sharp blue eyes shift from Everleigh to Walter, a questioning brow quirking upward as Elisabeth then looks at the boy's mother. "A dimensional what now?" she asks incredulously. Walter's ability is one she has a huge amount of respect for — he's the one who saved Richard's life when Josh tried to kill him. And he's one of the ones who didn't make it back to this world that she knows of — she is extra watchful of the young version of him simply because he's a great kid. But also because her relationship with him is complicated by a whole lot of shenanigans. Still, she didn't know that aspect of his ability!

"ZZ Top?" Gatter murmurs, clearly surprised — the reference isn't hard to get, but he's surprised someone as young as Walter is making it. "Seems there may yet be hope for the youth," he mutters to himself, pleased.

Then his attention turns back to his other conversation partners. "Well. Hopefully we'll be able to get to work on the Kauper-Engel problem sooner rather than later, but… I know you're busy with that Manitoba case, and I'm busy working on theoreticals for Warren's literal cybernetic brainchild," he says, pouting for a moment; it's the equivalent of a child pouting because he can't try the new!!! thing on the menu.

It passes quickly though, replaced by a smile. "I suppose a surplus of fascinating work isn't something to complain about, though, is it!" he laughs.

Despite his attention shifted, Walter pauses midstep to give Everleigh a grin, even showing the missing space of a tooth far in the back. What does he have?

"More snacks!"

Delilah is left rubbing at her head in the wake of Walter's tiny whirlwind, and posthaste from his answer he pivots around again to seek out Seren and Baird— except the Spot full of popsicles is like a vacuum that sucks him that-a-way. Hello.

"No, no." A hand pats against Liz's arm, voice a sigh. "He's being a little sh— stinker." Of course, that's not Dee's first choice. Boychildren, sometimes.

So wrapped up in her own head as she is, Ourania nearly misses the way Elisabeth and Everleigh both offer their greetings. She lifts a hand and gives a brief wiggle of her fingers in return. Dr. Gatter provides a suitable distraction from the cycles her mind tends to get locked into. “Are you really working on that project for him? We could be—” Well, they’d literally just suggested curing cancer, so it seems almost ridiculous to even give that as an example at this juncture.

Taking a sip from her glass, she shakes her head, letting her thumb absently brush along where it rests at Harry’s back. “There’s interesting, and then there’s infuriating.” In this case, Ourania may legitimately be referring to her Manitoba case.

Elisabeth lets out a huff of a chuckle at Delilah and says, "Thank God. These days I never know." And her imagination conjures up enough worrisome things all by itself, thanks so much. "You should both help yourselves to the food tables — we're loaded for feeding a battalion today." The grin that accompanies her words is bright, and she squeezes Delilah's hand.

Gatter shrugs. "Mine's a mix of both, admittedly, but most days it falls more on the interesting side. The project itself is… unorthodox," Gatter allows charitably. "But! Such a project is… impossible to complete using conventional methods and materials. Which means! In order to progress, we have to leap headfirst into the unconventional. And that is my bread and butter."

But it occurs to him that Ourania is perhaps not talking entirely about his work. He shakes his head. "That Manitoba case, though, must be quite something."

Seren grins reassurance at Elpseth before shaking their head. "Nah, don't worry about it. Baird's a sucker for the attention anyway." Indeed he is, letting out a quiet chuff when hands leave him after all. The hug had been so nice! He doesn't have to wait for long, though, before he and Seren both overhear Walter's mention of him.

Like a squirrel, their heads shift to look instantly in the direction of their distraction, which is an easier thing to face than trying to find a diplomatic way to address the way other countries treat their Evolved. Richard, thankfully, has that handled anyway.

When Baird starts to pad off first to see what other new thing has Walter's attention— surely it must be fascinating and also worth inspecting— Seren looks back between Richard and Elspeth quickly. "It looks like we're off. It was lovely meeting you, I hope you enjoy the picnic!"

Then they're off at a sleepwalk to try and snare their familiar's attention. "Baird!" they hiss, trying to capture his attention quietly. But he walks by Walter's side before long, emitting faint and strange noises that still somehow read as curiosity in what the boy is up to.

"It's always customary to stuff oneself, of course I will." Delilah laughs, mouth in a crooked grin. "though nobody is allowed to let Walter make off with leftover cookies." Somehow she knows he will regardless. Even as she says this, she catches sight of him crouching down in front of the Spot and poking it on the 'nose'.

Walter looks up at the chirrups, or whatever they want to call them, and finds Baird creeping up to investigate the investigation.

"Do you like popsicles?" He pops back onto his feet and takes one for himself, delivering a questioning look to the familiar. "Can you even… eat… popsicles?" Walter catches sight of Seren past Baird then, lifting his hand in a small wave. See, it's fine, just sugar, don't worry.

“I’m not inclined toward murder,” Ourania lies through her teeth, “but whoever tried to steal my work ought to consider watching their back if I ever get opportunity to cross their path.” Her smile is tight, but there’s still amusement at the corners of her eyes. She’s kidding. Just like she was last night about her very mild-mannered partner.

“I have to admit, Albert, I enjoy your particular outlook. It’s refreshing.” This smile is a warmer one, no jealousy or annoyance to be found here. “I mean, we all think outside of the box, or we wouldn’t be here. Raytech is very particular in that way.” She looks at Gatter over the top of her dark framed glasses. “But you? You are a rare breed, mon ami.

The topic of conversation may have shifted away from weddings, but the quiet Harry lapsed into might indicate that it wasn't off of mind, for one reason or another. Or perhaps, given the topics at hand, he doesn't feel a need to interject. Science isn't his calling, and he can appreciate the way the two scientists talk shop without interjecting.

The brush at his back brings him to realize he may have drifted a little too deep into thought, though, stealing him back to the present. The softness in his expression shifts to something more attentive as he builds up context clues to jump back in, eyes shifting to Gatter and then Ourania when he senses the metaphorical tension in his partner's frame in posing her joke that isn't a joke.

His gaze roams past her, though, look slacking and eyes widening just a touch even as his pupils shrink. He'd wondered where the boy who had been lingering ran off to, and he's found him. "Speaking of unusual and developing leads into being leaps and bounds ahead of the game… when is that creature hitting the market?"

You know. The glowing tiger? The manifestation of some kind of Lisa Frank poster come to life.

He doesn't seem horrified or fascinated. He's not moved past believing what he's seeing.

Raising her attention up and watching Seren as they walk off, Elspeth can't help but smile. Posture straightening, she looks over the gathered Raytech employees with her smile ever widening, before finally she lets out a health chuckle. Punctuated with a small shake of her head, Elspeth lets out an amused sigh.

"I can understand why she enjoyed working here," she offers, looking over to Richard. "A part of me wishes I could pick up where she left off, but… I'm just a teacher, unfortunately." A small glance down at the ground.

"Thank you for humouring me, Mr. Ray. I appreciate it."

Only as she's taken the time to try to greet people does Elisabeth finally go ahead and allow herself to move those steps toward where Richard is speaking to Elspeth. Her blue eyes are watchful but there's no hostile feeling — it's more like she's searching for something as she joins them. "Hello," is her quiet greeting to both her husband and the woman she has spent some time attempting to locate. "You're Elspeth, right?"

Yeah, she knows that. But it's not polite to just pounce on someone and act like you know them. Even if you sort of halfway do from another timeline. "I'm Elisabeth." There's a momentary pause and a faint smile. "I've been looking for you."

Baird swivels his head to Walter curiously as he's addressed. He licks his chops a moment in thought before shaking his head. Seren, thankfully, is nearby on hand to serve as translator. "He eats!" they confirm, then lowers their voice to a more conversational level while they draw a hand along their imaginary friend's back. "But only a few things. He loves pancakes," they provide as a knowing example. "And nightmares. He gets rid of those right quick."

They peer down at Baird. "You wanna try one, bud?" Despite his earlier decline of the offer, he reconsiders, and Seren grins wryly. They lean forward to grab one of the pops, tearing it open with their teeth. A small bite off the top later, they offer it down to Baird for him to daintily sniff at.

"All you," they encourage him, and he takes a bite off the tip of the exposed pop. The taste is considered, judged—

and decided to be too cold. The chunk of popsicle provided to him clatters to the ground. Seren tries not to chuckle at Baird's expense, ruffling his head in apology as they do anyway.

"No?" Walter murmurs at the shake of Baird's head, tearing the end of his own popsicle open and using the wrapper to hold it. He looks back between Seren and Baird, speculative. "He eats nightmares? Primal. I know people that do stuff in dreams but they can't like… eat them."

What truly horrifies Walter, however, is Seren's heathen popsicle ways.

"You bit right into it! Who bites popsicles!?" There's a method, okay! This is very serious stuff. Good thing that Baird provides a solid distraction from this sinning taking place. "Aw, still a no, huh? I know a couple dogs that love ice cubes for some reason. Water Biscuits." Walter shares this as if it might be the secret to getting the familiar into liking popsicles.

"Hm?" Gatter asks, raising an eyebrow as he follows Harry's gaze. "Ah! Baird. No, Baird's not a… general production, I'm afraid. That's Mx. Evans' companion, though you'd have to ask them for details." He grins. "Baird is always distinctive, though rather moreso than usual today, I think." Not that Gatter would know anything about that, hoho.

"Of course, that's not a problem. Call me again if you need anything."

From where she had turned away from the group to take a call, Everleigh returns and offers a smile to the assembled group. "Sorry about that," she says, the smile turning a bit sheepish. "I'm always putting out fires. Proverbial ones, at least." At the mention of Baird, she glances in the creature's direction, her smile broadening.

"Fascinating, really. I've never seen anything like him and I've seen and heard a good handful of unusual and marvelous things." Her tone is one of admiration, perhaps bordering on the edge of awe. "I can't say research is much of my field, but if I were more of a scientist and not a doctor, I'd love to know more. My curiosity gets the better of me in these sorts of situations."

"Hmm?" Elspeth's attention quickly turns from Richard to Elisabeth as she approaches, blinking as she lays eyes on the other woman. For a brief moment her smile tempers slightly, before returning to full timbre. "Ah, Ms. Harrison." There's a sense of familiarity behind the way Elisabeth's name rolls off her tongue.

"Looking for me?" One eye quirks up in curiosity, even as she lets out an amused chuckle. "Well… I've only been hard to find the last few months. Do mind me asking why?" Her smile falters a bit as she looks down at the ground. "I hope it's not in retribution for anything my sister did. I'm afraid I have little to offer as recompense in that case."

"Actually… it's because I made a promise to your sister to make sure you were all right," Elisabeth replies softly. There is more to it than that — Richard can see the subtle flash of grief, feel an undercurrent of stress ripple along the fine hairs of his arm where his wife almost touches his skin as she vibrates at a very low level. "When things hit the fan here for her… well. I went to see her and she said you weren't well. Getting any kind of information out of the UK has been hell, even with my connections," she confesses. "I'm really, really glad to see you here."

The sincerity in her voice is hard to mistake, and Elisabeth seems relieved. "Please, call me Elisabeth. I… I can't say I know you or anything, but… you've been on my mind so much it seem like we ought to at least be on first name terms," she invites.

Ourania follows Harry’s line of sight with a touch of confusion. When Gatter is quicker on the draw than she is — Baird is an everyday sight to her now, and one she has accepted as entirely normal regardless of the form taken — she lifts her chin, taking in an audible breath in a very theatrical “ah!” She understands now.

“Mx. Evans has a quite exceptional ability, and one I’ve never seen the like of before.” Coming from O, that means something and bears with it a high praise. “Baird is very firmly tied to them. As much as I’d love to have one of my own.” How extraordinary would that be? A dog or a cat would be wonderful, but a chimera? Now that is fantastic.

Seren's head bobs back, blown away by Walter's enthusiasm over their apparent heathenry. "Whoa. Right, then. Okay, Baird, maybe we're doing it wrong?" He turns his head up to them to give them a baleful look, as sassy and opinionated as the one initially given to them two. It brings them to laugh brightly, even as a shimmer of rainbow light travels through Baird's tiger stripes.

"I don't know about water biscuits," they tell the younger boy warmly. "Maybe he'll just stick to eating bad dreams."

"Right." Seren and Baird's newest buddy gives them a squint, mouth tweaked in a half-smirk. Walter looks from them to Baird, visibly considering something. "I've got some you can have anytime, then." Despite the laugh that follows, there's something all too adult about the way the boy puts it.

But the prospect of bad dreams is far away from this rooftop for now. Instead, there are snacks to be eaten, drinks to be drunk, new connections to be established, and bonds to be tested. In the perfection of this one spring day, it’s easy, for just a few hours, to forget about what lies ahead. The future is a problem for just that — the future.

After all, they say the present is a gift. It’s rude not to accept it.

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