A Thread of Plausibility


barbara_icon.gif niki_icon.gif

Scene Title A Thread of Plausibility
Synopsis Niki's nightmare is over as Barbara awakens from hers.
Date December 25, 2018

It’s been a long month, the majority of it spent in an only semi-comfortable recliner and an unfamiliar hotel room that’s beginning to become familiar. Despite all assurances that she’ll receive a phone call if something changes, Niki Zimmerman refuses to leave her identical sister’s bedside for more than a few hours at a time. Returning to New York is out of the question at the moment. Someone needs to be here when she wakes up.

If she wakes up.

Truman Medical Center

Kansas City, Missouri

December 25

10:21 pm

The coffee here is better than what she gets in the Safe Zone — outside of Eleanor’s — but it still isn’t like the coffee she remembers before the war. Maybe coffee will never be like she remembers before the war. Carrying a cup of it in her hands, she steps through the open doorway from the hallway and back into her sister’s room after having stepped out to refuel. The caffeine is grossly inappropriate for the hour, but who needs sleep?

When she sees in the dim lighting of the room that her sister’s eyes are open, she gasps sharply, nearly dropping her cup. Setting her coffee aside on the counter, Niki hurries around to the side of the bed and drops into a crouch so she’s at Barbara’s eye level. “Babs. Can you hear me?”

One eye opens slowly. Barbara is awake, she has been for a few minutes now. But rather than make this fact widely known, she had been taking a moment to collect herself. To compose herself, after what had finally roused her from her… coma. It had felt, at first, like she was just in bed, a reasonable solution given whom she had been with - set up in a bed at the hotel after passing out.

When she'd opened her eyes and instead found the hospital, she had closed them again, tight. Trying to discern if she was truly awake, trying to pick apart the jumbled thoughts in her head. When Niki had come in, she had just assumed it another doctor. Her voice, though…

Well, obviously that's not the case.

"Niki?" is offered quietly, weakly. Her head turns to look at her sister, before her eyes clench shut again.

Niki’s expression is relieved. She knows she should hit the call button or run out to the hall to summon a nurse or a doctor, but right now she just wants this moment of elation to herself before she has to submit to everything that comes after. Which is nothing compared to what her sister will have to submit to.

“Merry Christmas, Sleeping Beauty.” She smiles shakily, clearly emotional as she reveals just how long Barbara’s been in this state, without much fanfare or explanation. That can come later. “You gave us a hell of a fright. I thought I was going to have to twist Richard’s head off.”

There's a groan from Barbara as she attempts to sit up, a motion that is quickly abandoned in favour of laying back flat in her bed. "Why… am I in the hospital?" is a reasonable enough question. "The last thing I remember is being with Richard and Kaylee at…" Shaking her head, she raises a hand a hand to her forehead. It still kind of hurts. "He asked for my help looking into something, and…"

Eyes close, and she takes a deep breath. "I don't know. My ability, it picked up something, and then… something else. And now I'm here?" There's a definite tone of uncertainty in her voice, and it's only here that she notices something else that Niki had to say. "I'm sorry, 'merry Christmas'?"

Niki nods her head slowly as Barbara starts to recall the events that have led her here. “That’s right. You were with Richard, helping him with some research. You used your ability and something… went wrong. You had a seizure and…”

Frowning, she threads a strand of blonde hair behind her ear. “It’s December 25th. You’ve been out since November 30th.”

"1671," Barbara suddenly breathes out, her eyes widening. She shifts a bit in her bed. "Where is Elaine Darrow? She translates for me, and I need her…" Freezing, she takes in a deep breath and looks over towards Niki. "That… wasn't a joke, then. Merry Christmas." She frowns deeply, settling a bit back into her bed.

"I'm sorry you're spending it in the hospital," she says quietly. "And not with mom." A small beat. "Unless mom is here?" Because Barbara can never really be sure when her mother isn't going to dramatically step into the door frame in a bid to surprise her at the most perfectly timed moment she can manage. But when a scan of the room seems to reveal she isn't, she seems relieved.

"I should've known better than to push myself," she grumbles, not quite looking at Niki. "These aren't the Ferry days anymore. I don't need to."

The blonde drags the armchair a little closer to the bed before dropping into it to sit. She smiles reassuringly, “We’ve all done it. You didn’t know something like this would happen.” She reaches out and squeezes Barbara’s arm gently. “Christmas is about spending time with family. That’s what I’m doing here.”

As for the subject of their mother, Niki looks a little uncertain. “Mom is…” She tips her head to one side, looking slightly apologetic. “Well, she’s never far. You know that.” Though she does glance up as if she expects to catch sight of Claudia in the doorway as well.

“We can worry about calling Miss Darrow after we get you fit for visitors.” Niki grins and catches a lock of Barbara’s red hair between her fingers, holding it up for the both of them to see. “Your roots are showing,” she teases.

"Ugh," Barbara remarks disgustedly. "I bet Raquelle is pissed I missed my last appointment." Barbara rolls her eyes in faux-exasperation, looking back at Niki with a barely mustered smile. "I'd let it go if I didn't think I would get mistaken for you all the time." Or their estranged third sister. "Not that it helps."

For a long moment, she looks back ahead. She doesn't follow up her comment with a laugh or a chuckle, she just seems to think for a moment. "Thank you," is an earnest comment. "I don't know if you were here the entire time, but… I suppose that makes it fitting that I woke up on Christmas." She relaxes a bit, closing her eyes once more.

"I had a nightmare, right before I woke up," she confides in Niki. "One that reminded me of… other visions, dreams I've had. There's a thread of surrealness, but also of plausibility that flows through them all. It has me worried, Niki."

“I got mistaken for Tracy last month,” Niki admits with a roll of her eyes. Not that she can blame anyone who knew Strauss for thinking that they were running into her, but she’s still sour on their sister’s betrayal. Being mistaken for her isn’t something she laughs off easily except on the surface. “I’m biased, but I think you’d look fine au naturale.

She smiles briefly, but lets it fade as they move on to why Barbara is here. “Do you never dream of your previous visions?” Niki may not be given to having any of her own — and she’s been remarkably spared during the cosmic craziness in the sky — but she would think they’d invade one’s dreams on occasion. “When you say a thread… you mean like something ties them all together?”

"I think so," Barbara says quietly. "Imagery. Themes. Languages." She purses her lips, laying back and staring up at the ceiling. "I do, sometimes. Nightmares of things I've seen before. But so many of these have been like my… 'normal' visions." She sighs, raising a hand up to her forehead. "They're more abstract. Less… well, less like watching past events and more like watching someone splice together things in as fanciful a way as they can."

Eyes close, but there's no immediate danger of Barbara going back to sleep. Not with Niki here. "How have you been?" is a way of changing the subject. It is Christmas, after all. "I've been here… almost a month? I'll need to scold Richard when I see him again." A friendly scolding, at least.

Niki is quiet as she ruminates on the implications of Barbara’s nightmare. She leans back in the recliner and takes in a deep breath, letting it out slowly. Their mother will want to know about this.

She smiles faintly. “I’m doing fine now that you’re awake,” Niki tells her sister. “Richard feels terribly enough as it is. I promise I handled the scolding for you.” Perhaps it’s a wonder that there’s a Richard left to scold. But Niki’s temper’s been kept in check more readily in the years following the war.

"It's not his fault anyway," Barbara replies with a chuckle. "Or anyone else's but mine. I should know better, honestly. Do remember how loopy I would get, back in the bunker?" A wide smile as she opens her eyes again. "When I was trying to better understand the limits of my ability. I guess that's what I can file this under: a learning experience."

A thoughtful look crosses her face. "I guess I just need to worry how upset Yamagato will be that I've been gone a month, much less the Department. Hopefully mom can smooth that over…"Has everything been okay, back home? Things always seem to get… a bit crazy this time of year."

“The sky’s tearing open and more people than just you are having weird visions.” Niki’s tone is dry, but her acerbity isn’t at her sister’s expense. “But sure, things have been okay.” A bit crazy doesn’t really begin to cover it.

“You focus on resting up and feeling like yourself again,” she instructs in a gentler tone, brows lifting. “Don’t worry about Yamagato or the Department.” There’s a tilt of her head to indicate a smattering of cards and stuffed animals on the counter beneath the wall-mounted television. “Everyone just wants you to get well.” And if anyone tries to kick up a fuss, well… Mom handles those things.

“I should probably find a doctor and let them know you’re awake. They’ll want to ask you some questions and run tests.” She seems to support this. Anything to make sure Barbara will recover. “I’ll let Mom know right away. I’m sure she’ll be right down.”

Niki's description of current events causes Barbara to furrow her brow. "It sounds like Ghostbusters," she says quietly. And then, a grin. "Which is to say, a normal month in New York." Not quite, but even after a few years of relative peace, the joke still feels like it works.

"Go," she says quietly, motioning to the door. "The sooner the doctors know I'm up, the sooner we can get me out of here." She relaxes a bit. "And the sooner all the poking and prodding they're going to do to me can be over with."

Because, as they both know, a Zimmerman's work is never done.

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