Another Way to Die


nora2_icon.gif rue_icon.gif

Scene Title Another Way to Die
Synopsis Nora pays a visit to Rue, who hasn't been claimed by the Red Death, or a bullet through the neck.
Date July 25, 2011

Siann Hall: #302

Two days out of Saint Luke's, and already Rue Lancaster is determined to get back to her interrupted life. And all the trouble that comes with it. The first day was spent at the salon. Where she proceeded to fall asleep in the chair with foil wrapped round her dyed head. Black stripped out, ginger returned. Three months of roots needed to be addressed after all, and you don't go through life with the aspirations of being a model without a healthy dose of vanity.

It's the second day that things get serious again. From an antiques store, Rue purchased a shortwave radio for herself. And for all her enthusiasm to get it rigged up and fired up and tested out, treking across the Bronx is a tiresome affair. Frustratingly.

After a nap, however, the experiment begins. Dialling up a frequency and bringing the microphone near her lips, she calls out into the crackling void. "Is there anyone out there?" A hesitant query. "I'm looking for Amazing Grace. She used to be blind, but now she sees."

Rue thinks it's clever.

It's a shot in the dark — a single query sent out into the waves without her actual name to pull her attention, without a specific time to tune in. Nora at any waking moment is half listening to the world of waves no one can see, but usually her attention is split into other tasks.

Lately, not so much.

The youngest of the time travelers spends more minutes of her day than she'd care to admit listening for the shots in the dark, hoping for a particular voice, one that might have started the call similarly (the with an 'anybody' rather than an 'anyone') and in a more masculine timbre. The local shortwave frequencies are also on her playlist so to speak, and after a few moments of silence where she tracks it to an address she knows, the teenager answers.

With caution. It could be a trap.

"Who's asking?"

For a moment, Rue doesn't think she'll get an answer. It was likely too much to ask for in the first place. But then— "Ahh…" Articulate. "Marlene!" It only occurs to her after the moniker's left her lips that she may not have explained its significance to her friend before. Forgive her, she's been fairly comatose since mid-May. "It's been a while."

It takes Nora a moment. In fact, for a moment, she thinks Lene's forgotten her own fake name again. "Le- Oh!"

The editing turns off on the Oh! which she voices aloud, getting an odd look from the man walking by the spot she sits in Roosevelt Park. She glances up at him, and taps her ear, covered by a tangle of dark hair that would make Benji cringe. "Blue tooth," she tells him, before she stands to move away from the crowded fountain.

More careful to project her words via thought and radio rather than larynx and oxygen, she returns her attention to Rue on the radio. "Good to hear your voice. You on the mend?" Clearly — there are really only two options at this late date, so many weeks after getting sick.

"So I'm told. I'm pretty sure the lady at the salon thought I died under the hair dryer at one point." Rue chuckles quietly and carefully shifts the radio on her nighstand so she can roll onto her back on her bed. "Can we meet somewhere? The lack of social contact almost killed me worse than… You know, almost actually dying."

Rue cracks a grin and asks, "What's it like in the future? Do our cars fly yet?" And half a second later realises that her joke could be mistaken for a legitimate question by Nora. She winces, unseen, and decides to carry on anyway. "Does Starbucks still exist out there? What about Burger King?"

Nora laughs, a rare sound from her these days, and rarer yet that it's heard by someone else as she lets it through to Rue's speakers. "Sure. Let me come to you — you're too weak to be roaming around. No, it's not like all those scifi shows or cartoons. I don't have a dog named Astro or a hovercraft, can you believe it. And everything's Taco Bell in the future. They won the franchise wars." She waits to see if Rue buys that one as she begins to head toward the subway.

"You wanna meet somewhere or me to come to your apartment?"

"Taco Bell?! The world is so not worth saving." Rue allows a dramatic sigh to be heard over the waves, even if the way she slings one arm across her forehead can't be appreciated. She considers arguing that she isn't too weak, but the truth is that she is.

"Grab some snacks and meet me here. My cupboards are so bare, it's just sad."

"See you in a few, Mother Hubbard," Nora replies.

Unfortunately, it takes a lot longer to get across town from the Lower East Side to the Bronx, and it's an hour later that she arrives at Rue's door with her arms full of groceries and a pink bakery box from one of the city's amazing delis. She kicks at the door since her hands are full to be let in.

The door swings open, having been (let's be honest, stupidly) left ajar a fraction by the redheaded girl sleeping on the couch. She's so much paler than Nora may recall Rue having been the last time they saw one another. She's lost a lot of weight.

But she sits up quickly and bounds for her friend to throw her arms around her with all the enthusiasm she would have shown in the past. A squeal and a—

No, that isn't how it goes in reality at all.

The bang of the grocery fairy's foot connecting with the door, and subsequently the door connecting with the wall, wakes Rue from the dream of how she imagines reuniting. Her blue eyes seem duller, but that could have something to do with the way they seem to be in the midst of a sea of red. The effects of the flu having not totally faded yet. It takes her a several seconds to push herself up into a seated position, her smile further displaying her fatigue. "Hey, beautiful."

She blinks heavily and takes in the haul in Nora's arms, dragging herself to her feet again, intent on helping to put away the groceries. "I said snacks, girl. Are you a food shelf now?" Her quiet chuckle is aborted by a yawn.

"I didn't know what you'd want, and you said you were on empty, so I figured whatever we don't eat, you can keep for a few days, get your strength back up, because it's really important that you eat and get your energy back," Nora rambles a bit, standing in the doorway and glancing from Rue to where the door hit the wall, and then back to Rue.

When Rue begins to move toward her, she points to the couch. "Sit. The mountain comes to Mohammad," she demands, shaking off the awkwardness, and moving to set the bag of snacky food and the box on the coffee table, then heading into the kitchen to put away things like milk and ice cream.

After a moment of rustling in the kitchen, she returns, coming finally to rest on the couch next to Rue. Brown eyes slide over Rue's form, and her fingers nervously slide over the strings holding together the holes in her jeans' knees. "I'm glad you're better," Nora finally manages, eyes dropping again and cheeks coloring with … something.

Rather than complain about kindness, of all the silly things a person could complain about, Rue does the gracious thing. She sits down and says, "Thank you." She ooh's appreciatively as items to revealed from bags and put away. At the ice cream especially. Her head is tipped weakly against the back of the couch, as though holding herself completely upright is an almost insurmountable feat.

After a blink that lingers a couple seconds too long, Rue looks over to Nora again. "Better? I feel pretty fantastic, comparative to the last… I don't remember what it feels like to be healthy anymore." Her gaze slides away and she stares blankly out the living room window, which provides an amazing view of the wall of the adjacent building. "The doctors say I won't dance again."

Rue is quick twitch a tired smile when she catches herself being melancholy, though her gaze doesn't actually lift. "But what do they know? I'm a Lancaster." She shakes her head and sighs, "Hell of a way to figure out I'm not Evo, though."

Nora too looks away when Rue's words grow wistful and sad, her brows dipping. She smiles when Rue makes her joke, then kicks off her shoes to pull her feet up on the couch. A moment later she reaches for the Cheetos bag and the sodas, handing one to the redhead.

"I didn't think I'd see again," she offers, a small ray of hope. "And that's good — that you aren't, I mean. You can… you know. You can live a normal life, if you want to. Modeling, and all that stuff."

She crunches into one of the corn puffs, then offers the bag to Rue.

"Normal as opposed to what?" Rue asks, taking the bag from Nora after opening her soda. After crunching a Cheeto she groans in that happy way that people do where their eyes roll back and they're trying to convey something tastes good. (But not quite Harry Met Sally material.) "I know this isn't real food, but oh. my. God. real food." A couple more puffs are stuffed into her mouth, chewed, and swallowed before she goes on. "Ever since the bomb, my whole identity has been built around the idea that I have this gift. People thought I was crazy, until we found out about the Evolved. I got out of the… Institution, started going to rallies, fighting for our rights. And I still think it was the right thing to do, but…"

Rue presses her lips together, then bites the lower one. "It's going to sound stupid no matter how I say it. But, I'm boring. I'm not a telepath, I'm just… Ability-less. It's not even normal. There's no such thing as. I thought I was strong, like my aunt. Like Samara. Like you, and Jiji, and…" Her chin tilts down and she picks at the aluminum tab of her soda can, bag of Cheetos between them on the couch. "And I nearly died, because I'm not."

The younger woman shakes her head, crossing her legs squaw-style, covering the holes in her jeans to play with the threads. "Your lack of ability doesn't define you any more than my ability defines me, Rue. You're an amazing girl — smart and beautiful and passionate and funny. And you almost died because of what some fucked up person did," her voice chokes on that and she turns away, as if speaking to her shoulder for the rest of her rant, "not because you're non-evolved."

A tear slides down Nora's cheek and she jerks her hand up to violently push it away. "You can have a life that isn't made up of hiding away on a six-acre patch of rock or city ruins that no one but desperate people would dare live, Rue. This country is fucked up right now, and possibly getting worse if we can't stop it, but you can go somewhere else, somewhere safer, better, more tolerant, and have a life."

That red head snaps up again. "I don't care!" Rue insists. "I don't want that life! I don't want to go on living in blissful ignorance like some stupid privileged fuck!" The fire dies away quickly, requiring too much energy that she just doesn't have to keep it stoked. "I don't want to feel like I'm not a part of this anymore just because… Because of my genetics."

One thin hand reaches out so Rue can brush her fingers though Nora's hair, tuck it away behind her ear. "You really think I'm funny?" She quirks a smile, attempting to lighten the mood that she dampened herself.

Nora flinches when Rue snaps at her, but then she smiles and tips her head to meet the other's eyes. "Well, not right now," is the teen's answer to the last question.

A smirk, and then she takes Rue's hand, orange-tinged fingers and all. "You can still be a part of it. We're not blackballing you out of the club just because you're not a red on some stupid test, Rue. There are others who aren't. Raith and Bennet are pretty big shit, right? I just thought… you know. You're a model and all that… that you might want to live better than cold showers and peeling potatoes and target practice. If you like slumming with the rest of us — you know. The more the merrier."

Rue laughs breathily, lacing her fingers with Nora's. "I'm not a model. I was a wannabe. I wanted to be famous, and on the cover of every single magazine, but… I can't go back to that. Not after all I've seen." She tips her head to rest on her friend's shoulder. "And I've seen how it was supposed to go. I died in the Ferry. And it may still go down that way.

"But I'll have absolutely no regrets."

Another Cheeto is drawn out of the bag and brought to Nora's lips as she crunches quietly a moment. "We've already changed things so much," she says softly. "Hopefully at least some of it is for the better, that at least some of the things people have seen won't happen now, or will change to have more good than bad about them."

She looks at Rue. "I'm sure that at least won't happen the same way. And if you're brave enough to see it and still want to be on our side, then you're one of the bravest people I know. And we need that, to fight what's coming."

Her hand squeezes Rue's. "I may need to lean on you for some of that strength, myself."

"You lean on me and I'm liable to fall over," Rue quips, making fun of her own weakened state. "Maybe I can be like Oracle or something. You ever read Batman? Does Batman still exist? I swear to God, I will fuck something up if Batman doesn't exist in the future." She catches herself and gets back to her point, "Anyway. Oracle used to be Batgirl. The Joker put her in a wheelchair. But despite that, she still manages to be totally badass and just kind of orchestrates from afar. Kind of like how you can do, except I actually need equipment."

Rue rolls her eyes, "Apparently I just can't have crazy mind powers or some shit." There's more of her old spirit shining through now that she isn't afraid of being kicked out of the club house. "And anyway, I'm probably just stupid. But when I was laying there in that hospital room, not really sure what was going on, I figured I was just destined to die one way or another. If not on a mission, then in that bed. Alone." She lifts her head again finally, fixing Nora with a too-serious gaze for it not to be part of the act. "That would have sucked. And been really dumb. I'd rather die on a mission, surrounded by the people who care about me."

Nora looks a little confused at the long tangent that has a point of sorts, then squeezes Rue's hand. "Point of fact: you are going to die 'one way or another,' it just doesn't have to be anytime soon, got it?" she says. "And I'm sorry you were alone. I should have visited you… I just.."

The teen looks down again, free hand having widened the gap of the hole in her jeans by a good half inch from her worrying at the threads. "I should have visited," she repeats, leaving out the excuses — fear and shame aren't good enough excuses in her book.

She looks up again. "I think Batman still exists. 'Cause you know, he doesn't have cool mind powers and all, is just a normal joe who's pretty kick ass. You know… like Jensen Raith, Noah Bennet, and Rue Lancaster."

"I'm gonna try to live forever if I can, but if I can't, I'm gonna go out like a badass." Rue further assures, "Don't worry about visiting. Nobody had any way of knowing if I was being monitored… And my aunt works for the government, so I'm pretty sure I was." Even if just by Adrianne Lancaster herself.

A moment is taken to consider her comic book idol in comparison to some others that Rue idolises, in a sense. Not herself, of course. That would be an incredible act of gross narcissism. "I think Jensen Raith might actually be Batman," she theorises. "I should hand him a bat-shaped grappling hook. I bet he wouldn't even bat an eye."

Bat. An eye.

Rue tips back against the couch and laughs at her own unintentional pun. "Oh, that was bad." Setting her soda can aside on an end table, she pulls her feet up onto the couch and leans against Nora again, closing her eyes. "Passionate and beautiful, huh?" To pick up on an earlier thread, soft huff of laughter. Her speech is starting to slow a bit, evidence of a need for more rest, "If I didn't know better, I'd think you have a crush on me." Punctuated by an entirely unsuppressed yawn.

The teen groans at the pun as Rue laughs, then Nora pats Rue's shoulder when the redhead leans sleepily. "Oh, like I'm telling you something you don't know," she says with a chuckle, reaching for a pillow to put on the sofa so Rue can lie down again.

"And while I adore you, I've reached my quota on ruined friendships for this lifetime, so you're stuck with me as your less cool sidekick or something," she adds, before inching over on the sofa to give Rue more room to lie down.

"You want me to stay while you sleep?" she asks, putting the bag of chips back on the coffee table and out of Rue's way.

Rue doesn't protest, but just slowly stretches out over the couch. "You're my infinitely cooler sidekick. Like the Green Hornet. It isn't the Hornet that's fuckin' badass. It's Kato. You're my Kato. Knockin' heads off snowmen."

Even the way Rue draws in a deep breath through her nose sounds tired. "It's cool. You like dudes. We can't all be perfect," she quips without ever opening her eyes, adjusting the pillow under her head. "I'm sure not." She fumbles for a moment for a blanket draped over the back of the couch, finally tugging it on top of her. "If you would say the night, that'd be groovy. You can take the bed. And watch TV. Read some comics. Whatever. Mi casa," biiiig yawn, "et cetera."

In moments, she grows very still. Save for her deep, even breathing to give her away.

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