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Scene Title Azkarah
Synopsis After a frightening dream, Hana's world shifts even more in waking.
Date April 12, 2011

In Dreams, One Hour Earlier

She’s dying.

It isn’t the pain — more than she’s ever felt in her life — that tells her so, nor is it the way the blood seeps through her and Bennet’s fingers where they clasp over the wound. It’s not the way the sounds of klaxons and bullets and explosions seem to fade into a dull and distant hum, nor the way the ash that falls around them looks to her blurring eyes like snow.

It’s the way that Bennet looks at her, a thousand apologies in his eyes that he can’t save her, that he can’t make this right, that all of their efforts through the years have come to this moment where she’s dying and he’s helpless to stop it.

“Gitelman,” he starts, and she lifts a hand to cut him off.

“Noah,” she whispers. Her voice is faint, dimming, thready as her pulse, and yet insistent all the same.

His eyes close and he bows his head. “Hana,” he murmurs, as if in resignation.

As if in prayer.

“Remember,” she murmurs, eyelids fluttering as she coughs weakly, pink bubbling at her lips. “Someone needs… t’remember.”

Not remember me. It’s not about her, but about Ruth. About Zahava. About Drucker. Someone who will carry on the legacy of a family now that Hana’s time has passed.

Noah doesn’t need to ask what she means. It is a vow he made years ago.

“I will. He or she will know who they are, where they came from,” Bennet assures her, hands curling around hers, watching helplessly — he’s seen too many fatal wounds in his time. There is no hope strong enough to overcome this. Not when they’re so far from help.

Hers squeeze his with what little strength she has left, her lips parting to speak their final words, a final goodbye for the man whom she has fought beside and against for so many years — but those words are lost with the dawning of consciousness.

Brown eyes open to the gray light of the small and spartan room.

She is alive.

It was a dream.

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Now, Pollepel Island

Most of the castle is still sleeping at sunrise, but for those on guard duty or those few early risers who simply prefer to wake at the crack of dawn. The courtyard’s stone ground and the walls surrounding it seem to glow a rosy hue from the sun’s colorful debut. Above, the sky is dotted with clouds, but the weather promises to be more spring than not.

It’s much warmer than the first time Hana Gitelman and Nora Rosenthal crossed paths here so many months ago. The former has already claimed her spot in the courtyard to do her katas, but this time there is no blind girl interrupting her with a radio’s rude noises.

This time, the girl is seeking Hana deliberately.

She doesn’t creep but simply enters the courtyard, dark eyes watching Hana’s movements for a moment. Leaning against the wall, Nora clears her throat and then waits for the rebuke, eyes dropping down to study the white rubber toes of her Converse.

The girl's entrance is met with an absence of regard, no attention spared from the intensity of Hana's training. Perhaps because there is little to be spared: this isn't a normal morning's practice. There's a fierce energy imparted to every movement, tempo unrelenting and headlong, the transformation of kata into something never quite exhibited in their sessions — a gracefully fluid, lethal dance that the student, any student, is rarely subjected to. The ferocity which makes Hana an opponent dangerous beyond her base capabilities — the lioness who holds nothing back and scorns any outcome save victory… or death in trying.

Right now, Hana's attention isn't, shouldn't be, a desired thing. Yet Nora asked for it all the same…

…and then proceeded to look away.

The scuff of boots on concrete abruptly changes timbre and rhythm; Hana crosses the courtyard faster than the girl's realization can initiate action from her standstill state. She twists a hand in Nora's shirt, knuckles jolting against her collarbone, the joint of her thumb an uncomfortable pressure alongside the girl's throat; not an overt hazard, but it carries an implicit reminder that dealings with Hana should probably be conducted from the other end of a thirty-foot pole. The impact is jarring, enough to make its recipient stagger… yet, for whatever unknowable reason, no immediate follow-through ensues.

Nora's pulse flutters against the cold press of Hana's skin, shocking contrast to the warm breath which whispers past the girl's face with Hana's subvocal growl. In their proximity, Nora's internal balance shifts as abruptly as her feet did a moment ago; an anger that isn't rightly hers echoes from some unknowable distance, edges keen with adrenaline's fury. Its intensity is muted, but with each passing breath more bleeds across their contact, insidious and insistent.

The worst part about bad dreams — be they prophetic or not — is that they leave nothing behind to hit.

"What. Are you doing?"

Her first instinct is to apologize — but when that echo of anger begins to swell in her, Nora’s brows furrow and her cheeks flush. Dark eyes narrow as her hand rises — to punch or claw? — and then drops again. A loose fist at her side.

But that contagious emotion swells yet more and her face twists in anger.

“Do you have any instincts at all besides attacking people?” Nora snaps, suddenly. “I don’t want to fight you, again, and God forbid someone breathe the same space as you or try to get your attention. I just wanted to talk to you, and it’s… it’s important, and you should hear it from me, not from someone else, dammit!”

Along with an angry puff of breath through her nose, to punctuate her words, Nora shifts her shoulders, uncomfortably pressed to the wall as she is, to hint that she’d rather have the conversation without having a thumb pressed into her throat. At least it’s better than a knife, though that might be next.

That Hana growls under her breath isn't a positive sign; that she pauses to growl in the first place is. Abruptly, the woman releases Nora, twisting aside on one heel and releasing the girl's shirt, contact broken with her motion. Any induced feelings go with it, but retain a presence palpable in Hana's long strides, the space afforded by their small courtyard an inadequate cage for her to pace within.

"Say it, then," Hana says, the command perhaps even more brusque in its delivery than her usual wont. It's spoken as she strides away, without turning back towards Nora; across the small, square plaza, she sets bare palms against the coarse stone of the wall. Without leaning any weight on them, she simply stands there, as if the stillness of the wall might confer stillness upon Hana herself.

As the anger fades with the break of contact, Nora’s breath catches with fear instead. She brings a hand up to her throat, touching it gingerly, where Hana’s thumb had just pressed. Swallowing, she nods, knowing the longer it takes to muster her courage, the more angry Hana will get.

She recognizes the effort to calm a temper. It is something she struggles for herself, at times.

“You asked once about what fighting styles I know. I said I had a lot of teachers,” she begins, a little breathlessly, her heart still beating fast but now from nervousness rather than the induced adrenaline. “Teodoro Laudani, for one. Jensen Raith for another. From the time I was this high.” She puts a hand to lower than her hip.

“My name isn’t Nora. Did you ever hear my last name? Rosenthal. A portmanteau that I’m sure you can figure out. Homage to my lineage that the people who raised me made sure I knew about.” Nora takes a breath. “Because you asked.”

What does a person say to that?

What should Hana say to the revelation of her own secret from an almost-stranger, on the heels of a dream whose echoes she can't flee and can't fight? What should she say to having her solitary world turned topsy-turvy with three short sentences? To the automatic defensive suspicion, disbelief, and denial; to the abruptly awakened desires at the core of an otherwise carefully shielded heart.

Skin rasps against masonry as long, slender fingers curl closed, the sting of scraped epidermis so small a discomfort it doesn't even register.

Ruth and Zahava are long gone. Drucker, dead these long six months — each one longer than those passing before, with the continued absence of her ability, the power that may yet someday put him back together… if any pieces still remain intact where she left them. Hana is alone — always alone, even here, in the midst of a community she helped create.

What can she say, that won't scar her soul again?

"They didn't tell you enough," Hana says, voice gone raspy as she shoves herself away from the wall and stalks back towards Nora, "if you have to ask about my instincts." Narrowed dark eyes study the girl, their owner stopping outside of easy reach — on either part — in lieu of being able to circle the subject of scrutiny. The thin press of her lips is neutral, neither acceptance nor — quite — scorn. "Ghost, at the least, knows better.

"Do you expect me to just accept what you claim?" seems an abrupt change of subject, the sudden transformation of consideration into verbal attack.

Instantly, something apologetic crosses Nora’s face and she shakes her head. “I didn’t — I didn’t mean that, I’m sorry,” she says, glancing down before dark eyes dart back up. She can be taught… eventually.

“My real name is Noa,” she says, and there’s a smile that comes with voicing that — her name, one that she hasn’t heard or spoken for far too long. An Israeli name. “Noa Ruth Zahava Gitelman. Not that I have a birth certificate that says so. I’m not even supposed to exist. Juniper carried me — the redheaded Lighthouse girl? I was born in 2023.”

Her eyes stare into Hana’s — she is smaller than her mother, or biological mother, since the bond between them is not there except in the principles that Nora tries to carry out, the legacy she tries to build on. There are some similarities in features, but none so strong they can’t be denied. Dark hair, dark eyes. An intensity of expression. An agility of limbs.

“We have proof that we’re from the future,” Nora — Noa — says, nose wrinkling a little at the ridiculousness of the words that sound like some bad Sci-Fi movie that Kincaid made her watch when she was on the mainland. “I don’t have anything here with me, but… I’m not the only one. There are … there’s a few of us. We came back to try to help. To stop what happens.”

The girl’s shining eyes suddenly grow wet, and she looks away. “And I wanted to see you,” she admits. “Everyone talks about you. How brave you were. I thought if I could meet you I could be…”

More like you goes unsaid.

From the future. From the past. From the present. Does it even matter anymore? Some days, it seems like everyone except Hana is a timetraveler. And she —

In truth, she travels, too; but her travel takes the intangible form of memory, vision, and dream.

New and raw, it's the dream which burns strongest. How brave you were. Lids slide closed over dark eyes, and Hana turns away. "Brave." It could be a curse, the way she spits it out, a condemnation. One stride, two strides, three widen the distance between her and the girl — …her daughter?

"I'm not brave," she snaps back, deflecting praise and hero-worship with the self-resentment that is usually buried and ignored, shoved away where Hana doesn't have to look at it. It's the only way she can deal with it. "I have nothing left to lose." Defiance, and declaration: a state now under attack by Nora's very existence.

Thin lips twist outside Nora's capability to perceive them, but she can see Hana's fingers clench into fists, make out the tension stiffening her frame. She can hear the timbre of voice that says what words cannot be made to when the speaker is Hana; the catch of breath in a moment's hesitation, the edge of shaky rasp beneath a scorn not directed towards the listener.

"You don't want to be like me."

“Brave enough,” Nora says quickly, one foot taking a step forward before she hesitates, stilling in that space. “You fought for what you believed in. You made a difference. There are people who would have died if it weren’t for your protection, for what you created because it was the right thing to do.”

She shakes her head, waving a hand as if to indicate what’s behind her. “The future sucks, I won’t lie, but it’s not because you failed. If you weren’t there, if you weren’t fighting for us,” us is a strange word, since she was born after Hana’s death, “it would have been worse. A lot worse, I’m sure of it.”

The teenager’s chin lifts, and her eyes narrow. “There are a lot worse things I could try to be than like you. And as for not having anything left…”

There’s an audible swallow. Nora’s heart pounds in her chest. “It’s not true anymore. You have me.” The words are tinged with fear and hope at once. Nora’s hand reaches out, palm up for a split second before it drops again — like the instinct to fight back just moments ago, her instinct is to reach out for this woman, her mother, before her reasoning catches up to her gut.

Somewhere along the way, the metaphorical ground slipped out from under Hana's feet, and she has no idea how to get it back.

She isn't even certain she wants it back.

Temptation at tug-of-war with fear, she isn't certain of anything at all.

"Did they tell you about Drucker?" the older woman asks, voice rough with the tangled emotions that now accompany his memory. History repeats — the unknown relative out of another time, one dead before either knew of the other's existence. History… repeats.

It isn't clear whether Hana meant to take a step, or if her knees simply buckle where she stands; either way, they fold, and she stumbles forward half a pace in uncharacteristically graceless fashion. "I had him," she says, bitter words delivered quieter still. A poison she's never been able to drain, never truly learned to live with, and probably never will, forgiveness not being a skill Hana is particularly good at.

"There are damn well better things you can try to be!" is a sudden reversion to what she is good at, the verbal lash delivered with a glance over her shoulder towards the girl. In that glimpse is an expression more burdened by pain than anger, for all the antagonistic ferocity of Hana's words — and the abrupt cessation of her stillness, strong strides carrying the woman towards the arch at the far end of the courtyard, the one leading out to unkempt island grounds.

Nora — Noa — watches, lips pressing together as she nods about Drucker. Those who knew the stories told her what they could. From the bits and pieces of those who knew Hana, her daughter was able to stitch together a patchwork history of her ancestry. The good and the bad. The triumphs and the failures. “It’s not your —” the teen begins, but then that lash comes and the words wither, unsaid.

What do you do when the one person you’ve looked up to your whole life — from a distance — doesn’t want that from you?

The girl takes a step forward, as if to give chase, but thinks better of it.

The ground has been pulled out from under her feet, too, and this time, no matter how agile she is, she isn’t sure she can keep her balance.

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