Before We Forget


corbin_icon.gif finch_icon.gif megan_icon.gif nick_icon.gif

Scene Title Before We Forget
Synopsis An eclectic group of dreamers discuss why they were chosen by a particular angel and how to best help her.
Date December 1, 2020


Three o’clock at a coffee shop is a quietish hour, well past lunch and before rush hour, at least at any coffee house far enough away from the city’s sole college. Here in Elmhurst, there are only a couple of other patrons, each a solitary figure, one stooped over a laptop and the other a novel.

Nick, being the first of the four to arrive, has already staked out a table for the group in the back corner, as far from the other customers and the workers behind the counter as he can get. The conversation today is likely to be a strange one, even in a world that deals with the impossible every day.

Maybe if anyone overhears them, they’ll think they’re just talking about a movie plot.

A cup of coffee rests in hand already, dark and steaming. Nick brings it to his mouth to sip while looking out the window, his expression one of faint worry and deep thought.

It is with a wary caution that Megan arrives. She doesn't live far, and since she has taken a partial retirement, meetings such as this are easily arranged. Though it doesn't mean she's thrilled to have to have them.

The stark pure white streak in her hair is actually less visible these days as her hair is fading through a strawberry-blond shade on its way to match the white. She hasn't lived the easiest life and it is beginning to show in the way her face has aged since the year on Pollepel. Wearing a pair of sleek gray slacks and a lavender sweater set, her hair caught back loosely in a clip, she is aging as gracefully as anyone can. Her blue eyes are as sharp as they ever were, though, and it takes her less than a moment to note Nick's location. She offers him a slight nod of greeting, retrieving her coffee before joining him at the table.

"You know, if you wanted to have coffee, you could have just called without the scary as fuck preamble," she quips a bit darkly at him. Meg settles into the chair across from him and brings her coffee cup to her nose to take in the lovely scent. It's too hot to drink quite yet.

The third to arrive is Corbin, dressed in a suit and on the phone as he walks in, talking to someone in professional and careful tones, “We’re still working on that, yes.” There’s a soft pause, then a moment later he continues, “I have to let you go, I’m at another meeting now. Please contact Agent Diaz with any more information on that case and have him forward it to me later. Thank you. It was nice talking to you, as well.” The call gets ended politely enough, but from the sigh, not soon enough. He looks tired. But they probably understood that.

“Did you already order coffee?” he asks as he reaches the table, and looking with envy at Megan who already has hers, but despite the eye of envy, he doesn’t take a detour to get his own cup, moving to sit down. “It’s nice to actually officially meet you two.” Megan, at least, had looked different in the dream. Nick had not really. He half wondered if the youngest one was actually as young as she had looked, or if she had somehow made herself look younger…

He glances around. “I do have some things to talk about when our fourth gets here.”

"I'm here!" A voice chirps from the door, her arm flying up in as enthusiastic a wave as said fourth can manage. Finch is absolutely as young as she looks, and for all her wide eyed excitement, she almost looks younger still.

She rushes over, faded purple hair a wind-tangled mess, blurting with equal parts apology and cheer, "Oh my gosh oh my gosh it's you, okay, I've been really busy, I'm gonna just, like—" Leaning forward, she unhooks the strap of a heavy red backpack from the shoulder of her bright yellow jacket, and plops it down onto a chair to serve as stand-in for herself while she hops back a step and announces, "Be right with you!" She turns, heading for the counter while plummeting her hands into her pockets for cash. "I promise!"

Nick smiles when Megan joins him, and he shakes his head. “I have no control over such things, even by association. If dreamwalking were catching, I’d have it for sure, though,” he quips. “It is good to see you.” They had both been at Ryans’ funeral, of course, but far too worried about other things then, more so than catching up and coffee.

Of course, they’re worried about new things now.

“Fate has a way of throwing us all together, though,” he adds. His musings are interrupted by the arrival of Corbin and Finch on his heels, and Nick beckons them to join them.

“They’ll come by with coffee pots unless you want something more posh like cappuccinos or macchiatos,” he tells the agent and the young woman, looking a bit amused at her whirlwind manner. He reaches his hand out for Corbin’s. “Nick Ruskin.” Yeah, that Ruskin.

Megan grins at him, finally settling down a little from her wariness. "You too," she replies. As Corbin appears and Finch flurries in, the redhead watches them with an inquisitive expression. "It's good to meet you as well," she tells Corbin mildly as she offers her hand. "Megan Young." She's kept a very low profile since Albany, so hopefully there's not going to be any need for Corbin or Finch to know the name, but she's occasionally surprised.

She does wait until Finch returns and offers the girl a grin. "Are you always this energetic?" It's not judgemental, she's simply curious.

“Ah, youth. I remember being that young— “ Corbin says, wistfully for a moment, before adding with a small shrug. “Actually, I’m not sure I do.” It seemed so long ago. And he’s sure Megan at least understood. Nick Ruskin, though— that name was definitely familiar, and as he looked at him— yes, that face was slightly familiar too. “Corbin Ayers. Quite a group we got here.”

It was at that. But since the youngster was going to get her coffee first, he stands up and joins her, pulling out some extra cash and dropping it into the tip jar as he orders a plan cup with black, making sure that the youngster has enough for hers as well. “Are you sure you should be having caffeine?” he teases. It’s a joke he sometimes would use with the Junior Agents he worked with too, but at least they had prepared him for working with someone this young woman’s age.

"Only when I'm happy!" Finch calls over her shoulder in a responsea to Megan, just as she's pushing a handful of change over for her order - a hot chocolate. "Or— actually, yeah, pretty much any time I'm not asleep, I think!"

She laughs at Corbin's comment, though it does cause her to draw her shoulders up, the confidence draining from her smile. "I think maybe it's, y'know. Nerves, too. I was really excited to meet up," she admits, turning to shoot a sheepish look toward the table, eyebrows awkwardly crumpled toward each other. "But also a little confused? A lot confused?"

“I was never that young,” Nick says decisively, and doesn’t look wistful for the age in question at all. He chuckles a little as he lifts his coffee cup for a sip of the hot, bitter fuel — much different in flavor than the sweet, creamy chocolate Finch is buying for herself. It feels appropriate for the difference in their personalities, as well.

“It’s an interesting group. Trying to figure out common denominators is a little tricky. We three,” his eyes move to the other two at the table, “make sense to me. We all did work with the Ferry, at the very least, and all in jobs of public service to some degree, yeah?”

He’s not sure if his affiliation is known to the others. “CIA,” he says, before they can ask. “Insert ‘now-that-I’ve-told-you-I-have-to-kill-you’ joke here.” There’s a faint smile. He’s heard it way too many times for it to be funny. He turns his blue eyes on Finch, curiously. “We’re all SLC-N, yeah?” Nick hasn’t been updated on Megan’s change of status, it seems, and must have looked up Finch’s information.

Sipping from her own coffee as Corbin and Finch join her and Nick at the table, Megan cradles the mug with both hands. When she sets it down, she keeps her hands around it, leaning forward. "I had wondered about a Ferry connection," she admits. "I wasn't sure about the young lady or Mr. Ayers." She was not, after all, necessarily privy to every person who passed through the Ferry's hands. "But Expressive status is probably not a linking factor."

Megan seems uncomfortable as she says quietly, "I seem to have somehow been swept up in the wave of people developing abilities out of the clear blue sky." The mildly acerbic tone on the last words shows a bit of disgruntlement over that situation. "So unless all of you are also in that group, it seems like it wouldn't be the reason it was us." But there's always a reason is the obvious implication.

“Adorable.” Corbin has to admit out loud, feeling bad for the teasing as the sheepish and cheerful girl as he moves back to the table with his coffee, looking at the other two for a long moment. CIA and a recent Expressive. And a girl barely out of teenage years. “Well I do have one piece of news to share,” he says as he sits down. “I’m not sure how much it will help us figure out why us. There may be no exact reason why us. It could be we were the minds that were asleep when the dreamer reached out searching for someone. But— I can say we are not the only ones who have dreamed about an Angel Statue.”

With that, he sets the coffee down and stirs in a packet of not-sugar, letting it cool down as he watches them. “There’s at least one more group of people who shared a similar experience. Including another member of SESA. He’s on leave right now, but we are going to try to share information based on what we both heard over the next few days and see if we can figure out what was happening. How we can help this— Angel. For lack of a better designation.”

Finch gives a hasty nod at Nick's question, her smile having settled into a much more sedate thing once she's seated with her backpack sat on her lap, and the hot chocolate held with both hands on top of it. She watches everyone as they talk, uncertainty sobering her expression and visibly withering some of her enthusiasm. Just when she seems to be working up the courage for a comment, Corbin mentions others.

Finch freezes, first, then puffs her chest out, the life breathed right back into her. They hadn't been alone? "That's great news! Oh my gosh, thank you."

Nick’s brow arches at the news that Megan is no longer SLC-N like the rest of them, and shakes his head. “Not me, though I haven’t been tested in a while. I’ll let you know if anything changes, though.” He watches her curiously for a moment, clearly wondering just what the ability lottery gave her, but he doesn’t ask. Some things are personal, after all.

“Interesting. So she’s definitely reaching out to dreamers — and sounds like in groups? I’m thinking maybe she’s casting a wide net and seeing what she catches. If she’s looking for help of some sort, that makes some sense. Not a bad catch, though, if she’s just throwing at random, two SESA agents on two different occasions.” Nick smiles, realizing that if the dreamwalker is doing anything criminal, it might not be a good thing. “Or bad luck, depending if she’s hoping not to get governmental attention.”

He tips his head over to Finch. “And a charity worker. Do you do anything else? Maybe you’re actually an undercover FBI agent?” He might be teasing, but young faces like Finch’s are an asset in his line of work.

"It would make sense that she's casting a wide net," Megan agrees slowly. "I had wondered if proximity might also be a factor — tracking and marking we all were at the time of the dreams on a map could lend us some clues as to where to find her."

It's just a thought, though. She meets Nick's gaze and notes his curiosity, offering with a somewhat hesitant half-smile, "Flight. Or… I dunno. Could just be floating." She rolls her eyes. "Makes for an interesting day when I wake up on a ceiling," she murmurs drily. She's not trying to hide it; she's just not sure what to do with it.

“If you prove a good asset at this line of work, we are hiring Junior Agents as young as you at SESA. Most of them have abilities, but I’d love to see some more that did not,” Corbin states to Finch, giving her a small smile. It was the enthusiasm. It was infectious. They could use it at the office sometimes, with how glum everything could be. And he knew that this would be a good audition if it came to that. “But we should focus on this, for now. What I want from each of you is to write down what you remember from the dream, every detail that you’re willing to share.”

He makes sure to add that, willing, because he knows some bits of his own dream might be kept private, and he’s not sure all of that had to do with “Angel”. Though he will probably give much of it— he didn’t want to force everyone to give away their private nightmares, though, if they didn’t want to.

“Each of us may have noticed something the others didn’t. Like I wrote down the song we were hearing, at least what I could remember of it. It was a poem, as Ruskin said. A sonnet.” He lifts up his phone to look at his note app and says, “I shall forget you presently, my dear (Sonnet IV) by Edna St. Vincent Millay. Born in 1892 and died in 1950. The poem is in the public domain. She lived in New York City, over in Manhattan, and even died north of here in a town called Austerlitz. I’m not sure if who she was has anything to do with anything. Angel didn’t seem to hear the singer at all, but it could have been a subconscious thing.”

Again, Finch sinks into listening, her narrow shoulders drawing up from behind the hot chocolate she's sipping. Her gaze lingers on Megan in thought, but her attention is drawn all too easily back toward Nick and then Corbin for their respective comments to her.

If she is an FBI agent, she probably shouldn't be quietly laughing into her drink at the possibility before shaking her head with delight. "I'm kinda just… me? Just a finch in a strange city trying to… make it home. I do know someone who works at SESA though!" She perks up. "Emily? So maybe… there could be, like, a connection there?"

She looks unsure. Then, suddenly, her eyebrows crumpling toward each other with an immediate look of distress and concern, her voice and the rest of her seems to shrink back again. "Or… um. Actually, she was also in… did… did any of you have the dream with the big… um. Sky? Thing? 'Witness'?" She looks between Corbin, Megan and Nick in turn, searching their faces. "It was— also in the dream I had just before the Angel rescued me and I met you guys. But it was like one I had before, also shared— with Emily and others."

She smiles again, but it's a brief and scared thing. "I'll write both down for you."

Nick lifts a brow at Megan’s mention of levitation, looking amused at the thought, but he nods to her comment about proximity. “I mean, we, at least, are all near one another. She may or not be. She could be couch surfing in people’s minds. Delia hung out in mine for a while, back in 2010.”

Corbin’s request for him to write out his dreams draws a soft chuckle from him, and his fingers drum a few times nervously against the tabletop. “Pretty sure my dream was all me until she decided to pull me into the team building exercise,” he says wryly. “I can still write it down. But Millay, right. She’s the one whose poem is on the wall at the Staten Island Ferry Terminal. You know, ‘we were very tired, we were very merry, we had gone back and forth all night long on the ferry.’”

Finch’s question earns her a look from the CIA agent, and he shakes his head. “Shared a dream with others? That’s a little curious. I haven’t had that one, but I’ll trade you your Sky thing for Kazimir Volken who starred in mine.”

Nick looks up at the other two who might be alarmed at that, and shakes his head, lifting a hand as if to stave off any conjectures about what that might mean. “It’s not him. It’s a memory. I get that one a lot. Usually after some questionable shrimp.”

He reaches for his own phone, pulling it up and typing in the name from the poem, studying it for a moment. “I can almost still hear it,” he says, thoughtfully tapping his head. “The last lines bothered me, remember? Awkwardly written. They still do, but…” He tilts his head, as if to listen for the childlike voice sing-songing the sonnet, then shakes his head. “Something’s off, but I can’t put my finger on it.”

"Sky thing?" Megan asks curiously. She shakes her head slightly and admits in a quiet voice, "Before she showed up, I was dreaming about some of the Lighthouse children." Her voice is tight as she acknowledges, "The ones I couldn't save from the flu on Pollepel." Nick will remember how bad the Evo Flu was that year. It took far too many and Megan had been working with scant antivirals and medical equipment. She saved more than might have been expected, but the flu ravaged the island.

When he mentions the singsong voice, though, the redhead closes her eyes and tries to remember exactly what was said. She points to Finch and Nick. "She said 'Death. Survival.' And then pointed to me and Corbin to say 'Opposite sides of the same coin.' And when she asked what color horse Survival would ride… you told her that it didn't have a horse… that it would walk, crawl, or drag himself whatever way he needed to."

She's not sure what any of that could mean, but she puts the thoughts out there. "She said Survival has a name, even if his horse doesn't. His horse would be dark and gleaming with too many red eyes. But names are hard and she couldn't reach the name."

Glancing between the three, Megan toys with her coffee cup. "In Revelations, the four horsemen of the apocalypse were conquest, war, famine, and death…. Hell followed with him into the mortal realm. In the Old Testament, though, they were sword, wild beasts, famine, and plague or pestilence. And the fifth horseman? Was us."

The more words are exchanged, the smaller Finch seems to get, the backpack on her lap bouncing gently up and down along with one of the legs it's resting on.

"I'm-" She struggles a word out into the conversation when she can, sounding apologetic. This proving a good asset thing is probably looking badly so far. "I'm sorry, I was in a… I was real sheltered up until two Augusts ago, so… I don't… I don't really know much about…"

About anything, her trailed off sentence implies.

“You’re okay, kid. This is a strange situation for anyone,” Corbin assures the young one who has been pulled into this, even if he still holds his opinion that she should possibly think about applying for an internship. Her knowing Emily only added to this idea— he’ll have to talk to her about it, especially since this ‘thing in the sky’ was mentioned. “I was also having a nightmare of something from my past before she showed up and drew me in. It’s possible this oneiromancer is specifically drawn to bad dreams in general, and that is what drew her to us specifically if we were all having relatively bad dreams at the same time. Not the contents of our own nightmares. I doubt those are important.”

But they could be? At least after that brief moment when Angel had shown up to whisk him away. She had said something, what had it been? Sometimes he wished he had a better memory for certain things.

“We should probably try to compare with the others, see if they were plucked out of nightmares as well, and if they had any experiences that we can compare, poetry or songs, or anything related to horses or survival or— wasn’t there something with a snake too?” So many possibilities.

But a lot of it felt like— they just needed to compare notes. And find whoever this Angel was and what she needed. And who, specifically, she needed them to help.

Nick glances down at the mention of the flu — he remembers too well how bad it had been, given it had almost killed him. Calvin had almost killed him, he corrects his inner monologue, but then nods in agreement with Megan’s assessment of the dream.

“Augusts are very important,” he tells Finch with a small smile, but then he looks back to Corbin at the talk of snakes. “I said they were snakes, yeah. The clouds — before they were horses, they looked like snakes. At least to me. I don’t really have a thing about snakes, so I feel like that was her, but it’s hard to tell. We-”

His phone chimes, and he glances down at it, grimacing. “This is work. I gotta take it. I may or may not be back.”

Nick’s fingers swipe right on the green phone icon, and he lifts it to his ear. “Ruskin,” he says in a professional tone, and he reaches into his pocket to drop a couple of bills for his coffee and a tip on the paper before striding for a more private place to chat.

Megan's blue eyes follow Nick a moment and then she turns back to Finch and Corbin. "I'm sorry you got dragged into the insanity," she tells Finch kindly. "Some of us are a little more used to ridiculously unexplainable things happening to us and then having to figure out what the hell it was all about. "I am generally of the opinion that weird dreams that come from a source like this — presumably an SLC-Expressive — happens for two reasons: Either we are the only ones they can reach for whatever reason or we were targeted specifically for something that person wants or needs. And we have to go at it from both sides at once until we can rule one out."

She smiles at Finch. "It doesn't get less weird and scary, but for what it's worth, kiddo, anything you bring to the table for insights is important. You, being more new to this and young, will bring very different and potentially important perspectives, assumptions, and opinions to things than, for example, Nick and I will." Old and jaded by now, after all.

Reassurances delivered, nerves stilled, and words taken apparently to heart, Finch conjures a new smile and wraps her hands a little tighter around her hot chocolate, perking back up.

Just in time for her to throw a surprised look at Nick as he just leaves, mouthing a cheery but silent, 'Bye, Nick Ruskin!'

Then, with a quick sigh as if to expel whatever worries might still be within her, she renews her spirits with a breath of NEW, FRESH (coffee shop) AIR. "Don't be sorry," she tells Megan, "It's okay, really. Maybe there's a reason, like you said! Whoever she is, the— the Angel?" Said with added warmth softening her expression. "She knows how to pick 'em! My gosh you're all so smart and good at this. Okay!" She decides, with a stomp of her soles hitting the ground. "We're gonna all kick butt in our own ways, figure this out, and help!"

Not that - with all of that said - she has offered something she, herself, could get on doing just yet. But at least her enthusiasm is back.

“Pretty sure I’m older than Ruskin,” Corbin responds with a laugh, glancing after the younger man as he walks off to take a call from work. He can’t help but wonder what all Interpol might be up to these days, but really, it was none of his business, just as he couldn’t exactly share what all he was up to in SESA these days left and right. “We’ll do what we can,” he agrees, smiling at the unending enthusiasm coming from the young lady. After a moment, he reaches into his wallet and digs out a couple of cards, which he passes out to Megan and Finch. He’ll find Nick later and hand him one, or just text him a picture if he doesn’t come back at all.

“All my contact info is on there. I’m not expecting everyone to be able to remember everything immediately, sometimes people remember things at different times. Just go over what you can remember and email or text or whatever you feel comfortable doing and we’ll see if we can get this information together in some manner so that we can solve this.” Because it obviously does need solving.

Megan takes the card and looks at it thoughtfully. Then she tucks it into a pocket. "I think it could be very useful to get that list of who else dreamed of her and the context of that." She says finally. "But I'll certainly contact you if anything else occurs to me."

Taking a swallow of her coffee, the redhead purses her lips just slightly and says, "Let's hope we can figure something out before she comes looking again."

Finch accepts the card like it's a treasure, setting her hot chocolate on the table so she can admire her new possession properly.

Wonderment turns to a brow-furrowing look of determination. "If she does need help, and she does look, the Angel can find me any day." She pauses, but only for a beat, then looks over the top of the card at Megan, then to Corbin again, offering a small shrug. "Any night, I guess? Even with the end, and the scary things and the… kinda… sadness of it, it was still better than some of my regular dreams. And maybe we can find more pieces of the puzzle, to fix whatever needs fixing!"

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