Between Goodbye And Hello


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adam_icon.gif isis_icon.gif

Scene Title Between Goodbye and Hello
Synopsis What happened to Isis.
Date August 25, 2019

Dim yellow light accents natural wood floors and rough brick walls, the interior design that lends to a warm and old-world atmosphere. While foreigners would balk at the notion of calling this place a pub, due to its strictly Americanized layout, the patrons here are comfortable with the level of decour being just European enough to accent the stout served behind the bar. It's hard to tell whether it's day or night outside with thick burgundy curtains covering the front windows and the deeper recesses of the pub near the bar shrouded in the smoky air darker still, creating a certain ambiance that lends itself to drinking.

In the dim light by the bar, Isis's expression is one of fraught seriousness hidden behind the mask of a painted smile. "The bomb,” she says with a look up to the bartender, “had a great effect on my life. I needed a change and thought this would be the area for it." She laughs softly, trying to brush off the heavy topic with a casual roll of her bare shoulders. "Can you blame me? It's an amazing city." An amazing city that had been ground zero to the greatest upheaval in modern history.

The bartender makes a soft noise in the back of his throat, then feigns a smile of his own. "It's a dangerous city," he says in reply. "You might want to keep that in mind. Fires and gunfights and men who don't know when to toss grenades.." he muses, perhaps getting a little too personal there. "Well, I suppose if you've thought that out." He looks over Isis carefully. She surmises that he's either measuring her up or checking her out. It’s likely both, but in the end, "Alright. Well, I can't tell you you've got the job. I'm helping out the owner and she has final say, yeah? But I'll put in the good word and then we'll look over your references, give them calls and what not and…well, if it all works out, I presume you'll get the job… or a second interview maybe?" He scratches the back of his neck as if he's not sure, "Either way, we'll contact you." he pauses, then looks back to Isis as if suddenly something important occurred to him, "How do you feel about Evolved? You aren't one of those Humanis First whackos, are you?"

Isis offers a slight nod to each detail of the ongoings of the pub. "I hadn't pegged you as the head bartender, that's for sure," she offers in return, only to have that devilishly sweet smile of hers wiped from her face by the abrupt question. She clears her throat with a little cough, finding herself faced with this caustic topic for the first time. "I think Evolved are the future of the human race," she admits on a carefully plain tone, calculating each word with a notable care before continuing. "And, no, I'm not a close-minded idiot that you'd have to be to claim a part in Humanis First." She rolls her shoulders as if the mere mention of the group brought a tension to her slight, slender frame, the first hint of tonality and sinew visible in her small build.

The bartender is suddenly very different from the haphazard job interviewer he just was. His gaze is sharp and slowly calculating. He studies the red haired woman quietly, thoughtfully… predatorily. But then, after some moments, he says, "Alright, Isis. Can't have any of that crazy stuff going on in here. No signs or what not, broken windows and the like. I suppose I’ll be in touch, yeah?”

The look given to the little redhead inspires the first wandering gaze of her own, igniting the subconscious defense of sizing up the man in turn. The only thing her examination reveals, though, is an attractive blonde man. She nervously laughs at her own paranoia, masking it with a fluid grace that brings her to her feet as she combs her fingers through lively, sanguine curls. Leaning across the bar, she presents her gloved hand again. "Sounds great. It was a pleasure to meet you… I don't think I caught your name?"

The bartender smiles and takes her hand, "Adam," he says.

"Like the first man."

Ten Years Later

The Praxis Ziggurat, Corporate Medical Wing

Praxia, California Safe Zone

August 25th, 2019

4:41 pm Local Time

The soft beep of a heart-rate monitor rouses Isis from a drug-induced state of catatonia. Eyes fluttering open, she finds herself perhaps unsurprisingly in a hospital bed. Dark walls of concrete slope at a 45-degree angle to her right, turning halfway down the room into a wall of angled glass that shows the concrete and glass silhouette of an unfamiliar cityscape. The lights in her room are dimmed, allowing only the natural afternoon sunlight to filter through the gauzy white curtains. The first thing that is clear to her is a sensation — prickling fingertips — and that she is whole.

Disorientation begins to set in, she remembers being in the Pine Barrens, remembers a group of strangers showing up, but the moments between here and there are gone in a haze of drugs and sleep. There’s not even a clock on the wall or orient herself to the time of day.

Stillness bordering on tranquility… but, anyone who knows the little redhead knows better. The facade is as much a defense as it is a cage. With hazel eyes unblinkingly turned towards the window, the only movement from the bed is the fidget of one index finger. No, not a fidget - but a decidedly purposeful slow tracing of a box-like shape over and over on the thigh as though she might wear through the crisp white blanket to the flesh beneath.

The methodical twitch begins to pick up pace. Then a tension forms in the shadow behind her jaw. Her brows form the subtlest of creases between them. “Don’t,” she hisses quietly at the phantom in the ivory curtains. “Don’t you fucking dare…” She makes a fist and turns her face sharply towards the ceiling with a stuttering breath. The next breath is a more even affair before she bothers to try and sit up, haphazardly tossing a corner of blanketing over an IV in the crease of her arm, as she looks around. Oblivious to considerations for any ‘call button’, she raises a haggard call, “Hello?”

The call goes unanswered, save for the soft beeping reply of the heart rate monitor tracking her condition. There’s an uneasy sense of fatigue that sets in shortly after waking, a swimming sensation in her consciousness, like she were a balloon only tenuously tethered to a physical object. Soon enough it settles, her stomach does too, because that had also started to twist and turn a bit. By the time the vertigo has subsided and the room has stopped slowly rotating in her mind, Isis notices the handle on the hospital room door slowly opening.

A bartender walks into a hospital.

It’s not the setup to a joke, but rather the first mental association Isis can make when confronted by the familiar face of a man a decade removed from her. Adam Monroe hasn’t aged a day in ten years, and yet somehow he looks more tired than she’d ever seen him. The darkness around his pale eyes is subtle, but it doesn’t look like he’s been sleeping. His suit looks like something fresh out of a board room meeting, a far cry from the chic but casual man she knew what feels like a lifetime ago. At least his stupid hair hasn’t changed.

“I thought I heard you,” Adam says in place of a hello, as if this wasn’t weird at all.

The gnawing steadiness of the monitors is forgotten in the wake of a fluttery, incessant flurry of beeping pitches and short valleys. The redhead, now holding her stomach, would glare at the machine if she wasn’t already too preoccupied. The physical vertigo of her condition may have subsided, but it is nothing compared to the tumultuous sense of displaced time that Adam’s presence so inspires. Her hand travels from her stomach to her mouth, fingers splayed across lips and cheek, thumb pressing a little dimple into the opposite side.

“You’re here,” Isis’s hoarse alto is muffled by the mold of her lips against the soft underside of her pointer finger skewed across them. “Somehow you’re not what I expected and yet… exactly that.” She cringes and closes her eyes, shaking her head. “Sorry. I mean-… Nevermind.” The pale little hand continues to follow her pains, now to hold a foggy head along with a looping mess of sanguine tresses mussed and tangled around her fingers.

“Honestly, I get that a lot lately.” Adam admits with a rise of his brows and a lopsided smile. “You aren’t the first hospital visit I’ve had to make lately, people in my periphery seem to have a habit of bumping into the sharp-end of trouble.” As he talks, Adam grabs a stool from across the room by some cabinets and drags it over, bringing it to Isis bedside.

Taking a seat, Adam folds his hands in his lap and looks Isis up and down. “How’re you feeling?” There appears to be genuine concern in his voice, which has slowed some from its usual glib clip. It feels like Adam is older, somehow, even if he looks much the same as she remembers. “The doctors tell me you’ll be alright. Which you’re lucky to be.”

Externally, Isis is still. A statues chiseled from freckled porcelain to embody some generally intangible sense of precarious imbalance - pain vs peace, temptation vs resolution. Only her eyes move, following his from across the room one way and then another till he settles before her.

Here. Now.

He’s not ”Adam” in this moment. Not Richard Ray’s devious mastermind nemesis. Neither still is he Eve’s hunted white stag, or Kaylee’s source of heartbreak. He’s the bartender. He’s her past. He’s simpler times less drenched in fear. Just Adam. Her mind even battles to tie this nostalgically unchanged visage to the organization that had sent her into government agencies, stealing unspeakable weapons and…

With a twitch her gaze, though not her visage, hardens. Her hand falls from her head and down her face, carrying on in a spidery ripple as if the digits are not controlled by her conscious thought, where she tips her head and lets them fidget at the side of her exposed neck. Blink. Her finally remembers to blink and his words backfill into her brain.

“I feel… upside-down,” Isis admits quietly. “Topsy turvey, but particularly grateful. I wasn’t sure Garza would come let alone…” Her index and middle fingers lift from her throat in a slight gesture Adam’s direction. “Luck’s never been my kind of lady. So, it seems I… owe you one…”

“You're not lucky,” Adam says with an exasperated laugh, shaking his head all the while. “Isis, lucky people don't get three-quarters of the way turned into gelatin by a science experiment gone awry. You're here because of two incredibly talented doctors, and…” he inclined his head and rolls his shoulders. “A little infusion to fix what ails you. So to speak.”

Smoothing his palms on his knees, Adam looks momentarily awkward. He shifts in his seat on the stool, then brings it closer to Isis’ bedside. “Which, I suppose, brings me to the less… social part of all of this. Because, given that you're alive, I'd much like to know how you came to be in the predicament you're in. Doctor Miller’s, uh, answer was a bit opaque. I'm not much fond of opacity, not when it comes to life or death matters.” Adam smiles, faintly, and reaches out to rest a warm hand on Isis’ wrist. “And it is that,” he says confidently. Life or death.

~I… owe you one…~ Isis’s echo in a distorted fashion.
Life or death.~ But Adam’s words echo louder.

The heart monitor skips a beat as Adam’s hand comes forward.

Perhaps she’s still too weak to properly reign in her ability, but then that doesn’t quite explain the subtlest twinge of apology in her gold-hazel eyes in the moment before the plunge…

The stool topples to the floor with a raucous clatter, Adam’s feet stumbling awkwardly over and around it as they backpedal.

Isis’ mind swims. That momentary disorientation she usually experiences during a swap seems more profound. The room tilts, angles weirdly and makes her feel like she's climbing a slope, and then a distant sound like roaring surf rises behind her. Soon it's all around her, unable to be ignored, a torrent of— voices.

All Adam.

“…expedite matters, getting to Detroit will…”

“…particularly care how you feel about it, I want…”

”…ʇuǝsǝɹd oʇ pǝǝu ǝM ˙ƃuᴉuɹoɯ ʍoɹɹoɯoʇ ƃuᴉʇǝǝɯ pɹɐoq˙˙˙“

“…it will be okay, we’ll figure this out. It can't all…”

“…depends on what else they found out while they were in Japan. We need to…”

“…continue the tests, if we’re wrong we won't get a second chance to…”

“…you have to keep your grip tight for leverage maneuvers like that, here let me…”

“…another set of blood samples from Jac once she's done with training…”

“…haven't been given any other choice, Eve could ruin everything if…”

“…so tired, I just want to take a few days to relax. But I can't without…”

“…head to New Jersey, it's time we have a meeting with Eileen and warn her about…”

“…Isis? I'm— Isis? She's— I'm— no— No!

No!” Isis hears herself scream as her body lunges out from the bedside, yanking the IVs from her arm. She collapses down on the floor, missing the grab. Her legs aren't jelly to her, Adam’s inability to pilot her body shows as he makes her reach up and out to his own form. “Stop! Isis, stop! You have to stop!”

Even with a one polished shoe stuck between the rungs of the overturned stool, a shiver unfurls Isis-in-Adam from a hunkered posture. From her new vantage point, Isis looks down on the more masculine hands that respond to her command. "I'm here. I fin-…" Then comes the wave. The surreptitious voices… No, not voices. Memories? Thoughts? They crest and fall so suddenly, threatening to drown her. Intangible though they are, they threaten sweep her off her feet…


She tumbles, trips on the stool, and send a tray of medical odds and ends clattering to the floor as she catches herself on the sterile counter top, knees bent and legs barely keeping her partially upright. Her gaze, borrowed baby blues now, flits to and fro as if trying to trace the source of one internal monologue after another.

Isis hollers out with the foreign voice just as her proper body stumbles to the ground. "Adam?!" Concern or a plea of her own; it's unclear. But, then… "What're you doing?! STOP IT!" They yell over one another; him and her, her and him - real helpful. But it is the blond-haired, male visage that trades in an expression of surprise and even fear for a vehement sneer over at the redhead. "You're //ruining it/!"

“…aware of that. Now calculate the casualties if we do nothing at all to…”

“…only way you’re leaving here is in several plastic bags or through that door with…”

“…compelling forecast for our stakeholders, otherwise we could see board turn…”

“…haven’t we? We’re together now, nothing has pulled us apart and nothing…”

“…redacting their memories somehow, otherwise we risk it getting too…”

“…be sure to check in with Doctor Yeh and find out what Gorgon’s status…”

“…widen your stance and use your right arm to lever the grip upward…”

“…be careful not to harm her. I promised that she was safe here and…”

“…find her and do whatever it takes to stop her. We can’t risk…”

“…be so much easier if I just gave up, let the world burn. But for once…”

“…don’t get to her in time, I don’t know what will happen. We stopped it before and…”

Isis, your mind can’t handle all of the Hydra connections at once!”

Isis,” she hears herself saying, watching her own body crawl like some sort of movie monster across the floor dragging IV tubing behind her, “Isis stop! Focus on your own thoughts, don’t let them all in at once, listen to my— your— voice.” Finally close enough, Isis watches as her own hand lashes out and takes a firm grasp on the hand of Adam’s she has possessed.

Trying, praying, that this will force her out.

Instinctually, the grabbed hand grabs back…

Have you ever experienced a moment where it seemed the World was holding its breath? Where everything is so LOUD it might as well be silent

For once, Isis’s consciousness hesitates to return to its rightful place. For a heartbeat it tears at the intangible walls with the soundless scraping sensation of nails gouging a blackboard…

Home. The quiet should be peaceful. Instead it’s hollow, like a space one returns to only out of habit after a tragic loss.

Isis doesn’t bother to look up when her worldview is once more framed by little curled garnet barbs on either side. Her shoulders heave. Once. Twice. And then it comes… A sob. It breaks outward. And inward. Hand limp in Adam’s, she lets her head rest on the floor, the torrent of tears seeming, at least to her, so loud in the way they fracture and echo on the polished floor. With the shake of each sob her back bends a little deeper, her shoulders bow a little lower.

Gingerly, Adam slides his hand away from Isis in spite of her current state. It isn’t intended to be a cold gesture, but more one of self-preservation. He stays kneeling by her side, not moving from the floor. A moment later the doors burst open and two orderlies, one of whom has a handgun, burst into the room and pause in confusion when they see the scene spread out before them. Adam closes his eyes and shakes his head, urging them off, and the two slink back out into the hallway and out of sight.

Adam gently, cautiously, lays a hand against the back of Isis’ head and strokes her hair. “It’s a lot,” he says in a hushed tone of voice, apologetic, which is a tone that she isn’t familiar with from him. This whole experience feels alien and Adam — immortal Adam — feels like he’s older, or perhaps grown up somehow. “Everything’s a lot right now, but it’ll pass.”

The gentle touch on the crown of sanguine locks causes an involuntary shudder before the slender woman grown uncomfortably still. She takes a deep breath, releasing it as a calculated hiss, before turning her head. One cheek to the cold floor, the other a plane of snow under slashes of crimson curls; her amber-hazel eyes flit sharply to the corner, taking in Adam. It’s clear she didn’t register the gun-toting orderlies - or simply didn’t care.

“Isn’t that the problem though… It’ll all pass. Every thought, every feeling, every effort, every person. Everyone but you…”

“This, too, shall pass,” Adam says without a hint of glibness. “I'm long-lived, Isis, but I'm like a cat. Eventually I'm going to run out of lives, and no amount of satisfaction will bring me back.” There’s the glibness. “You might get a few extra years out of that,” he says with a motion to her, “my blood tends to have that effect on people. Not as widely known as the healing, but, who wants to advertise themselves as the fountain of youth.”

Slowly, Adam rises up to stand and cautiously offers a hand down to Isis to help her up. “So long as your promise not to go diving in the deep end of the pool,” he adds, trying to lighten the mood from her existential whiplash.

Isis unfolds from her place on the floor unceremoniously. She stares, head tilted, at the digits extended towards her. “You’ve changed,” she says to the fingertips, alto voice carried on a far-off, airy quality. With a quick blink, her focus shifts back upwards. “No deep ends, and I’ll try not to drag Zachery down with me next time.” Yeah, she’ll take the responsibility… this time.

Her smile comes on with the practiced flick of a switch. As if she grabbed the tail ends of his tone and used them to pull herself up, she carries on, “I’ll gratefully take a few years less a couple dozen extra voices.” She sets her hand in his with only the subtlest butterflies-in-the-stomach effect of her ability, and rises to her feet.

“The grass isn’t always greener, they said.” The left corner of her lips twitches up into a daring crook. “But, they also tell you seeing is believing.”

Adam smiles away the comment about having been changed, helping Isis back to the bed so she has somewhere to sit. Then, only when straightening the stool that got knocked over does he address her observation. Or, rather, correct it. “I'm more myself than ever,” Adam admits with a spread of his hands as he settles back down on the stool.

“A lot has happened between our first Hello and last goodbye,” is how Adam chooses to explain it. “My… memory, my mind, was scrambled. The man you knew those years ago? He was a broken mirror of me. All ego and id raging against something internal. It wasn't until rather recently that it all came back into sharp focus and I… remembered who I really am. It's strange, really. A bit like being reborn.” He smiles. “I suppose you understand that better than most.”

Isis sits gently on the lip of the bed, taking a moment to reel in the slack of her IV tubes and grimace at the connection point where needles have tested the resilience of medical tape to keep them affixed just so. Her attention swivels back up to Adam, of course. And her smile, for all its practice, is weighed ever so slightly by his words. “Perhaps…” Her hazel gaze glints in the way it dances side-to-side, searching his eyes for that which was not there all those years ago.
The redhead gives a gentle, knowing nod. “I haven’t found all the shards of my mirror. So, Adam…” This time her smile takes on a more sincere quality, the effect reaching her eyes and softening her cheeks beneath a shift of cinnamon freckles. “Who are you really?”

The way Isis phrases that has Adam somewhat frozen. When he finally stris himself out of whatever momentary fugue found him, his attention dips away down to the floor. “It’s…” all the shards of the mirror echoes in the back of his mind. “It’s hard to say, anymore.” When Adam looks back up to Isis, all of the pretenses of masquerade are gone, the last vestiges of the bartender melted like candle wax around the fire of their conversation.

“When you…” Adam starts to trail off. “When you first met me, I wasn’t even myself. I was a caricature of my ego, driven by a sense of entitlement and pride, believing that it was my sole right to burn the world down to its root and be the king of the ashes.” Adam looks down at the backs of his hands, then up to Isis. “That changed,” he says in a small, uncertain voice.

Everything changed.”

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