Catching Fire


vf_isa_icon3.gif kay_icon.gif

Scene Title Catching Fire
Synopsis Don't lose your fire.
Date January 01, 2020

The Rookery, Ruins of Staten Island

Boots slap against pavement, through puddles of melted snow and seeping refuse, over broken bottles and discarded newspaper. Adrenaline keeps Kaydence Lee Damaris fuelled as she continues to sprint after her wayward charge.

Isa!” she cries out, voice at once muffled and amplified by her helmet and the crackling speaker inside. They’re going to draw attention, and that’s the last thing either of them needs. It’s the last thing their employer needs.

Her lungs are starting to burn by the time she skids to a stop in a courtyard behind a busted up apartment complex. Someone has hung laundry out to dry, even in this cold. Kay marches over and yanks a bright red wrap dress down from the line, holding the fabric tight in her gloved fist. She’ll need this later if she actually manages to catch up to the other woman.

With a frustrated growl, Kay listens to the sounds of the streets and tries to determine which direction Isabelle’s gone off. When she thinks she hears movement off to the west, she takes a deep breath and pushes off again to resume the chase.

Kay finds smoke and ashes when she moves west, trailing in her face slowly as if the woman on fire had been this way not too long ago. As the blonde turns a corner she is met with an orange glow. The woman she knows as Isa walks there barefoot with roiling flames engulfing her. Eyes set ahead, hazel shining with the flames and tears that don't fall down her cheeks, evaporating before they even leak. She lifts her head to the sky and the flames rise accordingly, she bathes in it. This feels right, this is who she is. The center of the fire. Always burning.

She may not hear Kay because she does not stop but the flames do go inward, rumbling beneath her skin to reveal the lightly tan nude body. The scar she received in the Flood Timeline… her home. That snakes up from her back to her shoulder and face burns a bright orange. She lumps a little but her course is set. The ground bursts into tiny flames as she passes like gas was laid before. You're a monster. Release. You're a monster. Monster.

Isa's body twitches and she exhales black smoke from her nostrils. "What," She barks but doesn't stop her movement. Kay was a friend, she reminds herself of this. Do monsters have friends?

They do, as it happens.

Kay is grateful that Isabelle has stopped running, finally. She manages not to double over with her hands on her knees, but she wants to. Instead, she unfastens her helmet while she’s catching her breath, tucking it under her arm. She doesn’t look angry, she just looks tired.

“Let me help you, Isa.” The pyrokinetic keeps walking forward, and so Kay trails behind, careful not to get too close to the heat and the flames that Isa puts off. “The mission’s done. We succeeded. It’s time to go home.”

A strand of dark hair falls into hazel eyes as Isa looks at Kay and the ground. "The things I've done…" There's a light, tired chuckle as orange flames course over her shoulders from her back soon covering her whole body. "I'm a monster." It's said at the same time as the mantra in her head.

You're a monster.

"My parents… Magnes… that bitch… all those… all those kids.. I can hear their screams." Almost every night though that was almost ten years ago, it haunted her. The things she did to survive, the things she did on a whim. All she ever needed was a spark of anger. An orange glow fills the space as Isa burns brighter, her cheek a blinding orange from within scarred skin.

Anger was what she had plenty of.

Two orbs of orange flame leap from Isa's shoulders and orbit her slowly. Black smoke begins to fill the area around her, crackling and popping from the fire. The weight of having her memories unlocked, the bewitchment from the Hands of Mary, the guilt from what she did in the Virus world and Tsai's last mental warping have culminated into a whirling mess. You're a monster.

The two balls of fire grow into basketball sizes and are thrown in Kay's direction.


Despite her every screaming instinct, Kay holds her ground as Isa tries to explain. She rattles off names — victims, most likely — but still she doesn’t budge. Isa is one of hers. Kay doesn’t leave her people behind. She doesn’t back down.

But the fire around the pyrokinetic is growing. The heat radiating off her is intense even with the suit of armor to insulate from it. “Isabelle!” Against her better judgement, Kay reaches up and throws the catches on her helmet, pulling it free and tossing it aside with a loud crack of hardened plastisteel on concrete. The dress follows its descent silently, fluttering down to settle over the lump of armor.

“You aren’t. Or— Maybe you were.” God knows she’s lumped herself in that category as well over the years. Saint Kaydence died somewhere around the year 2007. She hasn’t been good for a long time now, but maybe she isn’t evil. “But you aren’t now. You’re only what you choose for yourself. Every day, from here out, you’re only what you—”

The air leaves Kay’s throat, her eyes go wide when she realizes how her words are falling on deaf ears and her colleague means to incinerate her. She pivots instantly on one foot, pushing off to give herself just enough momentum to throw herself to the ground in a roll that should give her enough clearance to avoid getting toasted.

It’s a near thing, and she comes away with searing pain in her back that she refuses to acknowledge with her voice. The shriek of pain dies in the back of her throat, manifesting only as a growl that’s accompanied by her gloved fingers scraping over the ground.

She doesn’t have the luxury of gathering her thoughts, regrouping and planning. Instead, she scrambles to her feet, not without difficulty, and makes sure she’s turned to face Wesley Khan again so she can quickly ascertain her next move. What Kay does not do is show her fear when she faces her again. Or draw her firearm. She’s going to avoid bloodshed here.

Well, her own blood is an acceptable loss here. All the same, she’d rather avoid the sacrificial pyre.

"Why don't you run?!"

Isa watches as the fireballs sail towards Kay and miss her though not entirely. Slamming into the wall a few feet behind her and engulfing the broken wall in screaming flames. There's a curious look on the pyrokinetic's face as she looks at Kay through the flames that briefly obscure her face before she bats them away with a loose motion from her hand. Monsters don't always rampage, they hide under the bed.

The voice is small and it cuts through the howls of pain and death from her victims, the childhood version of Isa. Sometimes they hide. In her mind's eye the room on fire, walls and floor that were visible were blackened. Inky black smoke curls around. A child with dark hair stands in the middle, her eyes just two deep blue flames. Her nightgown riddled with burns, legs coated in soot as well as the arms and neck.

Her face is a mask of fury and disgust, at the world but mostly at herself. She deserved misery, but not yet. Isa is thrown backwards through the open door and the little girl smiles and waves as it slams shut in her face.

At that moment the dark haired woman feels the fire inside of her flicker, the rage begins to die down.

You are a monster. You lie in wait. Everything is fine here.

Isa's eyelids flicker and the flames around her begin to die down. She takes one knee to the ground with a choked sob, fingers splayed out on the melted asphalt to support herself before she pushes forward, "Kay!" Choking it out but backing away before she can touch her physically. A look of horror crossed over her face, "I'-" Backing away from the blonde and getting tangled up in the dress that was bought for her she could only assume. "I didn't mean-" Flames still pick on the ground around the women though with a glance the fire on the wall behind Kay smothers itself and leaves a blackened mess behind.

She snatches the dress up and throws it over herself, backing away all the while. "I'm sorry. I just-" I'm a monster.

Kay reaches up and out with an open palm, a placating gesture. “Isabelle, please.” Her voice grows quieter as the fires begin to subside and she no longer has to compete with the roar of the flames. “I won’t run because I’m not afraid of you. I meant what I said. You aren’t a monster. I’m not gonna hurt you, and I know you won’t hurt me.”

That last part is a lie, because she’s already hurt. Regardless of how much the armor has spared her, she’s still going to have a line of burns on her back once she finally gets the kit off. Good thing there aren’t any galas on the calendar in the near future. She won’t be wearing anything backless for a while.

Her wrist turns, holding her hand out toward Isa now to take as she cautiously takes a step forward, then another. “We shouldn’t keep Shaw waiting.”

The woman sits there with her back against a cold lamppost. Clearly in some sort of shock, though the psychic impulses do their work, Isabelle's mind twists the meaning. She is a monster, everyone will be better off once she leaves. Hazel eyes track to the hand being outstretched to her and Isa shakes her head, but does stand and come to Kay's side. Invoking Shaw's name just makes her look down to the ground, "He's got it the worse than everyone, he ended up loving me."

The heat is bearable though it comes off of Isa in waves, a smoldering fire. Her scar a faint dull orange, a drop of exhaustion comes over her and she staggers forward and then takes a step and then another. "If you knew the things I've done," Isa huffs as she keeps moving forward too annoyed with herself to look Kay in the eye. "You'd tell me to run and never come back," Or shoot her in the head and let the world rest and be safe from her fire and rage.

"I was a fucking orphan. I had so much hate in me for my parents or whoever had taken them away from me." A sick, sad laugh ejects itself from the engineer, "Come to find out? It was me, turned them to ash when I was a kid," That was after her mother had traveled between dimensions while pregnant with her. "I'm not even from here! Hah, not really." Isa's hands tighten into fists, fire curls around her thumbs and soon crackling fires have engulfed her hands, an reaction to the story, her own sick guilt.

I am a monster.

"Sometimes I wonder what they let in here." Into this world.

“You aren’t a monster,” Kay insists again, calling for a halt. “You were a little kid with a great big power.” Not a lot of what Isabelle says makes sense to her. The parts about not being form here just sail right over her head, assuming she means from New York. “You are one of my people. I don’t abandon my people.”

Stepping back to retrieve her helmet (leaving behind evidence of their involvement here is not an option), Kay chides, “You’re going to burn that pretty dress up. Why don’t we douse the fire for a bit, hm? You did good out there tonight. You can rest now.”

There's no use in arguing with people as committed as Kay, the pyrokinetic is much too tired to do so anyway. "Experimented on from the womb, traversing dimensions." Isa sways but she acknowledges that this dress shouldn't be burned to a crisp and she douses the flames with effort visible on her face.

Onwards they continue and the scarred woman staggers forward, if only there was a mattress nearby. Isa would fall down and sleep, she hoped to never have to wake again.

Yamagato, the Nakamuras, Kaito. There's a bitter memory of how harsh it was but how strong it had made her. "I learned from Kaito, about my power. He mentored to me." Then tricked her into blowing up her cousin, that timeline leaves a dark stain on her memory. "You're lucky." Turning her head towards Kay, she continues, "Not having one of these." They were as blessed as they were cursed in Isa's eyes. The rapid change of subject serves to continue speaking. It's an anchoring of a sort for Isabelle.

"Imagine every time you got pissed, water started choking people." Or people started being dehydrated. Isa's words come out slow and slightly slurred.

From where Kay’s standing, Isabelle isn’t making a whole lot of sense. She’ll chalk it up to stress, to trauma, to that telepath having done something to her. “I know,” she says quietly, acknowledging that an ability can just as easily be a curse as it can a gift. “I’ve seen an awful lot of people who had something they didn’t want. Or something they couldn’t control. I ran into a lot of that when I was working the NYPD.”

Carefully, the wetworks runner reaches over to rest a hand on Isa’s back, between her shoulder blades. “I’m not always lucky, though.” Very rarely would Kay consider herself lucky, actually. Not for her lack of Expressive power. Not for the events of her life. Mundane violence between ordinary men had started her down this path. She wonders if an ability would have saved her from it.

It doesn’t matter.

“You didn’t kill me just then, Isabelle. You could have. But you didn’t. You have an incredible burden, and you’ve had to be stronger for it. And you are. You are so strong. And I envy that strength, even if I don’t envy the situation that made it necessary.” Kay fixes the woman at her side with a serious expression, one that offers sympathy without pity. “I had no idea the sort of demons you were struggling with, and that’s my fault for not taking more of an interest. I’m gonna fix that going forward. Whatever you need, you talk to me. We’ll work on it together.”

Isabelle is silent at Kay's words but does not shrug her hand off her shoulder. She feels warm but not hot enough to burn at the touch, the scar running alongside her face and neck glows almost lifelessly orange. She has expended so much energy. Burned so bright her light taking others with her.

The new cries of death mix with the old and they circle the younger version of Isa that lives in her head. Warped by decades of trauma and death that Isabelle herself had brought down on others. Heavy with guilt it's a wonder she can stand.

The pyrokinetic wasn't used to making new friends, her attitude prevented that but tonight Kay reminded her of someone, the other versions of her. A painful expression crosses her face and she looks over towards the blonde. "I knew a man named Kain."

Kay comes to a stop immediately when the last syllable leaves Isa’s lips. Now it’s her turn to look haunted by the ghosts of her past. His face swims in her vision, becomes sharper yet when she closes her eyes in an attempt to block it out.

There are other men in this world named Kain, Kay reasons, forcing herself to get a grip. To take a deep breath and open her eyes again. Try to put on that encouraging look she was wearing a moment ago. To be an ally. A friend. “Yeah?”

"An old friend, stubborn bastard but his heart's in the right place." Isa turns her head and keeps her gaze forward, heart quickening. "Mentioned a woman, name started with a K, blonde, police. Strong lady. Wouldn't shut up about her sometimes. You know that annoying accent of his." The accent that had initially made the pyro attracted to the man.

"It didn't really click for me until recently that it could be you." Isabelle didn't really know what she was doing acting like this, toeing this line so dangerously, but if anything she had proven that she burned across lines at all times and without regard.

"…Did you know a Kain?"

Isabelle keeps walking and she clasps her hands together in front of her, a kick of wind flutters the ends of her brown hair into hazel eyes.

Kay has to jog two or three paces to catch up to Isabelle as she keeps moving forward. Everything the woman is saying, every details, feels like a fist to her gut. A dagger to her heart. “How do—”

How does she know these things about him? How can she talk about him as though he’s still here? It can’t be the same man. It’s impossible.

“Couldn’t be me,” she insists with a sad smile. “Only Kain I ever knew has been dead for goin’ on ten years now.” It’s as though the mention of his accent brings out the thickness in hers. Or maybe it’s just more noticeable since they’re on the topic of it. Louisiana accents.

“Gotta be plenty of blonde lady cops whose names begin with the letter K.” Even if she can’t think of any off the top of her head. Blonde lady cops, certainly, but that initial is what throws it all into doubt.

Isabelle is silent.

They get further from the spot of their encounter and the woman with fire inside avoids Kay's gaze for a few more minutes. As they come to a ruined intersection, one hand goes to rub at the back of her neck. "Maybe." If anyone deserved happiness it was Kain, and Kay was always a friend in every universe Isabelle had been in. "But the timing is right. Cajun fuck. I wanted to fuck him so bad." Shaking her head and chuckling to herself.

"But my husband was right there. I don't think I could see him at first. Not truly. His light is so special. He's warmer than I could ever be." It's the most contemplative that Isabelle has been as of late, at least outwardly. Being forthcoming with her emotions and deepest thoughts was not how she usually operated. Speaking outwardly allowed her to ignore the terrible fire roiling inside of her.

"Sometimes we do the stupidest shit ever to avoid facing and being with the people we love." Isabelle begins to walk forward again.

"Don't be like me."

What is she talking about?

“Anyone with only half a brain and a healthy libido wanted to fuck Kain Zarek,” Kay mutters. It’s a reminder to remove her rose-tinted lenses once in a while when it comes to the memory of him. She wasn’t the only woman that had his attention. What ever made her think she could be so important?

The mention of Isa’s husband reminds Kay to think of her own. Spencer Damaris has been absent from Kay’s life now almost as long as he was in it. She wonders why she doesn’t pine for him the way she does for the man she knows murdered him. If there’s any sort of an afterlife, what must Spence think of his wife?

“The people I love are gone, Isabelle,” Kay iterates. “There’s no avoidance happening on my part.” Except that of the inevitable end. One is meant to avoid death for as long as possible.

Isa snorts, ain't that the truth. Kay's last words have the pryokinetic closing her eyes and bowing her head again, this wasn't exactly her place but the whole of the Travelers were like family at this rate. They were the only ones who could relate to the shared experience of traveling world from world, the last thing she wanted to see her dear friend was hurt.

The first, was to see him happy.

"Maybe I wasn't just speaking to you," is said softly and then Isa walks a little faster. Back towards home and her core and daughter. There was enough bloodshed tonight. "Point stands, lets go." A small smile over her shoulder to Kay as they walk.

"Thank you."

It was very apparent to Isabelle that some things were constants in the many universes and Kay Damaris being a friend you can lean on was one of them.

"I owe you some WNK."

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