Coffee And A Side Of Deflection


brynn2_icon.gif isis_icon.gif kaylee6_icon.gif

Scene Title Coffee And A Side Of Deflection
Synopsis An innocent and unexpected meeting leads to Isis getting stonewalled by the very people she needs help from.
Date July 1, 2021

The wildfires are coming under control, thanks to a unique application of technology that was released by RayTech and just this morning, the news came out that the fires were started by Pure Earth. It is a shit-show of talking heads on the news right now, comparisons to Humanis First back in the Bad Old Days already flying. The news that those militias that attacked the Safe Zone also employed Hunter bots has many people uneasy.

One of those people is Brynn Ferguson. For a young woman only just turned 22 years old, the petite brunette has seen a hell of a lot of war in her short life. The descriptor 'child soldier' probably applies, though the girl wouldn't call herself that. If anything, she is support staff, behind the lines. And she certainly doesn't look the least bit soldierly today as she makes her way toward RayTech's campus. Wearing scuffed tennis shoes, cut-off shorts, and a tank-top layered under a short-sleeved button-down shirt, carrying a battered backpack, she would look like any other young college student except for the cane that she uses and the service dog that accompanies her. She pauses at the corner of the block as if waiting for someone, glancing at the texts on her phone. Gray eyes are watchful but she doesn't try to go through RayTech's security perimeter – she's meeting Aunt Kaylee outside. There's a nice little coffee shop just down the block from the business.

Brynn isn’t waiting for too much longer, before Kaylee is seen stepping out of the Raytech compound. The former telepath isn’t dressed for her station, wearing a t-shirt and jeans instead of the powersuits she once wore. She waves at someone inside, before turning her attention to Brynn's way. Immediately spotted Kaylee signs a greeting with a bright smile.

Kaylee isn’t alone though and she isn’t all that happy about it.

After recent events, it isn’t surprising to see the tall blonde being followed by a short, lithe hispanic woman dressed in a sharp suit not far behind the Raytech co-owner. A bodyguard. She might be tiny, but knowing Raytech, she is a force to be reckoned with.

If asked, any of the staff would give a variety of answers as to why the redhead had stuck around the Raytech campus the last few days - a wound still causing an issue on her side here, running triage supplies there, entertaining a few kiddos elsewhere. But, if someone had bothered to ask the patient-slash-volunteer herself, well…

As it stands currently, the fiery-haired woman sits on a bench across the street from the campus’s primary funnel point. An ankle on the opposite knees serves up a resting place for a tattered journal on her thigh. But, movement across the way draws her attention sharply up, as it has consistently each day she’s perched here on her ‘breaks’. Isis shifts quickly to her feet, but all forward momentum is halted when she catches sight of the signing, hazel eyes following towards its warmly greeted target at the corner. “Huh.” She takes her time adjusting her bomber coat over an arm, tucking away her journal and belongings, as her curious gaze follows the duo a moment more.

The wary expression on the younger woman's face eases slightly at the sight of the blond coming out of Raytech, though it doesn't disappear entirely. She does smile for Kaylee, though. Brynn makes sure she's standing steady before putting the cane over her forearm so that she can sign back. Glad Mr. Shades is making sure you're safe, she tells her 'aunt' with a grin as she uses Joe's name for Richard Ray. She is grateful beyond belief that Aunt Abby and Aunt Kaylee stay there, even though Jac almost got abducted from that same building – if there's one thing Joe is very sure of, it's that Mr. Shades is not playing around with anyone's safety.

I saw the news – is everyone okay? Brynn signs anxiously, glancing back toward the complex. She doesn't know that most of the kids have been evacuated to Detroit, so she's worried about them being here and in the crosshairs of Pure Earth. They said some of your security people were hurt on the reports, but they don't have a lot of detail. Just a bunch of speculating. Her nose wrinkles up and she grimaces at Kaylee.

When the blond finally reaches her, Brynn reaches out to hug the older woman tightly. It's one of the first times she's really sought this level of comfort, but a lot of this is bringing up very bad memories.

If Isis thinks she’s going unnoticed, she'd be wrong. The tiny bodyguard’s head snaps her way, watching her and seems to be sussing out her intentions. Though it is hard to really know her thoughts there behind darkened sunglasses.

The hug takes Kaylee by surprise, but it is warmly returned. She always had a soft spot for the Lighthouse kids. She holds for a moment, before gently taking a step back so that Brynn can see what she says.

It could have been worse, honestly, Kaylee offers with a sad smile. I missed it all. I was… Her hand gives a quick wave away. She’d been gone. I had an episode. Hopefully Brynn knows what she is talking about. WIth her upclose, Brynn can see that her aunt looks tired, with bags under her eyes.

“Ms. Thatcher.”

At the bodyguards prompting, Kaylee glances over at the watching redhead. Surprise flickers over her features as she recognizes the woman. “Isis. I heard you’ve been helping out.”

Thin brows are still raised when Kaylee's attention finds the redhead. Isis rolls her head from side-to-side in the way one does to work out growing tension and knots, as she makes her way over. "Of course you have!" she replies in all ways chipper. "The ears and eyes of Raytech are good like that."

Isis gives Brynn an acknowledging dip of her head. "Hey there. Sorry, I didn't want to interrupt…" she waves her jacket covered arm haphazardly between Kaylee and Brynn, "… whatever this is. But, I've been wondering when I'd see you amidst the chaos," she finishes with a friendly smile in Kaylee's direction.

"Am I?… Interrupting, that is?" Isis's inquiry is friendly, but not without a hint of impatience. Then again, impatience is just her default mode.

Brynn's head tips very slowly sideways and her eyes widen in alarm at Kaylee. You had another stroke?! Oh my god!! Her distress conveys itself to the dog at her heel and he whines anxiously. She's about to start asking questions when the approach of someone else draws her aunt's attention.

It's funny how some things become so ingrained one doesn't even realize they do them. The jacket over the arm is noted subconsciously and Brynn's movement to turn and look at the person subtly puts her in the path to potentially protect Kaylee. She doesn't know what effects or weaknesses Kaylee may be suffering today, and the movement to protect (usually it's kids smaller than her!) and get people out of the line of fire is instinctive. It's really not noticeable to most people.

Wary gray eyes watch the woman approach and she waves a little in greeting. She leaves it to Aunt Kaylee to address the conversation since it does seem to be aimed mostly at the older woman. The Goldendoodle at Brynn's side shifts uneasily but he is wearing the vest that clearly says he's a service dog. And he's very well trained, so he doesn't move either.

The bodyguard relaxes a bit at the familiar tone the two women use. “Helps to be tight with the head of security,” Kaylee counters Isis’ point, offering the redhead a tired smile and side glancing at the tiny shadow.

Gently putting a hand on Brynn’s shoulder, Kaylee signs when she gets her attention, ”It’s okay. This is a friend of mine. Her name is Isis.” This time she says what she’s signing for the other woman’s benefit. “This is my niece Brynn,” she adds for Isis’ benefit. “And you’re not interrupting. Brynn and I were just going for coffee, wanna join?”

Isis’s gaze dances briefly between Kaylee and Brynn at the younger girl’s more anxious signing, but her smile remains unaffected. It’s only when Brynn’s body shifts, that the redhead’s smile brightens further. “Old friends,” she elaborates for whosoever benefit it can be heard or read. She jerks her arm in a way that pops her jacket up over her shoulder, revealing nothing underneath but an overly freckled arm which she extends in an offered handshake to Brynn. “Nice to meet you.”

Threat seemingly diffused, she continues “Liquid life and good company? Count me in. Coffee sounds great, and we can catch up,” she chirrups enthusiastically, a casually chivalrous gesture inviting the familial duo to lead the way. “I didn’t know you had a niece. Then again…” What she does she know about Kaylee that she hadn’t bothered to learn for her own benefit could fill a thimble. “I don’t know much about your family tree.” She scrunches her nose. “Sorry ‘bout that.”

The overly alert girl who can't be long out of her teens relaxes a bit and smiles hesitantly. Reaching out to shake hands, the slender brunette doesn't linger over that touch because she needs her hands for speaking. She'd be floored if she knew how many of us you have, Brynn observes to Kaylee. The dimple that slashes her cheek only pops into genuine smiles and clearly Kaylee's reassurance is all that she needed.

WIth introductions attended to, Brynn shifts the cane back to her left hand, Doodlebug's leash around the same wrist. Her movements are careful and she's watchful about where her right foot lands. She's also, perhaps a little more obviously than she might realize, watching Kaylee's movements. Whatever brought her to her aunt today, there is a subtle fear now lingering in her mind about Kaylee's 'episode'.

As they move, Brynn's not really able to sign because her hands are full, but she watches the conversation as if she's keeping up at least some.

“My cup runneth over,” Kaylee says about family, giving Isis a lopsided smile. “To be fair, a lot of my family is found and I haven’t really… shared?” Was that the right word? When Brynn starts to lead the way to the coffee shop there is a small hesitation on Kaylee’s part.

“Would you like me to get the car?” The bodyguard asks at her side, without any judgment.

“Ah.. no, it’s just right there.” In fact, Kaylee could see the sign. That wouldn’t be that bad on injured feet… right? She did double up socks for the walk to the curb, but there was still a mild ache. “It’ll be fine.” In fact, she starts moving, taking a brisk pace. At least until about half way when she’ll develop a light limp.

To take her mind off her feet, Kaylee continues, “We haven’t exactly sat down and shared our life stories, but you know about my biological family… I think.” A hand motions in the vague direction of Raytech, before it swings around and motions to the youngest of the trio. “To Brynn and other kids that had grown up under the Ferrymen’s care I am Aunt Kaylee.”

There is no apology in Kaylee’s shrug. “Always wanted a real family… now I got more than I could imagine.”

Isis squints slightly at Brynn’s gesturing, as if attempting to puzzle out its meaning, but the expression disperses as she falls into step. In fact, her smile warms notably as Kaylee elaborates on her relationship to Brynn and others. “They always say be careful what you ask for,” she teases playfully. “Maybe I’ll learn that lesson myself someday.” She looks aside at the blonde, but fails to hold a poker face for more than a beat before laughing brightly at herself.

When they arrive, the redhead makes sure to hop-skip-skirt quickly to the door and hold it open for the other two. “Speaking of family - How’s your brother and the family business on the upper floors? It’s been the leftovers of Dante’s Damn Inferno on the lower levels.”

Brynn allows herself to be drawn through the doors by Kaylee and her friend talking. Her gray eyes also keep tabs on Isis's movements and the bodyguard's as well, but she seems at ease, nodding her thanks for the door holding. She's observant to a fault, noting Aunt Kaylee's limp and leading them directly to a table so the woman can sit. She doesn't have to know why Kaylee is limping to recognize the pain.

The young woman can hear their voices and is studying their faces to match tone to expression, but there is no comprehension of the spoken words. Let me get your drink, Aunt Kaylee. What do you want? Even with cane and dog, she can still handle that task. I can get your friend's too, if she says what she'd like, she offers her aunt.

There is a slight twitch of Kaylee’s brow as she studies Isis. It took her a few - she’s been pretty distracted - but now something… seems….

“Different.” Shit. Kaylee didn't mean to say it outloud, but there you have it. “You seem different, Isis.” of course, Isis had been a hot mess last time Kaylee had really seen her.

Seemingly dying even. Well, for all the years she has know Isis she had seems like a hot mess. So it was a bit jarring to see her so…”Happier.”

Thankfully, Brynn distracts Kaylee and pulls her from her scrutiny of the redhead. |”You’re a life saver.” Kaylee wouldn’t admit her feet are killing her. While they were healing as quickly, as Pharos do, running barefoot many many miles from home does a number on one's feet.

“Brynn is offering to get our drinks while we sit,” Kaylee explains to Isis.

The middle of Isis’s brow pops up as if on a spring. The rest of her expression, smiling as it is, remains unchanged. Unmoved, even. It takes a moment - processing, perhaps - but the expression softens from bubbly merriment to a more sustainable sincerity. Her gaze falls to the tabletop as she slips into a spot across from Kaylee. “Happier may be an overstatement,” she confesses.

“That’s kind. Just a water, please,” she says to Brynn directly. And then two simple gesture: ”Water. Please.” Her attention cuts back to Kaylee with a sheepish smile. “My mom and I learned a little Sign together for fun when I was a kid. Since we’re sharing family stuff now and all.” She chuckles quietly with a nonchalant shrug. “I only remember a little. Just enough…”

Back in a minute, Brynn signs easily. Leaving Doodlebug under the table at Kaylee's knee, the petite brunette makes her way to the counter using her cane only as an additional stability point. She waits her turn in the line and shows the order from the notepad on her phone to the person at the counter. And then with a smile points out the table she'll be at when the guy behind the register offers to bring the drinks to wherever she is sitting.

When she returns to the table, Brynn has a light flush across her cheeks and she doesn't quite meet Kaylee's amused gaze. Lowering herself into the seat, she signs, Someone is going to bring them over when they're ready.

Settled in her chair, Kaylee rests folded arms on the table and half watches Brynn while listening to Isis, a small smile on her lips. “Considering that the last time we really saw each other for any length of time you were dying…” Her gaze cuts back to the woman across from her with lifted brows. “I’d consider your current state a marked improvement and not too much of an understatement.”

With Brynn’s return, Kaylee straightens so that she can easily sign. ”So tell me how did you and your siblings fare in all the chaos?” The chaos Kaylee was lucky enough to miss.

Thanks. Isis gestures as Brynn rejoins their little gal-gang. The redhead rubs at the back of her neck as she considers Kaylee’s rubric in relation to evaluating her current wellbeing. “I mean, you aren’t wrong there.”

“But,” she holds up a finger. “Happiness, I think, takes a certain sense of… contentment. Satisfaction with one’s direct surroundings and all that jazz.” Isis uses the lifted finger to make a swirling loop-dee-loop gesture. “This,” she brings the hand round to indicate herself in general. “This is more of a ‘living on borrowed time, nothing left to lose’ aura. It does have a way of putting pep in the step, all the same.” And there it is - her smile as bright as a sunny day… the kind of days before sunshine equated to wildfires and general chaos.

With that, Isis leans back, seemingly content to watch Brynn and Kaylee’s exchange for a bit though often enough with a puzzled crease between her pale brows.

Brynn smiles at Isis and as she settles back into her seat, she signs a query to Kaylee that's greeted with a quick nod as the older woman translates for Brynn. It's nice to meet you, Isis. She pauses for a moment and answers Kaylee's question, seemingly completely at ease with her aunt's ability to translate.

Most of us did fine – Joe freaked me out a little the night the evacuations started. Dropped off radar, with the towers down. But worked out fine. Kendall… well, I'll tell you about him later. How did your friend do during all of it? Gray eyes flicker to Isis, and the signs are clearly meant for the other woman. Borrowed time is even more precious than regular time… I'm glad you're looking for happy things in all this crazy.

As everyone gathers around the small cafe table, Kaylee easily settles into being the bridge for the other two. Either by vocalizing for Brynn or signing for Isis. Having had a daughter like Brynn it was easy to fall into it.

The mention of borrowed time has her fingers stilling mid translation as she stares at Isis. It suddenly all made sense. “You know?” Kaylee says surprised, thinking that Isis knows about the flare. “I have been so busy dealing with everything else going in my life, that I haven't had time to even think about that.

Somehow, despite being a really big thing, the fact that the end of the world was upon them… it had slipped her mind. “You’d think I’d remember something that important,” Kaylee says, looking at the table between them with a nervous huff of amusement.

“Well enough,” is Isis’s reply regarding her status through the fiery chaos, a hand absently moving across her to lay on the left side of her abdomen. “Better than some,” she summarizes with a small nod and an easy smile.

Poker face doesn’t seem to be in Isis’s vocabulary. It never has been. But, but specifically not when Kaylee’s translation staggers and under the stare that follows. Her brows come down, drawing a gentle crease of thoughtfulness between, followed by a slow, “Yeessss. I know.” Her gaze shifts briefly down Kaylee and once over Brynn, coming back around again. “It’s a big thing. Do you have any leads on where they might be now? Are they okay?”

What? Brynn thought Isis was being metaphorical about borrowed time, but now … are they talking about the robot us? The brunette looks confused and signs quickly, She knows about all of us? How? She's watchful of those answers but not suspicious that it's a threat. Mainly curious.

Confusion flickers across Kaylee’s features and her mouth opens to ask what she’s talking about, but then closes it again. “Where are they? I think we’re….” Then Brynn’s question gives her a bit of a clue to snag on to. “Oh! Where are the originals… I get what you’re asking.” Kaylee says with a laugh at her almost blunder.

Then almost as quickly, Kaylee's face turns serious - as the subject should be - and shakes her head, voice softening to make it hard to hear over the buzz of the cafe. “We have a lead, but that’s it so far. There is an idea that Mazdak funded this, but also that various different corporations had a hand in making us.” Grimacing at her choice of wording, Kaylee glances back at the counter really wanting to wash the bitter taste from her mouth.

“You, too?” Isis says aloud as she signs in a jerky, hurried motion, forgetting herself in a way that leaves her expression soured slightly when her head jerks to Kaylee. The laughter brings a little wrinkle to her button-esque nose. “Various, different corporations…,” the redhead repeats quietly. The shudder that moves up her spine could never be disguised. “Why would multiple corporations…” She holds up a hand, stopping herself even if the palm is facing the other two ladies in company. “Nevermind. Is that the lead? Mazdak? But, where? And, who is checking it out?”

Isis’s gaze darts from Kaylee to Brynn with a more than puzzled expression - crinkles and narrowed lashes reading something to the effect of: Why are you even sitting here right now?

Brynn's brows beetle together as she watches Isis. Whatever it is that the woman knows and was talking about, it isn't the thing that she thought it was. You know someone who is… like us, she signs to Isis, realizing from the question of 'you know where they are?' But the other woman hadn't known about Kaylee – she'd been looking to Aunt Kaylee for help. The brunette looks at her aunt, now worried. Are you sure we should be talking about this here? How do you know that she's not one of Mazdak's or whoever that teleporter was who tried to steal Jac?

Kaylee gives a little shake of her head, uncertain how much to say, because Brynn was right; how much they can trust Isis is still up in the air, but one thing she does know… Isis knows Isaac. They dated? That last part she looks up at Isis about, uncertain if it was right. I don’t think she’d betray him. And she knows Zachery. Whom she wasn’t sure on how Isis felt about or if it would be a glowing recommendation for Brynn, but there it was.

For Isis, Kaylee’s smile tweaks up to one side, apologetically. Instead, of saying anything out loud, she simply signs, I can’t go into depth, because we have to keep it close to the chest. There are unknown forces at work. Very close it seems, since she wasn’t forthcoming with the information. But we are going to do our best to get them back. Don’t worry.

“Dating,” Isis corrects in a tone that, while quick to defend, seems equally uncertain.

Isis’s left eye squints up noticeably at the bottom in an accusatory disbelief at Brynn’s worried signing. Her reply is only half-signed at best alongside a hushed hiss. “You’re worried about me? You aren’t even the people I think you are - the people you think you are.” She shakes her head and rubs the base of her palm into her forehead. Gods, it hurts to even think about.

“Kaylee,” Isis says the name like a sigh that takes her off the ledge of an outburst. “It’s friggin’ Hell on Earth around here and… And, he’s all I got.” The kneading at her brow stops and she forces herself to lower her hand, to reveal an expression of something other than the mask of anger and survival many years in the making. For a moment she’s not Isis, not in a way that Kaylee would recognize anyway - not sick, not ranting, not prickly and fighting. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy with any life that includes any version of him… But, if the man I met is out there…”

Let me help find him. Isis’s hazel gaze flits back and forth between Brynn and Kaylee. A reminder that she is both outnumbered and out-of-the-know. She bites her lower lip hard enough to turn the pale surface white.

Narrowing her eyes at Isis's 'you don't even know who you are', Brynn is clearly twigged by that statement. Maybe because it's a problem that all of them are dealing with – the existential crisis of being Not Real. But her expression softens visibly. Are you dating the real one or the one that was in the crash? she wonders. More asking about when Isis began dating the man. There is a great amount of sympathy in her gray eyes. You can't help find them, though – it's too dangerous for you to get involved. If we all get killed doing this, it's… not as big a loss.

Kaylee feels sympathy for the woman in front of her, she knows that helpless feeling well. How many times had she felt that over her lifetime for those she loves. “I know this is frustrating,” she says, even if the words feel lame on her tongue, there is sincerity there. There are people out there that can see what is coming, by seeing the future. I know you know that. But there are some that if too many people know, then… well… they could find out. Which puts Isaac in danger, she doesn’t say. Outloud, she adds, “I took a chance even mentioning the little I did. The best thing you can do for Isaac - even the one here - is to be there for them.”

Glancing over at Brynn, Kaylee turns thoughtful and then signs, turning to Isis. Those like us She motions to the Brynn too, We only just found and… There is a pause in her signing, she look at her hands and gives a shaky breath. “We’re all having to come to terms with this… it’s…” been hard to deal with, even with support, she ends with not sure her voice will hold, eyes blinking a little too fast.

Not to mention the uncertainty of acceptance by the others, Kaylee doesn’t seem certain, that is for sure. What she doesn’t mention… though she’s tempted… is to tell Isis they were dying. That was not for her to tell.

The real one, Isis signs with a notable downturn at the corner of her pale lips. The expression remains as if set in concrete as she watches, and listens interchangeably, to Kaylee. She waits until the other woman is done to close her eyes - to close the door fully on any hope of help here today - to let the mask settle back into place and keep her safe behind the brick wall and barbed wire now in place when her eyes open anew. She sets her hands gently to the table and pushes her chair out carefully, every single movement a careful careful measure to contain the storm within.

She lingers long enough to meet Kaylee’s gaze across the table, hazel eyes flecked with fiery winks of molten gold. “One day I’m going to stop asking for help and just do it myself. By whatever means…” And with that she collects her jacket and herself and takes her leave, cutting through the line of people serpentining out from the cafe counter with more than one person jostled out of the way before she cuts out the door.

Brynn watches the woman get up and get moving, and she eyes Isis's back. Then she looks at her aunt. You might want to let Mr. Isaac know what's going on, she observes to Kaylee. Because if she butts her nose in where it doesn't belong, she could get dead or worse. She looks regretful as she signs it, but she has genuine concern for Isis and what could happen to her.

Helpless and worried, Kaylee watches as Isis storms out. It hurts, but she couldn't risk any more lives. She could only hope she understand when it is all over.

Yeah. Kaylee signs in agreement, before pulling out her phone to send Isaac a… cryptic text. Maybe he could get Isis to see reason.


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