Count To Ten


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Scene Title Count To Ten
Synopsis Delilah and Elaine formulate a plan, Tom is murdered.
Date August 15, 1969

Harmony Mills
Brooklyn, New York

August 15th

3:22 pm

"Two-hundred sounds like nothing at all to us, but damn it's a chunk of change here too." The city in 1969 is exceptionally different, and yet much of it is the same. Though ruined blocks are familiar, the causes are miles apart. It's soothing, in a strange way. "There's four of us, I guess…"

Lack of proper conditioning finds Delilah and Elaine parked in the coolness of the warehouse turned station, glued to a threadbare couch. Sounds of distant cars outside punctuate conversation. Frady has graciously managed to pull together enough castoff blankets to give them at least a space to rest a little in a side room; Delilah expects it was more the kids' presence that coaxed him into it. But at least sleep is better than panic.

Newspaper in hand, Dee rustles through one classified page after another, looking more and more troubled as she goes.

"…I think it's settling in just how fucked we are." comes her quiet admission, one hand running through her hair. Being a rock is just as hard as ever, and it's starting to show in the dark skin under Dee's eyes and the exhausted nature of her words. This needs more than a rock. It needs a boulder.

But she keeps on nonetheless, against her better judgment."We can get a motel for a little while, it would probably be about the same as rent. Could always move to Bethel."

"It's weird to wrap my head around inflation and how much things cost here," Elaine agrees. She leans back against the couch, shutting her eyes for a moment as she really attempts to think. "We have no idea how long we're going to be here, so a motel really would only be a good short term option. At some point they would probably ask questions too." She lets out a huff of air, opening her eyes to look over at her fellow redhead.

"We need a cover story, and we need to use that to figure out housing. If people ask questions, we need to be able to answer easily. Some of us," she says, glancing pointedly in the direction of the other two adults, "might need some practice with answering questions asked of them in a way that doesn't land us in some sort of Evo concentration camp."

She sits forward. "Sisters, so we want to live close, maybe Tom and Nowak as husbands, and the kids are all ours? We're going to have a hard time not having husbands in this time period. I don't think we even can have our own credit right now."

"I'm sure they'll just love that." Hand running over her mouth, Delilah laughs quietly between herself and Elaine. "Credit was sketchy, so I think you're right… I mean, women couldn't have bank accounts til when?" She isn't sure of the definitive answer, shoulders rolling in a shrug as she sets the paper across her knees, energy sapping.

"We've done all kinds of… crazy shit…" Dee grumbles. "We've coached people on what to say before. Hid in plain sight before. But the guys…." Her brows lift, expression a tad pained. If they weren't here with them they'd probably have been six feet under twenty years ago. "It's been so long since I've had to manage moving parts like this. It's like navigating the Ferry network with a creaky kayak and a wooden spoon."

"…I'm glad you're here." It's now that she loses a little more of her focus on masking up, leaning over to droop up against Elaine. "Not that I would want any of us to be in the first place- -"

Elaine leans her head over to rest her head atop Delilah’s. “I’m glad you’re here too. If we had to be stuck in this situation, I’m glad it’s with you. You’re grace under fire and while I’m pretty good at pulling things together, you’re right there for the parts I can’t.” She cracks a smile, exhaling deeply. “Heh. Imagine the story that we’ll have almost no one we’re able to tell when we get back.”

She shifts her weight to be as comfortable as she can on the couch under them. “Wish I hadn’t focused on so much Japanese history instead of more American. It makes me feel as if I’m failing at representing history nerds everywhere. At the very least, I can remember enough pertinent details to help us navigate this kayak with a spoon.”

Delilah's breath leaves her with a shudder, and for what seems an eternity to her, she sits there hidden up against Elaine's frame. The commentary on how few people they'll be able to tell is certainly enough to elicit a chuckle.

"Love, you represent your people just fine." Dee sits back upright with a dubious expression for her friend. "Between the whole of us we can …probably? Get something right…" Although, the apprehensiveness lingers. The Toms are both grown adults, but baffled to different degrees. At least Nowak has a sense for navigating Weird.

"I'm not sure there's anyone else we can look for. We got Frady, which was just dumb luck. I suppose we really do need to just start over again. I'm just- - " Brown eyes find Elaine again, brow knit with a wrench of dread. "I don't know for sure that we'll get home, either." So starting over may mean… well, completely. She's quiet, now, careful not to speak of the devil. "The Walter we lost was able to get across. But he was older. And he - - died, but not really. It's …complicated."

Elaine flashes a bit of a smile and moves an arm around to give Delilah a bit of a side hug. “I don’t know that we’ll make it home either,” she replies, managing to keep her smile with that. “But if I have to be stuck somewhere I’d say this is honestly a great group to be stuck with. We can keep them safe, and we can figure things out.”

She lets out a slow sigh. “We just make a life. Blend in as much as possible, and work on ways to try to get back. I don’t want to push Walter with this, or Matthew in case he’s somehow adding to the mix, and god knows what Odette has. We just stick together and we’ll be okay. One day at a time, right? We focus on what we can do in the immediate days in front of us, and work from there.”

Figure things out. It feels like a loaded phrase. Like if they keep saying it for the others it might get cemented as the truth.

"Matty is mixed up somehow, I'm sure. I know Walter is learning to hide things from me, too, finally." Delilah had otherwise gotten terribly lucky so far; not listening and fibbing before they settled down could potentially be a matter of life and death. Poor Walter had to deal with that from day one. Age makes as much a difference as a way of life will, though, and he's hitting the hills on the way to becoming a teenager.

"You sound like me now. Convincing, isn't it?" There is a small laugh, and a nervous swallow to try and bring herself back into her body. "I know we will 'cause we have to. This is not the decade I'd pick, mind you." Dee lifts the paper up to wag it in the air. "This is prime serial killer territory."

“Mm, you had to go and remind me of the number of creepy serial killers that popped up in this decade.” Elaine’s eyes follow the paper. “Pretty sure most of us could fight off a serial killer, though. I’m more worried about making sure abilities stay pretty under the radar, but that we can at least practice a bit in safety.”

She glances back to where the littles rest. “If we’re here long enough, we might see Odette manifest. If she’s more like me, that’s something much easier to hide. If she takes after her father, though, I worry. We are good at making the most of weird and shitty situations, though.”

She pauses. “Seriously, though, I’m glad it’s you here. We’re a good tag team. You also know a hell of a lot more about parenting than me.”

"Thankfully none of us have an obvious ability, it'll be harder to get into accidents." To be honest, Delilah is probably the one at risk of a slip. She leaves that part out. "We can hope she doesn't get something that makes her run up the walls."

"And yeah, I do." She pokes her elbow against Elaine's side, smile to the side. "You don't have diapers to change or asses to wipe, though, you got a shortcut. Odette's mild mannered and sharp, I think the worst thing might be answering a continuous stream of 'why's."

“I got out of the hard parts,” Elaine agrees with a grin. “She’s sharp. Resilient. I think if she manifests we can make it work. Honestly I think that’s one of the least of our worries. We just need to be really careful with what we say and who we trust. We’ve gotten fairly lucky so far.”

She lowers her tone. “Do you have any idea what sort of programs or things they have for SLCs during this decade? We might need to warn the kids who to especially not trust. I really wish I focused more on US history. I’d be great if we were in Japan.”

"Well, we know we've got these fuckwits we ran from, right?" Delilah mutters, sourly. "I think the Petrellis started the merry little band in the mid sixties. I'm not sure if they would be safe exactly, but at least we'd have a little bit of an upper hand…"

"Other than that… there's the whole Red Scare bullshit still going on. Post-war stuff. They're familiar with that mentality, though. They're used to this city being run-down, too. Some of it will be familiar, maybe we can work it into our story. Hell, Walter told those guys his dad fought in the war and I know he knew what he was saying."

“The best lies are the ones that have a bit of truth in them, They’re good at that. Odette’s been through different worlds. She’s good at understanding what she’s allowed to say. Matthew and Walter have been through a hell of a lot too. We work up a good story, and we say it until we believe it.”

Elaine looks back to Delilah. “We’ll blend in but we keep them hoping. I don’t think we should ever tell them that there’s a chance we won’t make it back. The kids, at least.” She exhales deeply. “Fuck, I hope this gets easier somehow.”

“Does that fake it til you make it include married life?” Against the relative quiet of the warehouse, Delilah’s laugh is just loud enough to come with a toss of her head; a moment afterward she winces and glances over her shoulder. Is laughter appropriate right now? Forgive her, she needs a little sleep.

“I don’t know how Matthew would take it. He’s lost so much already, and losing the new life he likes?” Dee frowns now, trying to fight the thought of him giving up. “Robyn is a good mom even if she’s unsure about that… Nowak has already been through some tough displacement of his own too. Maybe he will be able to tell the whole story about what happened.” Maybe even help them with the science of getting elsewhen or elsewhere.

Elaine laughs lightly in response, doing her best to stop simply because she doesn't know if it's appropriate either. "I mean, marriage is probably going to save our lives in this decade," she notes. "It's lovely to know just how much this decade cares about women." She leans a little more heavily against Delilah. "We won't tell them. No matter what, we at least make it seem like hope's alive, right? They've all been through shit. Even Tom just got dragged into this and really got no chance to even fathom what's going on. We've both been through hell too, but I'm pretty sure they're all going to need someone to rely on. You and I both know that has to be us."

"Poor Tom, what a shitty time. He just happened to be on the bus with us. I will never understand a lot of these space folding quantum science abilities. I try. Working at Raytech has helped me out a bit in that department. I think I'm smart and then someone like Devi or Nowak start in on supernatural robotics or the fine minutiae of rocket science. After that, modem noises."

"Hope is what got us all through the war, so…" Delilah's murmur comes as she opens and flips through the classifieds again. "Should try another paper… anything catch your eye? Should we stay around here or head out, y'think? Getting lost in people seems easiest, but…"

“Tech and science like that are so beyond me. I’m glad I don’t have to worry too much about them. It would make it easier to perhaps figure out a plan, so I’ll just hope Nowak can put his mind to things. Maybe research?”

Elaine leans in to skim the classifieds. “City, for sure. If we have to run and hide, people around us would be good. If we’re too far out we may not be able to hide so easily. Plus some landmarks are the same, so it might be easier to orient ourselves as necessary.” Her eyes roam the paper before she looks back at Delilah.

“We need to figure out if we’re all going to be in the same residence. It would be quite a crowd, but I really don’t want to split us up entirely. What do you think?”

“I guess you’re right about the orienting. The kids will have an easier time too. Not that we should really let them off alone if we can help it. Still, they’re kids.” Frowning more heavily, Delilah breathes out through her nose.

“A duplex, maybe? If we all stayed together it wouldn’t be hard to explain anyway, yeah? If it’s about space… three bedrooms minimum, ugh. I don’t want to have to split up, even if it’s just the same street…” Keeping them all together feels like such a priority for her; Delilah is always set on being the hen, so this is nothing new for her.

Elaine nods. "As much as it might be easier to have apartments in the same complex or living across the street, I feel like us being in one place allows us to coordinate and keep track of each other, keeping them safe. Duplex would be a good option, I'd say, but managing to find one and being able to afford it. We need to all find jobs, estimate how much of an income we can bring in…"

There's another sigh. "We can cram into somewhere tiny if we have to. I just don't like the idea of us splitting in any context. Given how erratic our travel has been, I feel safer with everyone close."

"The kids will understand if they need to bunk up together, no problem there." Delilah peers more closely at a listing and fishes a pen from its fallen place in her lap to mark it. "We have the added benefit of knowing where to find some communities that are otherwise under the radar. I'm sure the Hippies and the Gays could have insights." Saying it like that is an obvious jest, Delilah's breath coming out in a snort. Yet, she is definitely serious about the who.

"We belong there just as much as we belong anywhere, I figure. Mixed families and weird parenting, yadda yadda… we're lucky this is the year it is." Pen to paper, Dee draws a second circle. "Jobs… jobs. What did you do before the fighting? Funny enough one of the places I did work was where Tom works. New location, same owners, wonder if it is around… I've got the tailoring… mmm."

"And, uh, I remember making okay cash with my ability, but that was- - " A grimace for Elaine. Yeah. Injecting a bit of humor again, Delilah closes her lips firmly. "We could always be hookers and rob people."

"The kids will be fine together. Probably even more comfortable having each other close. It's what I would have wanted in their situation," Elaine says, thoughtfully, then peeks over at the listing. "You're not wrong about communities. If we find a good neighborhood where we can befriend the neighbors, even better. It might not be too hard if we can find the right people to charm."

She coughs lightly at the joke, then grins. "Two mysterious redheads stealing money in the night. As much of an exciting life as that sounds," she teases, then sobers a bit. "Well, obviously I did translation work but that may be a little harder here because people tend to be a bit… xenophobic. We might be able to swing something there. I also did some work as a teacher. Elementary school age, but I'm not sure about teaching requirements to get in somewhere working with children. I've got some good skills, I just know we'd have to bullshit everything beyond what our own two hands and head can do."

She glances at Delilah before her mind sets about trying some backgrounds on for size. "We're sisters, Tom's the man who recently married you after you became widowed, probably in the war. Soldiers' families always get a lot of sympathy, so it might be good to lean on that. Nowak could have been an immigrant studying in New York and I helped him with his English and we fell in love?" Elaine taps her chin, seriously thinking hard about this.

"I think we're screwed if we're not married to them. I know the womens' rights movement was big, but we do need to be a bit discreet and fitting in with the social norm means having husbands or family of some sort to take care of us," she scowls at the thought. "At least it'd explain the close housing/cohabitation situation without so much scrutiny by anyone." There is a lot to think about.


Thud, thud, thud, thud.

It’s the sound of a door closing and excited footsteps. What comes barreling over to the couch isn’t a child, however, but Tom Porter.

You won’t believe what happened while we were out!” Tom shouts at the top of his lungs, waving something square and flat around like a lunatic. He’s breathless as he throws himself down onto the arm of the sofa to show off a record he picked up that has a dark-haired man in a tuxedo crooning on the cover.

“A 1967 Tom Jones album in mint condition!” Tom squeals, practically shoving it in Delilah’s face. “Look look look look!” He points excitedly at the album title.


The story Elaine concocts on the fly sounds as good as any; Delilah considers the details her friend offers up, a small twinge of something sad passing through her expression and disappearing just as quickly.

“You should stick to the English teacher for non speakers idea. It sounds the simplest. No shortage of students here, hm?” Delilah sighs out her approval, brushing hair back from her face. No time to dwell before slamming and tromping, sounds she is quite used to- - at home. Here, however, she tenses up, head whipping aro7nd to see Tom come skidding into view.

This moment of unbridled joy is what she didn’t realize she needed. Delilah laughs brightly at these antics, raising her brows and grinning as Tom shows his treasure.

“Starting the vinyl collection early, huh? You realize it’s mint because it’s 1969, right?” Dee teases faintly; still, she reaches out to take and inspect it. “Not the most flattering song for me, but damn if he didn’t go above and beyond on it.”

“There is something to be said about seeing some kind of classic before it becomes big,” Elaine replies, her smile slowly creeping back up at Tom’s excitement—she was certain that was something that would be useful in the coming days. She glances at the album, then looks back to Dee. “You’ve got a name too good not to sing about. It’s kind of weird, but I’m going to consider that record a good luck charm for us. Always good to have one, right?”

Elaine flashes a smile at Delilah. “I think you’re right about the English teaching. Should be a job with plenty of openings and maybe some good networking opportunities,” she says, touching on the last bit of their conversation.

Tom’s bright smile doesn’t abate as he takes the record back, twirling it around by the corners. “I saw a help wanted sign at the record store when I was down there, I’m gonna see if they’ll hire me under the table. If not, we might have to figure out how to get some fake IDs or something?” He looks at Delilah and Elaine helplessly. This isn’t his forte.

“I dunno what Nowak’s gonna do, he’s like a thousand percent mad scientist and I don’t know if there’s a lot of discreet job openings for those.” Tom grimaces, laying the record flat in his lap. “Plus like, I don’t want him accidentally inventing the iPhone or something and then we’re stuck in some weird universe where Nowak is a billionaire and we’re all his butlers.”

With Elaine seeming to settle on the idea of a language job- - because of course- - it leaves Delilah to consider herself. Maybe going back to tailoring would be the way after all. She gives Tom's news a small laugh, though an approving one. With how he came wrecking in, clearly his life isn't predestined to be a line cook.

"It's the sixties, I'm sure tables make great glass ceilings." Delilah playfully waves off the notion of butlers, however. Ridiculous.. "He'd never make Elaine his butler, she's going to be his wife."

"Speaking of," Tom's uncertainty gets a tilt of her chin, Delilah's piqued expression complete with big doe eyes and a turn towards him. "Thomas Porter, will you marry me?"

The sound Elaine makes is almost comical, but she covers her mouth, then clears her throat. “Excuse me, please, carry on.”

“What?!” Tom yelps as he falls off the arm of the sofa and crashes out of sight on the floor. “What?!” He exclaims, popping back up into view on his knees, leaning over the arm of the sofa. “I—I’m—I—we haven’t even—I—”

She broke him.

Good thing Delilah knows the ropes of mischief. She’s seen worse than this particular reaction to it. Tom has her attention, even through his bafflement. In fact, she slides closer before giving at least some context. In her way.

“We haven’t… what?” The redhead prompts, head tilting as he stammers along. Flirtatious she may be, but never cruel. A short chuckle comes, proving that. “We’ve been brainstorming,” Dee turns a look over her shoulder to Elaine and back again; she lifts her hand to fuss over the lay of Tom’s tousled hair. With all the stress, it’s all… a bit of a reprieve: “Cover stories, that is.”

“Regardless of how long we’re here, we absolutely need to have stories we can tell,” Elaine explains. “We are, unfortunately, in an era that especially makes it difficult for women to do much of anything. So, it turns out that it would be so much easier if we had husbands. Women’s Rights hasn’t had as much traction as we’re used to.”

The other redhead winks. “Don’t worry, Delilah is a lovely housewife. I’m pretty sure you’ll get used to the story in two shakes of a lamb’s tail.”

“You did this on purpose,” Tom sputters as the sound of more noise comes in from the hall. “You’re trying to destroy me.” He whines, slouching down out of sight again.

From the same direction Tom had entered earlier, in walks Howard Frady carrying a bag of groceries in one arm. Behind him, Matthew and Walter rush in amidst a pitched swordfight. The two are full of laughter, plastic pirate cutlasses clacking against each other as they hurry through the open millspace. Behind them, a tired Nowak carries two more bags of groceries.

“It is simple. Next time, I show. Zip-zip.” Nowak says, juggling the weight of the bags.

Absolutely not.” Frady says with a grumble.

“No, no it’s safe. Zip-zip.” Nowak bobs his head from side to side. “Go in grocery store, we in home. Like that. Zip-zip.”

Frady turns around, looking like he’s nearly going to bean Nowak with the bag he’s carrying. “First, stop saying Zip-zip like it means something. Second, no powers. You want everyone in Queens to know you’re a Special for Christ’s sake?”

Frady pivots, pausing to look at Elaine and Delilah. “Ladies,” he says, then glances to Tom. Squints. And shakes his head, carrying the groceries into the kitchenette. Meanwhile, Hurricanes Walter and Matthew bring their swordfight to the couch.

"Did what on purpose?" Delilah leans over the edge of the couch as Tom shrivels up behind it, full of inquisitive honesty despite the tinkle of laughter. "I promise that I'm perfectly safe. Not trying to destroy you. No sir. I've left my terrorist days behind me."

Maybe a little destruction, in the innocent sense of the word. As a treat.

"Boys," As much as Delilah was enjoying messing with Tom, the skitter of sneakers and the clicky-clack of toy blades encroaching on them earns a small- - and amused- - admonishment as she stands up. "Keep it over there, y'little gremlins. Who even gave you those?" She sighs and looks between Elaine and Nowak, giving the former a small smirk before moving to take the bags from the latter. Got it from here, thanks. Over her shoulder on the way to join Howard, comes the humored, "Should hear the exciting news."

"Thank you." Delilah's follow-up is much quieter when setting the groceries down alongside Frady's.

“Oh, you’re all just in time to watch Tom lose the ability to speak,” Elaine says, shifting so she can peek over the top of the couch at him and offer Tom her best mischievous grin. She lets it drop there, instead slowly pulling herself up off the couch. She hadn’t realized how tired she was until she was standing.

Her gaze settles on Nowak while side-stepping to avoid being used as something to hide behind in the epic battle. “We’re going to have to work on your English a little,” she says, cracking a smile. “Might make it easier to blend while we’re here.” She rests a hand on her hip, squinting in thought for a moment. “The name Nowak is… Polish, right?”

Nowak nods enthusiastically. “Yes, I grew up in Kołobrzeg in the north. Lovely beaches, very cold.” He flashes Elaine a smile, smoothing back his dark hair as he does. “What is good news?” He asks, looking over at Dee and Tom inquisitively.

“Yeah, you figure out where you can move to so you aren’t sleeping on the floor where you shouldn’t exist?” Frady asks, leaning against a nearby table while crossing his arms. For all that his words seem gruff, his tone isn’t.

Tom stares vacantly at Delilah, slowly shaking his head. “You wouldn’t.”

“Wouldn’t what? Matthew asks, pausing the swordfight only to be whacked on the back by Walter.

FATALITY!” Walter screams.

The words echo in Tom’s head, and show in his eyes. Delilah wins! FATALITY.

“Ah, Something like that.” Delilah answers Frady in a murmur, eyes roving between the others and Tom, returning his stare with a puzzled one of her own. Matthew is the one to voice her question, though, so all that follows is the raise of an eyebrow to her own son when he claims victory. Child, please.

If Howard has kids this age, surely he is used to chaos.

“Good news, Elaine and I have most of a plan. Bad news… well, it’s not bad, exactly,” a small bubble of laughter coats her words when she catches Tom’s gaze again, “but you guys are going to be playing house with us while we’re here.” Dee glances to Elaine for a sort-of-confirmation. “That sound right, mastermind?”

"That sounds lovely, maybe I'll get to travel…" Elaine trails off, the thought forgotten as her attention is fully drawn to both the sword fight and the impending death of Tom Porter. She manages a straight face through most of the action, but the shout of FATALITY gets a bubble of laughter from the redhead. She spends the next few moments trying to compose herself again, given she doesn't want to miss a second of Delilah's continued torture. When she does, she catches the other redheaded woman's gaze in her direction and she flashes a smile that's accompanied by a small flush of color in her face.

"You can't give me all the credit for this, Delilah," Elaine protests. "But we figured the best way for us to be able to stay close together so we can make sure nothing bad happens is for us to have a backstory that actually keeps us together. So, as Dee said, we're playing house. Tom's just dying back there because Delilah proposed to him."

She doesn't give a second look at Tom as she outs what it was that had him with such a deer-in-the-headlights look, but instead glances in Nowak's direction. "«I hope you won't mind being stuck with me," she says, the Polish coming like she were a natural speaker, "because we figured it would be a lot easier if I could teach you more English in the process of all of this.»"

Nowak sidles up to Elaine and raises his brows. “«There is so much more I would like you to teach me, but I suppose we can start at languages.»” He says with a broad smile.

Tom just stares at Nowak, one brow twitching. “Did you just hit on her?” He wheezes.

“We play house.” Nowak says with a smirk. “You should try it,” he says, making an ok-sign with his fingers. “Might mellow you out.”

Tom slouches back down onto the floor, for hope of melting through it and ceasing to exist.

“My mom’d be so proud.”

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