Counting Blue Cars


ff_des2_icon.gif ff_else_icon.gif

Scene Title Counting Blue Cars
Synopsis Tell me all your thoughts on God
'Cause I'd really like to meet her
And ask her are we very far
Date July 4, 2021

It’s come time to rest, and Destiny can’t get out of the Wildcat quickly enough today. The first leg of the trip had been fine; she’s used to being in close quarters with people, and for months on end. That part at least wasn’t the issue. No, she’s just eager to spend time with a friend, and getting to the bus before the doors open so she can claim her first is top priority. She can already see Robyn Quinn making her way in that direction.

“Else!” Des chimes cheerfully as the other blonde disembarks. “Come walk with me?” She has a canvas bag hanging off her shoulder. It’s not terribly full, given the drape of it, but there is something in the bottom that causes it to bow just slightly.

Else doesn’t respond, she’s busy with another conversation consisting of her and the air.

Rest Area Westbound · I-76


July 4th
6:25 pm

“…but when?” Else whispers to the air, eyes unfocused and arms wrapped around herself, walking right past Destiny as if she weren’t even there. Glory shoulders her way off the bus next, offering a quick glance and an up-nod to Destiny, duffel bag slung over her shoulder as she moves to get some space from other people.

Else keeps walking, though her pace is languid and slow. Not quite like sleepwalking, but similar enough to evoke a reactionary comparison.

Although she’s just been breezed past by the person she’s trying to talk with, Destiny still has a cheerful wave for Glory when she provides her own, far more subdued silent hello. Once that’s out of the way, she pivots and falls into step alongside Else. The ground is solid and on dry land, so she’s less concerned about her friend’s ambling. It’s not like she’s going to fall overboard or step off a dock.

Rather than interrupt her with a second attempt at a greeting, she lets out a thoughtful hum that lilts upward to sound like a question. When what?

Else meanders away from the bus, eyes glassy and white. “That’s very soon,” she says in a hushed voice to herself, frowning. “And I don’t much like birds, thank you, so I’ll just stay inside.” Her words have a somewhat lyrical quality to them, as if singing, but also speaking. Hushed, breathy.

“But that’s the tick of the clock,” Else whispers, “tick-tock, that’s the way of the walk, tick-tock, to the corner of the block, tick-tock, to find auntie’s bones.” Her brows furrow, eyes narrow, as if searching for something.

Destiny lets her pace slow, finding herself stepping quieter, listening as intently as she can. This is one of Else’s visions. Tick-tock makes the temporal manipulator’s breath catch. In so many ways, she’s attuned to the concept of time and aware of the fleeting nature of it, the way it slips between her fingers if she tries to hold too long. It runs out so easily. It’s why they’re on this journey at all, isn’t it? There’s something out there in Alaska that they need, and so little time that they couldn’t wait for storm season to pass.

In an unintentional mimicry of the other blonde, Des’ own brows knit together. It’s with more intent that she also starts sweeping her gaze back and forth for anything of interest. Bones? Whose bones? While time has many applications but a fairly limited meaning, bones can have a far more metaphorical application.

“One way out, two roads pass,” Else lilts in a sing-song voice, “we could take the offramp back to the cities and streets we call home, or ramble on down that winding road. Drive us out to the desert, drive us out to never, let us soak up the sun in the tomorrows yet begun.” She sways as she walks, freestyling a song, blind eyes vacantly focused ahead.

“Circles within circles, when you keep the pen to the page, start to look like scribbles. None of us know how to act our age, but if we try hard enough we can see our potential, and stop our scribbling. Maybe then we’ll make art out of nothing.” Else whisper-sings, head drifting from side to side, one hand pantomiming key-strokes in the air. “Circles within circles, when you keep the pen to the page, start to look like scribbles. None of us know how to act our age, but if we look down from above at all that we have done, maybe one day we can start to see, where the scribbles have all begun…”

Else stops in her tracks, white clearing from her eyes like fog. “Thirsty,” she says to herself, unaware that Des is right behind her.

“You need to drink more water.” It’s an echo of words Else spoke to her months ago when she was trying to remember too many things that weren’t hers to remember. Destiny’s reaching into her bag to pull out what she’s brought along; a glass bottle full of water, the cork stopper attached to it with a metal ring and a hinge. She pops it open before handing it over to her songstress friend.

None of us know how to act our age sticks out to Des again, feeling quietly called out for her secret, even if the chance that those words are about her at all is slim. “You doing okay?” she asks in a tone that she hopes sounds more conversational than deeply concerned. “It’s almost strange to be traveling without you near enough to chat with,” she admits.

Else glances over at Des, smiling blithely as she reaches out to take the offered bottle. “Many thanks, ain’t been this thirsty since we were on tour in Rhode Island.” She says in a moment of self-aware lucidity, popping the cap to chug down a few swallows before pushing the cork back in. “We didn’t have roadies then either.” She admits, indicating that—perhaps—she doesn’t see Destiny as one. Destiny is a member of the band.

“You always follow lost girls around with bottles of water?” Else wonders as she passes it back.

Being seen as more than just a hanger-on is heartening to Des and it shows in her smile. “No,” she giggles softly, making sure the cork is pushed back into place tightly before tucking the bottle back into her bag. “I had wanted to catch up with you, and we’ve been on the road a while, so I thought…” She shrugs. “Well, talking’s thirsty work, right?”

Des’ brows lift, curious. “So’s singing.” Nudging her friend’s arm gently with her elbow, her smile is a softer thing now. “Do you, ah… remember what you were saying?”

Else stares at Destiny, maybe through Destiny, then shakes her head. “Nope. Was I?” She huffs out a short laugh. “Probably weren’t nothin’ worth listening to. Y’know me, just sayin’ whatever rubbish pops in my head.” She flashes a toothy smile and takes a few steps back, folding her hands behind her head and starting to walk in a totally different direction than she was when she was singing.

While the little blonde doesn’t believe for a moment that there is a single thing Else says when she loses her sight, but finds her vision that isn’t worth listening to, she says nothing.

“So, you lookin’ forward to a life of Big Fishin’?” Else asks, throwing her arms to the side. “That’s what they do up in Alaska, yeah? Get out on the ice and fish for them big fish. Or is it in a boat like back at the Pelago?” She wrinkles her nose. “Lotta low-tide perfume in your future.”

Destiny pivots to follow Else, even though she stares for a long moment in the direction they were originally headed. If she has any misgivings about it, she keeps it to herself and looks just as chipper as ever when she breaks off her staring match with the unknown.

“I suppose I’ll have to learn. Don’t know if they have much for salvage up there, right?” Her smile fades as a reality she’s been ignoring keeps creeping back on her. “I suppose I’ll have to find a way to save up for a new boat, since I’ve… The Featherweight, y’know…”

It had been hard letting go of that ship. Harder than she had expected it to be at the time, but just as hard as it should have been, she knows now. It was a testament to the happy life she’d once made with James Woods, and Carina Harrison.

The thought brings her around again to her original reason for wanting to speak to Else in the first place. “Do you remember when we first met? You an’ Edward, and me?”

“Oh yeah sure,” Else says with a lopsided smile. “We were on that big boat,” she says with a sway of her arms to one side, “lots of yelling, confusion, chaos.” Her brown eyes alight to the sky. “Then you came bursting out from under the deck, cradling that thing in your arms, caterwauling over the sound of clashing swords, arms up over your head shouting, I’ve got a jar of dirt! I’ve got a jar of dirt!

Else spins on one heel, arms up in the air, gesticulating wildly. “Right?”

There’s a long moment where Des just stares, having stopped walking, her head tipping to one side.


No. That’s a Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

Else stares flatly at Odessa, brows furrowed and lips pursed to the side. “Wassat the time when we were gathered for that uh,” she twirls a finger around in the air, “Christmas party ‘fore the Flood? Your ex-husband was flyin’ into town when our whole place got held up by some European—” Else looks down. “No that was Die Hard,” she says quietly.

“I gotta say,” Else looks back up to Destiny with a mild smile, “the old thinker ain’t what she used to be since we spent all that time in the Ark. I might’ve watched a little too much television, listened to the radio so much it rotted my brain.” She smiles toothily, as if it were a joke and not the tragic truth. “Gimme a jump start?”

“Yeah.” Destiny puts on a lopsided grin, stuffing down the guilt that she wasn’t able to keep Else safe. It fades and she looks away uncomfortably. If it weren’t for Else, she wouldn’t have made it out of the Ark. The first time, anyway.

It’s just as much for her as it is for her friend when she reaches out to rest a hand on Else’s bicep and rubs up and down firmly. “We were at the Pelago. You and Edward came up to me of all people and asked for a charter to find Boston of all places.” While cheer seems to break through the clouds, it only obfuscates her worry and it’s a well-practiced bit of subterfuge of hers. “I was just a kid. Why’d ya pick me out of all people?”

“Huh,” Else says, placing a finger to her chin. “Ain’t sure, might been some bad rat-tat-tooie I had down at Jennie’s. Street food’s only good when there’s streets, right?” She grins cheerfully. “But if it wasn’t that, then I’m pretty sure it was somebody else’s idea. Can’t remember for the life’f me now.” She tilts her head to the side and looks inquisitively at Destiny.

“All’a that was a lifetime ago, D,” Else says with a smile, “why you curious about it now?” She takes a step closer. “Are you writin’ your memoirs?” She asks, eyes wide and brows rising.

“Something like that.” There’s a twisting in her guts. Destiny pulls in a breath and squares her shoulders. “See, the thing is, Eddie says it was all your idea.” Nervousness has her bouncing in place, and once she realizes, it stops. “And it was all just such a whirlwind and…”

Maybe she’s trying to make sense of it all, for all that it matters anymore. “You’re a precognitive, Else.” Are, present tense. She’s just seen it. “Edward said he followed your lead and…” There’s an anger that comes from not knowing. She isn’t sure if it’s something that’s wholly her own, or if it’s conflated by the anger the other versions of herself carry on that same subject. “Why was it me?” She feels lied to. “Why did the muse lead you to me?”

It matters because there’s a hollow note that rings in her chest when she thinks too hard about the way she fucked over her whole life to chase ghosts with a pair of strangers for the low, low price of a jar of seeds. The knowledge that there is an entire garden she never even got to see.

A promise made and not yet fulfilled.

Else gives Destiny a long, thoughtful look, then averts her eyes to her feet. Her brows come together, lips purse, and she taps her index finger on her chin while in this deeply contemplative pose. After a moment it looks like there’s some measure of recognition, and Else gasps softly and claps her hands together.

I remember when we first met!” Else is still hung up on that. “It was the time with the cowardly lion and the scarecrow and the tin woodsman, yeah?” She scrunches her nose up with a flutter of laughter, then forcibly hooks one arm around Destiny’s. “You wanna do the dance? With the song and the skipping?” She smiles, deliriously.

There’s a flutter of anxiety and a feeling of dread that comes over Destiny for a moment, with no idea why. “That was my favorite movie,” she admits, shoving the wave of nausea down. Determining if Else’s madness is an act or not seems impossible, so she forces herself away from the field of poppies and down the yellow brick road. Warmer thoughts come with memories that used to keep her company in the lonely nights in the Ark. “I think I still remember how to do it.” The dance. “I used to make Mateo do it with me,” she laughs, and it hurts. “I don’t know how we managed it. He was so much taller than me.”

Being friends has always been enough before. Shouldn’t it be now? Destiny hasn’t remained devoted to the seer only out of her sense of guilt; she genuinely likes her, even if that friendship feels like it destroyed her life sometimes. She leans in to ask a playful question.

“Are you a good witch or a bad witch?”

“I think we’re all a bit naughty sometimes, right? ‘Sides, a little bad can be fun!” Else says before bounding forward a step, waiting for Destiny to catch up, and then finding a steady rhythm of skip, hop, skip, hop. “I don’t remember the lyrics! The wonderful lyrics of song! Because, because, because, because, because of what the Looking Glass does!” She chirps to the precise tune of the song, followed by missing a beat of the skipping, stumbling a little, and snorting with uproarious laughter.

Else pays at Destiny’s side, one hand covering her face as she laughs. And laughs. And laughs. Laughs until she is basically breathless, looking up at Destiny with tears in her eyes and an expression that is momentarily abject horror and confusion. The expression lasts only a moment, and then flattens again. Her lips twitch with a flutter of leftover laughter.

“I’m just funnin’,” Else says softly, still breathless. “I took Ed to you because that’s what one of my songs said to do. If you interpreted the lyrics right, y’know?” She smiles, wearily. “He came t’me because he knew me. ‘Cause he knew what I could do. So I took him where he wanted t’go. That easy.”

The missed step causes Destiny to stumble forward too, her arm dropping from their link as she windmills out to catch herself. She was already starting to cry before horror of her own crept inside of her, the guilt resurging and sickening and, “Oh, gosh. Else,” she whispers. That look up from that fit of hysteria has her reaching out with the intent of providing a steady, grounding presence.

She pulls back like she’s just tapped a hot stove. Which part is the joke? That she didn’t remember, or how scared she looked just then? It doesn’t matter, the end result is the same. “That’s fucked up, Else.” One of those very rare curses from the small blonde, and the strongest one she ever manages to muster at that.

Destiny paws the wet tracks from her face, mouth pulled into an angry pout while she gets herself back to something like an emotional center. She sniffs hard, pushing thoughts of the older brother lost to her out of her mind entirely to give her focus back to this. “So, he came to you because he was looking for the Ark, and you… What? Wrote a song on the spot or looked in one of your lyric books? And that led you to believe I was the right choice?”

Else’s expression screws up a little and she straightens her sweater. “Wasn’t on the spot, already had that one written. Book it was in went down with the rest of the fish tank,” she says with a squint of one eye and a tilt of her head to the side. “But I mean it was something like… like…” Her brown eyes move from side to side, trying to remember the verses. But, like always, they slip through her fingers. “M’sorry, s’why I used t’write this stuff down. Can’t remember nothing when they come.”

Else smiles apologetically. “Maybe Ed does? He’s got a mind like a steel trap. But I tell ya, he was convinced when he read it. Flipped through the whole book, took him all damn night it did. But it was what he needed, and I was glad to be helpful.”

Destiny crushes herself against Else in a tight hug without warning. “I’m sorry I couldn’t stop what happened to you. I’m sorry I wasn’t strong enough to save you from all that.” Just like she’s sorry she couldn’t keep Edward from being shot. “I’m sorry it hurt you.” She’s sorry she’s so angry about being the pawn in some prophecy.

“Do you ever feel like the universe is just kicking you around?” Des can’t imagine that she, of all people, doesn’t feel this way at least sometimes.

“Not anymore.” Else says with a somewhat vacant expression that slowly shifts into a smile. She gently rests a hand on Destiny’s arm, then lets it fall away. “It’s alright, bad things happen all the time to people who don’t deserve it. Why should I be any different?”

Trying to look reassuring, Else smiles again, but it’s clear she doesn’t fully grasp what’s troubling Destiny. “Life’s hard, y’know? Sure, it’s gonna hurt… but I like t’think it’ll all work out in the end.” Her smile grows a little. “Promise.”

Else wrinkles her nose. “We all get what we want.”

It’s Else who’s fixed with a distant stare this time. It sees her, into her, through her, all at once.

"Did you see that?" Des asks, assuming that's how these things work. Else nods once, tapping Des gently on the nose.

"I've seen it all," Else says in a whisper, letting her hands come down to fold in her lap much as Des' have. "Can you keep a secret?" She asks, looking from her hands back to the younger woman.

Destiny, at first, seems reluctant. But Else may be the only friend she truly has here. She nods, wearily, and looks up at the seer with wide eyes. Else smiles, reaching out to take one of Destiny's hands in hers and leans in closer, to emphasize the confidence.

"It's going to hurt, but it will all work out in the end," Else whispers, eyes closed. "But I promise you…"

Her eyes flutter open, irises merely rings of burning gold.

"We all get what we want."

Destiny bobs her head up and down in a series of shallow nods, bringing her perturbed and wary gaze back to properly focus on Else’s face, looking into her eyes. “D’ya believe all that stuff Don said?” she asks in a quiet voice. “You came back real religious.” She chuckles, a nervous and breathy sound, her focus shifting down and off to one side. “You taught me how to pray. I’m bad at it, but when I did it… That’s when Mateo showed up.” She’s not foolish enough to believe she made that happen with prayers at a memorial board, but the timing was all the same incredible.

Else wrinkles her nose, brows pinched together. “Sorta’,” she says thoughtfully. “But sorta’ only counts when you’re throwin’ a grenade. So, I guess that doesn’t make me real anything.” Dark eyes cast over to the other end of the parking lot where Glory was sitting, only now she’s rising up, walking away from Eve.

“I believe that we,” Else says, taking a step closer to Destiny, pressing a finger at the center of her chest, “are important. An’ I don’t mean just me and you, I mean all of us. And that’s what my faith’s in. It was easier to feel it when I’d just been unplugged from that radio.” She admits, eyes averting to her sneakers, hidden behind the dark fringe of her lashes. “But the vibe is still there, in here.” She adds, tapping the center of her own chest.

“It’s like them really religious people used t’say.” Else takes a step back, spreading her arms, “God exists in all of us.” Her brows furrow together and she blinks up a look at Destiny. “‘Cept I think that’s in the literal. I heard half more than what I ever talked about from the radio, Des, and I liked less than half of it nearly as much.” Her smile returns, but it’s bittersweet. “But I do, genuinely, think that if we ain’t shits to one another?” She glances back to where Glory and Eve were. “That if we learn to cooperate, an’ work together, harmony an’ all that?” Then glances back to Destiny. “We really can get what we want.”

Destiny nods again, slower this time. She presses her lips together and follows Else’s gaze, watching the interaction between Glory and Eve for a moment before coming back to her. Her eyes get glassy, genuinely overwhelmed with a sense of hope about what her friend says about faith and the power of people simply being good to each other.

“I sat and listened for hours.” Des swallows uneasily. “Nothing like what you were put through, but I listened and I waited and I heard things. I heard myself, and Tete, and… I heard a voice whisper to me.” The look in her eyes is a knowing one; she doesn’t need Else to confirm that she heard it too. She reaches out a hand, grasping one of Else’s like she’s trying to emphatically siphon some of her optimism to supplement her own. It isn’t like her to be given to this much upset. Not outwardly, anyway.

“D’ya think She can do it?” Des whispers her question. It’s like her the cage of her ribs has burst open and her heart is laid bare, vulnerable. “D’ya think She can bring ‘em back?” Her ice blue eyes dance between Else’s warmer honey brown. “M’mom and dad? Jimmy? Mateo? Eve?” The grip of her hand tightens.

Else purses her lips, shaking her head as she looks down at the ground. “Dunno,” she says thoughtfully, lips twisting to the side, “asked me a year ago I’d have given you a year’s different answer. But now?” She looks up. “I don’t think it’s so much that She can…” Then taps Destiny on the tip of her nose. “But that we can.”

We can?” Her nose wrinkles reflexively at the tap, but it’s an affectionate sort of thing more than anything else. “I feel like if I had the power to bring them back, I’d have done it by now,” she quips with a bit of her humor returning to her.

Else throws her hands to the side. “Then get that power baby!” She hoots, backpedaling in the direction of Speedwagon. “I’m gonna go get some food. Don’t forget to eat, Saint Destiny!

Destiny keeps hold of that hand, keeping her there just a moment longer. “Else?” She pauses long enough to breathe and finally smiles. “Thanks.” Reluctantly, she lets her grip ease, her fingers sliding slowly along Else’s palm as they drift apart. It helps to have a friend who’s probably seen her at her weakest, and isn’t trying to protect her from everything. “Thanks for the pep talk, and being here for me.”

Even if she’s been left with even more questions than answers.

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