Cuba is Looking Better Every Day


skyler_icon.gif evan_icon.gif

Scene Title Cuba is Looking Better Every Day
Synopsis Skyler finally makes it to Evan's apartment and they talk. Mostly about Registration.
Date November 28 2010

Hamilton Heights Apartments: Evan's Apartment

The apartment used to be pretty spacious, but one room was repurposed as the floor's new equipment closet years ago, leaving the rest to form a U shape. The decorative styles have diverged as well - a blue tile bathroom at one end, a kitchenette best described as Early American Disco at the other. In between, most of the furniture is built from various colors of cheap blocky plastic, starkly at odds with the hardwood floor; the only exceptions are the couch (dark brown to hide stains), the coffee table (the shape and color of a giant cashew), and the bed in the bedroom (with a red striped afghan sprawled across it).

Stuffed into a single full-height bookcase is a dog-eared collection of textbooks, notebooks, science fiction paperbacks, and a collection of wooden boards and little concrete cubes occupying most of the second shelf from the top.

A pair of waist-height windows in the living room open onto flowerbeds, currently empty, coupled with black metal safety grids across their top halves.

Skyler hates a lot of things about martial law. Most of all, she hates the curfew. It used to be that being an American guaranteed you a few freedoms at least, and being able to go visit the guy you're kind of dating in the middle of the night used to be one of them. Bleah. "Cuba's looking better every day." she mutters. So it's morning on Sunday instead. She's freshly showered, dressed in clean clothes, and after the usual harassment in the subway about showing her registration card, she's here knocking on Evan's door.

Speaking of… the subway is one of the mixed blessings that Evan has had to avoid lately, still refusing on principle to put himself on the government's Evolved list. It's workable, but inconvenient on a good day, risky on a bad.

"Be there in a minute!" the familiar voice calls out. Shortly afterward, Evan opens the door and offers a smile, stepping out of the way. "Hey, c'mon in. Good timing— I was just working on breakfast." Which would explain the sound and smell of frying bacon coming from the back.

Skyler sniffs and smiles, baring those much-repaired but now nice, white, and clean looking teeth. "You're gonna make me regret that bowl of fruity-pebbles I had for breakfast even more than I already do, aren't you?" She follows Evan in willingly enough, and shrugs her coat off, folding it and laying it on Evan's sofa far, far less casually than she threw her laundry around in the old days. There's nothing like living close to the bone to make one appreciate the value of clothes that keep one warm. "How've you been?" she asks.

Evan makes a face. There's some cereal in the apartment as well, but it sticks to colors actually found in nature— with or without sugar. "Oh, there's been some ups and downs this week. Work's eased off a little, at least." It's the short version, he'll expand on it later once she's had a little more time to settle in. "What about you?"

You say, ‚"Working. Can't really talk about what I do, except that it's more or less legal and it pays well." Skyler flumphs on the sofa. Apparently her shift in values did not include the value of furniture. "It's nuts out there, you know? I mean … if it hadn't been for your warning, I'd probably have gotten detained at Suresh. I owe you, Evan. Big time."

More or less, huh? Well, that describes him too, come to think of it, so he doesn't attempt to pry. "The thing is, it's not exactly safe out here, either," he calls out, heading into the kitchen to turn the stove off. "I was down in Brooklyn the other day, missed curfew by a few minutes. Almost got busted, only someone else was bugging the cops more and they decided to just wave me through. And there are stories going around much worse than that."

Skyler sighs. "You know, if I wanted to take an evolved community and irritate them so much that they did begin armed insurrection, I'm not sure I could do a better job than the Government has done trying to protect us." She looks over to Evan. "By the way, does us include you? You never actually said."

The plate of bacon is set down, paper towels soaking up the excess grease, along with a couple mugs of black coffee. "I didn't? It does, yes. Which is the problem— I haven't got papers, and if I did… well, that could bite me in the ass just as badly, only from a different direction." Speaking of less legal: "Ran into someone yesterday who might be able to get that taken care of. She's checking into it, at least."

Skyler closes her eyes and puffs out her cheeks, exhaling slowly. "I can get you in the database." she says, simply. "It used to be that all you had to do after that was go in, tell them you lost your card, verify your identity, and they'd issue you a new card. I don't know if it still works that way with all the craziness. But no matter what, I can get you in the database. I owe you that much." Sky looks down at her hands, all lightness gone from the moment for her. The thought of doing that again has her hands shaking.

At the suggestion of tighter controls, Evan grimaces. "Good point… it'd be just my luck if they randomly picked me to get tested 'again' anyway, something like that. Let me check into it before you go to the trouble… but yeah, that'd be the ideal thing if it works." If they make it through the risks. He glances down— reaches forward, extending a hand toward hers. "Hey, is everything all right? They didn't have you stay up all night working or anything, did they?"

Skyler takes Evan's hand. He's so terribly casual about the whole thing. "Remember how I told you that not everything I used to do was legal?" She begins, slowly. "I um. I have to be more honest. Most of what I did was completely illegal. This was back before registration and all that. You know that line in The Matrix where Agent Smith says "It seems that you have been living two lives." She nods. "I was doing that. And the more I poked into it, the more I started seeing a pattern of weirdness happening. And the more I knew that if they knew I knew, I'd probably die. I didn't know what I was seeing, what the pattern was, or anything. I didn't know I wasn't the only Evolved in the world, or even the only technopath. That was what ultimately … was too much. I couldn't sleep. I had a meltdown, and disappeared. And the only, the only illegal hack I've done since then was a registration database hack.

As he listens to the story, Evan gives Skyler's hand a reassuring squeeze. "Hey, no, I didn't— I thought that 'more or less legal' was more of a euphemism than it was. I don't know what you saw" - he only knows so much about computers himself, but assumes that she really did see something important - "but… just because you feel you owe me, doesn't mean you should give yourself the shakes over it, okay? At least wait a while, maybe the other angle will pan out on its own."

Skyler shakes her head. "What I saw was that there were other Evolved out there. I didn't understand it at the time. Or I wouldn't believe it. I don't know now. But there were. Obviously. And the great conspiracy to cover that fact up and exploit us. I didn't get far enough to know any names, or Heaven forbid to know that one of us would walk into Times Square and nuke the place. But I saw the pattern of it. I saw the data go by. I got a little peek at the Matrix, you might say, and I ran like hell rather than really see how far the rabbit hole went. I don't know what I would have found out if I stayed. Maybe I could have stopped some part of all this. But I'm not running this time. Talk to your other angle and see if they can handle the paperwork side if there's already a database entry for you. And then tell me what power you'd like to have on file." She squeezes the hand tight. "This is something I have to do. Something I have to face."

Evan inclines his head. "All right, if you're sure. That'll probably make things easier for—" Then he pauses, belatedly realizing part of what she meant. "What power I'd like to have? I don't want the file saying I have any power, that's the point… I figure I'd probably be on the bottom tier anyway, but the way things are going, that's not going to matter after a while. Hell, you should go in and alter your own records too, if you haven't already."

Skyler looks up at Evan. "If they do a gene scan on you, they'll know you're Evolved, and that your database record is forged. If they do one on you with your registration card in hand, they have no idea what your power is, or how strong it is. Just that you have one. I'll register you however you want, but I think going with an unpowered registration's a mistake. What is it you really do?" Sky looks up at Evan and takes his hand with her other hand. Both her hands are still shaky. This. Is much harder to even think about than she expected. All the years, a whole week's therapy at Suresh (gasp, a whole week) and she's grimly fighting down the feeling that it's all starting to spiral out of control again.

"That depends whether they would do a gene scan. Not like I'm planning to break the law." Well, any other law. "Still, you've got a point there… something else I'll have to check into." Evan shrugs, filing it away to be researched later. "I can see things… weak points. Like that wall over there, you could punch a hole right through it if you hit it next to the fridge— that's why the cutting board is propped up there."

Skyler thinks about that. Considers it carefully. "I think I'd tell them you have enhanced mathematical comprehension. You can probably do enough high math in your head anyway to convince them of that. I think letting them know that you see the best places to attack a given thing would be an incredibly bad idea. It makes you far more dangerous than you might think. Being a human calculator isn't anywhere near as threatening." Sky looks up at Evan and sighs. "And here you thought the worst I'd ever done was statutory rape, didn't you?"

"I don't remember anyone complaining about that," he replies, dryly. The humorous tone evaporates as quickly as it materialized, though. "You're right, though, it sounds like a nice big threat when you put it that way. Especially considering it works on people, too… I don't know which one's the bigger risk, honestly. Have to figure that out."

Skyler quirks her lips into a slight smile. "I certainly didn't." She looks down at her hands and Evan's. "No regrets about that, at least. Sorry I turned out to be such a fucking head case." Sky sighs again. "I mean, I was thinking, if you're still single … but … at this point, it's like don't stick it in the crazy, you know?"

Always with the class. "I haven't been seeing anyone regularly for a couple months," Evan says, "she decided our schedules weren't working out very well, so she'd throw in with someone else." Not exactly bitter, just annoyed. No doubt, from her point of view, he wasn't paying her enough attention.

Then there was the one he was asking about the fake paperwork yesterday— but he carefully avoids elaborating on that one. It was hardly a regular thing, in any case.

Skyler nods to all that, and wishes she could feel the elation she should feel, would feel if the conversation hadn't gone where it has. Likewise the rather lascivious ideas she was entertaining when she came here. She is, she reminds herself over and over again, different than she was before. The circumstances are different. She stands up and gently pulls at Evan's hand, to draw him close to her if he'll let her. What's her idea now? She doesn't have any idea. But he's not a stranger. And Skyler doesn't want to be alone today.

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