Dear Sister


deckard_icon.gif leah_icon.gif maria_icon.gif

Scene Title Dear Sister
Synopsis There's another Deckard in town. The pair of them meet in Midtown to exchange drugs, guns, cash, tough love and secrets. Leah's hand ceases to exist somewhere in the course of this. Flint freaks out a little. That is not one of the things hands are supposed to do. Before they can get too far into puzzling the whole ordeal out, Maria does a fly by to check out the damage and nearly gets some holes punched in herself over it. DARN KIDS.
Date December 29, 2008

Ruins of Midtown

Standing in the ruins of Midtown, it's hard to believe New York is still a living city.

There's life enough around the fringes — the stubborn, who refused to rebuild somewhere else; the hopeful, who believe the radiation is gone, or that they somehow won't be affected. Businesses, apartment complexes, taxis and bicycles and subways going to and fro — life goes on. Perhaps more quietly than in other parts of the city, shadowed by the reminder that even a city can die, but it does go on.

Then there is the waste. The empty core for which the living city is only a distant memory. Though a few major thoroughfares wind through the ruins, arteries linking the surviving halves, and the forms of some truly desperate souls can occasionally be glimpsed skulking in the shadows, the loudest noise here is of the wind whistling through the mangled remnants of buildings. Twisted cords of rebar reach out from shattered concrete; piles of masonry and warped metal huddle on the ground, broken and forlorn. Short stretches of road peek out from under rubble and dust only to disappear again shortly afterwards, dotted with the mangled and contorted forms of rusting cars, their windows long since shattered into glittering dust.

There are no bodies — not even pieces, not anymore. Just the bits and pieces of destroyed lives: ragged streamers fluttering from the handlebar which juts out of a pile of debris; a flowerbox turned on its side, coated by brick dust, dry sticks still clinging to the packed dirt inside; a lawn chair, its aluminum frame twisted but still recognizable, leaning against a flight of stairs climbing to nowhere.

At the center of this broken wasteland lies nothing at all. A hollow scooped out of the earth, just over half a mile across, coated in a thick layer of dust and ash. Nothing lives here. Not a bird; not a plant. Nothing stands here. Not one concrete block atop another. There is only a scar in the earth, cauterized by atomic fire. This is Death's ground.

Thick steam furls white from an isolated vent in a world comprised wholly of shades of grey, queer in its purity over ashen snow and black ice. Buildings, for the most part, remain standing, with only the occasional exposed girder or snarl of rebar to hint at the scale of destruction deeper in Midtown. Things are not as bad as they could be. Even so, the stillness of death lingers distinctly in open doorways and the occasional shattered window. No one lives here. No one would want to.

Not even Deckard. The cigarette jutting from the corner of his mouth is unlit. Too much wind. Gloved hands tucked deep into the pockets of his black overcoat, he stands in the shadow of an old liquor store — once full, now empty. He's clean shaven, cold, and tense with creeping paranoia, none of which are states that suit him very well. He's also wearing a pair of sunglasses that are wholly unnecessary. The sun is no longer visible over the snaggletooth jut of ruined skyscrapers that blot out the horizon.

The crunch and crackle of a booted tread heralds the arrival of a lone figure to crack open Deckard's solitude in the eerie quiet of the grey dusk. Her gaze is canted down, marking her path over treacherous ground. Whenever it flicks up, it takes in much; a quick sweep of bright eyes across the frigid landscape, and then down again, as she picks a delicate path through the shadow of death. Her gloved hands are twisted together in a clasp for more warmth, over the crisp beige of the long coat she wears.

With a hop and a skip, she reaches the patch of black ice and sidewalk before the derelict liquor store, and pauses, drawing a breath of chill are past slightly flared nostrils. The glance she slants over the other lonely figure in the darkening evening is sidelong, measuring. While the wind tears at the dark waves of her hair, Leah shakes her head slightly. At a slight delay, she tells Deckard, "You look like a goddamn zombie."

"Nice to see you too." Voice roughed by the cold and muffled by the cigarette, Deckard tries his lighter one more time (to no avail) and flicks the dud stick irritably off into the slush. "I was almost killed again. By a pizza boy." This may be a request for slack to be cut in disguise, or just a complaint. It's hard to tell, as he isn't enunciating very well and the wind is howling and golly it's getting dark out here really, really quickly.

A roll of his shoulder slackens the stiff drape of a shotgun behind it, shrugging it down to where he can plant the stock comfortably against the concrete against the base of his boot. "How was your day?"

Wrapping the long fall of her coat a little more tightly about herself, Leah lets her brows sweep up as she gives him a moment's frank study. She folds her arms beneath her chest and blows a puff of air past her lips. "Sucked," she says, blithe in her dismissal. The shotgun earns only the slightest quirk of her eyebrow. "You all right?" It is brusque, for sisterly concern, but the intensity in her gaze suggests, at least, sincerity.

"I'm fine. Some stuff with jumping off a building with a flying kid." He tries to force a smile, can't, and exhales exasperation at the state of his life instead. Flying kids and jumping off buildings. Somehow it doesn't actually manage to be funny just yet. Despite the fact that it probably should be.

Maybe in another week.

"Got anything on you?" Familiar question, hopefully with a familiar answer. Deckard certainly assumes so, because he's already reaching deeper into his pocket after his wallet when he asks.

"Man," Leah reproves in a low voice, gaze narrowing on him. "Jumping off buildings? That doesn't sound like an attempt by someone /else/ to kill you." She flips open a few buttons of her coat to slide one of her black-gloved hands beneath the beige wool. "I think you want to give me ulcers," she says, fingers tucked into her inside pocket.

There is an odd velcroey sound, suggesting distinction and class.

"My options were limited." True facts. Ones that he can't be bothered to be particularly defensive about, least of all to Leah. Mouth thin and sunglasses bleak against the press of dusk around them, he thumbs out a thin collection of bills, double checks the amount, and folds them up into the line of his mouth to wait while he stuffs his wallet back down into place.

They're retrieved again, dry because his mouth is dry, and offered out without concern for who might be watching. The odds are pretty good that the answer is no one, and the only looming skeletons he can see from behind the screen of his glasses are the ones of the buildings hunched over the street. "I don't know how often I'll be able to do this kind of thing. Especially if you get connected and people find out who you are."

Running the tip of her tongue along her teeth as she folds a little plastic baggie into his hand in exchange for the the bills, Leah lifts her head, the tip of her chin coupled with a newly alert look. The brush of her hand against his is warm, although in context the gesture is not that affectionate. What with one thing or another.

The twist of her smile is warmer, crooked and matched with a glint in her blue-grey eyes, beneath the arch lift of her eyebrows. "Looking out for me, huh?" She glances over her shoulder and around, checking for anyone who might leap out behind some rubble and shout 'boo' at them. Tone dry and a little tart, she tells him, "You won't get rid of me no matter who knows who I am."

The baggy is taken without fanfare. No shaking, sniffing, or squinting at the contents before he tucks it into the interior of his overcoat, alongside…yeah. Another gun. It's almost like he trusts her or something.

How sweet.

His hand is cold against hers, bony as ever and not inclined to linger against the contact while clear plastic and more suspect marijuana flag in the wind between them. "I could just be looking out for you. I'll admit it's unlikely, but not impossible."

The lapel of his coat is tugged down, and he traces over the same span of broken concrete and cold that she just did. Still nothing. "It's just, you know. If at all possible I'd like to save myself the guilt of having you murdered in my name and strewn around Midtown in pieces for the rats to clean up."

"I am actually capable of taking care of myself." Leah's tone is bland, as she tucks away the money and restores her buttons with a few flicks of her fingers. "At least a little." She frowns past him, and then at him directly, with a tip of her chin to aid in compensating the gap in their heights. The wind pushes at her hair, sending a hank of it blowing over her face. She shakes it away with an expression of minor irritation and also, cold. "Not to say that I'd be that much better off than you if I got in shit up to my neck." She stuffs her hands into the deep pockets of her coat, warm beige swallowing the soft black of her gloves.

"Or," her scowl darkens her brow as she eyes him, "over my head."

"You made it this far without getting raped or pillaged." If that's an agreement, it's an unenthusiastic one, and the looking over Deckard gives her is almost as if to confirm she's even managed that much. "Make some friends. You'll need them, and mine probably won't like you on account of the fact that you're…you." Lame finish, accompanied by a skeptical pull at the corner of his mouth when he hefts the shotgun back up onto his shoulder.

"I've been in over my head since I got here. You probably are by Deckard Default. Welcome to New York."

Considering this, Leah's smile skews when he identifies her as ~herself~. Hunching her shoulders in a slight shrug, she squints off into the middle distance. "Thanks a lot," she says lowly, mirth unlaughed darkening her voice. She lifts a hand to scrub one gloved thumb along her temple, near her eye. "Make some friends, huh?" She gives his shotgun a long, considering look.

With a cock of her eyebrow, Leah intones, "I think I'm going to need a bigger gun."

"A bigger gun?" Deckard feigns surprise, nose wrinkled and mouth slightly open while the shotgun strap is thumbed back down to his elbow. The movement sweeps into a swing and a snap that ends with the barrel in his grip and the stock pointed bluntly back at her. "Gosh, and I just happen to have this one all polished up and loaded and everything."

"Amazing!" Leah says, widening her eyes as she looks up the stock of the shotgun at him Her heels scrape against the concrete with a slight widening of her stance as she settles her weight back upon them, going back to her buttons again one-handed. "I feel much more welcome here now that you've brought me a new buddy. How much?"

"Four hundred in cash," says Deckard, fingers still wrapped stiff around the base of the barrel, "…or a favor." His head tilts a little there, flattened hair, black glasses, and smooth jaw giving him a far slicker businessman's air than she's probably used to. It is potentially disconcerting.

He releases the weight of the gun to her at the same time. It's hefty, but far from unmanageable. "Safety's on."

The look Leah answers him with is canny, as she presses her lips together in a thin grimace. "Mm." First hefting the weapon in her hands, getting a sense of its weight, she then lowers it, angling its muzzle at a diagonal toward the ground against the brace of her arm. "You got something in mind?" Her voice has sharpened, suggesting a bite: "Or you just planning on calling one in when you feel like it?"

"I would name one now, but I'm all worn out from plummeting to my near death yesterday." Cynicism twists through the fork of his tongue without apology, directly contradicting a sorry lift of his now empty right hand. "I'm sure I'll eventually think of something."

"I'd offer to beat the kid down for you," Leah tells him gravely, with a slight inclination of her head, "but I can't fly." She holds out her own right hand — away from the gun, its weight balanced mostly between her left and her hip — apparently for a handshake. "An unspecified favor it is. Keep it under your hat, though, jeez."

"You'll have to take my word for it when I say it's not all it's cracked up to be." Especially when you do more falling than legitimate flying. The inclination of her head is matched and Deckard takes a snow-crunching step out of the liquor shop doorway to take her hand in his, appropriately skeletal and cold for his personal affairs and the weather.

His handshake never changes. A single pump, brief without being curt and firm without being competitive. Salesman shake. Even his sister gets it. Unfortunately, rather than release her immediately afterward (as is customary) he drags her over into the loop of his arm so that he can squeeze her against his side, willing or not. HUG TIME.

It's a cruel trick.

"Ack!" Leah squawks protest, not entirely dignified in the startled flail of her arm.

The gun slides down, its muzzle nosed against the concrete beneath, possession of it left to the brace of her left hand.

But nobody is watching, and it has been awhile since she has actually seen him. So, at a delay, grudgingly, she hugs him back with the drape and squeeze of an arm around his middle. Even though she scowls about it, and squirms to get away after a moment so that she can punch him in the shoulder. Nicely.

"God," she puffs into the whip of the wind, rolling her eyes as further evidence of bristle at this undignified treatment. "So what the hell is with the Blues Brothers impression, asshole?"

The wiry muscles in Deckard's forearm string taut, holding her firmly in place until she concedes to hug back. Apparently satisfied with her minimal, scowling effort, head held high into the wind for his noble effort towards the concept of "family," he releases her with a flat line of a smile. At the punch, the release becomes more of a shove. More bluntly playful than it is intended to put her on her ass.

"I've been reading these books about vampires lately. Pretty good stuff. I'm thinking about switching religions."

Leah catches her balance despite the potential treachery of ice, not falling prey to his shove — only to hit her forehead with the heel of her hand at what he has to say. "If you join some weird blood cult please do not tell me about it."

"Are you sure? I could probably get you a sweet deal on some pig's blood if the human stuff is too gnarly for you starting out." Brows lifted innocently over dark shades, the lines that etch out across Deckard's forehead are anything but.

"Pretty disgusting," Leah judges, as though contemplatively. She curls her fingers against her chin, her momentary pose Rodinesque save for the skyward roll of her eyes, and then rocks forward onto the balls of her feet, taking a swipe at his glasses.

Her thoughtful regard on the subject of pig's blood is cause for suspicion. The lines across Deckard's forehead are joined by a few deeper ones around his jaw when his chin dips down and — hand in the face, hand in the face. No slacker in the department of reflexes, he flinches from the movement and squeezes his eyes shut, head turned down as if from a slap. For an instant — a millisecond, there might have been something. Too bright, too blue.

Whatever it was, it's gone when he opens his eyes again. Flat annoyance reigns in its place.

Leah puts the stolen sunglasses on her face, and grins up at him through the dark glass.

"You look like a man," grates Deckard after a few seconds have passed in this arrangement. Her in the glasses, him squinting in darkness he is now painfully aware of.

Taking the sunglasses off again, Leah eyes them critically. "You know, I'm pretty sure not," she says, holding them out to him between thumb and forefinger attached to one of their arms. "But I can see how you'd make that mistake, since you're /blind/ from wearing sunglasses at night."

Still annoyed despite his every effort going into keeping the tell-tale creases around his mouth from cementing into place, Deckard reaches to take the offered glasses. And, after a few seconds spent examining them to make sure her girl cooties didn't drag any screws loose or anything, he puts them back on. "Blind, but stylish."

"Stylish." Leah folds her hands loosely over the stock of the gun, and looks up at her brother again with a deepening frown creasing her forehead, twisting her mouth. "Look," she says after a moment, but at what is not immediately clear, because she stops talking again. Instead, she skims the landscape with another sweep of her glance, and finds it still empty.

Deckard follows instructions. He looks, but doesn't say anything, long face turned almost grudgingly after whatever it is he's supposed to be looking at. Which…is…apparently nothing. A faint trace of something like guilt dips his chin again after a few seconds.

As the silence stretches looonger into definite awkwardness, Leah lifts a hand to tuck a few stray locks behind her ear. Considering the wind, this is an exercise in futility. Curling that hand into a fist out in front of her, she stares at it for a moment. "There's a reason I wanted to find you up here. A reason I came back to New York. Not just guns and hugs," she says at length.

Then she flattens out her hand, fingers extended, and sets her jaw, steeling her nerves for what will be the grandest display of trust to date. Without looking back up at her brother, she passes it back and forth through the shotgun's butt and stock. Nothing up my sleeves, sir.

AAAH. HER HAND. Flesh, muscle and bone vanish into thin air to allow the passage of the stock. Deckard is, perhaps, understandably alarmed — just a little more alarmed than he should be. He stiffens, recoils, snatches the glasses off his face all in one quick motion to see that…

…Her hand is still there.

Looking approximately like a dog that's just bolted head first into a glass door for the first time, he lifts his eyes back to her face from her hand, only one brow pressed down out of its knit. The fuck.

With one last pass of her hand through the gun, Leah holds it up, the backs of her fingertips resting light against her chin. The strength of his reaction has unnerved her; worry marks her expression, brows upswept and lower lip caught in a press of teeth.

Hesitant as Leah almost never is, she asks, "Okay?"

"What…" Deckard ventures, way more carefully than the norm, "just happened." It isn't exactly a question because there's no uplift at the end, but bafflement is written clear across his face while he watches her. His sunglasses are still lifted to his chest, not having had the time to fall all the way back down to his side in his initial horror.

The Deckards are standing near the entrance of a long abandoned liquor store, surrounded by darkness and snow and ice and a lot of grey. Grey slush, grey buildings, grey asphalt. Snow furls occasionally on the stiffest breezes, but otherwise, there isn't much movement or life to be found in this section of the ruins.

Exasperated, Leah draws herself a little straighter where she stands, left fist braced against the butt of the shotgun as it rests against the concrete. "What does it look like?" she demands. Shaking back her hair with a jerk of her chin, she says, "I know it's weird, okay, but it's not like I put it through /you/ or something." Discussing this in more specific terms draws discomfort tight across the set of her shoulders, and her glance skips away from him to survey their surroundings again, tongue's tip pressed behind her front teeth as she swallows.

The Deckards are not alone in the area. Should either or both of them look up, they would spot something moving by at the speed of a running human, overhead. It's difficult to tell in the darkness, but the shape might well be that of a small woman. It stops about half a block away and hovers there aloft, perhaps facing the crater to just look at it.

Aware that he's inadvertently trodden on insecurity here, Deckard tries to err on the side of excess caution. That is, he tries to choose his words carefully, but. Her hand disappeared.

"Your hand disappeared," he observes aloud. His left brow presses low to join the right, now slightly suspicious. Maybe this is some kind of trick.

As to the movement overhead, having just switched modes of vision he's blinder than the average bat. And distracted. Because her hand disappeared.

Primed by her own caution so that she squints in the direction of the movement in the dark (bird, not bird?), Leah does not quite make it out, either. Then she is also distracted, because — what? "What? No it didn't!" she retorts.

The shape remains where she/it is, standing on air, looking out over the ruins and the crater. Whatever she/it might be, she/it isn't seeming to pay them any attention while they argue over a hand which disappeared. Attention of whatever the shape might be is focused entirely on the still unrepaired destruction and that huge hole where Kirby Plaza used to be. After a few minutes, the figure moves a bit closer and drifts twenty feet or so higher into the air.
You have been applauded.

"I saw it." He saw it. With his eyes. Not the most intelligent discourse Deckard has ever produced. At a loss, he looks away in time to catch — something. A hard blink later, he looks back to Leah to see that she is also looking…after something. But her hand. It… "Do it again."

"For Christ's sake," is Leah's testy reply, as she rolls her eyes. She phases her hand out again, and prepares to pass her dematerialized digits through the butt of her gun. So preoccupied is she with her own secret and its bizarre reception, she unfortunately fails to look to the skies after the odd large bird or possibly person. With the streets clear, she rests firmly upon the incorrect assumption that she and her brother are alone. Thus Leah passes her hand through butt and stock: back, forth. Glove and all! Then she claps her palm solidly back against the gun's stock, for emphasis. Magic!

The display of phasing ability goes unnoticed as the bird/person moves a bit closer still, eyes trained only on the crater up ahead and below. She descends slightly, to an altitude of perhaps twenty-five feet above street level, and still maybe a quarter block away from the Siblings Deckard. The sight, after this length of observation, draws her to remark to herself "I hope it can someday be rebuilt." But inwardly she expects she'll be old, gray, and surrounded by fat grandchildren before that comes close to happening.

Deckard is a smart guy. He watches the passage of gun through hand as intently a monkey learning which lever to pull to get a banana, jaw set aside at a jutting angle. She becomes unsolid. Passes through things. Nothing to catch, nothing to stop, nothing to absorb radiation.

Significantly, his reaction this time involves far less panic. More consideration and some quick math while he works out the details and the corner of his mouth twitches slyly upwards. "How long have you known?" His own revelation doesn't come immediately. It's stayed while he waits for an answer, narrow features canted with suspicion softened marginally by amusement. Secrets are for sharing!

So it's probably only fair that he share his in return. One second his eyes are hidden in the hollow shadows cast down by the brow ridge of his skull. The next, the sockets they live in are cast in the dull blue reflection of light from his irises. Which are glowing. A beat passes while he awaits her reaction. The next beat is occupied by him going stiff again and reaching numb fingers into his overcoat after his gun. There is a fucking flying person spying on them.

"You remember when I went to Vegas?" is the beginning of Leah's reply, an answer to his question that places her discovery comfortably in the past — if not too uncomfortably far in the past, say. But then she loses the words of what story she'd to stare at him. Astonishment drained by the slow curve of a sly smile that turns up her mouth at both corners, she says, "Holy shit, are you serious?" which, all told, is kind of a silly thing to say considering that the glowing eyes are right there.

But then her tone changes, for where she is not an exceptional seer in the dark, there are some turns of body language that might as well be writ large in neon. Voice dropping low as she goes for the shotgun as it's nearest and, as of now, hers, she asks, "Where…?"

She isn't spying. This is attested to by the fact that when both of them go for weapons, Maria doesn't react in any way like an observer who's just been made. Her eyes remain on the crater and the area around it, the pair on the ground not even noticed at all. The altitude at which she stands remains constant, as does her distance from the siblings.

"Peter Pan at two o'clock," is the answer, a little harried while he works the gun out of his buttoned coat with unresponsive fingers. From there it's a two-handed matter of getting his glasses back on and switching the safety off before the .45 is pointed up, up and away at the floating sack of bones and organs drifting UFO-like further down the street.

"FUCK OFF OR I'LL FIRE." It's a promise rather than a threat, shouted as well as Deckard can shout with the chill air filling his lungs like broken glass.

Following his gaze and the angle of his gun with her eyes, Leah peers into the dark. Although she lifts her shotgun, she does not aim it towards the dark shape perhaps out of a sense of overkill, questionable night vision, or preoccupation. "What the hell," she mutters darkly instead, sliding half a step back to balance her weight behind her on her heel. "Just my luck an audience. Not another living soul—"

It's only the shouted words that finally draw her attention, giving evidence anyone else was in the area. Maria's head turns slowly to find the voice, and tilts to examine the source. "What?" she asks. "You HomeSec goons with guns, trying to intimidate the innocent. I hope Rickham fires all your worthless asses." Occasionally short temper? She's got one. "Put your artificial penis back in your pants, and you fuck off yourself." Her ire and sharp words, however, don't alter the fact there are two weapons in play here, the odds aren't in her favor. Swift motion follows: The bird/woman dramatically increases her altitude and vanishes from sight. She must've been doing at least 100 mph.

"…" says Deckard to this initially. Brow knit, he glances down over the lift of his shoulder at Leah, but as she seems similarly baffled, there isn't really much to say beyond: "THERE'S NO ESCAPING HOMELAND SECURITY." It isn't the most convincing of threats, if it's a threat, with the last bit dying on the wind a little. His finger itches over the trigger when she takes off at full speed, but in the end…nothing. No bullets fired. He hesitates, and gradually, the gun muzzle drops back to the street.

"Things like that happen here sometimes," he explains more quietly after wasting a minute or two to catch his breath.

Leah pinches the bridge of her nose between the thumb and middle finger of her right hand, gun lowered again. "Okay," she says. Then, drumming her gloves fingers against the stock of the gun, she adds, "I think I better not stick around here. Who knows when Tinkerbell will show up." Hoisting the gun over her shoulder instead, she tips him a slight smile with the cant of her head. "Be in touch, though. We've got a lot to talk about."

"We have some things to talk about, yeah." It's an understatement, maybe, but not one Deckard seems willing to dwell on while there are weird schizophrenic people flying around thinking he's Homeland Security. Head still turned in the direction Maria flew off in, he doesn't reholster his gun. Granted, his fingers may be frozen to the grip by this point.

Dark glasses turned briefly back down onto Leah, he nods and moves to start picking his way off to wherever he came from. Probably not the same direction she did, as he looks like he's headed deeper in towards the epicenter rather than away from it. "You have my number. I'll let you know if it changes. Don't do anything I wouldn't do."

December 29th: A Terminally Ill Party
December 29th: Secret Meeting...
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