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Scene Title Departures
Synopsis Two travelers share one last drink in the Pelago before they leave it all behind.
Date June 30, 2021

The Archipelago of Manhattan

There is a bar in the Pelago that Silas Mackenzie has been coming to for a long time. Like everything else in the Pelago, it's been through a lot; the faux-wood paneling it had had when he'd first started visiting has long since disintegrated from time and the salt air, the lycoris wallpaper it once had had slowly faded and been papered over, this time with tulips. It's not the most popular bar in the Pelago, and not the most accessible… which is, perhaps, part of its appeal. It's a quiet place to drink, and to think, and perhaps to steel one's self for departures.

That's why Silas is here, in the dead hours of the morning before the Convoy starts its grand journey to Alaska, just as he was here in the dead hours of the morning before he set out in the Stormfront with Mad Eve, a lifetime ago… just as he was here in the dead hours of the morning before he set out for Japan — to sit, and stare into a small glass of actual decent booze and soak up the ambience. To steel himself for departure, one last time. Although he's thought that one before.

For Gracie, it’s a good place to drink because it’s one where she doesn’t dance on top of the bar and gets to keep all her clothes on. It isn’t likely she’ll get bothered by anyone who knows her for her work, and she’ll get to sit and think.

She enters the space dressed in an orange-red dress with long sleeves, but a short skirt, over a pair of brown leggings. A pair of knee high boots, scuffed and scratched here and there, provide a bit more practicality. The patchwork coat draped over her arm will do even better.

Drawing in a breath, she looks around for a moment to determine where she’ll like to sit once she gets her drink, but she has to do that at the bar first. She meanders and pauses briefly before bellying up. “Mister Mackenzie,” she greets lightly, taking a moment before she actually turns her head and looks over at the man seated nearby. “Good morning.”

Silas hadn't looked up from his drink when Gracie entered the bar; he notes her arrival out of the corner of his eye, but only when she speaks does he look to her. "Gracie," he acknowledges amiably, inclining his head with a nod. Then he grimaces. "But it's Silas. 'Mister Mackenzie' was my dad, and I'd prefer not to think of myself as that old yet," he says, giving a hint of a wry grin.

Then he looks back to his drink, that grin slowly fading into a more contemplative expression. "Surprised to see you here," he says after a moment. "What's got you out and about this early, if you don't mind me asking?" he asks, looking to her with mild interest.

“Sorry,” Gracie murmurs. “It’s just how I address people until they give me permission to do otherwise — which you have. So, good morning, Silas.” She glances to the tender of the bar and points to the glass in front of her conversational companion. “Whatever that is? I’m gonna drink it. Thanks.”

Waiting patiently for her own drink, she turns to properly face Silas, settling one arm on the bar, her wrist draped over the edge of it. “I suspect I’m here for about the same reason you are,” she posits. “‘Bout to go on a big journey, so…”

With the drink set at her elbow, Gracie murmurs her gratitude and leans in enough to collect it with her free hand. “I guess I’m going to get shitfaced, then get on a boat. What can go wrong?”

She’s probably kidding.

"Good morning, Gracie. And good pick," Silas says, turning to grin and raise his own glass. "Normally it'd be bourbon, but today it's something called okolehao," he says, pronouncing the word carefully. "It's Hawaiian."

He smiles at that; Hawai'i has left an impression on him. God, I'll miss Hawaii, he thinks, not without a pang of mourning, and so he takes a sip of his drink. He takes a moment to savor the vaguely tropical flavor of the spirit as he mulls over Gracie's words, peering into his chipped glass as though he's trying to read the future in the amber liquor within. "I do like to come here and have a drink or two when I'm going somewhere," he admits. "Always have. I like to part on a good note, I guess."

With that, he turns to regard Gracie again. "You're joining up with the Alaska convoy, then?"

Gracie nods along slowly, a small smirk kicking up one corner of her mouth as he mentions warmer climes. With permission to join him given tacitly, she settles herself on the seat next to him and murmurs a thanks when her own glass is set in front of her. She lifts it. “Cheers.”

With a sigh after her sip — which is followed by an expression of pleasant surprise — she rests her elbow on the counter and props her chin up on her hand. “Yeah. Decided that there’s still too many ghosts on the coast here for me. Maybe it’s like Sheryl Crow said — a change will do me good.”

Silas's expression goes still at that, becoming contemplative. "Ghosts, huh," he echoes quietly. "Hm." He mulls that over, then shrugs. "Well. Never had anything against Sheryl Crow; I'm more a classic rock kinda guy myself, but she wasn't bad," he observes… then he takes another sip of his drink. He waits awhile, savoring the flavor in silence for a bit before he speaks again.

"Just goes to show, I guess. You never know who's got a ghost story, do you?" Silas muses with a faint chuckle. "But then, these days… I guess more people do than not." Then he turns, putting an elbow on the bar and resting his chin on his hand as he peers at her. "So. You think Sheryl's right?" he asks, raising an eyebrow.

Gracie smiles, chuckling without parting her lips. “After I found my way topside, I wanted to see what the world looked like.” She’d been one of the lucky ones in the Ark when the flood came. “I’d heard stories here and there even before you all showed up, but I needed to really see it.”

The smile fades. “It wasn’t for me, so I came back. But… this isn’t for me either.”

Loosening her grip on her glass, Gracie lets it slide low until she firms the grasp of her fingertips again, leaving her hand spidered over the top of it now, holding it in air that way, rather than the curve of it fitted against her palm. She regards the way light plays through the decorative facets at its base.

“So…” Now she’s musing, brows lifted, her gaze following after a moment to seek Silas out again. “The change I’m making this time is to… not be alone.”

Silas nods when she talks about how seeing the world wasn't for her. "Yeah. A lot of things… broke, after the Flood. The world broke. Nothing fits together like it used to anymore, you know?" he asks, looking back to his drink. "Given time, we could build something of it, maybe — fill in some of those missing pieces — but…"

But time's a thing we're all out of, he thinks, and feels despair rattle its chains, way back somewhere. He pushes it back further still; he said no more and he meant it. Instead, he takes another sip of his drink.

"You know… I was pleased as punch, when I rolled back into town and saw someone was givin' formal dance lessons. It's one of those things that there used to be, back before all of this; it made me think that maybe there was startin' to be a place again for things that weren't just… survival. And I was glad for it," he says, nodding appreciation to her.

Her comment about not being alone sees Silas regard her thoughtfully as he mulls that over. "It's dangerous out there," he says finally. "But you've probably heard the stories, or seen some of it if you've seen enough of things that way."

"But… I suppose sometimes there can be an appeal in that. If the ghosts are close enough. If they're whisperin' loud enough to ya in the dead of night. When you're alone." Silas's gaze shifts to his glass. "There were a lot of reasons for me to go lookin' for the Commonwealth. Good reasons. But I'd be lying if I said the danger wasn't part of it, too, back in those days." And if she understands, she understands; if she doesn't, that's fine too.

"But if nothing else — when you're out there on the seas with a crew, you're in good company. You're relying on others, and relied upon in turn. I imagine it won't be much different on the road instead of on a boat."

He takes another sip. "What do you think it'll be like in Alaska?"

“Yeah,” Gracie confirms of the dangers of the mainland. “I’ve seen it.” She lifts her head and takes a drink before passing the glass off to that unoccupied hand. Absently, she reaches out to rest the open one over Silas’ arm. Her gaze is distant, eyes scanning back and forth minutely, almost like reading words on a page, except he can recognize when a person dissociates into memory.

She comes back to the moment and offers a pained, apologetic smile. “Hard for a woman alone out there, you know?” There’s a heaviness to that, belied by the simplicity of the words. And she goes still again after that, mulling over his words.

Laughing softly, she tilts her head and takes Silas in anew. “I bet it’s going to be cold,” she posits. “But given how fucked the weather is compared to how I remember it, maybe it’ll be a tropical paradise.” The tone of her voice says she finds that possibility doubtful.

“Bet the mountains are pretty,” she mumbles against the rim of her glass before taking another drink.

Silas glances over at Gracie when he feels his hand on her arm… but it doesn't take long for him to realize that whatever she's thinking about, it's not the here and now.

He snorts at the idea of Alaska as a tropical paradise — he's pretty sure it's not that. The other bit, though. "I'll bet they are," he agrees. He takes a moment to consider his words. "You looked like you were somewhere else, for a minute there," he observes quietly.

“Did I?” Gracie seems at first willing entirely to dismiss it. Deflect, gloss it over, move on. Instead, she draws in a breath, bringing her hand back to the bartop, no longer invading his personal space. “I think I was somewhere in Montana,” she admits. “Or maybe Wyoming? I’m not good at geography, and shit’s not as clear out there as it was once.”

She didn’t just make a short jaunt into the mainland, then. She made an earnest go of it. Alone.

“It’s not all terrible.” One shoulder lifts in a half shrug. “There are still good people out there, willing to help a stranger for a night or two. For assistance exchanged. A favor.” Gracie stares down into her glass. “But there are still selfish people out there. Mean people. Maybe this new world order gives them more of a chance to shine.” Her lip curls at that. “But I think Sondheim put it to music well.” Explaining, she lifts her voice to sing, her pace languid. “The cruelty of men is as wondrous as Peru.

There’s a little smirk when she finishes, but no real mirth. Whatever she’s been through, it stuck with her, but she’s resilient enough to be still standing. And drinking. And dancing. “Thanks, uh, for the… Recognition? I just feel like it’s important, you know? Trying to do something that feels normal.”

Silas knows when he's being deflected, but that's fine; she's here to drink, not be interrogated. The fact that she's made it as far as she had sees Silas's eyebrows rise, though. "A fellow traveler, then," he comments, raising his glass in salute.

He snorts in amusement when she ventures into song, though. "Peru is definitely not on my list of places to visit," Silas chuckles… but while he nods in acknowledgement of her thanks, there's a thoughtful look in his eye, as if something else she'd said had caught his attention.

"You may be right. About the way the world is giving the meanness in people more of a chance to shine," he says pensively, peering into his glass. After a moment, he turns to face her. "Maybe, in some other world — a world that hadn't been broken like this one — a lot of the pirates and scum out there would just be… lawyers. Insurance salesmen. Telemarketers, cable TV salesmen. Ordinary people; maybe not the most pleasant people in the world, but just… people. And with no limits, when everything started going to shit they just… let that meanness out. On everyone."

"But maybe the reverse is true, too. At least a little bit. Maybe some of the people who'd have been real assholes out there decided to hell with this. Decided that if everything was falling apart anyway, they'd try to step up. Do some of the work that needed doing. Or… something like that," he says, shrugging. "Seems like if everyone just got meaner… things'd be worse than they are. A lot worse."

Then, after a moment, he laughs, one corner of his mouth twisting up in a wry grin. "Late night thinking and drinking," he says with a chuckle.

“You’re not wrong.” Gracie smiles faintly. “There’ve probably always been more good people out there than aren’t. We do pretty well around here, all things considered.” She lifts her head and takes a good look around the bar, brows furrowing faintly. “I think I’ll actually kind of miss it around here,” she admits, her voice soft.

Then, whatever moment of introspection she was experiencing has passed, and she brightens up again. “But I’m ready for some new shores. Captain Kiddo said something about establishing trade, so it doesn’t have to be forever if we do it right. I get bored, I can hop on with the next trade caravan going anywhere else.”

Silas cackles involuntarily at Gracie's nickname for Nova, looking her way with real amusement.

His laughter subsides after a moment into an amused sigh. "Maybe not quite fair to call her that; she took the south way here from Alaska, and anyone who makes that trip's got some chops." He looks over to Gracie, still grinning. "Funny, though."

The rest of what she says sees his amusement fade to a more subdued level, though even then it's not quite gone. "I touched ground in Alaska, briefly — the Aleutian islands, anyway. From there, the way east is open. It's a long haul across the Pacific, but Fuji-san is glorious. Or if you head south and west, there's Hawai'i." Silas's lips curve into a warm smile as he recalls their stay there. "Pearl Harbor apparently got wiped out in the Flood, and without it the Sentinel never saw a reason to bother with the place; it's beautiful there, even now."

"Or you could try going further east; I never made it to China, so I couldn't tell you what's there."

His gaze drifts back to his drink as he recalls his dreams of laying a foundation for a future; he covers the sudden lump in his throat by draining his glass, and telling himself that those dreams haven't died, merely taken another form.

There’s a smile playing on her lips as she listens, and drinks. It’s more than just polite interest, he can tell. (Although she might just be exceptionally good at making it look like more than that, given her profession.) Like she’s tracing a map in her mind of the path he must’ve taken. “Never been to Hawai’i,” she murmurs. She’s gone somewhere else again, but this seems more nostalgic than the last time. “It always sounded nice.”

Canting her head, she supposes, “Guess it still is.” But she sighs as she comes out of her reverie, a small shake of her head clearing her mind again. “I want to get just about as far away from here as I can… But maybe Alaska will be far enough.”

Silas smiles. "One can hope," he says. And maybe it'll help. A new place, new faces, new sights and sounds and flavors and smells… maybe it'll help Gracie leave whatever ghosts she's got behind. Thing about ghosts, though, is… they follow, he thinks, but does not say, because Gracie either already knows it or will find out soon enough, and he's not going to kick someone's life raft out from under them.

He raises his glass; there's only the barest sip left in there, but it'll have to do. "To the horizon, and what lies beyond. To Alaska."

There’s a lot of uncertainty on the horizon and it’s difficult to say if she can see beyond those ghosts of hers. Still, her optimism shows through as her eyes crease at the corners when she smiles. One way or another, seems to believe she’ll find what she’s looking for out there, despite how ephemeral it is. Or maybe she’s already found what she’s searching for here in the middle of this bar. Gracie brings her glass to Silas’ with a gentle clink of them together as she finishes her toast.

“To what lies beyond.”

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