byron_icon.gif bf_kara_icon.gif

Scene Title Drink
Synopsis пьянствовать (v) drink, carouse, binge heavily
Date August 16, 2019

Sunken Factory, Providence

There’s a word in Russian that Kara Prince doesn’t really know, but which made up most of her drinking experience for a solid three months in Afghanistan. The word is a game, and the game is a word. The person who had taught her it said she had picked it up in college, from a Friend Who Spoke Russian, and that the expression is tantamount to drink up.

Vivitsche,” she says, a memory of a memory of how that specific word is pronounced. It’s a game of telephone gone wrong. The quality of the message has degraded over time, having had well over a decade to stew and rot.

Should she ever have consulted a dictionary, she would have found that the word she used, for all its incorrectness, likely once resembled the actual word p'yanstvovatch.

Kara has not ever consulted a Russian dictionary before, nor does she think it necessary now, given that her designated drinking companion most likely does not know any Russian. Because why would Byron Wolf know Russian?

For his benefit, she also repeats herself in English. “Drink.” she orders him.

There is no purpose to the game she has not explained. There is no way to win, and there is no way to lose, necessarily, either. When ordered to drink, you drink. Should you refuse, though, depending on how drunk your drinking partner is, any number of things could happen to ensure you continue to play the game as ordered. The only purpose is to get drunk as fast as possible, if there is any purpose to it at all aside from making one’s liver suffer.

She drinks, herself, from a bottle of whiskey directly without bothering to employ the medium of a shotglass or any glass at all. The bottle is set aside so she can sift through the first aid kit she normally keeps in the armory, looking for a pad of sterile cotton. Paper-encased pad in hand, she looks back to Byron only briefly. If he needed stitches — which he almost certainly did, she was sure — she wouldn’t be the best person to apply them.

However, misplaced guilt compels her to do something, rather than nothing. So she sits with her first aid kit open, because he needs his wound tended to, and tells him to drink — because she needs to drink.

Byron drinks.

Memories from a decade ago tend to stir up as a series of sensations. The slipperiness of blood and porcelain, the smell of disinfectant, the dull ache of probing needles, and then, of course, the taste of harsh alcohol on his tongue. Where Kara is positioned should be Eileen Ruskin, except that Eileen Ruskin is half-asleep in her room from soul-deep exhaustion and kills with a touch besides, and where Gabriel Gray should be sitting, Byron Wolf is instead.

This will be easiest if you sat in the bath. Her voices rings clear as day. But she'd been fishing a bullet out of his back, not seeing to a scratch.

He got a glass, and he sets it down, reaching with a more mobile arm to refill it. His shirt is peeled off, exposing his back. There, the puncture-slash is angry red, near black where blood has gathered and thickened, thinned and distributed everywhere else, dry where it's thinnest. The worst of the injury is sunk into the meat of his shoulder, and down. Also on his back, rather strikingly, is a tattoo.

A large sprawling one of a tree, with reaching branches that spread as far as his shoulders, the trunk drawn dark down his spine. Muscles twitch around traumatised flesh.

He splashes another generous helping of whiskey into the glass.

"Think, the, uh," he says, voice all texture more than volume, as he sets the bottle back down, "clothing— shirt snagged it. Or maybe she wasn't going for the kill, y'know."

Kara’s only verbal response is to let out an indifferent note of acknowledgement for his observation, little more than a grunt. Wordlessly, she looks over the wound and is unable to keep herself from shaking her head. It’s difficult to say what about the situation she directs the action toward, but that, too, is something she keeps her own counsel on.

“This will sting,” she says instead, the statement clipped, bereft of any extras. Such as: peppered swears to help her begin to ease the buildup of stress. No, she keeps it all to herself.

The whiskey bottle is lifted in one hand, and she rocks to her feet off the stool she’s sitting on, coming to stand over him while she takes care in deciding where she pours the antiseptic. In addition to being multipurpose, it’s valuable to her besides. Kara tips her wrist to start a stream over his shoulder with one hand before indelicately swiping away blood from the wound to get a clearer idea of where it starts and stops, the depth of it.

Perhaps she’s not yet answered his observation because until this is done she can’t say for herself. She pours a second dash of alcohol over the bloodied gouge, letting the stink of whiskey cloy the air while it streaks down his back.

“The tattoo,” the munitions chaplain observes. “You always had it?”

This is what passes for her bedside manner.

Hhnngg. Byron grits his teeth against the growl that burbles up, alcohol like heat against raw flesh. But he takes it, almost like he's done this before, leaning forwards and spine curling. Sweat stands out on his brow. He remembers needing to apply his own sutures from when he'd caught a jagged edge when fixing the plumbing up in his Maine house, how he'd just switched off his own pain sensors for the occasion with only a few scant check ins to make sure he hadn't pulled anything too tight.

No such luxury now, unless he wants to give himself away. Odd, how that compulsion crops up more and more.

That fight could have been over in two seconds.

Doesn't matter.

"After the war," he lies, the strain in his voice doing its part to mask any tells. "It's uh, what do you call it. Commemorative."

But Byron isn't the only one on lock down. He's not looking at Kara, but he can imagine her expression, the kind that goes with that tone. Opening an oyster shell is as much about precision as it is about force, and they have a little time to feel out each others' thoughts. He reaches for his charged glass.

She can see much better now how incredibly lucky Byron was, or how deliberate Yi-Min was with her knife. Kara’s second pass with her hand is careful to not brush the gouge directly, but to wick away extra moisture from around it. Give or take, it’s no less pleasant, pushing around the wound instead of onto it directly. “It’s deep,” she tells him, because despite it not being fatal, it still isn’t pretty. “But it could be worse.” When she’s satisfied enough, she tears open the sterile pad and lays it over the gap, watching it immediately change color, tinged amber and orange though red will surely accompany soon.

Kara Prince is many things, but she’s not a fucking medic. Byron surely is wise enough to figure that out by now. Still, she fishes a roll of medical tape from the kit and sets to tearing off a strip to hold the pad in place on his shoulder. For a lack of scissors, or for a lack of wanting to look for any, she cuts the tape using her canine before laying down the adhesive over one corner. Now, finally, she employs some measure of gentleness. One could infer she means to tape down all four corners diagonally, like one might do to a photograph or a poster. Like someone does to something they don’t mean to forget.

Maybe he’ll slap a tattoo over the scar this will leave behind. Something commemorative.

“You get it for her?” Kara’s question is gruff, as loquacious as she’ll probably be. That she’s making a conversational effort at all is a sign, though, that the slow trickle may continue.

It pauses as she pulls away a third strand of tape, also biting away any particular comment she might make regarding the nature of the art as she nips the tear line into existence with her teeth.

Byron's throat works around the next draw of whiskey, eyes hooding almost closed as he does. Greases his wrist against his mouth once done, and lets out a breath. Whiskey and tape. With the worst of the stinging and probing done, he lapses into a moment of physical numbness, and is careful to keep his fingers steady around his glass so he doesn't let it slip from his fingers.

"Yeah," he says.

Conveniently, he hopes that semi-fictional dead girlfriend mentions makes this line of questioning stop. He's not in the mood for fabrication — or rather, he's not in the mood to enjoy it as he sometimes does.

Still. There's the impulse to prod back. "Stupid, right?"

Kara smooths her hand over the piece of tape, ensuring it adheres to skin. “Depends,” she voices, an undercurrent of thought entering her tone. “You get it to enshrine an ideal of her?” Her brow lifts as she asks, “Or to remind yourself of what she’d want you to be?”

The two things sound odd now that they’ve left her, but there’s no taking them back now. It’s a quick thing to secure the last corner of the pad down, and then she’s reaching for anything to dry him off with. Nothing’s nearby except a plaid button-up she’d thrown off the other day while working, so she grabs that. Better than an oiled-up rag, at least, she tells herself.

Vivitsch,” she tells him again, fingers reaching for the bottle to take a victory swig. She almost doesn’t have enough length to nab it, fingertips grazing glass enough to merely spin it in place, but she leans to grab it off the table with better ease.

Byron is now covered in blood and whiskey, and she tells him to vivitsch. Once she is done, however, he accepts the bottle, and rather than pour another glass for himself, he interprets her instruction as a swig. A decent swig, at that, scorching the insides of his mouth and down his throat, a wince contorting his features as he pulls it back away from his mouth, and he carefully sets it back down.

Maybe he'll let himself get drunk, for once. It's been a long time.

Bad idea, probably.

He closes his eyes as she pat-pats at the mess of his back, and thinks about her question, and not really of his tattoo. "I think only the second one has the power to make you miserable," he says. "But I'm guessing that's the 'not stupid' option." He glances backwards. "So am I gonna make it, doc?"

The name of the game is to get drunk, and it won’t be a fun one if she’s alone in it. Given the frequency of the commands, it’s her intention that he get drunk too.

Kara lets out a laugh at his reply, the kind that comes involuntarily and boldly and ends with a small hmph of satisfaction to it. Yeah, the second one would be the more miserable of the two, wouldn’t it? It also implies he likely didn’t choose it for that reason, or at least that’s how she reads it.

She tosses the button-up aside on the table, next to the first-aid kit that’s still open with its innards spilled out everywhere. Everything at the moment is a mess compared to the normal order and efficiency she usually maintains the armory with, and it’s nothing she’s in the mood to try and correct. “You’ll make it,” Kara affirms. “It’ll need looked at by a real doctor tonight or tomorrow.” Apparently, she does not give a damn which. “Stitched.”

“That’ll probably hurt,” she goes on to say. “Would recommend you get painkillers from Yi-Min, but.”

The rest of the sentence is cut off, the same way Yi-Min’s life was possibly cut off in front of the Factory earlier. There’s no way to tell. She blinks heavily, then reaches for the bottle again. No drink yet, she just holds onto the neck of it for good measure, along with a grunt and a shrug. Yi-Min’s not here to administer painkillers, the action tries to say.

Byron Wolf might not care about the negligence occurring, and truly, neither does Gabriel Gray, but he is someone for whom everything is normally put in its place — disorder always goes noticed. He tracks the toss of the shirt now damp with whiskey and blood to where it lands, and then the spill of medical supplies, and straightens his posture up a little, considering Kara out of the corner of his eye as he reaches for his own shirt. A shirt that is likewise ruined, but it's better than nothing, so he embarks on the slow process of putting it back on in a way that won't aggravate his injury.

(Of course, he wills it so, and beneath fresh bandages, blood clots and seals in place, suring up against movement like it has a mind of its own.)

Wrankles his nose at news of stitches being necessary, but doesn't object.

"— she's being kind of a bitch," he supplies at a grumble, but then his eyebrows kind of communicate: too soon? And he says, "Sorry," in the tone of someone who did definitely get stabbed by this person, though. And suspects that Kara is a little mad too. "I know you two were. Just, you know. We could have taken 'em. All of them."

When he grumbles, another small laugh comes from Kara, this one more obviously pained. She looks down at the bottle in her hand, brow slanting up in another way that betrays the invisible wound that pairs with the bandaged graze on her left arm.

“Yeah,” she agrees shortly. “We fucking could have.”

Kara Prince is not generally a woman who swears. Despite her background, despite the people she’s surrounded by. It’s an unnecessary act.

“She was Praxis, though,” she reminds herself aloud, and takes another long drink from the bottle, not even the slightest face made for the burn. It’s set back on the table between them, for Byron to take his turn. Vivitsch, after all. “If there were sides to take, she’d need to take theirs.”

She sits there for a long moment, looking off at one of the weapons lockers. It’s only for the purpose of speaking does she look back at Byron, expression void of the emotion she’d worn earlier. “I should have shot.” There’s no regret for doing it or not doing it, it’s just a statement. “Thornton would have had a clear line on Chen if I had.”

Byron breathes out an already fumey exhale, and reaches for the bottle. Vivitsch, after all. After this next drink, tension seems to bleed out from his muscles, and he leans right back in his chair with just a show of teeth as pressure is applied to muscles in and around his wound. Relaxes against it, his expression all about his own discomfort as opposed to thought around sides taken.

But he glances to her, then, at her should have. Sees fact, rather than feeling.

"It wasn't a fuckin' chess game," he says, where swearing sounds more like a grammatical choice rather than emphasis, let alone feeling. "Just a shitshow." He sets the whiskey bottle down on the table, and nudges a push so it slides a little nearer. He's thinking about the knife that had come down, how there's no question that Yi-Min had no illusions of killing him or taking him down in any meaningful way on account of not being an idiot — just stopping him.

That's not really an insight he can share in any greater detail than he already has. (Read: not really an insight he wants to share.) "How about next time?"

Kara only shakes her head then, drawing herself up with a breath. Her posture doesn’t exactly right, not in a corrective way, she just lifts up slowly. Her chin is the last thing to, a touch of boldness to it. “I don’t know.” she confesses deadpan.

One hand presses down into the top of her thigh, exhale sliding from her nose with not enough force to be a sigh. “Could have been much more of a shitshow,” she states, making it unclear what exactly her initial response was to. “Could also have been less of one. Ramirez saw to it they weren’t at their best when they arrived. It made a difference.”

Her look mellows as she slants her attention back to Byron, curiosity underneath the layers of everything else. "How'd you know," Kara wonders. "What to do?"

She's right. For instance: no one who chose their side is dead.

Which is why Byron's glance to her is a little furtive, guarded, like he's considering playing stupid about the meaning of her question. It has an open quality that almost feels like a free pass. Brings up a hand to wipe the lower half of his face, as if still feeling blood and dust in the pale grain of hair on his chin and cheeks, even though he washed himself down while Kara had been breaking out the med kit.

"April," he gruffs out, after a while. He's staring at the table as he speaks, sinking into recollection. "When we reported on militia. Eight of them with guns. They took a shot at me, tagged me— " He lifts a hand, grips a shoulder. Kara is sure she didn't see any kind of scarring there. "But they hit her. She should have gone down. She wasted them instead, made herself whole. Somewhere in there, she— or, it, her power. It helped me too."

He swallows, and looks up at Kara. "I figured, you know. Worth a shot."

Kara is silent for some time, the only sign of her working on a response being a twinge in her jaw. She's weighing his story in her mind. Slowly, she turns away from him to take back the bottle, taking another pensive drink. Her movements have slowed.

When she sets the bottle back down and aside, she tosses the tape roll back into the kit, beginning a slow process of getting everything back in order. "She's not been right since Sunspot." she observes. "Maybe since just before. Not sure she expected to come back." Her brow lifts, supposing, "She expected to either succeed or die. And then she lost control, lost her nerve."

"We're living in that aftermath. I don't know what to think about hearing that's not the first time she's done…" Kara lapses in thought for a moment, remembering what she saw before leaning into a gruff, "that."

"Maybe she's coming back into herself, or maybe she loses herself to it. To him."

"To them," has a touch more spite to it than could be expected. Like losing Eileen to the ideology Sharrow is trying to indoctrinate her to is perhaps the worst thing that could happen to them all.

From a certain point of view, it could be.

Either way, it's apparently easier for Kara to discuss this issue than how she feels about the events that necessitated the miracle Eileen had to perform. She continues to clean up, grabbing the scraps of paper from the gauze and balling them up in their hand. "Vivitsch," she remembers, almost by accident.

Byron draws the bottle in closer, taking his time in squaring off against this next mouthful of alcohol. And delaying response, too. His eyes have gotten bleary sometime in the last minute, bloodshot around watery blue. But this is the game, and the game is a word, and so he grips his hand around the neck of the bottle, tests its weight as he picks it up, and brings it to his mouth. As tentative, for the first second, as a kid being told to take his medicine, but then she notes him sitting back and tipping it up, the fine little whirlpool swirling as he drinks.

Sets it back down, carefully.

"What does that mean," he says, "coming back into herself."

Kara emits a quiet note from somewhere high up in her palate as she wonders how to explain that one. “I don’t know, more comfortable in her own skin again?” she ventures, tipping the kit closed. The clasps on the side of it bounce when the lid hits the rest of the container. “Less afraid of that thing, if she’s been using it more.” But that doesn’t seem to nail the heart of it, either. “I don’t know,” she restates, thoughtful and letting out a sigh at it. She just looks back to Byron, lips pursed in a self-deprecating lift of a frown. “Not sure there’s words for it. More like Eileen she was back out West.” Her hands part, arms swinging wide in a kind of shrug.

“More confident,” for one. “More driven.” Yeah, that was a word for it. She hmphs at her own inadequate fumbling for terminology.

“More…” Kara can’t find what comes after that, her eyes narrowing at something invisible. A memory.

"You sound confused."

This comes up rough, and Byron has to clear his throat, which he does reflexively into his elbow lest it drag up a coughing fit. Words catching on gravel and alcoholic burn. Speaking of confused, he doesn't know what the fuck he's doing! Having any opinion on Eileen feels like betrayal in some direction or another, but he can feel opinion anyway, churning away — whiskey and bile and bad blood. "Look who she let do the talking.

"Look who she healed." Moments before the calamity outside, he'd been dreaming up the ways he could make Lang disappear, and now he remembers Yi-Min standing in between all of them and Lanhua, his blood slick on her knife. Iago had called her Munin. The Vanguard that he knew, one New York Christmas, all those years ago, was a different rabble to the collection Eileen has gathered in New Jersey.

Gamely, he says; "Vivi…shhch. You could take this place, if you wanted."

Kara laughs at that, because either he's right or he's insane. But his confidence in her ability is noted, even if it's not appreciated. Because she's being a good sport, she takes up the bottle from where he'd left it. And why not?

He's getting the hang of this.

"Why?" she asks, though. It becomes clear when she takes a swig (less healthy than his, this time) that she's not questioning his order to drink, just his observation. "What would I do differently?" she challenges, looking at him over the lip of the bottle, the whiskey shifting around sloppily inside it as she continues to hold it at that half-tilted angle to herself.

"And besides," Kara points out like she might as well be sober, save for the face she pulls when esophagus trembles from all the near-poison she keeps dumping down the hatch. "Besides," she stresses. "That isn't how things work around here. It's not just her, it's all of them."

The ones they called the Horsemen. The heart of the Remnant, though some of those on its fringes might not all be there, be working there for the same reason the heart beats. "But right where I'm at now? My voice means something, my suggestions carried out… all without the burden of leadership."

"So you tell me. Why bother?" Kara wonders, and offers the bottle back his way for a response.

Bryon takes the bottle, shrugs, and then winces at this motion. He sets the bottle on the table.

The fact is, he can think of a lot of reasons why someone in Kara's position might seek control. Because Eileen is not the stable, fixed point she was previously. That the question of whether she has matured into a leader, or one-fourth of a ruling committee, looks almost the same to Kara as if she were losing her sense of self and giving into an off-shoot of fascist ideology helmed by a ghost that may or may not have psychological influence over her even if she wasn't possessed by it. Because Lang defended an institution that harvested babies from women and Ramirez burned the symbol of Volken into the faces of innocent people and Danko hung civilians in front of burning churches. Because Kara dedicates every waking moment to protecting not only the lives of the people in Providence, but their wellbeing.

Because Yi-Min was taken from her.

Because there's a war coming.

He doesn't say any of this, just thinks it at lightning speed and watches her and tries to tell if she is in fact thinking it too and just not saying it. It would be a problem, if she was.

Instead, he runs his tongue along his teeth, and picks up the bottle. Instead of drink from it, he does eyebrows at her, and prompts, "You gotta say it."

Kara leans back hard into her seat, fixing her gaze on him. She's drunk, she occasionally outwardly simmers with an anger that silently burns her insides, and doing everything she can to avoid talking about a) what Yi-Min did and b) if she's still alive after it. Because she doesn't have an answer for her own questions, and all she knows is that Charity Thornton's pride in what she'd done had flooded her with the desire to do something irrational and dangerous. So here she was, playing medic and drinking.

Until she became rational again. Or she was so numb she didn't care as much anymore.

"What do you mean," she asks a touch coldly back at him. "Look who she healed? Ramirez? I think it's you who're confused about this. What would have happened if he'd died?" Her brow twists and she leans forward like one might when expressing genuine concern for someone. "Listen, I know you and her have been circling each other for months, and maybe you're jealous of their relationship, but him dying would not have been a ticket to monopoly over Gray's heart."

Kara doesn't mean to laugh, but she's infected with honesty, and numb enough now thanks to the alcohol she doesn't realize the volume of words that tumble from her. "And like it would matter anyway? Tell me you're not naive enough to forget about that thing in her. The thing that carved a line through our own fucking men and left them nothing but ash," and now her voice is hard, her eyes narrowing. "The thing that keeps her from so much as shaking someone's bare hand," with a gesture of her own, eye contact unbroken. "That will fucking kill you if you try to slip into her bed." Because it sounds like he needs the reminder.

"You both lost people, Wolf, but don't let this thing you've had going cloud your judgment. What your country's terrible fucking war took from you isn't going to come back to you if you win Gray's heart. There is no happy ending there— no kids, sunset days, no 9-5." Not anymore. Eileen Gray tried that. And lost her everything and gained a Conduit because of it. "She is not that kind of person." Kara insists, rather than explain that— explain that she's not the Eileen who stood on Bannerman's Island, but one who stood at trial, tried before to put the Vanguard and all of it behind her for Gabriel Gray. "And even if she wanted to be again, that thing won't let her. People like Charles goddamned Sharrow and their fucking obsessions won't let her." Her hand drops, brow lifting as she warns him, "They'd sooner put a bullet in your head in your sleep than let you threaten what she means to them. And he's camped in our backyard with no intention of going anywhere. And she's fuckin' lettin' 'im."

She reaches for the bottle again in an attempt to drown out the last bitter taste of her words, take another half a drink to near finally what Byron's swig had been. They're going to run out of alcohol if they weren't careful. That was fine — she has an emergency bottle in a locker, unopened and withheld for a special occasion. Tonight was a fine occasion indeed. There's a pop from the mouth of the bottle as she quits sucking the alcohol down, brow angling down viciously.

Not at Byron. Kara's moved on from his troubles, whether he knows it or not, and is engaging in a loud internal yelling match with herself.

"Let me put it to you this way," she says abruptly. "What do I have to offer, anyway, that she doesn't?" She fixes her gaze back his way, goading him more aggressively for a response. "Eh?" While they might not be in as stable as position as they were before, with the Horsemen at their head, whole, they were still powerful.

"If you say my big fucking heart on my sleeve, I'm gonna fucking punch you."

She settles the bottle on the table like she's extending him a set of brass knuckles, or the handle of a blade. Go on, then. Hit her back. Drink and… whatever. Get it all out of their system.

She does not say Vivitsch. She says a lot more than that.

Which might be alright, for Byron is a good and keen listener who has made it his own private game to learn what he can from a Kara whose inhibitions are low, but she immediately winds her way to something too true, and his expression — furrowed eyebrows, cynical mouth shape — flattens out. Hollows. Eye contact becomes fixed in silent hostility and the rest of him is still. It's the first time that for a second, he forgets a little that he is Byron Wolf.

And Byron Wolf likes Kara Prince.

But she talks, and skitters the bottle in closer, and this time, when he leans forward to take it, he lets that momentum draw him up to his feet. Hefts the bottle, whiskey sloshing, before Byron twists around to pitch it hard at the wall to his left, where it shatters and splashes, the stink of alcohol immediately cloying in the air.

Probably undoing some of her taping at his back, while he's at it, but he sets his hand down on the table — balancing, after a moment of precarious off-balance — and leans in, and says, "What about your big fuckin' mouth?"

Kara is drunk, not blind. So she can see the way that her words are having an affect on Byron, but neither does she stop. There's a phrase for what they've engaged in together, both of them dealing with words and drinking.

Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

Congratulations, Kara, you've lost the rest of your bottle. Congratulations, Byron…

Kara rocks to her feet, shoulders unmoving with the tension they've adopted since he's thrown the bottle. She fixes her gaze down on him, the easiness in her expression tapering into nothing. The edge of her mouth curls as her hand snaps out—

grabbing him roughly by his shirt rather than punching him.

"I'm not the one," she reminds him a touch quietly, pulling him closer so the words don't go missed. "Talking about a fucking mutiny."

In spite of that show of anger, the necessary energy and flex of muscle and movement to hurl the whiskey bottle across the room, it doesn't manifest as the same stiff tension that's installed itself in Kara's shoulders. Byron bends that extra inch as he's pulled in, his hand flat on the table stabilising his balance just enough to keep it.

He leers. "What're you gonna do about it," is just as quiet, "you put a bullet in my head?"

And hands snake up as he says this, planting themselves on her shoulders, shoving with force intended to be enough to loose her grip on him. They bump against the table in their efforts, a glass skittering with the short sharp juddering tremor of it. "I'm not the problem. Gray," and despite himself, his ability to sink into the psychic camouflage of his physical identity, calling Eileen by that name makes him give a short, sharp, toothy grin, "Gray's not the problem, or even her creepy fuckin' superpower."

Which begs the question, what is? Kara's already drawn a dick-line in the sand between himself and the likes of Ramirez. So he stalls out, almost confused in the midst of drunkenness, aggression, navigating the increasing fine line between the people he's supposed to be.

Byron's question changes the curl of the sneer Kara had started to express. A huff of amusement comes from her, but even so it doesn't eliminate the desire to lash out when he shoves her. The thought her fist might phase through an absurdly incorporeal jaw is a thought that stays her hand just long enough for him to start talking again. She'd seen bullets pass right through him, after all, and the last thing she wanted was to swing and be denied the satisfaction of a hit.

After all, that'd just be her luck.

She stubbornly stays rooted, torso rocking back and forth like a water-weighted dummy, though she does let go as she rights herself. The munitions chaplain has a scoff when Byron declares it's not Eileen that's the problem. Because maybe he's finally getting it.

"It's Sharrow that's the problem," she agrees in a rumble. It might be he's an easy scapegoat, or that it's simply true. "And Praxis, now."

Kara sniffs at that, looking down near her hand. No bottle exists to snatch up. It's a little hard to play the game without anything to drink. She's not entirely settled back from that tension yet, either, her back-up bottle forgotten — as it tends to be. "The fuck're we gonna do," she wonders suddenly, the words barely more than a quiet growl meant only for herself.

She lets out a long, pensive sigh to wonder about that, her thoughts not leading her anywhere in particular with the state she's in.

The tension as far as Bryon can sense it leaves the room, a vacuum, in the moment of mumbled agreement from Kara, as much as Byron has a little ill-will and aggression to spare should they keep snapping. He is dully aware that he is bleeding past the bandages that Kara slapped down on him, blood thin with the evening's libations, and with a thought, draws it back up into the wound, re-knits it together with crystallising clots sealing it in.

He sits back down, one last look of generalised hostility sent Kara's way for the last series of low blows. Looks, then, at the empty glass left on the table, unaware of back up alcohol.

Her question hangs in the air. If mutiny isn't allowed, then: nothing, ostensibly.

"What do you know about Sharrow?" he asks. "And Eileen."

Her knuckles curl as she leans against the side of the table at the question’s addition, finding something about it either hard to answer or hard to face. How much did she know about Eileen?

“This and that,” Kara admits freely in the same rumble as before. This time it’s meant dismissively. “Arguably? Little. But you spend less time digging into people’s pasts when you know you’ll find something you don’t like there, and you like things the way they are now.” It’s possibly a fault, but it’s lead to a very successful relationship with the Remnant. “We met … two years ago, now, when she and them came to Sedro. Only heard about her being with the Ferry when we moved East. Stories about heroes and villains alike … only a few made it into the Dead Zone.” Only a few she cared to listen to and remember, anyway.

She sniffs, oblivious to letting certain details bleed that normally she’d gloss over— the details that she’d avoid because it would lead to prying, and the realization that not everything lines up about her, or the Horsemen.

“We talk about our ‘before’, on occasion,” she says, rapping her knuckles against the table. “And that’s enough.”

“Sharrow, though — was also a Van… Vanguardian? Vanguardite? Whatever you want to call it,” Kara scoffs, too drunk to be bothered with what’s proper, and too ill-willed toward the concept in general to care much. “Banker, she said.” Either Yi-Min or Eileen. “I know he’s obsessed. Reveres Volken— the Conduit. For him, I think they’re one and the same. He’s an old, old cur who thinks he’s learned a new trick. Flipped his hat inside out and pretends he bought a new one.”

She settles back onto her stool with an uneven thump, holding onto the side of the table to keep her upright and steady. As if realizing how much she’s said, her gaze trails back to Byron and she clarifies she knows “Enough.” about them both.

Byron gives a sharp exhale, half-sigh half-scoff, funneled through nasal passage. "You know, when I first came here," he says, sitting back in his seat, legs loosely apart, "I figured: if this becomes the Ferrymen, vee-two? Fuck that. They're a footnote to a war and some ruins up the river. So what are you asking me — sit back and let this place become the Van-fucking-guard?

"At least the Ferrymen collapsed 'cause of the one sell-out. It wasn't the whole operation rising up with knives in their hands, 'cause that was the Vanguard."

Maybe he's read a lot about recent history. Talked to Eileen a lot. As much as he is using Byron's voice, the filter is a little thinner than usual.

"If you wanna stand by and watch that shit happen 'cause you're playing at bein' a good little tin soldier? That's awesome. But I don't think that's you. That bitch woulda pulled the trigger today." He looks off towards the broken glass in its thin pool of whiskey on the floor, as if it dispel some energy in that direction. "Sooner or later, Sharrow's gotta fuckin' go. Or I'm out." Which is broadly funny, because who the fuck is he in the grand scheme of things, even to Kara — but he imagines that he is Sylar, and he imagines taking Eileen with him.

There’s a delicious irony in discussing a potential siege for power one minute, perhaps even being in favor of it, and then scoffing the Vanguard the next for … whatever, something similar. Kara’s lone acknowledgement for it is a hic that might have been a chuckle if it weren’t cut off. “Vivitsch,” she tells him automatically, something in the last few moments serving as a trigger. She looks for the bottle — it’s still missing, Kara — and then rocks to her feet, ambling with heavy but sure steps for the locker the backup is stored in, her toes scuffing the ground each time she lifts her feet. She'll fix this. Don't worry.

“It goes that way, not likely to be just you that goes,” she thinks aloud. “Fucking… Vanguard isn't what any of…"

The locker clatters as it opens, pried just a little too forcefully, and then Kara returns, holding the emergency liquor above her head in a kind of gleeful victory. It doesn't fully read quite like that until she boisterously pronounces, "Vivitsch!" and plants the bottle down before Byron.

Byron fixes his bleary focus down on the bottle, which is preposterously full of alcohol. He feels his stomach clench, and yet, she says the thing, and he reaches out. Grimly. Like he has one duty to perform tonight, and it's this.

He drags it nearer, twists the cap, takes a hiccuping breath, and—

"What the fuck does that word even mean?"

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