Dust To Dust


bf_kara_icon.gif yi-min_icon.gif

Scene Title Dust To Dust
Synopsis Yi-Min tries to prepare Kara for the future.
Date January 19, 2020

Sunken Factory, Pine Barrens

January hardly seemed like the appropriate time for spring cleaning, but Yi-Min was on the warpath. It meant time away from her lab, which stole so much of it lately, so why not take advantage of the unseasonable warmth that softened the earth and lead some to shed their coats entirely?

Certainly, Kara's living space could use the dust intervention.

"You know," she remarks, casually avoiding acknowledging the smell of must that comes from the rolled rug they carry between them. "I believe this is the most daytime we've spent together in… weeks." Kara glances to Yi-Min only briefly before she angles them around a passerby. Considering she'd only been back weeks to begin with…


"Is there something special about today?" she asks, not expecting an answer of any real weight. For as taciturn as she could be, sometimes, the conversation alone was what held merit.

Unsurprisingly, Yi-Min is much less reticent about physically reacting to that offensive odor of cloth, dust and pure age wafting out of the burden she is carrying with Kara, briefly taking one slender hand away in order to wave it right under her nose.


That first spoken observation, the one about this being the first real quality time together the pair of them have managed to nab in weeks, gets a tiny, bright half-smile of concurrence from Yi-Min.

The follow-up question earns a "Well. Yes." It's prompt, not a bit less bright, and cheerfully mysterious enough to be totally unhelpful through the interim until she actually bothers to clarify:

"Today is a day where I get to spend some time with you." It's said as incidentally as though it were the most obvious thing in the world: these are always special days.

The side-eye Kara afford Yi-Min might be over her drama in reacting to the rug— yes, she knows by now— but it might also be over the deflection in a clear answer. Yi-Min never bothered to be opaque unless she had a reason for it.

So she had to have a reason for it. Some reason, anyway.

"You've been working nonstop on that project of yours," Kara points out quietly, an attempt at being delicate instead of presenting assumptions. "Rarely a day of rest." She shifts ahead of them to navigate through the doorway outside, dull sun bearing down on them through a haze of clouds. The steps down to the grass are short, but she keeps her gaze averted back from Yi-Min as they move through the yard. Perhaps it's another sign of delicacy on the matter.

"With it being… so close to the finish line, I'm surprised you found time for a day off."

Yi-Min had not been acting deliberately opaque, or least she had not thought so, but Kara's suspicions about her motives are nevertheless on-the-nose.

"Uncertain days lie ahead," the smaller woman says breezily but somewhat more seriously, her own gaze flicking briefly up towards the bloom of the shaded sun as they pass into the outdoors. She notices, too, how Kara is being rather avoidant about meeting her eyes.

"I… think I have come to an accord of sorts with Zachery. I do not know if this is anything like the right word, but." Kara can get the sense that this isn't just a case of Yi-Min being unsure of the proper term in English, as sometimes is the case. The situation is just that puzzling. "Whatever it is, we are on a slightly better footing than we were before. So, I feel more comfortable leaving things up to him today.”

She descends the final step down to the gentle slope of grass, catlike. “Even if not, however. I felt it important to take time for what is important."

Kara looks back to Yi-Min with a small shade of a smile, stopping before the hodgepodge of metal poles with string and wire strung between them. With a heft, she lets the rug unroll, uncaring that it touches the grass. Better that than in mud. "Back to first-name basis again? It really must be going better after all," she remarks with an offhanded lightness. With a rough shake, Kara straightens and begins to hoist the rug upward. Instead of the usual pins, she takes a sturdy metal clamp off her belt to fix the corner of the rug across the wire.

"If it all turned out to be worth it, then that's good." she pronounces, glancing back to Yi-Min as she pulls a second clip off to affix the middle of the rug up. "I wasn't sure what kind of results you'd get long-term… especially as it gets nearer to…"

That treads too closely to the worries she tries to burden Yi-Min as little as possible with, though, so her expression slacks and she turns back to snap the clamp down. Her concern manifests only again in the sigh she directs at the rug. "This thing is worse than I thought." The state of it, that is. Clearly she's concerned about the wear on it, that's all.

"Maybe you were right— to think it was important we take care of this today."

As they arrive at their makeshift destination, Yi-Min does spare a glance for her end of the rug to ensure that it does not end up dragging through too much grass. Ever since that long-ago quest to redecorate Kara's astonishingly boring room in the Sunken Factory, she had grown accustomed to caring more about Kara's possessions than Kara did herself.

It is, as it had always been, about the principle of the matter.

As is what follows. "You know I am always right," Yi-Min teases as she works on clamping off the opposite corner, but the glimmer of momentary wistfulness in her eyes is a silent addendum that speaks to the implication of being right in this situation. The warm smile she wears on top does not hide it, instead layering through it for a mixed bittersweet feel.

"Do not worry about this. It will take some work, some cleaning perhaps, and then it shall be alright again." Her gaze, as it slants up to inspect the fabric of the rug, carries with it a firm, contented-seeming assurance.

Kara lets out a huff of amusement, smile tugging at the corner of her mouth despite herself. Yi-Min did have a way of being right. When she looks back and meets the other woman's gaze, something in it catching her attention. Her smile weakens as she steps back, looking the entire piece over while it hangs to judge it for signs of obvious water damage.

Yi-Min's optimism about its state isn't unshared… but this was beginning to sound like a project Kara is not sold on the use of. Her nose twinges as she fights off the urge to make a face at it in its entirety.

Wrapping an arm around Yi-Min's waist is a suitable distraction, to both that, and the topic at hand. "What about this thing?" she asks, subtle as a truck. Without so much as a glance to see who might be looking, she presses a kiss to the top of Yi-Min's head. "You think you'll be alright, too?"

"I've been worried about you, you know," is likely an unneeded addition, added for no one's benefit but Kara's own.

"You are so cute when you make this face." Just seeing it touches off the beginning of a bright peal of laughter from Yi-Min, a sound interrupted by what is indeed a highly suitable distraction from Kara, once that arm goes around her waist.

Happily and serenely, Yi-Min leans into the kiss that descends on top of her hair, clasping Kara's arm more securely into her midriff with both of her own during it and after. There is another transitory moment when the smile she wears doesn't quite match the look that flickers to life in her eyes, though this time, Kara cannot see it due to her readjusted position.

It's a more silent reflection of Yi-Min's own worry.

"I could lie to you and say that yes, of course, I shall be fine. In truth, I have no idea. I can tell you that I do not think Adam will be very pleased with me, in the days that are soon to come. I… will probably have to leave for a while, I think."

It's Kara's turn for her smile to falter, and even though it can't be seen, it can be felt in the protective tightening of her arm around Yi-Min's middle.

"That's the safest thing to do, isn't it?" she says, suspiciously like an agreement. Despite that, she doesn't relieve herself of her current, physical ensaring of the smaller woman in her arm.


It's not quite a but, but it's almost one.

"Do you think it'll really matter to him if you are still here or not? I wouldn't put it past him to be vindictive… to take out his frustration on others anyway." Her brow begins to knit together at the thought, the realization innocents in Providence could pay for her partner's bravery mulling her thoughts.

"Yes." The safest thing, indeed. For her part, Yi-Min seems to be somewhat relieved by Kara's lack of argument, and it is a palpable relief that can be felt in her form as Kara holds onto her.

"I do not know if he would attack Providence without any directed purpose. That would be foolish and pointless and childish in the extreme, but you bring up a good point. The possibility should not be discounted." As she says this, Yi-Min presses Kara's arm more tightly about herself yet in a mirrored reversal of Kara's gesture, and for a fraction of a second, her eyelids slip shut.

"If what you suggest so much as appears as though it may come to pass, I will attempt to draw him away. And if worse comes to worst, I will offer myself up to him."

Nobody around Yi-Min would suffer for what she had done, and what she yet planned to do. This she would ensure.

And Kara smiles for that, strained though it is. Yi-Min would do her best at making sure of that, certainly. "They came last time without warning," she reminds as gently as possible. "I imagine they'd be happy to do the same a second time. But, on the offchance they make a first appearance without shooting, then I'll tell you."

The implication that wherever Yi-Min would go would be without Kara isn't one she's comfortable with. So she chooses instead to hope: "Should I take it that means you'll stay as long as possible? Until there's a confirmed threat?"

"No. I will remove myself as early as possible, so that Adam will be made aware as early as possible that his target is no longer present." After the handoff. As Yi-Min draws that clearer picture of what her prospective timeline looks like, there is also something in her tone that brooks no debate.

"Disavow me completely. You will not know where I go. If it will help, advertise that Providence has washed its hands of me. That you have, at last, gotten rid of the snake in your midst."

At least for some of the residents there, she knew that would not be a difficult thing.

For all that Yi-Min was planning to do in the weeks to come, what she had told Kara was only the beginning of it.


Rejection of that suggestion is immediate, if immediately wordless. Kara draws back from Yi-Min in order to look at her better, dusting off the rug thoroughly forgotten. Shock blanches out other visible emotions, eyes flitting back and forth between Yi-Min's. Zero thought is given to the delivery of her words, which come of their own accord.

"Are you insane?"

She'll feel guilty about the word choice later, but later isn't now.

"You're not— I won't." Kara's voice rises in volume as part of her failure to calmly parse the implication that Yi-Min meant to leave her behind, and was asking her to do the same. The urge to grab hold of her again if only to emphasise she wouldn't let her go is the only urge she's able to push down. She needed to use her words, even if she was wielding them like they were a tree trunk, walking right into the chainsaw of Yi-Min's precision.

"I will not do that to you."

"Listen. I will return, if it becomes safe to do so," Yi-Min says in a quietly pained voice, not bothering to underscore the uncertainty bundled into that word if. She meets Kara's eyes, but something like a veil-like cloud has settled behind her own.

If she is insane, and she might well be, she is just as recalcitrant.

"You are not doing anything to me. I have done all this to myself, and I will happily reap the consequences of what I have been sowing. I…

Yi-Min lets out a low, suppressed breath of a pause before finishing this up. "Know that this will end, one way or another. This is the promise I can and will offer you. Whatever happens to me out there, the state of affairs I just set forth will not be permanent." It would be deeply unfair to Kara to live on in perpetual uncertainty, and well Yi-Min knows it.

This is a decision that carries finality. In this moment, Kara knows there's no argument she can carry that will sway Yi-Min enough to derail her. Perhaps shake her resolve, but that's all. This is something she's been thinking about for a while. Likely before Kara returned to Providence.

A chill breeze catches flyaways from her tied-back hair, bringing Kara to run her hand back to smooth them over. She leaves it resting atop her head, unable to look at Yi-Min.

"I know you think this is worth it," she snipes without taking her eyes off the field, leaving them fixed on a rusted old vehicle standing out in the bent, dead grasses. "So for your sake, I hope it is. I hope you get out of this what you wanted, that it's worth casting off everything for. I thought for a minute I could do something selfish for once, but … all the fool me, I guess."

She rocks to the side, feet shifting. They don't move more than that. If she started walking, it wouldn't be to pace.

"What about everything we talked about?" Their half-made plans, their envisionings of some idyllic 'after', back before their world had been turned on its head three separate times, back when the 'after' had only consisted of fending off the evolved-hunting robots and militia at Providence's border. Maybe it's vain, but she'd still held hope for that. Kara turns back, the light catching her eye as she looks to Yi-Min, her hand slipping off her head to fall back to her side. "Why didn't you tell me this sooner? Would you have not told me if you'd had the choice?"

If only Kara knew how deeply Yi-Min's resolve was being tested, and not only within the earnestness of this moment. Not by far.

She doesn't move, doesn't attempt to guide Kara's angry gaze back to her. She only stands there, small and helpless-looking. Her hands are loosely clasped in a resting position before her, but it looks like that was the last resort after not really knowing what else to do with them.

"I'm sorry," Yi-Min manages at last, barely above a whisper, and even that is nearly carried away by the touch of the next slight breeze that furls through the space she is occupying, curling through her own short hair. "I did not tell you because I knew you would react this way. Kara… I want nothing more than to simply live a life with you somewhere, far away from any and all of this. That little farmhouse we talked of. If I only could steal you away with me— when I go—" This falters, as though the rest of the words had dropped off into a hollow.

When next she smiles at Kara, there is the lightest sheen in her eyes. Tears. "You will build that farmhouse, still. If not for us, then for you. You have a life here, whether or not I am not around to be in it, you know?" She doesn't reiterate the topic, but it isn't necessarily goodbye, after all. Anything still could happen.

And the only possible way for her to face the uncertainty is to be practical about it.

Kara surges a step forward, refusing to accept the attempt to prepare her for an after without Yi-Min's presence. "If that's what you want, then choose it, Yi-Min. All you have to do is choose it." Her voice falls, nearing her partner's whisper by the end.

"This… i-it isn't some fling." comes from her imploringly. She couldn't have read this wrong, not after all this time, not after… "We made plans together. We talked about a future together. You promised me you'd—" Kara blinks back tears she hadn't realized were there, confused by their development.

She's supposed to be the practical one, she thought.

"You promised to—" stay?

But she hadn't. She'd promised that as long as she was here, Kara wouldn't be alone. Yi-Min had never made the promise to always be there. And there was an option for them to stay together, if Yi-Min did not turn her down in favor of going on the run alone. It was an option, a choice Kara had already tried to make once, though, and her feet had lead her back to Providence.

Maybe Yi-Min knows that better than she does.

Pre-emptive anger at herself brings the water in her eyes to overflow, teeth gritting as she tries to fight it back.

When Yi-Min finally summons up the wherewithal to speak again at the end of a fluttering inhalation, she seems just a trifle calmer. Closer to her normal, pulled-together self.

Which is a temporary measure given that her heart feels as though it may just tear itself into two.

"It is too late now," Yi-Min points out with a kind of heavy faintness, voice calm to mask the emotions inundating her core. The right time to have made that decision would have been months ago. Now, the natural consequences of it could only carry her forward.

After some hesitation, she paces forward too, in soft little steps that are forlorn with a level of deepest misery. "The only way I could still choose this thing now," and thus enable herself to stay in Providence by taking the path of least resistance, "is to give Adam the biological weapon that he seeks from me. I refuse to let the horror I saw in that dream come to pass. I will not let…"

"…anything happen to you." Yi-Min is whispering now as she reaches forth to touch Kara's cheek, desperately, the tips of her slender fingertips curling around those familiar contours. She closes her eyelids and shakes her head very slightly, unable to see anything anymore through her misted eyes.

"I will not place you in the path of any harm. The only thing I can do is ask for your forgiveness, because I love you — I love you, one of the dearest treasures in my life, far too much to even consider this as an option."

For Yi-Min, the notion of good options had ceased to be long ago.

There were only choices like this left.

Kara doesn't react to the touch at first, looking down at Yi-Min through the tears that stubbornly refuse to clear. It's only after her partner's eyes close that she lets a flicker of that deeper anguish change the shape of her face for just a moment, taking in a shallow breath that believes itself to be deep for all the struggle it takes to draw it in.

Then she looks up over the top of Yi-Min's head, warring with herself. Her eyes flicker shut as she lifts a hand to cover over the one on her cheek, closing around it to slowly pull that gentle touch away from her just as gently. Eyes still closed and brow knit deeply, she leans forward to place a firm kiss on Yi-Min's forehead.

I love you, too isn't said, not exactly— but it's in the squeeze of her hand, the mourning look in her eyes as she opens them and looks down at her again, and even in the step she takes away. Kara turns from her and begins walking back across the yard, in the direction of the disused train rails.

She finally pries an exhale from her lungs once she's a few steps away, and with effort reminds herself to keep breathing. Her head tilts toward the sky the next time she breathes out, seeking guidance from the grayed clouds. If not guidance, then grace. Grace enough to know what to do from here, or grace enough to find an adequate reply for Yi-Min's supplication to her. Words, sky. Give her words.

They have none to give her.

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