Everybody's Gotta Die


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Scene Title Everybody's Gotta Die
Synopsis Kaylee searches for answers in the head of a patient at Bannerman's infirmary.
Date February 11, 2011


The faded brick facade of Mas Mechanics has never appeared welcoming, but in the warmer months hardy weeds and flowers bloom from the cracks in the pavement, and vines creep through the chain-link fence that surrounds the property, more decrepit than Kaylee Thatcher ever remembers it being, but also more alive.

A crumbling cityscape rises around her and extends in every direction, its reach yawning past Midtown and across the dark, glassy waters of the Hudson River — skyscrapers stripped of their walls and windows exist transform New York's cityscape into a nightmarish approximation of itself, all steel spires illuminated by the glow of a flaming gold sun sinking steadily toward the horizon.

It feels like spring. Her shoes ripple through shallow puddles in the parking lot outside the garage, and a glance down at her reflection shows her a pale gray sky touched by subtle hints of blue but not a single cloud in it. Someone has left the garage doors open, or maybe they just don't close anymore — too old, too rusted — and inside the sound of voices and shrill, squeaky puppy barks echo at the top of a tall ceiling.

"Billy and Banana sittin' in a tree—"

"Eli, I swear—"


"You get that damned dirty dog outta here right this minute—"

"First comes love~!"

"I'm gonna put my hands around your skinny little twig neck—"

"Then comes marriage~!"

"And I'll squeeze—"

"Then comes Alicia in the baby carriage!"

"Scat! Shoo! Both'a you!"

Doing something like this always makes her nervous, you never know what you'll encounter when you dives into someone's head like this. Blue eyes narrow, squinting against the light of the sun. Kaylee doesn't need too, it's instinct really. This isn't really real.

Nor is it a dream, fingers reach up instinctively seeking smooth glassy scales that are not there. No silky voice to tickle her ears.

While the scenery is surreal and odd — buildings are stared at as something alien — it's the voices that draw her further. Young and full of life, bringing with it a little jealously. Sibling squabbles, like it sounded, were something Kay was denied growing up.

Fingers reach out to touch the vine along the chain link, waxy leaves sliding along the pads. Her boots crunch on gravel as she makes her way to the garage. Pulling away from the fence, she moves to the edge of the garage. Hands pressed to the exterior, support her as she leans to hazard a glance inside the gaping darkness of the interior.

Kaylee feels like such a Peeping Tom.

A young boy of no more than nine or ten comes tearing out of the garage, an oversized leather jacket fluttering around his rail-thin frame like a cape and untied sneakers slapping against the pavement. There's a labrador mix at his heels with curly black fur and dark, soulful eyes the same shade of brown as the boy's — its paws are large now, and will be even bigger by the time it grows into them a year or two from now. When the boy sees Kaylee, his cherubic face lights up, and such a thing really shouldn't be possible because it's already flushed pink and glowing with laughter.

Hannah appears in the garage's doorway a moment later, a wrench in one hand and an oily rag stained with engine grease in the other, her expression pinched into one of obvious irritation, but there's affection there too around the corners of her mouth where a smile might be trying to creep in.

The boy skids to an abrupt halt in front of Kaylee, spraying gravel and puddle water in a messy arc that splashes across her shoes and the bottom of her pants, though he seems not to notice. Or maybe he just doesn't care. "Alicia and me are gonna go visit Benji!" he announces in a strong, proud voice that sounds bigger than he is, which isn't very. "Walter promised he'd take me fishin' for bass! Bigmouth!"

Turning to face the boy, Kaylee looks confused, brows lifting a little. Pushing away from the wall where she's leaning, she offers the boy a smile. "Um…" She sounds a little uncertain of what to say. "Okay? Have fun, I guess?" Gaze shifts from boy to dog and then up to Hannah as she stands there. The names that leave the boy's mouth familiar in different ways. "Be careful," she feels the need to add to this strange child, since kids — especially boys — tend to feel little need for caution.

She gives one foot a flick, since water never feels good when it sinks into socks and shoes. "Hannah?" Kaylee finally asks, turning her attention to the girl standing in the garage. She's only done this a few times in her life time, so each time it's like trying to learn to swim. Already, things seem off.

"Yeah?" asks Hannah, wiping the sweat from her brow with the cleaner side of the rag, and although she's answering Kaylee, her dark eyes follow the boy and his dog until they swerve around the corner and are out of sight. Only then does she look to the other woman, and almost immediately her gaze grows solemn. "Something I can do for you?

"Billy put some coffee on earlier if you wanna come inside." She indicates the garage with a tip of her head, hair plastered to the left side of her face. Her face is a little flushed too, probably from chasing the boy around the garage — there's a motorcycle in pieces laid out on the floor on top of large piece of white cloth, plenty of pieces for small feet to trip over or puppies to snap up in needle-toothed jaws. Nearby, two plates scraped clean of their breakfast sit unattended on a round table with a battery-powered radio and what looks like a flashlight stood upright. "I could use a break. Benji's better'n engines, the bastard, but that ain't his fault what with who taught him. Still. Real frustrating, you know?"

Kaylee can't help but glance back at the boy as well, curiously, before following Hannah into the garage. There is a wistfulness as she enters the garage, eyes going to the motorcycle. "I miss my motorcycle," is said without thinking, fingers brushing over the gas tank. "Bought it to make my momma mad. Rebellion. Fell in love with riding it."

There is a soft sigh at the memory, pulling her attention back to Hannah. "I was hoping we could talk." Kaylee gives her a soft uncertain smile. A glance goes back to the door. Curiosity has her wanting to ask all sorts of questions. "Coffee would be nice."

"Sure." Retreating inside, Hannah tosses the dirty rag onto the seat of one of the chairs and picks up a mug, handpainted with Faith, Hope and Love scrawled across the side in a child's loopy lettering, each letter a different colour of the rainbow. She rinses it out in the deep industrial sink attached to the wall, careful not to chip its rim by bumping it against the faucet or something equally careless. "Make yourself at home," she adds over the rush of running water. Squeaks the tap off a moment later and uses the flannel shirt she wears over a fitted white tank-top to soak up the excess moisture.

"Sorry I ain't been around much," she says, crossing to the table. Rather than set the mug down again, she picks up the coffee pot and pours with one in each hand, having deposited her wrench on the counter somewhere along the way. "Business — it's not booming, but." But. "Here you go."

It's an odd situation, not something Kaylee has ever encountered, so… she moves to settle into a chair. Ankles crossing out of instinct and tucking feet under chair with her back straight. A smile is offered to the young woman as she takes the mug. "Thank you."

Kaylee looks at the mug for a long moment and then closes her eyes, concentrating on the world around her, looking for something to work with, just in case. She won't be able to sit here long, if Hannah won't budge… well, she'll have to start shifting through memories to find the event. "Not many people wanting bikes fixed?" Blue eyes open and she looks at the woman, meeting her darker ones. It all feels off, wrong.

A gun rack on the opposite side of the garage has rifles hanging from it, including the model Kaylee remembers Hannah patrolling with. A mirror with cracks slivered through it and mounted beside the rack catches the telepath's attention — not because she glimpses her reflection in it, but because she sees something else.

White flurries drift across the broken pane, and through the branches of pine trees dipped in what looks like icing sugar, Bannerman's Castle gathers snow but stands strong beneath the weight of the ice crusted to its stalwart stone towers. It is as Kaylee remembers it.

Presumably as Hannah remembers it too, and when Kaylee notices it, Hannah notices that it's been noticed. Her fingers curl tighter around the coffee pot, showing paleness around her knuckles. "Something like that," she says. "Why are you here?"

"I'm here, because I need your help." It's honest, Kaylee turns first her head and then eyes away from the mirror. Her chin tilts up a little, defiant in a way. "Many people's lives depend on your help, Hannah.

"Right now, you and I are in the infirmary of the castle. You were…" Kaylee's voice trails off a little, throat working as she swallows as if having to hold down a bitter taste. "You were found hung." The telepath looks away for a moment, to the cracked mirror, sadness finding it's way to her features.

"Rest of the patrol was dead. You survived." Light eyes meet darker ones again. "None of you were even in the clothes you left in… we need answers. We're worried." The mug is abandoned on the table as Kaylee rises from the seat. "I need your help, Hannah. Please." She doesn't want to have to do it the hard way.

Hannah's free hand goes to her throat, fingers drifting to settle in its hollow as her eyes turn down, unwilling to meet Kaylee's for more than a heartbeat. Two. Recognition does not dawn across her features, but settles across it instead like the snow in the mirror, drawn and white. Her lips thin out around what might be some form of protest — her voice stalls, and she lapses into a tense, uneasy silence.

Flakes begin to pass through the mirror, floating out into the garage on a chilled winter breeze, and Hannah sets the coffee pot down. Her arms wrap around her shoulders as she turns, putting her back to both Kaylee and the vision of Bannerman. This does little good. The smell of engine grease and damp cement, sooty earth— everything that defines the garage— has been replaced by the crisp bite of pine, logs burning in a far-off fireplace, horse hair and something a little like manure.

She has difficulty speaking, but where they are speaking isn't required.

The scene in the mirror changes to the clearing where the rescue party found the patrol. A tall, lithe man in uniform with thinning brown hair and sharp blue eyes coolly regards a young woman half-naked in the snow and clinging to her jacket to hide her breasts from him. It's not Hannah, but Molly Burwell, whose face is soaked with tears. He crouches down as if to help her, but instead wrenches the coat from her grasp with one hand and twists her hair between his fingers with the other, yanking her head up.

"Please don't," she whispers, and on the other side of the clearing Kaylee sees Hannah strain against the two soldiers holding her, both her arms twisted behind her back. She isn't wearing any clothes at all, and neither are the three other Ferry operatives with her, their bodies thin, almost shrunken without their padding and protection from the roaring wind and snow.

A horse screams, followed by a gunshot. Suddenly Molly is screaming too.

The telepath will hate herself later for forcing this on Hannah, but for now she turns to the mirror with interest. Kaylee feels sick at what she sees, wishing she could turn away like Hannah, but can't. She has to watch. Both hands lift to cover her mouth, one over the other, disbelief clear along with horror.

"Oh god…" is whispered softly, words muffled by hands, angry tears blurring her view of the mirror. It's been awhile since, Kaylee felt this kind of anger. She barely knew these operatives, but they were people that didn't deserve that sort of treatment. "Oh god…" she repeats again, hands reaching out to touch the cold surface of the mirror, as if wanting to reach through and help them.

It's only a memory though.

Reluctantly, she asks Hannah without taking her eyes off the scene. "Did they say anything?" Kaylee's voice trembles a little, with strong emotions.

Kaylee touches the mirror and it goes dark, which is convenient because Hannah has found her own voice again. "That it was too cold to rape her," she says thickly, "and that they were gonna be gracious. Leave one of us alive, but the colonel— Heller. He couldn't pick which, so— so he made us all stand on one foot in the snow until Molly'n them weren't anymore."

Even though her back is to Kaylee, she can hear the tears in Hannah's voice, low and steady though it is. "Like a fucking game. We're animals. That's all."

Turning back to Hannah, Kaylee watches her back for a long moment, listening. She'll hear feet shuffling, before a warm and gentle hand touches Hannah's shoulder. Fingers tighten gently, in a show of comfort. She doesn't move any closer, not wanting to invade the other woman's personal space, even if she wants to hug her.

"I'm… I'm sorry for making you relive that." She is, even if it was necessary. "I'll make sure they know what happened and who did it." Anger puts steal in Kaylee's voice even as the tears wet her cheeks and thicken her throat, "We'll get the bastard." Heller's name keeps popping up as of late, so many uttering that name.

Hannah's shoulder tenses under Kaylee's touch, but she doesn't pull away, muscles gone hard and wiry. "You don't," she bites off. Not can't. Don't. Oblivious to her anachronism, or uncaring, she smears the tears off her face with the sleeve of her shirt, pushing aside strings of wet brown hair. "S'H5N10, Kaylee," she says, finally. "You should'a left us swinging.

"Now everybody's gotta die."

Her hand comes off Hannah as if she has just been touching something scorching hot, fingers curl into her palms. "What?!" the word is hissed between Kaylee's teeth, eyes wide with fear. The concern of just that is what brought her here in the first place. Confirmation drives the nail home.

"The kids." A hand touches her lips briefly, tears swimming in her eyes again. The idea of them having to go through what she did. She remembers how the scarlet fever out break was. The hand drops to press against her stomach as the fear settled into it, hard and cold. Making her nauseous.

Hands snake out to grip the woman's arms, fingers tightening. "I need you to hold on, okay. Please?" Kaylee levels her with a pleading look. "For one there aren't too many of us that can egg Joseph into preaching again… and I want to see you through this to beat it. Show this Heller that you're stronger stuff."

Already, there is a haziness to Kaylee. She grimaces as the pain of her efforts start to filter in, as she's clearly starting to pull out. "You stay here with your memories, but know we ain't given up on you yet. Even if I have to come back here and remind you, that your needed." Her head turns a bit, like she's glancing over her shoulder. "Your friends are worried and scared for."

"I'm scared for me too," Hannah says, growing steely. When Kaylee's head turns, so does the brunette's, and she seeks out her eyes again. "Listen. There's something I gotta tell you. It's about Jo—"

Bannerman's Castle: Infirmary

Breath floods into Kaylee's lungs and blue eyes snap open. The stone walls of the infirmary come into focus, blurriness bleeding out the corners of her vision. She's sitting in a chair at Hannah's bedside, the cot's blankets drawn halfway up the unconscious woman's chest, one hand resting on hers to establish physical contact and make what just happened easier.

If it was easy at all. Beneath the covers, Hannah's chest rises and falls, her bruised lips pursed around the breath that rasps in and out and produces a shrill whistling sound, filling the room with the sound of what Kaylee called stronger stuff.

The other beds are empty and the lanterns dimmed for the comfort of the volunteers sorting supplies on the other side of the room, preparing for the possibility of an outbreak Kaylee knows is in fact inevitable.

Somebody coughs.

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