Everything Is (Not) Fine


kara_icon.gif yi-min_icon.gif zachery_icon.gif

Scene Title Everything Is (Not) Fine
Synopsis It is (not). It will (not) be. More than just Yi-Min and Zachery go their separate ways in this one.
Date January 28, 2020

Today was the day.

Kara's been sitting on the edge of her bed, hands clasped together between her knees while the heel of one foot bounces repeatedly off the ground in movements that amount to fractions of an inch. Her eyes have been set on the clock ever since Yi-Min left. She'd tried to tend to chores, to pretend that everything was fine, but she could not last long at that. She would not pretend everything was fine right now.

Not when the woman she loved was putting her life on the line.

Her eyes close hard as her heel continues to wobble, jaw setting. She couldn't— shouldn't be anywhere near a place where Adam Monroe was going to turn up, and yet every minute that passed, her worry grew. It's now that it reaches its breaking point. Yi-Min should have been back by now. It's been hours.

Her gun is in her hand before she realizes it, the magazine checked before it's slid back into the gun and a round loaded from it into the chamber. She tucks away the weapon behind her, in a holster clipped to the inside of her belt, eyes moving on to check the rest of the room. She's off to the armory, next, to find a vest. Just in case. If for some reason she came at the wrong moment, at least they'd have to expend effort to maim her again.

She pauses in the middle of snapping the vest to her body. Was it Adam who'd…? Kara's eyes narrow at nothing as she tries to recall. No, Adam hadn't been the one to bring the world down on her head. He'd never made it that far.

He'd exploded into ribbons of flesh and viscera.

How the fuck was he going to be meeting with Yi-Min at all, then?

Her nerves climb, and there's no one near her to talk her down as her mind races, confusion adding to her already heightened anxiety. She has the answers already, even if she doesn't have the presence of mind to recall them at that moment. Her focus remains on verifying Yi-Min's safety and securing it if need be. No one stops her as she goes through the factory and out to the stables in the yard, doesn't question her as she pulls herself onto her horse's back without affixing a proper saddle. No one stops her as she charges down the train tunnel to the path back to Providence.

In fact, nothing stands in her path the entire way to Zachery Miller's homestead.

Miller Residence, Providence

10 am

The moment she's passed the broken-down fenceline in front of Zachery's home, Kara begins the process of slipping off of Semej's back, her feet hitting the ground unevenly. Her steps stumble as she continues to let herself be carried forward. The yard is clear— no sign of blood to indicate something terrible's happened.

The front door is shut. It's a perfectly normal thing, but it does nothing to soothe her in this moment.

She comes up the front steps with heavy footfalls, hesitating before the door. Barge in? What if they were still doing business? Should she make this look … as normal as possible? Barging in would hurt things, if things were still ongoing. Just like being here at all could be.

But she didn't ride all this way to second-guess herself now. Kara decides to lift her hand, banging on the door three times with the side of her fist.

Knocking was the polite thing to do when making an unexpected call, after all.

Yi-Min is the one who answers the door.

As though this were her house. As though this situation were normal. As though everything were fine.

On first glance, and on a second one too, she certainly looks fine. There are no overt traces of blood or injury anywhere on her, and no obvious noises from further within that would signal the presence of anybody inside who ordinarily wouldn't be.

All the same, there is something not quite right. Something off inside that silence that reigns through the opened crack of the door. Even Alf is being oddly silent, wherever in the house the magpie is currently hiding.

"Kara," Yi-Min breathes, and then wraps herself into the taller woman's embrace without so much as another word or warning of explanation. Her intent is only a brief but insistent hug, so she pulls away before long. Still, she remains close at hand, and curves a gentle hand around Kara's lower cheek before speaking again. "I thought I told you to stay away, for now." Just in case.

Within the silence of the home, someone else stirs. Zachery appears a small distance behind Yi-Min, a shoulder leaned into the doorway that leads from the living room to the hallway visible from the front door. His is a familiar face for sure, though Kara's never quite seen it so neutral — so entirely without the intention of communicating anything to anyone, at the moment. Just simply done.

He says nothing when his eye finds her face over Yi-Min's shoulder, turning to wander back into the room. As good of a welcome as she's going to get.

"You didn't come back," Kara says, assuming the embrace means there's no need for deadpan airs, for distance. It's a short phrase, bereft of extras as normal — but it's clipped. There's something unusual about it all the same, the same way the silence in the house is the same, yet different. "I couldn't wait any longer. I needed to know."

The hug is registered but goes largely unreturned, Kara's state of alert decreased none. She looks over Yi-Min's head to quickly take in the space, finding Zachery. His unreadable response is one that doesn't ease her overall concern, something about it seems heavy in a way that shifts the nature of her anxiety.

"Is it done?" she asks, the question aired between them both. Something doesn't seem right, but she's not put her finger on it just yet. Not exactly. "Where's the other?" Ah. That's it. That's one tangible thing. Adrienne's absence is something that helps qualify why the air is off.

Kara frowns.

"It is done, yes. Things proceeded as planned." More or less, minus a few details that don't seem terribly important from Yi-Min's point of view.

Noticing the way Kara is looking past her further into the house, Yi-Min turns her head to gaze vaguely in that direction too, as though sharing in the action might have a palliative effect. Her eyes flicker over Zachery for one contemplative second. "Adrienne is gone. She departed with Adam." Just as the time for her to leave was drawing close, too.

This also isn't something that feels like it needs to be iterated aloud. Both of them are well aware. Nevertheless, at the last moment, Yi-Min allows herself a sliver of wryness. "I am sure Zachery will be more than relieved to have his house back to himself."

That may be a topic better left for another time. As for right now, Zachery's voice does more to invite people further in than shoo them out:

"Adam," he calls from the living room, plucking a blockish medical book off of a bookshelf by its spine and flipping through its pages in search of something. "… Did not leave with Adrienne. In fact, I'm not sure how much of him was ever here to begin with."

Well, those are two wildly conflicting statements.

Kara's arm slips from around Yi-Min's side, curious as to what has Zachery's attention as it does. She glances down at her partner before taking a step toward the living room space. "Are you being obtuse?" she asks, leaving things purposefully or an or statement to the question firmly off to the side for the time being. She arches an eyebrow as she observes his intent search.

For once no, Yi-Min's dark eyes say with the slightest note of amusement. What she says aloud is: "When I said things went as planned, this I meant. But the truth about Adrienne lies… somewhere in between. Suffice to say that Adam believes this to be the case, and this is what is important." Kara knows her well enough to recognize that her partner is not deliberately obfuscating the truth— she is, rather, keeping this specific matter stripped to the essentials for the sake of both simplicity and safety.

As Zachery grows more fixated on his search for something, Yi-Min's gentle focus on Kara slips a little too, diverted towards watching this spectacle in a very small blossom of curiosity. "What are you searching for?"

"I'm trying to make sense of what I…" Zachery starts from where he stands, before carrying the book over to the couch and settling heavily down across from the darkened fireplace, flipping through pages full of text still. "Saw — Felt — whatever you want to call it. It's like smelling the ingredients to a wildly complicated dish but not knowing what it ends up as, or how it gets there." And it's more than a little frustrating, if his clipped tone is anything to go by.

He continues to go through the book, but at least gets to a point where he's tracing a finger over specific sections before flipping to a new page. No, no, no, maybe… no, next… "If there's any kindness left in the world, Adrienne has gone to find it rather than having been moved to another pair of hands to keep her," he muses idly, starting to read one of the pages more closely before adding, distracted and puzzled, "This Monroe was new."

Kara doesn't know nearly enough about Zachery's apparent ability to make sense of whatever he's talking about, but the vagueries around Adrienne are easier for her to find meaning in. Her alarm rises. "Wait— if she didn't go with him, then who did?" Her hand lifts to rub at the side of her nose as she tries to will patience with the situation, but she pauses at Zachery's last comment.

She sees a flash of golden eyes, feels the twitch of her finger as it comes away from her face. The moment Adam bursts into nothing in the memory, the moment she would be hit with gore from him, she experiences a tic of a shudder. Her eyes close hard.

"I'm sorry, new?" she asks, as if that explanation for how he was here somehow didn't make perfect sense to her.

"A mutual… friend. Don't worry about it." Please.

One of Yi-Min's hands finds and settles onto the small of Kara's back, as lightly as a butterfly. The weight of it there is reassuring all the same, and this only deepens in feel as she perceives Kara's shudder with a note of firm empathy.

As for Zachery's observations, she is still holding the book's cover in the center of her vision with increased interest now. "New, yes. What did you see? Or feel, or however it is your gift works. Were you able to perceive that his ability was different?"

Zachery does not immediately respond, attention still downward. When the words do come, they do so all at once, even if relatively calmly.

"You keep assuming I know anything about the man, as though I was ever on the frontlines of…" He loses his train of thought, flipping to another page. "I didn't even know his hair colour, let alone what he could do. Besides, I… I don't really know how to…" In too many words, that's a 'no'.

He looks back up, expression still neutral. "The tissue in that body was… two, three, maybe four years old at the most. And damaged at that, internally. I think it's safe to say that for the emotional connection you two made before he lit up every nerve in your skull like it was New Year's in there," he levels a look at Yi-Min, "that he wasn't just an empty shell."

Which leaves him with another option. "Are we just casually cloning people now?" And furthermore, "Should this surprise me?" Tone implies no.

Don't worry, Yi-Min says, about something that causes concern. When Zachery adds onto that, opening her eyes Kara turns to her directly, too stunned to have much of an outward reaction at all. "He hurt you?" she asks in a gravelly low, protectiveness flaring in her gaze.

But Yi-Min has asked her not to worry, and she makes the decision to pick her battles by not pressing this one. There's a bigger one yet to come.

In the meantime, there's at least no shortage of topics she could shift to. She looks back to Zachery, still torn visibly between whatever his curiosity is and her concern over Yi-Min. "I mean, cloning has been a topic since the 90's. They proved it possible, but unethical. People can get their pets cloned in Korea or something, but human cloning was barred." Kara relates distractedly. "What you're talking about, though— you didn't meet with a child, but an adult. The ability to…" She frowns, realizing she doesn't have a proper term for what she's trying to describe. Well, she has one, but… Who'd have thought Star Wars knowledge would ever be useful in real life?

"Flash cloning, rapid aging— that's all the stuff of science fiction. Even so, clones aren't born with the memories of the person they came from. Genetically they're the same, but everything else…" Shaking her head, her gaze settles on Zachery with a little more focus. "They say there's no limit to what abilities can do, so maybe they can copy a whole life's worth of memories onto a person. But why? Monroe is immortal. Why would he even have a need to do that, go that far?"

Vanity, possibly. Not trusting anyone but himself? Kara frowns. There was also the other thing.

"… Unless he was worried about running into…" she mutters to herself, hand lifting again to rub at her eyes. Abruptly, she turns to Yi-Min again, on the verge of asking something… but lacking faith for a clear response since the topic is worry-inducing, finds herself turning back to Zachery of all people instead for her answer. "When he hurt her," she asks impatiently. "Did he use lightning to do it?"

"The… copy of Monroe that was at the black forest, he shot lightning from his hands." And somehow, that felt like a step beyond just regeneration, like Eve had suspected the cases of multiple Adam's might be.

But what did she really know of any of this anyway?

Yi-Min listens patiently to all of this conjecture with some sense of amusement closeted deep in her expression. It does not fade when the topic of being hurt by Adam is brought up, though she does curl her forearm about Kara's lower back just a little more securely. A little more comfortingly yet.

"It is fine," she promises again. Her free hand lifts slightly by her side, palm up, as though to silently say— 'See? No lasting or even visible marks.'

And it is also she who answers Kara's query first, before Zachery can. "No. It was some form of direct nerve manipulation, so far as I could tell from the experience. I wish I could tell you otherwise, but you both are not far off. Adam has had his… own little side project of casually cloning himself. Each clone infused with a different ability." As far as Kara's personal involvement goes, that is probably safe enough to say, she figures.

Zachery's jaw sets when he is denied an answer first, eyebrows lifting.

He listens instead, staring off somewhere in the vague vicinity of Kara and Yi-Min rather than directly at them. As he slowly closes the book in his lap with a dull thud of heavy pages realigning, he sinks back into his seat, and nods. No objection to the answer given in his stead.

But speaking of objections—

"Not to be crude," he asks with a hint of hesitation when enough of a silence falls, apropos of nothing save for the collective experience of the last month, "but are we done, here?"

The thud of the book closing draws Kara's attention away from Yi-Min again, arresting the blank look she'd directed her partner's way. Maybe it's a good question. For all her display of nervous energy, the talking more than she'd ever done in Zachery's presence before, she suddenly has nothing to say. There's a pause as she visibly works through that mental block, accompanied by a shake of her head.

"It depends," Kara says when she stills again. She supposes there's just one thing to be assured of. "How certain are you Monroe isn't coming back? Not only did you cheat him, but there was an impostor who went with him…" Further comment on that is left only to be insinuated, apparently.

Yi-Min looks as though she may be about to answer Kara, but instead, she refocuses her attention on Zachery's face when he makes his objection. In response, she only arches the mildest of brows in what seems to be willing acknowledgement.

"Come," she murmurs to Kara, letting her hand drift back to her side and already turning back towards the doorway herself.

"Let us give Zachery his space." They could continue this conversation between the two of them. Heaven knew that Zachery probably deserved it, too.

"Thank you," Zachery answers only just loud enough to hear, as if it's the last thing he'd like to say for a good while. "I'll be here."

With that, he leaves the book on the couch next to him and gets up to begin limping out of sight, further down into the kitchen. "At least until tomorrow, should no one stop by."

Because he'd probably be dead if they do.

Neither response sounds particularly like an answer, but if Zachery wants to wash his hands of this, Kara seems disinclined to stop him. She gives him a look as he heads for the kitchen before letting herself be corralled in the opposite direction, heading for the door again.

Outside, Semej has wandered, taking an especial interest in the overgrown lengths of hibernating lawn. He's pleased as punch to continue his roam, not even lifting his head as Kara and Yi-Min step out onto the porch. They don't even make it off the steps before the former reaches out for the latter, grabbing her by the forearm.

"Don't," comes from Kara, as much a warning as a plea in her current state. "Don't go trying to wave this all off just so it's easier for you to move on."

Yi-Min stops mid-stride on the step when Kara takes ahold of her arm, more in surprise at the words than at the action. This transforms into a slightly pained expression on her face; it is easy to draw a line of understanding regarding how such a conclusion had been reached, even if this does not make her happy.

"I am not trying to wave this off, nor diminish the consequences of my actions," she rebuts quietly, planting her feet to look up at Kara more squarely. It's a reassurance as much as rebuttal, and her voice carries a softness to its edge. "But what is done is done and cannot be undone. The only thing that can be done, now, is to look ahead to the future."

It's reluctantly that Kara lets go, but she does, fingers splaying as she pulls back and steps down to the yard. She lets out a pained exhale. The future. She's had days to prepare for this moment, both to formulate a better argument against it… or to accept it.

She doesn't.

"Yi-Min, stay. Please, just—"

We'll figure something out. We'll make it work. Those would be excellent follow-ups. Kara hints at them only with a gesture, her brow furrowed.

Beyond Kara, and beyond Semej, Yi-Min's own horse is waiting as patiently as his mistress. When she finishes descending those steps in her own time, it is not to go towards Kara, but towards the slender, milky-white frame of Parable as the stallion is poking his long snout into a wilted clump of prairie willow.

But once she gets to him, her hands reaching up to gently adjust the horse's harness, she stops. The thought of leaving again hangs heavy as a millstone around her neck, and she knows that to look directly at Kara right now would be to risk gathering up that feeling and twisting it like a knife into her own heart.

So. Yi-Min does not look at Kara, her gaze shadowed away into Parable. Turned away thus, her partner can't see how her eyes have gone wild and sad. "Maybe the future will not be cruel," is all she can manage, gently.

And maybe it would not.

It has a hell of a track record to work against, though.

Silence serves as an answer while Yi-Min prepares to go, Kara's struggle with words relapsing. At least turned away, she's spared seeing how it affects her partner physically. The way the vest strapped to her suddenly feels suffocating is impossible to see, regardless.

Footsteps serve to indicate that respite from knowing is over.

"Yi-Min," Kara breathes out only that warning before she takes her by the shoulder, pulling her into a desperate embrace and a firm kiss. Breaking from it only when she needs to come up for air, she rocks from one foot to the other while she continues to hold onto her. Rapidly-cooling tears streaked down her cheek, she asks in a worried whisper, "Who is going to look after you? Help keep you safe? I don't…. I don't know what I'll do if you go alone." Brow creasing, she admits the heart of it next: "I don't know what I'll do without you."

It's an embrace and kiss that Yi-Min relents and melts into once she feels that telltale touch on her shoulder, because she could not bear doing otherwise.

Together these two things last both forever, and not long enough.

The moment does not have an abrupt ending either, because Yi-Min does not let it. Instead, she just lingers on inside the comfort of Kara's possession, ignoring the horses and ignoring the outside world, fighting the morose urge to stay like this forever. What a simple temptation it was, and yet how simple it would be to become all-consuming.

She does draw herself back a little ways so that she can look Kara in the eye, smiling weakly as she does so. "You must stay and protect those I leave behind," is her gentle reminder, voice no higher than a solid murmur. "Providence needs you. Eileen needs you. As for me— well. Do not worry about me, or try not to. You know I can take care of myself."

Kara laughs— because if she doesn't she'll begin to cry again, and she's still not wiped away those first round of tears. She lifts her hands to cup the sides of Yi-Min's face, a small and sad smile coming to her in that moment. "I know you can look after you. I just wish you didn't have to. I want you to live in the moment, without having to look over your shoulder to keep the past from haunting you, or from having to look ahead to…"

At that, she falls quiet and her smile widens a touch. She couldn't imagine that Yi-Min didn't have something ahead on the horizon— something that called her to stray from Providence and from her.

She just strokes Yi-Min's cheek with her thumb before reluctantly letting her hand fall away entirely. The task that's set to her is neither accepted nor rejected. "Minni, I need you too. So, please…" Kara shakes her head ever so slightly before she leans in, resting her forehead against her partner's. "Promise me in everything, you'll think about that, too." Her hand finds Yi-Min's, fingers lacing together tightly.

In one last bid at bargaining, she closes her eyes to steel herself and stands upright before opening them again. "It'd be safer if you stayed," Kara insists softly.

It's Yi-Min's turn to conceal her own rather brightly mournful laugh into her murmur of a reply. "And it'd be safer for you if I didn't."

This is, in the end, the one thing that matters most to Yi-Min. The thing that is sacred, above all else. Above the prospect of happiness, or—


"The way I see it, our separate paths have intersected here." In what seems like a sudden non sequitur, Yi-Min taps the top of Kara's knuckle with her forefinger, as though she is talking about their interlaced hands. Her eyes are firmly settled on them, too, as she continues. "You were drawn here from whatever whimsy of fate took you from your world, and here, you keep returning. It is the same for me." Time and again, in recent months. Though Yi-Min hadn't traveled from afar to get to Providence in quite the same manner as Kara, the principle she is talking about is basically the same. The forlorn smile in Yi-Min's eyes in that moment is telling. It hovers the closest to some kind of spirit resembling optimism as she is going to get right now.

Just as this is the closest she can get to a promise she might return, in lieu of actually making one.

"I do not have to promise you that I will not stop thinking of you. That is a given, you know. I would not be able to if I tried. And one way or another… I don't think this story is over."

Their story.

It's all romantic, from start to finish, but Kara just feels miserable for hearing it. She needs to find it in her to let her go in this moment— to find grace enough to do it and hope that this really isn't the end.

But if something happened to her out there, how would Kara know? The next time she works herself into a worried frenzy over Yi-Min, she'd not know where she was. She'd not be able to validate her safety. There would be no easy way to calm herself. Every nightmare she'd have about losing Yi-Min, she'll wake up alone now, pawing at an empty side of the bed with anguish and fear and guilt clawing at her insides. More: Kara's done that before, with no desire to do it again.


"I'll stay," she promises in a whisper, tired and broken for all her attempts to find better words than those. "And not just for you. I'll…"

Kara will try to find herself again. For her own sake, too.

Her eyes shut hard as her throat tightens, and she lifts their clasped hands to rest the back of Yi-Min's against her cheek firmly for a long moment. She presses a kiss to her knuckles after a suitable moment has passed.

And then, reluctantly, she lets go.

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