Flirt Like Your Life Depends On It


ff_erin_icon.gif ff_nadira_icon.gif

Scene Title Flirt Like Your Life Depends On It
Synopsis Two women with parallel powers come together to muse credentials at the end of the world.
Date July 2, 2021

Delphi Scrapyard


My body’s aching, my hands are cold? Is that the lyric to that one song? The one by the Killers about being human or dancer? Maybe it was My signs are vital? Erin Gordon cannot remember. It’s been a long time, it seems like, since she has listened to anything for fun. Before the deluge, everything was work. After the deluge, everything was work. And now, everything is a suicide mission to the end of the world. Maybe now is a good time to start trying to enjoy herself again, but then, she doesn’t think that that album was ever released on either vinyl or cassette.

Still, she’s heard things about this Nadira person. Nadira can purify water. Nadira is very useful with water. And Erin, well, Erin works with hydroponics, and with soil, and with plants. Erin is very good at managing density and mineral makeup. Erin wonders, then, if there’s a connection to be made - whether superfluous or otherwise - with this person who has a power that may or may not compliment her own. At the very least, it’s never an evening wasted to chat up a handsome woman.

And there she is: the fire reflecting off of dark and thoughtful eyes, a perfect opportunity.

“Not to be cliche,” Erin asks, gesturing at the open spot next to her, “but is this seat taken?”

“No, not at all,” Nadira replies, nodding towards the spot. “Please, sit. The company would be nice.” She chuckles after a moment as she turns those dark eyes to study Erin now. “I would ask if you wanted a drink, were this a bar. Sadly it is not. Though I must tell you, were this a bar, I’d likely be mixing the drinks. I used to bartend.”

“Hey, that’s super cool!” Erin responds brightly, settling onto the downed log. “I do have some other types of imbibe-ables, but I don’t know if you’re into that kind of thing.” She takes out a peanut butter cookie, wrapped in cloth, and breaks off a piece. It smells and tastes of plants. “I’m an agricultural scientist by training, but I also figure people might need to, you know, relax once in a while. Where we’re going. If we’re going.”

She smiles uncertainly, closed-mouth, and stretches her long legs out some, digging her booted heels into the earth beneath, toes to the heavens. “I’m sorry. That was not a great introduction. It was an honest one, since everything seems to be pointed towards some sort of infamy these days, but y’know. Anyway, I’m Erin.” She holds out a dainty but calloused hand in an old-world, out-of-place introduction, fully aware of the weirdness of it all.

Nadira accepts the hand, grinning broadly. “Nadira,” she says, by way of introduction. “My infamy is all water, but most people already know that at this point. That or I am infamous for being the strange woman taking in rejects.” Her smile turns fond as she recalls her found family and the home they’d built.

“Even if introductions involve infamy, after them you are still left with a person beyond that. Sorry if I sound like some sort of old woman dispensing wisdom, I am trying to cut down on that a bit.”

“Not at all!” Erin is pleased to hear this. “I was a research scientist. I totally understand. I devised a method at Cornell for the easier determination of soil particulates, and it was really helpful for safely maximizing agricultural yield without pesticides, and like improving the health and safety of soil itself and blah blah blah, heavy metals are bad for people to eat, but at the end of the day, people knew me for my papers. It was nice to have the anonymity of being known for the good you do, but after a while it felt like I was more a shill for the university’s pride than a human being.”

She takes a sip of water from a hip flask. “Besides, our resident old wise woman is … dead? Who even knows where Eve is anymore. Or what. If you’re who I think you are, you’ve lived a few lifetimes yourself.”

“You are certainly more credentialed than I ever was, though I suppose my path in life took incredibly sharp turns at various points to get here,” Nadira replies, then grins again. “I think you should be the resident old wise woman, though. You have quite a bit of knowledge in there. My wisdom is mostly just suggestions and personal experiences rather than facts or anything useful.”

“Old!” Erin feigns disapproval and disdain, putting one hand to her chest in mock offense, and then laughs, affectionately bumping the other woman on the shoulder. “No, I don’t know about that, credentials-wise. Who’s read a dull paper about density when they can’t drink a glass of water? It’s priorities that matter here.” She sighs. “And who knows what tomorrow will bring. Which of us will be turned into a weapon against something we don’t understand.” There is something suggestive to it, of course, but a dark undercurrent, too.

"I have never been a woman of science. My background was in, ah, archaeology of a kind. Not necessarily the legal kind. My ability is the only real science I know, how the water ebbs and flows, where it dwells, the pressure it exerts, how it blends with other things but can be pulled from the debris…" Nadira sounds almost reverent when she talks about the water. "Perhaps dull papers do not matter now. We are here, now, and we do not really know what will happen. This reminds me of the stories of the Oregon Trail, settlers moving across the country like we are in a way. Things are wild and unknowable, food and water can be hard to find, and there is danger."

She cracks a smile. "I do not think we will have to resort to cannibalism, though, so that is at least a relief." The attempt at levity isn't something Nadira is sure will land correctly, but she tries anyway. In case it doesn't she quickly follows it up. "We live in the here and now, so priorities and the current situations are important."

“I won’t lie to you,” Erin says seriously. “If it came down to eating a corpse, and we were very, very hungry, I can’t definitively say that I wouldn’t do it. I can…mostly say that I wouldn’t do it. But honesty is important among honor of thieves.” A beat. “Wait. I said that wrong, didn’t I.”

“Can I ask what it’s like? With water?” She lowers her voice conspiratorially and leans marginally closer. “I’m not very open about this, but I have a similar connection with the ground. With the earth. And so I think I’d like to hear what it’s like with another part of the mother that cradles us all.”

"I would probably sacrifice myself long before it came to that sort of situation," Nadira smiles, equally as serious. It's the mention of water that draws her from the slightly playful tone to a more reverent one again. "I do not mind talking about it. It has basically been my entire life since the Flood. It is a bit hard to escape water when it is all around you like that. I consider it a bit of a calling. The water is, if we are speaking metaphorically, a person. It has emotions from anger to calm. If we are speaking more literally, it is like just feeling life, in a way. I feel it around me, I can sense where it is strong. In some ways, it also feels like an extension of me."

She laughs, for a moment looking a little flustered. "I am not exactly sure what I should be explaining with this, here, but I am happy to talk about it."

“You know, I’m not sure either,” Erin admits with a chuckle. “It’s kind of one of those things that is hard to put words to? I can just sort of tell, this soil sample has this sort of thing in it, if I have that kind of object I can phase my body through it - I sat in a chair and fell through once because I wasn’t paying attention to my surroundings, which was embarrassing.”

She digs her heels into the ground a little further. “I think, truth be told, I feel a bit useless on this journey so far. Nobody’s growing anything, and I’m a botanist by trade, but everybody kind of already has their groups of people they listen to. So I think I’m trying to find other people who have powers like mine, just in case…”

The worlds trail off and her eyes turn to the sky.

“Sometimes it is hard to see your own usefulness, or sometimes it takes some patience for it to come to you,” Nadira says, her smile warm. “For a while I was not sure of my ability being useful. Then, when the Flood came, I decided it was fate and went with it. I am certain there are ways you can use what you have, it just requires being creative at times.”

She gives Erin a soft little nudge. “You would be surprised just how much good company can keep up morale. Please do not think you are useless. If you need someone to simply be around, I am happy to keep you company. You will have to hear me admonish Kendall most likely, but my own circle of people is small. I would like to expand that.”

Erin’s gut does a backflip, but she tries not to betray such valuable information. “Well, Kendall is a sweetheart in his own way. I actually wandered around with him the other day and he did a lot to lift our spirits!” She pats the dog, who has appeared faithfully at her side. “But I’m not going to lie and say that that wouldn’t be hilarious. I’d definitely be, uh, interested in being in your circle.”

“You are right, he can be a sweetheart in his own way,” Nadira replies, grinning. “He can also be an ass. I am not certain he would listen to many others. I have known him since the start of the Flood, and he and some of the others look to me as an older sister or mother figure. It is not what I ever expected in life.”

The way Erin answers about the circle causes Nadira’s smile to broaden. “Is that so? I would be more than happy to welcome you in. This is a long trip, so I am certain we will have the opportunity to get to know each other.”

Erin winks. “Well, at the end of the world, by our powers combined, we can lob cannonballs made of ice and metal - and before then, it’s nice to have a friend.”

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