For Love


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Scene Title For Love
Synopsis Kara Prince, Joshua Lang, and Noah Bennet all have different definitions of love, but would all go to the same lengths for it.
Date February 13, 2019

You can’t make proper whiskey in Providence.

Alcohol with that level of aging and refinement comes from outside, has a value more versatile than paper money, and is often reserved for the influential and the powerful. Under the flickering glow of several oil lamps, those precise people are each offered a glass.

“I remember her.”

A wing of the sunken factory once haunted by Eileen Ruskin no longer has her unique presence taking roost within. The breezy room with tall, industrial windows and weathered hardwood floors has that rustic sense of charm that she always gravitated towards. Dried lilac and wildflowers hang from the exposed rafters, collecting dust rather than being replaced by newer harvests. Heavy, booted feet stride across that hardwood floor, footfalls growing muted where the thread across a mud-stained rug.

“I remember what she did.”

Very little happens in Providence, since the Incident, that doesn’t involve one of two people within the settlement’s leadership. When Iago Ramirez doesn’t deign to interject directly, that responsibility falls to the settlement’s second-in-command, Joshua Lang. For a while, it felt like Lang was mellowing out. Having a daughter, having a partner, it all seemed to shave the rough edges off of him. But his brush with death out at the old animal park left him rattled, left him without the benefit of his ANCILLA armor, and left him paranoid.

“Then maybe,” one of Joshua’s two guests says as he reaches across the table for a freshly poured glass of whiskey in a tin cup, “you and I might have a lot more to talk about.” Noah Bennet has dealt with Lang’s type for years; people who get a taste of power and let it go to their heads. Noah’s presence here in Providence went all of two days before Lang politely invited he and the other person in the room over for a sit down meeting.

A tin cup halfway full of whiskey sits in front of Kara Prince, a woman whose role in Providence has little changed in spite of Eileen’s sudden dismissal to the background of the community. In some ways, it feels like she’s hardly around even when she is. Whatever truly happened at the animal park changed her, changed the “Horsemen”, changed Providence.

“I’m looking to get my daughter back from her,” Noah says cooly, taking a sip of his whiskey and not once taking his eyes off of Lang, who circles the table they’re seated at with too much nervous energy. “One father to another,” Noah adds, “I figure you might understand.”

Lang picks up his cup from the table, then looks over to Kara, and back to Noah. “I’m listening.”

The Sunken Factory
Providence, New Jersey Pine Barrens
New Jersey
February 13th
6:17 pm

It'll be coming up on a year soon, since the Remnant liberated a particularly fine bottle of whiskey from the charity prize pool for the Pink Tie Gala hosted by Yamagato Industries. The Remnant had stolen almost every item they could walk out with, and the whisky hadn't even lasted the return trip to Providence. It had been a tense night then, and one of the party had thought it fitting to split the tension by inviting themself to a drink.

It's a tense night now, too.

She maintains a loose grasp around the tin before her. And she doesn't yet invite herself to a drink.

It had been only a little over a month since Kara emerged from the night like a Christmas ghost and resumed her place within the Factory's walls. In that time, she's said little, done little as she adjusts to the new lay of the land. But she'd always had a similar way about her even before; tacit, purposeful… spartan, even, in her manner.

Kara lifts her drink to gesture with a small motion of her hand for Lang to sit. "Where Chen took her is anyone's guess, but the moment it's confirmed, they'll need to act." That much is obvious. What's less so is: "When that time comes, I'll be moving with him. Bennett needs to not lose his lead, and he needs allies." She looks up to Lang, head tilting only slightly to match the shift. "I remember him— how good he was to Sedro for years. I'm set on this."

Lang is silent a moment, stoic in that way he really isn’t but chooses to affect around people he doesn’t fully trust. “Yeah,” he says noncommittally. Reclining back into his weathered wooden chair, Lang turns the tin cup of whiskey around in his hand, watching a lone air bubble drift along the surface of the drink. He turns his attention to the tall windows, to the dimming rays of daylight rapidly fading beyond them, an encroaching darkness that makes the firelight all the more prevalent.

“All’a this feels nice,” Lang says quietly, before taking a swig from the cup. “Familiar.” He looks over to Noah. “Father what lost his kid,” then to Kara, “friend lookin’ t’do a good man a solid.” He takes another sip from the cup then sets it back down on the table. “I’m a bit more of a cautious man these days, Noah. I ain’t one t’just commit resources t’somebody on what amounts to their word. No matter who’s kind enough t’vouch for ‘em.” Lang blinks a slow, languid look to Kara, then back to Noah.

“All the same,” Lang continues, leaning forward and resting his elbows on the table, “things ain’t been great around here as of late. What with all the unpleasantness.” The Incident. “Now, I might be able t’help you look for your little girl. We’re family men, you’re right, we understand one-another. But y’gotta consider,” he says with a tap of his fingers on the table, “we each gotta’ protect our own, y’see? My girl here, your girl there. Now mine, I know where she is… I know what the risks are of any choice I might make,” Lang emphasizes his point by making a slow circle motion with one hand around the table, as if gesturing to a whole host of his problems.

Sighing, Lang leans back against his chair with a creak of the wood. “But I ain’t gonna turn a man out on his ear. At least, not without askin’ what he’s offering in return for a proposition of resources.”

That’s the point Noah was waiting for Lang to get to, even if it took him a long drawl to get to it. “Expertise,” Noah says confidently. “I’m here, now. I worked for the Company my entire life, the Ferrymen after that. I know nearly everyone who’s come and gone through this part of the country, I have contacts, I know how to maintain operational security.” His brows rise over the dark frames of his glasses. “It sounds like you could use someone with those skills.”

The unpleasantness, Lang calls it, and Kara palms the tin into the curve of her hand to drink. She listens, gaze away from Lang as he speaks his piece, wending his way to what he wants. It's only after he gets there that she looks back at him.

This time when she drinks, she takes her time with the sip, letting the whiskey mull her words for her.

She somehow doubts that 'now' will be enough for this trade. Uprooting his life from out West wasn't something Bennet had wanted to do, or surely he would have trickled in during one of the previous waves. There's something else she feels more in her gut rather than can put concrete words to… an uneasiness to where this relationship could lead, if Noah's was a useful presence, and his daughter so valuable to him.

Argument slips away from her as she can't come up with an alternative. Kara refocuses her attention on Lang. "Trade either in months of consultancy or a handful of projects would be fair."

Noah’s expression is one of leveled thanks, directed squarely at Kara. It’s a purposeful affectation, means to show that he acknowledges her as on his side in clear view of Lang. It has the desired effect on the former associate of the Vanguard. Lang slides his tongue between his cheek and teeth, looking from Kara to Noah. “Right, you two know each other,” he says to himself, scrubbing a hand through his hair as he rises from his seat to prowl the floor.

“She’s got a point, though,” Lang adds as he doubles back to the table. “Trade your expertise for our experience. Question is, you even know where t’start lookin’?” Lang’s brows rise as he turns the impetus of the conversation back on Noah.

To his credit, Noah just smiles away any concern about a starting point. “Adam Monroe,” he indicates with a nod to Lang, “for starters.” Sitting forward, Noah folds his hands. “I heard you had a situation with him a while back. Unpleasantness,” he says, echoing Lang’s earlier comment. “Chen works for him. We figure out where he is, maybe we find Claire.”

Lang’s frown cuts deep into his features; sharp lines by his nose. He holds the expression for a moment as if taking in a foul smell. “I might have a lead on that. Maybe. I don’t know if he’s in any state to converse, but… I can meet with him. See what he knows.” Kara knows precisely who Lang is alluding to, the still-clinging-to-life Charles Sharrow, former bankroller of the Vanguard.

Kara was already frowning at the mention of Adam— Praxis was a large company, meaning while he could be in California, he could just as likely be in China— but then Lang tags on his suggestion. She stills, slanting a look back up at him. Even bedridden, Sharrow still posed a threat in her eyes. He might not be mobile in spreading his ideology any longer, but she imagines his word is no less virile than before.

Then again, she's not seen him herself to know for certain if his faith has waned or strengthened for all his tribulation.

"It's a long shot," she decides nonetheless. "But possible." Kara turns back to Noah, setting her cup on the table. "Hull needs to keep digging. If both leads turn into dead ends, you need to be halfway into chasing down a third."

“I’m used to a good old fashioned fox hunt,” Noah says confidently, and by the time he’s looking away from Kara to meet Lang, a smile’s already drawn up on the Southerner’s lips.

“Before we start pullin’ on our boots,” Lang begins, rising from his chair to walk over to a metal shelf with a couple of small wooden boxes with fresh fruit in them. He retrieves an apple, then unsheathes the combat knife from his belt, “we need t’come t’terms with a few things.” Lang’s eyes track back to Noah and Kara as he starts cutting a slice off of an apple with the knife. “Like what’s the over and under on you not ratting us out to the feds?”

Noah doesn’t seem to understand the correlation, his brows knitting together. “What, exactly, would I be ratting out? Other than the fact that you look exceptionally healthy for a dead man.” Noah leans forward, folding his hands on the table. Lang’s expression falls flat, and he brings the slice of apple up to his mouth and bites it off of the edge of the knife.

Chewing while he talks, Lang circles the table. “You work for SESA,” he says with a motion of the knife’s tip toward Noah before he starts cutting a slice again. “This story about coming from out west isn’t gonna’ fly. Not here.” Disarmed by the accusation, Noah looks at Kara, then back to Lang.

“No?” Is Noah’s immediate and confused retort. “You both know I was in Snoqualmie with the Guardians. My Company days are long, long behind m— ”

“Ain’t talkin’ about the Guardians,” Lang says with another slice of apple coming up to his mouth. “Nah, see, SESA thinks they’re smart. Clever. Sneaky. This ain’t my first rodeo, Noah.” Lang slides the knife into the apple again, continuing to circle the table. “They sent Ben Ryans and his lady friend out here t’spy on us. An’ I know you were swingin’ your business around in the Safe Zone with them before all that.”

Noah looks at Kara again, suddenly off his balance in the conversation. “Lang,” he tries to reassert himself, “I can assure you I don’t know what you’re talking about. I just drove out here. I haven’t had any contact with the government in…” he shakes his head, thinking of how he avoided the Albany trials. Thinking about what he’s risking being here.

Suddenly, other possibilities are born behind Noah’s eyes. “Have either of you seen me since you left Washington?” Noah asks, looking between both Lang and Kara.

Kara's expression is placid as Lang brings up the SESA bomb, her unfamiliarity with that detail evident at least to him in how there's no reaction from her regarding it. No defense of Noah, and no prodding of Lang for more information. He gives it anyway, sparing her the need. When Noah rounds on her, seeking to make sense of it, she only glances at him. "No," she answers simply, looking back to Lang. He seems to have, though. He, or someone close enough to him.

"This isn't coming from some bullshit Thornton vision, is it?" she asks, a little unhappily. Her memory has been jarred on a few topics since she returned, but this felt like a hell of a thing to forget. "You know better than to trust everything she spouts off."

“This ain’t a Charitable donation,” Lang says with a lopsided smile that lasts only a moment. He carves off another slice of apple and takes it in his mouth, chewing over both his response to Noah and the snack off of a knife’s edge. “I ain’t seen you, but plenty of folks have. Which means, either you ain’t telling me the whole truth, or you have yourself a double.” Lang’s brows rise, as if that answers Noah’s earlier question about looking good for a dead man.

“Whoever that is,” Noah says with rising tension in his voice, “it isn’t me. But I’d be very interested to know where they’ve been and what they’ve been up to at SESA. But,” he looks briefly at Kara, then back to Lang. “I can handle that line of inquiry myself.”

“Then let’s take this partnership one step at a time,” Lang explains, popping the last portion of apple into his mouth while he wipes his knife off on his pants. “You stay here with your friend, kick up your feet and see how Iago and I run things. That goes smoothly, we’ll move to step two. Kara will be your handler,” he adds, sheathing his knife at his hip. “She says jump, you say yes ma’am and do it. Even if she points out a window. Y’all clear on that?”

“Crystal,” Noah says flatly.

Kara finishes off her drink rather than reply, the cup having made it back to her hand during the exchange. When that's done, she nods to emphasise her understanding. "That's that, then," she voices gruffly, not looking at Noah at her side. His doppelganger situation is an unwelcome layer of complication to an already difficult scenario. Whether it was a true impostor or another Noah from another reality slipping into his identity really is irrelevant to her, ultimately.

"Let me know how your talk with the old man goes, Lang." Kara asides as she comes to her feet, looking his way. "If he's got a line of contact somehow, I'd want to get started on that as soon as possible. If the rumors are true, we may not have that long to use him as a resource." She openly shrugs, sounding indifferent to the thought that Sharrow might expire.

Lang nods, scrubbing a hand across his beard as he considers something. “One more thing,” comes a little too easily. It’s not something Lang forgot, but something he was waiting for the end of the meeting to deliver. He produces a folded up piece of paper from his pocket, walks it over to Kara and passes it off to her. “From the old man.” Noah watches the exchange carefully, but doesn’t pry. Instead, he makes a show of noisily standing up and straightening his jacket to show just how much he isn’t paying attention to them. No one in the room is fooled.

“We should talk about your information security options,” Noah says with a glance down to the paper, then back up to Kara. “There’s some old Ferrymen tactics we can apply here to help keep the community safe from infiltration.” Though he doesn’t use the word later in that sentence, the timing of the talk is implied by his tone. There’s enough going on right now.

Kara knows she needn’t read the letter here and now. She doesn’t. But once there is a private moment to open the sealed envelope, she finds a short, hand-written letter addressed to her from Sharrow.

Kara, it begins.

They have made contact. Your request has been considered and they are eager to meet you. My son has the details. Leave a wind chime on your front porch if you are ready to do what is necessary to protect the ones you love.

Because that is where Lang, Noah, and Kara’s personality diagrams overlap.

They would all do anything for the people they love.

Even if it’s the wrong thing.

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