For Our Families


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Scene Title For Our Families
Synopsis Two friends confess to one another what they're afraid to tell most.
Date March 8, 2021

Rose and Trellis, Brooklyn, New York

Bearing a bag of bagels and two cups of coffee in the Greek-themed paper cups so iconic to the city, Daphne is about to juggle the breakfast items to open the door to the flower shop. But luck would have it that Nick Ruskin is also about to enter the shop.

“Hey, barkeep. Let me get that for you,” the Brit says with a smile, pulling the door open and swinging it wide for the petite blond to enter. “Everyone needs flowers on a Monday morning, eh?”

He certainly does.

Daphne isn’t here for that, however, and flashes him a cheerful grin that’s juxtaposed by dark circles under her eyes. “Stopping to see Yi-Min,” she says, lifting the two coffee cups proof of her intentions. “Thanks,” she adds, stepping inside. Nick follows, closing the door after.

Yi-Min has gone to great pains to make it seem like nothing remotely abnormal had ever transpired in her shop, beyond the place having been closed down for several days last week.

Now, it's the beginning of a bright new week. Fresh and full of promise for everyone, whether for flowers or… otherwise.

"Good morning. Both of you," the florist greets from the register, spreading both her palms slightly on the countertop as her gaze flits first to one face, then the next. Daphne is where her focus stays after a minute: more specifically, the items occupying her friend’s arms. As the combined aroma wends over to where she stands, Yi-Min lets the slightest chuff of air escape from her nostrils, her eyes narrowing in suspicious appreciation. She waits for her visitors to have the first words, however.

Something — is it the scent of some fume that hints at repairs or deep cleaning — catches Daphne’s subconscious and she looks around, as if to find the source of it, then raises a brow at Yi-Min. “Morning, you beautiful magical skeleton,” she says in her usual boisterous way — perhaps even a tiny bit more over-the-top than usual, like maybe it takes extra effort today to be her usual Daphne self, and she’s overcompensated for it.

Or exactly that.

“Caffeine? Caffeine. And carbs. Remedy for all that ails you. A panacea, if you will,” Daphne says, setting Yi-Min’s coffee and the bag of bagels down on the counter, but then tucking herself to one side of it, letting the actual customer approach the florist. She watches over the rim of her coffee cup as she takes a sip of the brew within.

Nick chuckles at the greeting. “Just picking up. How are you today?” the Brit asks, pulling out his wallet to retrieve crisp bills to set on the counter.

Right after Daphne's choice of greeting, there is an odd pause from Yi-Min, whose presence briefly seems much closer to that of a skeleton than her normal, sleek self. The shadows under her eyelids might easily be taken for tiredness, and there is certainly some of that— but something much quieter and more baleful haunts her gaze, too.

For that moment, it's as though she really is that brittle, improbable creature of Daphne's suggestion, spun from and held together by the sheer power of darkly burning spite alone.

Any glimpse of that is gone quickly, though, and Yi-Min turns her small, easy shopkeeper's smile on Nick. "I am alive," she replies, dry, already turning away to fetch his prepared order where it waits on its usual shelf.

Just one's usual commentary on a Monday morning.

"You must be psychic, Daphne. I was hoping for something a little stronger than tea today, and look: you have brought it to me. What an angel you are, truly. I hope you two are also well?"

Nick accepts the bouquet — that will go to Gillian, but the stash of pills hidden within it will get pocketed once he’s out of sight and away from the shop — he can’t have his supplier being caught, after all. He studies Yi-Min’s dark shadows, and his brows draw together slightly. “Better than the alternative, innit?” he says lightly. “At least that’s what they say.”

He grins, stepping away from the counter. “I’m well enough. I’ll let you two get your chat on. Good to see you both,” he says with a smile as he ducks out of the shop once again.

Daphne glances over her shoulder to be sure he’s gone and the shop is empty. “Not psychic but something. Strange things are afoot at the Circle K, Yi-Min.”

As Yi-Min wraps up her transaction with Nick and stands still behind the counter, watching him leave, the shadows from before seem to subtly increase their hold on her once again. His departure no doubt plays a large part in that— Nick is solid enough to have about as an acquaintance, but Daphne's now-lone presence in the shop is actively reassuring.

Despite that fact, the florist darts a disturbingly sharp look straight towards her friend at the mention of strange things happening.

This has become a recurring theme lately, and even the first time had been… dire enough. Yi-Min speaks more slowly but flatly, somewhat fearing the answer.

"What strange things, Daph?"

Daphne waits until the door closes behind Nick, then glances around to be sure there’s no one else in the shop’s corners or hiding behind a bucket of baby’s breath that she missed on first entering the store. For good measure, she pulls out one of the bagels, a layer of cream cheese sandwiched between the two halves, and takes a bite, chewing and swallowing, then looking around once more.

It’s not like Daphne to be furtive.

“I don’t even know how to explain it without sounding so cuckoo’s nest that you’d put me in a psych ward,” she says, shaking her head in disbelief of her own reality. “The good news is no Nurse Ratched or Doctor Caligari would be able to keep me there, so I suppose I can tell you.”

Despite the fact they’re alone, she still lowers her voice. “I can teleport.”

"Gan n'nian ji bai."1

It's an explosion of a phrase that leaves Yi-Min's mouth as soon as she hears this, and even though Daphne can't understand the language, anybody within earshot would be able to understand the way she spits it out.

"…She got to you, too," Yi-Min continues on in English after a slight, ringing pause, settling down just enough to mentally make the switch again. There isn’t even a hint of a question there. Briefly, her attention flickers back over to the door of the shop, as though to make sure Nick is well and truly gone before settling on Daphne’s face with an extra-piercing quality. "Are you alright? Did she hurt you? I swear by everything that is holy—"

Daphne’s brows rise as her usually mild-mannered friend suddenly explodes into what Daph knows is foul language, even if she doesn’t know exactly what it means.

Her eyes widen when Yi-Min doesn’t seem all that surprised, only angry. “Yeah, Asami? The one the news is looking for?” she asks, glancing over her shoulder to follow Yi-Min’s gaze at the closed door, then looking back to the florist. “I’m… she didn’t hurt me, but nothing is alright, Min. I… we went to Tokyo, right, but… it wasn’t right. It was… it wasn’t right. She said something about not leaving New York, and I think we can’t. I think if we try, something will happen to us, something…”

Her eyes suddenly narrow and she tips her head, lips pursing over to one side of her mouth. “What did she do to you?”

Mild-mannered might be an inaccurate label to use for Yi-Min. She is never loud about it, to be sure, but Daphne is well-familiar with the type of relaxed, transparent acerbity she tends to apply around her close friends.

This display is that. Dialed up to eleven.

"I told her no," Yi-Min non-sequiturs a little lifelessly at first, swept back up wholesale by the ill-buried memory. Below the wooden lip of the countertop, she finds that her hands have grown tense practically of their own accord; just for a moment, one kinks into an incomplete claw-shape in midair. "We fought. Well, I say we 'fought.' But. You have seen what she is, now. The demon with all the gifts."

On the other side of things, Daphne's words are no less a surprise to her, and concern merges into the stir of bitterness in her eyes. "You went to Tokyo," she repeats, unable to be certain she had heard this correctly. "Are you certain this was not… I don't even know, some sort of trick?"

“Well. I think she did that, but… I think she gets the power when we do? I don’t know why I would have chosen Tokyo. I’ve certainly never been there or thought a lot about it, more than the average American,” Daphne says wryly. “But… I have tested it. Not leaving New York. And it…”

She shrugs. It’s easier to show than tell, after all. She holds up a finger, as if to ask Yi-Min to wait one second. Her nose and eyes scrunch closed, and she blinks out of sight.

A moment later, she returns, holding the black-and-white cat that belongs in Corbin and Daphne’s apartment as proof she’s been somewhere. “…works.”

The cat meows in protest of being yoinked through space, and digs its claws into Daphne, not to be released, but so she doesn’t let go.

“We didn’t fight. Are you okay?” Daphne squints at Yi-Min. “What did she… are you a fucking superhero too, now? Should we get capes and tights in complementary colors?”

Yi-Min finds her breath hitching when her friend disappears out of existence, only to return a few seconds later with an extremely familiar feline in her arms.

Yet only a moment later herself, Yi-Min's disapproving gaze flies from the cat's face back up to Daphne. "This isn't a game, Daphne," she snaps to the quip about superhero costumes, finding herself regretting the fact slightly once she has.

But only slightly. As though to reinforce the tenacity of her position, she lowers her shadowy gaze down just a fraction of an inch, her mouth set in an even thinner line than before. "Yes. For now, I am okay. I have no idea whatsoever if anything will be after… all of this."

Daphne’s eyes widen a little at the snap, and then she scowls. Yi-Min isn’t wrong. If it’s a game, it’s one where they’re being toyed with, and that doesn’t sit well with her in the least.

“And here I thought we were playing Hungry Hungry Hippos,” she says with a roll of her eyes. “My bad. Anyway, I am claiming red and yellow, so there.”

She hugs the tuxedo cat to her a little more tightly, like she might be about to bampf away again, but after a pause, she speaks again. “I know it’s not okay. I’m scared, too. And I noticed you haven’t answered the question, for whatever reason, but whatever. Just…”

Daphne lifts her shoulder. “If you need me, call me, okay? I’m just a phone call away. Like, literally.

Before Daphne can take a step, a nosegay of tiny pink posies wrenches loose from the bottom of a gaily-patterned tin, drifting up, up, up into the air once freed as though being tugged out by the encouragement of an invisible hand—

…before coming to settle with extreme care down onto the top of the cat's head as an impromptu flower crown: cheerful spriglets, gauzy ribbons and all.

"That is my power," Yi-Min says rigidly from behind the counter, where she has been observing the whimsical spectacle in silence. "In its least violent form, anyhow."

"I am frightened, Daphne," she admits more openly at last, her tone growing ever more matter-of-fact even as she seems to retract certain other emotions back into herself. "Frightened, that if the very laws of physics are apparently so easily cast aside as we have shown— what else about our world might turn out to be demonstrably false? What, and perhaps who? Daphne, I cannot find out that…"

Yi-Shan, Kara.

Yi-Min does not invoke names aloud. Her mouth stays thin.

"And now, with what you have said about not being able to leave New York? Tell me more about this. About what you have 'tested.'"

When Daphne catches sight of the floating little bouquet, she looks around, a little wildly, like Asami or someone else may have joined them. The cat tenses in her arms, and then peers perplexedly upward, a paw batting at the flower just as it lands on its head.

He shakes it off, and it lands in Daphne’s hand, before she looks back to Yi-Min with wide eyes. The fear on her friend’s face is very real, as the florist speaks of what may be false.

“One second before I get clawed,” Daphne says, with a finger lifted again to ask Yi-Min to wait just one sec. She scrunches up her face again — really, it helps — and blinks out of sight, and a moment later, blinks back in.

“Whoa. That was too many too fast, I think,” the teleporter says, shaking her head as if to clear it of stars, and one hand comes out to grip the counter for support.

“I haven’t dared to test it out of New York on my own. I’m afraid, too. That woman — Asami? She was terrified so whatever it was, it wasn’t… it wasn’t part of her whole… “ she gestures, before landing on “thing. I… I kind of worried that if I tried to go anywhere outside of New York without her, I might just be lost.

Glancing at the door, for all that she just willy-nilly blinked in and out of space, Daphne looks back to Yi-Min. “I haven’t told anyone, either. Not even Corbin.”

By instinct, Yi-Min reaches out to stabilize Daphne's hand with her own from the opposite side of the counter when she witnesses the teleporter teetering. Even after the other woman has regained the greater part of her balance, she lets her palm stay clasped on top of her friend's perhaps a moment longer than necessary, withdrawing it only once her mood has fluctuated again—

…This time, into a kind of morose decisiveness. "I need more answers," Yi-Min resolves aloud, almost as though Daphne isn't even present. But then her gaze re-alights sharply on Daphne's face, and she repeats it again. "We. Need more answers. What are the limits on this… teleportation ability? Are you able to jump to a certain person, in addition to a location?"

Daphne shakes her head slowly. “I have to picture it, I think. I’d test it now to be sure, but I think that was two many hops in too short of a time. But so far what works best is if I can picture the place I want to go. Obviously, I can’t test it a lot because I’m not just gonna go jump in the middle of Time Square or something and be seen by however many people. I don’t have a death wish.”

She reaches for her bagel, set aside but apparently not forgotten, and takes a bite. After that’s chewed and swallowed, she continues. “But I’ve tested it a little. I went from my house to Corbie’s classroom, in the middle of the night when I knew there’d be no one there. My house to my bar, my bar to the backroom of my bar. I can carry things. The cat. I haven’t tried it with a person, except Asami and I did it together the first time, so I think I can.”

Her brows lift as she studies Yi-Min’s face. She tips her head quizzically. “What are you thinking? What are you planning?

Seeing Daphne take the bagel serves as a real reminder to Yi-Min of the refreshments her friend had so thoughtfully brought. Following suit, she stretches her arm out towards one of the Greek-styled cups of coffee, grateful to have the feel of something physical to hold onto for distraction.

It is another few moments before she moves to sip from it, however. Instead she simply stands with cup in hand, gears turning in her head. "If you cannot teleport to a person, then no, I have no concrete plan as of this present moment. But… I do think that we should attempt to discover the limits of your ability."

And of her own, naturally. As it happens, Yi-Min is working on that second one by herself already— and as she is touched by some related thought, her eyes glitter with brooding forethought. "If we are careful, this should be something we should be able to accomplish while keeping it a secret."

“Maybe I can, if I work on it,” Daphne muses around a bite of bagel and cream cheese. “I mean, it’s new, and it’s not something I can really work on easily without people noticing. So I’ll get to practicing, test the limits in the next few days.”

Reaching for her own coffee, she takes a sip — it’s just warm and not hot, now, but she doesn’t mind it that way. “And you? What are your limits? Can you move a person? A car? A blue whale?”

Surely there’s been plenty of time to practice the last one, here in Brooklyn.

Her smile turns wry, and she adds, before Yi-Min can use that sharp tongue of hers, “I was kidding on the last bit. I mean, except in theory.” She sips another coffee, and asks, more seriously, “Are you telling Kara?”

"I have already told her. Well… in a form." Yi-Min can't even really tell herself that with a straight face, and to Daphne, the resolve in her expression clouds over briefly in an agonized pang of doubt. "I did tell her about Asami entering my shop. But I… don't quite know how to tell her about this thing. You know— lifting theoretical ‘blue whales’ with my mind, and what have you. So— I strongly hinted, but mostly left it out."

Who could blame her? The last thing Yi-Min wants is for her fiancée to leave her on account of suddenly losing her whole grip on reality.

"However… I do intend to test the boundaries of whatever has been done to me, now that you have brought it up." Pressing her own full cup of coffee up to her lips, Yi-Min resists an urge to sigh into the opening, her stare glowering at empty space. "Seeing as how I do not think I can get rid of it now, you know."

“That’s more than I have done,” admits Daphne, looking over her shoulder at the door and windows, revealing a world outside that is far stranger than she ever knew. Her brows draw together, and she turns to look back at Yi-Min. “I don’t know why I haven’t, except I guess I’m worried I’ll be putting him in danger. Maybe now anyone who isn’t like us is safe.”

She pops the rest of her bagel in her mouth, chewing thoughtfully as she crumples up the thin paper it was wrapped in, tucking that into the bag to throw out when she exits the shop. She daintily wipes the corner of her mouth with a napkin, tossing that in the bag too, and then balls the bag up.

“So we’ll do some experimentation for the sake of science and because knowing how to use these powers might make a difference. Let’s keep each other safe, Min. And our families.”

Yi-Min does not try to hide the thin, rigid shiver that journeys up her spine when Daphne mentions the possibility of danger coming to those close to them.

For her part, perhaps out of selfishness or just a simple inability to deal, it's a possibility the florist refuses to even entertain. Had refused to entertain, on top of all the other far-too-tangible consequences they already face. The coffee she'd still barely drunk is on its way to growing cold by this point, but the coldness in her gaze is much more visceral.

That’s one thing they can agree on.

"…For our families."

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